Back to Methuselah eBook

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the trees are eaten away to within four feet of the ground.  Then the animals who happen to be an inch or two short of the average will die of starvation.  All the animals who happen to be an inch or so above the average will be better fed and stronger than the others.  They will secure the strongest and tallest mates; and their progeny will survive whilst the average ones and the sub-average ones will die out.  This process, by which the species gains, say, an inch in reach, will repeat itself until the giraffe’s neck is so long that he can always find food enough within his reach, at which point, of course, the selective process stops and the length of the giraffe’s neck stops with it.  Otherwise, he would grow until he could browse off the trees in the moon.  And this, mark you, without the intervention of any stockbreeder, human or divine, and without will, purpose, design, or even consciousness beyond the blind will to satisfy hunger.  It is true that this blind will, being in effect a will to live, gives away the whole case; but still, as compared to the open-eyed intelligent wanting and trying of Lamarck, the Darwinian process may be described as a chapter of accidents.  As such, it seems simple, because you do not at first realize all that it involves.  But when its whole significance dawns on you, your heart sinks into a heap of sand within you.  There is a hideous fatalism about it, a ghastly and damnable reduction of beauty and intelligence, of strength and purpose, of honor and aspiration, to such casually picturesque changes as an avalanche may make in a mountain landscape, or a railway accident in a human figure.  To call this Natural Selection is a blasphemy, possible to many for whom Nature is nothing but a casual aggregation of inert and dead matter, but eternally impossible to the spirits and souls of the righteous.  If it be no blasphemy, but a truth of science, then the stars of heaven, the showers and dew, the winter and summer, the fire and heat, the mountains and hills, may no longer be called to exalt the Lord with us by praise; their work is to modify all things by blindly starving and murdering everything that is not lucky enough to survive in the universal struggle for hogwash.


Thus did the neck of the giraffe reach out across the whole heavens and make men believe that what they saw there was a gloaming of the gods.  For if this sort of selection could turn an antelope into a giraffe, it could conceivably turn a pond full of amoebas into the French Academy.  Though Lamarck’s way, the way of life, will, aspiration, and achievement, remained still possible, this newly shewn way of hunger, death, stupidity, delusion, chance, and bare survival was also possible:  was indeed most certainly the way in which many apparently intelligently designed transformations had actually come to pass.  Had I not preluded with the apparently idle story of my

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