Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism.
of predestination and free-will, and of prayer in relation to invariable law—­all in a volume of three hundred and twenty-four duodecimo pages!  And yet the author remarks that many important subjects have been omitted because he felt unable to present them in a satisfactory manner from a scientific point of view.  We note, indeed, that one or two topics which would naturally come in his way—­such, especially, as the relation of evolution to the human race—­are somewhat conspicuously absent.  That most of the momentous subjects which he takes up are treated discursively, and not exhaustively, is all the better for his readers.  What they and we most want to know is, how these serious matters are viewed by an honest, enlightened, and devout scientific man.  To solve the mysteries of the universe, as the French lady required a philosopher to explain his new system, “dans un mot,” is beyond rational expectation.

All that we have time and need to say of this little book upon great subjects relates to its spirit and to the view it takes of evolution.  Its theology is wholly orthodox; its tone devotional, charitable, and hopeful; its confidence in religious truth, as taught both in Nature and revelation, complete; the illustrations often happy, but often too rhetorical; the science, as might be expected from this author, unimpeachable as regards matters of fact, discreet as to matters of opinion.  The argument from design in the first lecture brings up the subject of the introduction of species.  Of this, considered “as a question of history, there is no witness on the stand except geology.”

“The present condition of geological evidence is undoubtedly in favor of some degree of suddenness—­is against infinite gradations.  The evidence may be meagre . . . but whether meagre or not, it is all the evidence we have. . . .  Now, the evidence of geology to-day is, that species seem to come in suddenly and in full perfection, remain substantially unchanged during the term of their existence, and pass away in full perfection.  Other species take their place apparently by substitution, not by transmutation.  But you will ask me, ’Do you, then, reject the doctrine of evolution?  Do you accept the creation of species directly and without secondary agencies and processes?’ I answer, No!  Science knows nothing of phenomena which do not take place by secondary causes and processes.  She does not deny such occurrence, for true Science is not dogmatic, and she knows full well that, tracing up the phenomena from cause to cause, we must somewhere reach the more direct agency of a First Cause. . . .  It is evident that, however species were introduced, whether suddenly or gradually, it is the duty of Science ever to strive to understand the means and processes by which species originated. . . .  Now, of the various conceivable secondary causes and processes, by some of which we must believe species originated, by far the most probable is certainly that of evolution from other species.”

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Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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