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.

“His [Darwin’s] work on the ‘Origin of Species’ does not purport to be philosophical.  In this aspect it is very different from the cognate works of Mr. Spencer.  Darwin does not speculate on the origin of the universe, on the nature of matter or of force.  He is simply a naturalist, a careful and laborious observer, skillful in his descriptions, and singularly candid in dealing with the difficulties in the way of his peculiar doctrine.  He set before himself a single problem—­namely, How are the fauna and flora of our earth to be accounted for? . . .  To account for the existence of matter and life, Mr. Darwin admits a Creator.  This is done explicitly and repeatedly. . . .  He assumes the efficiency of physical causes, showing no disposition to resolve them into mind-force or into the efficiency of the First Cause. . . . He assumes, also, the existence of life in the form of one or more primordial germs. . . .  How all living things on earth, including the endless variety of plants and all the diversity of animals, . . . have descended from the primordial animalcule, he thinks, may be accounted for by the operation of the following natural laws, viz.:  First, the law of Heredity, or that by which like begets like—­the offspring are like the parent.  Second, the law of Variation; that is, while the offspring are in all essential characteristics like their immediate progenitor, they nevertheless vary more or less within narrow limits from their parent and from each other.  Some of these variations are indifferent, some deteriorations, some improvements—­that is, such as enable the plant or animal to exercise its functions to greater advantage.  Third, the law of Over-Production.  All plants and animals tend to increase in a geometrical ratio, and therefore tend to overrun enormously the means of support.  If all the seeds of a plant, all the spawn of a fish, were to arrive at maturity, in a very short time the world could not contain them.  Hence, of necessity, arises a struggle for life.  Only a few of the myriads born can possibly live.  Fourth, here comes in the law of Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest; that is, if any individual of a given species of plant or animal happens to have a slight deviation from the normal type favorable to its success in the struggle for life, it will survive.  This variation, by the law of heredity, will be transmitted to its offspring, and by them again to theirs.  Soon these favored ones gain the ascendency, and the less favored perish, and the modification becomes established in the species.  After a time, another and another of such favorable variations occur, with like results.  Thus, very gradually, great changes of structure are introduced, and not only species, but genera, families, and orders, in the vegetable and animal world, are produced” (pp. 26-29).

Now, the truth or the probability of Darwin’s hypothesis is not here the question, but only its congruity or incongruity with theism.  We need take only one exception to this abstract of it, but that is an important one for the present investigation.  It is to the sentence which we have italicized in the earlier part of Dr. Hodge’s own statement of what Darwinism is.  With it begins our inquiry as to how he proves the doctrine to be atheistic.

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