Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 379 pages of information about Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism.
would secure whatever advantage might come from the saving of a certain amount of work and material; but why should it begin to produce less pollen?  But this is as nothing compared with the arrangements in orchid-flowers, where new and peculiar structures are introduced—­structures which, once originated and then set into variation, may thereupon be selected, and thereby led on to improvement and diversification.  But the origination, and even the variation, still remains unexplained either by the action of insects or by any of the processes which collectively are personified by the term natural selection.  We really believe that these exquisite adaptations have come to pass in the course of Nature, and under natural selection, but not that natural selection alone explains or in a just sense originates them.  Or rather, if this term is to stand for sufficient cause and rational explanation, it must denote or include that inscrutable something which produces—­as well as that which results in the survival of—­“the fittest.”

We have been considering this class of questions only as a naturalist might who sought for the proper or reasonable interpretation of the problem before him, unmingled with considerations from any other source.  Weightier arguments in the last resort, drawn from the intellectual and moral constitution of man, lie on a higher plane, to which it was unnecessary for our particular purpose to rise, however indispensable this be to a full presentation of the evidence of mind in Nature.  To us the evidence, judged as impartially as we are capable of judging, appears convincing.  But, whatever view one unconvinced may take, it cannot remain doubtful what position a theist ought to occupy.  If he cannot recognize design in Nature because of evolution, he may be ranked with those of whom it was said, “Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe.”  How strange that a convinced theist should be so prone to associate design only with miracle!

All turns, however, upon what is meant by this Nature, to which it appears more and more probable that the being and becoming—­no less than the well-being and succession—­of species and genera, as well as of individuals, are committed.  To us it means “the world of force and movement in time and space,” as Aristotle defined it—­the system and totality of things in the visible universe.  What is generally called Nature Prof.  Tyndall names matter—­a peculiar nomenclature, requiring new definitions (as he avers), inviting misunderstanding, and leaving the questions we are concerned with just where they were.  For it is still to ask:  whence this rich endowment of matter?  Whence comes that of which all we see and know is the outcome?  That to which potency may in the last resort be ascribed, Prof.  Tyndall, suspending further judgment, calls mystery—­using the word in one of its senses, namely, something hidden from us which we are not to seek to know.  But there are also mysteries proper

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