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Creation and Its Records by B.H. Baden-Powell

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[Greek: Pistei nooumen kataertisthai tous aionas rhemati theou eis to
mi ek fainomenon to Blepomenon gegonenai.]--HEB. xi. 3.


A brief statement of Christian Belief with reference to Modern facts and
Ancient Scripture.




* * * * *







































Among the recollections that are lifelong, I have one as vivid as ever
after more than twenty-five years have elapsed; it is of an evening
lecture--the first of a series--given at South Kensington to working
men. The lecturer was Professor Huxley; his subject, the Common Lobster.
All the apparatus used was a good-sized specimen of the creature itself,
a penknife, and a black-board and chalk. With such materials the
professor gave us not only an exposition, matchless in its lucidity, of
the structure of the crustacea, but such an insight into the purposes
and methods of biological study as few could in those days have
anticipated. For there were as yet no Science Primers, no International
Series; and the "new biology" came upon us like the revelation of
another world. I think that lecture gave me, what I might otherwise
never have got (and what some people never get), a profound conviction
of the reality and meaning of facts in nature. That impression I have
brought to the attempt which this little book embodies. The facts of
nature are God's revelation, of the same weight, though not the same in
kind, as His written Word.

At the same time, the further conviction is strong in my mind, not
merely of the obvious truth that the Facts and the Writing (if both
genuine) cannot really differ, but further, that there must be, after
all, a true way of explaining the Writing, if only it is looked for
carefully--a way that will surmount not only the difficulty of the
subject, but also the impatience with which some will regard the
attempt. Like so many other questions connected with religion, the
question of reconciliation produces its double effect. People will
ridicule attempts to solve it, but all the same they will return again
and again to the task of its actual solution.

That the latter part of the proposition is true, has recently received
illustration in the fact that a review like the _Nineteenth Century_,
which has so little space to spare, has found room in four successive
numbers[1] for articles by Gladstone, Huxley, and H. Drummond, on the
subject of "Creation and its Records." May I make one remark on this
interesting science tournament? I can understand the scientific
conclusions Professor Huxley has given us. I can also understand Mr.
Gladstone, because he values the Writing as the professor values the
Facts. But one thing I can _not_ understand. Why is Professor Huxley so
angry or so contemptuous with people who value the Bible, whole and as
it stands, and want to see its accuracy vindicated? Why are they
fanatics, Sisyphus-labourers, and what not? That they are a very large
group numerically, and hardly contemptible intellectually, is, I think,
obvious; that a further large group (who would not identify themselves
wholly with the out-and-out Bible defenders) feel a certain amount of
sympathy, is proved by the interest taken in the controversy. Yet all
"reconcilers" are ridiculed or denounced--at any rate are contemptuously
dismissed. Can it be that the professor has for the moment overlooked
one very simple fact?

[Footnote 1: November, December, 1885; and January, February, 1886.]

The great bulk of those interested in the question place their whole
hope for their higher moral and spiritual life in this world and the
next on one central Person--the LORD JESUS CHRIST. If He is wrong, then
no one can be right--there is no such thing as right: that is what they
feel. It will be conceded that it is hardly "fanatical" to feel this.
But if so, surely it is not fanatical, but agreeable to the soberest
reason, further to hold that this (to them sacred) PERSON did (and His
apostles with Him) treat the Book of Genesis as a whole (and not merely
parts of it) as a genuine revelation--or, to use the popular expression,
as the _Word of_ GOD. That being so, can it be matter for surprise or
contemptuous pity, that they should be anxious to vindicate the Book,
to be satisfied that the MASTER was not wrong? That is the ultimate and
very real issue involved in the question of Genesis.

As long as people feel _that_, they must seek the reconciliation of the
two opposing ideas. If the attempt is made in a foolish or bitter
spirit, or without a candid appreciation of the facts, then the attempt
will no doubt excite just displeasure. But need it always be so made?

As to the first part of my proposition that attempts to reconcile
religion and science are received with a certain dislike, it is due
partly to the unwisdom with which they are sometimes made. Prof. H.
Drummond speaks of the dislike as general.[1]

If this is so, I, as a "reconciler," can only ask for indulgence, hoping
that grace may be extended to me on the ground of having something to
say on the subject that has not yet been considered.

Nor, as regards the impatience of the public, can I admit that there is
only fault on one side. In the first place, it will not be denied that
some writers, delighted with the vast, and apparently boundless, vision
that the discovery (in its modern form) of Evolution opened out to them,
did incautiously proceed, while surveying their new kingdom, to assert
for it bounds that stretch beyond its legitimate scope.

[Footnote 1: In the Introduction to his well-known book, "Natural Law in
the Spiritual World."]

Religionists, on the other hand, imagining, however wrongly, that the
erroneous extension was part of the true scientific doctrine, attacked
the whole without discrimination.

While such a misapprehension existed, it was inevitable that writers
anxious alike for the dignity of science and the maintenance of
religion, should step in to point out the error, and effect a
reconciliation of claims which really were never in conflict.

It is hardly the fault of "religionists" that it was at first supposed
that one _could_ not hold the doctrine of evolution without denying a
"special" creation and a designing Providence. It was on this very
natural supposition that the first leading attack--attributed to the
Bishop of Oxford--proceeded. And the writer fell into the equally
natural mistake of taking advantage of the uncompleted and unproved
state of the theory at the time, to attack the theory itself, instead of
keeping to the safer ground, namely, that whatever might ultimately be
the conclusion of evolutionists, it was quite certain that no theory of
evolution that at all coincided with the known facts, offered any ground
for argument against the existence of an Intelligent Lawgiver and First
Cause of all; nor did it tend in the slightest to show that no such
thing as creative design and providence existed in the course of nature.

What the discovery of evolution really did, was to necessitate a
revision of the hitherto popularly accepted and generally assumed and
unquestioned notion of what _creation_ was. And it has long appeared to
me, that while now the most thoroughgoing advocates of evolution
generally admit that their justly cherished doctrine has nothing to say
to the existence of a Creator, or to the possibility of design--which
may be accepted or denied on other grounds--the writers on the side of
Christianity have not sufficiently recognized the change which their
views ought to undergo.

As long as this is the case, there will continue to be a certain
"conflict," not indeed between science and religion, but of the kind
which has been vividly depicted by the late Dr. Draper.

It can scarcely have escaped the notice of the most ordinary reader
that, in the course of that interesting work, the author has very little
to say about religion--at any rate about religion in any proper sense of
the term. The conflict was between a Church which had a zeal for God
without knowledge, and the progress of scientific thought; it was also a
conflict between discovered facts, and facts which existed, not in the
Bible, but in a particular interpretation, however generally received,
of it.

The present work is therefore addressed primarily to Christian believers
who still remain perplexed as to what they ought to believe; and its aim
is to prevent, if may be, an unreasonable alarm at, and a useless
opposition to, the conclusions of modern science; while, at the same
time, it tells them in simple language how far those conclusions really
go, and how very groundless is the fear that they will ever subvert a
true faith that, antecedent to the most wonderful chain of causation and
methodical working which science can establish, there is still a Divine
Designer--One who upholds all things "by the word of His power."

The doctrine of evolution is still the _ignotum_ to a great many, and it
is therefore, according to the time-honoured proverb, taken _pro
magnifico_, as something terribly adverse to the faith. Nor can it be
fairly denied, as I before remarked, that some of the students of the
theory have become so enamoured of it, so carried away by the
intoxication of the gigantic speculation it opens out to the
imagination, that they have succumbed to the temptation to carry
speculation beyond what the proof warrants, and thus lend some aid to
the deplorable confusion, which would blend in one, what is legitimate
inference and what is unproved hypothesis or mere supposition.

It only remains to say that the basis of this little book is a short
course of lectures in which I endeavoured to disarm the prejudices of an
educated but not scientifically critical audience, by simply stating how
far the theory of cosmical evolution had been really proved--proved,
that is, to the extent of that reasonable certainty which satisfies the
ordinary "prudent man" in affairs of weight and importance. I have tried
to show that evolution, apart from fanciful and speculative extensions
of it, allows, if it does not directly establish, that the operation of
nature is not a chance or uncontrolled procedure, but one that suggests
a distinct set of lines, and an orderly obedience to pre-conceived law,
intelligently and beneficently (in the end) designed.

There are obviously two main points which the Christian reader requires
to have made clear. The first is that, the modern theory of evolution
being admitted, the constitution of matter in the universe and the
principles of development in organic life, which that theory
establishes, not only do not exclude, but positively demand, the
conception of a Divine artificer and director. The second point, which
is perhaps of still greater weight with the believer, is that where
revelation (which is his ultimate standard of appeal) has touched upon
the subject of creation, its statements are not merely a literary fancy,
an imaginary cosmogony, false in its facts though enshrining Divine
truth, but are as a whole perfectly true.

Whatever novelty there may be, is to be found in the treatment of the
second subject. The first portion of the work is only a brief and
popular statement of facts, quite unnecessary to the scientific reader
but probably very necessary to the large body of Churchmen, who have not
studied science, but are quite able to appreciate scientific fact and
its bearings when placed before them in an untechnical form, and
divested of needless details and subordinate questions.

But it is around the supposed declarations of Scripture on the subject
of creation that the real "conflict" has centred. Let us look the matter
quite fairly in the face. We accept the conclusion that (let us say) the
horse was developed and gradually perfected or advanced to his present
form and characteristics, by a number of stages, and that it took a very
long time to effect this result. Now, if there is anywhere a statement
in Holy Writ that (_a_) a horse was _per saltum_ called into existence
in a distinctive and complete form, by a special creative _fiat_, and
that (_b_) this happened not gradually, but in a limited and specified
moment of time, then I will at once admit that the record (assuming that
its meaning is not to be mistaken) is not provably right, if it is not
clearly wrong; and accept the consequences, momentous as they would be.
If, in the same way, the Record asserts that man, or at least man the
direct progenitor of the Semitic race,[1] was a distinct and special
creation, his bodily frame having some not completely explained
developmental connection with the animal creation, but his higher nature
being imparted as a special and unique creative endowment out of the
line of physical development altogether, then I shall accept the Record,
because the proved facts of science have nothing to say against it,
whatever Drs. Buchner, Vogt, Haeckel, and others may assert to the

[Footnote 1: With whose history, as leading up to the advent of the
Saviour in the line of David, the Bible is mainly concerned.]

In the first of my two instances, the popular idea has long been that
the sacred record _does_ say something about a direct and separate
creative act; and this idea has been the origin and ground of all the
supposed conflict between science and "religion." As long as this idea
continues, it can hardly be said that a book addressed to the clearing
up of the subject is unnecessary or to be rejected _per se_.

As to the method in which this subject will be dealt with, I shall
maintain that the Scripture does _not_ say anything about the horse, or
the whale, or the ox, or any other animal, being separately or directly
created. And the view thus taken of the Record I have not met with
before. This it is necessary to state, not because the fact would lend
any value to the interpretation--rather the contrary; but because it
justifies me in submitting what, if new, may be intrinsically important,
to the judgment of the Church; and it also protects me from the offence
of plagiarism, however unwitting. If others have thought out the same
rendering of the Genesis history, so much the better for my case; but
what is here set down occurred to me quite independently.

A study of the real meaning of the Record, in the light of what may be
fairly regarded as proved facts, cannot be without its use to the
Christian. If it be true that a certain amount of information on the
subject of creation is contained in revelation, it must have been so
contained for a specific purpose--a purpose to be attained at some stage
or other of the history of mankind. It is possible also that the study
will bring to light a probable, or at any rate a possible, explanation
of some of those apparent (if they are not real) "dead-locks" which
occur in pursuing the course of life history on the earth.

Such considerations will naturally have more weight with the Christian
believer than with those who reject the faith. But at least the
advantage of them remains with the believer, till the contrary is shown.
The extreme evolutionist may cling to the belief that at some future
time he will be able to account for the entrance of LIFE into the
world's history, that he will be able to explain the connection of MIND
with MATTER; or he may hope that the sterility of certain hybrid forms
will one day be explained away, and so on. But till these things _are_
got over, the believer cannot be reproached as holding an unreasonable
belief when his creed maintains that Life is a gift and prerogative of a
great Author of Life; that Mind is the result of a spiritual environment
which is a true, though physically intangible, part of nature; and that
the absence of any proof that variation and development cross
certain--perhaps not very clearly ascertained, but indubitably
existing--lines, points to the designed fixing of certain types, and the
restriction of developmental creation to running in certain lines of
causation up to those types, and not otherwise.

It can never be unreasonable to believe anything that is in exact
accordance with facts as ascertained at any given moment of
time--unless, indeed, the fact is indicated by other considerations as
being one likely to disappear from the category of fact altogether.[1]

Enough has thus, I hope, appeared, to make the appearance of this little
work, at least excusable; what more may be necessary to establish its
claim to be read must depend on what it contains.

I have only to add that I can make no pretension to be a teacher of
science. I trust that there is no material error of statement; if there
is, I shall be the first to retract and correct it. I am quite confident
that no correction that may be needed in detail will seriously affect
the general argument.

[Footnote 1: At present it is an ascertained fact that certain chemical
substances are elements incapable of further resolution. But there are
not wanting indications which would make it a matter of no surprise at
all, if we were to learn to-morrow that the so-called element had been
resolved. Such a fact is an example of what is stated in the text; and a
belief based on the absolute and unchangeable stability of such a fact
would not be unassailable. But none of the above stated instances of
"dead-lock" in evolution are within "measurable distance" of being



In the extract placed on the title-page, the author of the Epistle
clearly places our conclusion that God "established the order of
creation"--the lines, plans, developmental-sequences, aims, and objects,
that the course of creation has hitherto pursued and is still
ceaselessly pursuing,[1] in the category of _faith_.

Of course, from one point of view--very probably that of the writer of
the Epistle--this conclusion is argued by the consideration that the
human mind forms no distinct conception of the formation of solid--or
any other form of--matter _in vacuo_, where nothing previously existed.
And what the mind does not find within its own power, but what yet _is
true_ in the larger spiritual kingdom beyond itself, is apprehended by
the spiritual faculty of _faith_.

[Footnote 1: [Greek: Kataertisthai tous aionas]. This implies more than
the mere originating or supplying of a number of material, organic, or
inorganic (or even spiritual) forms and existences. Whatever may be the
precise translation of [Greek: aion], it implies a chain of events, the
cause and effect, the type and the plan, and its evolution all

But from another point of view, the immediate action of faith is not so
evident. If, it might be said, the law of evolution, or the law of
creation, or whatever is the true law, is, in all its bearings, a matter
to be observed and discovered by human science, then it is not easy to
see how there is any exercise of faith. We should be more properly said
to _know_, by intellectual processes of observation, inference, and
conclusion, that there was a Law Giver, an Artificer, and a First Cause,
so unlimited in power and capacity by the conditions of the case, that
we must call Him "Divine."

And many will probably feel that their just reasoning on the subject
leads them to knowledge--knowledge, i.e., as approximately certain as
anything in this world can be.

But the text, by the use of the term [Greek: aion], implies (as I
suggested) more than mere production of objects; it implies a designed
guidance and preconceived planning. If it were merely asserted that
there is a first cause of material existence, and even that such a cause
had enough known (or to be inferred) about it, to warrant our writing
"First Cause" with capitals, then the proposition would pass on all
hands without serious question. But directly we are brought face to
face, not merely with the isolated idea of creation of tangible forms
out of nothing (as the phrase is), but rather with the whole history
and development of the world and its inhabitants, we see so many
conflicting elements, such a power of natural forces and human passions
warring against the progress of good, and seeming to end only too often
in disaster, that it becomes a matter of _faith_ to perceive a Divine
providence underlying and overruling all to its own ends.

The fact is, that directly we make mention of the "aeons"--the world's
age histories--we are met with that Protean problem that always seems to
lurk at the bottom of every religious question: Why was _evil_
permitted? Mr. J.S. Mill, many readers will recollect, concluded that if
there was a God, that God was not perfectly good, or else was not
omnipotent. Now of course our limited faculties do not enable us to
apprehend a really absolute and unlimited omnipotence. We _can_ only
conceive of God as limited by the terms of His own Nature and Being. We
say it is "impossible for God to lie," or for the Almighty to do wrong
in any shape; in other words, we are, in this as in other matters where
the finite and the Infinite are brought into contact, led up to two
necessary conclusions which cannot be reconciled. We can reason out
logically and to a full conclusion, that given a God, that God must be
perfect, unlimited and unconditioned. We can also reason out, _provided
we take purely human and finite premises_, another line of thought which
forbids us to suppose that a Perfect God would have allowed evil,
suffering, or pain; and this leads us exactly or nearly to Mr. Mill's

Whenever we are thus brought up to a dead-lock, as it were, there is the
need of _faith_, which is the faculty whereby the finite is linked on to
the Infinite. For this faith has two great features: one is represented
by the capacity for assimilating fact which is spiritual or
transcendental, and therefore not within the reach of finite intellect;
the other is represented by the capacity for reliance on, and trust in,
the God whose infinite perfections we cannot as finite creatures grasp
or follow.

In the difficult scheme of the world's governance, in the storms,
earthquakes, pestilences, sufferings of all kinds--signs of failure,
sickness, and decay, and death, signs of the victory of evil and the
failure of good--we can only _believe_ in God, and that all will issue
in righteous ends. And our belief proceeds, as just stated, on two
lines: one being our spiritual capacity for knowing that GOD IS, and
that we, His creatures, are the objects of His love; the other being the
fact that we only see a very little end of the thread, or perhaps only a
little of one thread out of a vast mass of complicated threads, in the
great web of design and governance, and that therefore there is wide
ground for confidence that the end will be success. We rely confidently
on God. If it is asked, Why is it a part of faith to have a childlike
confidence in an unseen God?--we reply, that the main origin of such
confidence is to be found in the wonderful condescension of God
exhibited in the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection.

This is not the place to enter on a detailed examination of the
essential importance of these great central facts of Christian belief in
establishing faith in the unseen, and distinguishing its grasp from the
blind clutches of credulity; but a single consideration will suffice at
least to awaken a feeling of a wide _vista_ of possibility when we put
it thus: Do we wonder at the spectacle of a righteous man, passing his
life in suffering and poverty, seemingly stricken by the Divine
hand?--But is not the case altered when we reflect _that the Hand that
thus smites is a hand itself pierced_ with the Cross-nails of a terrible
human suffering, undergone solely on man's account?

It can be proved easily, by exhaustive examples, to be the case, that
wherever the finite is brought into contact with the Infinite, that
there must be a dead-lock, a leading up successively to two conclusions,
one of which is almost, if not quite, contrary to the other. A very
striking instance of this is the question of Predestination and
Free-will. From the finite side, I am conscious that I am a free agent:
I can will to rise up and to lie down. It is true that my will may be
influenced, strongly or feebly, by various means--by the effect of
habit, by the inherited tendency of my constitution, by some present
motive of temptation, and so forth: but the _will_ is there--the
motive-influence or inclining-power is not the will, but that which
affects or works on will. A _motive_ pulls me this way, another pulls me
that; but in the end, my _will_ follows one or the other. I can, then,
do as I please. On the other hand, Infinite Knowledge must know, and
have known from all eternity, what I shall do now, and at every moment
of my future being: and for Omnipotence to know from all eternity what
will be, is, in our human sense, practically undistinguishable from the
thought that the Power has predestined the same; and man cannot of
course alter that. Here, then, by separate lines of thought, we are
brought to two opposite and irreconcilable conclusions. It is so always.
We cannot ourselves imagine how a fixed set of laws and rules can be
followed, and yet the best interests of each and every one of God's
creatures be served as truly as if God directly wielded the machinery of
nature only for the special benefit of the individual. The thing is
unthinkable to us: yet directly we reason on the necessarily _unlimited_
capability of a Divine Providence, we are led to the conclusion that it
must be possible. Here then is the province of _Faith_.[1]

[Footnote 1: The Scripture clearly recognizes the two opposing lines. In
one place we read, "Thou hast given them a law which _shall not be
broken_;" in another, "All things work together for good to them that
love God."]

It is by Faith, then--combined with only a limited degree of knowledge,
founded on observation and reasoning--that we understand that "the aeons
were constituted by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen
were not made of things which do appear" (the phenomenal has its origin
in the non-phenomenal).

While allowing, then, the element of Faith in our recognition of a
Creator and Moral Governor of the world, our care is in this, as in all
exercises of faith, that our faith be reasonable. We are not called on
to believe so as to be "put to confusion," intellectually, as Tait and
Balfour have it.



It will strike some readers with a sense of hopelessness, this demand
for a reason in our faith. A special and very extensive knowledge is
required, it seems, to test the very positive assertion that some have
chosen to make regarding the "explosion" of the Christian faith in the
matter of Creation.

We are told in effect that every thing goes by itself--that given some
first cause, about which we know, and can know, nothing, directly
primordial matter appears on the scene, and the laws of sequence and
action which observed experience has formulated and is progressively
formulating are given, then nothing else is required; no governance, no
control, and no special design. So that in principle a Creator and
Providence are baseless fancies; and this is further borne out by the
fact, that when the Christian faith ventures on details as to the mode
of Creation it is certainly and demonstrably wrong. If these
propositions are to be controverted, it must be in the light of a
knowledge which a large body of candid and earnest believers do not

Fortunately, however, the labours of many competent to judge have placed
within the reach of the unscientific but careful student, the means of
knowing what the conclusions of Science really are, as far as they
affect the questions we have to consider. At least, any inquirer can,
with a little care and patient study, put himself in a position to know
where the difficulty or difficulties lie, and what means there are of
getting over them. His want of technical knowledge will not be in his
way, so far as his just appreciation of the position is concerned.
Without pretending to take up ground which has already been occupied by
capable writers whose books can easily be consulted, I may usefully
recapitulate in a simple form, and grouped in a suitable order, some of
the points best worth noting.

The theory of cosmical evolution is not, in its general idea, a new
thing. The sort of evolution, however, that was obscurely shadowed forth
by the early sages of India (much as it is the fashion now to allude to
it) really stands in no practical relation to the modern and natural
theory which is associated with the name of CHARLES DARWIN, and which
has been further taken up by Mr. HERBERT SPENCER and others as the
foundation for a complete scheme of cosmic philosophy. The theory is
now, in its main features, admitted by every one. But there are a few
who would push it beyond its real ascertained limits, and would
substitute fancies for facts; they are not content to leave the
_lacunae_, which undoubtedly do exist, but fill them up by
hypothesis,[1] passing by easy steps of forgetfulness from the "it was
possibly," "it was likely to have been," to the "it must have been," and
"it was"!

To all such extensions we must of course object; there are gaps in the
scheme which can be filled in with really great probability, and in such
cases there will be no harm done in admitting the probability, while
still acknowledging it as such. An overcautious lawyer-like captiousness
of spirit in such matters will help no cause and serve no good purpose.
Nor is it at all difficult in practice to draw the line and say what is
fairly admissible conjecture and what is not. There are other gaps,
however, that at present, no real analogy, no fair inferential process,
can bridge over; and to all speculations on such subjects, if advanced
as more than bare and undisguised guesses, objection must be taken.

If this one line had been fairly and firmly adhered to from the first,
it can hardly be doubted that much of the acrimony of controversy would
have been avoided. It is just as essential at the present moment to
insist on the point as ever. But to proceed. Stated in the extreme
form, the theory is, that given matter as a beginning, that matter is
thenceforth capable, by the aid of fixed and self-working laws, to
produce and result in, all the phenomena of life--whether plant, animal,
or human--which we see around us. Matter developes from simple to
complex forms, growing by its own properties, in directions determined
by the circumstances and surroundings of its existence.

[Footnote 1: It is enough to instance the theories of Dr. Buchner and,
in earlier days, of Oken. The Haeckel and Virchow incident in this
connection, and the noble protest of the latter against positive
teaching of unproved speculation, are in the recollection of all.]

If I may put this a little less in the abstract, but more at length, I
should describe it thus[1]:--

Astronomers, while watching the course of the stars, have frequently
observed in the heavens what they call _nebulae_. With the best
telescopes these look like patches of gold-dust or luminous haze in the
sky. Some nebulae, it is supposed, really consist of whole systems of
stars and suns, but at so enormous a distance that with our best glasses
we cannot make more out of them than groups of apparent "star-dust" But
other nebulae do not appear to be at this extreme distance, and therefore
cannot consist of large bodies. And when their light is examined with
the aid of a spectroscope, it gives indications that such nebulae are
only masses of vapour, incandescent, or giving out light on account of
their being in a burning or highly heated condition.

[Footnote 1: The biological evolutionist will, I am aware, object to
this, saying that the origin of the cosmos and nebular theories are
matters of speculation with which he is not concerned--they are no part
of evolution proper. But I submit that the general philosophical
evolution does include the whole. At any rate, the materialist view of
nature does take in the whole, in such a way as the text indicates.]

Now, it is supposed that, in the beginning of the world, there was, in
space, such a nebula or mass of incandescent vapour, which, as it was
destined to cool down and form a world, philosophers have called "cosmic

This cosmic gas, in the course of time, began to lose its heat, and
consequently to liquefy and solidify, according to the different nature
of its components; and thus a globe with a solid crust was formed, the
surface of which was partly dry and partly occupied by water, and
diversified by the abundant production of the various earths, gases,
metals, and other substances with which we are familiar. These
substances, in time, and by the slow action of their own laws and
properties, combined or separated and produced further forms. But to
come at once to the important part of the theory, we must at once direct
our attention to four substances; these would certainly, it is said (and
that no doubt is quite true) be present; they are oxygen, hydrogen,
nitrogen, and carbon. The first three would be, when the earth assumed
anything like its present conditions of temperature and air-pressure,
invisible gases, as they are at present; the fourth is a substance which
forms the basis of charcoal, and which we see in a nearly pure form
crystallized in the diamond.

Now, if these substances are brought together under certain appropriate
conditions, the oxygen and hydrogen can combine to form _water_; the
carbon and the oxygen will form _carbonic acid_; while nitrogen will
join with hydrogen to form that pungent smelling substance with which we
are familiar as _ammonia_. Again, let us suppose that three compound
substances--water, carbonic acid, and ammonia--are present together with
appropriate conditions; it is said that they will combine to form a
gummy transparent matter, which is called _protoplasm_. This protoplasm
may be found in small shapeless lumps, or it may be found enclosed in
cells, and in various beautifully shaped coverings, and it is also found
in the blood, and in all growing parts or organs of all animals and
plants of every kind whatsoever.

Protoplasm, then, is the physical basis of life. Simple, uniform,
shapeless protoplasm, combined out of the substances just named, first
came into existence; and as, however simple or shapeless, it always
exhibits the property of life, it can henceforth grow and develop from
simpler to ever increasingly complex forms, without any help but that of
surrounding circumstances--the secondary causes which we see in
operation around us.

If some readers should say they have never seen _protoplasm_, I may
remind them where every one has, at some time or another, met with it.
If you cut a stick of new wood from a hedge, and peel off the young
bark, you know that the bark comes off easily and entire, leaving a
clean white wand of wood in your hand; but the wand feels sticky all
over. This sticky stuff is nothing more than transparent growing
protoplasm, which lies close under the inner bark.

At first, the materialist holds, protoplasm appeared in very simple
forms, just such as can still be found within the sea, and in ponds. But
the lower organized forms of life are extremely unstable, and a
different _environment_ will always tend to evoke continuous small
changes, so that there may be advance in forms of all kinds. For if by
chance[1] some creature exhibits a variation which is favourable to it
in the circumstances in which it is placed, that creature will be fitter
than the others which have not that variation. And so the former will
survive, and as they multiply, their descendants will inherit the
peculiarity. Thus, in the course of countless generations, change will
succeed change, till creatures of quite a complex structure and
specialized form have arisen. As the circumstances of life are always
infinitely various, the developments take place in many different
directions; some fit the creature for life in deep seas, some for flying
in the air, some for living in holes and crevices, some for catching
prey by swift pursuit, others for catching it by artful contrivance, and
so forth. Many changes will also arise from protective necessity: if an
insect happens to be like a dead leaf, it will escape the notice of
birds which would snap up a conspicuously coloured one; and so the
dull-coloured will survive and perpetuate his kind, while the others are
destroyed. On the other hand, beauty in colour and form may have its
use. This is chiefly exhibited in the preference which the females of a
species show for the adorned and showy males.

[Footnote 1: Not really of course "by chance," but simply owing to such
circumstances as cannot be accounted for by any direct antecedents.]

Supposing an organism developed so far as to be a bird, but only with
dull or ugly feathers. By accident one male bird, say, gets a few
bright-coloured feathers on his head. Here his appearance will attract
birds of the other sex; and then by the law of heredity, his offspring
are sure to repeat the coloured feathers, till at last a regularly
bright-crested species-arises. In this way _natural variability_, acted
on by the necessities of _environment_ (which cause the _survival of the
fittest_ specimens) and the principle of _heredity_, viz., that the
offspring repeat the features of the parents, aided by the principle of
_sexual selection_, have been the origin and cause of all the species we
see in the world.

Thus we have an unbroken series--certain substances condensing out of
cosmic vapour, some of them combining to form the variety of rocks,
soils, metals, &c., and others giving rise to protoplasm which grows'
and develops into a thousand shapes and hues, of insect, fish, reptile,
bird, and beast.

And then it is, that charmed with the completeness and symmetry of such
a theory, and overlooking the difficulties that crop up here and
here--demanding some Power from without to bridge them over--certain
extreme theorists have rushed to the conclusion that in all this there
is no need of any external Creator or Providence--nothing but what we
call secondary causes, ordinary causes which we see at work around us
all day and every day.

How inconceivable, they add, is the truth of the Book of Genesis, which
asserts the successive creation of fully-formed animals by sudden acts
of command; and all accomplished in a few days at the beginning of the
world's human history!

This I believe to be a fair outline, though of course a very rough and
general one, of the Theory of Evolution as regards the forms of matter
and living organisms. Now it will at once strike the candid reader, that
even granted the whole of the scheme as stated, there is _nothing_ in it
that has any answer to the objection,--But may I not believe that a wise
Creator conceived and established the whole plan--first creating MATTER
and FORCE, then superadding LIFE at a certain stage, and then drawing
out the type and design according to which everything was to grow and
develop? Is not such a production and such a design the true essence of
Creation? Can all these things happen _without_ such aid? Let us then
look more closely at some of the steps in the evolution just described.
And let us stop at the very beginning--the first term of the series.

We may agree (in the absence of anything leading to a contrary
conclusion) that matter may first have appeared as a cosmic gas, or
incandescent vapour in space. It is probable, if not certain, that our
earth is a mass that has only cooled down on the surface, the centre
being still hot and to some extent, at any rate, molten; and in the sun
we have the case of an enormous globe surrounded with a _photosphere_,
as it is called--a blaze of incandescent substances, which our
spectroscopes tell us are substances such as we have on earth now in
cooled or condensed condition--iron, oxygen, hydrogen, and other such
forms of matter.

First of all, how did any _substance_, however vapoury and tenuous, come
to exist, when previously there was nothing?

If we admit, that there was a time when even cosmic gas did not exist,
then there must have been _an Agent_, whose _fiat_ caused the change.
And as that Agent does not obviously belong to the material order, it
must belong to the spiritual or non-material; for the two orders
together exhaust the possibilities of existence. If, however, it is
urged that "primal matter"--cosmic vapour--containing the "potentiality"
of all existence, is eternal and alway existed of itself, then we are
brought face to face with innumerable difficulties. In the first place,
the existence of matter is not the only difficulty to be got over; not
the only dead-lock along the line. We pass it over and go on for a
time, and then we come to another--the introduction of LIFE. I will not
pause to consider that here; we shall see presently that it is
impossible to regard life as merely a quality or property of matter.
When we have passed that, we have a third stoppage, the introduction of
_Reason_ or _Intelligence_; and then a fourth, the introduction of the
_Spiritual faculties_, which cannot be placed on the same footing as
mere reason. So that to get over the first point, and dispense with a
Cause or a Creator of matter, is of no avail: it is incredible that
there should be no Creator of matter, but that there should be a Creator
of life--an Imparter of reason, an Endower of soul.

But let us revert to the first stage and look at the nature of MATTER.



I take as self-evident the enormous difficulty of self-caused,
self-existent matter. And when we see that matter _acting_, not
irregularly or by caprice, but _by law_ (as every class of philosopher
will admit), then it is still further difficult to realize that matter
not only existed as a dead, simple, inactive thing, but existed with a
folded-up history inside it, a long sequence of development--not the
same for all particles, but various for each group: so that one set
proceeded to form the _object_, and another the _environment_ of the
object; or rather that a multitude of sets formed a vast variety of
objects, and another multitude of sets formed a vast variety of
environments. When we see matter acting by law, then if there is no
Creator, we have the to us unthinkable proposition of law without a

On the other hand, if we shut out some of the difficulties, keep our eye
on one part of the case only--and that is what the human mind is very
apt to do--we can easily come round to think that, after all,
_elementary_ matter--cosmic gas--is a very _simple_ thing; and looks
really as if no great Power, or Intellect, were required to account for
its origin. After all, some will say, if we grant your great, wise,
beneficent, designing Creator, the finite human mind has as little idea
of a self-existing God, as it has of self-existing matter and
self-existing law. _You_ postulate one great mystery, _we_ postulate two
smaller ones; and the two together really present less "unthinkableness"
to the mind than your one. That is so far plausible, but it is no more.
To believe in a GOD is to believe in One Existence, who necessarily (by
the terms of our conception) has the power both of creating matter,
designing the forms it shall take, and originating the tendencies,
forces, activities--or whatever else we please to call them--which drive
matter in the right direction to get the desired result. To believe not
only that matter caused itself, but that the different forces and
tendencies, and the aims and ends of development, were self-caused, is
surely a much more difficult task. It is the existence of such a
_variety_, it is the existence of a uniform tendency to produce certain
though multitudinous results, that makes the insuperable difficulty of
supposing _matter always developing_ (towards certain ends) to be

The advocates of "eternal matter" really overcome the difficulty, by
shutting their eyes to everything beyond a part of the problem--the
existence of simple matter apart from any laws, properties, or

But the simplest drop of water, in itself, and apart from its mechanical
relations to other matter, is really a very complex and a very wonderful
thing; not at all likely to be "self-caused." Water is made up, we know,
of oxygen and hydrogen--two elementary colourless, formless gases. Now
we can easily divide the one drop into two, and, without any great
difficulty, the two into four, and (perhaps with the aid of a magnifying
glass) the four into eight, and so on, _as long as_ the minute particle
_still retains the nature of water_. In short, we speak of the smallest
subdivision of which matter is capable without losing its own nature, as
the _molecule_. All matter may be regarded as consisting of a vast mass
of these small molecules.

Now, we know that all known matter is capable of existing either in a
solid, liquid, or gaseous form, its nature not being changed. Water is
very easily so dealt with. Some substances, it is true, require very
great pressure or very great cold, or both, to alter their form; but
even carbonic acid, oxygen, and hydrogen, which under ordinary
conditions are gases, can with proper appliances be made both liquid and
solid. Pure alcohol, has, I believe, never been made solid, but that is
only because it is so difficult to get a sufficient degree of cold:
there is no doubt that it could be done.

It might be supposed that the molecules of which dead matter (whether
solid, liquid, or vapourous) is composed, were equally motionless and
structureless. But it is not so: every molecule in its own kind is
endowed with marvellous properties. In the first place, every molecule
has a double capability of motion. In the solid form the molecules are
so packed together that, of course, the motion is excessively
restricted; in the liquid it is a little easier; in the gaseous state
the molecules are in a comparatively "open order." In most substances
that are solid under ordinary conditions, by applying heat continuously
we first liquefy and ultimately vapourize them. In those substances
which under ordinary conditions are _gas_ (like carbonic acid, for
instance), it is by applying cold, with perhaps great pressure as well,
that we induce them to become liquid and solid; in fact, the process is
just reversed. As we can most easily follow the process of heating, I
will describe that. First, the solid (in most cases) gets larger and
larger as it progresses to liquefaction, and when it gets to vapour, it
suddenly expands enormously. Take a rod of soft iron, and reduce it to
freezing temperature: let us suppose that in that condition it measures
just a thousand inches long. Then raise the temperature to 212 degrees
(boiling point), and it will be found to measure 1,012 inches. Why is
that? Obviously, because the molecules have got a little further apart.
If you heat it till the iron gets liquid, the liquid would also occupy
still more space than the original solid rod; and if we had temperature
high enough to make the melted iron go off into vapour, it would occupy
an enormously increased space. I cannot say what it would be for iron
vapour; but if a given volume of water is converted into vapour, it will
occupy about 1,700 times the space it did when liquid, though the weight
would not be altered.

It may here be worth while to mention that it is not invariably true
that a substance gets contracted, and the molecules more and more
pressed together, as it assumes a solid form. There is at least one
exception. If we take 1,700 pints of steam, the water, as I said, on
becoming cool enough to lose the vapourous form, will shrink into a
measure holding a single pint; if we cooled lower still, it will get
smaller and smaller in bulk (though of course not at all at the same
rate) till it arrives at a point when it is just going to freeze; then
suddenly (7 degrees above the freezing point) it again begins to expand.
Ice occupies more space than cold water; its molecules get arranged in a
particular manner by their crystallization.

On the admission of an _intelligent_ Creator providing, by beneficent
design, the laws of matter, it is easy to give a reason for this useful
property. It prevents the inhabitants of northern climates being
deprived of a supply of water. As it is, the solid water or ice
expands, and, becoming lighter, forms at the top of the water, and the
heavier warmer water remains below. But if ice always got denser and
sank, the warmer liquid would be perpetually displaced and so come up to
the surface, where it would freeze and sink in its turn. In a short
time, then, all our water supplies would (whenever the temperature went
down to freezing, which it constantly does in winter) be turned into
solid ice. This would be a source of the gravest inconvenience to the
population of a cold climate. If we deny a designing mind, the
alternative is that this property of water is a mere chance.

But to return to molecules. Molecules are endowed with an inherent
faculty of motion; only under the conditions of what we call the solid,
they are so compressed, that there is no room for any motion appreciable
to the senses. Even if the solid is converted into vapour, the molecules
are still much restrained in their movements by the pressure of the air.
But of late years, great improvements (partly chemical, partly
mechanical) have been made in producing perfect _vacua_; that is to say,
in getting glass or other vessels to be so far empty of air, that the
almost inconceivably small residue in the receptacle has no perceptible
effect on the action of a small quantity of any substance already
reduced to the form of gas or vapour introduced into it. Dr. W. Crookes
has made many beautiful experiments on the behaviour of the molecules of
attenuated matter in _vacua_. The small quantity of vapour introduced
contains only a relatively small number of molecules, which thus freed
from all sensible restraint within the limits of the glass vessel used,
are free to move as they will; they are observed to rush about, to
strike against the sides of the vessel, and under proper conditions to
shine and become _radiant_, and to exhibit extraordinary phenomena when
subjected to currents of electricity. So peculiar is the molecular
action thus set up, that scientific men have been tempted to speak of a
fourth condition of matter (besides the three ordinary ones, solid,
liquid, and gaseous), which they call the ultra-gaseous or radiant state
of matter.

This marvel of molecular structure seems already to have removed us
sufficiently far from the idea of a simple inert mass, which might be
primordial and self-caused. But we have not yet done. Even imagining the
extreme subdivision[1] of the particles in one of Dr. Crookes' vacuum
globes, the particles are still water. But we know that water is a
compound substance. The molecule has nine parts, of which eight are
hydrogen and one oxygen--because that is the experimentally known
proportion in which oxygen and hydrogen combine to form water. As we can
(in the present state of our knowledge) divide no farther, we call these
ultimate fragments of simple or elementary substance _atoms_.

[Footnote 1: As to the possibility of _indefinite_ subdivision of
matter, see Sir W. Thomsons's lecture, _Nature_, June, 1883, _et seq._]

Every substance, however finely divided into molecules, if it is not a
simple substance, must therefore have, inside the _molecular_ structure,
a further _atomic_ structure. And in the case of unresolvable or
"elementary" substance, the molecule and the atom are not necessarily
the same. For though there is reason to believe that, the molecule of
these does consist, in some cases, of only one atom--in which case the
atom and the molecule are identical; in other cases, the molecule is
known to consist of more than one atom of the same element; and the
atoms are capable of being differently arranged, and when so arranged
have different _properties_ or behaviour, though their nature is not
changed. This property is spoken of by chemists as _allotropism_. No
chemist on earth can detect the slightest difference in _constitution_
between a molecule of _ozone_ and one _oxygen_; but the two have widely
different properties, or behave very differently. There is thus a great
mystery about atoms and their possible differences under different
arrangement, which is as yet unsolved. Those who wish to get an insight
into the matter (which cannot be pursued farther here) will do well to
read Josiah Cooke's "The New Chemistry," in the International Scientific
Series. The mind is really lost in trying to realize the idea of a
fragment of matter too small for the most powerful microscope, but
existing in fact (because of faultless reasoning from absolutely
conclusive experiments), and yet so constituted that it is
_practically_ a different thing when placed in one position or order,
from what it is when placed in another.

Turning from this mystery, as yet so obscure, to what is more easily
grasped, we shall hardly be surprised to learn, further, that every kind
of, atom obeys its own laws, and that while atoms of one kind always
have a _tendency to combine_ with atoms of other kinds, it is absolutely
impossible to get them to combine together except on certain conditions.

The difference between combination and mixture is well known. Shake sand
and sugar in a bag for ever so long, but they will only _mix_, not
_combine_ or form any new substance even with the aid of electric
currents; but place oxygen and hydrogen gas under proper conditions, and
the gases will disappear, and water (in weight exactly equal to the
weight of the volume of gases) will appear in their place.

It is only certain kinds of atoms that will combine at all with other
kinds; and when they do so combine, they will only unite in absolutely
fixed proportions, so that chemists have been able to assign to every
kind of element its own combining proportion. The substances that will
combine will do so in these proportions, or in proportions of any _even
multiple_ of the number, and in no other. Thus fourteen parts of
nitrogen will combine with sixteen of oxygen; and we have several
substances in nature, called nitrous oxide, nitric oxide, nitric
di-oxide, &c., which illustrate this, in which fourteen parts of
nitrogen combine with sixteen oxygen or fourteen nitrogen with a
multiple of sixteen oxygen, or a multiple of fourteen nitrogen combine
with sixteen oxygen, and so on.

See now where we have got to. When we had spoken of a tiny fragment of
primal matter--a drop of water, for instance--it seemed as if there was
no more to be said; but no, we found ourselves able to give a whole
history of the molecules of which the substance consists; and when we
had considered the molecule, we found a further beautiful and intricate
order of _atoms_ inside the molecule, as it were.

And there is no reason to suppose that science has yet revealed all that
is possible to be known about atoms and molecules; so that if further
wonders should be evoked, the argument will grow and grow in cumulative

Let me sum up the conclusion to be drawn from these facts in a quotation
from a discourse of Sir John F.W. Herschel.

"When we see," says that eminent philosopher, "a great number of things
precisely alike, we do not believe this similarity to have originated
except from _a common principle independent of them_; and that we
recognize this likeness, chiefly by the _identity of their deportment
under similar circumstances_ strengthens rather than weakens the

"A line of spinning jennies, or a regiment of soldiers dressed exactly
alike and going through precisely the same evolutions, gives us no idea
of independent existence: we must see them act out of concert before we
can believe them to have independent wills and properties not impressed
on them from without.

"And this conclusion, which would be strong even if there were only two
individuals precisely alike in _all_ respects and _for ever_, acquires
irresistible force when their number is multiplied beyond the power of
imagination to conceive.

"If we mistake not, then, the discoveries alluded to effectually destroy
the ideas of an _eternal_ self-existent matter by giving to each of its
atoms the essential characters at once of a _manufactured_ article and
of a _subordinate agent_."

In other words, continuing the metaphor of the trained army, we see
millions upon millions of molecules all arranged in regiments, distinct
and separate, and the regiments again made up of companies or
individuals, each obeying his own orders in subordination to, and in
harmony with, the whole: are we not justified in concluding that this
army has not been only called into being by some cause external to
itself; but further, that its constitution has been impressed upon it,
and its equipments and organization directed, by an Infinite

There is, then, no such thing to be found in Nature as a simple,
structureless "primal matter" which exhibits nothing tending to make
self-causation or aboriginal existence difficult to conceive. To look at
matter in that light is not only to take into consideration a _part_ of
the case; it is really to take what does not exist, a part that exists
only in the imagination. The simplest form of matter we can deal with,
exhibits within itself all the wondrous plan, law, and sequence of the
molecular and atomic structure we have sketched out; and when we
consider that, having taken matter so far, we have even then only
introduced it to the verge of the universe, ushered it on to the
threshold of a great "aeon," when and where it is to be acted on by
"gravitation" and other forces, to act in relation to other matter, and
to be endowed perhaps with LIFE, we shall feel that the
self-existence--the uncaused existence of matter, and of the principles
on which matter proceeds or acts, is in reality not a less mystery than
the self-existence of a Designing and Intelligent Cause, but one so
great as to be itself "unthinkable."



We now come to _Living_ Matter; directing attention, first, to that
elementary form of life as exhibited in simple protoplasm and in the
lower forms of organism, and then to the perfect forms of bird and
beast. In each case, we shall find the same evidence of Design and
Intelligence, the same proof of "contrivance" and purpose, which we
cannot attribute to the mere action of secondary causes.

The simplest form in which LIFE is manifested is in a viscid gelatinous
substance without colour or form, called _Protoplasm_. Wherever there is
life there is protoplasm. Protoplasm, as before remarked, lies just
under the bark in trees, and is the material from which the growth of
the wood and bark cells and fibres proceeds. Protoplasm, is also present
in the muscles and in the blood, and wherever growth is going on.

But protoplasm also exists by itself; or, more properly speaking, there
exist living creatures, both plant and animal, which are so simple in
structure, so low in organization, that they consist of nothing but a
speck of protoplasm. Such a creature is the microscopic _amoeba_.
Sometimes these little specks of protoplasm are surrounded with
beautifully formed "silicious shells--a skeleton of radiating _spiculae_
or crystal-clear concentric spheres of exquisite symmetry and
beauty.[1]" The simplest _amoeba_ however, has no definite form; but the
little mass moves about, expands and contracts, throws out projections
on one side and draws them in on the other. It exhibits irritability
when touched. It may be seen surrounding a tiny particle of food,
extracting nutriment from it and growing in size. Ultimately the little
body separates or splits up into two, each part thenceforth taking a
separate existence.

[Footnote 1: Professor Allman.]

Now it is claimed that such a little organism contains the potentiality
of all life; that it grows and multiplies, and develops into higher and
higher organisms, into all (in short) that we see in the plant and
animal world around us. This, it is argued, is all done by natural
causes, not by any direction or guidance or intervention of a Divine

Here we must stop to ask how this protoplasm, or simplest form of
organic life, came to exist? How did it get its _life_--its property of
taking nourishment, of growing and of giving birth to other creatures
like itself?

The denier of creation replies, that just in the same way as, by the
laws of affinity, other inanimate substances came together to produce
the earth--salts and other compounds we see in the world around us--so
did certain elements combine to form protoplasm. This combination when
perfected has the property of being alive, just as water has the
property of assuming a solid form or has any other of the qualities
which we speak of as its properties.

Now it is perfectly true that, treated as a substance, you can take the
gummy protoplasm, put it into a glass and subject it to analysis like
any other substance. But simple as the substance appears, composition is
really very complicated. Professor Allman tells us that so difficult and
wonderful is its chemistry, that in fact really very little is known
about it. The best evidence we have, I believe, makes it tolerably
certain that protoplasm consists of a combination of ammonia, carbonic
acid, and water, and that every molecule of it is made up of 76 atoms,
of which 36 are carbon, 26 hydrogen, 4 nitrogen, and 10 oxygen.[1]

But no chemist has ever been able either to account theoretically for
such a composition, still less to produce it artificially. It is urged,
however, that it may be only due to our clumsy apparatus and still very
imperfect knowledge of chemistry, that we were unable artificially to
make up protoplasm.

[Footnote 1: Nicholson ("Zoology," p. 4) gives for Albumen, which is
nearly identical with protoplasm--Carbon, 144; Hydrogen, 110; Nitrogen,
18; Oxygen, 42; Sulphur, 2. These figures nearly equal those in the
text, being those figures multiplied each by 4 (approximately) and
without the trace of sulphur.]

And of course there is no answer to a supposition of this sort.
Nevertheless there is no sort of reason to believe that protoplasm will
ever be made; nor, if we could succeed in uniting the elements into a
form resembling protoplasmic jelly, is there the least reason to suppose
that such a composition would exhibit the irritability, or the powers of
nutrition and reproduction, which are essentially the characteristics of
_living_ protoplasm. It is not too much to say that, after the close of
the controversy about spontaneous generation, it is now a universally
admitted principle of science that life can only proceed from life--the
old _omne vivum ex ovo_ in a modern form.[1]

But here the same sort of argument that was brought forward regarding
the possibility of matter and its laws being self-caused, comes in as
regards life.

[Footnote 1: _See_ "Critiques and Addresses," T.H. Huxley, F.R.S.,
p. 239. So much is this the case, that it is really superfluous, however
interesting, to recall the experiments of Dr. Tyndall and others, which
finally demonstrated that wherever primal animal forms, bacteria and
other, "microbes," were produced in infusions of hay, turnip, &c.,
apparently boiled and sterilized and then hermetically sealed, there
were really germs in the air enclosed in the vessel, or germs that in
one form or another were not destroyed by the boiling or heating. Dr.
Bastian's argument for spontaneous generation is thus completely
overthrown. _(See_ Drummond, "Natural Law," pp. 62-63.)]

The argument in the most direct form was made use of by Professor
Huxley, but it is difficult to believe that so powerful a thinker could
seriously hold to a view which will not bear examination, however neatly
and brilliantly it may go off when first launched into the air. The
argument is that life can only be regarded as a further property of
certain forms of matter. Oxygen and hydrogen, when they combine, result
in a new substance, quite unlike either of them in character, and
possessing _new_ and different properties. The way in which the
combination is effected is a mystery, yet we do not account for the new
and peculiar properties of water (so different from those of the
original gases) as arising from a principle of "aquosity," which we have
to invoke from another world. The answer is that the argument is from
analogy, and that there is not really the remotest analogy between the
two cases. It is true that, as far as we know, electricity is necessary
to force a combination of the requisite equivalents of oxygen and
hydrogen into water. But though we do not know why this is, or what
electricity is, we can repeat the process as often as we will. But mark
the difference; the water once existing is obviously only a new form of
matter, in the same category with the gases it came from: it neither
increases in bulk, nor takes in fresh elements to grow, and give birth
to new drops of water. But protoplasm has something quite different--for
there may be dead protoplasm and living protoplasm, both identical to
the eye and to every chemical test. In either condition, protoplasm, as
such, has _properties_ of the same nature (though not of the same kind)
as those of water, oxygen gas, or any other matter; it is colorless,
heavy, sticky, elastic, and so forth; but besides all that (without the
aid of electricity or any physical force we can apply) one has the power
of producing more protoplasm--gathering for itself, by virtue of its
inherent power, the materials for growth and reproduction.

If directly water was called into existence it could take in
nourishment, and divide and go on producing more water--and if some
water could do this, while other water (which no available test could
distinguish from it in any other respect) could not, then we _should_ be
perfectly justified in giving a special name to this power, and calling
it "aquosity" or "vitality" or anything else, it being out of all
analogy to anything else which we call a "property" of matter.

In the introduction of LIFE into the _aeon_ of organic developmental
history, we have a clear and distinct period, as we had when _matter_
came into view, or when _the change_ was ushered in which set the cosmic
gas cooling and liquefying, and turning to solid in various form.

The fact is that every organic form, whether plant or animal, derived
from the protoplasmic compounds of carbon-dixoide, ammonia and water,
is, as Mr. Drummond puts it,[1] "made of materials which have once been
inorganic. An organizing principle, not belonging to their kingdom, lays
hold of them and elaborates them."

[Footnote 1: "Natural Law," p. 233.]

Thus by the introduction of LIFE we have a vastly enlarged horizon.
Before, in the organic world, we had only the "principle" of solidifying
or crystallizing, liquefying, and turning to gas or vapour, ever
stopping when the state was attained. Or if a combination was in
progress, still the result was only a rearrangement of the same bulk of
materials (however new the form) in solid, liquid, or gas, but no
increase, no nutrition, no reproduction. In the organic world we have
something so different, that whether we talk of "property" or
"principle," the things are entirely distinct.

The essential difference, stated as regards the mere facts of
irritability or motion, nutrition and reproduction, is so grandly
sufficient in itself, that one almost regrets to have to add on the
other facts which further emphasize the distinction between _life_ and
any _property_ of matter. But these further facts are highly important
as regards another part of the argument. For while what has just been
said almost demonstrates the necessity of a Giver of Life from a kingdom
outside the organic, the further facts point irresistibly to the
conclusion that we must predicate more about the Giver of Life that we
can of an abstract and unknown Cause.

The original protoplasm, when dead, is undistinguishable by the eye, by
chemical test, or by the microscope, from the same protoplasm when
living; and living protoplasm, again, may be either animal or vegetable.
Both are in every respect (externally) absolutely identical. Yet the one
will only develop into a _plant_, the other only into an _animal._ Nor
does it diminish the significance of the fact to say that the
differentiation is _now_ fixed by heredity. If we suppose protoplasm to
be only a fortuitous combination of elements, what secondary or common
natural cause will account for its acquisition of the fixed difference?
It is true that some forms of plants exhibit some functions that closely
approach the functions of what we call animal life; but, as we shall see
presently, there is no evidence whatever that there is any bridge
between the two--we have no proof that a plant ever develops into an
animal. Here is one of the gaps which the theory of Evolution, true as
it is to a certain extent, cannot bridge over; and we must not overlook
the fact. We shall revert to it hereafter.

Can it be believed, then, that protoplasm, as the origin of life, is
self-caused, and self-developed? And this is not all. I must briefly
remind my readers that the way in which animal protoplasm deals with the
elements of nutrition is quite opposite to that which plant protoplasm
follows. I might, indeed, have mentioned this at an earlier stage, when
I mentioned Professor Huxley's comparison of the chemical action in the
formation of water with what he assumed to be the case in the formation
of protoplasm. When water is formed, the two gases disappear, and an
_exactly equal weight_ of water appears in their place; but if living
protoplasm is enabled to imbibe liquid or other nutriment containing
ammonia, water, and carbonic acid, there is no disappearance of the
three elements and an equivalent weight of living protoplasm appearing
in its place. Protoplasm consumes the oxygen and sets free the carbonic
acid. Both kinds of protoplasm do this, until exposed to the light; and
then a difference is observed; for under the influence of light, animal
protoplasm alone continues to act in this way, and vegetable protoplasm
begins at once to develop little green bodies or corpuscles in its
cells, and afterwards acts in a totally opposite way, taking the carbon
into its substance and giving off the oxygen.[1]

[Footnote 1: Certain _fungi_ seem to afford an exception to this. The
above is, I believe, true as a theoretical action of plants and animals
in protoplasmic form. But practically, in all higher developments of
either kind, other distinctions come into play; e.g., that plants can
make use of inorganic matter, gases, and water, and elaborate them into
organic matter. Animals cannot do this, they require more or less solid
food--always requiring "complex organic bodies which they ultimately
reduce to much simpler inorganic bodies. They are thus mediately or
immediately dependent on plants for their subsistence" (Nicholson,
"Zoology," 6th ed. p. 17). It is perhaps with reference to this that in
the Book of Genesis the Creator is represented as giving _plant_ life to
the service of man and animals--while nothing is said of the preying of
_Carnivora_ and _Insectivora_ on animal life.]

Not only then has each kind of protoplasm its own mysterious character
impressed on it, and is compelled to act in a certain way; but still
further, each particle of animal and vegetable protoplasm, when directed
into its _general_ course of development as _plant or animal_, will
again only obey a certain course of development in its own line.

But we must proceed a step further; for those who would believe in the
sufficiency of unaided Evolution, bid us bear in mind how very
elementary the dawn of instinct or the beginning of reason is in the
lowest forms which are classed as animal, and how very small is the
gap[1] between some highly organized plants and some animal forms, and
argue therefore that they may justly regard the distinction as of minor
importance, and hope that the "missing link" will be yet discovered and
proved. At any rate, they minimize the difference, and urge that it is
of no account if at least they can establish the sufficiency of a proved
development extending unbroken from the lowest to the highest animal
form. And having fixed attention on this side, no doubt there is a long
stretch of smooth water over which the passage is unchecked.

[Footnote 1: At the risk of repetition I will remind the reader that
nature contains _nothing like_ a progressive scale from plant to animal.
It is _never_ that the highest plant can be connected with the lowest
animal as in one series of links. The animal kingdom and the plant
kingdom are absolutely apart. Both start from similar elementary
proteinaceous structures; and both preserve their development
upwards--each exhibiting _some_ of the features of the other. It is at
the bottom of each scale that resemblance is to be found, _not_ between
the top of one and the lowest members of the other.]

The Evolution theory is that all the different species of animals,
birds, and other forms of life have been caused by the accumulation and
perpetuation of numerous small changes which began in one or at most a
few elementary forms, and went on till all the thousands of species we
now know of were developed.[1] It _is_ a fact that all organic forms
have a certain tendency to vary. I need only allude to the many
varieties of pigeons, horses, cattle, and dogs which are produced by
varying the food, the circumstances of life and so forth, and by
selective breeding.

The contention then is: given certain original simple forms of life,
probably marine or aquatic--for it is in the water that the most likely
occur--these will gradually change and vary, some in one direction, some
in another; that the changes go on increasing, each creature giving
birth to offspring which exhibits the stored-up results of change, till
the varied and finished forms--some reptile, some bird, some
animal--which we now see around us, have been produced. And at last man
himself was developed in the same way. All this, observe, is by the
action of just such ordinary and natural causes as we now see operating
around us--changes in food and in climate, changes in one part requiring
a corresponding change in others, and so on.

[Footnote 1: The reader may find this admirably put in Wallace,
"Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection," p. 302.]

Nature contains no sharply drawn lines. Plants are different from
animals; but there are animals so low down in the scale of life that it
is difficult to distinguish them from plants. Pigeons are distinct from
pheasants, but the line at which the one species ends and the other
begins is difficult to draw. This fact seems to invite some theory of
one form changing into other. Accordingly the evolutionist explains the
working of the process which he asserts to be sufficient to produce all
the various forms of life in our globe.

After stating this more in detail than we have previously done, we shall
be in a better position to judge if the process (which in the main we
have no desire to deny or even to question) can dispense with _guidance_
and the fixing of certain lines and limits within which, and of certain
types towards which, the development proceeds. That is our point.

It is hardly necessary to illustrate the enormous destruction of life
which goes on in the world. Even among the human race, the percentage of
infants that die in the first months of their life is very large. But in
the lower forms of life it is truly enormous. Only consider the myriads
of insects that perish from hunger or accident, and from the preying of
one species on another. If it were not so, the world would be overrun by
plagues of mice, of birds, of insects of all kinds, and indeed by
creatures of every grade. The term "struggle for existence" is, then,
not an inapt one. All forms of living creatures have to contend with
enemies which seek to prey upon or to destroy them, with the difficulty
of obtaining food, and with what I may call the chances of
nature--cold, storms, floods, disease, and so forth.

Now, it is obvious that if some creatures of a given kind possess some
accidental peculiarity or modification in their formation which gives
them (in one way or another) an advantage over their fellows, these
improved specimens are likely to survive, and, surviving, to have

It is this perpetuation of advantageous changes, originally induced by
the circumstances of environment, that is indicated by the term "natural
selection." Nature chooses out the form best suited to the circumstances
which surround it, and this form lives while the others die out. And
this form goes on improving by slow successive changes, which make it
more and more fit for the continually changing circumstances of its

Subordinate also to this natural selection is the principle that bright
colour and other special qualities may be developed in the males of a
race, because individuals with such advantages are more attractive, and
therefore more easily find mates, than dull-coloured or otherwise less
attractive individuals.

Of each of these principles I may give a simple example. Supposing a
species of bird with a soft slender beak to be placed on an island,
where the only food they could obtain was fruit enclosed in a hard or
tough shell or covering. Supposing some birds accidentally possessed of
a beak that was shorter and stouter than the others', these would be
able to break open the shell and get at the fruit, while the others
would starve. Some of the descendants of the birds with the stout beaks
would inherit the same peculiarity, and in the course of several
generations there would thus arise a species with short and strong,
perhaps curved, beaks just fitted to live on fruits of the kind
described. In a similar way the webbed feet of birds that swim were
developed by their aquatic habits. And so with the long slender toes of
the waders, which are so well fitted for walking over floating aquatic

Of the other principle, sexual selection, a familiar example is the
bright and showy colouring of the male birds of many species: the
females of their species, as they need protection while helplessly
sitting on their eggs, are dull-coloured like the bark of trees or the
sand, among which their nests lie hid.

Some of the Himalayan pheasants exhibit this peculiarity to a marked
degree. Originally, it is said, the male bird, which was more brightly
coloured than the rest, got mated more easily by the preference shown to
him for his bright colour.

The question is, can we suppose all this to go on, by self-caused laws
and concurrence of circumstances, without a pre-existing design for the
forms to reach or an external guidance in the processes?



The heading of this chapter does not mark a new departure, for we have
been tracing existing forms of matter from the first, and have already
seen the necessity of believing in Creative Intelligence and Guidance.
We have seen that inorganic matter, with what we call its molecular or
atomic structure, cannot be reasonably regarded as self-caused; and we
have concluded with Sir J.F.W. Herschell that the sight of such a
well-arranged army, performing its evolutions in a regular and uniform
manner, irresistibly suggests a great Commander and Designer. We have
further found that the advent of LIFE demands a Power _ab extra_. We
have called attention to the gap, between plant and animal, which is
ignored or made light of, chiefly on account of the close approach of
the two kingdoms. But there is one broad distinction, namely, that of
elementary reason and no reason, or of consciousness and
unconsciousness, which is, in itself, a sufficient difficulty to pull
us up shortly. We have not yet fully considered this matter, because it
will come more appropriately at a later stage, and in the _a fortiori_
form. But we have justly noted it here. We cannot account for the most
elementary reason by any physical change; there is no analogy between
the two. The connection of mind and matter is unexplainable; and no
theory of development of physical form can say why, at any given stage,
physical development begins to be accompanied by brain-power and
_consciousness_. Admit candidly that the addition of intelligence at a
certain stage, however mysteriously interwoven with structural
accompaniments, is a gift _ab extra_, and we have at least a reasonable
and so far satisfactory explanation.

But when we have got an animal form, however simple and elementary, with
at least a recognizable "potentiality" of intelligence, we enter, as I
said, a long stretch of apparently smooth water, over which, for an
important part of our passage, we seem able to glide without any
difficulty from the necessary intervention of the so-called
supernatural. I have, then, to show that even here there is really no
possibility of dispensing with a Creator who has a purpose, a designed
scheme, and a series of type-forms to be complied with.

In order to fully exhaust the question how far natural selection is
capable of accounting for everything, it would be necessary to take a
very wide view of natural history and botany, which it is quite
impossible for us to attempt. But this is not necessary for our purpose.
We are perfectly justified in selecting certain topics which must arise
in the discussion. If, in studying these points, we find that _there_ at
least the intervention of a Controlling Power becomes necessary, and the
absence of it leaves things without any reasonable explanation, then we
shall have good and logical ground for holding to our faith in the
universal presence of such a Power. No chain is stronger than its
weakest link. If secondary causes cannot succeed at any one part of the
chain, it is obvious that they fail as a universal explanation.

This part of the work has already been done far better than I could do
it. In the first eight chapters of Mivart's "Genesis of Species" [1] the
argument has been ably and clearly put, and whatever answer is possible
has been given by Darwin and others; so that the world may judge. All
that can here be usefully attempted, is, by way of reminder, to
reproduce some main topics on which no real answer has been given. These
are selected, partly because they are less abstruse and difficult to
follow than some which might be dealt with, partly because they are
calculated to awaken our interest, and partly because the conclusion in
favour of a continual Providence; working through organized law and
system, appears to follow most clearly from them.

[Footnote 1: Second Edition, 1871.]

The points I would call attention to are the following:--

(I) That as natural selection will only maintain changes that have been
_beneficial_ to the creature, it is contrary to such a law, if acting
entirely by itself, that that there should be developments (not being
mere accidental deformities, &c.) disadvantageous to the creature. And
yet the world is full of such.

(2) That there are forms which cannot be accounted for on the
evolutionist supposition, that they were gradually obtained by a series
of small changes slowly progressing towards a perfect structure. They
would be of no use at all unless produced _at once and complete_.

(3) That natural selection, as apart from a Divine Designer, altogether
fails to account for _beauty_, as distinguished from mere brilliancy or
conspicuousness, in nature. Whereas, if we suppose the existence of a
beneficent Creator, who has moral objects in view, and cares for the
delight and the improvement of His creatures,[1] and looking to the
known effects on the mind of beauty in art and in nature, the existence
is at once and beyond all cavil explained.

[Footnote 1: "He hath made everything _beautiful_ in his time" (Eccles.
iii. II).]

(4) That we have positive evidence against _uncontrolled_ evolution
(uncontrolled by set plan and design i.e.) and a strong presumption in
favour of the existence of created _types_; so that evolution proceeds
towards these types by aid of natural laws and forces working together
(in a way that our limited faculties necessarily fail to grasp
adequately);[1] and so that, the type once reached, a certain degree of
variation, but never _transgression_ of _the type_, is possible.
Further, that on this supposition we are able to account for some of the
unexplained facts in evolutionary history, such as _reversion_ and the
_sterility of hybrids_; and to see why there are gaps which cannot be
bridged over, and which by extreme theorists are only feebly accounted
for on the supposition that as discovery progresses they _will_ be
bridged over some day.

[Footnote 1: "Also He hath set the world in their heart, so that _no man
can find out the work that God maketh_ from the beginning to the end"
(Eccles. iii II).]

(5) Lastly, that there is no possibility of giving _time_ enough on any
possible theory of the world's existence, for the evolution of all
species, unless _some_ reasonable theory of creative arrangement and
design be admitted.

The great objection--the descent of man and the introduction of reason,
consciousness, and so forth, into the world, will then form two separate
chapters, concluding the first division of my subject.

There is one point which the reader may be surprised to see omitted. It
is, that if these slow changes were always going on, why is not the
present world full of, and the fossil-bearing rocks also abounding in,
_intermediate forms_, creatures which _are on their way_ to being
something else? But there are reasons to be given on this ground which
make the subject a less definite one for treatment. It is said, for
example, that in the fossil rocks we have only such scanty and
fragmentary records, that it is not possible to draw a complete
inference, and that there is always the possibility of fresh discoveries
being made. Such discoveries have, it is asserted, already been made in
the miocene and again in later rocks; different species of an early form
of _horse_ which are (and this we may admit) the ancestral or
intermediate forms of our own horse, have been found. I therefore would
not press the difficulty, great as it is, because of the escape which
the hope of future discovery always affords. I will take this
opportunity to repeat that in this chapter I say nothing about the
difficulty which arises from the introduction of elementary reason or
instinct, and of consciousness, into the scale of organic being; that
will more appropriately fall in with the consideration of the
development of man, where naturally the difficulty occurs with its
greatest force.

(1) I come at once to the great difficulty that, if all existing forms
are due to the occurrence of changes that helped the creature in the
struggle for existence, how is it possible now to account for forms
which are not advantageous? yet such forms are numerous. Of this
objection, the existence of imperfect or neuter bees and ants is an
instance. The modification in form which these creatures exhibit is of
no advantage to them. It _is_ a great advantage, no doubt, to the other
bees; but then this introduces a view of some power _making_ one thing
for the benefit of another, not a change in the form itself adapted of
course to its _own_ advantage--since natural laws, forces, and
conditions of environment could not conceivably _design_ the advantage
of another form, and cause one to change for the benefit of that other.

Why is it, again, that crabs and crayfish can only grow by casting off
their shells, during which process they often die, as well as remain
exposed defenceless to the attacks of enemies? Why should stags shed
their horns also, leaving them defenceless for a time? Other animals do
not do so, and there is nothing in the nature of the horn which requires

This brief allusion is here sufficient. Mr. Mivart's work gives it at

(2) Passing next to the question of the advantage of _incomplete
stages_--portions of a mechanism only useful when complete, the most
striking examples may be found in the Vegetable kingdom. The
fertilization of flowering plants is effected by the pollen, a yellow
dust formed in the anthers, which is carried from flower to flower. In
the pines and oaks, this is done by the wind. But in other cases insects
visit a flower to get the honey, and in so doing get covered with
pollen, which they carry away and leave in the next flower visited. Now
one of our commonest and most useful plants, the red clover, is so
constructed that it can only be fertilized by humble bees. If this bee
became extinct, the plant would die out; how can such a development be
advantageous to it?

But the contrivances by which this process of fertilization is secured
are so marvellous, that I confess I am completely staggered by the idea
that these contrivances have been caused by the self-growth and
adaptation of the plant without guidance. There is a plant called
_Salvia glutinosa_[1]--easily recognized by its sticky calyx and pale
yellow flowers. The anthers that bear the pollen are hidden far back in
the hood of the flower, so that the pollen can neither fall nor can the
wind carry it away; but the two anthers are supported on a sort of
spring, and directly a bee goes to the flower and pushes in his head to
get the honey, the spring is depressed and both anthers start forward,
of course depositing their pollen on the hairy back of the bee, which
carries it to the stigma of the next flower. This process can be tested
without waiting for a bee, by pushing a bit of stick into the flower,
when the curious action described will be observed. It is very easy to
say that this admirable mechanical contrivance is of great use to the
plant _in its complete_ form; but try and imagine what use an
intermediate form would have been! If development at once proceeded to
the complete form, surely this marks _design_; if not, no partial step
towards it would have been of any use, and therefore would not have been
inherited and perpetuated so as to prepare for further completion. But
many other plants have a structure so marvellous that this objection is
continually applicable. Let me only recall one other case, that of the
orchid, called _Coryanthes macrantha_. In this flower there are two
little horns, which secrete a pure water, or rather water mixed with
honey. The lower part of the flower consists of a long lip, the end of
which is bent into the form of a bucket hanging below the horns. This
bucket catches the nectar as it drops, and is furnished with a spout
over which the liquid trickles when it is too full. But the mouth of the
bucket is guarded by a curiously ridged cover with two openings, one on
each side. The most ingenious man, says Mr. Darwin, would never by
himself make out what this elaborate arrangement was intended for. It
was at last discovered. Large humble bees were seen visiting the flower;
by way of getting at the honey, they set to work to gnaw off the ridges
of the lid above alluded to; in doing this they pushed one another into
the bucket, and had to crawl out by the spout. As they passed out by
this narrow aperture, they had to rub against the anthers and so carried
off the pollen. When a bee so charged gets into another bucket, or into
the same bucket a second time, and has to crawl out, he brushes against
the stigma, and leaves the pollen on it. I might well have adduced this
plant as another instance of the first objection, since it may well be
asked, How could such a development, resulting in a structure which
presents the greatest difficulty in the way of fertilization, be
beneficial to the plant? But here the point is that, even if any one
could assert the utility of such an elaborate and complicated
development, and suppose it self-caused by accident or effect of
environment, it certainly goes against the idea that all forms are due
to an _accumulation of small changes_. For these curious contrivances in
the case of _Salvia, Coryanthes_, and other plants, would in any case
have been no use to the plant till the whole machinery _was complete_.
Now, on the theory of slow changes gradually accumulating till the
complete result was attained, there must have been generation after
generation of plants, in which the machinery was as yet imperfect and
only partly built up. But in such incomplete stages, fertilization would
have been impossible, and therefore the plant must have died out. Just
the same with the curious fly-trap in _Dionoea_. Whatever may be its
benefit to the plant, till the whole apparatus as it now is, was
_complete_, it would have been of no use. In the animal kingdom also,
instances might be given: the giraffe has a long neck which is an
advantage in getting food that other animals cannot reach; but what
would have been the use of a neck which was becoming--and had not yet
become--long? here intermediate stages would not have been useful, and
therefore could not have been preserved.[2] In flat fishes it is curious
that, though they are born with eyes on different sides of the head, the
lower eye gradually grows round to the upper-side. As remarked by Mr.
Mivart, natural selection could not have produced this change, since the
_first steps towards it_ could have been of no possible use, and could
not therefore have occurred, at least not without direction and guidance
from without. Mr. Darwin's explanation of the case does not touch this

[Footnote 1: This species was instanced because the lectures which form
the basis of the book were originally delivered at Simla, in the N.W.
Himalaya, where, at certain seasons, the plant is a common wayside weed.
Mr. Darwin notices a similar and, if possible, more curious structure in
a species of _Catasetum_.]

[Footnote 2: See this fully explained by Mivart, "Genesis of Species,"
pp. 29, 30 (2nd edition).]

(3) The third point, the occurrence of so much _beauty_ in organic life,
is perhaps one of the most conclusive arguments for design in nature.

Here, if possible, more clearly than elsewhere, I see a total failure of
"natural causes." We are told that the beauty of birds (for instance) is
easily accounted for by the fact, that the ornamented and beautiful
males are preferred by the other sex; and that this is an advantage, so
the beauty has been perpetuated; and the same with butterflies and

We are told also that bright-coloured fruits attract birds, who eat the
soft parts of the fruit and swallow the hard stone or seed which is thus
prepared for germination, and carried about and dispersed over the
earth's surface. Again, showy coloured flowers attract insects, which
carry away pollen and fertilize other flowers.

All this is perfectly true; but it entirely fails to go far enough to
meet the difficulty.

Now passing over such difficulties as the fact that bright colours in
flowers _do not_ attract insects in many cases, but much more
inconspicuous flowers if they have a scent (mignonette, for example)
_do_; passing over such a fact as that afforded by the violet, which (as
some may not be aware) has two kinds of flower, one scented and of a
beautiful colour, the other green and inconspicuous, and it is the
_latter, not the former_ which is usually fertile;--passing over all
detailed difficulties of this kind, I allude only to the one great one,
that in all these cases, besides mere bright colour, conspicuousness or
showiness, there is a great and wonderful beauty of pattern, design, or
colour arrangement, in nature. Now there is not a particle of evidence
to show that any animal has, to the smallest extent, a _sense of
beauty_. On the contrary it is most improbable. The sense of artistic
beauty is not only peculiar to man, but only exists in him when
civilized and cultivated. Uneducated people among ourselves have no
sense of landscape and other beauty. How then can it exist in animals?

If there was nothing to explain but a uniform bright and showy colour,
natural selection might be sufficient to account for it. How is it,
then, that this is not the case? We have not only colour, but colour
diversified in the most elaborate and charming manner. Look at the
exquisite patterns on a butterfly's wing! look at the various delicate
arrangements of colour and pattern in flowers; or look again at the
arrangement of colour on a humming-bird--sometimes the tail, sometimes
the breast is ornamented, sometimes a splendid crest covers the head,
sometimes a jewelled gorget or ruff surrounds the throat; and these are
not uniformly coloured, but exhibit metallic and other changes of lustre
not to be imitated by the highest art. But to fully realize this, I had
best refer to a more familiar instance. Let any one examine--as an
object very easily procurable in these days--a peacock's feather. No
doubt the whole tail when expanded is very brilliant; but look closely
at the structure of a single feather; is all this arrangement needed
only to make the tail bright or conspicuous? Observe how wonderfully the
outer parts are varied; part has a metallic lustre of copper, part has
this also shot with green: then there is a delicate ring of violet with
a double yellowish border, all quite distinct from the inmost gorgeous
"eye" of green, blue, and black, and all arranged on the same feather!

Take, again, the so-called diamond beetle of Brazil; here the wing case
is black studded all over with little pits or specks, which as a whole
only give it a powdery pale-green colour; but place it in the sunlight
and look at it with a magnifying glass--each little speck is seen to be
furnished with a set of minute metallic scales showing green and red
flashes like so many diamonds. How does such a delicate ornament answer
the demands of mere conspicuousness?

But there is a stronger case than this. I before alluded to the
exquisite symmetry of the silicious and crystalline coverings of some of
the simplest forms of marine animalcules; and also I may here add the
beautiful colouring of _shells_ sometimes on the _inside_.[1] In what
possible way would this beauty serve for any purely _useful_ purpose?

[Footnote 1: See Mivart, p. 61.]

Lastly, how are we to account for the beauty of autumnal tints in woods,
or coloured _leaves_ in plants such as the _Caladium_? The beauty is of
no conceivable use to the plant.

"In Canada the colours of the autumn forest are notorious. Even on
cloudy days the hue of the foliage is of so intense a yellow that the
light thrown from the trees creates the impression of bright sunshine,
each leaf presents a point of sparkling gold. But the colours of the
leafy landscape change and intermingle from day to day, until pink,
lilac, vermilion, purple, deep indigo and brown, present a combination
of beauty that must be seen to be realized; for no artist has yet been
able to represent, nor can the imagination picture to itself, the
gorgeous spectacle.[1]"

Have we not here an exhibition which cannot be accounted for on any
principle of natural utility?

[Footnote 1: "Quarterly Review," 1861, p. 20.]

(4) The fourth point, as previously stated, will be best treated by
stating beforehand what is the conclusion come to, and then justifying
it. My suggestion is that if we suppose a continuous evolution without a
series of designs prescribed before life began to develop, and without
any external guidance, then we are lost in difficulties. We cannot
account for why variation should set in in the very different ways it
does, nor why such a vast variety of divergent results should be
produced. We cannot account for the tendency to reversion to a previous
type, when artificial or accidental variation is not continually
maintained,[1] nor for the sterility of hybrids; nor, above all, for
evolution performing such freaks (if I may so say) as the origination of
our small finches and the tropical humming-birds from earlier
vertebrates through the Mesozoic reptiles, the pterodactyles,
_Odontornithes_ and subsequent forms. Supposing that the Almighty
Designer created a complete _cosmos_ of (1) the starry heavens and the
planetary system, (2) then a scheme whereby earth and water were to be
duly distributed over our planet; (3) established the relations by
which the external heavenly bodies were to regulate our seasons, tides,
and times (as we know they do). (4) Suppose, further, that the Designer
did not make "out of nothing" the series of finally developed animals as
we now have them, but "made the animals make themselves"--that is to
say, created the type, the ideal form, and adapted the laws and forces
which constitute environment, so that development of form should go on
regularly towards the appointed end, but in separate and appropriate
channels, each terminating when its object had been attained. Suppose
these conditions (which, as we shall afterwards see, are what
Revelation, fairly interpreted, declares) to exist; all the known
_facts_, and also the fairly certain _inferences_ of Evolution, are then
accounted for.

[Footnote 1: Pigeon fanciers know that when they have once obtained, by
crossbreeding and selection, a particular form or feather, the utmost
care is needed to preserve it. If the parents are not selected the
progeny wilt gradually revert towards the original wild pigeon type.]

We have neither by revelation nor physical discovery an exact _scheme_
of all the types, nor which of the elementary forms were destined to
remain unchanged throughout. But some scheme of created types we surely
have. Whether what we call _species_[1] are all types or not, we cannot
say; probably not. All we can be sure of is that there are definite
lines somewhere. We see the sterility of some hybrids, for instance,
which would seem to indicate that while some forms can conjugate and
their offspring remain fertile, others (approaching, as it were, the
verge of separation) give rise to hybrids which are or not absolutely
sterile,[2] according as they approach, or are more remote from, the
designed barrier-line. And at that point the separation is insuperable.
Certain forms of _Carnivora_ and _Ungulata_ seem to be for ever
apart--not only the two great orders, but even subdivisions within them.
Reptiles and birds, on the other hand, unlike as they at first sight
seem, have no type line drawn to separate them; that, at least, is one
of the more recent conclusions of biological science.

[Footnote 1: It should be borne in mind that what we call a _species_ as
distinct from a mere variety, is a more or less arbitrary or provisional
thing dependent on the state of science for the time. Species are
constantly being lumped together by some and separated by others. It
follows most probably, that while some species are really types--i.e.,
one can never pass into the other and lose its essentials, unless it is
destined to disappear (like the pterodactyle), not being wanted in the
whole scheme--other species are really only varieties, and maybe lost or
modified without limit.]

[Footnote 2: We may well regard the mule as a peculiar form just such as
the evolutionist would rejoice to see: here is a modified species, which
has qualities different from those of either of the parent stock, and
well fitted "to struggle for existence." Yet this modified race would,
if left to itself, die out.]

In other cases where variation has occurred, and especially when it is
artificially--i.e., by the aid of selective breeding--caused or
favoured, there is the constant tendency to _revert_, which is at once
intelligible if there is a type scheme to be maintained.

If there were a series of created types, there may naturally have been
what I may call sub-types; which would be certain well-marked stages on
the way to the final form. Such sub-type forms would naturally occur at
different ages, and being marked would show their place in the scale,
and their connection with the ultimate perfect form. Such a possibility
would exactly account for the series of _Eohippus, Hipparion_, and
horse, which we have already instanced; and still more so for the rise
and disappearance of the great Mesozoic Saurians when their object was
fulfilled. Deny guidance and type, and everything becomes confused. Why
should variation take certain directions? how comes it that natural
forces and conditions of life so occur and co-operate as to produce the
variety of changes needed?

And there is also one other general objection which I desire to state.

Why should _development_ have gone in different directions _towards the
same object_? I grant that different circumstances would produce
different changes, but not for the same purpose. For example take
eye-sight. The world shows several types of eye. The _insect_ eye quite
unlike any other; the crustacean eye also distinct; and birds, fishes,
and animals having an eye which is generally similar and is somewhat
imitated by the eye of the _cuttle fish_ (which is not a _fish_, but a

Again, granted that _poison_ is a useful defence to creatures: how is it
given so differently?--to a serpent in the tooth; to a bee or a scorpion
in the tail; to a spider in a specially adapted _antenna_, and to the
centipede in a pair of modified legs on the _thorax_.

One would have supposed that natural causes tending to produce poison
weapons would have all gone on the same lines. And, curiously, in some
few cases, we have a sameness of line. About twelve species--all
fish--have an electric apparatus, familiar to most of us in the flat
sea-fish called _Torpedo_ and in the fresh-water eel called _Gymnotus_.
The only answer the anti-creationist can give to this dissimilarity of
development is that there are many vacant places in the polity of
nature, and that development takes place in that direction which fits
the creature to occupy a vacant place, and is, therefore, diverse.

It seems to me that this--the only answer that can he given--is
necessarily a modified form or mode _of creation._ How can _natural
causes_ know anything about a polity of nature and a vacant place, here
and there, so that the creature must develop in one way or another to
fill it?

Another set of cases is the production of similar functional results by
most diverse means, as in the case of flying animals, birds,
pterodactyles, and bats; here there is a widely different modification
of the fore-arm and other bones, all for the same purpose. The reader
will do well to refer to Mr. Mivart's book on this subject.

Again, the question of types seems to be pointed to in the curious fact
of what I may call the double development of birds from reptiles. Mr.
Mivart says, "If one set of birds sprang from one set of reptiles and
another set from another set of reptiles, the two sets could never by
'natural selection' only have grown into such perfect similarity." Yet
we can trace the _Struthious_ birds (those that, like ostriches, do not
fly) through the Dinosaurs and _Dinornis_, and the flying Carinate birds
though pterodactyles, _Archaeopteryx_, and _Icthyornis_, &c.

It might well be added to this part of the subject, that granted that
developmental changes were often small, that progress was attained
little by little, this does not appear to have been always the case.

The discoveries of the fossil species of horse,[1] _Eohippus,
Hipparion_, and so forth, clearly establish a developmental series, and
the ancient forms are claimed as the ancestor of the modern horse; but
these (Professor Owen tells us) differed more from one another than the
ass and the zebra (for instance) differ from the horse. Still, of course
it may be that there are still undiscovered intermediate forms; and in
any case there need be no desire to detract from the value of the
series, as really pointing towards a gradual perfection of the horse
from a ruder ancestor up to the latest type. But having reached the
type, and though that type exhibits such (considerable) variations as
occur between the Shetland pony, the Arab, and the dray-horse, we have
still no difficulty in recognizing the essential identity; nor is there
any evidence or any probability that the horse will ever change into
anything essentially different. All the fossil bats, again, were true
bats: and so with the rhinoceroses and the elephants. Granting the
fullest use that may be made of the imperfection of the geological

Book of the day: