Produced by Distributed Proofreaders
i”?Life: Its True Genesis
By R. W. Wright
[Masoretic Hebrew.]–xOe squaredxx(C)OeOe1/2x” x-Oe.x”Oe deg.xcxx”Oe3/4x’Oexoe xcOe.xoeOe3/4x”OexOeOe’x”Oexcxf.–
IYa1/2– I”a1/2 IfIEuroa1/2 cubedII1/4I+- I+-a1/2I”I?a?| a1/4I1/2 I+-a1/2I”a?. II+-I”a1/2 deg. I cubeda1/2 cubedI1/2I?I, a1/4IEuroa1/2 I”a?I, I cubeda?I,. [Septuagint.]
“Whose general principle of life, each in itself after its own kind, is upon the earth.” [Correct Translation.]
ARTHUR E. HOTCHKISS, ESQ.
OF CHESHIRE, CONN.
Chapter I. Introductory.
Chapter II. Life–Its True Genesis. Chapter III. Alternations of Forest Growths. Chapter IV. The Distribution and Vitality of Seeds. Chapter V. Plant Migration and Interglacial Periods. Chapter VI. Distribution and Permanence of Species. Chapter VII. What Is Life? Its Various Theories. Chapter VIII. Materialistic Theories of Life Refuted. Chapter IX. Force-Correlation, Differentiation and Other Life Theories. Chapter X. Darwinism Considered from a Vitalistic Stand-point.
Preface to Second Edition.
Here is the law of life, as laid down by the eagle-eyed prophet Isaiah, in that remarkable chapter commencing, “Ho, every one that thirsteth”–whether it be after knowledge, or any other earthly or spiritual good–come unto me and I will give you that which you seek. This is the spirit of the text, and these are the words at the commencement of the tenth verse:
“As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it (_the earth_) bring forth and bud (_not first bud, bear seed, and then bring forth_), that it (_the earth_) may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater (_man being the only sower of seed and eater of bread_): so shall my Word be (_the Word of Life_) that goeth forth out of my mouth (_the mouth of the Lord_); it shall not return unto me void (_i.e., lifeless_), but it shall accomplish that which I (_the Lord Jehovah_) please, and it (_the living Word_) shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
This formula of life is as true now as it was over two thousand six hundred years ago, when it was penned by the divinely inspired prophet, and it is as true now as it was then, that “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” That is, as the rains descend and the floods come and change the face of the earth, a law, equivalent to the divine command, “Let the earth bring forth,” is forever operative, changing the face of nature and causing it to give expression to new forms of life as the conditions thereof are changed, and these forms are spoken into existence by the divine fiat.
In all the alternations of forest growths that are taking place to-day, on this continent or elsewhere, this one vital law is traceable everywhere. In the course of the next year, it will be as palpable in the Island of Java, recently desolated by the most disastrous earthquake recorded in history, as in any other portion of the earth, however free from such volcanic action. On the very spot where mountain ranges disappeared in a flaming sea of fire, and other ranges were thrown up in parallel lines but on different bases, and where it was evident that every seed, plant, tree, and thing of life perished in one common vortex of ruin, animal as well as vegetable life will make its appearance in obedience to this law, as soon as the rains shall again descend, cool the basaltic and other rocks, and the life-giving power referred to by Isaiah once more become operative. There is no more doubt of this in the mind of the learned naturalist, than in that of the most devout believer of the Bible, from which this most remarkable formula is taken.
We have no disposition to arraign the American and European “Agnostics,” as they are pleased to call themselves, for using the term “Nature” instead of God, in their philosophical writings.
As long as they are evidently earnest seekers after _Truth_ as it is to be found in nature–the work of God–they are most welcome into the temple of science, and their theories deserve our thoughtful consideration. It is only when they become dogmatic, and assert propositions that have no foundation in truth, as we sincerely believe, that we propose to break a lance at their expense, and lay bare their fallacies. We claim nothing more for ourself, as a scientific writer, than we are willing and ready to accord to them. Indeed, we would champion their right to be heard sooner than we would our own, on the principle that it is our duty to be just to others before we are generous to ourselves, or those of our own following. But our Agnostic friends should remember that when they charge us with being “dogmatic in science,” the charge should be made good from a scientific stand-point, and not merely by the bandying of words.
When they tell us, for instance, that a toad has hibernated for a million years in any one of the stratified rocks near the surface of the ground, we interpose the objection that none of these batrachian forms can exist for a period of more than twelve months without air and food. And yet they have been blasted out of cavities in the surface rocks of the earth, where they have apparently lain for the period named by our scientific friends referred to. The fault is not ours, but theirs, that they are in error. Had they determined to study the subject of life, as we have done, from the Bible as well as from nature, they would have commenced at these toad-producing rocks, and worked their way upward to the source of all life, and not downward to the vanishing point–that where animal life ceases in the azoic rocks. The batrachians are low down in the scale of nature, but they have a determinate period of existence, as do all other forms of life. Try your experiments with them; see how long they will live without light, air, and food. This you can do as well as ourself. Conform to all the conditions required–the absolute exclusion of light, air, and food–and you will find that the toughest specimen experimented with is a dead batrachian inside of one year.
This experimental test should settle the question of lengthened vitality between us. There is no miracle about this matter at all, and science finds no stumbling-block in the way of a complete explication of this riddle, if, in the light of nature, there be any such riddle. We claim there is not, when we interpret nature in the light of nature’s God. Let the earth, or rather its silicious and other decaying rocks, bring forth these batrachian forms. The command is imperative and not dependent upon any “seed” previously scattered or sown in the earth itself.
The father of the writer was Superintendent of the Green Mountain Turnpike Company, extending from Bellows Falls to Rutland, Vt., from 1812 to 1832, and worked every rod of that road many times over. From our earliest boyhood we accompanied him on these working trips, attended by a large force of laboring men, and our attention was early called to the characteristics of these toad-producing rocks. The rotting slates, shales, sandstones, shists, and rocks of various kinds, were often ploughed up by the road-sides, and the _dA(C)bris_ scraped into the centre of the road-beds; the heaviest ploughs of that day being used to cut through these wayside rocks, and often requiring as many as six or eight yoke of oxen to break the necessary furrow. In many of these decaying slates, shists, sandstones etc., hundreds of young toads, many of them not more than half an inch in length, were turned out at different seasons of the year, showing that they were produced independently of any parent batrachian, there being no trace of a mother toad in connection with them.
The parent toads bury themselves in the gardens and ploughed fields in the early autumn, and if they survive the severity of the winter months, may propagate their kind the second year, and probably for several years. But they require remarkably favorable conditions to continue their life for any considerable number of years in open-field propagation, while under no circumstances whatever can they make their way into these decaying rocks in order to propagate their species. The reason why such fresh specimens appear under these circumstances, and in the cavities of the rocks named, is conclusively that indicated by the prophet Isaiah, in the text quoted by us; and when Professor Agassiz was forced to admit that trout must have made their appearance in the fresh-water streams emptying into Lake Superior, instead of originating elsewhere, it is to be regretted, for the sake of science, that he did not boldly enunciate the formula of life as taught by the eagle-eyed prophet of the Bible, and not as proclaimed by the owl-eyed professors of the London University College.
What is true of the trout in these Lake Superior streams, is true of them almost everywhere, even right in the town of Cheshire, Conn., where we are inditing this preface, the 10th day of October, 1883. We recently visited the Rev. David D. Bishop, in the northeastern portion of this township, where that cultured gentleman was constructing an artificial trout-pond. It was at a season of the greatest drought known for years in that portion of the town.
The point selected for this trout-pond was at the farthest eastern source of what is known as “Honey Pot” brook in Cheshire, a famous one for trout in former years. Mr. Bishop proposed to stock his pond with the best spawn he could procure. We remarked to him that there was no need of that expense, as no stream ever produced better trout than the “Honey Pot”; and on closely examining one of the six or eight cold springs developed in his enclosure, to his surprise, not ours, we discovered several small trout, not more than six weeks old, as lively as they could well be under the blasting operations then going on there; while his children were fishing out from the rocks any number of young frogs (of the common _Rana_ family), abounding wherever rocks and water make their appearance in similar localities. This incident was all the more remarkable for the reason that this small stream, or rather source of one, had been apparently dry for months, as had been many of the best wells in the town.
Our well, in the western part of the town, had been dug some six feet into the solid rock and an inexhaustible supply of the coldest water secured. We invited our neighbors, those living on both sides of us, as well as at some distance from us, to come and draw all the water they wanted, remarking that they might now and then draw up a small frog, originating therein, but that, by fishing him out of the pail, he would make his way to the neighboring streams not dry, and would flourish well enough as one of the _Rana_ family. It was only to our more intelligent neighbors (such as Mr. Bishop) who had read our work on “Life,” that we stopped to explain this phenomenal fact. And so of all life, wherever it appears, whether vegetable or animal. Our experiments with mosquitoes are equally conclusive. Three years ago we took two barrels of rain-water from our cistern, tightly covered; one barrel we left open to the warm sun and air, and the other we covered with the finest mosquito netting. The barrel left open was soon thronged with mosquitoes, constructing their little rafts of eggs and paving their way for the swarms of young wigglers that in the course of a week or two made their appearance in the open barrel in immense numbers. The process by which these wigglers hatch out into mosquitoes is an interesting one, and will bear the closest study, as well as scientifically pay for watching the operation. At the proper time they come to the surface of the water, undergo a palpable modification in their structure, and beautifully burgeon forth into the tormenting little insects that they are during the summer and autumn months in our Northern climate. The object of the covered barrel was to ascertain whether we could reach the conditions favorable for the development of this little pest of the _Culex_ family, independently of the eggs of the insect itself. This required some patience and not a little care. We knew that an egg dropped through the interstices of the netting would sink to the bottom of the water and fail to germinate, as every scientist understanding the process well knows. It must be floated on the water at first, or until it reaches the point of development into a wiggler. The first step in the process of its life is as cunningly devised as the second, and the second as the third, until the full-fledged mosquito is reached.
All precautions must be taken against any mistake or error in the experiment named. But we persevered and found nature responsive to our demands. Wigglers after awhile made their appearance sparsely in the covered barrel, but the mosquitoes developed from them proved innocuous of harm, as we kept the barrel covered, and they were soon drowned in the water, not having sufficient area of flight to answer the conditions of their life. We might instance some remarkable discoveries in the vegetable world, showing conclusively that plants and trees come without seed, and we feel the more pride in this discovery because we have been assured by Prof. Othniel C. Marsh, of Yale College, a gentleman highly distinguished in his specialties, that if we would show that an oak tree came without an acorn, he would abandon Evolution and accept the exposition given by us of the Bible genesis; but we have no special ambition to make so eminent a convert from Herbert Spencer’s ranks. He is a much younger man than ourself, but the great English Evolutionist or Involutionist, whichever he may ultimately decide to call himself, is about the writer’s own age, and, for special reasons, he would prefer to win him to the vital side of this question, that he may act with Professor Beale in the great controversy now waging in England on this subject, and we will assure both Prof. Marsh, and his friend, Herbert Spencer, that if either of them will show that an acorn comes without an oak tree, we will abandon any position we have taken on this subject, and accept theirs, however absurdly (to our mind) it may have been taken in the past. We know that “tall oaks from little acorns grow;” but that is when man becomes the sower of seed, and knows the origin of each specific tree that is brought forth. When we talk about the squirrel, or the birds becoming the “sowers of seeds,” especially the acorns, we are talking at random, and without any certain knowledge. This we say with all due deference and respect to our learned Agnostic friends, and wish they would treat their vitalistic brothers with the same becoming courtesy.
In a work which we have now in preparation for the press, to be entitled “Biodynamics; or, The Laws of Life,” we shall give this “seed question” a more exhaustive inquiry than we have yet done.
Our proofs in regard to one form of life are equally applicable to any other plant, insect, or animal, and there is no greater or less mystery in the life of a blade of grass than in the cedar of Lebanon figuring so conspicuously in the historic page.
When the Nile overflowed its banks in ancient times, and caused the young frogs to swarm up as a pest upon the Egyptians, the same law of life was operative in that land, as when warm thunder-showers pelt the earth with us in the summer season, causing hundreds and thousands of these batrachians to come out of the gritty waysides, and swarm along our highways and by-ways, leading ignorant and thoughtless people to suppose that they have rained down from the sky. The simple fact is, that the earth was commanded to bring them forth, and that great mother of all vegetable and animal life is obeying the command to-day, just as she did in the beginning.
One of the greatest errors that science has yet committed, or rather that scientific men have stumbled upon, is the theory that all living forms have appeared but once in time and place, and that they have thence diffused themselves, in pairs, throughout the globe, as from specific centres of origin. In the primeval oceans, whenever and wherever the environing conditions of matter were the same or identical, the like living forms made their appearance and flourished for hundreds and thousands of years, and finally disappeared, in a fossilized state, as their environing conditions were changed. They came not genetically–as in pairs–but thronged the seas in thousands and millions as the divine edict went forth.
As another conclusive proof, to our mind, of the existence of this law of life, we instance the case of the mango-tree growing in the West India Islands, especially along the sea-shore, where it becomes the natural _habitat_ of the oyster. It is the belief of some ignorant persons that the oyster climbs these trees and deposits its spawn or “spat” upon the extreme limbs of the same as they bend down toward the water. This is manifestly an error, and belongs to the same class of fallacies as the common impression that toads rain down from the sky. The smaller mango-trees growing about the bays and inlets of these islands, furnish, as we have said, a natural _habitat_ for the oyster, and as the salt sea-spray washes their roots and the bark of their trunks, the long thin-shelled oysters of that region make their appearance thereon without the presence of spawn, just as they do when old oyster-shells are dumped along our sand-banks in New England. On these dumped shells oysters will be produced abundantly, simply because the conditions are favorable, and not in consequence of the presence of “spat.” Oysters have little, if any, locomotive power, and can no more climb the mango-tree than they can scale the cliffs of the Azores. The reason why they hang in pendent clusters from the extreme boughs of the mango in the West India Islands is, that these boughs are sprayed upon by the rippling waters, and the environing conditions being favorable, the indifferent oyster of that region makes its appearance.
There has been no migration of the oyster from one centre of origin to another, any more than there has been a transference of the white whale from the arctic seas to the fiery equator. Every thing has its place in nature, and comes with or without seed as natural laws determine. During the last year I have gathered cedar trees that did not make their appearance till late in August and September, long after the seed of the previous year had entirely disappeared, and there was no more life in them than there is in acorns that have crossed the Atlantic a dozen times in bulk. And the late Henry D. Thoreau, in his “Excursions,” says that they will not stand one such shipment to Europe, and that every acorn that does not sprout by the end of November of the year it matures, is hopelessly a dead acorn. This is in harmony with our experience, and we have no doubt of the correctness of his observations. How absurd, then, to suppose that acorns can retain their vitality so as to germinate after years of out-door or other exposure. The seeds of forest-trees that mature in May and June, or the majority of them at least, have to be planted in those months, as all persons engaged in forest culture well know. This is specially true of cedars and oaks, as well as of elms and maples.
Study the paleontological facts as given by Prof. Frederick McCoy, of the University of Melbourne, in Australia, a gentleman highly distinguished for his learning and research. He has explored portions of that continent as far down as the azoic rocks, and made many important discoveries as to the past life of the globe. His researches have been especially rich in the Cambrian or Lower Silurian epochs, and have led to many modifications in the classification of the various forms of life pervading those earlier periods, and we may say that the facts he has brought to light tend strongly to show the correctness of our theory as taken from the biblical text; as, for instance, the _Trilobites_, occurring so abundantly in what is known as the Utica slates. Wherever the slates make their appearance, whether in Australia, America, or any portion of Europe, this fossil, characteristic of the Silurian and Devonian systems, appeared, not so much in time and place as in extended localities and conditions–indicating the presence of a law of life such as we have enunciated. We once inquired of the elder Prof. Silliman how long it took for the formation of one of these periods or systems? His reply was curt and pertinent: “It took long enough, young man!” That satisfied us at the time, and we have never asked the question since. It is prying beyond scientific depth, and the ablest scholars in the world will so regard it in the end.
All fossils follow the same developmental law, and seem to have been governed by corresponding conditions everywhere. The doctrine of “_similia similibus gignuntur_”–similar conditions producing similar forms–obtains universally. The _Graptolites_, occurring in the bituminous shales of the Silurian sandstone period, afford only another instance of the same law to which we have called the attention of our readers. In fact, the annals of natural history abound in the most conclusive proofs, as well in the fossilized as the living world, of what the paramount text of the Bible teaches us.
When Professor Ehrenberg, one of the most distinguished classifiers of minute forms of life in the world, declared, as he recently did before the Royal Geographical Society of London, that there was “a great invisible rock-and earth-forming life in nature,” he came pretty near enunciating a great truth in science; and had he connected his language with the induction of “environing conditions” and the sequence of life therefrom, he would have accomplished what we undertook to do in our work begun several years ago, but not completed and published until 1880. For it will be seen that we had been gathering the material for “Life: Its True Genesis” for many years before we sat down to the task of writing it.
When we said to one of our most intimate college friends that we were less than six months preparing it for the press, we stated what was literally true; but we had no intention of giving him to understand that we had spent only that time in gathering the vast amount of material at our command–twenty times as much as we could possibly use in the preparation of such a volume for the press. The long months and even years of toil and study spent by us in the needful preparation, were a part of the labor, as every author, writing intelligently on any subject, knows. The immense amount of care and labor that enabled Hermann von Meyer to prepare his paper on the _ArchA|opterix_, rescued from the lithographic slate, is a case in point, as showing how small apparently the labor of accomplishing a great work for science. The time devoted to preparing the paper was trifling as compared with the result of his achievement. And so with every one who enters the temple of science with a devout wish to attain success.
It will be apparent to the religious mind of this country and England, if not to that of Mr. Tyndall himself, that, if the exegetical rendering we have extended to the Bible be correct, there is no necessity whatever for the vast uncomputed periods of time intervening the different geological strata, to which that scientific gentleman refers in his fanciful musings upon the Matterhorn!
Nor is there any such necessity for it, if what Professor Ehrenberg says be true in regard to the basaltic rocks thrown up by volcanic action in the Island of St. Paul. For if these rocks possess this mysterious power of life, He who made them manifestly imparted it. One thing is certain, at least, the rocks did not make themselves; nor did they impart to themselves any life-originating power after they were made. The same power that originated them originated all their characteristic properties, and the same may be said of Professor Tyndall’s “sky-mist” or any other mistier name suggested by scientific men. We have only to take the “Thesaurus” of the Silurian period, and connect it with the induction of the biblical text, and we shall see that the forms characteristic of that period appeared not only synchronously in time and space, but also in physical conditions, and consequently, that no immense epochs were expended in the propagation, of species on the “two-pair” theory of our materialistic friends. They simply flourished over vast areas for a while, and were then locked up as fossils where they are now found. How long it took for this transformation to take place is manifestly beyond any data we may now have for determining. In the case of some artificial baths in which crystalline forms appear, we know that it takes only a few weeks at least, and why should natural processes be any more delinquent or defective in their operation than those that are purely artificial? Remember that we are not “musing on the Matterhorn” as was the gifted English naturalist, but upon the text of the equally gifted Isaiah, and pondering the works of God as seen by the devout prophet in his day. When Mr. Tyndall can tell us how long it took God to lift the towering Matterhorn from its base, he will be in a frame of mind to answer the other problems involved in the controversy between us. In an instant–the twinkling of an eye–some of these phenomena have occurred, and recent events, such as wide volcanic disturbances, show how idle it is for man to place a limit to the power of the Most High. Even the “red snow,” unmistakably a vegetal formation, appearing at times on the loftier Alps, is as much a proof of God’s power as the ragged mountain peaks on which it appears–covering vast areas within a few hours’ time.
When such men as the late Professor Silliman, and Professor Dana, Sen’r, of Yale College, take up the Bible genesis, and speak in high commendation of its value to science, it is idle for the Agnostics of that or any other institution of learning to speak sneeringly of their efforts. They both know (for the elder Benjamin Silliman “still lives”) that the first command of this genesis was, for the earth to bring forth its vegetation, not from “seed” distinctively so-called, but from the germinal principles of life therein; what Ehrenberg calls the “rock-and earth-forming life” or power of life in matter.
That the second command was, for the waters of the earth to bring forth their specific forms of life, including the birds; just where science now asserts they originally came from.
And that the third command was, for the earth to bring forth the beasts thereof, and every creeping thing thereon. Here the “rock-and earth-forming” power of life ceased, and the language of the genesis changes. It is no longer “Let the earth bring forth,” but let the Divine energy intervene!
“Let us (the divine Trinity in Unity) make man in our own image”–after our own conception of what he should be–the being of two worlds, the material and spiritual; and man was made accordingly. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a “living soul.” This is the record–brief, grand, historic. No “evolution,” no “involution,” no word without sense or meaning. He who was to have dominion, in his limited sphere, over all the earth, thus came in due time for a wiser and grander purpose than man has yet seen; but which, in the providence of God and the light of His word, he will yet come to see, as scientific truth advances with the march of religious knowledge. Heaven speed the day when this millennium of truth shall dawn upon us here!
In this remarkable genesis we have a bridge that spans the chasm between the man and the anthropoid ape as no other bridge spans it. It is a bridge over which is flung the living garment of God, and angelic hosts may pass it to and fro, as well as the master-minds of our own and future ages. It takes man out of the category of a “beast of the earth,” and places him where all soul-aspiration lifts us–lifts even Robert G. Ingersoll, in his higher inspirational moods, or will lift him when his extreme material dogmatisms and false teachings desert him, as we trust they some day will. Let him read the “Student,” by Bulwer, and he will learn how narrowly Voltaire escaped becoming a “Reformer” in the Church of England, instead of the violent antagonist he was of the corrupt Church of Rome in France. We do not make ourselves; it is the environing circumstances and conditions in which we are placed which oftentimes determine our career for good or for evil.
We had proposed embodying in this Preface one or two caustic reviews of our late work, from an Agnostic source, but have been deterred from so doing, for the reason that we deem it in bad taste as well as irrelevant at this late day. We shall be pardoned, however, in alluding to _The National Quarterly Review_, for the captious manner in which it treated us after we had courteously replied to several inquiries made of us in its two- or three-page review. After complaining that we had been “hailed, by a class of callow religious critics, as a ‘Savior’ from scientific error and enormities,” it charged us with certain unscrupulous methods of criticism,–such as putting language into Mr. Darwin’s mouth that he never thought of uttering, etc., etc. And as this pretentious Quarterly put several questions to us, such as “When and where the great Evolutionist had taught any such doctrine as this?” we ventured to reply as courteously as we knew how. We endeavored to treat our reviewer fairly, as he had handsomely accorded to us the credit of “searching the fields of natural science, lance in hand, to deal hard thrusts at impious skeptics, materialists, and evolutionists–of which Mr. Darwin and Mr. Bastian fare the most severely.” But we had no thought of using these offensive adjectives toward either of the distinguished gentlemen named, and did not so use them; however “unscrupulous” our methods may have been in other respects. Our reply was unnoticed by the bulky Quarterly, and we were content with knowing that it was received by its editor, and shared the fate of all intrusive communications which it is easier to throw into the waste-basket, especially in hot weather, than to answer in the interests of science, when such answers are difficult to be made. This was the first and only discussion we attempted to provoke with our “exhaustive Reviewers,” and it will, in all probability, be the last. Little is gained by these polemical controversies, when conducted in the spirit of unfairness, or with greater asperity than the true interests of journalism demand. The beauty of its kindly advice to us, as a “scientific critic,” was that every word of it came back, as a cruel boomerang, into the writer’s own face.
But this is enough. For the last three years we have been mostly engaged in writing another book, the character of which is already sufficiently indicated in this Preface. The reasons why we have been led to adhere to our original purpose of making this a “Bible Genesis,” as _The National Quarterly Review_ speaks of it, are best known to our more intimate friends, and we do not propose to disappoint them in their expectations.
If we have failed to make our theory understood by others, we regret it; if others fail to understand the inspired text, it is manifestly a matter for them to regret, and for us to deplore.
To those who have spoken kindly of “Life: Its True Genesis,” we return our thanks: to those who have extended to it their sharpest criticisms, in what they believe the true interests of science, we also return our thanks. We have no fear that Truth will be crushed in this contest:
“Truth crushed to earth shall heavenward rise again, Like wayside flowers that lift their heads, aglow With a far sweeter fragrance when they’ve been All rudely trampled on by hostile foe,
Than when in Flora’s gentle arms they’ve lain The long night through, and wake at early dawn To greet Aurora–jewelled queen of morn!”
R. W. Wright.
West Cheshier, Conn., _Oct_. 12, 1883.
The office of a preface is twofold; first, to introduce the author to the public; second, to introduce his work. As the writer seeks no personal introduction, beyond what a favorable or unfavorable reception of his work may give him, he leaves the more formal, if not formidable branch of salutation untouched.
The work has cost him some labor, as the reader will see. The field he has traversed is vast and varied, and the facts he has gathered are numerous and from many and diversified sources–all bearing more or less conclusively on the one vital point he seeks to establish, viz: _That the primordial germs (meaning germinal principles of life) of all living things, man alone excepted, are in themselves upon the earth, and that they severally make their appearance, each after its kind, whenever and wherever the necessary environing conditions exist_.
The foundation of this emphatic formula we find in the Bible Genesis, in the words given on our title-page, which are more accurately translated in the Septuagint, than in our common English version of the Old Testament. The words are to be found in the 11th verse of the first chapter of Genesis, and the writer confidently believes that they contain the true Genesis of Life, although entirely overlooked, heretofore, by both the biblical and scientific scholar.
In the work which he here gives to the public, he will endeavor to show that all the vital phenomena of our globe, with the single exception named, find their complete explication in this Genesis of Life; and that we have only to take the scientific Genesis out of some of its more imposing categories, to make the two either entirely harmonize, or fall into the same lines of incidence in human thought.
Science has long taught that the _absence_ of necessary physiological conditions results everywhere in the _disappearance_ of vital phenomena; by reversing its logical methods, it will also find that the _presence_ of these necessary conditions results everywhere in the _appearance_ of vital phenomena. Take, for instance, the vegetation of Northern Europe, where it is known that the oak succeeded the pine, and the beech the oak, after each had held possession of the soil for we know not how many thousand years. In bringing about the necessary conditions of soil, the pine paved the way for the oak, and that in turn paved the way for the beech. Neither sprang from the other, nor did the “selection of the fittest” have anything to do with the appearance or disappearance of either. Each yielded fruit “after his kind,” whose “seed” (germinal principle of life) was in itself, i.e., after its own kind, upon the earth, and made its appearance spontaneously,–that is, without the presence of natural seed,–whenever the necessary environing conditions favored.
And the same law of vegetal propagation is everywhere operative to-day, in the alternations of forest growths, the spontaneous appearance of oak forests where pine have been cleared away, and _vice versa_, in some parts of the country, where heavy forests of oak timber have been felled. So with the new growths of timber springing up in the paths of tornadoes, over large burnt districts, in soils brought up from below the last glacial drift, and in hundreds of other instances which the reader will find conclusively verified in these pages,–all making their appearance without the possible intervention of natural seeds.
The great value of the Septuagint, as compared with other versions of the Hebrew Bible, will appear from the fact that it is older by many hundred years than any manuscript copy of the Hebrew text now extant. It was undoubtedly translated at Alexandria, in Egypt, as early as the third century before Christ, while the oldest known Hebrew MS. is a Pentateuch roll dating no further back than A. D. 580. Its translators had before them much older and more perfect MSS. than any that survived to the time of the masoretic recension, when an attempt was made to give uniformity to the readings and renderings of the Hebrew text by means of the vowel points, diacritical signs, terminal letters, etc., all of which are now subject to rejection by the best Oriental scholarship.
According to IrenA|us, this Greek version was rendered at the request of Ptolemy Lagi, in order to add to the treasures of the Alexandrian library, and it no doubt derived its name from the number of Hebrew and Hellenistic scholars,–probably the most eminent to be found in that day,–employed upon the work. The version comes, therefore, with paramount authority to our own times; and we accept its Greek rendering as the highest and most conclusive evidence of the authenticity of the text, and the “new genesis of life” we derive therefrom.
ILIEuroI-II1/4I+- (as contained in the Septuagint) has almost an identical signification with the Hebrew word ZRA. It means the “_germ_ of anything,” or the “germinal principle of life,” as contained in anything that lives or grows. No one will claim that it is used in its literal sense of “seed,” in the text. For, when the divine command was issued, there was no plant or tree, and, presumably, had been none upon the earth from which seed could have been derived. The word was used in its larger and more comprehensive (that is, metaphorical) sense, as the “germinal principle of life in matter,” or precisely in the sense in which the Greek stoics used it in their philosophy. Both Theophrastus and Diogenes use the terms IfIEuroI muII1/4I+-I”a?1/2II?a1/2 I cubedIOEI cubedI?I expressing “the _laws of generation contained in matter_”–precisely the meaning we attach to it in its textual connection. The eleventh verse should read, therefore, as follows: “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, _whose germinal principle of life, each in itself after its kind, is upon the earth_”
We accept this rendering of “the seventy,” because they had the most complete and perfect Hebrew MSS. before them, and were no doubt better scholars, and far more competent renderers of the original text than the Masorites who came some seven or eight hundred years after them.
But this is not the most important point of inquiry in this connection. The materialistic objector may say: “Admit all this; grant that the true rendering is here given; grant even that the true law of vegetal development and growth is here enunciated; what has ‘star-eyed science’ to do with the ‘_odium theologicum_?'” We answer, nothing. We would bury both theological rancor and atheistical pretension in the same barrow, and agree never to “peep and botanize” over their common grave. But if a great scientific principle–one that fits into all the phenomenal facts of nature–explains them all, and is, in turn, explained by them–be found in the Hebrew _Hagiographa_, of what less value is it to science than if it had been originally enunciated by Aristotle or Plato? Or–to make the inquiry still sharper and more emphatic–of what less value is it to science than if it had originally come from Professor Tyndall or Mr. Herbert Spencer?
Take the “biblical genesis” as we have enunciated and explained it–with all the facts crowded into these explanatory pages–and science has no longer any genetic mystery to brood over, further than that every operation of nature is a mystery into which it is useless for scientific speculation to pry. We know what nature _does_, or may know it by the proper scrutiny, but we shall never know the causes of things, any more than we shall find God at the bottom of Herbert Spencer’s crucible, or at the top of his ladder of synthesis. In the light of the Bible genesis, science can account for the origin of the stalwart oak or the lordly pine, without going back to any mycological or cryptogamic forms, to follow down an ever-changing vital plexus that is as likely to land in a buttonwood tree as an oak, or in a hemlock as a pine,–in fact, quite as likely to land in a carnivorous animal as in an insectivorous plant. “Let the earth bring forth,” is still the eternal fiat,–just as implicitly obeyed to-day as it was in the world’s primeval history, when an exuberance of endogenous vegetation laid the foundation of the coal measures. It requires no greater effort on the part of nature to produce the pine, the oak, the beech, the hickory–all of which we see springing directly from primordial germs to-day–than it did to produce the lowest vegetal organism, from an invisible, indestructible “vital unit,” or Darwinian gemmule, thousands of years ago.
He who is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, and in whose sight a thousand years are but as yesterday, knows no such “law of variability” as our materialistic friends have been spinning for us in their unverified theories of evolution, natural selection, selection of the fittest, rejection of the unfit–force-correlations, molecular machinery, transmutation of physical forces, differentiation, dynamical aggregates, _molA(C)cules organiques_, potentiated sky-mist, undifferentiated “life-stuff,” and other hylotheistic and purely hypothetical formulA|, with which the average mind has been well-nigh crazed for the last fifteen or twenty years.
Believing that the time has come to call for “a halt” in scientific speculations, and a return to the phenomenal facts of nature as the true and only basis on which to formulate the immutable laws of life, matter, motion, etc., the writer submits this volume with trustful confidence to the public. 
R. W. Wright.
West Cheshire, Conn.
It is undeniably true that the progress of scientific thought and speculative inquiry, both in this country and in Europe, is rapidly tending towards a purely materialistic view of the universe, or one that utterly excludes the ancient and long-predominating metaphysical conceptions of Life, to say nothing of the more regnant and universally prevailing conception of a God. And it is quite as undeniable that the current of experimental research and investigation is setting, with equal rapidity, in the same direction. According to the views of many of our more advanced chemists, physiologists, and other scientific and speculative writers and thinkers–those whose experimental investigations have, it is claimed, reached the ultimate implications of all material substance–there are but two immutable, indestructible, and thoroughly persistent elements in the universe–_Matter_ and _Motion_. Everything else, they confidently assert, is either purely phenomenal, or else essentially mutable, ephemeral, transitory. Force, according to their theory, is only another name for motion or its correlates, and, hence, the two terms are interchangeably used by them in predicating their ultimate conclusions respecting matter.
Light, heat, electricity, magnetism, chemical affinity, molecular force, and even life itself, are only so many manifestations or expressions, they claim, of one and the same force in the universe–_Motion_, With the exception of matter, it is the only self-persistent, permanently enduring, ever active and reactive agency.
Light, they say, is dependent, heat conditional, electricity and magnetism more or less phenomenal, chemical affinity and molecular force mere modes or correlated forms of motion, and all-pervading life itself a mere postulate of the schools, or at best only the result of the dynamic force of molecules.
Deem not this collocation simply a burlesque on Scientific categories. Professor Bastian, in his great work on the “Beginnings of Life,” has unhesitatingly said: “The ‘vitalists’ must give up their last stronghold–we cannot even grant them a right to assume the existence of a special ‘vital force’ whose peculiar office it is to effect the transformation of physical forces. The notion that such a force does exist, is based on no evidence; it is a mere postulate. The assumption of its existence carries with it nothing but confusion and contradiction, because the very supposition that it exists, and does so act, is totally averse to the general doctrine of the correlation of forces.”
And this defiant challenger of the “vitalists,” who thus half-sneeringly speaks of those who believe that the vital forces of the universe are among the highest potential factors expressed therein, is one who, for the last decade and a half, has mostly lived in the ephemeromorphic world, and who, in diving into the “beginnings of life,” has so far lost his way that the all-glorious end of it is as much an inexplicable mystery to him now, as when he was more successfully expounding pathological anatomy and ruthlessly hacking away at anatomical subjects over the dissecting-slab of the London University College. Had he spent less time over this dissecting-slab, and more in studying the marvellous manifestations of life in its outspoken beauty of leaf, bud, flower, fruit–things of not mere guess and fancy–he would undoubtedly have had a higher appreciation of what is most vital in nature, and less of what is simply material in a non-functional sense. With Mr. Herbert Spencer, he gratuitously sneers at the “old specific-creation hypothesis,” or the divine fiat in the beginning; but without that fiat, where would he find his ephemeromorphs? or even the dead tissues used in his organic infusions for the vainest of all human endeavors–that of producing life, or seeking to produce it, _de novo_? He is so immeasurably disgusted with the vitalists that he hardly allows himself to speak of “life” or even use the term “vital” as applied to its simplest manifestations, without quotationizing them as terms to provoke both incredulity and derision.
The world may, however, overlook much of this in him, in view of his past professional pursuits, as well as in consideration of his eminent services as a specialist in science. The dissecting-room of a university is not the most desirable place in the world for profoundly studying the vital forces of nature. It is too grim and ghastly a repository of dead men’s skulls, and “holes where eyes did once inhabit,” in which to regard “life’s enchanting cup” as one sparkling to the brim. Detaching a muscle here, and laying bare another there; taking out a sightless eye in one subject, and putting the dissecting-knife deep into the pulseless heart of another; cutting the fragments of a human body into shreds and tatters over one dissecting-slab, and loading down another with splintered bones and mangled hands and limbs, is not exactly the sort of occupation to enkindle the highest enthusiasm for “life,” in any of its more manifold phases in nature. Too many lifeless notions get crammed into the head–to say nothing of baffled endeavor in the pursuit–to admit of the more conclusive and satisfactory inductions respecting living organisms.
But why should an assumption of the existence of life carry with it any greater “confusion and contradiction,” than a like assumption respecting either matter or motion? Simply because the materialists insist, in their logical inductions, upon so distributing the terms of their syllogism that only a negative conclusion shall follow.
“Matter and motion,” they say, are alone indestructible.
Life is neither matter nor motion,
Therefore: Life is not indestructible.
This syllogism is manifestly unanswerable, if there be no fallacy in the distribution of its major and minor terms. But wherein lies the incompatibility of reversing the order of its terms, so as to prove that neither matter nor motion is indestructible? And would such a judgment, thus derived, be any more spurious, the process of reasoning any more illicit, or the conclusion any less unanswerable? We might as well say that neither matter nor motion is an absolute entity in the universe, without some apprehensive intelligence, or rational intuition therein, to embrace them as distinct concepts or objects of thought; nor can either have the least conceivable attribute without some co-existing intelligence to ascribe it. For to ascribe an attribute, is to conceive or think of such attribute. And as our general conceptions are conceded to be realities, even by the materialists themselves, it necessarily follows that this conscious _ego_–this thing that conceives, thinks, ascribes attributes–is either co-existent with matter, or else antedates it in the order of existence. And here–at this identical point in the argument–we are irresistibly forced back, in our inductive processes, to the theological conception of a God–the one supreme _Ego_ of the universe–from whom alone all our intuitions of consciousness, as well as apprehensive intelligence, is derived.
We can no more get rid of these inductive processes than we can change the order of nature or reverse the inevitable laws of thought. Hence, we are constantly driven to formulate the following, or some equivalent inductions:–
1. Cause must exist before effect.
2. Without some vital principle, therefore, preA”xisting as a cause, there can be no life-manifestation.
3. But there can be no life-manifestation without organic structure.
4. The reverse of this proposition is also true.
5. Which, therefore, precedes the other as a cause, and which follows as an effect?
6. Nothing can organize itself. To do so, it must contain within itself both the operating cause and the resulting effect, which is at once an incongruent and conflictive judgment.
7. But the thing that organizes must exist before the thing organized, whether it be a vital principle or an intelligent agency.
8. Hence Life, either as a preA”xisting cause or vital agency, must precede both animal and vegetal organism.
9. Cause is that which operates to produce an effect, as effect is that which is produced by an operating cause.
10. But whatever operates to produce a life-manifestation must precede it as an operating cause.
11. Life, therefore, whether as a blind or intelligent force or agency, must precede its own manifestation; that is, must exist as an operating cause before there is any produced effect.
12. And this is true both as regards physical and moral effects.
13. Our intuitions, as the final arbiters of judgment, demand this or some equivalent order as the only one embraced in a logical praxis.
And since there can be no sound without an ear to appreciate it, so there be can no matter without an existing _ego_, in some state of consciousness in the universe, to apprehend it–to ascribe to it attributes. On what, therefore, are we to predicate the existence of either matter or motion, except it be these intuitions of consciousness whose validity, so far as we have any knowledge whatever on the subject, rests exclusively on that “breath of life,” which was breathed into man when he became a living soul? But if our intuitions are not realities, then nothing is a reality. All is as unsubstantial, as vague and shadowy, as Coleridge’s “image of a rock,” or Bishop Berkeley’s “ghost of a departed quantity,” as he once defined a fluxion. We may, therefore, retort upon Professor Bastian:–The “materialists,” must give up their last stronghold–we cannot even grant them a right to assume the existence of either matter or motion, since both manifestly depend, for their slightest manifestation, upon the more potent agency of “vital force,” as expressed in thought, volition, and consciousness–that triumvirate of the intellectual faculties without which neither matter nor motion could have so much as a hypothetical existence.
The great trouble with Professor Bastian, as with Mr. Herbert Spencer, is that he advances a purely materialistic hypothesis, and then goes to work, with his quantitative and conditional restrictions, to eliminate all vital force from the universe. As he has been no more successful in finding God–the Infinite source of all life–at the point of his dissecting-knife, than has the speculative chemist at the bottom of his crucible, or Mr. Spencer at the top of his ladder of synthesis, he resolutely grapples with logic, as a last resort, and as remorselessly syllogizes God out of the universe as he would a mythological demon infecting the atmosphere of his dissecting-room. In the same way, he successfully syllogizes all life out of existence: although, in the very act of constructing his syllogism, he demonstrates its existence as conclusively as that matter and motion are objective realities in the world of mind and matter which is about him. He fails to see, however, that the thing which demonstrates must necessarily precede the thing demonstrated, as life must necessarily precede its manifestation. In admitting the existence of “vital manifestation,” therefore, he virtually admits an antecedent vital principle, lying back of an effect as a cause, which must exclude anything like a contradictory judgment, so long as the laws of the human mind, in respect to logical antecedents and consequents, remain as they are.
Whatever may be the alleged inaccuracies of the Bible Genesis or the disputes heretofore indulged in respecting the _Hagiographa_, or “sacred writings” of the Jews, it will hardly be denied by the Biblical scholar that some of the most important discoveries in modern science, especially in the direction of astronomy, as well as in geological research and inquiry, confirm rather than throw doubt upon their more explicit utterances. This has been so marked a feature in the controversy, that whenever scientific speculation has thrown down any fresh gage of battle, as against the validity of these “sacred writings,” the advocates of the latter have only had to take it up to dispel the mists of controversy and achieve a more conclusive triumph than ever. For the truth of this statement it is only necessary for us to instance a few of the more important facts contained in the Bible Genesis. And should it be found that the writer of this volume has discovered, in a long overlooked, much neglected, and inaccurately translated passage of this Genesis, a key that unlocks the whole “mystery of life,” as the great battle is now waging between the materialists and vitalists of this country and Europe, it will most conclusively establish the point we shall here make–that in no equally limited compass, in ancient or modern manuscript or published volume, since the first dawn of letters to the present time, are there to be found so many conclusively established facts of genuine scientific value as in the first chapter of Genesis.
In dispelling the mists of prejudice, and possibly of doubtful translation, let us look this “genesis” squarely in the face:–
1. Take the statement that “in the beginning” the earth was without form and void, and darkness rested upon the face of the depths. Here is not only no conflict with science, but the great suggestive fact which led Laplace to construct his “Nebular Hypothesis,” or that magnificent system of world-structures which regards the universe as originally consisting of uniformly diffused matter filling all space, and hence “without form and void,” but which subsequently became aggregated by gravitation into an infinite number of sun-systems, occupying inconceivably vast areas in space.
2. Nor can science well afford to cavil at that other most important suggestive statement that “the spirit of God”–the great formative force of the universe–moved upon the face of the depths, after which the evening and the morning were the first day, that is, the first distinctive epoch in the order of creation. When materialistic science shall define “gravitation”–the supposed aggregating force of infinitely diffused matter in space–so as to make it a distinct and separate factor in the universe from “the spirit of God,”–that spirit which was breathed into man when he became a living soul, and which, we are told, “upholds the order of the heavens,” then its devotees may sneer at the Bible Genesis, and the logical deductions to be drawn therefrom.
3. Again, science can have no conflict with the Bible Genesis, except in the most hypercritical way, in the affirmative statement that God set two great lights in the firmament, the one to rule the day and the other to rule the night; and that “he made the stars also.” For it is nowhere stated that the “greater light” was not made to perform a similar office for each of the other planets of our system, or that it was not set in the firmament to adorn the skies of other and far-distant worlds, as “bright Arcturus, fairest of the stars,” adorns our own.
4. Nor can materialistic science dispute the more explicitly revealed fact, that the order of creation, so far at least as animal and vegetable life are concerned, is precisely that to be found in geological distribution, or as unerringly recorded in the lithographic pages of nature. And yet nothing was known of these pages–not a leaf had been turned back–at the time the Bible Genesis was written. So that, whoever was its author, this precise order of distribution could only have been “guessed at,” setting aside its inspirational claims, by the writer of this most remarkable genesis.
5. And again, science can have no successful conflict–certainly none in which she will ultimately come off victor–in reference to the equally explicit statement that every living thing, and every living creature, either yields seed, bears fruit, or brings forth issue, “after his kind,” and distinctively none other. For this would seem to be the one inflexible law governing all living organisms, from which there can be no divergence in any such sense as the “scientific genesis,” pretentiously so called, would authoritatively indicate. No “increase in variety,” which Mr. Spencer regards as the “essential characteristic of all progress,” will ever enable us “to gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles.”
6. Nor will materialistic science ever succeed in overthrowing the Bible theory herein advanced, that “the germs of all living things, man only excepted, are in themselves (that is, each after its kind) upon the earth,” and that they severally make their appearance whenever the necessary environing conditions occur. This most remarkable statement of the Bible genesis will be found to fit into all the vital phenomena occurring upon our globe, explaining the appearance of infusoria, all mycological and cryptogamic forms, as well as all vegetal and animal organisms. All these come from “the earth wherein there is life,” and hence the divine command for the earth “to bring forth” every living thing (except man) “after his kind.”
But let us embrace, in the proper antithetical summary of statements, some of the more distinctive points of antagonism between the Bible genesis and that of materialistic science:–
THE BIBLE GENESIS.
1. The Bible Genesis presents the theological conception of a God, or an Infinite Intelligence in the universe, with whom, as personified, there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
2. The Bible Genesis represents every living thing as _perfect_ of its kind, which the earth was commanded to bring forth from seed or “germs,” declared to be in themselves upon the earth.
3. The Bible Genesis represents God as causing to grow, out of the ground, every tree that is “pleasant to the sight and good for food,” also every plant of the field “before it was in the earth,” and every herb of the field “before it grew.”
4. The Bible Genesis represents God as causing the waters of the earth to bring forth abundantly great whales and every living creature that moveth therein, and every winged fowl that flieth above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
5. The Bible Genesis represents God as causing the earth to bring forth every living creature “after his kind,” enumerating them in the order in which they appear in geological distribution.
6. The Bible Genesis represents God as making man in his own image, after he had commanded the waters and the earth to bring forth abundantly of every other living creature.
7. The Bible Genesis represents God as breathing into man “the breath of life,” and he became a “living soul,”
8. The Bible Genesis represents God as creating the earth for the abode of man–giving him dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, the beasts of the earth, and of every living thing that creepeth upon the face of the earth.
9. The Bible genesis represents God as exercising a moral government over man, to the exclusion of every other living creature.
10. In fine, the Bible Genesis represents man as only “a little lower than the angels.”
THE SCIENTIFIC GENESIS.
1. The Scientific genesis virtually eliminates the idea of a God from the universe, by assigning to natural causes all the diversified and myriad-formed phases and changes that have taken place therein, extending through an infinite duration of past time, and constantly confronted by an infinite duration of time to come.
2. The Scientific Genesis represents every living thing as more or less _imperfect_ of its kind, but advancing towards perfection by some underlying law of variability or selection of the fittest, or by gradual development from lower into higher organisms.
3. The Scientific Genesis emphatically repudiates the idea of any divine agency in the growth of plants and trees, and insists that “life,” in all its manifold phases, is only “an undiscovered correlative of motion,” or, at best, only a sort of _tertium quid_ between matter and motion.
4. The Scientific Genesis represents all fishes, amphibia, reptiles, birds, etc., as travelling along their respective lines of developmental progress and differentiation, from points far back in geologic time, and constantly working their way up from cold and flabby creatures into those of higher cerebral activity, and brighter and more varied life, until gigantic winged reptiles mounted into the air and became birds.
5. The Scientific Genesis attributes the appearance of every living creature upon the earth to a law of “evolution,” by which one thing constantly overlaps another, forming a sort of stairway for lower organisms to climb into higher, without regard to “kind,” or even orders, genera, or species.
6. The Scientific Genesis distinctly takes issue with that of the Bible respecting the divine origin of man, and insists that he has been climbing up from protoplasmic matter, through a thousand other and lower organisms, until he finally leaped from an anthropoid ape into man.
7. The Scientific Genesis emphatically repudiates the idea of a soul as thus derived, and even insists that “conscience,” the highest known moral factor in the universe, is only a modified expression of the social instincts of the lower animals–the difference being in degree only, not in kind.
8. The Scientific Genesis promptly takes issue with this creative plan and purpose–insisting, in the dazzling speculations and fancies of its adherents, that well known physical and physiological laws have worked out all these phenomenal aspects and changes, and that these laws are wholly indifferent as to whether man shall have dominion over the shark and the tiger, or they dominion over him.
9. The Scientific Genesis illogically insists that “natural laws,”–those expressing no sovereign will, and having “no seat in the bosom of God”–are fully adequate for the government of man, he exercising to that end all the higher powers with which, by evolutional changes, he has become endowed.
10. While the Scientific Genesis represents him as only a little higher than the apes!
And yet no scientific authority has ever been claimed for these sacred Hebrew writings. They were simply designed as a rule of human faith and conduct, ostensibly having the divine sanction, and containing historical, devotional, didactic, and prophetical writings, to be read through, at least once a year, in the Jewish synagogues.
But the most important of these antithetical statements, so far at least as modern scientific research and inquiry are concerned, is that which represents the germs of all living things–man alone excepted–as being implanted in the earth itself. We take the definition of the Hebrew word _ZRA_, translated “seed” in the 11th verse of the 1st chapter of Genesis, from Professor Edward Leigh, of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in his “Critica Sacra,” first published in 1662:–“_Sparsit, asparsit, cum aspersione fudit, diffudit_,” etc, that is, “something sown, scattered, universally diffused, everywhere implanted,” as a germ in the earth. That the Hebrew word _ZRA_. does not mean, in this connection, the seed of a plant or tree, is manifest from the fact that the first plant or tree, from which “seed” could have been derived, had not yet appeared upon the earth.
The exact translation is, “whose primordial germs are in themselves (that is, each after its kind) upon the earth,” implanted therein, as the “_diversa diversorum viventium primordia_” of Dr. William Harvey, were originally implanted in the earth. This illustrious physician and biologist, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, not only taught the doctrine expressed in his phrase “_omne vivum ex ovo_,” but that of “primordial germs”–living indestructible “principles of life”–existing in the earth itself. For it is evident that he uses the word “egg,” in its more general sense, as designating any material substance capable of receiving his “primordium” (first principle of life) and developing itself into a living organism.
The whole controversy, as at present conducted by the materialists and vitalists, resolves itself into this one question:–Whether life springs from what Dr. Harvey calls a “primordium,”–a pre-existing vital germ or unit–or whether it originates _de novo_, as the materialists assert, from infusions contained in their experimental flasks, or from plastide particles contained in protoplasmic matter, or from the still more daring hypothesis of “molecular machinery” as worked by molecular force? It is certain that the materialistic theory is quite as inexplicable, on the basis of analogical reasoning and microscopical investigation, as that indicated in the Bible Genesis; while the vitalistic theory would seem to be more in harmony with vital phenomena, and hence the more rational hypothesis of the two. Besides, the Bible Genesis answers to the logical necessity of predicating a determinate cause for each and every vital effect, or each living organism apparently springing from plasmic conditions or mere structureless matter. Whenever the seeds of plants or trees are actually planted or sown in the earth, this logical necessity rests on an induction impregnably laid in cause and effect; while the materialistic dogma, _nihil ex nihilo_, would necessitate a like induction wherever seed is not sown. In either case the change that ensues is manifestly due to vital properties, whether the same be inhering in the seed, or in necessary environing conditions. And the vital processes are the same, with the single difference as to actual environment.
The germ in the seed is capable of assimilating, by well-determined and thoroughly specialized processes, the nutrient matter contained in its environment, precisely as the “primordial germ” develops under its environing conditions. From the moment they strike their rootlets into the ground, the processes of development and growth are the same. The only point, however, necessary to make in this connection, is, that when we go back to the first living organism of a species–its primordially developed form–we necessarily reach environing conditions within which there is no such thing as a germ-cell with an exterior environment corresponding to the testa of seeds, or to any conceivable notion we may have of seeds themselves.
At this point–one not merely theoretical, or speculatively possible only, but absolutely fixed and determinable in our backward survey of the vital forces of nature–we find individual parentage lost in a natural matrix, or in the vital principle implanted as a “primordium,” in the earth itself. To this inevitable induction of Dr. Harvey we are all driven in the end, by those intuitive processes of reasoning which are hardly less conclusive than mathematical induction itself. We may call these “primordia viventium” plastide particles, bioplasts, vital units, or whatsoever we will,–the name is nothing, the working process is everything. Scientific speculation accomplishes nothing, therefore, by its new terminology, except it be to confound the ignorant and astonish the wise. To call the homogeneous basis of an egg “blastima,” and its germinal point a “blastid,” is all well enough in its way; but it adds no new knowledge, nor additional wealth of language, wherewith to predicate vital theories, whether they relate to the progeny of a hen-coop or the lair of a tiger in an Indian jungle.
Teach us to know what nature _does_, not what she _is_; and whatever of “divine revelation” is vouchsafed us, whether it be found in the majestic “Poem of the Dawn,” attributed to the inspired pen of Moses, in the “myriad-minded Shakespeare,” or the irradiated and deeply-prophetic soul of a Shelley, let us accept it with thanks, if not to the inspired authors themselves, at least to “the great Giver of life” who imparted their inspiration.
We accept the theory of “primordial germs,” not simply because it is contained in the Bible Genesis, nor because it was conceived by the great and gifted Harvey as a possible solution of the whole difficulty, but because it presents, as we have before said, a satisfactory explanation of all the phenomenal facts of life with which we are acquainted. If Mr. Herbert Spencer will descend from his stilted theory of “molecular machinery worked by molecular force,” and tell us what it all means; and, at the same time, turn us out a single plastide particle, or fungus spore, by any generating process referable to “the machinery” in question, we will as devoutly worship Matter and Motion as ever ancient Egyptian did the god Osiris. But until he does this, we prefer to accept the positive assurance of Professor Lionel S. Beale, a far more competent authority to speak of hypothetical molecules, that none of the “forces possessed by the molecules of which the primitive nebulosity of the universe was composed” ever produced a vital manifestation, or succeeded in “making life a slave to force.” We shall consider this question of “molecular force” in its proper place, and with reference to the different theories of life advanced by the materialists, without pursuing it further in this connection.
The evidence we shall present in reference to the alternations of forest growths, and the impossibility of accounting for them on any theory of seed-distribution–alternations covering, in many instances, independent forests springing up on a vast scale–and the still wider dispersion of domestic weeds, grasses, forage plants, etc. in localities where they were never known before, will be conclusive, we think, of the correctness of our position, that the Bible Genesis contains _the true key to the mystery of life_. Bear in mind that the true theory of life, whenever it shall be reached in human conception and formulated into definitely-known processes of action, must satisfactorily explain all life-manifestations, as Newton’s theory of gravitation accounts for the movements of all celestial bodies. And the simpler the theory when once formulated–the more perfectly it falls into the grooves of definitely-expressed thought, and the more harmoniously it adapts itself to all vital manifestations–the more conclusive must be the induction on which it rests. The emphatic statement that the “primordial germs” of all living things are in the earth, from the lowest infusorial form to the highest vital organism below “specifically-created” man, when supplemented by the scientific statement that “vital units” make their appearance whenever environing conditions favor, is conclusively a theory which accounts for all the life-manifestations heretofore occurring upon our globe.
And this theory falls at once into the necessary categories of human thought. Life, as generally defined, is a state of organized being wherein there is functional activity; while a state, or _status_, is an incidence determined by environing conditions. But back of each of these–life and its _status_–there must lie some efficient cause, producing, in the first instance, the environing conditions, and then the functional activity dependent on organization. To assume that this efficient cause is simply the effect or result of organization–one of its dependent conditions–is begging the whole question, and, at the same time, discarding a very important element in the problem–that of conditional environment. What this efficient cause _is_, is a question that awakens no responsive inquiry. It strikes its roots too deeply into the intuitions of consciousness for the soul to give back an intelligible reply. Certain it is that neither metaphysical speculation, nor scientific inquiry, will ever enable us to reach the roots of this question, or extract from them the first quantitive essence of life itself.
We shall also consider, in their proper place, the various theories of life which have been advanced from time to time by the materialists, in their avowed hostility to current religious beliefs, and especially those founded on the sacred Hebrew writings, and the supplementary teachings of the New Testament. And to show the extent of this hostility, and the real _animus_ of those waging it, it is only necessary to refer to the great central doctrine of the Sacred Scriptures, that Life–natural, spiritual, eternal–is “the gift of God.” And this is the grand corner-stone of all religious edifices–those erected by the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and even the inhabitants of farther India. Materialistic science must, therefore, deal its first and most effective blows at “Life,” either as a theory to be resolutely assailed and overthrown, or else thoroughly ignored and set aside, in the more imposing and august temple of Science. Hence, the reader will find, in none of the great encyclopedias prepared under the supervision of scientific men, the slightest mention whatever of “Life” as a subject worthy of consideration at their hands. It finds, of course, its meagre definitional place in the dictionaries, but the bulky and more exhaustive encyclopedias have no room for it, except as it may be defined, under some correlate of motion, as “the latent possibility of a nebula,” or of “undifferentiated primeval mist,” originally pervading the interplanetary spaces.
We have no disposition to charge such materialists as Professors Tyndall, Bastian, Haeckel, Virchow, and Mr. Herbert Spencer, with directing their experimental batteries against the phenomenal facts of “life” for the purpose of overthrowing the foundations of religious faith and belief in the world. They are all eminent scientists, and apparently earnest seekers after truth in the several directions in which their respective paths of investigation have been pursued. But they manifestly array their opinions against the vitalists on the assumption that there is no scientific value whatever in the many and singularly diversified statements respecting “life” in both the Old and New Testaments. And this, it may be claimed, is necessitated by the generally accepted dogma, that science and religion are more or less hostile, the former resting on the inexorable logic of facts only, and the latter entirely on _pre_conceived and _pre_judicial notions respecting faith and belief. To this position of theirs we have no objection to make, so long as they subject their scientific statements to the one rigid ordeal of positively ascertained facts. But when they set themselves to spinning their theories of life on the strength of “nebular potentialities,” and the possibilities of “undifferentiated sky mist,” we must insist that they are infinitely wider of the mark than the theologians who claim that the great formative power of the universe is God, and that his “spirit,” and not gravitation, “upholds the order of the heavens:”–certainly much wider of the mark than was Pope, when he wrote of the universe:–
“All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body nature is, and God the soul.”
The truth is, that religion is quite as much the handmaid of science as science can be said to be the handmaid of religion. She breathes far more household laws for her devotees, if she does not veil her “sacred fires” more modestly from the sight of men. She is certainly less dogmatic, less dictatorial, less abounding in positive assertion, than what now passes for “science,” in the popular estimation. Perhaps Mr. Herbert Spencer represents the scientific side of a greater number of questions agitating the public mind to-day, than any other one man, and he is still industriously engaged in solving, or endeavoring to solve, a greater number of social problems. And yet the most enthusiastic admirer of this gentleman will be forced to admit, when driven to the wall of actual controversy, that one-half, if not two-thirds, of his more formidable statements, put forth in the name of science, remain undemonstrated as scientific truths. We are thankful enough, however, for the one-third he has vouchsafed us to let the other two-thirds pass as the dogmatic achievements of his wonderfully gifted pen.
Professor Beale asks the question, whether “a man who has the gift of science must ever be wanting in the gift of faith?” It is certain that this inquiry sharply emphasizes the antagonism at present existing between materialistic science and religious faith. But there is only one reason why this antagonism should be continued, and that is, the persistent claim of science to superior recognition in all cases where there is the slightest apparent conflict between the two. Certainly no man ever did more to popularize the genuine truths of science in this country than Professor Agassiz, or worked more successfully to that end. He was willing to place the decorative wreath on the starry forehead of science, but refused to pluck from the soul “the starry eyes of faith and hope,” that man might be dwarfed down to the “nearest of kin” to the anthropoid ape.
When we come to this assumed relationship in genetic types, we have not so much as laid the first abutment of the bridge by which these revivers of Lucretian materialism would span the chasm between mind and matter, between the spiritual and physical side of man, between dark brute sense and “a soul as white as heaven.” For going back to undifferentiated primeval mist, and following down the whole line of vital phenomena, from whatever subtle molecular combinations their first manifestation may have arisen, until we reach the highest differentiated organism below man, we shall find the chasm between the physical and the psychical not a thousandth part spanned. And even if man, with the assistance of all the maleficent spirits that “walk the air both when we wake and sleep,” could span this chasm, it would be only by another bridge of Mirza across which no daring mortal could ever pass.
Mr. Herbert Spencer, in his “Principles,” thinks he has mastered the necessary psychological, if not mechanical, engineering for the successful construction of this bridge. In that branch of his work entitled the “Principles of Psychology,” he so far abandons the exact scientific method as to take up psychical phenomena, and deal with them genetically, as he would with the phenomenal manifestations of organic life, in the continuous chain of ideas every where presented as consecutive thoughts in the universe. He finds, or claims to find, in these psychical manifestations, a constant tendency towards differentiation–towards advanced and continuously advancing differences, varieties, and new modes of thought–the same as, or similar to, those taking place in living organisms. He accordingly assumes, for the science of mind, as complete a foundation on which to base the doctrine of “evolution,” as in the case of either physical or physiological science. But he is no less troubled, in this psychological realm, with divergent varieties, and exceptional variations and changes, than when he plants himself on the more solid substratum of life in the abounding realm of nature. His psychological differentiations present too many and constantly-shifting divergencies and re-divergences–exceptional branchings in one direction, and still more exceptional in another–to admit of any sufficiently potentiated potentiality for bridge timber. The arch to such a bridge would have to abut, according to Professor Tyndall, on a vital foundation at one end, and spring from undifferentiated sky-mist at the other.
The bridge will never be built.
Life–Its True Genesis.
The profound Newton did not attempt to show what the gravitative force of the universe was. He bore himself more modestly, only endeavoring to show that such a force existed, and that it accounted for all the movements of celestial bodies, even to their slightest perturbations. He frankly admitted his inability to determine what this force was, but by observations and calculations made with the greatest care, he ascertained that its action upon matter was proportional to its mass directly, and to the square of its distance inversely; and, with the requisite data and the principles of pure geometry, he demonstrated that this mysterious force–utterly inapproachable by human conception in its mystery–not only governs and controls the movements of all the mighty masses of matter rolling in space, but transmits its influence–not successively, but instantly and without diminution–to the smallest conceivable molecule on the outlying boundaries of the universe. In the same calm and comprehensive spirit, if it be possible for us to reach it, let us look upon this mysterious force called “life,” not to show that it is simply a “correlate” of this or that motion (a thing utterly impossible of demonstration, if it actually exists), but to ascertain how and in what way it acts, and by what known law, if any, it is governed.
In all the vast realm of Reality there is no more conclusive and palpable fact than that “life” exists–appearing wherever the bright light flashes, the loving raindrop falls, the dancing brook ripples, the sparkling streamlet murmurs, and the broad river flows to mingle with the sea. All along this bright pathway of sunlight and cool translucent wave, this wonderful principle of vitality manifests itself in all-glorious life–filling the air with balmy odors; making perennial bud, leaf and flower, speeding from sire to son, from heart to heart, from spirit to spirit, from age to age, from time into eternity. For like all living principles, in this realm of Reality, it cannot die. It is immortal in its primal source, immortal all along its bright pathway, immortal as it flows onward to eternity, immortal in its return to the bosom of God. It is no postulate, no corollary, no mere hypothetical judgment; no “undiscovered correlative of motion,” no “baseless fabric of a vision”–but the one grand comprehensive _Datum_ on which all the objective, as well as subjective, data of the universe rest. It is the same “spirit that moved upon the face of the depths,” in that majestic Dawn of Creation when the “evening and the morning were the first day;” the same spirit that “upholds the order of the heavens;” that pervades the vast realm of Reality, that flashes in the bright sunlight, descends in the loving raindrop, ripples in the dancing brook, sparkles in the murmuring stream, and forever flows onward bearing its primal fulness to the sea.
To deny the existence of this vital principle because we cannot bottle it up in our airless flasks: to reduce it to some unknown correlate of motion because it constantly defies our poor mental grasp; to insist upon its artificial production because elementary substances may be chemically handled in our laboratories–is the same sort of preposterous folly that Newton would have been guilty of, had he attempted to show that there was no such thing as “gravity” in the universe; that it was only some undiscovered correlative of a thermal limit,–some unknown molecular complexity or entanglement in cosmic ether–some spontaneously occurring affinity or antagonism of ethereal molecules in the interplanetary spaces–some “potentiated potentiality” of mere sky-mist,–conditions of which he could have had no experimental knowledge, nor have given the slightest analogical proof. That we are justified in thus partially travestying the technical methods of some of our modern scientists, so called–especially those of the materialistic school–those advocating a purely physical theory of life, we need only quote a sentence or two from Professor Lionel S. Beale, of King’s College, London. This eminent physiologist, in his recent work on “The Mystery of Life,” says: “Notwithstanding all that has been asserted to the contrary, not one vital action has yet been accounted for by physics and chemistry. The assertion that life is correlated force rests upon assertion alone, and we are just as far from an explanation of vital phenomena by force-hypotheses as we were before the discovery of the doctrine of the correlation of forces.” And he further adds that each additional year’s labor, in this special field of investigation, “only confirms him more strongly than ever in the opinion that the physical doctrine of life cannot be sustained.”
Many able and eminently learned physiologists have been disposed to recognize the presence of pre-existing “germs” in the earth, but not to the extent of accounting for all life-manifestations therein, as the doctrine is conclusively taught in the Bible Genesis. The language of this genesis is too clear and explicit to be misunderstood, in its proper renderings. It especially emphasizes the remarkable and most extraordinary statement, at least for the period in which it was written, that all life comes primordially from the waters and the earth. Note the order in which the command “to bring forth” was issued:–
1. Let the earth bring forth its vegetation.
2. Let the waters bring forth the fishes, the amphibia, the reptiles, _the fowl of the air_.
3. Let the earth bring forth the beast, the cattle, every living creature, and everything that creepeth upon the earth–each after his kind.
4. _Let us make man in our own image_.
And this is the precise order in which the Scientific genesis proceeds, with all the lithographic pages of nature turned back for its inspection. Before vegetation there could have been no animal life upon the globe. This fact is most conclusively proved, not only by geographic and paleontologic records, but by legitimate induction. From the highly crystalline, and, for the most part, non-fossiliferous era, far back in the Laurentian period, down, in the order of time, to the modern or post-tertiary period, there is one continuous history of life-manifestations, written upon the stratified rocks, in the order of the Bible Genesis. Was this mere guess and fancy on the part of the writer, even to the seemingly improbable element wherein is assigned the origin of the “fowl of the air?” Bear in mind that nothing was known of geological distribution at the time this most remarkable genesis was written. Had there been, it is certain that the careful and painstaking Hesiod, who suffered no important fact of the _Cosmos_ to escape him, would have given us some hint of it in his “Works and Days;” for Greece was, even in his early day, largely the recipient of Phoenician learning and literature, as she was certainly Phoenicia’s foster-child in letters.
But the more conclusive proofs of the correctness of the order of creation, as given in the Bible Genesis, are to be found in the accurate observations of modern geological science. Before there could have appeared in the primeval oceans any living organism, even the lowest primordial forms of crustacea, there must have been marine vegetation–that springing from inorganic matter and laying the foundation of organic life. Plants originate in, and are solely nourished by, inorganic substances; or, to speak more definitely, they originate from primordial germs–the first elementary principles of life–whenever inorganic conditions favor, and, assimilating air, water, and other inorganic materials, convert them into organic substances, or such as answer to the conditions of organic life. In doing this, they take up and decompose carbonic acid, retain the carbon, and give off oxygen–a vital process not known to occur in the case of animal life. That their primordial germs, or vital units, are in the earth, as the Bible Genesis declares, is conclusively shown by the experimental processes first successfully entered upon by the AbbA(C) Spallanzani, Charles Bonnet, and others, and more recently renewed and advocated by M. Pasteur, and his co-laborers in super-heated flask experimentation, as well as logically established by inductive methods.
_Nihil ex nihilo_ is conceded to be as conclusive an induction as _omne vivum ex vivo._ That is, as without some chemical unit–some primary least considered as a whole–there can be no chemical action, so without some vital unit, in the same primary sense, there can be no vital manifestation. The doctrine of “chemical units” is universally conceded, and that of “morphological units” almost as universally claimed. What greater incongruity is there, then, in assuming the presence between the two of a physiological or vital unit?  At all events, it is as impossible to demonstrate the non-existence of the one unit as the other. And so long as legitimate induction supports the doctrine of the Bible Genesis, it is useless to indulge in a contrary assumption which is wholly without verification or proof.
But to return to land vegetation. This appeared and flourished throughout the Devonian period, if not anterior to it, and long before the appearance of batrachian reptiles and other low air-breathing forms of life. In fact, there could have been no life-breathing atmosphere until the earlier land vegetation had whipped out its more destructive elements, and paved the way, in necessary conditions, for the appearance of air-breathing animals. Hence the command for the earth to bring forth both marine and land vegetation–the vegetation of the earth–before there was any similar command respecting either marine or land forms of organic life. But by what logical method was this exact order inferred in the Bible Genesis? Neither the Jews, nor their earlier Hebrew ancestors, nor the Phoenicians before or after them, were in any sense of the word metaphysicians; nor did their language admit of those nicer distinctions and speculative conclusions which would have enabled any writer using it, thousands of years ago, to draw the commanding induction contained in this remarkable genesis. There is nothing in the incomparable methods of M. Comte, or the metaphysical spirit of Herbert Spencer, in his most daring speculations, which gives the world a more legitimate and conclusive induction than is contained in this simple statement of the order of creation. That it should have been a mere piece of guess-work on the part of Moses, or any other writer of his time,–covering, as it does, so many particularities of statement, all according with the exact observations of geologic science, and supported by paleontologic records,–requires quite as much credulity of judgment as to accept it for divinely inspired truth. A disciple of M. Comte might object to this conclusion as susceptible of two interpretations, the one a legitimate induction, and the other not. But the mind of the profounder reasoner would accept the interpretation which is supported by the higher reason, and validated by the greater number of conclusively-established facts. In the case of a strongly intuitive mind, it might be possible to guess the exact order of three or four apparently disconnected events, but to arbitrarily associate with them other and more distinctively subordinate occurrences, like the appearance or disappearance of whole groups and classes of plants and animals, the supposition that guess-work, and not positive information, governed in the formation of a judgment, is at once rejected because of its utter incredibility.
It is not our purpose, however, either to affirm or dis-affirm the inspirational claims of the Bible Genesis. We simply take its language as we find it, stript of its Masoretic renderings and irrational interpretations, and unhesitatingly aver that the three Hebrew words, translated in our common version–“whose seed is in itself upon the earth” –contains, when properly rendered, the key that unlocks the whole “mystery of life,” or, as Dr. Gull emphasizes it, “the grand _questio vexata_ of the day.” It expressly declares that “the primordial germs of all plant-life (and, inferentially of all life) are in themselves (_i.e._ each after its kind) upon the earth,” and we have only to supplement this physiological statement with the “necessary incidence of conditions,” as formulated by the physicists, to explain every phenomenal fact of life hitherto occurring upon our globe.
Take all the hints as to the spontaneous origin of life to be met with in Aristotle; all those subsequently repeated by Lucretius and Ovid; all the experiments of the renowned AbbA(C) Spallanzani–all the alleged “fantastic assumptions” of M. Bonnet–all the theories of “panspermism,” by whomsoever advocated–all the fortuitous aggregations of “_molecules organiques,_” as put forth by the French school of materialists–all the _primordia viventium_ of the gifted Harvey–all the “molecular machinery” and “undiscovered correlates of motion” formulated by Herbert Spencer and Professor Bastian–in fine, all the more brilliant theories of life ever spun from the recesses of the human brain,–and we shall find that they all fit into the three simple Hebrew words to be found in the Bible Genesis, _and all are explained by them._ We say _all_, with one exception only–that of man. And how inconceivably grand and majestic this exception! The crowning work of creation was MAN. He came from no “muddy vesture of decay;” no mere life-creating fiat spoke him into existence. He who was to have “dominion over all the earth”–who was to be created only a little lower than the angels–“in the image of God created He him.” And, breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, _he became a living soul_!
Here is the “bridge” over which the “evolutionist” may pass, if he will, without wearing either the dunce’s cap or the ass’s ears. It spans the chasm between the anthropoid ape and man as no other bridge can span it. Across this bridge is flung the living garment of God, and how grandly, yet reverently and humbly, did the profound Newton cross it! Oh, ye defiant iconoclasts of sublime faith in the “old doctrines;” ye who talk so flippantly of the “potentialities of life in a nebula;” who sit on the awe-inspiring Matterhorn, at high noon, and muse in sadness over “the primordial formless fog,” teeming with all the mighty possibilities of myriads of sun-systems like our own; and, musing, sneer, if you can, at the idea of a “specific creation” in the beginning–of an Infinite Intelligence that directs and superintends all! Because _you_ cannot annihilate matter, nor conceive of its annihilation in the infinitessimal compass of _your_ brain, is that any reason why Infinite power and intelligence may not have spoken it into existence at _His_ sovereign and commanding will? If man would presumptuously press towards the threshold of the Infinite, let him do it reverently, and with humility of spirit, and not as one “that vaunteth himself of strength,” or “multiplieth words without knowledge.”
But let us examine the Bible Genesis a little further in this direction. It is said in the second verse of the first chapter that “the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” that is, upon the face of the abyss–the chaotic mass at creation–the earth “without form and void.”
What is here meant by “the spirit of God,” is that life-giving breath or power of God which operates (continuously operates) _to impart life to inanimate nature._ From the connection in which it here stands it means this, as in other connections it means the power which operates (continuously operates) to produce whatever is noble and good (God-like) in man. There is no implication in the text that this life-giving principle or power was suspended in the act of creation. On the contrary, there is abundant evidence in nature to show that it is just as operative now as it was in the beginning. One of the definitions given by Professor Gibbs of this spirit is, “that which operates throughout inanimate nature,” not that which once operated, and then forever ceased its operations. And Professor Gibbs no doubt meant by “nature,” in this connection, not only all the physical phenomena she presents, but the aggregate or sum total of all her phenomena, whether active or passive, animate or inanimate, embracing the world of matter or the world of mind. “All are but parts of one stupendous whole,”–not a part nature, and a part not nature.
Again, in the eleventh verse, it is distinctly declared that the _ZRA_. the “germinal principle of life,” is in the earth, producing each living thing, at least in the vegetable world, after its kind, that is, after its own class, order, genera, species. Hence, the three distinct and separate commands given to the earth, or to the earth and its waters, “to bring forth.” No such command would have been given to the earth, had it not first received its _baptism of life_ from God–in other words, derived the animating principle of life from the source of all Life.
And hence, also, the two separate averments in the second chapter of Genesis, both entirely meaningless apart from the construction we here give it, that “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow” the vegetation of the earth, and “out of the ground” produced he (or caused to be produced) every beast of the field, etc.,–all of which has a definite and comprehensive significance in this one sense only, that the animating principle of life is in the earth, as the language of this most remarkable genesis implies. And this seems to have been the patristic idea, namely, that law and regularity, not arbitrary intervention, nor any specific act of creation, were what governed in the case of both vegetal and animal life.
St. Augustine says: “In prima institutione naturA| non quseritur miraculum, sed quid natura rerum habeat.” And it is certain that both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Basil held the same view. And they further held that the animating principle of life once implanted in nature, held good for all time. But we are not seeking for early and mediA|val authority. What we propose to show is, that nature is still implicitly obeying just such a law as that implied in the command given her “to bring forth,” however doubtful may be the authority on which it rests, in the opinion of our modern scientists.
And how completely does this genesis of life take man out of the definitional formula embracing the “beasts of the earth.” From the lowest vertebrate, in Mr. Darwin’s plexus, to the highest quadrumane (his nearest allied type to man), covering almost an infinite variety of distinct living forms, the distance to be traversed, in order to reach man, is hardly more than one-third the length of the still unlinked and uncompleted chain. In the average capacity of the monkey’s brain-chamber, to say nothing of his other characteristic differences, the distance is not half traversed. As a “beast of the earth,” he remains allied to his own type, and nothing higher. Both Darwin’s vertebral _plexus_, and Herbert Spencer’s “line of individuation,” must begin with the lancelet and its disputed head, and end in the Catarrhine or Old World monkey. No _a priori_ induction will ever extend this line _or plexus_ to man. The developmental chain, if indeed there be one, has no congenital link that will either drag man down to the “beast of the earth,” or lift the latter up to the transcendent plane of humanity. Each must remain specifically in his own type, whatever may be their vertical tendencies, upwards or downwards. And this word “type” implies a fundamental ground-plan–an archetype–an original conception of what each should unconditionally be, and what plane each should as unconditionally occupy. Man’s place in nature can never be changed or modified by materialistic speculations. Whatever theories the materialists may spin into the unsubstantial warp and woof of their scientific formulA| respecting life, will never stand before the tenacious and stubborn physiological facts which almost any thoroughly-informed and well-read scholar of nature may readily present against them.
Even the wild Indian of our prairies has a more rational conception of life and its accountabilities, than some of these learned professors whose theoretical conclusions we find it imperative to handle. With all his rude, rough nature, hanging like so many mental clogs about him, this unlettered savage recognizes the fact that the earth is the _genetrix omnium viventium_, or the living _mother_ on whose bosom he shall rest when his spirit has passed to the happy hunting-fields beyond. Unlettered as he is, and unread in any genesis of life, he fails not to perceive that the earth is forever teeming with the germinal principles of life, and that when his prairie fires have invaded the forests in which he had previously hunted the deer, other and different forest growths are constantly making their appearance, without any apparent intervention of seeds, but not without the supervisional care and direction of the Great Spirit,–while many of his hardier prairie grasses have disappeared, only to give place to the more nutritious _gramma_ coveted by his favorite game.
And here we may as well anticipate an objection which will be raised against the presence of this animating principle of life in the earth, as to meet and answer it further on in the argument. But as the objection to which we refer is one of those dragon’s teeth we do not care to leave behind us, we will meet it at the very threshold of the controversy. It will probably be admitted that the vegetation of the earth may appear in the way and manner indicated in the biblical genesis, the same as infusorial forms appear in super-heated and hermetically-sealed flasks. But how about the preA”xisting germs or vital units of the mastodon, the megatherium, and other gigantic mammiferous quadrupeds of the Eocene period? From what experimental flasks, in the great laboratory of nature, did they first make their appearance? The objection is a legitimate one, and we will answer it.
But first, let us do so from the materialist’s own stand-point. Time, they all agree, is practically infinite–past time, as well as future; while matter is susceptible of an infinite number of diverse movements, changes, modifications, combinations, etc., chemically as well as molecularly considered. This, they claim, is not a mere hypothetical judgment, but a mathematically demonstrable proposition. Grant it for the sake of the argument, and then see if the mastodon does not promptly emerge from some one of their “experimental flasks,” as they choose to put it.
For if the number of these diverse movements, changes, modifications, etc., of matter, have been infinite, in its progress from the lowest statical to the highest dynamical manifestation, then every possible, as well as conceivable, form of matter, must have existed somewhere, and at some time, in nature, even to its highest and most potentially endowed plasmic form in which there is life. And if this be true, and the materialists will not deny but rather affirm it, then the inter-uterine conditions of matter, in the case of all animals (the mastodon included), as well as the inter-cellular conditions in the case of all plant-life, must have existed, with their necessary environments, somewhere and at some time, in the all-hutched laboratory of nature. Hence, in the infinite number of these changes and combinations–in the countless collocations of molecules and chemically changed conditions of matter, we have the possibilities of all terrestrial life-manifestations, as we have, in the infinite number of cosmical changes, the possibilities of all planetary, cometary, and asteroidal manifestations. For whenever these vital changes occur, the life-manifestations dependent thereon, must as inevitably follow as that infinitely diffused matter should be aggregated by gravity, or by what Humboldt calls, in his “Cosmos,” the “world-arranging Intelligence” of the universe.
Who shall say, then, that in that immensely remote and long-protracted era–the Eocene period–in which the gigantic elephantoids first made their appearance, there did not exist somewhere, in some one of nature’s more cunning and prolific recesses, the exact plasmic conditions necessary for the appearance of the mastodon? If they existed anywhere (which is concessively possible), with the necessary environment (also concessively possible), then the mastodon could no more help wallowing out of his essential plasma than the earth can help responding to its axial motion. All things are framed in the prodigality of nature, and she never commits an abortion upon herself. If both the conditions and necessary environment were at any time present, as they must have been on the materialistic theory, the mastodon is just as easily accounted for as the first fungus, or the first fungus-spore. 
All physicists, as well as physiologists, agree that individual species of both plants and animals have _disappeared_ from the earth for the want of the “necessary conditions” under which they once lived and flourished. What greater fallacy is there, then, in the assumption that they originally _appeared_ from the presence of these identical conditions, whatever they may have been, and whenever they may have occurred? We put this question not simply because the Bible Genesis asserts that “_out of the ground_ made the Lord God to grow” every plant of the field “before it was in the earth,” as well as every herb of the field “before it grew;” nor because it declares that their primordial germs are in the earth; nor because it speaks of the earth as containing within itself the “animating principle of life.” But we put it on the irrefragable logic of the materialist’s own premises and conclusions. They may use other and different physiological terms from what we should care to employ, but their “correlates of motion,” their “molecular force,” their “highly differentiated life-stuff,” etc., may possibly mean nothing more than what we mean by “vital units,” “vital forces,” “vital conditions,” etc. Their preference for the terms they employ, over essential “qualities” or “properties” of matter, is entirely due to the obvious invalidity of their conclusions, except as their physical theory of life may help them out of an unpleasant dilemma. “Force” is a more convenient term on which to allege the _de novo_ origin of life–its spontaneous manifestation in their experimental flasks–than any vital principle primarily inhering in matter, and manifesting itself whenever conditions favor. It is to validate their own reasoning that they construct their fallacious force-premises, from which to draw their materialistic inductions. In other words, theirs is the fallacy of _non causa pro causa,_ or that vicious process of reasoning which alleges some other than the real cause of vital manifestation, and fastens induction where none is legitimately inferable.
Burdach, Buffon, Pouchet, Needham, and other professed vitalists, agree that in all life-manifestations there must be some preA”xisting vital force or principle, without which no living thing, whether plant or animal, can come into existence. M. Pouchet says: “I have always thought that organized beings were animated by forces which are in no way reducible to physical or chemical forces.” The AbbA(C) Needham is satisfied to formulate a “force vA(C)getative,” so far as plant-life is concerned; Buffon invariably falls back on vital force or energy; and Burdach on a “force plastique,” which is essentially inseparable from nature in her vital manifestations. According to the latter, the whole universe is an “_organisme absolu_” constantly endowed with life, and giving expression to it in all conceivable directions. And all that these vitalists need, to give a full interpretation to their facts of observation, is to supplement their theories with the Bible declaration that the animating principle of life is in the earth, from which all living things make their appearance, each distinctively after its own kind, whenever environing conditions favor. For they severally recognize these “necessary conditions” as inseparable from all vital manifestation.
An effort has been made to show that Goethe was the great inspired prophet of the doctrine of “Evolution,” as a ceaselessly progressive transformation of one thing into another, in the metamorphoses of plants and animals; and Haeckel quotes this passage from him as entirely conclusive of this point: “Thus much we should have gained (towards solving the problem of life) that all the more perfect organic beings, among which we include fishes, amphibians, birds, mammals (and at the head of the latter, man), to be formed according to an archetype,  which merely fluctuates more or less in its ever persistent parts, and moreover, day by day, completes and transforms itself by means of reproduction.” But this attempt to give a poetic glorification to Haeckelism in Goethe’s speculations, and bring his commanding name into support of the evolution theory of development, will prove utterly futile in the light of his “archetype,” and the persistency with which he concedes that nature adheres to perfected forms.
Goethe accepts the doctrine of _vis centripeta_, beyond the influence of which no developmental progress can be made in the way of diversifying or variegating ideal types. In other words, he virtually fixes limits to variability, from the outermost circumference of which reversion must inevitably take place. His whole doctrine may be summed up generally, if not specially, in these words: “The animal is fashioned _by_ circumstances _to_ circumstances,” as the eagle to the air and mountain top, the mole to the loose soil in which it burrows, the seal to the water in which he frolics, and the bat to the cave, the twilight, and the night air. We should rather say that the animal is fashioned, after the Great Architect’s pattern, _to_ circumstances, and is only varied _by_ circumstances, and that within the narrowest limits of variability. For the most that Goethe means by his “archetype” is an ideal pattern, after which, or on which, a natural group of plants or animals has been fashioned within the limits of possible variability. But by whose mind, or rather within whose mind, was this ideal pattern–this essential archetype–fashioned? Whence this ideal type, this natural group, this _Archeus_ pervading all nature and fashioning all organic matter? Not from the mind of Goethe certainly, nor from that of Aristotle or Lucretius, but from the one supreme mind of the universe, in which the groups of all living things were originally fashioned in the archetypal world–that world “which,” according to Bolingbroke, “contains intelligibly all that is contained sensibly in our world.”
This archetypal doctrine of Goethe, coupled, as he couples it, with the influences of environment, or necessary external conditions, with typical modifications only, while it entirely harmonizes with the Bible genesis of types (everything modeled after its kind), is far from aiding, or in any way abetting, the materialistic hypothesis of Haeckel, unless we make nature at once the creator and modifier of her own archetype. And even then the variability of species remains unaccounted for, except as we attribute to nature a _purpose_ to modify persistent forms under a law that is immutable even in its variability. For the assumption of an archetype carries with it an archetypal plan and purpose, with a degree of intelligence, either in or above nature, capable at once of conceiving the type and determining the limits of its variability. The question is not, therefore, as many may seem to think, whether species originate by miracle or by law, but whether laws and causes can exist independently of any predetermining will or agency in the universe.
Our language, and that of all civilized peoples on the globe, must be thoroughly recast, not only in its philological and etymological character, but in its ideologic, etiologic, and other significations, before we can successfully fall back on an antecedent cause without an effect, or an effect without an antecedent cause. Besides, the human mind would have to undergo as complete a subversion of structure as language itself, before any such attempt at recasting it, on the basis of modern materialistic ideas, could possibly prove successful. And then, at least one-third of our language would have to disappear in this iconoclastic reform. For instance, take any well-tabulated synopsis of our categories and their relations, and they would nearly all have to be recast or entirely abandoned. Time, space, matter, motion, intellect, abstract ideas, volitions, affections, etc., with their several correlates or co-relations, would all have to undergo a thorough recasting process. The personal, intersocial, sympathetic, moral, and religious relations and obligations, would have to be summarily set aside for future revision, if not for sweeping rejection. All our ideas of life, materiality, spirituality, animality, vegetability, sensibility, etc., would have to fall into greater or less desuetude, the language disappearing with the ideas. All the words expressing our ideas of a superhuman agency, of God, angels, heaven, revelation, religious doctrines, sentiments, acts of worship, piety, human accountability to divine institutions, rites, ceremonies, etc.,–to say nothing of maleficent spirits, mythological and other fabulous divinities, entering so largely into the spirit and machinery of all our best poetry–would utterly disappear from our language. All our churches, minsters, chapels, tabernacles, cathedrals, and temples erected to the “living God,” embracing the finest and most majestic architecture of the world, would have to succumb to the iconoclastic zeal of these materialistic reformers. The ten categories of Aristotle would disappear in the one category of Haeckel, or possibly the two categories of Bastian–Matter and Motion! Philologically speaking, we should all be at sea, drifting, like a set of deaf-mutes, on a wide and inaudible ocean–all inarticulate, tongue-tied, voiceless–with only the screeching of the sea-mew, or some other sepulchral bird of the night, to greet us as in wide-mouthed derision of our speechlessness and folly.
But let us see how the incontestible facts of nature, and the truths of science, fit into the three simple Hebrew words referring to “germs,” or the germinal principle of life, instead of the natural “seeds” of plants or trees. We have given what we claim to be the true rendering of these words. To show how perfectly they harmonize with all the phenomenal manifestations of life in nature, we hurriedly pass to our third chapter.
Alternations of Forest Growths.
No fact has more profoundly puzzled the vegetable physiologist than the alternations of forest growths which are everywhere occurring without the apparent interposition of natural seeds, and which have been considered as wholly inexplicable except as one unsatisfactory theory after another has been suggested to account for the wide dissemination and distribution of their seeds. We have had any number of these theories, more or less ingeniously constructed, but it is safe to say that none of them satisfactorily accounts for more than a very limited number of the phenomena presented. It is only within a comparatively recent period that these alternations of timber growth have attracted the attention of scientific men; consequently little more than crude suggestions and ill-digested facts are at the command of the general reader and writer. And yet the facts themselves, such as they are, would fill a dozen volumes of the size of Dr. Hough’s recent “Report upon American Forestry.” We can only give a few of the more important facts we have gathered, and many of these are so deficient in necessary detail that their value is greatly lessened for scientific uses. This is especially true of nearly all those noticed and collated by Dr. Hough, in his report to the United States Commissioner of Agriculture, made in 1877, in which the alternations in question are referred to at length, but no new suggestions presented, nor any very important new facts given.
If our construction of the Bible genesis be the correct one, it will, we think, be unhesitatingly admitted that all the facts collected and collated by Dr. Hough, together with others more carefully noticed by our ablest writers on vegetable physiology, not only harmonize with this ancient Hebrew text, but so completely fit into it, both in its implications and explications, that adverse criticism will be awed into silence rather than provoked into any new controversy on the subject. This remarkable genesis declares that the germs of all living things are in themselves upon the earth–“upon the face of all the earth.” It is true that this declaration, as contained in the 11th verse of the first chapter of Genesis, is textually limited to the vegetation of the earth; but the further emphatic statement that “the animating principle of life” is in the earth, coupled with the more substantive fact that God commanded the waters and the earth to bring forth abundantly of every living creature, with the single exception of man, conclusively extends the language of the 11th verse to whatever vegetable and animal life the earth was specifically directed to “bring forth.” It is our purpose to consider, in this connection, not only the various facts noticed and theories suggested by our ablest writers and thinkers on the subject of seed-distribution, but to ascertain, as far as possible, to what extent their several facts and theories harmonize with natural phenomena, and at the same time determine what disposition should be made of them in the light of this new genesis, herein for the first time disclosed.
Professor George P. Marsh, in his work on “Man and Nature,” in which he treats largely of forestry in Europe, says that “when a forest old enough