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science and takes up the problem where science lays it down. And philosophy sees that this law of variation, while it is as much a fact of nature as the law of heredity, demands the recognition in nature of something which heredity alone would not demand. It sees that while like may beget like without calling in the aid of any transcendental force, like cannot beget unlike without supposing that such a force has intervened. It sees that the first divergence of the offspring from the parent cannot be explained by anything in the life of the parent, and that therefore it becomes imperative to recognise the co-operation of another and a higher Power. It is a recognition of this truth which has led Mr Spencer to build a philosophy on the old Darwinian science. Darwinian as he is in principle, he has perceived that one of the laws which constitute the theory of Darwin is itself unaccounted for by that theory, nay, that it demands the addition of a theory in some sense the opposite of Darwinian. Accordingly, Mr Spencer has not scrupled in the last analysis to call in the aid of the inscrutable. He has not hesitated to confess that the process by which he has beheld nature to be evolved from unity
i Spencer speaks of “the power which certain units have of arranging themselves into a special form.” He calls this “an innate tendency.”—Prin. of Biol., Am. ed., vol. i. pp. 180-183. See also Mivart's chapter on “Independent Similarities of Structure”—Genesis of Species, 2d ed., p. 82.
into variety is a process which would be itself inexplicable without the presupposition of an active Power behind it-a Power whose own being is shrouded in mystery, but of whose existence all other beings are at once the manifestations and the evidences. The system of Darwinian evolution in the hands of its own votaries, and on the ground of its own conclusions, has been led to adopt a system as a supplement to itself—a system which in all essential particulars is identical with that ancient creed which declared the heavens and the earth to be the work of an Almighty God.
EVOLUTION AND THE DIVINE ORIGIN OF LIFE.
IN our last chapter we arrived at a very definite though as yet a merely general result. We found that the doctrine of evolution is not necessarily nor essentially opposed to the doctrine of special creation, and that from different points of view there may coexist in the same mind at the same time a belief in the unity and a conviction of the diversity of species. We now proceed from the exhibition of the general principle to the unfolding of its special applications. We have seen that a system of evolution may admit an act of special creation ; we now go on to inquire what are the phenomena of this universe which have always seemed to demand such an act, and whether in their case the old demand can still be satisfied without waiving the claims of modern science.
We naturally turn, at the outset, to that mystery of mysteries—the origin of life. And the question which first suggests itself is, Have we any scientific
data to start from ? In a work whose aim is scientific, our course will certainly be surer if we can base the result of our investigations on a dictum of modern science rather than on a doctrine of ancient revelation. Now it so happens that the science of our nineteenth century has in relation to the origin of life given us such a dictum to start with. With ever-increasing emphasis and with ever-accumulating evidence it has again and again asserted the doctrine that in all the records of human experience life has only come from life; that within the memory of man and within the limit of historic annals there has not yet been discovered an instance in which any living form has proceeded from a form not living. It is worthy of observation that the clear affirmation this truth belongs distinctively to the science of our century; in the eighteenth century theories of a different nature were prevalent and popular. It has been reserved for an age supposed to be specially materialistic to give decided scientific expression to the existence of a natural law whereby life cannot come from death.
In illustration of this position we shall quote the words of one whose right to speak on such a subject will not be questioned. Sir William Thomson says: “A very ancient way of thinking, to which many naturalists still hold fast, admits that by means of certain meteorological conditions, different from the present, inanimate matter may have crystallised or fermented in such a manner as to produce living germs, or organic cells, or protoplasms. But science affords us a number of inductive proofs against this hypothesis of spontaneous generation, as you have already heard from my predecessor in this chair. A minute examination has not, up to this time, discovered any power capable of originating life, but life itself. Inanimate matter cannot become living except under the influence of matter already living. This is a fact in science which seems to me as well ascertained as the law of gravitation. ... And I am ready to accept as an article of faith in science, valid for all time and in all space, That Life is produced by Life, and only by life.” 1
The predecessor to whom Sir William Thomson alludes is Professor Huxley, whose Presidential Address to the British Association was devoted to the proof that no evidence has yet been discovered of life having been produced from non-living matter. Professor Huxley therefore holds that the production of life by life is now the law of nature. He goes on to tell us, however, that in his opinion there was at one time a different law of nature. He says that although we never now see life produced by that which has no life, he believes, by what
1 Address to the British Association at Edinburgh, 1871. ? Reported in London Athenæum, September 17, 1870.