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make anything else than four. If false, and the mind left at liberty to speculate upon the matter, the only really rational alternative is that now familiarly known as the Darwinian hypothesis. Mr. Darwin's conclusions had been for many years forcing themselves with more or less distinctness upon the attention of naturalists, previously to his placing them before the public in a manner so masterly as to excite universal attention; moreover, his thesis in reality forms a subdivision or corollary of a still grander argument, viz., the evolution of our entire solar system from some primeval fire-mist or nebulous condition of matter; a scientific conception that arose independently in the minds of two of the most illustrious of modern astronomers, viz. Sir William Herschel in England, and M. Laplace in France, and is generally known as the nebular cosmogony.
The Darwinian idea is in itself very simple, and may be thus tersely stated. Due regard being had to what is known geologically, zoologically, and embryologically of the ascending gradations of life, especially in the vertebrate series, and also to the known continuity of nature, it is probable that man is the evolution or development of some lower animal form, most probably of the simian species, from the individuals of which he differs organically less than the higher and lower apes differ from each other. If such idea embodies the truth, then there must have been some intermediate or connecting form or link between the ape and man, 'an ape more anthropoid or a man more pithecoid,'' which has not been discovered, and is yet 'missing.'
| Lamarck, Geoffroy St.-Hilaire, the Author of the Vestiges of Creation, Mr. Alfred Wallace, and Professor Huxley, may be especially mentioned. See Lyell's Principles of Geology, 10th ed., vol. ii. book iii. chap. xxxiv.
2 Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, 10th ed., p. 12. ,
3 Huxley's Man's Place in Nature, p. 159. "The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form ; but this objection will not appear of much
The disciplined mind of Darwin is too severely scientific, and his entire view of the subject too profoundly philosophic, to admit of his being supposed capable of stating the proposition at present otherwise than as an hypothesis for future discovery to verify or disprove; but, enunciated even in the most tentative and guarded way, there can be no doubt that to ordinary minds it embodies an idea extremely repulsive, as well as difficult to realise ; and such disgust and difficulty have doubtless chiefly resulted from reverential belief in the plain and literal matter-of-fact account of the creation contained in Genesis.
An intelligent friend told me seriously that the impression made upon his mind by Darwin's work, which he had attentively read, was, that the author's views were exceedingly funny.' Conversation in ordinary society inclines me to think that my friend's impression is not by any means singular.
To those, however, who are capable of purifying their understandings from all prejudice on the subject, and appreciating at their intrinsic worth the mass of scientific facts which combine to make up the evidence from which the hypothesis in question is the natural and logical outcome, it appears, as a probability, simply irresistible.'
weight to those who, convinced by general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution .... Nor should it be forgotten that those regions which are the most likely to afford remains connecting man with some extinct ape-like creature, have not as yet been searched by geologists.'-Darwin's Descent of Man, vol. i. pp. 200, 201.
There are some able minds evidently quite incapable of taking this view. The various hypotheses of development, of which Darwin's theory is only a new and special version . . . , are indeed destitute of proof; and in the form which they have as yet assumed, it may justly be said that they involve such violation of, or departure from, all that we know of the existing order of things as to deprive them of all scientific basis.'-Duke of Argyll, Reign of Law, p. 29.
The above sentiment expresses what the theological cast of mind
The two theories which are the basis of speculations respecting the origin of human life—viz. the special-creationhypothesis, and the evolution (or development) hypothesis' -have been very exhaustively treated by Mr.Herbert Spencer in his Principles of Biology (Williams & Norgate, 1864), (part iii.), where apparently all that is at present known, or can be urged on either side, is summed up with singular force and clearness. With respect to the first-mentioned theory (chap. ii.), he remarks, The belief in special creations of organisms is a belief that arose among men during the era of profoundest darkness; and it belongs to a family of beliefs which have nearly all died out as enlightenment has increased. It is without a solitary established fact on which to stand .... an hypothesis not suggested by evidence, but by lack of evidence .... wholly without support, essentially inconceivable, and thus failing to satisfy men’s intellectual need of an interpretation, fails also to satisfy their moral sentiments. On the other hand, with respect to the evolution hypothesis (chap. iii.), he observes :
In all respects the hypothesis of evolution contrasts favourably with the hypothesis of special creation. It has arisen in comparatively-instructed times, and in the most cultivated class. It is one of those beliefs in the uniform concurrence of phenomena, which are gradually supplanting beliefs in their irregular and arbitrary concurrence; and it belongs to a genus of these beliefs which has of late been rapidly spreading. .... This definitely-conceivable hypothesis, besides the support of numerous analogies, has the support of direct evidence: we have positive proof that there is going on a process of the kind alleged; though
has invariably at first asserted of every splendid scientific hypothesis that genius has ever divined. The cosmical conception of Copernicus, Newton's sublime hypothesis of universal gravitation, Oersted's hypothesis of electro-magnetic communication, &c., all alike involved 'such violation of, or departure from, all that' their contemporaries knew, as to meet at the outset with similar contemptuous condemnation from a similarly prejudiced class of minds.
the results of this process, as actually witnessed, are minute in comparison with the totality of results ascribed to it. Lastly, that sentiment which the doctrine of special creations is thought necessary to satisfy, is much better satisfied by the doctrine of evolution; since this doctrine raises no contradictory implications respecting the Unknown Cause, such as are raised by the antagonist doctrine.
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