The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 39
English papers and reviews, not to speak of Colonial publications, have of late supplied us with elaborate and interesting notices of the life and work of the great naturalist, Darwin. With some exceptions, they speak of him in terms of praise such as falls to the share of few, even of the foremost men of science that the world has known. There is good reason for much of this eulogy. A very superficial study of Darwin's books will convince the reader of his merits. He brought to his work, as a naturalist, abilities of the highest order, and he used them successfully, with singular patience and perseverance, to the end of a long life.
As a contributor to our knowledge of natural history, he has probably no rival, both as regards the originality of his discoveries, and the picturesque power with which he describes the structure and habits of animal and vegetable life. But it is not on this ground alone that Darwin's fame is supposed to rest. His doctrine of Evolution, of the Origin of Species, of the Descent of Man, is a far more ambitious effort of genius than the mere description of natural phenomena, however accurate and original that may be. It is one thing to describe things as they are, another to discover the why and the wherefore of things. If Darwin has accomplished this, he is entitled to a place, which some enthusiastic followers claim for him, among the ranks of those great men who have actually discovered some of the grand laws of nature. But I think we do him no injustice if we hesitate to award him this honour, inasmuch as the doctrine of Evolution is still a mere hypothesis, and has received no such verification as its supporters ought to be able to adduce, if they claim our acceptance of it as a scientific truth. This claim is made so freely and so dogmatically by the followers of Darwin,—though I do not find that he makes it himself,—that I venture to ask your attention to some criticism on it which I have put together in this paper.
You will no doubt assume, in the outset, that being more or less of a theologian, I do not take an impartial view of Darwin's work and of the doctrine of Evolution. Of course, if one believes in the revelation which the Bible gives of a personal page 4 God, and of his personal and direct agency in the creation and maintenance of this earth, it is impossible to approach a theory which seems to deny this without a certain prejudice of mind. In such a case a man holds a brief for his faith. I do not deny this, whilst at the same time I try to read Darwin and his commentators as impartially as I can. But on the other hand, I cannot help thinking that the untheological man of science is as much possessed with the odium theologicum as the theologian, and that he, in his turn, is prejudiced against the idea of a Personal God and his direct and personal agency in creation. And I fancy that it is this prepossession of mind which induces him to advance on Darwin's work, and to exalt Darwin above what the author of the Origin of Species would approve of. This certainly appears to be the case in such writings as those of Professor Häckel, of the University of Jena, a man, no doubt of extreme views, but which indicate the tendency of this school of thought. Häckel states that the only alternative for those who refuse thorough-going Evolution, is the acceptance of a supernatural creation,—either one or many creations. He apparently thinks that the argument of design and personal creation can only be got rid of by complete Evolution, and having this in view,—this prejudice, in fact—he endeavours to make Darwinism mean more than it does in the mouth of its author.
Now, a theologian who wishes to be impartial, with such plain evidence before him of the eager prejudice of the un-theological mind, and conscious also of his own prepossession in favour of a Personal and Active God, begins to doubt whether any man can be impartial in this great question. And the impossibility of this impartiality is a most significant fact. Is it not, in itself, powerful evidence of the existence of a personal God and of His direct agency in Creation? I believe this prepossession of mind, one way or the other, for or against such an idea of God, to which I allude, is due to man's innate conscience and ideas of God, which revelation meets and appeals to. This sense of a personal God inevitably disturbs the dry light of scientific study of nature, in spite of the student's distaste for it. There is abundant evidence of a supreme mind in all material nature, and of intelligent power in Creation, and in the causes of things; and we who are the offspring of the same intelligence, which directs the natural phenomena of the world, though of far nobler kind and higher page 5 characteristics than they are, cannot ignore this evidence of intelligence and direct agency of a Supreme Power in the world; nor can we stand neutral in our discussion of it. It seems to me that we can either welcome evidence of a Creator and Supreme God, or else we do our best to put him out of court. None of us, I believe, can be what the scientific man claims to be, absolutely impartial and unprejudiced.
If this be so, and if the extreme evolutionists are prejudiced against the idea of a personal, active God, it is natural they should exalt Darwin in a manner which he would repudiate. They speak of evolution in its most pronounced form as scientific truth, and they claim your allegiance to it, with no little scorn of any hesitation. But so far as I have read, I cannot discover any substantial verification of the doctrine. I understand evolution to mean, that the different orders of animated nature have been evolved, either with a few breaks, or without any breaks at all, from one primary root. Apart from a mere poetical use of the term, it must mean this, but I cannot find in Darwin's Origin of Species, any facts which verify such an idea. Nor, so far as I have read, can I see anything which commends evolution to one's acceptance, as more than an hypothesis, at present unverified by facts. On the other hand there is plain evidence of an evolution entirely in accordance with observed facts, and also with the assertions of Revelation : I mean Evolution of design on the part of the Designer of the universe. This evolution of design, the gradual fulfilment of what was in the mind of the Creator accounts for the gradual series of created things, and for a certain connexion between each group in the series, and a certain likeness between them, which may be mistaken for a natural outgrowth of the one from the other, as you rise in the scale of creation. For example, man is like all animal nature, and indeed is like inanimate nature, in many respects, yet he is not therefore the natural outgrowth of any order in nature beneath himself. He is the last, at present, so far as our experience goes, of a long series of creative work, each unit in the series being above the last before it, and an increase upon it, all the units also being of similar materials, and related one to another both in order and in matter, but yet each having its own special identity superadded, and apparently distinct in each case. Thus, observation clearly demonstrates the community of matter which subsists between the body page 6 of a man, a horse, a mole, a worm, and the lowest form of animal life; and it is also clear that there is a relationship between, say the lowest insect, and man, not only in regard to the material of their physical structure, but in regard to the structure itself. There is evidently a relation of order between them, the one is an advance on the other, and to a certain extent, is the result of the other. We might compare this to the relationship which the figure of a triangle bears to a straight line; a triangle is an advance on a straight line; it is a complex figure which is, in some sense, the result of the simple figure, and the simple is the forerunner of the complex. The simple figure, also, contains, by way of anticipation, the complex figure. So far, then, there is a likeness and relation between the two, the insect and the man, there is a literal likeness of physical materials, and a relationship of structure, which may suggest to some minds actual evolution of the higher from the lower, but certainly does not prove it. And I think we are wrong in interpreting the sense of this suggestion which nature makes, if we assume it to be actual evolution in things themselves. Really, I believe it suggests design on the part of the Designer of nature, his plan, his intention, and not a mechanical order of progress, inherent in the things themselves. Of the latter kind of evolution there is no actual evidence, all is hypothesis, but the former is abundantly illustrated by the facts which scientific research has arrived at.
I am therefore a believer in Evolution, so far as evolution of design on the part of the Designer of this world is shown by facts; and it seems natural that in such a case the lower and primary orders of Creation should contain in their structure anticipations of the higher, and also that the successive creations should be of similar materials, under similar conditions of a general kind, so that all creation may be said to be, so far, of one piece.
Assuming, then, that we find in nature evidence of design on the part of the Creator, and of the gradual development of things, but a development brought about by the Creator, and not by the natural outgrowth of the things themselves, the question arises, is there actual evidence of separation between the ascending stages of creation, and of the distinct individuality of the various species of nature? To this I would reply, (1) In geological records both of animal and vegetable page 7 life there is plain evidence of a succession of breaks between successive stages of creation, and no evidence of any intermediate forms of life. For example, I believe it is a fact that the orders of Invertebrate and Vertebrate animals proceed upwards in a series of development, but with distinct breaks between each unit in the series. We may illustrate this by reference to the orders which constitute the great animal kingdom of Invertebrates, namely, the Radiata, Articulata, and Mollusca, and then the orders which constitute the great Vertebrate kingdom, namely, fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals. In each of the orders there is a something quite distinct and new superadded as the series rises in the scale of creation; and in each species of each order, which partakes of the general characteristics of the order, there is also a distinction of some special characteristic belonging to it only, and not to its predecessors. Thus in the order Radiata, such as jelly fish, sea anemones, corals and star fish, we find the following characteristics:—a body which has no blood-vascular system, but in lieu of that a water-vascular system; no distinct organs for circulation or respiration; in most cases no nervous system; there is a distinct cavity inside the body, and a distinct mouth; the bodily organs are disposed so as to radiate from a centre. Next the order Articulata may be described, with its characteristics. It includes crustaceous animals, such as lobsters, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, insects, and leeches and worms of all kinds. These various species of this order possess a body, arranged in segments or rings along a long axis, a nervous system, organs for respiration, a blood-vascular system, a digestive system, and in some cases articulated appendages, which serve for locomotion. Next we come to the order Mollusca, such as shell fish, cuttle fish, octopus, snails and slugs. These are soft-bodied animals, usually with a skeleton outside them; with a blood-vascular system, complex organs for respiration, nervous system, digestive system, and a distinct heart, more or less developed, always bearing in it two chambers for the circulation of blood. So far we have dealt with the kingdom of Invertebrate animals; we come now to the Vertebrate animal kingdom, and in that we find the following characteristics always present. The body is built up on a bony axis or spine; the skeleton of the body is inside; the body is divided into two portions or tubes, and is not merely one tube, as in the case of the Invertebrates. One portion contains the page 8 nervous system, that is, the spinal cord and brain, the other the organs of blood circulation and the organs of nutrition, together with certain portions of the nervous system, known as the Ganglionic or Sympathetic system; the heart is perfectly developed; the limbs are never more than four in number, and are true limbs with an inner skeleton. Thus the spinal and brain system are something superadded in the Vertebrate animal, distinguishing it from all Invertebrates, and to this special distinction we may add the organs of sight, hearing, taste and smell, contained in the bony cavity of the head, which are always to be found in varying degrees of perfection in the Vertebrate animal. Again, each species of the Vertebrate order, whilst partaking of these general characteristics of the order, possesses its own scientific differences which belong to itself, and not to its predecessors, as may be seen in the species of horse, monkey, and man, which are included in the order of Mammal. Now, so far as research has gone, whether in the Geological records of the earth, or in what we know of species still existing, the links and intermediate forms between these stages of creation which Evolutionists imagine will be found, in fact, never have been found.
Further, in the Vegetable World, we find, in a similar way, plan evidence of an ascending series of Creation, in which each unit of the series is more highly developed than its predecessor, and is also specifically separated from it. For example, in the first Vegetable Age, of which there is distinct Geological record, we find the order called "Thallogens," flowerless plants, with neither stems nor leaves, such as seaweeds. Next, the order "Acrogens," flowerless plants, with stems and leaves, such as ferns and spore bearing plants. Next, the order "Endogens," such as palm trees. Next, the order "Gymnogens," such as cone-bearing trees, including pines, firs, larches, cedars, cypresses, yews, junipers, and auraucarias. And, lastly, the order "Exogens," which includes our deciduous forest trees, fruit trees, flowers, and flowering shrubs. Between each order in the series, and between each species within the orders, nature shows plain evidence of a break; and and there is, simply, no evidence whatever of any intermediate links or forms of life. Such forms exist only in the imagination of Evolutionists. The doctrine of the gradual evolution of one species from another is, then, a purely speculative doctrine. It seeks to explain the phenomena of plant and page 9 animal life by processes which may have happened. Science, however, ought not to estimate the probability of what may have happened at more than its worth, and since in that case the phenomena of life, as a matter of fact, are evidence of the fixity of species, the real value of the doctrine of Evolution is only that of a guess. Again, the evidence of Geology proves, beyond a doubt, that all existing organisms, whether animal or vegetable, had a beginning, and that there was a time when they did not exist, and that before that time other organisms did exist. For example, it is certain that not one of our present plants or animals had come into existence in the Cretaceous period, when the earth was teeming with huge reptiles and gigantic birds. If, then, it is a fact that the various species have appeared on the earth fully organised from time to time, and that they then made their appearance for the first time, what becomes of Evolution?
It is noticeable that himself Darwin admits in his Origin of Species that he cannot substantiate this theory. He says:—" There are difficulties in the way of my theory, which to this day I can hardly reflect on, without being staggered. If species have descended from other species, why do we not see every-where intermediate transitional forms? Why is nature so well defined? Is it possible to believe that an animal like a bat or a giraffe should have been formed by modification from some other animal of widely different structure? What of instinct? Could the bee have acquired its wonderful instinct of making cells by modification from an inferior order of animal? Could such a wonderful organ as the eye, as it exists in, say, the eagle, have been gradually acquired by slow process of modification from a low form of fish which has a very rudimentary imperfect organ of vision?" He thus owns to this difficulty of proof; in facts, he produces no evidence beyond his own theory. For example, the reason he alleges for the non-discovery of the intermediate forms of life is as follows :—"In the race and conflict of life, stronger things distroy the weaker, and only the strongest survive. Hence, all intermediate forms of life, being in a process of change and and imperfect, became extinct." Thus he admits he has no facts whereon he can base his theory; and, when he is asked why the geological records of the earth do not show traces of these supposed intermediate links, his reply is :—"That there is no geological evidence for them, but then only a small page 10 portion is geologically explored," and formations may be found beneath the sea which might afford the evidence he desires. All the evidence we have therefore is in favor of each order being after its kind, with no confusion of species at anytime. 2. Further evidence seems to prove that each of these orders and species has been introduced as a new form of matter already existing, with a something quite new superadded. This new element or form is certainly a development and improvement upon the previous forms of life, and it is a regular development from simple to complex, from lower to higher; yet it is distinctly introduced, brought in from without; it is not the result of anything contained in the lower forms of life. This may be illustrated by the successive improvements, the result of human invention and skill noticeable in a simple lever, then in a wheel, then in a watch. You may say that the lever, on its fulcrum, contains in itself the anticipation of a wheel. The inventor of the wheel improved on the lever, and added something new to it, which gave it its separate identity. The wheel is an anticipation of a watch, and the inventor of the watch improved on the wheel, adding something new to it, which established its individual existence. But in any such case, the real and actual development is in the mind of the inventors, not in the things themselves; and in any such case also each thing is complete and separate after its kind. There is a distinct break between a wheel and a watch—a distinct introduction from without of a new and superadded form and power. There is evolution of design, similarity of materials, but until the power from without chooses to introduce new and enlarged designs, the lever, the wheel, the watch remain as they are, within the limits of their own specific type of existence. This is clearly seen in the separate species of animal and vegetable life. They cannot exceed the limits of their special form of existence. It is true that they are capable of improvement within those limits, but they cannot exceed them of themselves, and yet some power external to them, has evidently improved upon them, giving them an ascending series of development, but giving it to them from time to time on the large scale of Creation, as the human mind with its little power, which, little as it is, is a miniature of the great power of God, gives to the lever, the wheel, and the watch their separate existence and development.
Suppose, now, that in order to support his theory of the page 11 natural out-growth of one species from another, and to combat the facts of their separate creation, each after its kind, an Evolutionist sets himself to experiment on vegetable or animal life, to produce, if possible by gradual improvement, one species from another. What is the result? This theory rests, of course, on the supposition that the various species, at any rate, in bye gone ages had a tendency to improve of themselves, and gradually using that tendency, emerged into a higher state of being. His experiments must upset this theory altogether. Each species, he will find, is capable of some improvement, strictly within its own limits of existence, so long as his superior will, power, and intelligence are at work upon it, or so long as circumstances of climate and other influences are favorable. But the native tendency of each species is to degenerate, and not to improve. Let him experiment, say, on pigs. After time and due care he produces a breed of animals like, we will say, the Berkshire pig, the acme of porcine perfection. But let him turn out those pigs on some of the mountain ranges of the Mackenzie Country, leave them to themselves, and in a few years he will find that they have reverted to the type of pig which the early settlers luxuriated on for want of mutton, coarse, bristly, gristly, lantern-jawed, and degenerate. You can by culture produce a delicate white gladiolus from a coarse scarlet bloom, or a Baroness Rothschild rose from a dog rose; but leave them alone for a few years, and they go back to their simple type. The tendency of each species is, in fact, to degenerate, not to improve, unless some improving influence, external to itself, is present; so that the first condition which the Evolutionist requires for his theory of self-evolved development from one species to another is wanting.
The same holds good of man. He is capable of great improvement within the conditions of this present nature; but, I believe, all improvement which we accomplish in ourselves, or which others bring about in us, is against the grain of the Old Adam, and is a victory over a tendency to degenerate. Man here has to fight against this tendency to degenerate, which is as surely his characteristic as it is that of the lower forms of Creation. And yet man has in himself anticipations of a higher state. He feels them, even though as a heathen, and he may be ignorant of the truths which Revelation teaches. In the lower stages of animal existence, such anticipations are not page 12 consciously felt, for the mute animal has not the power of self-consciousness and reflection which has been superadded to man's nature. Man, however, can interpret himself, and read in himself the signs of a higher state, which in a lower degree he sees and interprets in the lower orders of Creation which have preceded him. But man, I think, interprets these anticipations of a higher state wrongly, when, with the extreme Evolutionist, he assumes that the species of man grew out of the species monkey, or any species lower than himself, by virtue of some self-inherent power of improvement, or when he argues that the Human Race has improved, and will continue to improve and develop into a higher state of civilization, personal and social, and of individual welfare of body and mind, of happiness, yet without any distinct break or introduction of a new order of things, and without the creative agency of God. The Doctrine of Evolution seems to demand some such higher order of being, but how can it come about without the introduction of a new state of things? All the evidence we have seems to be in favor of successive breaks and introductions of new powers and forms of life. This may possibly go on into infinity. Death and Resurrection are doubtless one of these intended by the Creator, and an introduction of a higher state of life. In this present state of things Creation, so far as we can see, has ceased. The Creator seems to be at rest, so far as creative work in concerned. In a future state after the break of death, we shall be the same, and yet not the same; we shall realise what is meant by the words : "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away."
Extreme Evolutionists, I suppose, limit their ambition to this present state of existence, for how can they look beyond death, which is, so evidently, the destruction of the individual man, such as he is in this life? And yet, Evolution naturally demands something higher and better than this state of things. Is there to be no higher state, with new powers superadded to the old life? I entirely accept the principle of Evolution, so far that God designs a gradual evolution of perfection, which He will bring about in His own time, and by His own power. I believe in—
That God which ever lives and loves.
One God, one law, one element,
And one far off Divine event,
To which the whole Creation moves.
But, so far as our knowledge goes, nothing less than God's power, the power of a new creation, can bring a man once dead out of death into a new life. And, to quote some well known words, "If in this life only we have hope, we are most miserable." According to the strict argument of the Evolutionist, man ought to devolop here, and in this present state, to a state of great improvement. But, lo! man's chances are gone! He is dead! He has not developed into a higher state. There is no evidence of the improvement of man's state here, except within certain limits, and those limits are as iron bars, through which he vainly tries to pass. Evolution logically requires a state of development in man far higher than ever has been seen, or will be seen here, whether in men as a race or as individuals. Where is the man who, as a man, is better than his forefathers centuries ago? Apart from certain special advantages of culture, or of Divine influence, he is still in the normal condition of manhood of the species man, such as man has been since the fall. He may know more, have more power over himself; but the more he knows, the more he sees his own limited powers of knowledge. He may fight a better fight with his degenerate nature than his forefathers, but he is still at war with himself as they were. If richer or healthier than they were, yet he is mortal. The grave is never very far away. As to modern intellect, Homer and Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, were as grand developments of the human mind as Shakespeare, Newton, or Darwin. Moses has never been excelled as a law-giver, Phidias as a sculptor, or Milo as an athlete. Inventions progress, but inventors are not men of acuter intellect than of old. Stephenson was not a greater man than Friar Bacon, nor either of them than Archimedes. We can in these latter days do more, see more, and have more than men could in old times; but, as men, we are not more than men were then. The great general conditions of life are the same, and out of them there is evidently no distinct evolution either for the individual or the race, except by the break of death, and death distinctly destroys man. Debemur morti nos nostraque. But, "Death is swallowed up in victory." "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Now He that has wrought us for the self same thing is God."page 14
So far, then, I believe in Evolution, that I see evidence of it as the intention of the Creator, who successively introduces new stages of creation. And this evidence is supported by what we may learn from the laws which the Creator has impressed on created things. These laws seem to point to the maintenance or destruction of each species of Creation in itself, but in no way indicate the growth of one species out of another. For example, there is the law of gravitation of which it might truly though poetically be said—
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong,
And the most ancient heavens through thee are fresh and strong,
or the laws which regulate the life of a tree or a man, and which account for their death. But I have never heard of any law which could account for the production of a bird from a reptile, or cause a monkey to become a man, or a dead man to become again a living, sentient, rational being. There must be some power external to these things which cannot accomplish such an evolution from lower to higher; in fact, it must be a power of introducing new creations. Now, such a power is certainly equivalent to what is commonly termed miraculous power; that is to say, a power which is above nature, and yet works when it pleases in and with natural things; a power of personal, intelligent, and immediate agency, not necessarily intelligible to our minds, and yet evidently seen in its results. Of course, I freely admit there is a great difficulty in accepting the idea of such a power; but, to my mind, the difficulty is sufficiently overcome by considerations of the following kind :—1. An a priori consideration. The human mind is capable of the idea of such a power. Men are invariably either credulous or deliberately incredulous in the presence of any seeming manifestation of it. We are all either inclined to belief in it, or to strong scepticism. Sometimes we are all superstitiously afraid of it, sometimes defiant, sometimes glad of it. The idea of it finds us, touches us, and challenges attention. We either believe in it in a rational, sober way, having some account to give for our faith, or we cower before it in abject terror, or we resent the idea, and seek to explain it away. We cannot let it be. Is not this a fact noticeable in human nature; as much a fact, in its way, as our capacity for love, hatred, calculation, or construction? And if so, does not such a fact point page 15 to the existence of God the Creator, whose agency is direct and immediate is this world?
2. The laws of nature, such as we observe and verify, are constantly found to be overruled in a manner wholly unintelligible, save by the belief of some higher power which acts as it wills. For example, the laws which account for the life and welfare of the human body are regular in their operation, and are readily demonstrated; but there is a higher power quite above all known law, which evidently, at its will, interferes with the orderly existence of the body. This is the power of the human will itself. You see its effects but cannot explain them or reduce them to a law. The human will can, for the time, annul the power of gravity, as in every instance when you lift your arm; it can induce oblivion of pain; it can overcome or suspend the course of disease; and it does this spontaneously; its action cannot be predicted or analysed so as to reduce it to any system of known law. We have in it, in fact, a personal agent interfering with the orderly laws of nature. Such a fact prepares the way for the acceptance of the idea of a personal, active God, who in a manner above known law, deals with nature from time to time as He wills. And in urging this, it must be remembered that we are bound to take into consideration all the facts of nature which are before our eyes, not merely such as belong to our physical, but also to our mental nature. The whole nature of man must be investigated.
Further, it seems to me quite as difficult to accept the idea of thorough evolution, in which all things are supposed to proceed from the lowest to the highest of themselves, as to believe in a personal God, who from time to time introduces new forms of creation, with new powers of life. What greater marvel could you imagine than that even the highest in the scale of inanimate creation should evolve into the lowest of animate things? Can you imagine a sensitive plant becoming, by any process you can think of, a sentient insect? Can you imagine a twig becoming a caterpillar, or a whale becoming a bear? Darwin's exponents appear to think that something of this kind has taken place. I do not find that he himself asserts it; but, on the other hand, Evolution must mean something of this kind, if life proceeds on earth by natural selection, and not by the introduction of new life. It is, in fact, just as hard to believe as a miracle. The miracle of Moses' rod becoming a serpent page 16 is not more difficult to accept than that animal life should come from plant life. The same holds good of the idea of a man springing from a monkey. What law that we know of, what habit, what accidents of food, of climate, or education could produce in a monkey a conscience of right or wrong, self-consciousness, reflection, memory, speculation, true reasoning power, and self-respect? The question is not merely one of anatomy. There is certainly an enormous difference between the brain of the lowest type of man and the highest type of monkey—a difference in favor of the man of not less than eleven cubic inches in volume. But this is not the real point of difference. Man's mental and spiritual faculties belong to himself. They appear for the first time in man. The monkey possesses none of these. They co-exist, certainly, in man together with much which the man shares with the monkey, as, for instance, with eyesight, or hearing, or with instinct and the sense of pleasure or pain. But, nevertheless, they are the peculiar property of man, and there is no evidence of any kind to show that they grew out of germs possessed by the monkey nature. We might illustrate this by the power of speech and articulate language, which is one of the peculiar properties of the human race. Darwin supposes that man has inherited speech through some of his progenitors who were in an immediate state between man as he is now, and man as he was, little removed from the monkey. It is supposed that the voices of animals are brought into play chiefly in regard to each other, in order to express their sense of love, rivalry, and triumph. Certain monkeys are said to have the power of uttering musical notes, ascending and descending an exact octave of sound, with the half tones well defined. Such a phenomenon as this is taken as an argument in favor of man gradually acquiring his power of speech from the lower orders of Creation. The progenitors of man are supposed to have acquired the habit of using musical tones to express their strong emotions of love or triumph. This habit developed into articulate and plain speech, the muscles of the vocal organs being by degrees so shaped by exercise that speaking became possible. Darwin gravely suggests a most amusing idea to account for the strange power and effect of music, a power which all feel, but which we can seldom analyse or describe. He says: "Man recalls, in an indefinite way, those strong emotions which were felt in bye-gone ages, when our progenitors courted each other in vocal page 17 tones." This is an astounding theory of the origin of music. I prefer the suggestion of an old English poet—
Music, soft charm of heaven and earth,
Whence didst thou borrow thy auspicious birth?
Or art thou of eternal date?
Sire to thyself, thyself as old as Fate—
Ere the rude ponderous mass
Of earth and waters from their chaos sprang,
The morning stars their anthems sang,—
And nought in heaven was heard but melody and love.
To turn from this theory to that of Darwin is deep bathos. Instead of the music of the spheres he would have us believe that music is the recollection of the loves of the monkey tribe! Really, the difference between the ludicrous whine of a monkey, or the pleasant purr of a cat, or the canary's song, and human speech, is not a difference of degree but of kind. The power of articulate speech is the result of powers of deliberate thought. Man alone was furnished by the Creator with the two things necessary for speech—1st, the power of distinct and comprehensive thought; 2nd, the power of clothing thought in words. These two powers are not found in any brute; they are found in all mankind. A brute can hear, feel, taste, smell, as man does; a monkey can compare one nut with another, choose one, and reject another; but he cannot think and reason so as to form general conclusions, such as "all light nuts are hollow." A parrot can imitate sounds, but he cannot think, and express thought in words. The neighing of a horse, the lowing of a cow, the chattering of monkeys are only signs and ejaculations, not true language; for language is the deliberate embodiment in speech of man's ideas about the things he sees, or about his thoughts about himself and others. No lower animals, such as monkeys, could have gradually invented speech. It is evidently one of the special gifts of the Creator to man. There is, as in all creation, a sort of likeness between the lower animals and man in this as in other respects, which is evidence of the intention of the Creator in His evolution of things; but that is all. We may fully admit this, acknowledging, say, the superiority of the monkey species to those species which preceded it, at the same time repudiating our own personal relationship to them. It may be of service to recall the humourous words of Sydney Smith on this subject. He says : "I feel so sure about the superiority of mankind, I have so decided a contempt for the understanding of every baboon I page 18 see, and I feel so sure the blue ape without a tail will never rival us in painting, poetry, or music, that I see no reason whatever for not doing justice to the few fragments of understanding, which the lower animals really possess." This is the language of fun, but it also has a serious meaning.
We have then no evidence of the gradual growth of man from the lower animal creation. And this brings me to what seems the grand fallacy of the doctrine of Evolution. If it means any thing, it means that the higher orders of nature are born from the lower. Now, birth is the only natural process known to us which produces life; and yet, experience universally declares that like is only produced by like. No evidence has as yet been discovered of birth producing a form of life essentially distinct from the life of the parent. To imagine this is so contrary to experience, and so inexplicable by any known laws, that it is as difficult to accept as a miracle. I include in the term "birth," all known kinds of birth,—birth from an egg, birth from a seed, and that process of reproduction which takes place when a cutting is made from a plant, or a portion of a zoophyte, or a coral, separates from the parent stock and becomes a separate individual. Centuries ago, philosophers anticipated the doctrine of our modern Evolutionists, and propounded the theory of generatio æquivoca: that is to say, some kind of birth which is unlike the known process of generation, and which might account for the appearance of new species, so that it would be possible to assert that like is not always produced by like. But no facts have ever been discovered to prove that a generatio (Equivoca has ever taken place, or that a new species was ever born of one already in existence; and yet this is really what Evolutionists ask us to accept as scientific truth.
In making these assertions, I can lay no claim to original research, or any special knowledge of natural history. But, taking for granted, the facts of natural history as they are re-corded in the best books on the subject, I may safely say they are beyond contradiction, so far as any actual experience has gone; and if so, it certainly seems that the encomiums bestowed upon Darwin by many of the writers of the day, are beyond the mark. He is spoken of as the discoverer of the grand law of the origin of species. The fact is, that he has simply hazarded a guess, as philosophers did in old times, when they suggested the theory of æquivoca generatio.page 19
Darwin has been compared to Newton. But the parallel will not hold. Darwin's unverified hypotheses cannot be ranked with Newton's discoveries; Darwin's hypotheses in themselves, apart from verification, are vague, inexact, and deficient in that precision which is the main characteristic of the grand laws of nature. Newton's law of gravitation, even when he announced it provisionally, awaiting proof, was strictly exact and definite. I believe he indignantly repudiated the idea of its being an hypothesis. Hypotheses non fingo. In his proposition he not only asserted the general law of mutual attraction between material bodies, nor did he only describe it in a vague way as decreasing with a decrease of distance, but he stated the exact numerical rate at which the decrease would take place. He had built up this statement on facts, and on precise mathematical reasoning; afterwards it was proved, as, for example, by the revolution of the planets, but even if it had not been fully demonstrated, it was evidently in itself true. I cannot see then that Darwin has claim to the rank of such men as Newton, though his work is in the first rank of natural philosophy. His hypotheses may be valuable. It often happens that a bold guess leads to some discovery of truth. But a guess unverified, cannot be ranked with a definite discovery of any of the laws of nature.
One other point I should like to allude to. It is urged that even if Evolution be proved to be true, to the extent its extreme supporters desire, yet it does not on that account militate against faith in God. To this I would reply :—(1) We must always look to the actual evidence of facts. No doubt God would be as much the Creator of all things if he created matter once for all in some simple form, and then left it to develop itself in multiform ways, as if He introduced new creations from time to time. But in the search for truth, we must look to facts, and facts are against this idea of Evolution. (2) This idea of Evolution does seem to me to contradict the revelation which we assume God has given us of his Creation in the Bible. The simple meaning of the first chapter of Genesis certainly is that God created everything after its kind. No one, I think, without a predisposition to read into its lines the theory of Evolution, would interpret this chapter, except as a record of successive stages of creation. And further, the idea of Evolution in its extreme form, seems to conflict with man's innate conceptions of God's personal page 20 Providence, which are most certainly confirmed by the Revelation of the Bible. The idea of the Creator having created an original atom of matter which during long ages evolves itself into the spiritual being of man, thrusts God so far back from man that He becomes an unreality. Evolution thus makes man the product of natural forces. His body with all its curious physical conditions is supposed to have been produced by the spontaneous and gradual action of some lower organism, which of itself had power to take advantage of certain favourable circumstances, and grow into a human being. His mind and his spirit are supposed to have come into existence in a similar way. They grew somehow out of some merely sentient organism, which in its turn came from mere inanimate, motionless, lifeless matter. Now I would contend that such an hypothesis cannot account for the facts of man's spiritual and mental nature. These facts consist of our conscience which recognizes and fears God, of our sense of responsibility to Him, of duty, of right and wrong, of punishment, and reward. Some such conscience exists in all men, however degraded. What is the Evolutionist to do with these facts? Does he deny them? No! Most of the extreme Evolutionists of the day are evidently men who have, and act up to, very high notions of right and wrong. How then does he account for them? His theory is that conscience of God has gradually come into existence, through stages of being, in which there was evidently less and less consciousness either of God, or self, or any thing at all, until you get back to an atom of original matter, which he will allow the Creator has made in the first instance. Now is it not strange, nay absolutely inconceivable that such feelings as are involved in the expressions, "I must," "I ought," "I can;" or in the words, "duty," "obedience," "responsibility," and this in reference to the Creator of the world, as a matter of personal allegiance, can have come into existence out of lower stages of being in which there was not the slightest indication, or anticipation of such a conscience of God? Evolution has more than it can do to prove the gradual production of a man's physical nature; all it can do is to assert that is seems likely that man grew gradually into existence, such as he is now. Well, it is perhaps, conceivable but there is no evidence to prove, that a mollusc should gradually evolve into a mammal. But surely it is inconceivable that an atom of matter, or even matter page 21 highly organised, as, say, an insect or a brute animal should develop into a being conscious of God, able to love Him, and to fear Him. This is, remember, an evolution which begins with a lifeless atom, which is bound by mechanical laws impressed on it by its Creator, utterly unable to think of itself, or of Him who made it, and ends with human intelligence of God, and human responsibility for right and wrong.
It might, perhaps, be argued that indications of it may be traced in previous creations. The mechanical laws which bind together certain gases in the form of clay may be faint indications of the spiritual law of free will, free obedience, and love and fear of God in man, but then they are only the barest indications of what the Creator was about to do, and not more. Between even the highest kind of instinct which animal possesses and the conscience of a mere savage human being there was an impassable gulf over which no natural laws could cast a bridge. A new creation was needed.
"For why? because the good old rule
Sufficeth him, the simple plan,
That they should take, who have the power,
And they should keep who can."
Nor would he fare much better, in trying to persuade a toper to give up his liquor, or a glutton his heavy feeding, or a spendthrift his extravagance, or a vicious man his pleasures, on the plea that the common consent of man, evolved after generations of experience, is against self-indulgence; nor, if he sought to rule himself, will he find such motives sufficient to curb the passions of his lower nature. The old Adam would win the day; the refinement of such intellectual materialism would soon degenerate into coarse sensual self-indulgence.
This is, I believe, the danger of such theories. At the same time I believe, as a matter of fact, in this generation, in which the practical influence of Christianity is so widely felt, that most of those who advance these doctrines, are true to their early training, and innate sense of obedience to God. Many of the leading exponents of this school of thought, are men of pure, charitable, and in a word, godly lives. But yet, if their theories are likely to endanger virtue and godliness, they should not pass without criticism.
In conclusion, I wish again to state that I can lay no claim page 23 to any knowledge of natural history, beyond that which any intelligent reader can pick up in the brief hours of leisure taken from a busy life; and, so far, it may seem presumptuous to offer criticism on the writings of so great a man as Darwin. Without, however, special knowledge of the minutiæ of scientific research, it is within the power of ordinary intelligence, to analyze the general principles which scientific men propound, and to compare these principles with the actual record of scientific fact, which they produce.
So far, we may compare theory with fact, and from our own conclusions, whether we can accept the doctrines offered us in the name of science. Tried by this test, I have been led to the deliberate conclusion, that the Darwinian theory of Evolution, as represented by so many of its supporters, completely breaks down.