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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53

VI. — A Retrospect and Summary


A Retrospect and Summary.

In preparing these articles the difficulty has not been to find material, but to select the salient points from that mass of evidence which has led the most eminent scientific men of the present century to reject the doctrines espoused by Mr. Darwin, or only page 37 to allow them a very minor place in the development of the forms of life now represented upon the earth. It may be admitted that naturalists, in their anxiety for minute classification, have perhaps sometimes drawn the line too tightly between species, and that the observations of Mr. Darwin's partially account for variations within the great families which have appeared in successive ages. But Mr. Darwin's monstrously exaggerated claims on behalf of a very subordinate law in Nature involve such a total reversal of everything we know of the methods by which species maintain their position on the earth, that we should be compelled to reject them if the supporting evidence were a hundred-fold stronger than any that has yet been adduced, and were not contradicted at every step by phenomena which are utterly inexplicable upon the hypothesis of evolution. Mr. Darwin made no attempt to account for the origin of life or sensation; his theory is entirely confined to suggestions regarding possible causes of modification after life had arisen. And those theories, as we have seen, mainly rely for proof upon variations within species exhibited by domestic animals, fanciful resemblances, strained deductions, and purely dogmatic assertions. Professor Owen will not be suspected of prejudice against Mr. Darwin's work when he declares his dispassionate judgment on the observations recorded in "The Origin of Species:" "All these, however, are conceptions of what may have, not of what have originated a species. Applied to the structures which differentiate Troglodytes from Homo, or Chiromys from Lemur, they are powerless to explain them, and the structural difference in these instances is greater than in many other species maintaining their distinction by sexual incapacity to produce fertile hybrids."*

Before glancing again at the ground over which we have passed, it is desirable to consider what the Darwinians really ask people to believe. Professor Hæckel requires them to picture" the primeval parents of all other organisms," in some microscopic "homogeneous organisms as are yet not differentiated, and are similar to the inorganic crystals in being homogeneously composed of one single substance."† These organisms presumably made their first appearance on the planet at the bottom of some sea in the Laurentian period. Let us first imagine the task set out for this simple germ without sensation, and hardly visible under the most powerful microscope, and conceive, if we can, any possible variation, or any struggle for life, by which might be evolved from it the order, the variety, the beauty of Animated Nature. Think for one moment of the delicate mechanism of the human body, in no portion of which can a pin's point be inserted without perforating a nerve and a blood-vessel. An obtuseness bordering

* Owen—"Introduction to Anatomy of Vertebrates." † Hæckel—" History of the Creation," vol 1.

page 38 upon intellectual stupidity is necessary to believe that these and myriads of other effects, visible everywhere around, find any rational explanation in such absurdly inadequate causes as Mr. Darwin and his apostles offer. Mr. Denton candidly confessed that he could no more believe that such results were the product of accidental variation than he believed that a rock rolling downhill had sculptured the statue of the Duke of Wellington. Nor can any other reasonable man do so who is not wilfully self-blinded. The entire attitude of evolutionists of the true Darwinian school is utterly absurd and inconsistent. In the occurrence of rude flints in caves and gravel beds, disassociated from human remains, they perceive and confidently assert the presence of man, and yet they can survey a Creation in which law, order, and marvellous design are universal, and declare it to be the product of a succession of accidents. One achievement of this new development of teleology, as interpreted by Huxley, is the demonstration to those ignorant people who conceived that eyes were made to see with, that they are labouring under a sad delusion—the eye, we are assured, is simply the effect of outward impressions on a piece of sensitive skin! The skin that would produce the eye, the reasons for its production and location, are, however, left to the imagination; they are nowhere to be found in Nature. When an eye in process of evolution is discovered, or when any explanation of the development of an organ of such characteristic shape and delicate construction, by variation and Natural Selection, is vouchsafed by Mr. Huxley, we shall begin to believe in the doctrine of Evolution. It is a perfectly safe challenge. Not the liveliest imagination in a scientific school so fertile in fancies and so bankrupt in facts as the evolutionists are has ever formulated even a plausible theory to account for the production in an eyeless creature of the eye, with its lenses, optic nerve, protective covering, socket, and appropriate muscles.

The very possibility of variation in marine monads is simple assumption. Dr. Wyville Thomson, of H.M. 'Challenger' scientific expedition, declares that his eight years' observation of the ocean fauna" refuse to give the least support to the theory which refers the evolution of species to extreme variation guided by natural selection," and Professor J. Gwyn Jeffries says he "cannot understand how either natural or sexual selection call affect the marine invertebrates, which have no occasion to struggle for their existence, and have no distinction of sex." We prefer these observations to volume of Huxley's and Hæckcl's theories, however ingenious and plausible. We have rummaged those theories in vain for a single intelligent answer to the question before propounded: Why, if these forms are constantly developing towards the possession of eyes and ears, Nature's inevitable failures are nowhere to be found? Everywhere creatures are perfect after their kind. Mr. Darwin says: "The most humble organism is page 39 something much higher than the inorganic dust under our feet; and no one with an unbiassed mind can study any living creature, however humble, without being struck with enthusiasm at its marvellous structure and properties."*

First of all, then, we see a fixed and impassable gulf between the organic and the inorganic—the living and the dead, Next, we have the perfection of every type of life after its own order, a perfection that must have been subject to constant and notable exceptions if the higher species were the products of variations in the lower. Persistence of species is the universal order of the universe, and variation is limited by unfruitfulness—even the double flowers, accidentally or artificially produced, are barren. Mr. Darwin admits that" Some groups, as we have seen, have endured from the earliest known dawn of life to the present day." [The genus lingula is an example.]

If from a few simple forms possessing powers of self-development, all life has sprung, why are there such extraordinary differences in size now. The age of minute creatures ought to have passed away long ago. If the same germ produced the mouse and the elephant, it is inexplicable why evolution stopped at the mouse stage in the one case and went on to the elephant in the other. Weakly mice ought to have been killed of, giving place to a stronger race; these, by natural selection should again have given birth to progeny on the average larger and stronger than their ancestors, and the process going on ad infinitum, ought to have brought the species up to the size of dogs, at a low computation. The same course of reasoning might be applied with equal or greater force to other animals—to insects, birds, and every species of fish between the minnow and the shark. There are myriads of living creatures as minute and organically simple as any that could have existed at the first dawn of life on the planet, and their continued re-production discredits the belief in the possession of inherent capacities for progression. The reply of the evolutionist that these forms of life continue to exist because there is room for them; and further, that Natural Selection does not cause favourable variations but only preserves them when they occur, is thoroughly unsatisfactory. The first reason is simply a denial of the theory of the Sunrival of the Fittest, for it recognises that not only the theoretically fit but the unfit survive; and the second reply reduces the whole system to the wildest of chances, and is repudiated by every intelligent observation of the facts of Nature. If evolution has brought the monad up to the higher animal or the man, it has gone on steadily in one direction, and must, therefore, have been the product of some powerful law. That law, however, to be indicative of an inherent property of

* Darwin—"Descent of Man."

Darwin—"Origin of Species."

page 40 matter or of vitality, should have been uniform in its operation, and all creatures ought to have developed gradually into higher forms, whereas the highly organised animals are only as a few blades of grass in a prairie when compared with the abounding forms of lowly life maintaining their place and identity on the earth.
We have asserted that the geological strata are adverse to the theory of Evolution. The fact that Lyell, after 30 years' study of the fossils of the earth's crust, and so long as he relied on his own observations, was found writing against transmutation of species is sufficiently significant; but specific facts tending in the same direction might be multiplied indefinitely. Suddenly in the Silurian rocks, contemporaneously with the humble cephalaspis, appears a shark—the very highest type of fishes, although lower forms, afterwards known to us, are nowhere to be found in these rocks. Again, in the Permian Period, lizards abruptly make their appearance which, upon Professor Huxley's own admission, "Differ astonishingly little from the lizards which exist at the present day." And Mr. Huxley is compelled to acknowledge that though these lizards continued almost without variation, and can be traced down through the succeeding strata to the present time, "We find no trace of lizards, nor of any reptile whatever in the whole mass of formations beneath the Permian," Nor are there any intermediary forms. Abruptly, again, in the Triassic age, gigantic saurians come on the scene, reptiles more highly organised than any now existing, thirty-two species of three-toed birds, four times larger than the ostrich (probably the immediate relatives of the New Zealand Moa) and marsupialian mammalia. Again Evolution is at fault—no intermediary forms have ever been found. Mr. Huxley lamely resorts to the plea of defects in the geological record: "For my part," he observes, "I entertain no sort of doubt that the reptiles, birds, and mamnmls, of the Trias, are the direct descendants of the reptiles, birds, and mammals which existed in the latter part of the Paleozoic epoch, but not in any area of the present dry land which has been explored by the geologist."* Professor Hæckel, speaking of the reptiles, says: "In the present state of our knowledge we are obliged to give up the attempt at establishing their pedigree," Principal Dawson says: "Physically, the transition from the Permian to the Trias is easy. In the domain of life a great gulf lies between. The geologist whose mind is filled with the forms of the Paleozoic period, on rising into the next succeeding bed, feels himself a sort of Rip Van Winkle, who has slept a hundred years and awakes in a new world." In the Oolitic, and again in the Tertiary strata the same thing occurs. Professor Williamson

* Huxley—"Crit and Addresses."

Hæckel—"History of the Creation," vol. 2.

Dawson—"The Origin of the World."

page 41 says of the transition from the Eocene to the Miocene: "Remember, then, that in the lowest part of the Tertiary series we have scarcely any of these mammals. The few found in the Eocene period are but scanty representatives of the group, but when we turn a corner it appears as if some great magician had waved his hand, and, in response to the magic summons, life of the most varied character and in forms most dissimilar from what immediately preceded flash into existence."* Mr. Denton confessed that he had himself seen evidence of the disappearance of one set of fossils and the succession of a totally different set, having no relationship to those below, within the space of two or three feet—an occurrence in which the theory of Evolution was utterly untenable. Speaking of the great sub-kingdoms into which Animated Nature is divided, Mr. Huxley says:—"So definitely and precisely marked is the structure of each animal that in the present state of our knowledge there is not the least evidence to prove that a form in the slightest degree transitional between any of the two groups of vertebrated annulosa, mollusca, and cœlenterata either exists or has existed during that period of the earth's history which is recorded by the geologist."

Upon what, then, it will naturally be asked, do the evolutionists rely in refutation of the mass of facts of which we have only indicated the barest outline? Their stock of arguments, which are reiterated with a wearisome monotony of barrenness, has afforded the narrow track marking the limits of these papers: Variations in domesticity and under cultivation, far-fetched deductions from animal resemblances, rudimentary organs, embryology. A little novelty was given to the oft-told story by Mr. Huxley's attempt in the New York lectures to trace the pedigree of the horse in certain resemblances exhibited by the teeth and limbs of the little Orohippus; but while careful to dwell upon points of similarity, the lecturer very scrupulously excluded all references to the many differences which discredit his theory. The idea that the archæopteryx was intermediate between the reptile and the bird was early demolished by Professor Owen's identification of the fossil as the remains of a true bird—and thousands of birds had existed on the earth ages before it.

Every test that has ever been suggested to determine the power of variation to alter species has resulted adversely to Evolution. The mummies of Egypt prove that four or five thousand years of evolution have left man and domestic animals structurally unchanged, and the discovery of human skulls, giving the evolutionists a still wider range of time, has extorted the confession that their theory receives no support from the comparison. We have offered them, in the fauna of New Zealand

* Williamson—"Succession of Life on the Earth."

Huxley—"Lay Sermon."

page 42 and Australia, a period extending from the earliest dawn of life on the earth till now, and the answer is still the same. Are we, then, to accept Mr. Darwin's theories and opinions and possibilities against the teachings of recognized facts, the force of which evolutionists are compelled to acknowledge? To do so is to undermine the very foundations of exact science, and drive it from the secure fortress of ascertained truths into a thing of creeds and beliefs.

Passing on to the most paraded arguments of Darwinists—Reversions, Embryology, and Rudimentary Organs—we have seen that these things, when not ridiculously inconsequential, turn fatally against Evolution. The existence of unused organs strikes a deadly blow at the law of Natural Selection, which insists on the conservation only of variations that are beneficial and useful to a species. So strongly is this position supported that Mr. Darwin withdrew many of the claims he had originally advanced on behalf of his pet theory.