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been designed by a mechanician, that a watch must have been made by a watch-maker; though, at the same time, it is possible to avoid this conclusion, as regards the productions of nature, by having recourse to the system of Buddhism, which ignores Creation and a Creator by a Pantheistic creed, considering Nature itself and everything that is in Nature divine and eternal, and therefore without commencement as identified with the Deity itself. To some it might appear that this* is the most skilful contrivance to avoid the idea of a creation, for though it is not tenable in close reasoning, yet it is the most plausible of all the plans that deny creation, and is considered satisfactory by many millions of the human race. It is however very far from the European mode of thought, being strictly characteristic of the oriental sphere of philosophy, and can never be made to approximate to our physiological inquiries.
With such mysterious speculations modern science has no sympathy; the current tends in the opposite direction, to find in irrational matter the power of self-creation without reason, and to ignore every possible phase of a demiurgic existence.
Writers of this class must frequently be reduced to the necessity of using a language that contradicts their theory, for in treating of the apparatus of nature it is impossible to repudiate the idea of design altogether, as the intention of certain contrivances is so manifest as to be beyond the possibility of doubt. No one therefore ever did, or ever
* I have somewhere read, that in the kingdom of Burmah within the last twenty years some learned men-six I think in number—were put to death by the king for teaching the impious doctrine of a Creator. To us this seems a strange use of the word ' impiety '- but in the Pantheistic creed the idea of a Creator will appear impious, for if it be accepted as certain that the Universe and the Deity are identical, it must seem impious to talk of creating such a universe.
could discourse at length of nature without admitting occasionally the idea of intention, and of certain objects obtained by certain expedients; but in the strictly Material School this ought not to be, as the first proposition of the sect is that all things are made without design, and are as we see them to be simply because they are so. Nevertheless all the disciples of all the Material Schools are continually lapsing into the language of their opponents, and though they are always · driving out“ Nature” with a fork,' yet is she always returning upon them again, and 'her object,'
her designs,' &c., again and again make their appearance, with an occasional protest that no real meaning is to be attached to such expressions, which are used in a wide metaphorical sense' easily understood.
'I consider,' said Cabanis, in speaking of the provisions for the reproduction of animals,—'I consider, with the great Bacon, the philosophy of final causes is sterile, but I have elsewhere acknowledged that it was extremely difficult for the most cautious man never to have recourse to them in his explanations.' And Dr Whewell has well observed, 'though the physiologist may persuade himself that he ought never to refer to final causes, we find that practically he cannot help it, and that the event shows that his practical habit is right and well-founded.
Saint Hilaire, a celebrated authority of the Antitheistic School, has said: 'I ascribe no intention to God, for I mistrust the feeble powers of my reason ; I observe facts merely, and go no farther; I only pretend to the character of what is ; I cannot make Nature as an intelligent beingwho does nothing in vain, who acts by the shortest mode, who does all for the best.'
A testimony which is well worth remembering, for we
see that Saint Hilaire considers those who thus speak of Nature as virtually giving her the attributes of God; this, however, is precisely the language used by some French writers, his successors, and disciples too of the School of Transmutation ; they make Nature an Intelligent being, with an object or intention, which they so expressly designate. Of this we shall ere long see an example.
Neither is this prohibited language avoided by Mr Darwin, as the antecedent pages have already shown. Other more striking examples will hereafter be adduced.
The term Nature with many of the ancient philosophers, and especially with those of the Stoical School, was simply intended as another designation of God; and we ourselves profess to use the word in that sense too, out of respect to the Author of Nature whom we do not name, as Cuvier has well expressed it. Nature with us means an Intelligent Agent: it is not a figure of speech only difficult to avoid,' but a reverential expression cheerfully embraced.
Until the eighteenth century the Mosaic Economy was the undisputed authority in Europe for all discussions on the Origin of Life on our globe. Biology was a revelation, and when the science of geology began, it first started from a revelation. About the beginning of the last century, a French author, De Maillet, composed a work to explain the Origin of Life without any regard to the established opinions. His first proposition was, that at one time the earth had been entirely covered with water, and that, therefore, the first animals must have been aquatic—must have been fishes. When the waters retired, the fishes underwent metamorphoses. (We should suggest that they died, as is the manner of fishes when left on dry land.) The fishes which keep to the bottom of the waters, creeping amongst the mud, became reptiles; those which occasionally rise above the waters became flying animals, their fins were turned into wings, their scales into feathers; and, in one word, mammifers, and man himself, came into existence from this aquatic origin. De Maillet's work was published about the year 1748, shortly after the author's death. Twenty years later, Robinet published a book entitled * Essais de la Nature qui apprend à faire l'homme.' Robinet makes Nature his agent, which he freely personi. fies. Nature, according to him, commenced with creating worms, then insects. Later, she made a bold step, and fabricated the crustaceans. Then she placed inwards the external plates of the crustaceans, and made vertebræ of them—thence came the serpent. After the serpent the lizard; the front part of the lizard was transformed into wings—from thence the bird. And thus, progressively, Nature formed the quadrupeds, the quadrumanous animals, and last of all man.
I know not that any other writer followed in this track till M. Lamarck* appeared, who, with a greatly superior genius and much scientific knowledge, stood forth as the great exponent of the Theory of Transmutation.
M. Lamarck derives all animals from a monad, though what might be the nature of the monad we do not learn. From the monad the next step was to the Polypus : 'int consequence of the efforts which the Polypus imposed on itself, and the habits which it assumed,' the Polypus gave itself, successively, all forms of life even the most elevated.
* Jean Baptiste Monnet de Lamarck was born in Picardie, 1744, and died at Paris, 1829. Appointed professor of Zoology during the Revolution, he developed in the course of his lectures his curious system. This he published, “Extrait du cours de Zoologie du muséum d'histoire naturelle'in 1812 ; and also in his ‘Histoire des animaux sans vertèbres, 1815, in seven volumes. Towards the end of his life, this learned man became quite blind.
† Au moyen des efforts qu'il s'impose, et des habitudes qu'il prend, le polype se donna successivement toutes les formes jusqu'aux plus élevées.
The exercise of habit, and the effort at action, is the transforming power in Lamarck's system ; animals have aimed at certain faculties and functions, and thus have obtained them—a process by which they have gradually become new animals. He has, however, other agents for his system of Transmutation—'efforts of internal sentiment;' 'influence of subtile fluids,' and 'acts of organization :' the usual cloud of words with which an empirical writer surrounds himself, when treating of the essence of his system. Lyell well observes, that in using these phrases he substitutes names for things, and with a disregard to the strict rules of induction, resorts to fictions as ideal as the plastic virtue, and other phantoms of the geologists of the middle ages.'
But to proceed with the system. It being assumed as an undoubted fact, that a change of external circumstances may cause one organ to become entirely obsolete, and a new one to be developed, such as never before belonged to the species, the following proposition is announced, which, however absurd it may seem, is logically deduced from the assumed premises. It is not the organs, or, in other words, the nature and form of the parts of the body of an animal, which have given rise to its habits and its particular faculties ; but on the contrary, its habits, its manner of
* This fundamental priuciple of his system, Lamarck expressed in these words :
L'habitude d'exercer un organe, lui fait acquérir des développements et des dimensions qui le changent insensiblement, en sorte qu'avec le temps elle le rend fort différent. Au contraire le défaut constant d'exercise d'un organe l'appauvrit graduelleinent et finit par l'anéantir.'