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Title: A Theory of Creation: A Review of 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation'
Author: Bowen, Francis, 1811-1890
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Theory of Creation: A Review of 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation'" ***

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     _Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation._ New York: Wiley &
     Putnam. 1845. 12mo. pp. 291.

This is one of the most striking and ingenious scientific romances that
we have ever read. The writer of it is a bold man; he has undertaken to
give a hypothetical history of creation, beginning, as the title-pages
say, at the earliest period, and coming down to the present day. It is
not quite so authentic as that of Moses, nor is it written with such an
air of simplicity and confidence as the narrative of the Jewish
historian; but it is much longer, and goes into a far greater variety of
interesting particulars. It contradicts the Jewish cosmogony in a few
particulars, and is at variance with probability and the ordinary laws
of human reasoning in many others. But the rather liberal rules of
interpretation, which it is now the fashion to apply to the first
chapter of Genesis, will relieve the reader from any scruples on the
former account; and as to the latter, in these days of scientific
quackery, it would be quite too harsh to make any great complaint about
such peccadilloes. The writer has taken up almost every questionable
fact and startling hypothesis, that have been promulgated by proficients
or pretenders in science during the present century, except animal
magnetism; and for this omission we have reason to be thankful. The
nebular hypothesis, Laplace's or Compte's theory of planets _shelled
off_ from the sun, spontaneous generation,--some of these vagaries, we
admit, are of much older date than the year 1800,--the Macleay system,
dogs playing dominoes, negroes born of white parents, materialism,
phrenology,--he adopts them all, and makes them play an important part
in his own magnificent theory, to the exclusion, in a great degree, of
the well-accredited facts and established doctrines of science.

We speak lightly of the author's plan, as one can hardly fail to do of a
scheme so magnificent, and going apparently so far beyond the ordinary
sources of information and the range of the human intellect. But the
execution of the work is of so high an order, as fairly to challenge
attention and respect. The writer, who has not chosen to give his name
to the world, is evidently a man of great ingenuity and correct taste, a
master of style, a plausible, though not a profound, reasoner, and
having quite a general, but superficial, acquaintance with the sciences.
His materials are arranged with admirable method, the illustrations are
copious and interesting, the transitions are skilfully managed, and the
several portions of the theory are so well fitted to each other, and
form such a round and perfect whole, that it seems a pity to subject it
to severe analysis and searching criticism. It is a very pleasant
hypothesis, set forth in a most agreeable manner; and though it contains
many objectionable features, these are cautiously veiled and kept in the
background, and the reader is seduced into accepting most of the
conclusions, before he is aware of their true character and tendency.

Before a just opinion can be formed of the correctness of the writer's
views, it is necessary to take to pieces this skilful fabric, and to
bring the parts together in a different connection and with greater
succinctness, following out each doctrine to its inevitable, but most
remote, conclusions, so as to obtain a just idea of the position in
which we should be placed by the acceptance of the theory as a whole.
For obvious reasons, the author has not chosen to give a general summary
of his views, or to mention explicitly all the inferences that may be
drawn from them. He merely puts the reader upon the track, indicating
its general direction, and leaving it for him to find out what objects
will be encountered by the way, and where the journey will end. We
propose to finish the work that is thus left incomplete, and to set
forth the doctrine in its plainest terms. We would reduce the theory at
once to its narrowest compass and simplest expression; but at the same
time, would incorporate into it every doctrine which properly belongs to
it, and follow out each hypothesis to its remote, though necessary,
inferences and conclusions. To this end, it is requisite to separate, as
far as possible, the doctrines themselves from the evidence adduced in
support of them; and to consider the former as a whole, before
proceeding, to discuss the cogency of the latter. The following may be
taken as the most concise abstract that we can form of the history of
the creation, according to this author.

In the beginning--we use this word in a kind of preter-perfect sense--in
the _very_ beginning of things, immense portions of infinite space were
filled with finely diffused nebulous matter, heated to an intensity that
is altogether inconceivable. The particles of this "fire mist," as it is
appropriately called, were the true _primordia rerum_,--the elements of
the universe,--the principles of all the forms of inorganic matter and
all organic things. At the outset, the Creator endowed these particles
with certain qualities and capacities, and then stood aside from his
work, as there was nothing farther for him to do. The subsequent
progress of creation is only the successive _development_, upon
mechanical and necessary principles, and as fast as proper occasions
were offered, of these qualities thus made inherent in the primitive
constitution of matter. The atoms thus marvellously endowed have gone
on, without any further aid from Almighty power, to form suns, and
astral systems, and planets with their satellites, and worlds tenanted
by successive generations and races of vegetable and animal things. And
this work of creation, or rather of development, is still in progress
all around us, and in all its various stages, though in the portion most
directly exposed to the observation of man it is far advanced towards
perfection. Upon this earth, the unaided action of these atoms is still
evolving all the phenomena of generation, progress, and decay, of
vegetable and animal life, of instinct and of mind. In the abyss of
space, it is also forming new suns, and solar systems, and worlds that
are to pass through the same stages and wonderful transformations to
which our own planet has already been subjected. All that has occurred
with respect to this earth, and the system of which it forms a part, is
but a type of what is constantly going on in the countless other systems
of stars that people the firmament.

The first stage in the history of these fiery particles is the formation
among them, in some unaccountable way, of nuclei, or centres of
aggregation, like the bright points that are now visible in some of the
nebulæ of the heavens. As soon as these centres are formed, gravity, one
of the original principles of matter, begins to act, and the atoms in
all the neighbouring parts of space are attracted towards the nucleus
and heaped upon it. In this manner, a central sun of vast dimensions is
formed, which soon assumes a motion of rotation upon its axis from the
general law which gives a circular movement to all fluids that are drawn
towards a common centre. The centrifugal force thus generated tends to
throw off matter from the equatorial regions of the great orb, but is
restrained by the attraction of gravitation, which would prevent any
separation of the parts, if the sun itself did not now begin to cool
down, and consequently to shrink in size. Under this cooling process, a
crust is formed upon the surface, too rigid to yield to the force of
gravity, and the parts within, continuing to shrink, separate from this
envelope; so that there is now a central orb, revolving more rapidly
from its greater density and smaller diameter, and surrounded by an
exterior shell, or band, like Saturn's ring, rotating at its original
speed. As we cannot suppose that the ring would usually be of uniform
thickness and strength, it eventually breaks up into fragments, the
larger of which attracts the smaller into itself, and the whole is
formed by its revolving motion into an oblate spheroid circling round
the contracted sun in the centre. In this manner, the planet Uranus was
shelled off from our sun, which originally filled the whole of the vast
sphere, of which the distance from Uranus to the centre of the present
sun is but the radius. The planet itself, by the same process of
cooling, shrinking, and thus forming exterior rings, threw off
successively all its six satellites; and the sun, also, continuing to
contract from the loss of heat, formed another ring, and thus
constituted the planet Saturn. In this way were formed successively all
the planets and satellites of the present solar system. The original
diameter of our earth was equal, of course, to the present diameter of
the moon's orbit. In the case of Saturn, the two rings formed around it
happened to be of unusual homogeneity and equal thickness, so that they
were not broken up, but have preserved their primitive shape. A ring was
formed from the sun in the space between the present orbits of Mars and
Jupiter; but when it was broken up, the fragments did not congregate
into one, but spherified separately, so as to form the four smaller
planets which now revolve in that opening.

     "We have no means of judging of the seniority of systems; but it is
     reasonable to suppose, that, among the many, some are older than
     ours. There is, indeed, one piece of evidence for the probability
     of the comparative youth of our system, altogether apart from human
     traditions and the geognostic appearances of the surface of our
     planet. This consists in a thin nebulous matter, which is diffused
     around the sun to nearly the orbit of Mercury, of a very oblately
     spheroidal shape. This matter, which sometimes appears to our naked
     eyes, at sunset, in the form of a cone projecting upwards in the
     line of the sun's path, and which bears the name of Zodiacal Light,
     has been thought a residuum or last remnant of the concentrating
     matter of our system, and thus may be supposed to indicate the
     comparative recentness of the principal events of our cosmogony.
     Supposing the surmise and inference to be correct, and they may be
     held as so far supported by more familiar evidence, we might with
     the more confidence speak of our system as not amongst the elder
     born of Heaven, but one whose various phenomena, physical and
     moral, as yet lay undeveloped, while myriads of others were fully
     fashioned and in complete arrangement. Thus, in the sublime
     chronology to which we are directing our inquiries, we first find
     ourselves called upon to consider the globe which we inhabit as a
     child of the sun, elder than Venus and her younger brother Mercury,
     but posterior in date of birth to Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and
     Uranus; next, to regard our whole system as probably of recent
     formation in comparison with many of the stars of our firmament. We
     must, however, be on our guard against supposing the earth as a
     recent globe in our ordinary conceptions of time. From evidence
     afterwards to be adduced, it will be seen that it cannot be
     presumed to be less than many hundreds of centuries old."--pp. 22,

Having thus explained the _genesis_ of the solar system, we come down to
the history of our own earth, since it shelled off the ring which formed
our moon. Continuing to cool down and shrink, a thin but rigid crust of
primary rocks, still bearing marks of the intense heat to which they
have been subjected, was formed upon its surface; and then the vapors,
with which the atmosphere had been charged, were condensed, and formed
seas, which covered the whole, or the greater part, of the earth's
rind. The continual agitation of these waters, and their high
temperature, as they were still nearly at the boiling point,
disintegrated and wore down many of these rocks, and, in the lapse of
ages, deposited their remains, in thick layers of sand and mud, at the
bottom of the seas. Baked by the heat from beneath, and pressed by the
weight of superincumbent waters, these layers slowly hardened into
stratified rocks. Forms of vegetable and animal life, though only of the
lowest type, the origin of which is to be explained hereafter, now began
to appear. Some sea-plants, zoöphytes, infusory animalcules, and a few
of the molluscous tribe, all low down in the order of being, but
important from their immense numbers and joint action, commenced their
work of absorbing the carbonic acid with which the air was overcharged,
and building up vast piers and mounds of stone from their own remains.
Meanwhile, the internal fires of the earth occasionally broke through
the rocky crust that imprisoned them, threw up liquid primitive rock
through the rents, and distorted and tilted up the strata that had been
formed above.

We may remark, in passing, that the chronology of the events of which we
now speak is not very accurately determined; the only thing certain
about it is, that a series of ages, so protracted that the imagination
cannot conceive their number, elapsed between the successive epochs in
the history of the earth's crust. Some of the convulsions caused by the
fiery mass within threw up rock above the surface of the waters, and
thus the dry land began to appear. Islands were formed, and immediately
land-plants made their appearance, of excessive luxuriance, under the
tropical temperature that still prevailed all over the globe, and began
their office of absorbing carbon, and storing it up for future use.
Land-animals as yet were not, for the excess of carbonic acid in the
atmosphere rendered it incapable of supporting animal life. But the
richness of this island vegetation gradually purified the air; while the
decaying plants themselves, being accumulated into vast beds and strata,
and subjected, through the changes of the earth's surface, to the
pressure of mighty waters, gradually formed immense deposits of coal,
for the subsequent service of man. Animals of a higher grade were now
formed; fishes became abundant, and amphibious monsters, huge lizards
and other reptiles, with an imperfect apparatus of respiration, began to
breathe an atmosphere not yet fitted for birds and mammifers.

It is not necessary to trace out the comparatively well known facts and
theories of geological science, that are incorporated into this history.
It is enough, for the present purpose, to point out a few of the general
conclusions of the geologist respecting the several great changes that
the earth's crust has undergone, and the distinct races of vegetables
and animals which have successively tenanted the earth's surface. These
changes and these races have borne a constant relation to each other; as
the scenes shifted, the inhabitants also changed, the latter being
always adapted to the circumstances in which they were placed. There has
been a constant progress, the soil and the atmosphere becoming more and
more fitted for the support of the higher forms of life; and when all
things were thus made ready for them, these higher forms have appeared,
and the lower orders of being, which formerly occupied the scene, have
entirely died out, so that their remains, entombed in the solid rock,
are now the only indications of their past existence. In the era of the
primary rocks, as we have seen, there was no organization or life, as
there was nothing to support it. In the succeeding period, zoöphytes and
mollusca appeared; these were followed by fishes, and then land rose
above the surface of the waters. Land-plants and animals came next,
though of a low type; continually advancing orders of beings, reptiles,
birds, and mammifers, suited to the improved condition of things,
successively appeared, until, at the latest epoch, man entered upon the
scene, the head of animated nature as at present constituted, with
powers and capacities well adapted for the full enjoyment of the
augmented riches of the earth. And the end is not yet. "The present
race, rude and impulsive as it is, is perhaps the best adapted to the
present state of things in the world; but the external world goes
through slow and gradual changes, which may leave it in time a much
serener field of existence. There may then be occasion for a nobler type
of humanity, which shall complete the zoölogical circle on this planet,
and realize some of the dreams of the purest spirits of the present

The question now occurs, How are we to account for the origin of
_life_, both in the vegetable and animal kingdoms? The answer can
readily be given, if we follow out resolutely to their remotest
consequences the principles that have already been established. The
evolution of natural laws, the necessary action of the qualities with
which atoms were at first endowed, has sufficed to produce this complex
system of mutually dependent worlds, and all the successive
transformations of the earth's rind, which have fitted it for the
support of successive races of organic beings. May not the same causes
have produced the beings themselves? The one process would seem to be
not much more elaborate and intricate than the other. If the inherent
qualities of matter have built up a solar system, they may have created,
also, the first animalcule, the first fish, the first quadruped, and the
first man. There has been a marked progress, in either case, from the
chaotic, the rude, the imperfectly developed, up to the orderly, the
complex, the matured forms. The first essays, the rude efforts, of
nature have gradually been perfected. The chaotic world that was first
shelled off from the sun differed not less widely from the admirably
furnished planet we now inhabit, than does the zoöphyte, whose remains
are not split out of the rock, from man, the present head of the animal
tribe. At any rate, geology informs us, that the causes, whatever they
may be, which produce life, have been long and frequently in operation.
They were not exhausted in the first effort; they are probably still at
work throughout the universe. Not merely successive generations, but
successive races, both of plants and animals, widely distinguished from
each other, have, at different periods, tenanted the earth's surface.
Those of which we possess the fossil remains belong, almost without
exception, to extinct species. They were crowded out of existence, as it
were, by the new forms, more perfectly organized, which came to take
their places in the improving condition of things. This continuous
agency of the life-producing causes, effecting still higher results by
each successive effort, seems to point directly to the gradual expansion
and development of the qualities with which matter was first endowed.

We actually see natural agents now at work around us, producing results
which counterfeit life, if they do not constitute it. Many substances
crystallize into shapes bearing a strong resemblance to vegetable forms,
as in the well known chemical experiment producing the _arbor Dianæ_.
The passage of the electric fluid leaves marks that are like the
branches and foliage of a tree, and the same fluid exerts a direct
influence on the germination of plants. Some of the proximate principles
of vegetable and animal bodies, such as urea and alantoin, are said to
have been produced artificially by the chemist; and in the combination
of the simple elements, such as carbon and oxygen, into these proximate
principles, it is now acknowledged that there is no violation of the
ordinary laws of chemical affinity. The origin of all vegetable and
animal life, so far as it can be traced, is in germinal vesicles, or
little cells containing granules. Such are the ova of all animals; and
both vegetable and animal tissues are entirely formed from them. When
the parent cells come to maturity, they burst and liberate the granules,
which immediately develope themselves into new cells, thus repeating the
life of their original. Now, it has been asserted, that globules can be
produced in albumen by electricity; and _if these globules are true
germinal vesicles_, the difficult problem of producing life by
artificial means is entirely solved.

But the burden of this part of the theory rests on the evidence that has
been produced of late years to favor the doctrine of equivocal
generation, or the production of living beings without the agency,
either direct or indirect, of parents of the same species. Can such
beings, _orphans_ in the strictest sense, now be produced or discovered?
We have not space to repeat our author's argument on this difficult
mooted question in science, nor is it necessary; he sums up the evidence
on his own side, and of course finds it satisfactory, though the weight
of authority is against him. He adduces the experiments of Mr. Crosse,
repeated by Mr. Weekes, who claim to have produced animalcules in
considerable numbers, of a species before unknown, by passing a voltaic
current through silicate of potash, and through nitrate of copper. The
existence of _entozoa_, or parasitic animals, found in the interior of
the bodies of other animals, and found nowhere else, is thought to
support the same doctrine. The question is, How came they there? Being
too large, either in their perfect form, or in the egg, to have passed
through the capillary blood-vessels, how came they within the body of
another animal,--itself but a few weeks or a few days old, or even in
the embryo stage,--unless they were created there without parentage of
their own species?

These facts and reasonings, it is true, only go to prove, that
animalcules, or beings of very small size, and low in the scale of
animated existence, can be produced in this way by the inherent
qualities of matter. No one will pretend, that a dog, a horse, or a man
can thus be created. How can we account for the existence of these
larger animals of a higher type, admitted to have been denizens of the
earth only since the latest geological epochs, and therefore of
comparatively recent origin? Here we come to another point in our
author's theory,--the transmutation of species, or the successive
_development_ of higher and higher orders of being out of the species
immediately below them, through the accidental or natural fulfilment of
certain conditions, in the course of a long period of years.

Natural history teaches us, that there is quite a regular gradation
among the several tribes of vegetables and animals; though we may not be
able to range all the species, as constantly advancing in a single line,
there is certainly the general appearance of a scale, beginning with the
most simple, and going on to the most complex forms. While the external
characteristics are very different, all are but variations of a single
plan, which exists as the basis of all, and is varied in each individual
only so as to accommodate it to the conditions under which the
individual is to live. The germ of a higher animal--a mammifer, for
instance--is the representative of a lower animal full-grown, like the
_volvox globator_; the latter remaining in this initial stage, as an
animalcule, through its whole existence; while the former is developed
out of it, by successive stages, into a quadruped, or even into a man.
Similar functions are performed in different animals by very different
organs, the gills of fishes performing the same office as the lungs of
the mammalia; and these different organs sometimes exist, at different
periods, according to the degree of development, in the same animal.
Thus, the tadpole, so long as it continues to be a fish, breathes by
gills, which disappear and give place to lungs when it becomes a frog.
Similar transformations of the insect tribe are familiar to all.
Imperfect or rudimentary organs are found in certain animals, as the
mammæ of a man; a particular organ being here developed to a certain
extent, though it is not needed; but being developed a little further,
it becomes useful in the next set of animals in the scale. The same
peculiarity is found among plants; the skilful gardener being able
actually to develope these rudimentary organs by supplying the requisite
conditions, and thus, as it were, to raise the plant one step in the

     "We have yet to advert to the most interesting class of facts
     connected with the laws of organic development. It is only in
     recent times that physiologists have observed that each animal
     passes, in the course of its germinal history, through a series of
     changes resembling the _permanent forms_ of the various orders of
     animals inferior to it in the scale. Thus, for instance, an insect,
     standing at the head of the articulated animals, is, in the larva
     state, a true annelid, or worm, the annelida being the lowest in
     the same class. The embryo of a crab resembles the perfect animal
     of the inferior order myriapoda, and passes through all the forms
     of transition which characterize the intermediate tribes of
     crustacea. The frog, for some time after its birth, is a fish with
     external gills and other organs, fitting it for an aquatic life,
     all of which are changed as it advances to maturity, and becomes a
     land animal. The mammifer only passes through still more stages,
     according to its higher place in the scale. Nor is man himself
     exempt from this law. His first form is that which is permanent in
     the animalcule. His organization gradually passes through
     conditions generally resembling a fish, a reptile, a bird, and the
     lower mammalia, before it attains its specific maturity. At one of
     the last stages of his foetal career, he exhibits an
     intermaxillary bone, which is characteristic of the perfect ape;
     this is suppressed, and he may then be said to take leave of the
     simial type, and become a true human creature. Even, as we shall
     see, the varieties of his race are represented in the progressive
     development of an individual of the highest, before we see the
     adult Caucasian, the highest point yet attained in the animal

     "To come to particular points of the organization. The brain of
     man, which exceeds that of all other animals in complexity of
     organization and fulness of development, is, at one early period,
     only 'a simple fold of nervous matter, with difficulty
     distinguishable into three parts, while a little tail-like
     prolongation towards the hinder parts, and which had been the first
     to appear, is the only representation of a spinal marrow. Now, in
     this state, it perfectly resembles the brain of an adult fish, thus
     assuming _in transitu_ the form that in the fish is permanent. In a
     short time, however, the structure is become more complex, the
     parts more distinct, the spinal marrow better marked; it is now
     the brain of a reptile. The change continues; by a singular motion,
     certain parts (_corpora quadragemina_), which had hitherto appeared
     on the upper surface, now pass towards the lower; the former is
     their permanent situation in fishes and reptiles, the latter in
     birds and mammalia. This is another advance in the scale, but more
     remains yet to be done. The complication of the organ increases;
     cavities, termed _ventricles_, are formed, which do not exist in
     fishes, reptiles, or birds; curiously organized parts, such as the
     corpora striata, are added; it is now the brain of the mammalia.
     Its last and final change alone seems wanting,--that which shall
     render it the brain of man.'"--pp. 150-152.

Usually, it is true, each species produces only its like,--"every
creeping thing and beast of the earth" bringing forth young "_after his
kind_." But the development of a single animal, under the ordinary law,
takes place in a few weeks or days; while the development of distinct
races and species is the work of a whole creation, and is spread over
countless ages. It is reasonable to suppose, that the latter is effected
by means of a higher law, manifesting itself only at long intervals. Its
infrequent manifestation is no argument against the regularity and
necessity of its occurrence,--against its being a law at all. The comet
that visits our system only once in five hundred years is controlled by
the same inflexible principle which causes the return of another comet
once in five years. The conditions requisite for a development more
perfect than usual,--that is, for the production of a new
species,--instead of a new individual of the same species, may be
fulfilled only at long intervals; but when they are fulfilled, the
result--the more perfect development--takes place as necessarily, as
much by the virtue of law, as the more ordinary phenomenon of the
propagation of one race. These conditions may be answered in the
successive stages of improvement, through which the earth and its
atmosphere pass, during the vast periods of time contemplated in
geology. In the era of the old red sand-stone, for instance, there were
no higher animals than fishes, because the atmosphere was highly charged
with carbonic acid, and could not support respiration by lungs. When the
air became purer, the gills were changed into the imperfect lungs of the
amphibious tribes, such as the huge saurians and the frogs. Deprive
these latter animals, in their lower stage, of all access to the light,
and they will not advance to their higher stage. Put a tadpole into a
perforated box, and sink it to the bottom of a river, and the animal
will never be perfected into a frog; he will grow to an enormous size,
but he will continue a tadpole.

We see, then, the process of an "organic creation by law," or by virtue
of the inherent qualities of inorganic matter. The ordinary chemical
affinities of different substances may draw them together into such
compounds as albumen and fibrin, which are the proximate principles of
organic tissues. The action of electricity, heat, light, or some other
mysterious imponderable agent, on these proximate principles, may
produce globules, or germinal vesicles. These germs, multiplying
themselves by fissiparous generation, will constitute a stock of animals
of a low type, such as a tribe of infusory animalcules. Then "this
simplest and most primitive type, under a law to which that of like
production is subordinate, gives birth to the type next above it, this
again produces the next higher, and so on to the very highest, the
stages of advance being in all cases very small,--namely, from one
species only to another; so that the phenomenon has always been of a
simple and modest character." Thus, the first reptile was born from a
fish, the first bird was generated by a reptile, and the first mammifer
had birds for its parents. The transformations appear rather astounding,
as we pass from one class to another; but the difference between the
species, even, is often so great, that the transition appears hardly
less difficult. In what quadruped, for instance, do we find the first
ancestor of the huge and sagacious elephant? What humble lizard gave
birth to those monsters of the fossil world, the plesiosaurus and
megalosaurus, thirty or forty feet in length? Man, of course, upon this
theory, is only a more perfectly developed monkey, or chimpanzee. With a
nod of approbation to Lord Monboddo's theory, our author observes, that
man has even the rudiments of "a caudal extremity" in the _os coccygis_.

That the instinct of animals and the mind of man are the results of
nothing but material organization is an obvious corollary from this
doctrine. "The difference," says this writer, "between mind in the lower
animals and in man is a difference in degree only; it is not a specific
difference." Mental phenomena, apparently so various and unstable in
the individual, are reduced at once to regularity, and become subject to
calculation, if considered in the mass. This shows, that, like the
phenomena of the weather, they are under the presidency of natural laws.
The phrenologists are the only persons who have followed the order of
nature in the study of mind; they have even determined the functions of
the different parts of the brain. An experiment is mentioned with a
newly killed animal, whose brain was taken out and its place filled with
substances producing electric action, when the process of digestion,
that had been interrupted, was instantly resumed, thus "showing the
absolute identity of the brain with a galvanic battery." The experiment
of inducing muscular action in a corpse, by applying galvanism, is
sufficiently well known. To borrow an illustration from Sidney Smith, it
would seem, that, if we only knew to what organs of the brain to direct
an electric current, an automaton, or a dead man, might be made to hold
an argument, "at least as well as most country parsons."

A person who should hear for the first time this naked exposition of the
writer's theory would be tempted at once to reject the whole, as too
extravagant and absurd to deserve further notice. But he would be much
mistaken in this conclusion. The theory is a very plausible one; it is
one of the best cosmogonies that the wit of man has ever framed. It is a
revival of the old atheistic hypothesis,--the Epicurean doctrine of the
formation of the universe by a fortuitous concourse of atoms,--with all
the modifications and improvements that were rendered necessary by the
discoveries of modern science. We call it an atheistic theory, because,
though the writer supposes that primitive matter was first endowed _by
divine power_ with its mysterious qualities and capacities, this
supposition is gratuitous and arbitrary, and only mars the simplicity of
the scheme, and injures the consistency and coherence of the parts with
each other. We can more easily believe that these qualities are
necessarily inherent in the constitution of matter, forming a part of
its very essence, just like the properties of impenetrability and
extension, than that they subsequently developed themselves by forming
myriads of intricate organizations, without further aid from the divine
architect. If we can credit the hypothesis, that bricks and mortar came
together of their own accord, and arranged themselves into the first
house meet for the habitation of man, we can very readily admit, also,
that the bricks first assumed the proper shape, and mortar the proper
tenacity and hardness, without the intervention of human labor and
skill. If there is no need of a bricklayer, we may discard also the

Putting aside, therefore, this gratuitous addition to the theory, we
come to examine the plausibility of the doctrine which assumes, that
material atoms, constituted as they now are, are capable, without
oversight or direction, of forming a universe like our own, and
producing all the animated tribes which tenant it. In all the atheistic
reasoning upon this subject, and especially in the work now before us,
there is a constant confusion between _what may be_, for aught we know
to the contrary, and _what is_, so far as we are able positively to
determine it from our present means of observation and experiment;
between the _possibility_ that is measured only by human ignorance, and
the _probability_ that is fairly inferred by the legitimate exercise of
the understanding. Effects have unquestionably been produced, such as
the formation of a solar system, and the production of new and perfectly
distinct orders of being, which we are wholly unable to account for by
the _present and ordinary_ operation of what are called secondary
causes. If a theorist chooses to assume, that these secondary causes,
under certain conditions, which we never have seen, and never can see,
realized, might produce very extraordinary results, might even fully
account for the wonderful effects in question, we have a right to say,
in reply, that he is dealing in pure speculation and hypothesis; that,
having had no experience under the conditions or postulates of his
theory, he is necessarily _speaking from_ ignorance and _appealing_ to
ignorance; that, even if we could not point out a single difficulty, a
single false assumption, in his whole scheme and argument, it would
still remain a mere hypothesis, alike incapable of proof or disproof;
and that, at the best, the arguments brought against it must be of
nearly the same wiredrawn, speculative, and far-fetched character with
those adduced in its support. On a mere sandbank, unsupplied either with
arms or tools, the only edifice that can be built is one of sand, and
sand affords the only means for its destruction. The fallacy to which
such speculatists constantly have resort is, that the weakness or the
entire absence of all considerations against their theory constitutes a
positive argument in its support. No such thing; it affords only a fair
presumption of the baseless character of the whole fabric.

This may be made more clear by examples. If a child, who has had little
experience of the laws of nature, and has learned nothing from books, is
gravely assured by his instructor, that in a distant region of the ocean
there is an island where stones fly upward instead of downward, and men
walk on their heads instead of their feet, the young philosopher,
however acute and ingenious we may suppose him to be, certainly could
not offer one valid argument against the alleged fact. He could only
stare, and wonder, and say that it might be so _for all that he knew to
the contrary_. Just so, when the atheist tells us, that far off in
infinite space is a region, of which we can see nothing, even with our
best telescopes, except a faint glimmer of light, floating like a
cloudlet in the heavens, where the primitive atoms of matter, directed
by gravity alone, are slowly congregating together, and forming suns,
and planets, and secondary satellites, and giving birth to such
intricate harmonies of mutually dependent and revolving worlds as those
which have prevailed for ages in our own system; or that, thousands of
years ago, the same unassisted laws of matter, which we now see
producing only such comparatively meagre and insufficient results,
actually caused animalcules to be produced from pure sand, and fishes to
be created out of oysters, and birds to be generated by slimy and
grovelling reptiles, and men to be born from monkeys;--if he should tell
us all this, certainly we could offer no direct confutation of the
wonderful tale. In regard to alleged facts of this character, the wisest
of men are, and always must be, mere children. But it would be monstrous
to say, that this wild assertion derived any support from their admitted
bewilderment and incapacity. This would be to attempt to found knowledge
upon ignorance. The dim analogies resting on questionable facts, the
bold assumptions and slippery arguments on which such daring hypotheses
must be based, can be refuted, for the most part, only by reasoning in
kind,--by arguments nearly as uncertain, it may be, as those which they
are brought to answer. We cannot _prove_ a negative; we can only show
the insufficiency of the ground on which the opposite assumption is made
to rest; and enough is done for this end, when it is made to appear,
that the whole scheme is a _mere_ hypothesis.

We make these general remarks only to relieve some readers of this
volume from the doubt and perplexity which its perusal may have caused,
solely because they were unable to detect any one glaring fallacy or
inconsistency in the writer's theory. It appears plausible enough; for,
though there is very little in its favor, it seems at first sight as if
there was little or nothing to say against it. On closer scrutiny, it
will be found, perhaps, that it is disproved by a multitude of
considerations, any one of which would be fatal to it; as the hypothesis
is of such a character, that, when a single breach is made in it, the
whole edifice must tumble. If the intervention of an extraneous cause be
absolutely necessary at any one stage or process in the creation, it may
as well be admitted in all; the principle must be given up, and the
whole purpose of the theist is answered. We shall endeavour to show that
this hypothetical history of creation is not only faulty in every point,
when viewed from the author's own ground, but, when examined in the
proper direction, is absolutely unintelligible, or is in fact no history
at all.

Let us look first at the nebular hypothesis. Certain spots and tracts in
the heavens, of a whitish color, appearing to the naked eye to be
nebulæ, on being examined through a telescope, instantly resolve
themselves into a multitude of distinct and perfectly formed stars. Such
is the greatest nebula of all,--the galaxy, or milky way. Other spots of
a like character, if viewed through glasses of moderate power, still
appear as nebulæ; but when seen through more perfect instruments, they
immediately seem, like the others, to be a mere crowd of stars. Others,
again, are not separated or resolved by the best telescopes; but what is
the natural inference from this fact? Surely, we infer that they are
merely crowded collections of stars, just like the others, except that
they are too distant or too small to be seen as distinct bodies, even
with the most powerful instruments that we possess. If telescopes of a
greater range should hereafter be constructed, there is every reason to
believe that these also will be resolved to the eye into their component
parts as stars; and in fact, if newspaper accounts may be credited, when
Lord Rosse's new and magnificent telescope was first turned towards some
of these spots, which had always preserved their nebulous appearance
when examined by inferior instruments, it was immediately apparent, that
they were composed of distinct stars. Yet the hypothesis we are now
considering assumes, that these remote and faintly seen nebulæ are not
crowds of stars, but primitive luminous matter, the particles of which
are slowly congregating together, and forming one new star, or several.
Certainly, never was a bold theory built upon a narrower basis. It is
due, however, to the two Herschels, the chief supporters of this theory,
to say, that they have always spoken of it only as a hypothesis, and by
no means as an established fact in astronomical science. And, as a
hypothesis, it labors under this peculiar difficulty, that it evidently
never can be verified. It must ever remain a _mere_ guess, directly
opposed by an obvious induction from those nebulæ which are resolvable
into perfect stars.

The fact, that one or two bright points, assumed to be centres of
aggregation, are seen in some of these nebulæ, is of no importance. If a
bright star be seen from this earth in the same line of vision with the
nebula, it will be projected on the ground of that nebula, and will
appear as a part of it, though it may be many millions of miles on this
side, and have no more connection with it than the planet Jupiter would
have, if it should happen to be in conjunction with the nebula, and thus
appear for a short time to be projected upon its disc.

There is one consideration of some weight, though we have never seen it
adverted to, which tends directly to confute the nebular hypothesis.
That faint radiance called the zodiacal light, which is seen to stream
up in the form of a cone from our sun, is assumed by our author to be a
residuum of the nebulous matter belonging to our system, which has not
yet been drawn into the sun, though it is on its way thither. Others
have supposed, with far more probability, that it is the sun's
atmosphere, and therefore its present shape and size will never
change,--as they never have changed, during the period in which they
have been observed by man. But no matter; we are now reasoning upon our
author's hypothesis. If the zodiacal light be composed of primitive
nebulous matter, it must now be comparatively thick and dense, since the
process of aggregation has been going on for countless ages, and, in our
system, is considered as nearly completed; just as when a sediment is
forming in a tumbler full of turbid water, after the upper portion of
the fluid has become entirely clear, there will be a stratum of water
next to the sediment more turbid than the whole was before the
deposition began. Yet this light is very faint, when seen only from the
distance of our earth; and at the boundaries of our system, from the
orbit of Uranus, for instance, we cannot believe that it is visible at
all. Is it likely, then, that a portion of this nebulous matter, in
which the process of deposition has hardly begun, and which is seen from
a distance so vast, that in comparison with it the whole diameter of our
solar system is but a point, would be visible from this earth? In the
case of the other nebulæ, a multitude of perfectly formed suns, uniting
their respective beams, are seen only as a faint, whitish speck on the
blue arch. And yet we are required to believe, that the luminous matter
which will ultimately form but one sun, or perhaps two, while still
thinly diffused over an immense tract of space, the process of
aggregation having hardly commenced, is yet visible to our eyes at this
vast distance.

            "Credat Judæus Apella;
    Non ego."

We pass to the next chapter in the history, which professes to explain
the gradual formation of a solar system by a process of cooling and
shrinking, to which the central orb is exposed. And here we are met by a
difficulty at the outset; for the existence of comets with their very
eccentric orbits is wholly irreconcilable with the theory. At their
perihelion, many of these bodies pass within the orbit of Mercury, while
the aphelion of some lies without the path of Uranus. Where were they,
when the body of the sun filled up the whole of the vast sphere
circumscribed by the orbit of the remotest planet? If we suppose that
they are late comers, after the rest of our system was perfected,--that
they were generated by themselves in distant regions of space, and,
having strayed about, orphan-like, for a while, they accidentally
crossed our track, and were taken as adopted children into our family,
another question remains to be answered. Why did they not remain in
their first position, absorb their full share of nebulous matter, beget
a respectable family of planets, and take rank as chiefs of their own
clan? These comparatively anomalous bodies are great stumbling-blocks
for the _soi-disant_ historians of creation.

Again, if an immense orb be formed, the parts of which cohere strongly
enough for the whole to turn upon its axis as one body, the process of
cooling can go on only from the surface. A crust may finally be formed
there; but we see not how the refrigeration and shrinking of the
interior parts can then go on separately, until the mass in the centre
finally becomes detached from its envelope, like a shrivelled nut from
its shell. Our earth is cooling down at this moment, unless the warmth
which it receives from the sun exactly counterbalances the loss by
radiation of internal heat. But the exterior and interior do not cool by
different radiations, nor is there, so far as we know, the least
tendency in the central mass to shrink separately, so as to detach
itself from the surrounding crust. As deep as we can penetrate towards
the centre, we find the heat regularly increase,--just as we might
expect, if the only absolute loss of heat be from the surface.

If the matter now concentrated in the sun, and that which forms the
several planets with their secondaries, were all moulded into one mass,
and then dilated so as to fill the vast sphere of which the orbit of
Uranus forms a circumference, the substance would evidently be in a
state of extreme tenuity and diffusion. Immense as the mass of the sun
now is, it is but a mere nut at the centre of the grand globe which we
are now considering. Expanded to such vast dimensions, we cannot
conceive of it as a solid spheroid turning upon its axis, but only as a
mass of fluid or vapor, in which a circular motion would generate only
vortices or whirlwinds. In such an aggregation of subtile matter, no
crust could be solidified on the outer ring, and then detached from the
mass within; indeed, any separation of the parts under such
circumstances is inconceivable. Even a rotary motion could not be
established in it, except by an impulse received from without; for there
is every reason to believe, that the movement of a homogeneous fluid
towards its centre, if it could take place without disturbing causes,
would be in radial lines, and not in a spiral.

Our author brings into view all the mathematical proportions and uniform
relations which exist between the constituent bodies of the solar
system, in order to indicate the probability of their formation from the
constant working of one material cause. Thus he remarks, that the
primary planets all move nearly in one plane, and "show a progressive
increase of bulk and diminution of density, from the one nearest to the
sun to that which is most distant." But he passes over other
characteristics of these bodies, equally important, which are quite
irregular, and cannot be traced to the operation of one law. Compare the
periods of rotation on their respective axes, and we find no
correspondence, no indication that the revolving motion was imparted to
all by one inflexible law. The first four planets, counting from the
sun, perform their rotation in nearly the same time, namely, twenty-four
hours. But Jupiter's period is a little less, and Saturn's a little
more, than ten hours. Again, Jupiter's axis of rotation is nearly
perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic, while that of Mars is
inclined at an angle of fifty-nine degrees forty-two minutes. Another
irregularity, still more fatal to the theory, is found in the number of
satellites by which the respective planets are attended. Saturn has
seven, beside the two rings; Jupiter has four, Mars has none, and the
earth has but one. On the single hypothesis, that our system was formed
by rings successively thrown off from a central body by a process of
refrigeration and contraction, these irregularities are inexplicable.
Mars, it seems, did not shrink at all, while Jupiter cast off four
separate rings, and the earth produced its single moon. The distances of
these bodies from their primaries are also quite irregular; in the case
of Jupiter, the outermost of the satellites revolves at a distance which
is only twenty-seven times the radius of the primary, and the innermost
is distant but six times that radius. This planet, consequently, has
shrunk to one twenty-seventh part of its original diameter, and in so
doing, has formed four moons; the earth has shrunk to one sixtieth part
of its first diameter, and still has produced but one satellite. If the
same law had prevailed in the two cases, we ought to have nine or ten

We need not analyze with any great minuteness the geological facts and
hypotheses incorporated into this magnificent history of creation. As
will be seen hereafter, the violent and sweeping transformations and
convulsions that the earth's crust has undergone directly conflict with
our author's theory, and afford the strongest presumption, that an
extraneous cause has frequently interfered, at different periods, to
repair the desolation produced by the unassisted working of natural
laws, to bring order out of chaos, and to people the desert earth anew
with animated tribes. The only general fact of much moment, which our
author has drawn from the discoveries of geologists, for the
confirmation of his own hypothesis, is, according to his own account,
one of the most questionable doctrines in the whole science,--one of a
negative character, on which we can never rely with full assurance, till
the researches of man have probed every fold, and examined every thread
in the texture, of the earth's garment, and thus shown that no evidence
can possibly be discovered to the contrary. The alleged fact is that, in
the early formations of rock--the first pages in the history of the
earth's surface--are found the remains of animals and vegetables only of
the lowest type and most imperfect development; while, in the later
strata, forms more and more advanced are discovered; so that there seems
to have been a constant progress along the line leading to the higher
forms of organization. The testimony which goes to support this
assertion is wholly negative. The geologist reasons thus: The more
perfect organisms have not been discovered in the earlier strata;
_therefore_, they do not exist in them. When, in a different connection,
it suits our author's purpose to throw doubt on the very postulate which
is here admitted, he holds the following language.

     "These, it must be owned, are less strong traces of the birds than
     we possess of the reptiles and other tribes; but it must be
     remembered, that the evidence of fossils, as to the absence of any
     class of animals from a certain period of the earth's history, can
     never be considered as more than negative. Animals, of which we
     find no remains in a particular formation, may, nevertheless, have
     lived at the time, and it may have only been from unfavorable
     circumstances that their remains have not been preserved for our
     inspection. The single circumstance of their being little liable to
     be carried down into seas might be the cause of their
     non-appearance in our quarries."--p. 95.

In truth, the researches of geologists are every day bringing to light
new facts, which compel them to modify or abandon many of the positions
they formerly held; so that a considerable portion of the science is a
mere quicksand of shifting theories. We need only allude to the various
suppositions respecting the origin of drift, and to the numerous
modifications of the glacial theory. Important discoveries have been
made within a short time, showing that certain animal tribes had their
origin much farther back than was at first supposed. A few years ago,
reptiles were believed to be the highest type of life that existed
during the era of the new red sand-stone. But Professor Hitchcock's
recent discovery in this stone of the footprints of gigantic birds has
added a higher class to the zoölogy of the period; and within a few
months, in the same red sand-stone of the Connecticut valley, tracks of
two or three species of quadrupeds have been found, some of them being
probably mammifers of a lower grade. It is true, no fossil remains of
these animals have been brought to light; but this want only renders the
discovery more significant for our present purpose. It shows that
certain animals must have lived at the period in question, though their
remains have not yet been found; and from the greater age of the rocks
then formed, and the consequent greater number of convulsions of the
earth's surface to which they have been subjected, these remains may
have entirely disappeared. It is a curious fact, also, that the animal
remains of that period, which have come down to us, belong to genera so
constituted, that their bodies might well survive, if we may so speak,
the shocks which would have destroyed every trace of some more delicate,
or more finely organized, beings. We find remains of the flint-shielded
animalcules, the hard-shelled mollusca, and the cartilaginous fishes;
but the bodies of mammalia, birds, and even the higher species of
fishes, some of which we may suppose to have been more tender and
corruptible, have utterly perished. Here and there, an individual of
their number left the print of its foot on the sand, which subsequently
hardened into rock, and brought down to our times a faint vestige of its
past existence.

We are not attempting to impugn the credit of geological science in
general, which would be a wholly futile task. The multitude of facts
respecting the present constitution of the earth's crust, recently made
known by laborers in this department, are among the most curious and
most pregnant discoveries of modern times. But when we come to the
formation of theories respecting the past history of the earth, in order
to account for the phenomena at present visible on its surface, we are
evidently afloat on a sea of conjecture, each hypothesis being valid
only till a more plausible one is proposed,--which happens very
frequently,--or till it is effectually disproved by some new discovery
in the rocky strata. A fertile imagination and a bold face are among the
most striking traits of our more daring geologists. Grant to one of this
character a few modest postulates,--give him certain millions of years,
a sufficient number of earthquakes, a whole battery of volcanoes, a few
ocean deluges, and the rise and fall of half a dozen continents,--and he
will frame a theory off-hand, which will account for the most perplexing
phenomena. Our author is certainly entitled to take his place at the
very head of this class of speculatists.

In accounting for the work of creation by the natural and unassisted
development of the inherent qualities of brute matter, the great
difficulty is found at the first link in the chain of animated being.
How can we explain the commencement of _life_? We must have a clear idea
of the whole scope of this problem, before we can make any attempt at
its solution. Life, then, is _not_ mere organization, though most
materialists, philosophers, like our author, willingly confound the two
things; to hear them reason, one would almost suppose that there was no
difference between a dead man and a living one. Organization is
subservient to life, ministers to it, manifests it,--supports it, if you
please,--but does not constitute it. He must be a bolder man than we
are, who will undertake to say _what it is_; but we can very safely
declare _what it is not_; and in any particular form or aggregation of
matter, whether organic or inorganic, we can give a shrewd guess as to
its presence or absence. It may be said, that we beg the question by
assuming that organization is not life; it may be so; but it is quite
too much to allow the materialist quietly to take the opposite doctrine
for granted. He must know the full extent of his task,--that it is
necessary for him not only to construct the machine, but actually to set
it in motion, so that it shall afterwards run on of its own accord. It
is very easy to frame a partial definition of life, by merely describing
one or two of its characteristic functions; and then, because some
action can be detected between the particles of brute matter, which
resembles the exercise of these functions, boldly to declare that the
whole mystery is solved. Thus it is said, that life is nothing but the
accretion of similar substances, or the addition of like unto like; and
as this occurs in crystallization, which is confessedly a phenomenon of
inorganic matter, therefore there is no fundamental difference between
the properties of living and dead substances. We deny the first
proposition; nutrition is not the only characteristic of life, and the
nutritive process, whether in vegetables or animals, is not mere
accretion, but assimilation. It has been said, though the assertion is
by no means fully proved, that assimilation is only a finer kind of
chemistry, the constituent principles being brought together only by
their natural affinities. Even if this were true, if the stomach and the
digestive apparatus were only a well furnished chemical laboratory, fit
for conducting the most delicate experiments, the great difficulty would
still remain. The question might yet be asked, Where is the chemist? And
this is the fundamental question, which the materialists never attempt
to answer, but quietly evade.

The difference between an inorganic and an organic body has been
explained by Coleridge clearly enough for our purpose. In the former,--a
sheaf of corn, for instance,--the whole is nothing more than a
collection of the individual parts; in the latter,--an animal,--the
whole is the effect of, or results from, the parts. In the latter case,
the whole is every thing, and the parts are comparatively nothing. One
of the great effects of life is to keep the parts in subjection to the
whole, making them contribute to its support and growth, and thus
maintaining the unity of the system. The stomach digests, the lungs
inhale air, the heart beats, and the blood circulates; and as the joint
effect, or as the common supporter,--it matters not which,--of these
operations, _life_ continues, and the animated being is a unit; it has
not merely virtual, but essential unity. The reciprocal action of the
respiratory, circulating, and nervous systems is absolutely necessary to
life. The animal dies, and this unity, this subservience of the parts to
the whole, immediately ceases. In the functions of the living body, it
may be that the ordinary laws of chemistry are preserved, and that the
elements of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen combine and separate according
to their ordinary affinities, and in no unusual proportions. But after
death, at any rate, quite a different set of chemical laws come into
play, and produce a result which is the very opposite of that before
effected. There is no longer any unanimity or coöperation; instead of
sustaining or building up the animal tissues, the affinities now in
operation tear down, destroy, and resolve them into their ultimate
elements,--each part following out its own law of destruction or
resolution, irrespectively of the others.

     "There is in living organic matter a principle constantly in
     action, the operations of which are in accordance with a rational
     plan, so that the individual parts which it creates in the body are
     adapted to the design of the whole; and this it is which
     distinguishes organism. Kant says, 'The cause of the particular
     mode of existence of each part of a living body resides in the
     whole, while in dead masses each part contains this cause within
     itself.' This explains why a mere part separated from an organized
     whole generally does not continue to live; why, in fact, an
     organized body appears to be one and indivisible. And since the
     different parts of an organized body are heterogeneous members of
     one whole, and essential to its perfect state, the trunk cannot
     live after the loss of one of these parts."--_Müller's Physiology_,
     Vol. I., p. 19.

The apparent exceptions to this statement--as in the case of the
polypes, which multiply by fissiparous generation, or by spontaneous
division of their bodies into parts, each part becoming a perfect
animal--are only apparent. These creatures, which are low down in the
scale of being, exemplify what Mr. Owen calls "the law of vegetative or
irrelative repetition," as they have many organs performing the same
function, and not related to each other by combination for the
performance of a higher function. Thus, a Polygastrian has many
assimilative sacs, each performing the office of a stomach irrespective
of the rest. In the insect tribe, the respiratory function, instead of
being performed by one set of lungs for the whole body, is carried on
through a series of minute and highly ramified tubes, which traverse
every part of the body, and open to the air by a great number of
orifices. In some instances, both respiration and digestion seem to take
place over the whole surface of the body; for Trembley found at least
one case, in which the animal digested its food equally well, after it
had been turned inside out. A number of similar parts being repeated in
each segment of the individual, the body can be divided, and the several
portions, each still containing some of all the organs essential to the
whole, will continue to live separately. The severed parts will even
continue to grow, and to develope other organs convenient for individual
existence. But most animals, especially the more perfect, do not
constitute an aggregate of similar parts united by one trunk, and
therefore propagation by division is in them impossible. The ovum, when
separated from the parent, is an entire animal only _potentially_;
during its development, the essential parts which constitute the
_actual_ whole are produced. In the case of the polyps, we have only to
suppose that the ovum remains connected with the parent being, till all,
or nearly all, its essential parts are produced. It is then shed not as
a mere ovum, but as an animal nearly or wholly complete.

Now, all the instances adduced by our author, to show similarity of
action in the organic and the inorganic world, are irrelevant. The
analogies are not merely imperfect; they are no analogies at all.
Crystals increase by the aggregation of new particles on the external
surfaces of the parts already formed; there is no consentaneous
operation of the parts on the whole. The molecules of crystals are
homogeneous throughout, and the several aggregates of these molecules
are independent of each other; while organized bodies are composed of
parts perfectly dissimilar from each other, but all of which conspire to
one end. "The growth of organized bodies," says Müller, "takes place in
all particles of their substance at the same time, while the increase of
the mass in inorganic bodies is produced by external apposition."
Frostwork on the windows may resemble vegetable _forms_; but it has no
resemblance whatever to vegetable _life_. Electricity may counterfeit
the _action of life_, for a moment, on a particular limb, by causing the
muscles to twitch; but it does not counterfeit _life itself_, by causing
all the parts again to contribute to the sustentation of the whole. A
French chemist, by electric action, may have produced _globules_ in
albumen; there is nothing very wonderful in that; any one may blow
bubbles in a viscid fluid. The resemblance between these globules and
proper germinal vesicles amounts to nothing more than similarity of
outward shape; there is no more real resemblance between them than
between the oval lump of chalk which farmers sometimes put into a hen's
nest, in order to deceive poor Dame Partlet, and the real egg which the
hen deposits by the side of it. Certainly, the imponderable agents,
heat, light, and electricity, are in some mysterious way _connected
with_ life, so as to contribute to its support; there is nothing more in
this assertion than in the familiar proposition, that a seed will
germinate only under the proper conditions of soil and climate; but
that these agents, acting on inorganic matter, ever _create_ or
_commence_ life is a pure hypothesis, not supported even by the shadow
of a fact.

Having thus shown how weak are the general considerations in favor of
the theory, that animated beings may be created out of inorganic matter
by mere natural laws, we should proceed to consider the direct evidence
adduced to prove that life has actually been produced in this way. Here
the whole question is opened respecting the alleged instances of
equivocal generation, and we have neither space nor ability to discuss
them at length. Those who are curious respecting the question may find a
brief summary of the evidence on both sides in a former number of this
Journal.[1] We can mention only a few facts and arguments, which show
the extreme improbability of the doctrine supported by our author and a
few other theorists.

In the first place, it is remarkable, that all the races of animated
beings, which are entirely within the range of our powers of
observation,--which have such a size and locality that we can study and
accurately determine their organization and habits,--are unquestionably
produced from parents of their own kind. Only the minute microscopic
animals are now supposed to be generated spontaneously; and this alleged
fact rests not on direct proof, but only on our inability in certain
cases to trace the process of their production in the ordinary way. As
many of these animals, in their perfect state, are not more than the
twelve thousandth part of an inch in diameter, it is not much to be
wondered at, that we should not be able in all cases to discover their
ova, or to follow these ova through all their stages of development into
the complete being. It is farther remarkable, that these animalcules,
when once produced, whether by spontaneous or natural generation, are
all found to be provided with the organs or requisite means for
continuing their species, and, in fact, for multiplying their number
from themselves with astonishing rapidity. As they certainly have
children, it seems reasonable to suppose, according to the analogy of
all the higher animated tribes, that they also had parents. The ancients
supposed, that the worms and insects which appear in decaying organic
matter were generated there by the decomposition of the substance,
without the previous agency of individuals of the same stock. Every
schoolboy is acquainted with Virgil's mode of obtaining a new swarm of
bees from the decaying carcass of a heifer. Subsequent researches, made
with more care, and perhaps with better instruments of observation, have
entirely disproved the hypothesis, and show that the maggots were
produced in every case from eggs deposited by flies or other insects,
and were afterwards themselves developed into the state of perfect
insects. Then it seems reasonable to believe, that the improved
observations of future times will clear up the only remaining
difficulty, and show how the infusory animalcules also are generated
from beings of their own kind.

These minute creatures are prolific to a degree that transcends all
calculation; and they exist, either in the egg or maturely developed, in
inconceivable numbers. A single wheel-animalcule, _Hydatina senta_,
which was watched for more than eighteen days, and which lives still
longer, is capable of a fourfold increase in twenty-four or thirty
hours; a rate of propagation which would afford in ten days a million of
beings. From their tenacity of life, extraordinary powers of
reproduction, and incalculable numbers, their united influence may be
said to be far more important, in all the great operations of nature,
than that of the larger and more perfectly developed organisms. They
swarm in all the seas, and play an important part in choking up harbours
and forming great deposits at the mouths of rivers. The remains of those
which have perished form great beds and strata in the crust of the
earth. The silicious stone, called Tripoli, is entirely composed of such
remains; at Bilin, in Bohemia, there is one stratum of this substance,
fourteen feet thick, one cubic inch of which is estimated to contain
forty-one thousand millions of individuals. Their extreme tenacity of
life is evinced by the fact, that many of them may be entirely
desiccated, and preserved in pure sand for several years, after which,
on the application of a drop of water, they may be restored to life. In
this dried state, M. Doyère exposed some of them to a heat equal to that
of boiling water, and afterwards revived them; though, in an active
state, if subjected to a much lower temperature, they perish. If, then,
the fully developed and mature can resist such powerful extraneous
causes of destruction, how much more must the ova possess the power of
enduring them without losing their latent life! The following extract
from Professor Owen's Lectures shows the bearing of these facts upon the
question of equivocal generation.

     "The act of oviparous generation, that sending forth of countless
     ova through the fatal laceration or dissolution of the parent's
     body, is most commonly observed in the well-fed _Polygastria_,
     which crowd together as their little ocean evaporates; and thus
     each leaves, by the last act of its life, the means of perpetuating
     and diffusing its species by thousands of fertile germs. When the
     once thickly tenanted pool is dried up, and its bottom converted
     into a layer of dust, these inconceivably minute and light ova will
     be raised with the dust by the first puff of wind, diffused through
     the atmosphere, and may there remain long suspended; forming,
     perhaps, their share of the particles which we see flickering in
     the sunbeam, ready to fall into any collection of water, beaten
     down by every summer shower into the streams or pools which receive
     or may be formed by such showers, and, by virtue of their tenacity
     of life, ready to develope themselves wherever they may find the
     requisite conditions for their existence.

     "The possibility, or, rather, the high probability, that such is
     the design of the oviparous generation of the _Infusoria_, and such
     the common mode of the diffusion of their ova, renders the
     hypothesis of equivocal generation, which has been so frequently
     invoked to explain their origin in new-formed natural or artificial
     infusions, quite gratuitous. If organs of generation might, at
     first sight, seem superfluous in creatures propagating their kind
     by gemmation and spontaneous fission, equivocal generation is
     surely still less required to explain the origin of beings so
     richly provided with the ordinary and recognized modes of
     propagation."--pp. 31, 32.

Recent accounts show, that the dust collected from the atmosphere at
sea, many miles from land, generally contains some of these dried
animalcules and their ova. Many of these germs can be developed only in
particular localities, or under certain conditions which are rarely
fulfilled. Consequently, if there were but few of them, the species
might perish, because those few might not find their appropriate home.
But such an accident is guarded against by the vast multiplication of
these germs and their wide dispersion; for, unlike all the higher tribes
of beings except man, the same species is often found in all regions of
the globe. Very few, in comparison with the whole number, may find a
proper _nidus_; but these few then propagate with such marvellous
rapidity, as fully to replenish, if not to increase, the original stock.
Thus they have been enabled, as species, to survive even those
destroying causes which exterminated all the higher forms of animals.
Several species still exist, which were in being at the time of the
cretaceous formation, though all the other animated races belonging to
that period have perished. "These animalcules," says Ehrenberg,
"constitute a chain, which, though in the individual it be microscopic,
yet in the mass is a mighty one, connecting the organic life of distant
ages of the earth."

In view of facts like these, we may surely say, that the existence of
the infusory animalcules, and even of the entozoa, is conceivable,
supposing they could only have been produced by parents of their own
kind, and without having recourse to the anomalous and hypothetical
doctrine of equivocal generation. We may not be able to trace their line
of parentage, for our imperfect vision cannot follow the motes which
play in the sunbeam, nor track them from their birth-place to their
final home. But we know that they must be deposited in every layer of
dust that falls from the atmosphere, that they must be inhaled with
every breath which an animal draws, and be swallowed with every morsel
and drop of its food. The experiments which seem to prove that living
beings may be produced from pure inorganic matter are all explicable on
the supposition, that adequate precautions were not taken to exclude
every animal and germ capable of development from the substances
experimented upon, and from the air which was admitted into the
apparatus. On this ground, the experiments of Crosse and Weekes, cited
by our author, have been quite generally rejected by scientific men, as
hardly deserving of notice. We learn that the former was "discouraged by
the reception of his experiments," and "soon discontinued them";--with
good reason, for it does not appear from our author's account, that he
adopted any precautions at all. Mr. Weekes seems to have been a little
more cautious, and the consequence was, that he did not observe any
appearance of life among the substances experimented upon for "eleven
months," at the end of which time we may reasonably suppose, that his
precautions ceased to have perfect effect. The only experiment, in which
adequate means to guard against causes of error were taken, was that of
Professor Schulze, of Berlin, which had a contrary result. We extract
Mr. Owen's account of it.

     "He filled a glass flask half full of distilled water, in which
     were various animal and vegetable substances: he then closed it
     with a good cork, through which were passed two glass tubes, bent
     at right angles, the whole being air-tight: it was next placed in a
     sand bath, and heated until the water boiled violently. While the
     watery vapor was escaping by the glass tubes, the Professor
     fastened at each end an apparatus which chemists employ for
     collecting carbonic acid: that at the one end was filled with
     concentrated sulphuric acid, and the other with a solution of
     potash. By means of the boiling heat, it is to be presumed that
     every thing living, and all germs in the flask or in the tubes were
     destroyed; whilst all access was cut off by the sulphuric acid on
     the one side, and by the potash on the other. The apparatus was
     then exposed to the influence of summer light and heat; at the same
     time, there was placed near it an open vessel, with the same
     substances that had been introduced into the flask, and also after
     having subjected them to a boiling temperature. In order to renew
     constantly the air within the flask, the experimenter sucked with
     his mouth several times a day the open end of the apparatus, filled
     with the solution of potash, by which process the air entered his
     mouth from the flask through the caustic liquid, and the
     atmospheric air from without entered the flask through the
     sulphuric acid. The air was of course not at all altered in its
     composition by passing through the sulphuric acid in the flask; but
     all the portions of living matter, or of matter capable of becoming
     animated, were taken up by the sulphuric acid and destroyed. From
     the 28th of May until the beginning of August, Professor Schulze
     continued uninterruptedly the renewal of the air in the flask,
     without being able, by the aid of the microscope, to discover any
     living animal or vegetable substance; although, during the whole of
     the time, observations were made almost daily on the edge of the
     liquid; and when, at last, the Professor separated the different
     parts of the apparatus, he could not find in the whole liquid the
     slightest trace of _Infusoria_ or _Confervæ_, or of mould; but all
     three presented themselves in great abundance a few days after he
     had left the flask standing open. The vessel which he placed near
     the apparatus contained on the following day _Vibriones_ and
     _Monads_, to which were soon added larger Polygastric _Infusoria_,
     and afterwards _Rotifera_."--pp. 32, 33.

For readers who are not familiar with these subjects, it may be well to
mention, that the weight of authority is decidedly against this doctrine
of spontaneous generation. It is rejected by Müller, who ranks among
the first physiologists of Germany; by Ehrenberg, one of the most
distinguished microscopists in the world; and by Owen, who stands at the
head of the school of comparative anatomy in England, if not in Europe.
The remark made by Cuvier, more than thirty years ago, is still true at
the present day, that, "although the impossibility of spontaneous
generation cannot be absolutely demonstrated, yet all the efforts of
those physiologists who believe in the possibility of it have not
succeeded in showing us a single instance."

Passing over, then, our author's theory of the origination of life from
inorganic matter as utterly untenable, we come to the next point in his
system,--the most chimerical of all,--the gradual development of the
higher orders of being out of those next beneath them in the scale. It
is not pretended, that there is _any known instance_ of the
transmutation of species, or of the evolution, in the ordinary way, of
any being specifically different from its parents. The same animal,
indeed, may pass through different grades of development; but these
changes affect only the individual, not the race. The progeny of this
animal must begin at the same point where its parent did, and run
precisely the same cycle. The tadpole becomes a frog, but the young of
that frog are tadpoles; the worm becomes a winged insect, but the eggs
of that insect are hatched into nothing but worms. These changes in the
life of the individual, like the successive periods of the embryotic
state, of infancy, and manhood in the human being, are perfectly
consistent with persistence of type in the race, and do not indicate
even the possibility that a new species may be developed out of an old
one. On the contrary, the germ must be considered as _potentially_
equivalent to the whole future being, for it is invariably developed
into that being. If there be any one fact unquestionably established by
observation, it is that each species invariably produces its like. "All
the phenomena," says Müller, "at present observed in the animal kingdom,
seem to prove that the species were originally created distinct, and
independent of each other. There is no remote possibility of one species
being produced from another."

The doctrine of our author, then, is confessedly a pure hypothesis, and,
as such, it might be summarily dismissed into the region of cloud-land
and dreams, where it had its origin. The burden of proof is upon him,
and as he has failed to produce a single instance in which his theory is
exemplified, he may be rightfully debarred the privilege of discussion.
But waiving this point, if we look into the grounds of his conjecture,
we find bold assumptions more than once substituted for the plain
statement of facts, which would destroy every shade of credibility in
his doctrine. True, there is an appearance, both in the animal and
vegetable kingdoms, of an ascending scale of being, from simply
organized forms and imperfect developments up to the complex
arrangements and nice adaptations of the advanced tribes. But the
progress is not regular, nor are the intervals of constant length. The
line is often broken and doubled, and, in fact, the individuals are far
more naturally arranged in a number of parallel lines, beginning
successively at a somewhat lower point, than in a single series. Man, of
course, is placed at the head of the animal tribes; but the interval
which separates him from the chimpanzee cannot easily be cleared at one
bound. He forms but one genus, and that genus is the only one of its
order. But even if the line of gradation were single and perfect, the
fact would be of no service to the hypothesis we are now considering;
for the interval between two species most nearly allied to each other
seems to be quite as impassable as the broadest gulf of separation.

The point chiefly relied upon to show the credibility of this doctrine
is the fact, according to our author, that the higher animals pass
through a series of changes resembling the permanent forms of the lower
tribes. The first form of man himself "is that which is permanent in the
animalcule"; and thence he comes to resemble successively a fish, a
reptile, a bird, and the lower mammifers, before he attains his specific
maturity. It is held, then, that a premature birth from an animal of a
higher kind might have instituted a new race of a lower type; and that a
birth unusually delayed, permitting an embryo to be still farther
advanced in the line of organization, might have created a new species
of a higher order than the parent. Here, every thing depends on the
_absolute identity_ of the germs of all animals, in the lower stages of
their growth. General resemblances and analogies are of no weight
whatever; the essential internal organization of the ova of different
species must be the same; otherwise, however ripened into a mature
being, whether the birth be advanced or postponed, the individual must
still belong to its parents' species, of which it possesses the
distinctive peculiarity. Now, this point of _the identity of germs is a
mere assumption_; not only is it destitute of proof,--the whole evidence
is against it. There is a degree of outward resemblance, but there is no
sameness. When we trace the origin of life back to the remotest point to
which our powers of observation extend, when we come to microscopic
vesicles that can be discerned only by the highest magnifiers, general
similarity of outward shape is all that can be predicated of them. The
specific differences lie below this general resemblance of outward form;
we cannot discern them, but we _know_ that they must exist, and that
they are _essential_ differences, for each one of these vesicles is
invariably developed, if at all, into an individual of the species to
which its parent belongs. The germinal vesicles of a tree and a
quadruped are somewhat alike, outwardly; so, to the hen's eyes, there is
no difference between her own eggs and the duck's eggs which the
farmer's wife has put into her nest. But when she has hatched her brood,
part of them are found to be web-footed, and these, to her great
astonishment and distress, immediately take to the water. Our author
commits the same blunder as the poor hen. This want of consciousness
that he has got to the end of his tether, this inability to believe that
any difference can exist where he is not able to see it, though it is
invariably indicated by future consequent differences of the most
striking nature, is perfectly characteristic of the rash theorist in

The assertion, that man's "first form _is_ that which is permanent in
the animalcule,"--even if we do not look to the potentiality of
development into a higher being, which experience shows to exist in the
human germ, but not in the infusorial,--is a positive misstatement. The
lowest monad has a mouth and means for propagating its kind, which do
not belong to the primitive ovum of any higher animal. About the
succeeding stages in the growth of the embryo our author's language is
more cautious. He only says, that they _resemble_, or _typify_, some of
the lower orders of being; and this is virtually admitting a specific
difference, and giving up his own theory for all the conditions
posterior to that of the germ. The brain and heart of the embryo
successively _resemble_ the corresponding organs in a fish, a reptile, a
bird, and a quadruped; but they are not identical, _even in outward
appearance_, with those organs. Of course, if arrested at any stage of
its growth, and prematurely born, the embryo would not be one of the
lower animals, but only something resembling it in outward shape; and
conversely, if it were possible for the birth of a bird to be delayed
till it had reached a higher stage of development in the same line in
which it was proceeding, it would not become a quadruped, but it would
be an anomalous creature somewhat like one. Consequently, no one species
now on the earth can have been evolved out of any other existing race;
because the germs of any two, at a very early stage in their history,
according to our author's own confession, are specifically unlike.

To avoid this difficulty, he is driven to a further supposition, still
more gratuitous and improbable; namely, that the germ destined to become
one of a different race from its parents, having advanced along its
usual line of development so far as that line coincides with the one
belonging to the new species, there diverges, and follows a different
path up to the period of its birth into a new creature; that is, the
embryo of a reptile, having grown for a certain time as if it were to be
a reptile, suddenly turns aside, like a young man changing his mind
about the choice of a profession, and for the rest of its foetal life
follows the proper line of progress in order to be developed into a
bird. This is mere dreaming, and reminds one only of the wonderful
transformations effected by enchantment in an Arabian tale. We might
just as plausibly suppose, that the reptile, after it became mature, was
suddenly transformed into a bird, as that it underwent this change
before it was hatched. All the evidence attainable goes to show, that
the law of development is as immutable before as after birth, the
several stages of progress succeeding each other in a constant order,
and affecting the individual only, not the race. A young monkey is no
more likely to be transmuted into a man than an old one; nor is such a
metamorphosis at all more probable in the course of its foetal life.

The view we have now obtained of the specific differences between
distinct races of being at separate periods of their existence is
precisely what might have been anticipated from the law of gradual
development, which holds throughout the organic kingdoms. Between two
mature animals, these differences are perfectly obvious and well
marked. As we go a step back in their history, the distinction becomes a
little more obscure; two worms may resemble each other very closely,
though the two winged insects subsequently produced from them may be
very unlike. Receding still farther, some of these specific differences
may entirely disappear, the organs or parts which should exhibit them
being not yet developed. And when we come to the primitive germs, so
minute as to be visible only through the microscope, no outward
distinction, perhaps, is any longer perceptible, and the radical
difference of their internal organization is indicated only by the fact,
to be verified by subsequent observation, that the two are invariably
developed into perfectly distinct animals, belonging respectively to the
same races with their parents. A theorist, whose whole system is based
upon the invariable operation of natural agencies, cannot reasonably
object to this conclusion.

That our statements in the course of this argument may not appear of the
same questionable character as those advanced by our author, we will
fortify them with a few brief citations from a work of such
unquestionable authority as the Lectures of Professor Owen.

     "No doubt the minute infusoria, which seem to have their
     development arrested at the first or nearest stage from the
     primitive cell formation, offer close and striking analogies to the
     primitive cells out of which the higher animals and all their
     tissues are developed; but the very [first] step which the
     infusoria take beyond the primitive cell stage invests them with a
     specific character as independent and distinct in its nature as
     that of the highest and most complicated organisms. No mere organic
     cell, destined for ulterior changes in a living organization, has a
     mouth armed with teeth, or provided with long tentacula; I will not
     lay stress on the alimentary canal and appended stomachs, which
     many still regard as 'sub judice'; but the endowment of distinct
     organs of generation, for propagating their kind by fertile ova,
     raises the polygastric infusoria much above the mere organic
     cell."--pp. 25, 26.

     "In comparing the several stages in the very interesting
     development of the _cyanæa aurita_ to the infusoria and polypes, it
     must be understood that such comparisons are warranted only by a
     similarity of outward form, and of the instruments of locomotion
     and prehension. The essential internal organization of the
     persistent lower forms of the _zoöphyta_ is entirely wanting in the
     transitory states of the higher ones. A progress through the
     inferior groups is sketched out, but no actual transmutation of
     species is effected. The young medusa, before it attains its
     destined condition of maturity, successively resembles, but never
     becomes, a polygastrian, a rotifer, and a bryozoon."--p. 112.

     "Thus every animal in the course of its development typifies or
     represents some of the permanent forms of animals inferior to
     itself; but it does not represent all the inferior forms, nor
     acquire the organization of any of the forms which it transitorily
     represents. Had the animal kingdom formed, as was once supposed, a
     single and continuous chain of being, progressively ascending from
     the monad to the man, unity of organization might then have been
     demonstrated to the extent in which the theory has been maintained
     by the disciples of the Geoffroyan school."--p. 370.

If these similarities of structure in the germ had any bearing on the
subject, they would indicate the possibility only of retrogression in
the scale. Of course, the immature ovum, arrested in its development,
could not form a more perfect being than its parent. There is no
pretence that the embryo, at any stage of its progress, images an animal
of a higher grade than its own family. Then what aid do these
similarities of structure afford to the theory, that all the higher
organisms have been evolved by successive steps out of the lowest monad?
At the best, you have only shown, that a _retreat_ is possible; you have
still to point out any likelihood, even the remotest, of an _advance_ in
the scale of being. There is no fact whatever to confirm the
supposition, that birth may possibly be delayed till the animal be
developed into one of a higher species; and the law of immature births
seems to be, that, if the offspring escapes at all--for there is great
risk consequent on such an accident,--it becomes as perfect as its
progenitors. Nature seems to guard the distinctions between the several
races with peculiar care; so far as we know, monsters either do not
survive their birth, or are incapable of continuing their kind, or in
the course of a single generation are reunited to the original family.

To say that these laws, distinct and invariable as far as the
observation of man has extended, may possibly have been superseded in
the lapse of ages by a higher principle, manifesting itself only at
long intervals, is again to have recourse to a blank hypothesis,
incapable alike of proof or disproof, and unsupported by the faintest
intimations from the world of experience. To build up a theory in this
way is not to account for the work of creation by the natural agencies
and inherent qualities of matter, _as at present observable_, but to fly
off to the wild supposition, that matter and life were more richly
endowed ages ago than they are in our own day. You affirm, that this
higher principle of development did not override the inferior laws at
the earlier periods in time's history, because, in the infancy of the
universe, the conditions were wanting which are requisite for its
manifestation,--because the earth was not ready, the atmosphere was not
purified, for the nobler races of being. Very well; but these conditions
are answered _now_. All things are ready at the present day for the
innate energies of matter to put forth their utmost strength. Why do not
fishes generate reptiles, and birds produce mammifers, _now_? Ah! but
"the earth being now supplied with both kinds of tenants in great
abundance, we could only expect to find the life-originating power at
work in some very special and extraordinary circumstances." It seems,
then, that these inherent qualities of matter, once supposed to be
blind, absolute, and invariable in their operation, are really very
judicious and reasonable; they suit the supply to the demand, and
actually cease working when the market is likely to be overstocked. The
results of such "_natural_ agencies" as these are very like the effects
produced by the volitions of a wise and thinking being.

It happens that we are not obliged to grant to our author an indefinite
lapse of ages for the sake of bringing all his higher principles into
action. One of the latest events in the geological history of the earth
was a great submersion of the land, by which "terrestrial animal life
was extensively, if not universally, destroyed"; so that the creation of
the species now in being--at least, all the higher species--was "a
comparatively recent event, and one posterior, generally speaking, to
all the great natural transactions chronicled by geology." Science does
not contradict, it rather confirms, that voice of revelation or
tradition, which assigns about six thousand years as the period of man's
residence upon the earth. The action of the drama, then, is restricted
within moderate limits as to time, and the "natural agencies" and
"higher principles" must work fast in order to accomplish their task
within the prescribed period. One condition for the creation of a new
and permanent species, belonging to any of the higher orders, seems to
have escaped our author's notice; at least two individuals, a male and a
female, must have been evolved out of the next lower race, before the
new species could continue its kind. Apply these considerations to the
creation of man, who, according to our author's Scripture, was born of a
monkey. To suppose, that, at the first trial, an Adam and an Eve were
born near each other, so that they might have a chance of meeting in the
course of their lives, would look too much like the operation of
intelligence and design. On the theory of an organic creation by law, as
the monkey race is spread over large regions of the globe, we must
suppose that many of each sex were produced, and died childless, before
any Adam was happy enough to find an Eve. Then, at no very distant
period, within a few thousand years, the birth of a man from an animal
of a lower type was no very strange event. Probably it occurred so
often, that the monkeys themselves ceased to be astonished at it. And
yet, this tribe of animals, with all the benefit of large experience,
with increased numbers, and with all the requisite conditions fulfilled
at least as perfectly as they were at the earlier period of their
history, have not succeeded, in the three or four thousand years during
which they have been subject to the observation of intelligent beings,
in producing even a decent semblance of a man.

With the exposure of this crowning absurdity, we must close our direct
examination of this "History of Creation." We have not room to consider
some of the appendages to the theory, such as the assertion of the
essential unity of the human and the brute intellect, the denial of the
immaterial nature of mind, and the advocacy of the system of phrenology.
These absurd and degrading doctrines are naturally connected with the
atheistic hypothesis we have been considering. They are its legitimate
children. But they have already been refuted so often and so
conclusively, that any revival of them at the present day is hardly
deserving of notice. If we should stop here, then, it may fairly be left
to the judgment of our readers, whether we have not fulfilled the pledge
given at the outset, by showing that this theory is faulty at every
point, even when viewed from the author's own ground. The proposal of it
is no new thing. In one or another form, varying in particulars, but
agreeing in substance, it has been before the world ever since the days
of Democritus, and more especially of his follower, Epicurus. Lucretius
clothed it in sonorous and majestic verse, for it is a theme fitted
above all others to excite the fancy, and to receive the richest
embellishments from the imagination. Modern authors have promulgated it
again and again, with little other change than what was requisite to
adapt it to recent improvements in science, and to engraft upon it some
of their own favorite hypotheses and fancies. The version of it by the
French naturalist Lamarck was the latest and the most in vogue, till the
appearance of the present volume. So frequently has it been confuted,
that the revival of it at this late period seems little more than a
harmless exercise of ingenuity, a poetical and scientific dream, and one
need hardly take the pains to expose its assumptions and fallacies. The
violent suppositions which it involves only remind one of the remark
quoted from Pascal on a former page, that "unbelievers are the most
credulous persons in the world." If set forth only as a novel and
pleasing fancy, it may be classed with other ingenious fictions, that
are published without a thought of deception. But if seriously proposed,
it can be fitly characterized only by borrowing the homely but energetic
language of Dr. Bentley.

     "And now that I have finished all the parts which I proposed to
     discourse of, I will conclude all with a short application to the
     atheists. And I would advise them, as a friend, to leave off this
     dabbling and smattering in philosophy, this shuffling and cutting
     with atoms. It never succeeded well with them, and they always come
     off with the loss. Their old master, Epicurus, seems to have had
     his brains so muddled and confounded with them, that he scarce ever
     kept in the right way; though the main maxim of his philosophy was
     to trust to his senses, and follow his nose. I will not take notice
     of his doting conceit, that the sun and moon are no bigger than
     they appear to the eye, a foot or half a yard over; and that the
     stars are no larger than so many glow-worms. But let us see how he
     manages his atoms, those almighty tools that do every thing of
     themselves, without the help of a workman. When the atoms, says he,
     _descend_ in infinite space (very ingeniously spoken, to make high
     and low in infinity), they do not fall plumb down, but decline a
     little from the perpendicular, either obliquely or in a curve; and
     this declination, says he, from the direct line is the cause of our
     liberty of will. But, I say, this declination of atoms in their
     descent was itself either necessary or voluntary. If it was
     necessary, how then could that necessity ever beget liberty? If it
     was voluntary, then atoms had that power of volition before; and
     what becomes then of the Epicurean doctrine of the fortuitous
     productions of worlds? The whole business is contradiction and
     ridiculous nonsense."--_Bentley's Works_, Vol. III., pp. 47, 48.

Custom and convenience lead us to speak of the "laws" of nature, and of
the "powers and forces" of brute matter; and few persons, in adopting
these phrases, are aware that they are using a figure of speech. Yet
nothing is more certain than that all the researches of science have not
been able to point out with certainty a single active cause apart from
the operation of mind. We discern nothing but regularity and similarity
of sequences; and the attribution of these effects to some occult
qualities in the atoms or molecules in which they are manifested is
wholly hypothetical, and even, when closely examined, is inconceivable.
For this reason we affirm, that the theory of our author, professing to
account for the whole work of creation "by the operation of law," is not
only unsound and baseless in its particulars, but, when scrutinized as a
whole, is absolutely unintelligible. _He attempts to account for a
string of hypothetical effects, such as spontaneous generation and the
transmutation of species, by a series of hypothetical and inconceivable
causes, such as the energies of lifeless matter._ Let any one conceive,
if he can, of any _power_, _energy_, or _force_ inherent in a lump of
matter,--a stone, for instance,--except this merely negative one, that
it always and necessarily remains in its present state, whether this be
of rest or motion. Let him point out, if he can, the _nexus_ between
what are usually denominated cause and effect in matter,--as when two
bodies are drawn towards each other, if they are in opposite states of
electricity. When he says that it is the _nature_, or _law_, of bodies
thus electrified to attract each other, he offers no explanation of the
phenomenon; he only refers it to a class of other results, of a similar
character, previously observed. It is not pretended, that all or any of
these results, formerly known, are more intelligible or explicable than
the one in question. But the latter is classed with them, because, from
their general similarity, from their taking place under the same
outward circumstances, it is reasonably supposed that _one_ cause,
whatever it may be, is common to them all. And this is the whole
business of the student of nature, to place together results which are
so similar, that we may attribute them to a common cause, without
assuming to know what that cause is. The sole office of science is the
theory, not of causation, but of classification. It is all reducible to
natural history, the essence of which consists in arrangement.

We are not attempting to perplex a plain matter of science by
introducing into its discussion a metaphysical subtilty. The principle
here contended for is one of the first dictates of the inductive
philosophy, and as such it has been frankly acknowledged and acted upon
by all the great improvers of science in modern days. When Newton
discovered that the planets circle round the sun in the same manner in
which a stone thrown by the hand describes a curve before reaching the
earth, he may be said to have _explained_ the former phenomenon by
bringing it into the same class with certain results which have long
been familiar to us. But the explanation was only relative, not
absolute. The latter phenomenon is, in reality, no more explicable than
the former; he did not pretend to know the _cause_ of the stone's
falling to the ground, any more than of the revolution of the planets.
It was something to be able to arrange these apparently heterogeneous
results in the same class, and gravity was a convenient name to apply to
the whole. But the supposition, that gravity was an occult cause,
inherent in matter, he earnestly repelled, and declared that it was
"inconceivable."[2] Franklin showed, that a thunder-cloud and the
charged conductor of an electrical machine manifested the same
phenomena, and might therefore be classed together; sparks were obtained
from both, Leyden jars were charged from them, other bodies were
attracted and repelled in a similar way, so that it was reasonable to
believe that the same agency was acting in both cases. What this agency
was he did not even guess. The _cause_ of electric action, whether in
the excited cloud, or the excited tube, was just as obscure as ever.
Chemists observed, that different substances, when brought into close
contact, sometimes remained distinct, and sometimes united with each
other in various but regular proportions; and these capacities of
coalescing with one class of bodies, and of remaining unaffected by
another, are called chemical "affinities." This is a convenient
generalization, and has properly received a specific name; though the
common appellation throws no light on the _cause_ of the phenomena,
which remains an impenetrable secret. To say that certain action is
_caused_ by the operation of chemical affinities is only to arrange it
with a large class of other observed appearances, equally obscure as to
their origin and essential character.

Let us go a step further, and suppose that the progress of discovery has
made known certain facts lying behind the phenomena in question, to
which they may all be referred. Let us suppose, that all bodies which
gravitate towards each other are found to be embosomed in a subtile,
ambient fluid, which connects them, as it were, into one system; that
the positive and negative states of electricity are resolvable into the
presence of two fluids standing in certain relations to each other; and
that substances show chemical affinity for each other only when they are
in opposite electrical conditions. Still, we have only advanced a step
in the generalization, and the real, efficient _cause_ of the
appearances is still hidden from us by an impenetrable veil. Gravitation
is now referred to the communication of motion by impulse; electricity,
to the combination and separation of different fluids; affinity, to the
attraction or repulsion of these fluids. The latter classes of phenomena
are more general, but not a whit more explicable, than the former. We
have now fewer causes to seek for, but not one of these few has been
discovered. When we have resolved electricity or gravitation into the
presence of an elastic medium, it is a mere figure of speech to say,
that we have discovered the _cause_ of the electric phenomena or of
gravity. That is just as far off as ever; for we have yet to discover
the principle whence flow _necessarily_ all the phenomena observable in
fluids. It is the sole end and the highest ambition of science to
discover as many as possible of the relationships which bind facts
together, and thus to carry the generalization to the farthest point.
Its office is not to discover causes, but to generalize effects. The
investigation of real causes is quite given up, as a hopeless

Observe, now, how all the phraseology employed in speaking of these
successive generalizations of science is borrowed from the action of
mind. The word _action_ itself has no real significance, except when
applied to the _doings_ of an intelligent agent; we cannot speak of the
doings of matter, as we could if the word _action_ were applicable to it
in any other than a figurative sense. Again, in speaking of the
similarity of facts and the regularity of sequences, we refer them to a
_law_ of nature, just as if they were sentient beings acting under the
will of a sovereign. Parts of pure matter--the chemical elements, for
instance--do not _act_ at all; being brute and inert, it is only by a
strong metaphor that they are said to be subject to law. Again, we
attribute _force_, _power_, &c., to the primitive particles of matter,
and speak of their natural _agencies_. Just so, we talk of _tone_ in
coloring, and of a _heavy_ or _light_ sound; though, of course, in their
proper significance, tone belongs only to sound, and heaviness to
gravitating bodies. These modes of speech are proper enough, if their
figurative character be kept in view; but it is a little too bad, when a
whole scientific theory is made to rest upon a metaphor as its sole
support. _Agency_ is the employment of one intelligent being to act for
another; _force_ and _power_ are applicable only to will; they are
characteristic of volition. It is a violent trope to apply either of
these words to senseless matter. Chemical _affinities_ are spoken of, as
if material elements were united by family ties, and manifested choice,
and affection or aversion.

An obvious corollary from these remarks is, that all _causation_ is an
exertion of mind, and is only figuratively applied to matter. It
necessarily implies power, will, and action. An efficient cause--we are
not speaking now of a mere antecedent--is that which is necessarily
followed by the effect, so that, if it were known, the effect might be
predicted antecedently to all experience. Cicero describes it with
philosophical accuracy. "_Causa ea est, quæ id efficit, cujus est
causa._ _Non sic causa intelligi debet, ut quod cuique antecedat, id ei
causa sit; sed quod cuique_ EFFICIENTER _antecedat. Causis enim
efficientibus quamque rem cognitis, posse denique sciri quid futurum
esset._" Now, in the world of matter, we discover nothing but
antecedents and consequents; the former are the mere signs, not the
causes, of the latter; no necessary connection--no connection at all,
except sequence in time--can be discerned between them. Consequently,
from an examination of the former, we could not determine _a priori_,
that they must be followed by the latter, or by any other result
whatever. Our knowledge here, if knowledge it can be called, is wholly
empirical, or founded on experience. As we have seen, it is absurd to
say, that one atom of matter literally _acts_ on another. On the other
hand, in the world of mind, we are directly conscious of action, and
even of causation. All mental exertion is true action; every
determination of the will implies _effort_, or the direction and use of
power. The result to be accomplished is preconsidered, or meditated, and
therefore is known _a priori_, or before experience; the volition
succeeds, which is a true effort, or a power in action; and this, _if
the power be sufficient_, is _necessarily_ followed by the effect.
Volition is a true cause; but in a finite mind it is not always an
_adequate_ cause. If I will to shut my eyes, the effect immediately
follows as a necessary consequence. But if I will to stop the beating of
my heart, or to move a paralyzed limb, the effect does not follow,
because the power exerted is inadequate to the end proposed. The action
of the will is still _causative_, but it is _insufficient_.

It was from overlooking the distinction here made, that Hume, Kant, and
other metaphysicians were led to deny all knowledge of causation even in
the action of mind. They confounded sufficiency with efficiency, and
supposed, because the power did not always accomplish the end proposed,
that it did not tend towards it, or exert any effect upon it. As the
sufficiency of the volition can only be known _a posteriori_, or after
experience, they imagined that there could be no cause but that which is
infinite, or one which is invariably followed by the whole effect
contemplated. They overlooked the fact, that, in the consciousness of
_effort_,--as in the attempt to control the action of mind, to command
the attention, &c.,--we have direct and full evidence of _power in
action_, which is necessarily causal in its nature. The mental _nisus_
is true force, exerted with a foreknowledge of the effect to be
produced, and necessarily followed by a result,--a partial one it may
be,--but one which is a true effect, whether it answers the whole
intention, or not. Here, then, we discern that necessary connection
between two events, that absolute efficient agency, which was vainly
sought in the world of matter.

If these considerations are well founded, the whole framework of what
are called "secondary causes" falls to pieces. The laws of nature are
only a figure of speech; the powers and active inherent properties of
material atoms are mere fictions. Mind alone is active; matter is wholly
passive and inert. There is no such thing as what we usually call the
course of nature; it is nothing but the will of God producing certain
effects in a constant and uniform manner; which mode of action, however,
being perfectly arbitrary, is as easy to be altered at any time as to be
preserved. All events, all changes, in the external world, from the
least even unto the greatest, are attributable to his will and power,
which, being infinite, is always and necessarily adequate to the end
proposed. The laws of motion, gravitation, affinity, and the like, are
only expressions of the regularity and continuity of one infinite cause.
The order of nature is the effect of divine wisdom, its stability is the
result of divine beneficence.

    "Estne Dei sedes nisi terra, et pontus, et aer,
    Et coelum, et virtus? Superos quid quærimus ultra?
    Jupiter est quodcunque vides, quocunque moveris."

It may be asked, if divine power, instead of operating immediately
throughout the universe, might not have endowed material atoms at the
outset with certain properties and energies, the gradual evolution of
which in after ages would produce all the phenomena of nature, without
the necessity of his incessant presence, agency, and control. Certainly,
we may not put bounds to omnipotence; though we may assert of a given
hypothesis respecting its exercise, that it is inconceivable, or
involves wholly incongruous ideas. The necessary attributes of matter,
according to our conception of it, are extension, figure,
impenetrability, and inertness; the properties of mind are thought,
sensation, activity, and will. These attributes are essential, not
arbitrary or contingent; for they make up our whole idea of the
substances in which they inhere. We can no more suppose them to be
interchangeable, than we can literally attribute dimensions to an odor,
or capacity to a sound. To speak of an extended thought, an impenetrable
sensation, an inert activity, is to talk nonsense; it is equally absurd
to attribute thought to extension, sensation to figure, activity to
inertness,[3] or causal agency to matter. True, mind may be superadded
to matter, without being confounded with it, and without any exchange of
properties. And in fact, this is the only conceivable form of the
hypothesis now before us; namely, the theory of the ancient
metaphysicians, that every particle of matter and every aggregate of it
is accompanied, or animated, by a distinct mind. "_Ea quoque [sidera]
rectissime et animantia esse, et sentire atque intelligere, dicantur._"
If this be a more intelligible and plausible supposition than that of
one infinite mind, pervading the universe, and producing all physical
changes by its irresistible power, the materialist is welcome to the
benefit of it.

As respects the manner in which all physical effects are produced by the
direct action of the Deity, we are not bound to offer any explanation,
as the subject confessedly transcends the limit of the human faculties.
It is enough for us, that the supposition is the only conceivable one,
the only mode of accounting for the phenomena of the material world. But
as man is made in the image of his Creator, in the union for a time of
his spirit with his corporeal frame we may find at least an intelligible
illustration of the connection of God with the universe. Discarding the
word _mind_, as the fruitful source of vague speculation and error, let
us look for a moment at that of which it is a mere synonyme,--at the man
himself. The sentient, thinking being, which I call _self_, is an
absolute unit. Duality or complexity cannot be predicated of it in any
intelligible sense. Personality is indivisible; _I_ am _one_. This being
is capable of acting in different ways; and for convenience of speech
and classification, these modes of action have been arranged as the
results of different faculties; though, in truth, it is no more proper
to attribute to the person distinct powers and organs for comparison,
memory, and judgment, than to give to the body separately a walking
faculty, a lifting faculty, a jumping faculty, and so on. In the one
case, these faculties are but different aspects of mental power; in the
other, but different applications of muscular strength. Of course, the
complex material frame, with its numberless adaptations and
arrangements, in which this being is lodged, is truly foreign from the
man himself, having a kind of connection with him, in reality, but one
degree more intimate than that of his clothes. The body is the curiously
contrived machine through which the man communicates with the material
world. The eye is but his instrument to see with, the ear is his trumpet
for communicating sound to him, the leg is his steed, and the arm his
soldier. Many of these instruments and parts may be removed, or become
unfit for use, without impairing, in the slightest degree, his distinct
personality and intelligence. The particles of all of them are in a
state of constant flux and renovation, so that man changes his body only
a little more frequently than he does his coat. His whole corporeal
frame is connected with him but for a while, and is then thrown aside,
like an old garment, for which he has no farther use.

But during the period of its existence, how close and intimate in
appearance is this union with the body! Sensation extends to every part
of it, every fibre is instinct with life, and the direction of the will
is absolute and immediate over every muscle and joint, as if the whole
fabric and its tenant were one homogeneous system. The will tires not of
its supremacy, and is not wearied with the number of volitions required
of it to keep every joint in action, and every organ performing its
proper function. It would not delegate the control of the fingers to an
inferior power, nor contrive mechanical or automatic means for moving
the extremities. Within its sphere, it is sole sovereign, and is not
perplexed with the variety and constant succession of its duties,
extending to every part of the complex structure of which it is the
animating and directing spirit. Sensation is not cumbered with the
multitude of impressions it receives, nor is the fineness of perception
dulled by repeated exercise. The sharpness of its edge rather improves
by use, and we become more heedful of its lightest intimations. Is it
irreverent, then, to suppose that this union of body and soul shadows
forth the connection between the material universe and the Infinite One?
How else, indeed, can we attach any meaning to the attributes of
omnipresence and omnipotence? The unity of action, the regularity of
antecedence and consequence in outward events, which we commonly
designate by the lame metaphor of _law_, then become the fitting
expression of the consistent doings of an all-wise Being, in whom there
is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. The Creator, then, is no
longer banished from his creation, nor is the latter an orphan, or a
deserted child. It is not a great machine, that was wound up at the
beginning, and has continued to run on ever since, without aid or
direction from its artificer. As well might we conceive of the body of a
man moving about, and performing all its appropriate functions, without
the principle of life, or the indwelling of an immortal soul. The
universe is not lifeless or soulless. It is informed by God's spirit,
pervaded by his power, moved by his wisdom, directed by his beneficence,
controlled by his justice.

    "Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
    Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet."

The harmony of physical and moral laws is not a mere fancy, nor a forced
analogy; they are both expressions of the same will, manifestations of
the same spirit.

The objection, that it is beneath the dignity of the Almighty--[Greek:
autourgein hapanta]--to put his hand to every thing--is founded on a
false analogy, as is seen by the form in which Aristotle states it. "If
it befit not the state and majesty of Xerxes, the great king of Persia,
that he should stoop to do all the meanest offices himself, much less
can this be thought suitable for God." The two cases do not correspond
in the very feature essential to the argument. An earthly potentate,
unable to execute with his own hand all the affairs of which he has
control, is obliged to delegate the larger portion of them to his
servants; selecting the lightest part for himself, he gratifies his
pride by calling it also the noblest, though the distinction is
factitious, there being no real difference, in point of honor or
dignity, between them. Omnipotence needs no minister, and is not
exhausted or wearied by the cares of a universe. Power in action is more
truly sublime than power in repose; and surely it is not derogatory to
divine energy to sustain and continue that which it was certainly not
beneath divine wisdom to create and appoint. Rightly considered, to
guide the falling of a leaf from a tree is an office as worthy of
omnipotence, as the creation of a world. "Are not two sparrows sold for
a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your
Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

Equally lame is the oft-repeated comparison of the universe to a machine
of man's device, which is considered the more perfect the less mending
or interposition it requires. A machine is a labor-saving contrivance,
fitted to supply the weakness and deficiencies of him who uses it. Where
the want does not exist, it is absurd to suppose the creation of the
remedy. Human conceptions of the Deity are for ever at fault in imputing
to him the errors and deficiencies which belong to our own limited
faculties and dependent condition. Hence the idea of the Epicureans,
that sublime indifference and unbroken repose are the only states of
being worthy of the gods. Viewed in the light of true philosophy, no
less than of Christianity, how base and grovelling does this conception
appear! The sublime description of the pagan poet becomes the fitting
expression and defence of the very theory it was designed to

    "Nam (proh sancta Deûm tranquillâ pectora pace,
    Quæ placidum degunt ævum, vitamque serenam!)
    Quis regere immensi summam, quis habere profundi
    Indu manu validas potis est moderanter habenas?
    Quis pariter coelos omneis convertere? et omneis
    Ignibus ætheriis terras suffire feraceis?
    Omnibus inque locis esse omni tempore presto?
    Nubibus ut tenebras faciat, coelique serena
    Concutiat sonitu? tum fulmina mittat, et ædeis
    Sæpe suas disturbet?"

Returning to the theory of our author, may we not now characterize it as
at once unfounded in its details, inconceivable in its operation, and
vulgar and mechanical in its design? Considered in their proper aspect,
and by the light of a sound philosophy, whatever well accredited facts
or legitimate deductions he has gleaned from the whole field of modern
science afford the most striking evidence and illustration of that view
of creation which is directly at variance with his own hypothesis. He
has, in fact, exposed the insufficiency of what are called organic or
mechanical laws to supply the losses, and bridge over the interruptions,
that have occurred in the world's history. Geology has rendered at
least one signal service to the cause of natural religion, by
effectually doing away with the old atheistic objection, that, for aught
we know, the present constitution of things never had a beginning, but
has gone on for ever renewing itself in an endless series of
generations. Science now tells us distinctly, that time was when "the
earth was without form and void," no animated thing appearing "upon the
face of the deep"; that afterwards, "the waters were gathered together
unto one place, and the dry land appeared." Then "the earth brought
forth grass, and herb yielding seed _after his kind_, and the tree
yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind." Next was
fulfilled the command, "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving
creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the
open firmament of heaven." Then appeared "the beast of the earth after
his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth
upon the earth after his kind." Last of all, "God created man in his own
image, male and female created he them." We are not merely quoting
Scripture; we are repeating the facts positively affirmed by the
geologists, and incorporated by our author into his "history"--as
authentic leaves taken from the "stone book"--_in the same order_ in
which they are narrated in the first chapter of Genesis. The coincidence
in the order of succession is certainly remarkable.

Geology farther informs us, that, at different times, all the animated
tribes which had peopled the earth's surface passed away, or became
extinct, and were replaced by new species of different organization and
characteristics; and probably at many other periods, as well as on
occasions of some great catastrophe in the earth's crust, races wholly
unlike any that had preceded them were introduced, from time to time, as
new inhabitants of the globe. Here, then, was an absolute necessity for
the continuous operation of an intelligent creative power, apart from
the blind mechanical laws, which, at the utmost, could only allow each
species, once introduced, to continue its kind. The marvellous
adaptations of these new races to the altered conditions of the earth's
surface when they appeared, then, become additional proofs of the wisdom
and constant oversight of a designing Creator. They came not till all
things were ready; they appeared when the extinction of former tribes
had left a gap for them in the scale of being. The gradual development
of what are called the powers of nature,--or, to speak more
intelligibly, the successive improvements in the habitations intended
for higher and higher races of animated life,--and the similarity of
plan on which these races were organized, the scheme being preserved in
all its essential features through countless generations, show unity of
design, and prove that the works of creation, however separated in time,
must be attributed to _one_ intelligent author. The same conclusion
follows almost irresistibly from the gradations at present observable
both in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, so that all the races may be
arranged, not indeed in a linear series, but in families or groups,
bearing analogous relations to each other, and showing a general
progress from the more simple to the more complex forms. Surely, these
facts, so clearly explained by our author, instead of sustaining the
corpuscular philosophy, directly militate with it, and afford the most
satisfactory proof of the doctrine of the theist, and the theory of
continuous divine agency. We have hardly ever met with a book that
furnished more complete materials for its own refutation.

After all, the question is a very simple one. We have only to decide
whether it is more likely, that the complex system of things in the
midst of which we live,--the beautiful harmonies between the organic and
inorganic world, the nice arrangements and curious adaptations that
obtain in each, the simplicity and uniformity of the general plan to
which the vast multitude of details may be reduced,--was built up, and
is now sustained, by one all-wise and all-powerful Being, or by
particles of brute matter, acting of themselves, without direction,
interference, or control. We cannot now say, that possibly the system
never had a beginning, but has always existed under the form in which it
now appears to us; geology has disproved _that_ supposition most
effectually. Choose ye, then, between mind and matter, between an
intelligent being and a stone, for the parentage and support of this
wonderful system. For our own part, we will adopt the conclusion of one
of the most eloquent of those old pagan philosophers, on whose eyes the
light of immediate revelation never dawned:--"_Hic ego non mirer esse
quemquam, qui sibi persuadeat, corpora quædam solida atque individua vi
et gravitate ferri, mundumque effici ornatissimum et pulcherrimum ex
corum corporum concursione fortuitâ? Quòd si mundum efficere potest
concursus atomorum, cur porticum, cur templum, cur domum, cur urbem non
potest, quæ sunt minus operosa, et multò quidem faciliora? Certè ita
temerè de mundo effutiunt, ut mihi quidem nunquam hunc admirabilem
coeli ornatum, qui locus est proximus, suspexisse videantur._"


[Footnote 1: _N. A. Review_, Vol. LVI., pp. 339-351.]

[Footnote 2: "It is inconceivable, that inanimate brute matter should,
without the mediation of something else, which is not material, operate
upon and affect other matter without mutual contact, as it must, if
gravitation, in the sense of Epicurus, be essential and inherent in it.
And this is one reason why I desired you would not ascribe innate
gravity to me. That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to
matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance through a
_vacuum_, without the mediation of any thing else, by and through which
their action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so
great an absurdity, that I believe no man, who has in philosophical
matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it. Gravity
must be caused by an agent acting constantly according to certain
laws."--_Newton's letter in Bentley's Works_, Vol. III., pp. 211, 212.]

[Footnote 3: And yet, so strong is the propensity to metaphor, that
scientific men talk of the _vis inertiæ_ as a true force, though the
ideas expressed by the two Latin words are certainly incongruous. The
mistake here arises from confounding inertness, or resistance to
force,--a merely negative idea,--with the true force which is necessary
to overcome it; or rather, since force can only be measured by its
results, and must always be adequate to the effect produced, inquirers
have adopted the convenient hypothesis of two antagonistic forces, not
always recollecting that one of them is merely passive.]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Theory of Creation: A Review of 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation'" ***

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