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´╗┐Title: At the Deathbed of Darwinism - A Series of Papers
Author: Dennert, Eberhard
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.

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Authorized Translation


Burlington, Iowa

Copyright 1904


PREFACE                                                             9

INTRODUCTION                                                       27

CHAPTER I.--The Return to Wigand--The Botanist, Julius von
Sachs--The Vienna Zoologist, Dr. Schneider                         35

CHAPTER II.--Professor Goethe on "The Present Status of
Darwinism"--Explains the Reluctance of certain men of
Science to Discard Darwinism                                       41

CHAPTER III.--Professor Korchinsky Rejects Darwinism--His
Theory of Heterogenesis--Professor Haberlandt of
Graz--Demonstration of a "Vital Force"--Its Nature--The
Sudden Origination of a New Organ--Importance of the
Experiment.                                                        49

CHAPTER IV.--Testimony of a Palaeontologist, Professor
Steinmann--On Haeckel's Family Trees--The Principle of
Multiple Origin--Extinction of the Saurians--"Darwinism Not
the Alpha and Omega of the Doctrine of Descent"--Steinmann's
Conclusions                                                        60

CHAPTER V.--Eimer's Theory of Organic Growth--Definite Lines
of Development--Rejects Darwin's Theory of Fluctuating
Variations--Opposes Weismann--Repudiates Darwinian
"Mimicry"--Discards the "Romantic" Hypothesis of Sexual
Selection--"Transmutation is a Physiological Process, a
Phyletic Growth"                                                   69

CHAPTER VI.--Admissions of a Darwinian--Professor von
Wagner's Explanation of the Decay of Darwinism--Darwinism
Rejects the Inductive Method, Hence Unscientific--Wagner's
Contradictory Assertions                                           90

CHAPTER VII.--Haeckel's Latest Production--His Extreme
Modesty--Reception of the Weltraetsel--Schmidt's
Apologia--The Romanes Incident--Men of Science Who Convicted
Haeckel of Deliberate Fraud                                       104

CHAPTER VIII.--Grottewitz Writes on "Darwinian Myths"--Darwinism
Incapable of Scientific Proof--"The Principle of Gradual
Development Certainly Untenable"--"Darwin's Theory of
"Chance" a Myth"                                                  118

CHAPTER IX.--Professor Fleischmann of Erlangen--Doctrine of
Descent Not Substantiated--Missing Links--"Collapse of Haeckel's
Theory"--Descent Hypothesis "Antiquated"--Fleischmann Formerly
a Darwinian--Haeckel's Disreputable Methods of Defense            124

CHAPTER X.--Hertwig, the Berlin Anatomist, Protests Against
the Materialistic View of Life"--No Empiric Proof of
Darwinism--"The Impotence of Natural Selection"--Rejects
Haeckel's "Biogenetic Law"                                        137

CONCLUSION.--Darwinism Abandoned by Men of Science--Supplanted
by a Theory in Harmony With Theistic Principles                   146


The general tendency of recent scientific literature dealing with the
problem of organic evolution may fairly be characterized as distinctly
and prevailingly unfavorable to the Darwinian theory of Natural
Selection. In the series of chapters herewith offered for the first
time to English readers, Dr. Dennert has brought together testimonies
which leave no room for doubt about the decadence of the Darwinian
theory in the highest scientific circles in Germany. And outside of
Germany the same sentiment is shared generally by the leaders of
scientific thought. That the popularizers of evolutionary conceptions
have any anti-Darwinian tendencies cannot, of course, be for a moment
maintained. For who would undertake to popularize what is not novel or
striking? But a study of the best scientific literature reveals the
fact that the attitude assumed by one of our foremost American
zoologists, Professor Thomas Hunt Morgan, in his recent work on
"Evolution and Adaptation," is far more general among the leading men
of science than is popularly supposed. Professor Morgan's position may
be stated thus: He adheres to the general theory of Descent, i.e., he
believes the simplest explanation which has yet been offered of the
structural _similarities_ between species within the same group,
is the hypothesis of a common descent from a parent species. But he
emphatically rejects the notion--and this is the quintessence of
Darwinism--that the _dissimilarities_ between species have been
brought about by the purely mechanical agency of natural selection.

To find out what, precisely, Darwin meant by the term "natural
selection" let us turn for a moment, to his great work, _The Origin
of Species by Means of Natural Selection_. In the second chapter of
that work, Darwin observes that small "fortuitous" variations in
individual organisms, though of small interest to the systematist, are
of the "highest importance" for his theory, since these minute
variations often confer on the possessor of them, some advantage over
his fellows in the quest for the necessaries of life. Thus these chance
individual variations become the "first steps" towards slight
varieties, which, in turn, lead to sub-species, and, finally, to
species. Varieties, in fact, are "incipient species." Hence, small
"fortuitous" fluctuating, individual variations--i.e., those which
chance to occur without predetermined direction--are the "first-steps"
in the origin of species. This is the first element in the Darwinian

In the third chapter of the same work we read: "It has been seen in the
last chapter that amongst organic beings in a state of nature there is
some individual variability. * * * But the mere existence of individual
variability and of some few well-marked varieties, though necessary as
a _foundation_ of the work, helps us but little in understanding
how species arise in nature. How have all those exquisite adaptations
of one part of the organization to another part, and to the conditions
of life, and of one organic being to another being, been perfected?
* * *" Again it may be asked, how is it that varieties, which I have
called incipient species, become ultimately converted into good and
distinct species, which in most cases obviously differ from each other
far more than do the varieties of the same species? How do those groups
of species which constitute what are called distinct genera arise?
All of these results follow from the _struggle for life_. Owing to
this struggle, variations, however slight and from whatever cause
proceeding, if they be in any degree profitable to the individuals of a
species, in their infinitely complex relations to other organic beings,
and to their physical conditions of life, will tend to the preservation
of such individuals and will generally be inherited by the offspring.
The offspring also will thus have a better chance of surviving, for of
the many individuals of any species which are periodically born, but a
small number can survive. I have called this principle by which each
slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term, "natural
selection." Mr. Darwin adds that his meaning would be more accurately
expressed by a phrase of Mr. Spencer's coinage, "Survival of the

It may be observed that neither "natural selection" nor "survival of
the fittest" gives very accurate expression to the idea which Darwin
seems to wish to convey. Natural selection is at best a metaphorical
description of a process, and "survival of the fittest" describes the
result of that process. Nor shall we find the moving principle of
evolution in individual variability unless we choose to regard chance
as an efficient agency. Consequently, the only efficient principle
conceivably connected with the process is the "struggle for existence;"
and even this has only a purely negative function in the origination of
species or of adaptations. For, the "surviving fittest" owe nothing
more to the struggle for existence than our pensioned veterans owe to
the death-dealing bullets which did _not_ hit them. Mr. Darwin has,
however, obviated all difficulty regarding precision of terms by the
remark that he intended to use his most important term, "struggle for
existence" in "a large and metaphorical sense."

We have now seen the second element of Darwinism, namely, the "struggle
for life." The theory of natural selection, then, postulates the
accumulation of minute "fortuitions" individual modifications, which
are useful to the possessor of them, by means of a struggle for life of
such a sanguinary nature and of such enormous proportions as to result
in the destruction of the overwhelming majority of adult individuals.
These are the correlative factors in the process of natural selection.

In view of the popular identification of Darwinism with the doctrine of
evolution, on the one hand, and with the theory of struggle for life,
on the other hand, it is necessary to insist on the Darwinian
conception of small, fluctuating, useful variations as the
"first-steps" in the evolutionary process. For, this conception
distinguishes Darwinism from the more recent evolutionary theory, e.g.,
of De Vries who rejects the notion that species have originated by the
accumulation of fluctuating variations; and it is quite as essential to
the Darwinian theory of natural selection as is the "struggle for
life." It is, in fact, an integral element in the selection theory.

The attitude of science towards Darwinism may, therefore, be
conveniently summarized in its answer to the following questions:

1. Is there any evidence that such a struggle for life among mature
forms, as Darwin postulates, actually occurs?

2. Can the origin of adaptive structures be explained on the ground of
their _utility_ in this struggle, i.e., is it certain or even
probable that the organism would have perished, had it lacked the
particular adaptation in its present degree of perfection? On the
contrary, is there not convincing proof that many, and presumably most,
adaptations cannot be thus accounted for?

The above questions are concerned with "the struggle for life." Those
which follow have to do with the problem of variations.

3. Is there any reason to believe that new species may originate by the
accumulation of fluctuating individual variations?

4. Does the evidence of the geological record--which, as Huxley
observed, is the only direct evidence that can be had in the question
of evolution--does this evidence tell for or against the origin of
existing species from earlier ones by means of minute gradual

We must be content here with the briefest outline of the reply of
science to these inquiries.

1. Darwin invites his readers to "keep steadily in mind that each
organic being is striving to increase in geometrical ratio." If this
tendency were to continue unchecked, the progeny of living beings would
soon be unable to find standing room. Indeed, the very bacteria would
quickly convert every vestige of organic matter on earth into their own
substance. For has not Cohn estimated that the offspring of a single
bacterium, at its ordinary rate of increase under favorable conditions,
would in three days amount to 4,772 billions of individuals with an
aggregate weight of seven thousand five hundred tons? And the
19,000,000 elephants which, according to Darwin, should to-day
perpetuate the lives of each pair that mated in the twelfth
century--surely these would be a "magna pars" in the sanguinary
contest. When the imagination views these and similar figures, and
places in contrast to this multitude of living beings, the limited
supply of nourishment, the comparison of nature with a huge
slaughterhouse seems tame enough. But reason, not imagination, as
Darwin observes more than once, should be our guide in a scientific

It is observed on careful reflection that Darwin's theory is endangered
by an extremely large disturbing element, viz., accidental destruction.
Under this term we include all the destruction of life which occurs in
utter indifference to the presence or absence of any individual
variations from the parent form. Indeed, the greatest destruction takes
place among immature forms before any variation from the parent stock
is discernible at all. In this connection we may instance the vast
amount of eggs and seeds destroyed annually irrespective of any
adaptive advantage that would be possessed by the matured form. And the
countless forms in every stage of individual development which meet
destruction through "accidental causes which would not be in the least
degree mitigated by certain changes of structure or of constitution
which would otherwise be beneficial to the species." This difficulty,
Darwin himself recognized. But he was of opinion that if even
"one-hundredth or one-thousandth part" of organic beings escaped this
fortuitous destruction, there would supervene among the survivors a
struggle for life sufficiently destructive to satisfy his theory. This
suggestion, however, fails to meet the difficulty. For, as Professor
Morgan points out, Darwin assumes "that a second competition takes
place after the first destruction of individuals has occurred, and this
presupposes that more individuals reach maturity than there is room for
in the economy of nature." It presupposes that the vast majority of
forms that survive accidental destruction, succumb in the second
struggle for life in which the determining factor is some slight
individual variation, e.g., a little longer neck in the case of the
giraffe, or a wing shorter than usual in the case of an insect on an
island. The whole theory of struggle, as formulated by Darwin, is,
therefore, a violent assumption. Men of science now recognize that
"egoism and struggle play a very subordinate part in organic
development, in comparison with co-operation and social action." What,
indeed, but a surrender of the paramountcy of struggle for life, is
Huxley's celebrated Romanes lecture in which he supplants the cosmic
process by the ethical? The French free-thinker, Charles Robin, gave
expression to the verdict of exact science when he declared: "Darwinism
is a fiction, a poetical accumulation of probabilities without proof,
and of attractive explanations without demonstration."

2. The hopeless inadequacy of the struggle for life to account for
adaptive structures has been dealt with at considerable length by
Professor Morgan in the concluding chapters of the work already
mentioned. We cannot here follow him in his study of the various kinds
of adaptations, e.g., form and symmetry, mutual adaptation of colonial
forms, protective coloration, organs of extreme perfection, tropisms
and instincts, etc., in regard to the origin of each of which he is
forced to abandon the Darwinian theory. It will suffice to call
attention to his conclusions concerning the phenomena of regeneration
of organs. By his research in this special field Professor Morgan has
won international recognition among men of science. It was while
prosecuting his studies in this field that he became impressed with
the utter bankruptcy of the theory of natural selection which
Darwinians put forward to explain the acquisition by organisms of this
most useful power of regeneration. It is not difficult to show that
regeneration could not in many cases, and presumably in none, have
been acquired through natural selection (p. 379). If an earth worm
(_allolobophora foctida_) be cut in two in the middle, the posterior
piece regenerates at its anterior cut end, not a head but a tail. "Not
by the widest stretch of the imagination can such a result be accounted
for on the selection theory." Quite the reverse case presents itself
in certain planarians. If the head of _planaria lugubris_ is cut
off just behind the eyes, there develops at the cut surface of the
head-piece another head turned in the opposite direction. "These and
other reasons," concludes Professor Morgan (p. 381), "indicate with
certainty that regeneration cannot be explained by the theory of
natural selection."

The ingenuity of the Darwinian imagination, however, will hardly fail
to assign some reason why two heads are more useful than one in the
above instance, and thus reconcile the phenomenon with Darwinism. For,
according to Professor Morgan "to imagine that a particular organ is
useful to its possessor and to account for its origin because of the
imagined benefit conferred, is the general procedure of the followers
of the Darwinian school." "Personal conviction, mere possibility,"
writes Quatrefages, "are offered as proofs, or at least as arguments
in favor of the theory." "The realms of fancy are boundless," is
Blanchard's significant comment on Darwin's explanation of the
blindness of the mole. "On this class of speculation," says Bateson in
his "Materials for the Study of Variation," referring to Darwinian
speculation as to the beneficial or detrimental nature of variations,
"on this class of speculation the only limitations are those of the
ingenuity of the author." The general form of Darwin's argument,
declared the writer of a celebrated article in the North British
Review, is as follows: "All these things may have been, therefore my
theory is possible; and since my theory is a possible one, all those
hypotheses which it requires are rendered probable."

3. We pass now to the question of the possibility of building up a new
species by the accumulation of chance individual variations. That
species ever originate in this way is denied by the advocates of the
evolutionary theory which is now superseding Darwinism. Typical of the
new school is the botanist Hugo De Vries of Amsterdam. The
"first-steps" in the origin of new species according to De Vries are
not fluctuating individual variations, but mutations, i.e., definite
and permanent modifications. According to the mutation theory a new
species arises from the parent species, not gradually but suddenly. It
appears suddenly "without visible preparation and without transitional
steps." The wide acceptance with which this theory is meeting must be
attributed to the fact that men of science no longer believe in the
origin of species by the accumulation of slight fluctuating
modifications. To quote the words of De Vries, "Fluctuating variation
cannot overstep the limits of the species, even after the most
prolonged selection--still less can it lead to the production of new,
permanent characters." It has been the wont of Darwinians to base their
speculations on the assumption that "an inconceivably long time" could
effect almost anything in the matter of specific transformations. But
the evidence which has been amassed during the past forty years leaves
no doubt that there is a limit to individual variability which neither
time nor skill avail to remove. As M. Blanchard asserts in his work,
_La vie des etres animes_ (p. 102), "All investigation and observation
make it clear that, while the variability of creatures in a state of
nature displays itself in very different degrees, yet, in its most
astonishing manifestations, it remains confined within a circle beyond
which it cannot pass."

It is interesting to observe how writers of the Darwinian school
attempt to explain the origin of articulate language as a gradual
development of animal sounds. "It does not," observes Darwin, "appear
altogether incredible that some unusually wise ape-like animal should
have thought of imitating the growl of a beast of prey, so as to
indicate to his fellow monkeys the nature of the expected danger. And
this would have been a first step in the formation of a language." But
what a tremendous step! An ape-like animal that "thought" of imitating
a beast must certainly have been "unusually wise." In bridging the
chasm which rational speech interposes between man and the brute
creation, the Darwinian is forced to assume that the whole essential
modification is included in the first step. Then he conceals the
assumption by parcelling out the accidental modification in a supposed
series of transitional stages. He endeavors to veil his inability to
explain the first step, as Chevalier Bunsen remarked, by the easy but
fruitless assumption of an infinite space of time, destined to explain
the gradual development of animals into men; as if millions of years
could supply the want of an agent necessary for the first movement, for
the first step in the line of progress. "How can speech, the expression
of thought, develop itself in a year or in millions of years, out of
unarticulated sounds which express feelings of pleasure, pain, and
appetite? The common-sense of mankind will always shrink from such

4. The hopes and fears of Darwinians have rightly been centered on the
history of organic development as outlined in the geological record. It
has been pointed out repeatedly by the foremost men of science that if
the theory of genetic descent with the accumulation of small variations
be the true account of the origin of species, a complete record of the
ancestry of any existing species would reveal no distinction of species
and genera. Between any two well-defined species, if one be derived
from the other, there must be countless transition forms. But
palaeontology fails to support the theory of evolution by minute
variations. Darwinism has been shattered on the geologic rocks. "The
complete absence of intermediate forms," says Mr. Carruthers, "and the
sudden and contemporaneous appearance of highly organized and widely
separated groups, deprive the hypothesis of genetic evolution of any
countenance from the plant record of these ancient rocks. The whole
evidence is against evolution (i.e., by minute modification) and there
is none for it." (cf. _History of Plant Life and its Bearing on
Theory of Evolution_, 1898). Similar testimony regarding the animal
kingdom is borne by Mr. Mivart in the following carefully worded
statement: "The mass of palaeontological evidence is indeed
overwhelmingly against minute and gradual modification." "The Darwinian
theory," declared Professor Fleischmann of Erlangen, recently, "has not
a single fact to confirm it in the realm of nature. It is not the
result of scientific research, but purely the product of the

On one occasion Huxley expressed his conviction that the pedigree of
the horse as revealed in the geological record furnished demonstrative
evidence for the theory of evolution. The question has been entered
into in detail by Professor Fleischmann in his work, _Die
Descendenstheorie_. In this book the Erlangen professor makes great
capital out of the "trot-horse" (Paradepferd) of Huxley and Haeckel;
and as regards the evolutionary theory, easily claims a verdict of
"not proven." In this connection the moderate statement of Professor
Morgan is noteworthy: "When he (Fleischmann) says there is no absolute
proof that the common plan of structure must be the result of blood
relationship, he is not bringing a fatal argument against the theory of
descent, for no one but an enthusiast sees anything more in the
explanation than a very probable theory that appears to account for the
facts. To demand an absolute proof is to ask for more than any
reasonable advocate of the descent theory claims for it." (Professor
Morgan, as we have already seen, rejects Darwinism, and inclines to the
mutation theory of De Vries.) The vast majority of Darwinians must,
therefore, be classed as "enthusiasts" who are not "reasonable
advocates of the descent theory." For has not Professor Marsh told his
readers that "to doubt evolution is to doubt science?" And similar
assertions have been so frequently made and reiterated by Darwinians
that the claim that Darwinism has become a dogma contains, as Professor
Morgan notes, more truth than the adherents of that school find
pleasant to hear.

More interesting, however, than Huxley's geological pedigree of the
horse is Haeckel's geological pedigree of man. One who reads Haeckel's
_Natural History of Creation_ can hardly escape the impression that
the author had actually seen specimens of each of the twenty-one
ancestral forms of which his pedigree of man is composed. Such,
however, was not the case. Quatrefages, speaking of this wonderful
genealogical tree which Haeckel has drawn up with such scientific
accuracy of description, observes: "The first thing to remark is that
_not one_ of the creatures exhibited in this pedigree has ever been
seen, either living or in fossil. Their existence is based entirely
upon theory." (_Les Emules de Darwin_, ii. _p._ 76). "Man's pedigree as
drawn up by Haeckel," says the distinguished savant, Du Bois-Reymond,
"is worth about as much as is that of Homer's heroes for critical

In constructing his genealogies Haeckel has frequent recourse to his
celebrated "Law of Biogenesis." The "Law of Biogenesis" which is the
dignified title Haeckel has given to the discredited recapitulation
theory, asserts that the embryological development of the individual
(ontogeny), is a brief recapitulation, a summing up, of the stages
through which the species passed in the course of its evolution in the
geologic past, (phylogeny). Ontogeny is a brief recapitulation of
phylogeny. This, says Haeckel, is what the "fundamental Law of
Biogenesis" teaches us. (The reader of Haeckel and other Darwinians
will frequently find laws put forward to establish facts: whereas other
men of science prefer to have facts establish laws). When, therefore,
as Quatrefages remarks, the transition between the types which Haeckel
has incorporated into his genealogical tree, appears too abrupt, he
often betakes himself to ontogeny and describes the embryo in the
corresponding interval of development. This description he inserts in
his genealogical mosaic, by virtue of the "Law of Biogenesis."

Many theories have been constructed to explain the phenomena of
embryological development. Of these the simplest and least mystical is
that of His in the great classic work on embryology, "Unsere
Koerperform." His tells us: "In the entire series of forms which a
developing organism runs through, each form is the necessary antecedent
step of the following. If the embryo is to reach the complicated
end-form, it must pass, step by step, through the simpler ones. Each
step of the series is the physiological consequence of the preceding
stage, and the necessary condition for the following." But whatever
theory be accepted by men of science, it is certainly not that proposed
by Haeckel. Carl Vogt after giving Haeckel's statement of the "Law of
Biogenesis" wrote: "This law which I long held as well-founded, is
absolutely and radically false." Even Oskar Hertwig, perhaps the best
known of Haeckel's former pupils, finds it necessary to change
Haeckel's expression of the biogenetic law so that "a contradiction
contained in it may be removed." Professor Morgan, finally, rejects
Haeckel's boasted "Law of Biogenesis" as "_in principle, false_."
And he furthermore seems to imply that Fleischmann merits the reproach
of men of science, for wasting his time in confuting "the antiquated
and generally exaggerated views of writers like Haeckel."

"Antiquated and generally exaggerated views." Such is the comment of
science on Haeckel's boast that Darwin's pre-eminent service to science
consisted in pointing out how purposive adaptations may be produced by
natural selection without the direction of mind just as easily as they
may be produced by artificial selection and human design. And yet the
latest and least worthy production from the pen of this Darwinian
philosopher, _The Riddle of the Universe_, is being scattered
broad-cast by the anti-Christian press, in the name and guise of
_popular_ science. It is therein that the evil consists. For the
discerning reader sees in the book itself, its own best refutation. The
pretensions of Haeckel's "consistent and monistic theory of the eternal
cosmogenetic process" are best met by pointing to the fact that its
most highly accredited and notorious representative has given to the
world in exposition and defense of pure Darwinian philosophy, a work,
which, for boldness of assertion, meagerness of proof, inconsequence of
argument, inconsistency in fundamental principles and disregard for
facts which tell against the author's theory, has certainly no equal in
contemporary literature. In the apt and expressive phrase of Professor
Paulsen, the book "fairly drips with superficiality" (von Seichtigkeit
triefen). If the man of science is to be justified, as Huxley
suggested, not by faith but by verification, Haeckel and his docile
Darwinian disciples have good reason to tremble for their scientific


St. Paul, Minn.


During the last few years I have published under this title short
articles dealing with the present status of Darwinism. In view of the
kind reception which has been accorded to these articles by the reading
public I have thought it well to bring them together in pamphlet form.
Indeed, the Darwinian movement and its present status are eminently
deserving of consideration, especially on the part of those before whom
Darwinism has hitherto always been held up triumphantly as a scientific
disproof of the very foundations of the Christian faith.

By way of introduction and explanation some general preliminary remarks
may not be amiss here. Previous to twenty or thirty years ago, it was
justifiable to identify Darwinism with the doctrine of Descent, for at
that time Darwinism was the only doctrine of Descent which could claim
any general recognition. Consequently, one who was an adherent of the
doctrine of Descent was also a Darwinian. Those to whom this did not
apply were so few as to be easily counted. The dispute then hinged
primarily on Darwinism; hence, for those who did not admit the truth of
that theory, the doctrine of Descent was for the most part also a myth.

I say, for the most part; for there were already even at that time a
few clear-sighted naturalists (Wigand, Naegeli, Koelliker and others)
who saw plainly the residue of truth that would result from the
discussion. But to the overwhelming majority, the alternatives seemed
to be: Either Darwinism or no evolution at all. Today, however, the
state of things is considerably altered. The doctrine of Descent is
clearly and definitely distinguished from Darwinism at least by the
majority of naturalists. It is therefore of the utmost importance that
this luminous distinction should likewise become recognized in lay

My object in these pages is to show that Darwinism will soon be a thing
of the past, a matter of history; that we even now stand at its
death-bed, while its friends are solicitous only to secure for it a
decent burial.

Out of the chaos of controversy which has obtained during the last four
decades there has emerged an element of truth--for there lurks a germ
of truth in most errors--which has gained almost universal recognition
among contemporary men of science, namely, the doctrine of Descent. The
fact that living organisms form an ascending series from the less
perfect to the more perfect; the further fact that they also form a
series according as they display more or less homology of structure and
are formed according to similar types; and, lastly, that the fossil
remains of organisms found in the various strata of the earth's surface
likewise represent an ascending series from the simple to the more
complex--these three facts suggested to naturalists the thought that
living organisms were not always as we find them to-day, but that the
more perfect had developed from simpler forms through a series of
modifications. These thoughts were at first advanced with some
hesitation, and were confined to narrow circles. They received,
however, material support when, during the fourth decade of the 19th
century the splendid discovery was made (by K. E. von Baer) that every
organism is slowly developed from a germ, and in the process of
development passes through temporary lower stages to a permanent higher
one. Even at that time many naturalists believed in a corresponding
development of the whole series of organisms, without of course being
able to form a clear conception of the process. Such was the state of
affairs when Darwin in the year 1859 published his principal work,
_The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection_. In this
work for the first time an exhaustive attempt was made to sketch a
clear and completely detailed picture of the process of development.

Darwin started with the fact that breeders of animals and growers of
plants, having at their disposal a large number of varieties, always
diverging somewhat from each other, choose individuals possessing
characteristics which they desired to strengthen, and use only these
for procreation. In this manner the desired characteristic is gradually
made more prominent, and the breeder appears to have obtained a new
species. Similar conditions are supposed to prevail in Nature, only
that there is lacking the selecting hand of the breeder. Here the
so-called principle of Natural Selection holds automatic sway by means
of the Struggle for Existence. All the various forms of life are
warring for the means of subsistence, each striving to obtain for
itself the best nourishment, etc. In this struggle those organisms will
be victorious which possess the most favorable characteristics; all
others must succumb. Hence those only will survive which are best
adapted to their environment. But between those which survive, the
struggle begins anew, and when the favoring peculiarities become more
pronounced in some, (by chance, of course) these in turn win out. Thus
Nature gradually improves her various breeds through the continued
action of a self-regulating mechanism. Such are the main features of
Darwinism, its real kernel, about which of course,--and this is a proof
of its insufficiency,--from the very beginning a number of auxiliary
hypotheses attached themselves.

Darwin's theory sounds so clear and simple, and seems at first blush so
luminous that it is no wonder if many careful naturalists regarded it
as an incontrovertible truth. The warning voice of the more prudent men
of science was silenced by the loud enthusiasm of the younger
generation over the solution of the greatest of the world-problems: the
genesis of living beings had been brought to light, and--a thing which
admitted of no doubt--man as well as the brute creation was a product
of purely natural evolution. The doctrine which materialism had already
proclaimed with prophetic insight, had at length been irrefragably
established on a scientific basis: God, Soul and Immortality were
contemptuously relegated to the domain of nursery tales. What further
use was there for a God when, in addition to the Kant-Laplacian theory
of the origin of the planetary system, it had been discovered that
living organisms had likewise evolved spontaneously? How could man who
had sprung from the irrational brute possess a soul? And thus, finally,
disappeared the third delusion, the hope of immortality. For with death
the functions of the body simply cease, as also do those of the brain,
which people had foolishly believed to be something more than an
aggregation of atoms. The body dissolves into its constituent elements
and serves in its turn to build up other organisms: but as a human body
it all turns to dust nor 'leaves a wrack behind'. Thus Darwinism was
made the basis first for a materialistic, and then for a monistic, view
of the world, and hence came to be rigorously opposed to every form of
Theism. But since, at that time, Darwinism was the only theory of
evolution recognized by the world of science, the opposition of the
Christian world was directed not specifically against Darwinism, but
against the theory of evolution as such. The wheat was rooted up with
the tares.

I will not discuss here which of the two views concerning creation; the
origin of the world in one moment of time, or a gradual evolution of
the world and its potentialities, is the more worthy of the creative
power of God. Manifestly the greatness and magnificence of creation
will in no way be compromised by the concept of evolution. This, of
course, is simply my opinion. Any further statement would be out of
place here.

But what is the Darwinian position?

It is merely a special form of the evolutionary theory, one of the
various attempts to explain how the process of development actually
took place. Darwinism as understood in the following chapters possesses
the following characteristic traits:

(1) Evolution began and continues without the aid or intervention of a

(2) In the production of Variations there is no definite law; Chance
reigns supreme.

(3) There is no indication of purpose or finality to be detected
anywhere in the evolutionary process.

(4) The working factor in evolution is Egoism, a war of each against
his fellows: this is the predominating principle which manifests itself
in Nature.

(5) In this struggle the strongest, fleetest and most cunning will
always prevail, (the Darwinian term "fittest" has been the innocent
source of a great deal of error).

(6) Man, whether you regard his body or his mind, is nothing but a
highly developed animal.

A careful examination of Darwinism shows that these are the necessary
presuppositions, or, if you will, the inevitable consequences of that
theory. To accept that theory is to repudiate the Christian view of the
world. The truth of the above propositions is utterly incompatible, not
only with any religious views, but with our civil and social principles
as well.

The most patent facts of man's moral life, however, cannot be explained
on any such hypothesis, and the logic of events has already shown that
Darwinism could never have won general acceptance but for the
incautious enthusiasm of youth which intoxicated the minds of the
rising generation of naturalists and incapacitated them for the
exercise of sober judgment. To show that there is among contemporary
men of science a healthy reaction against Darwinism is the object of
this treatise.

The reader may now ask, What, then, is your idea of evolution? It
certainly is easier to criticise than to do constructive work. An
honest study of nature, however, inevitably leads us to the conclusion
that the final solution of the problem is still far distant. Many a
stone has already been quarried for the future edifice of evolution by
unwearied research during the last four decades. But in opposition to
Darwinism it may, at the present time, be confidently asserted that any
future doctrine of evolution will have to be constructed on the
following basic principles:

(1) All evolution is characterized by finality; it proceeds according
to a definite plan, and tends to a definite end.

(2) Chance and disorder find no place in Nature; every stage of the
evolutionary process is the result of law-controlled factors.

(3) Egoism and struggle among living organisms are of very subordinate
importance in comparison with co-operation and social action.

(4) The soul of man is an independent substance, and entirely
unintelligible as a mere higher stage of development of animal

A theory of evolution, however, resting on these principles cannot
dispense with a Creator and Conserver of the world and of life.


"It was a happy day that people threw off the straight-jacket of logic
and the burdensome fetters of strict method, and mounting the
light-caparisoned steed of philosophic science, soared into the
empyrean, high above the laborious path of ordinary mortals. One may
not take offense if even the most sedate citizen, for the sake of a
change, occasionally kicks over the traces, provided only that he
returns in due time to his wonted course. And now in the domain of
Biology, one is led to think that the time has at length arrived for
putting an end to mad masquerade pranks and for returning without
reserve to serious and sober work, to find satisfaction therein." With
these words did the illustrious Wigand, twenty-five years ago, conclude
the preface to the third volume of his large classical work against
Darwinism. True, he did not at that time believe that the mad campaign
of Darwinism had already ended to its own detriment, but he always
predicted with the greatest confidence that the struggle would soon
terminate in victory for the anti-Darwinian camp. When Wigand closed
his eyes in death in 1896, he was able to bear with him the
consciousness that the era of Darwinism was approaching its end, and
that he had been in the right.

Today, at the dawn of the new century, nothing is more certain than
that Darwinism has lost its prestige among men of science. It has seen
its day and will soon be reckoned a thing of the past. A few decades
hence when people will look back upon the history of the doctrine of
Descent, they will confess that the years between 1860 and 1880 were in
many respects a time of carnival; and the enthusiasm which at that time
took possession of the devotees of natural science will appear to them
as the excitement attending some mad revel.

A justification of our hope that Wigand's warning prediction will
finally be fulfilled is to be found in the fact that to-day the younger
generation of naturalists is departing more and more from Darwinism. It
is a fact worthy of special mention that the opposition to Darwinism
to-day comes chiefly from the ranks of the zoologists, whereas thirty
years ago large numbers of zoologists from Jena associated themselves
with the Darwinian school, hoping to find there a full and satisfactory
solution for the profoundest enigmas of natural science.

The cause of this reaction is not far to seek. There was at the time a
whole group of enthusiastic Darwinians among the university professors,
Haeckel leading the van, who clung to that theory so tenaciously and
were so zealous in propagating it, that for a while it seemed
impossible for a young naturalist to be anything but a Darwinian. Then
the inevitable reaction gradually set in. Darwin himself died, the
Darwinians of the sixties and seventies lost their pristine ardor, and
many even went beyond Darwin. Above all, calm reflection took the place
of excited enthusiasm. As a result it has become more and more apparent
that the past forty years have brought to light nothing new that is of
any value to the cause of Darwinism. This significant fact has aroused
doubts as to whether after all Darwinism can really give a satisfactory
explanation of the genesis of organic forms.

The rising generation is now discovering what discerning scholars had
already recognized and stated a quarter of a century ago. They are also
returning to a study of the older opponents of Darwinism, especially of
Wigand. It is only now, many years after his death, that a tribute has
been paid to this distinguished savant which unfortunately was
grudgingly withheld during his life. One day recently there was laid
before his monument in the Botanical Garden of Marburg a laurel-wreath
with the inscription: "To the great naturalist, philosopher and man."
It came from a young zoologist at Vienna who had thoroughly mastered
Wigand's great anti-Darwinian work, an intelligent investigator who had
set to work in the spirit of Wigand. Another talented zoologist, Hans
Driesch, dedicates to the memory of Wigand two books in rapid
succession and reprehends the contemporaries of that master of science
for ignoring him. O. Hammann abandons Darwinism for an internal
principle of development. W. Haacke openly disavows Darwinism; and even
at the convention of naturalists in 1897, L. Wilser was allowed to
assert without contradiction that, "anyone who has committed himself to
Darwinism can no longer be ranked as a naturalist."

These are all signs which clearly indicate a radical revolution, and
they are all the more significant since it is the younger generation,
which will soon take the lead, that thinks and speaks in this manner.
But it is none the less noteworthy that the younger naturalists are not
alone in this movement. Many of the older men of science are swelling
the current. We shall recall here only the greatest of those whom we
might mention in this connection.

Julius von Sachs, the most gifted and brilliant botanist of the last
century, who unfortunately is no longer among us, was in the sixties an
outspoken Darwinian, as is evident especially from his History of
Botany and from the first edition of his Handbook of Botany. Soon,
however, Sachs began to incline toward the position assumed by Naegeli;
and as early as 1877, Wigand, in the third volume of his great work,
expressed the hope that Sachs would withdraw still further from
Darwinism. As years went by, Sachs drifted more and more from his
earlier position, and Wigand was of opinion that to himself should be
ascribed the credit of bringing about the change. During his last years
Sachs had become bitterly opposed to Darwinism, and in his masterly
"Physiological Notes" he took a firm stand on the "internal factors of

During recent years I had the pleasure of occasional correspondence
with Sachs. On the 16th of September, 1896, he wrote me: For more than
twenty years I have recognized that if we are to build up a strictly
scientific theory of organic structural processes, we must separate the
doctrine of Descent from Darwinism. It was with this intention that he
worked during the last years of his life and it is to be hoped that his
school will continue his researches with this aim in view.

The tendency among naturalists to return to Wigand is well exemplified
in an article contributed to the "Preussischen Jahrbuecher" for
January, 1897, by Dr. Karl Camillo Schneider, assistant at the
zoological Institute of the University of Vienna. This article which is
entitled The Origin of Species, pursues Wigand's train of thought
throughout, and whole sentences and even paragraphs are taken verbatim
from his main work. This, at all events, is a very instructive
indication of the present tendency which deserves prominence: and its
significance becomes more evident when we recall how the work of Wigand
was received by the non-christian press a quarter of a century ago. It
was either ridiculed or ignored. The two methods of treatment were
applied to his writings which are always readily employed when the
critic has nothing pertinent to say. It is interesting to note that
Darwin himself employed this method. Wigand once told me that he had
sent Darwin a copy of his work and had addressed a letter to him at the
same time merely stating that he had sent the book, making no reference
to the line of thought contained in it. Darwin answered immediately in
the kindest manner that he had not as yet received the book, but when
it arrived he would at once make a careful study of its contents.
Darwin did not write to him again, and when a new edition of his works
appeared, the work of Wigand, the most comprehensive answer to Darwin
ever written, was passed over without even a passing mention. Thus
Darwin completely ignored his keenest antagonist.

As has been said, the majority of those who wrote about Wigand
ridiculed him: very few regarded him seriously, and even these indulged
chiefly in personal recriminations. Thus matters stood twenty-five
years ago. Wigand's prediction passed unheeded. That a periodical not
having a specifically Christian circle of readers should now publish a
condemnation of Darwinism entirely in accordance with the views of
Wigand, is a fact which indicates a notable change of sentiment during
the intervening years. I should not be at all astonished if many who
sneered at Wigand twenty years ago, now read the article in the
Preussischen Jahrbuecher with entire approval. Ill-will towards Wigand
has not altogether disappeared even to-day. This is evident from the
fact that as yet Dr. Schneider does not venture to defend Wigand
publicly, nor to acknowledge him as his principal authority. We must be
content, however, if only, the truth will finally prevail.


Striking testimony relative to the present position of Darwinism is
borne by the Strasburg zoologist, Dr. Goette, who has won fame by his
invaluable labors as an historian of evolutionary theory. In the
"Umschau," No. 5, 1898, he discusses the "Present Status of Darwinism,"
and the conclusions he arrives at, are identical with mine. At the
outset Goette indicates the distinction between Darwinism and the
doctrine of Descent, and then points out that the distinguishing
features of the former consist not so much in the three facts of
Heredity, Variation, and Over-production, but rather in Selection,
Survival of the Fittest, and also in that mystical theory of
heredity--the doctrine of Pangenesis--which is peculiarly Darwinian.
Since this theory of Pangenesis has found no adherents, the question
may henceforth be restricted to the doctrine of natural selection. This
Goette very well observes.

He points, moreover, to the fact that the misgivings that were
entertained concerning the doctrine of natural selection on its first
appearance, were, on the whole, precisely the same as they are to-day;
only with this difference, that formerly they were disregarded by
naturalists whose clearness of vision was obscured by excessive
enthusiasm; whereas, to-day men have again returned to their sober
senses and lend their attention more readily to objections.

Goette recalls the fact that M. Wagner tried to supplement natural
selection with his "Law of Migration," and that later on, Romanes and
Gulick endeavored to supply the evident deficiencies in Darwin's
theory, by invoking other principles; and that even at that time,
Askenasy, Braun, and Naegeli--and more recently, the lately deceased
Eimer--insisted on the fact of definitely ordered variations, in
opposition to the theory of Selection.

Many naturalists recognize the difficulties but do not abandon the
theory of Selection, thinking that some supplementary principle would
suffice to make it acceptable: many others refuse to decide either for
or against Darwinism and maintain towards it an attitude of
indifference. The younger investigators, however, are utterly opposed
to it. "There can be no doubt that since its first appearance the
influence of Darwinism on men's minds has notably diminished, although
the theory has not been entirely discarded."--But the very fact that
the younger naturalists are hostile to it, makes it evident that
Darwinism has a still darker future in store for it: that sooner or
later it will come to possess a merely historical interest.

"The present position of Darwinism," says Goette, "is characterized
especially by the uncertainty of criticism which is unable to declare
definitely in favor of either side." Goette finds the chief cause of
this uncertainty in the fact "that men of science (even Darwin himself)
have widened the concept of selection as a means of originating new
species through the interaction of individuals in the same species, so
as to express the mutually antagonistic relations existing between
several such species." The latter alone is subject to experimental
verification, but it can only cause the isolation of existing forms and
is not a species-originating selection--with which alone we are here
concerned. This kind of selection can enfeeble the existing flora and
fauna, but cannot produce a new species. Selection productive of new
species "is not actually demonstrable; it is a purely theoretical

Goette next points out that the investigator is everywhere confronted
by definitely-directed variation: a fact which does not harmonize with
the theory of selection, nor, consequently with Darwinism. If some
scientists have not as yet accepted Eimer's presentation of this
doctrine, their action is most probably to be attributed to the fear
lest "they should have to accept not merely, variation according to
definite laws, but likewise a principle of finality and other causes
lying beyond the range of scientific investigation." The rejection of
the theory of selection often promotes, as Goette rightly observes, a
reactionary tendency towards _a priori_ explanations of phenomena
with which we are but slightly acquainted. "There are naturalists who
do not discard the theory of selection simply because it seems to
furnish a much-desired mechanical explanation of purposive adaptions"
(a momentous admission to which we shall have occasion to revert).

Others have broken entirely with selection and the principle of utility
and extend the idea of finality to the general capacity of organisms to
persist. Thus adaptation becomes a principle which transcends the
limits of natural science and pervades the whole domain of life. Goette
observes that Darwin spoke of useful, less useful and indifferent
organisms, by which he meant those adaptations destined for particular
vital functions which tend to make the organs more and more
specialized. Since the ability to live is threatened by this
specialization it cannot be purposive. This is not wholly true, because
the more specialized the individual organ becomes, the more perfect is
the whole organism which is composed of these specialized organs. The
functions of the individual organ may be restricted, but the power of
the entire organism is notably increased, according to the law of the
division of labor. Goette therefore has not sufficient grounds for
rejecting this expression. He considers that a real and permanent
purpose for the individual living forms is out of the question, but
that this purpose may be sought for in the development and history of
the collective life of nature. Definitely ordered variation, he thinks,
a scientific explanation of which is indeed yet forthcoming, will
explain adaptation equally as well as does selection. After what has
been said this statement of Goette must come as a surprise, for one
would think that according to his view definite variation explains
adaptations better than selection. Goette sums up his main conclusion
in the following words: "The doctrine of Heredity or of Descent, which
comes from Lamarck though it was first made widely known by Darwin, has
since continually gained a broader and surer foundation. But Darwin's
own doctrine regarding the causes and process of Descent which alone
can be called Darwinism, has on the other hand doubtlessly waned in
influence and prestige."

This is exactly what we also maintain: The establishment of the theory
of Descent in general, and the continual retrogression of Darwinism in
particular. Wigand was entirely right when he said that Darwinism would
not live beyond the century.

We may, however, derive from the discussions of Goette something else
that is of the highest importance, namely, an admission in which is to
be found the real and fundamental explanation of the conduct of the
majority of naturalists who still cling to Darwinism. It does not
consist in the fact that they are convinced of the truth of Darwinism
but in their "reluctance to give up the mechanical explanation of
finality proposed by Darwin," or rather in the fear of being driven to
the recognition of theistic principles. With commendable candor Goette
attacks this method of keeping up a system notwithstanding its
recognized deficiencies. Goette furthermore points out especially that
this recognition is more widespread than one might be able to gather
from occasional discussions on the subject.

From the account which Goette gives of the present status of Darwinism
we may safely conclude that Darwinism had entered upon a period of
decay; it is in the third stage of a development through which many a
scientific doctrine has already passed.

The four stages of this development are the following:

1. The incipient stage: A new doctrine arises, the older
representatives of the science oppose it partly because of keener
insight and greater experience, partly also from indolence, not wishing
to allow themselves to be drawn out of their accustomed equilibrium;
among the younger generation there arises a growing sentiment in favor
of the new doctrine.

2. The stage of growth: the new doctrine continually gains greater
favor among the young generation, finding vent in bursts of enthusiasm;
some of the cautious seniors have passed away, others are carried along
by the stream of youthful enthusiasm in spite of better knowledge, and
the voices of the thoughtful are no longer heard in the general uproar,
exultingly proclaiming that to live is bliss.

3. The period of decay: the joyous enthusiasm has vanished; depression
succeeds intoxication. Now that the young men have themselves grown
older and become more sober, many things appear in a different light.
The doubts already expressed by the old and prudent during the stage of
growth are now better appreciated and gradually increase in weight.
Many become indifferent, the present younger generation becomes
perplexed and discards the theory entirely.

4. The final stage: the last adherents of the "new doctrine" are dead
or at least old and have ceased to be influential, they sit upon the
ruins of a grandeur that even now belongs to the "good old time." The
influential and directing spirits have abandoned this doctrine, once so
important and seemingly invincible, for the consideration of living
issues and the younger generation regards it as an interesting episode
in the history of science.

With reference to Darwinism we are in the third stage which is
characterized especially by the indifference of the present middle-aged
generation and by growing opposition on the part of the younger coming
generation. This very characteristic feature is brought into prominence
by the discussion of Goette. If all signs, however, are not deceptive,
this third stage, that of decay, is drawing to an end; soon we shall
enter the final stage and with that the tragic-comedy of Darwinism will
be brought to a close.

If some one were to ask me how according to the count of years, I
should determine the extent of the individual stages of Darwinism, this
would be my answer:

1. The incipient stage extends from 1859 (the year during which
Darwin's principal work, _The Origin of Species_, appeared) to the
end of the sixties.

2. The stage of growth: from that time, for about 20 years, to the end
of the eighties.

3. The stage of decay: from that time on to about the year 1900.

4. The final stage: the first decade of the new century.

I am not by choice a prophet, least of all regarding the weather. But I
think it may not be doubted that the fine weather, at least, has passed
for Darwinism. So having carefully scanned the firmament of science for
signs of the weather, I shall for once make a forecast for Darwinism,
namely: Increasing cloudiness with heavy precipitations, indications of
a violent storm, which threatens to cause the props of the structure to
totter, and to sweep it from the scene.


As further witnesses to the passing of Darwinism, two botanists may be
cited; the first is Professor Korschinsky who in No. 24, 1899, of the
_Naturwissenschaftliche Wochenschrift_ published an article on
"Heterogenesis and Evolution," which was to be followed later by a
large work on this subject. With precision and emphasis he points to
the numerous instances in which there occurs on or in a plant, suddenly
and without intervention, a variation which may become hereditary under
certain circumstances; thus during the last century a number of
varieties of garden plants have been evolved. On the basis of such
experiments Korschinsky developed the theory which had been proposed by
Koelliker in Wuerzburg thirty years earlier, namely, the theory of
"heterogeneous production" or "heterogenesis," as Korschinsky calls it.
When one understands that a plant gives rise suddenly and without any
intervention to a grain of seed, which produces a different plant, it
becomes evident that all Darwinistic speculations about selection and
struggle for existence are forthwith absolutely excluded. The effect
can proceed only from the internal vital powers inherent in the
specified organism acting in connection, perhaps, with the internal
conditions of life, which suddenly exert an influence in a new

Korschinsky distinguishes clearly and definitely between the principles
of Heterogenesis and Transmutation (gradual transformation through
natural selection in the struggle for existence), and in so doing comes
to a complete denial of Darwinism.

The other naturalist who has dealt Darwinism a telling blow is the
botanist of Graz, Professor Haberlandt.

He published some very interesting observations and experiments in the
"Festschrift fuer Schwendener" (Berlin 1899, Borntraeger). They are
concerned with a Liane javas of the family of mulberry plants
(Conocephalus ovatus.) The free leaves possess under the outer layer, a
tissue composed of large, thin-walled, water-storing cells; flat
cavities on the upper side, having, furthermore, organs that secrete
water, which the botanist calls hydathodes. These are delicate, small,
glandular cells over which are the bundles of vascular fibres
(leaf-veins) that convey the water to them; over these in the top layer
are so-called water-crevices through which the water can force itself
to the outside. It is unnecessary to enter upon a closer explanation of
the anatomical structure of these peculiar organs. The water which is
forced upward by the root-pressure of the plant is naturally conveyed
through the vascular fibres into the leaves and at every hydathode the
superfluous water oozes out in drops, a phenomenon which one can also
very nicely observe e.g. on the "Lady's cloak" (Alchemilla vulgaris) of
the German flora. A portion of the night-dew must be attributed to this
secretion of water. On the Liane, then, Haberlandt observed a very
considerable secretion of water: a full-grown leaf secreted during one
night 2.76 g. of water (that is 26 per cent. of its own weight.)
Through this peculiarity the water supply within the plant is regulated
and the danger avoided that any water should penetrate the surrounding
tissue in consequence of strong root-pressure,--which would naturally
obstruct the vital function of the entire leaf. Besides it is to be
noticed that in this way an abundant flow of water is produced: the
plant takes up large quantities of water from the earth, laden with
nutritive salts, and the distilled water is almost pure (it contains
only 0.045 g. salts), so that the nutritive salts are absorbed by the

From these considerations it necessarily appears that the hydathodes
are of great biological importance to the plant.

Haberlandt then "poisoned" the plant, by sprinkling it with a 0.1 per
cent sublimate solution of alcohol. The purpose of this experiment was
to ascertain whether in the secretion of water there was question of a
merely physical process or of a vital process. In the first case the
action of the hydathode should continue even after the treatment with
the sublimate solution, while in the latter case it should not. As the
secretion ceased the obvious conclusion to be deduced from this
experiment is that the hydathodes do not act as purely mechanical
filtration-apparatuses, as one might have thought, but that there is
here evidence of an active vital process in the plant; the unusual term
"poisoning" is therefore really justified under present circumstances.

Let me dwell for a moment on this result, for, although it may be
somewhat foreign to our present purpose and to the further observations
of Haberlandt, it is very significant in itself. The water moves in the
plant in closed cells, as the cells of the aqueous gland are entirely
closed, but the organic membrane, as every one knows, has the peculiar
physical property of allowing water to pass through, the pressure, of
course, being applied on the side of least resistance; when therefore
the water is forced into the cells by root-pressure, it is easily
intelligible that according to purely physical laws it should come to
the surface of the leaf on the side of the least resistance, that is,
by way of the water-crevices. Even the defenders of "vital force" would
not find any reason in this for not considering the phenomenon of
distillation in this case a purely physical phenomenon. And still
according to Haberlandt's experiments it is not. The sublimate could at
most only impede the process of filtration, but should under no
circumstances have destroyed it. But it does destroy it, and the
hydathode dies. The conclusion certainly follows from this that this
process is connected with some vital function. Even if the hydathode is
treated with sublimate solution, all the conditions for mechanical
filtration still remain: the earth has moisture which can be taken up
by the roots so that root-pressure still exists. The water is in all
cases conveyed to the hydathodes through the vascular fibres, the cell
walls of the hydathodes are still adapted for filtration, and yet they
do not filter. Hence some other factor must join itself to the
physico-mechanical process of filtration and affect or destroy it, and
this factor can be found only in the protoplasm, the vital element of
the cells; for we know that the sublimate acts with pernicious effect
on it and in such a manner that it destroys its entire power of
reaction; it kills it, as we say.

The experiment under discussion has, therefore, great significance for
our view of the vital processes in the plant; it proves beyond doubt
that these processes are in no way of a purely mechanical nature, but
that there is something underlying all this, a hitherto inexplicable
something, which we call "life." In all vital activities, physical and
chemical processes certainly do occur; they do not, however, take place
spontaneously but are made use of by the vital element of the plant to
produce an effect that is desirable or necessary for the vital activity
of the plant. If the vital element is dead, no matter how favorable the
conditions may be for chemical and physical processes, these do not
take place and the effect necessary for life is not obtained. It is
very remarkable after all that according to the experiment of
Haberlandt this peculiar relation should become apparent in a process
that is so open to our investigation as the filtration of water through
the cell-wall of a plant.

After what has been said I consider this simple experiment of
Haberlandt of great significance; for it is a direct proof of the
existence of a vital force. One may resist to his heart's content, but
without avail; vital force is again finding its way into science. More
and more cognizance is being taken of the fact that 60 and 70 years ago
people jumped at conclusions very imprudently when they believed that
the first artificial preparation of organic matter (urea, by Woehler)
had proven the non-existence of a vital force. Since then there has
been great rejoicing in the camp of materialists who scoffed at the
"ignorant" who would not as yet forsake vital force. "Behold," they
said, "in the chemist's retort the same matter is produced chemically
that is produced in the body of the animal, without the direction of a
hidden vital force, which, if it is not necessary in the one case,
neither is it necessary in the other." Any one who had given the matter
careful consideration could even at that time have known where the
"ignorant" really were. That in both cases chemical processes take
place is clear and undisputed, but the materialists forgot entirely
that even in the laboratory it was not the mere contact of the elements
that produced the urea; a chemist was needed and in this case not any
one arbitrarily chosen, but a man of the genius and knowledge of a
Woehler to watch over the process, and utilize and partly direct the
laws of chemistry in order to obtain the desired result. Hence it was
even then absurd to deny vital force as a consequence of that
experiment. Since, however, it was well-adapted for materialistic
purposes, this denial was proclaimed with the sound of trumpet
throughout the land, and repeated again and again with surprising
tenacity, with the result that even thoughtful investigators rejected
vital force almost universally in the seventies and eighties.

It has always been a problem to me how this could have happened. It
can, indeed, be explained only on the supposition that naturalists were
adverse to the introduction of anything into nature, that appeared to
them mystical and mysterious. Nor is such a procedure at all necessary:
vital force is by no means a mysterious, ghostly power that soars above
nature, but a force of nature like its other forces, as mysterious and
as definite as they are, only that it dominates a specified group of
beings, namely, living organisms. It may readily be compared with any
other natural phenomenon. For instance, the phenomenon of crystallization
has its well determined sphere of activity, viz., the mineral world. It
employs definite mathematico-physical laws to obtain a specified
result, and even acts differently in different mineral substances in so
far as it produces in the one case this, in the other case that form;
but still it should be a similarly directed force which has the effect
of producing these peculiar forms. Precisely similar is it with vital
force. It has its determined sphere of activity, the kingdom of living
organisms; it acts according to definite physico-chemical laws in
producing a specified result; it acts differently in different living
organisms; it is therefore a force of nature as clear yet as mysterious
as the force of crystallization or as any other force of nature. Hence
one has no cause to complain of its mysteriousness, for all other
forces of nature are just as much, or if you will, just as little
mysterious as vital force. The only thing to be maintained is this,
that living organisms are dominated by a special force with special
phenomena and special activities, even as in mineral substances there
is a special dominant force which produces special phenomena and
exercises special activities.

It is possible to produce crystals in the laboratory, but no one will
be so foolish as to maintain that in nature crystals are not formed in
consequence of a very definite force inherent in the mineral-substances;
nor will any one deny the existence of the force of crystallization
because it does not appear in living organisms.

Nor have I ever despaired of a return of the theory of vital force. A
change of opinion has really taken place during this decade; at present
the voices for a vital force are constantly growing stronger and it
will most probably not be very long before it will be again universally
recognized, not as something preternatural, of course, but as a force
of nature on an equal footing with the other forces of nature, with
activities, just as mysterious and just as well-attested as the
activities of the other forces of nature.

Haberlandt's experiment, however, had also an indirect consequence that
is of far-reaching importance. He observed that within a few days new
water-secreting organs of an entirely different structure and of
different origin were formed on the leaves that had been sprinkled with
sublimate. Over the bundles of vascular fibres, little knots as large
as a pin head arose in larger numbers out of a tissue underlying the
top layer; out of these the water now oozed every morning. Closer
investigation disclosed the fact that these organs develop only on
young immature leaves where groups of peculiar, perishable gland-hairs
are found; beneath these dead mucous glands the substitute secretive
organs originate in the inner tissue. It is of no importance to state
in what particular cells they originate.

Suffice it to say that they are colorless capillary tubes originating
in various cells; projecting like the hairs of a brush, containing
living protoplasm and evanescent chlorophyll. It is also important
to note that this new organ is immediately connected with the
water-conducting system consisting of bundles of vascular fibres.
Haberlandt furthermore indicates especially that these organs when
viewed in connection with the process of secretion give evidence of an
active vital principle as well as of simple mechanical filtration.

These substitute organs are all indeed well adapted to their purpose
and adequately replace the old secretive organs, but they so easily dry
out and are so little protected that after a week they become parched
and die because wound-cork forms under them. The leaf no longer
produces new hydathodes, but on its lower side it produces growths that
function as vesicles, by means of which it continues to sustain itself.

Haberlandt furthermore records a phenomenon perhaps analogous to this
on the grape-vine, but with this exception the case described by him is
unique. In order to pass any further judgment regarding it, we should
have to ascertain whether the whole phenomenon is not a case of
so-called adaptation; if so, processes should be found in nature,
analogous to the poisoning of the hydathodes in this experiment, which
result in the destruction of the hydathodes so that in consequence the
plant would have gained the power of making good the loss, by means of
the substitute organs. Such processes, however, (even through poisoning
or through parasites) would be very highly improbable. Equally
incredible is the alternative possibility that the new organs would be
produced by the plant not as a substitute but as a supplementary
apparatus when the old ones would not suffice for secretion in case of
very large absorption of water. This also must doubtlessly be rejected,
as Haberlandt has observed.

Powers of adaptation should, of course, according to Darwinism, be
gradually acquired in the struggle for existence, as in that case they
should also have stability; but since this is not possessed by the new
organs, the presumption is that they do not possess the character of
adaptation. They are therefore new organs that originated after an
entirely unnatural and unforeseen interference with the normal vital
functions and in consequence of a self-regulating activity of the

What then is there in the whole phenomenon worthy of notice with regard
to the theory of Descent?

1. An immediately well adapted new organ has here originated very
suddenly without any previous incipient formation, without gradual
perfection and without stages of transition.

2. In its formation struggle for existence and natural selection are
entirely excluded, neither can find any application whatever even
according to the newer exposition of Weismann. Haberlandt himself draws
this conclusion.

3. If this phenomenon of a suddenly appearing change can take place in
the course of the development of the individual, there can be no
obvious reason why it should not take place in the same manner (without
natural selection or struggle for existence) in the course of the
phylogenetic development.

It is manifestly of the greatest importance that in this case a direct,
experimental proof has been given that an organ has originated suddenly
and without the aid of Darwinian principles. Haberlandt's article is
nothing less than a complete renunciation of Darwinism on the part of
Haberlandt, a renunciation which we greet with great satisfaction.

In fact one such observation would really suffice to set aside
Darwinism and prove the utter insufficiency of its principles to give
explanation of the origin of natural species. On the other hand, this
observation plainly proves two things: first, that the above mentioned
doctrine of Koelliker, now held by Korschinsky is a move in the right
direction for the discovery of the causes of descent; and secondly,
that the principal cause of the evolution is not to be sought in
environment and blind forces but in the systematically working,
internal vital principle in plants and animals. With that, however, an
important part of the foundation of the mechanical-materialistic view
of the world is demolished.


Since we have heard the verdict of zoologists and botanists concerning
Darwinism, it is but right that we should now listen to a
palaeontologist, a representative of the science, which investigates
the petrified records of the earth's surface, and strives to collect
information regarding the world of life during remote, by-gone ages of
the earth. It is evident to every-one that the verdict of this science
must be of very special importance in passing on the question of the
development of living organisms. Darwin himself recognized this at the
outset. He and his followers, however, soon perceived that, while the
revelations of palaeontology were on the whole favorable to the
doctrine of Descent, in so far as they proved the gradual change of
organization, in consecutive strata, from the simple to more complex
forms, palaeontology revealed nothing that would sustain the Darwinian
theory as to the method of that development. As soon as the Darwinians,
and first of all Darwin himself, perceived this, they at once brought
forward a very cheap subterfuge. Since Darwinism postulates a very
gradual, uninterrupted development of living organisms, there must have
been an immense number of transition-forms between any two animal or
plant species which to-day, although otherwise related, are separated
by characteristic features. Consequently, on the Darwinian hypothesis,
all of these transition-forms must have perished for the singular
reason that other better organized forms overcame them in the struggle
for existence. If therefore the millions of transition-forms were still
missing, and the known petrified forms of older strata of the earth did
not reveal them, the Darwinians were able to console themselves until
from 20 to 40 years ago, with the assertion that our knowledge was
still too deficient, that a more thorough investigation of the earth's
surface and especially of out-of-the-way parts would eventually bring
to light the supposed transition forms. Such assertion affords very
poor consolation, and is anything but scientific. The method of natural
science consists in establishing general principles on the basis of the
materials actually furnished by experiments and observation and not in
excogitating general laws and then consoling oneself with the thought
that while our knowledge of nature is as yet extremely imperfect, time
will furnish the actual material necessary to substantiate our guesses.
But since then many a year has come and gone and Darwinism has caused,
and for that alone it deserves credit, a diligent research in every
field of natural science, and has promoted among palaeontologists a
search for the missing transition-forms. The materials of investigation
from the field of palaeontology have also wonderfully increased during
these decades. Hence it is worth while now at the dawn of the new
century to examine this material with a view to its availableness for
the theory of Descent and especially for Darwinism.

Professor Steinmann has recently done so in Freiburg in Breisgau, on
the occasion of an address as Rector of the University. What
conclusions did he reach?

Steinmann declares it to be the primary task of post-Darwinian
palaeontology "to arrange the fossil animal and plant-remains in the
order of descent and thus to build up a truly natural, because
historically demonstrable, classification of the animal and
plant-world." At the outset it is to be noted that for various reasons
palaeontology is unable to execute this momentous task in its full
extent. The evidence of palaeontology is deficient, if for no other
reason than that many animal organisms could not be preserved at all on
account of their soft bodies; many animal groups have, nevertheless,
received an unusual increase (mollusks, radiata, fish, saurians,
vertebrates, and dendroid plants).

As regards the attempt made in the sixties to draw up lines of descent,
Steinmann repudiates, without, of course, mentioning names, the family
tree constructed by Haeckel and his associates as wholly hypothetical
and hence unjustified; he rightly remarks that their method smacks of
the closet. He finds fault with them chiefly because they predicated
actuality of this imaginary family-tree and fancied that the historical
research of the future would have but isolated facts to establish.

In speaking of the palaeontological research of the last few decades,
Steinmann says: "In the light of recent research, fossil discoveries
have frequently appeared less intelligible and more ambiguous than
before, and in those cases in which an attempt has been made to bring
the descent-system into agreement with the actual facts, the
incongruity between the two has become obvious." Thus, for instance,
the well-known archaeopteryx is not, as was maintained, a connecting
link between reptile and bird, but a member of a blindly ending side
branch. In fact palaeontological research has proven incapable of
finding the transitions between different species, clearly determined
by the theory. But the overwhelming abundance of matter called for new
endeavors to master it. It was then further discovered--Steinmann finds
an illustration of this fact in the echinodermata--that the well-known
"fundamental law of biogenesis" of Haeckel can be accepted only in a
very restricted sense and may even lead to conclusions absolutely
false. We desire to remark here that a "fundamental principle" should
never mislead; if it does so, it is not a fundamental principle.

It is of importance to know that according to palaeontological
investigation, empiric systematizing and phylogenetic classification do
not always coincide, as, for instance, in the case of the ammonites.
Acording to palaeontological investigation the great systematic
categories are only grades of organization. Hence present day
systematizing is being more and more discarded, and the said
categories--as indeed also the lesser groups of forms--must be of
polyphyletic origin, that is, they must have descended from different
primitive stocks. It may be asked: What bearing has this principle of
multiple origins? For a long time reptiles were the predominating
vertebrates; when mammals and birds appeared, numerous, varied and
strange saurians inhabited land and sea; but "with the end of the
chalk-period most saurians seem to have vanished suddenly from the
scene, and soon we behold the mainlands and oceans inhabited by mammals
of most diverse kinds." The saurians have become almost extinct and the
mammal-tribe suddenly shows a most extraordinary variability and power
of development. How is either phenomenon to be explained?

"The disappearance of a group of organisms has been preferably
explained since the time of Darwin, by defeat in the struggle with
superior competitors. If ever an explanation lacked pertinency, it does
so in this case, in which the succumbing group is represented by
gigantic and well preserved animal forms, widely distributed and
accustomed to the most varied methods of nutrition, whereas the
competitor appears in the form of small, harmless marsupials. It would
be equivalent to a struggle between the elephant and the mouse."

We acknowledge with pleasure this clear rejection of Darwinism on the
part of Steinmann.

Steinmann also rejects the natural extinction of those forms, perhaps
from the weakness of old age; whether he is wholly warranted in doing
so, seems somewhat doubtful. He tries to explain the phenomenon on
the basis of the multiple origin of the mammals; and in fact there
is already speculation regarding triple origin, viz: tambreets,
marsupials, and the other mammals. Now if the latter also possessed a
multiple origin, the problem of the extinction of the saurians would,
according to Steinmann solve itself. One would not need to consider the
number of extinct forms as large as is now done. However, he does not
enter upon any closer consideration of this question. But he points
out, for instance, that to-day the shells of mollusks (snails and
conchylia) are regarded as structures that were acquired only in the
course of time for the sake of protection, the disappearance of which,
therefore, implied a disadvantage for the respective organisms. This
transition would be something extraordinary--"but if on the contrary,
one regards the shells as the necessary products of a special kind of
assimilation and of the immoveableness of certain parts of the body,
the gradual disappearance might well be considered a process which may
take place in various animal-groups with a certain regularity in the
course of the phyletic development." The snails devoid of shells, for
instance, may be derived with certainty from those possessed of shells;
this process has very probably also taken place in different genetic

This view is well worth consideration; it stands in sharp opposition,
in fundamental principles, to the Darwinian explanation. This calls for
special emphasis here. How should one explain the origin of uncrusted
mollusks from crusted ones through the struggle for existence, since in
such a contest the latter must have had far greater prospect of
survival than the former?

This view together with the principle of multiple origin opens up,
according to Steinmann, "the prospect of an altered conception of the
process of formation of the organic world." According to the new
conception, the many extinct forms of antiquity are not, as Darwin
supposed, "unsuccessful attempts and continued aberrations of
nature"--how this reminds one of that old, naive, much-ridiculed idea
that fossils were models that God had discarded as unserviceable--but
would gain new life and assume hitherto unsuspected relationship to the
present organic creation.

"Science, which seeks after operative causes, at the beginning of the
century regarded creation as a multiplicity of phenomena without any
causal connection as to their origin. Darwin taught as a fundamental
principle the unity and the causal inter-relation of creation, but was
not entirely able to save this hypothesis from a violent and sudden
death. In the future sketch creation will appear as wholly restricted
in itself and lasting, the causes of its limitation lie, up to the time
of the intervention of men, solely in the balanced motion of the planet
which it peoples."

At the close of his address Steinmann points out that behind the
problem of the manner of development, there stands "the unsolved
question regarding its operative causes." "Regarding this point," he
continues, "opinions have perhaps never been so divergent as they are
to-day. The times have passed when the Darwinian explanations were
regarded with naive confidence as the alpha and omega of the doctrine
of Descent. Not only are the adherents of Darwinian ideas divided among
themselves, but the theory of Lamarck, somewhat altered, favored by the
results of historical investigation, appears more striking and now
seems more in harmony with facts than formerly. What is considered by
one as the ruling factor in the evolution of organisms is regarded by
another as a "quantite negligeable" or even as the greatest mistake of
the century. In this discord of opinions the principle of Descent alone
forms the stable pole."

Thus Steinmann, and we can but applaud his conclusions with undisguised
pleasure, for they tend throughout in the direction of our anti-Darwinian
view, and deal Darwinism another fatal blow. It is also worthy of
special note that this time the blow is dealt from the side of
palaeontology; for, even if now and again we dissent from Steinmann, in
this we fully agree with him that the historical method of considering
the evidences of bygone periods of creation is at the very least quite
as important for passing correct judgment regarding descent, as is the
investigation of contemporary living organisms. Indeed, family-trees
were constructed without regard for palaeontology, almost exclusively
from an examination of present conditions, and sometimes the author did
not even shrink from falsification. This procedure has been bitterly
revenged and will take further revenge unless at length a definite end
be put to the family-tree nuisance and the respective books instead of
being published anew, be relegated to the lumber-room of science, there
to turn yellow amid dust and cobwebs--the curious evidence of gross
folly. But only have patience, even that time will come.

The conclusions of Steinmann, that are most important for us, may be
summarized as follows:

1. The family and transition forms demanded from palaeontology by
Darwinism for its family-trees, constructed not empirically but _a
priori_, are nowhere to be found among the abundant materials which
palaeontological investigation has already produced.

2. The results of the investigation do not correspond with the family
groups drawn up according to the so-called "biogenetic principle,"
which principle has in fact led men of science into false paths.

3. At best, the biogenetic principle has a limited validity, (we add
that later it will undoubtedly follow Darwinism and its family trees
into the lumber-room).

4. The results of palaeontology, in so far, for instance, as they
testify to the sudden disappearance of the saurians and the advent of
mammals, everywhere contradict the Darwinian principle of the survival
of the fittest in the struggle for existence.

5. "The time has long passed when the Darwinian explanations were
regarded with naive confidence as the alpha and omega of the doctrine
of Descent."

6. Only the principle of Descent is universally recognized; the "how"
of it, its causes, are to-day entirely a matter of dispute.


The strongest evidence of the decay of Darwinism is to be found in the
fact that, since Darwin first enunciated his theory, many and diverse
attempts have been made to explain the origin of species on other
principles. Names of men, like M. Wagner, Naegeli, Wigand, Koelliker,
and Kerner mark these attempts; but of these investigators Naegeli
alone proposed a well-developed hypothesis. Finally, however, Eimer,
professor of zoology in Tuebingen came forward with a detailed theory
of Descent. As early as 1888 he published a comprehensive work dealing
with it, under the title: "The Origin of Species by Means of the
Transmission of Acquired Characters According to the Laws of Organic
Growth." As the title itself indicates, a very marked divergence was
even at that time manifesting itself between Eimer and his former
teacher and friend, the great defender of Darwinism in Germany, Aug.
Weismann, professor of zoology in Freiburg in Breisgau. For, while the
latter vigorously attacks the transmission of acquired characters,
Eimer's whole theory is founded on this very transmission. Observations
regarding the coloring of animals, in fact, form the basis of Eimer's

Eimer attributes the origin of species to "organic growth" by which he
means not merely increase in size, but also change of form, etc. This
growth does not proceed blindly or aimlessly, but proceeds on rigidly
determined lines, which depend upon the structure and constitution of
the particular organism. External influences, however, also affect it.
Eimer specially emphasizes four points in this connection: 1. This
rigidly determined development of a character exhibits well defined,
regular stages, and the evolution of each individual repeats the whole
series of transformations (the Mueller-Haeckel "biogenetic-law.") 2.
New characters are first acquired by strong adult males (the law of
male dominance). 3. New characters appear on definite parts of the
body, spreading especially from the rear to the front, (the law of
undulation). 4. Varieties are stages in the process of development,
through which all the individuals of the respective species must pass.

These points indicate how important for Eimer is the transmission of
those characters which the parents themselves have acquired in the
course of their own development. He conceives that this transmission
takes place when the causative influences exert themselves permanently
on many succeeding generations. Eimer thinks that in this way the
constitution of the respective species is gradually transformed.
Besides the effect of external influences (which may vary according to
the climate, etc.: Geoffroy St. Hilaire), Eimer mentions as important
and active factors in this development, (1). The use and disuse of
organs (Lamarck); (2). The struggle for existence (Darwin); (3). The
correlation of organs, that is, the inner relation of organs in
consequence of which a change in one organ may occasion a sudden change
in another organ; (4). Cross fertilization and hybridism.

It is clear that with reference to the factors of evolution Eimer is,
and perhaps not unreasonably, an eclectic, whose aim is to do justice
to the predecessors of Darwin as well as to Darwin himself. His
antagonism to Darwin and Weismann in this work is still quite moderate,
although even here it appears with sufficient clearness that selection
and the struggle for existence, the two principles peculiarly
characteristic of Darwinism, do not give rise to new species, but can
at best only separate and differentiate species already existing.

The second part of Eimer's work dealing with the origin of species,
which appeared after an interval of ten years, bears the title:
"Orthogenesis of Butterflies." The Origin of Species, II. Part (2
tables and 235 illustrations in the text). Leipzig, 1897. In this book
substantially the same thoughts occupy the mind of the author as in the
former volume, but in many respects they are more mature, and
conspicuously more definite and precise. The most salient features are
the following:

1. Eimer establishes his theory by means of very minute observations on
a definite species of animals, viz., butterflies.

2. He attributes evolution almost exclusively to development along
definitely determined lines.

3. He proves the utter untenableness of Darwinian principles and
repudiates them unqualifiedly.

4. In a very distinct and severe manner he gives expression to his
opposition to his former friend Weismann.

5. He attacks with telling effect the fantastic Darwinian "Mimicry."

In his "General Introduction" Eimer first treats of Orthogenesis in
opposition to the Darwinian theory of selection. The very first
sentence gives evidence of this antagonism: "According to my
investigation, organic growth (Organophysis), which is rendered
dependent on the plasm by permanent external influences, climate and
nourishment, and the expression of which is found in development along
definitely determined lines, (Orthogenesis), is the principal cause of
transformation, its occasional interruption and its temporary cessation
and is likewise the principal cause of the division of the series of
organisms into species."

Lamarck's theory of the use and disuse of organs and Darwin's
hypothesis of natural selection are consequently pushed into the
background. Here also Eimer at once places himself at variance with
Naegeli who had enunciated a similar theory. Naegeli took as a starting
point an inherent tendency in every being to perfect itself, thus
presupposing an "inner principle of development," and making light of
external influences as transforming causes. Eimer flatly contradicts
this view. We shall revert to this point in our criticism of his
theory. In opposition to the theory of selection, Eimer lays special
stress on the fact that its underlying assumption, viz., fortuitous,
indefinite variation in many different directions, is entirely devoid
of foundation in fact, and that selection, in order to be effective,
postulates the previous existence of the required useful characters,
whereas the very point at issue is to explain how these characters have
originated. Since, therefore, according to Eimer's investigations,
there are everywhere to be found only a few, definitely determined
lines of variation, selection is incapable of exercising any choice.
The development, furthermore, proceeds without regard for utility,
since, for instance, the features that characterize a species of plants
are out of all reference to utility. "Even if nothing exists that is
essentially detrimental, nevertheless very much does exist that bears
no reference whatever to immediate good, and was therefore never
affected by selection."

Further on, Eimer expresses still more clearly the opposition of his
theory to that of Darwin, and in so doing he attacks vigorously the
omnipotence of selection, so unreasonably proclaimed by the followers
of Darwin. Eimer's theory, consequently, asserts that: "The essential
cause of transmutation is organic growth, a definite variation, which,
during long periods of time proceeds unswervingly and without reference
to utility, in but few directions and is conditioned by the action of
external influences, of climate and nourishment." In consequence of an
interruption of orthogenesis a stoppage ensues in certain stages of the
development, and this stoppage is the great cause of the arrangement of
forms in different species. Of vital importance also "is development
through different stages (Hetero-epistase), which results in the
arrested development of certain characters in an organism, while others
progress and still others become retrogressive. As a rule use and
disuse are of great efficacy in this regard, and conjointly with these
compensation and correlation." Occasionally also irregular development
sets in, which proceeds by leaps.

Of course, Eimer could not but in his turn burn incense before Darwin
by declaring that he would not dare to cross swords with such a man,
while in reality he repudiates all of Darwin's fundamental tenets.

It may be well to state here in addition a few important supplementary
considerations: "Development can everywhere proceed in only a limited
number of directions because the constitution, the material composition
of the body, conditions these directions and prevents variation in all
directions." This is an important statement because Eimer clearly
expresses therein the difference between his own theory and that of
Naegeli. He makes the direction of development dependent on the
material composition of the body, whereas Naegeli considers it
dependent upon an internal tendency of every being to perfect itself,
hence upon a power inherent in the body. Eimer's view therefore tends
towards a mechanical explanation, while Naegeli postulates a vital
energy. The "internal causes" according to Eimer find their explanation
in the material composition of the body. Since the growth of the
individual organism depends on this composition and on the external
influences, Eimer compares family-development with it and designates
the latter as "organic growth." In opposition to Naegeli he maintains
that this "organic growth" does not always aim at perfection but often
tends to simplification and retrogression.

The following, then, according to Eimer, are the directive principles
of variation: (1). The general law of coloration (stripes running
lengthwise change into spots, stripes running crosswise change to a
uniform color). (2). The law of definitely directed local change (new
colors spread from the rear to the front and from above downward or
vice versa, old colors disappear in the same directions.) (3). The law
of male predominance (males are as a rule one step in advance of the
females in development). Female predominance is an exception. (4). The
law of age-predominance (new characters appear at a well-advanced age,
and at the time of greatest strength). (5). The law of wave-like
development (during the course of the formation of the individual
organism a series of changes proceed in a definite direction over the
body of the animals). (6). The law of independent uniformity of
development (the same course of development is pursued in non-related
forms and results in similar forms). (7). The law of development
through different stages (different characteristics of the same being
may develop to a different degree and in different directions). (8).
The law of unilateral development (the progeny does not present a
complete combination of the characters of the parents but manifests a
preponderance of the characteristics of either parent). (9). The law of
the reversal of development (the direction of development may reverse
and tend towards the starting point). (10). The law of the cessation of
development (a protracted cessation of development frequently ensues in
one or the other stage).

The origin (perhaps rather the distinction) of species is accounted for
principally by the last named law, by means of which Eimer also
explains the so-called atavism or reversion. To this law are joined
other factors, e.g., development proceeding in leaps, as demonstrated
by Koelliker and Heer; local separation (through migration; prevention
of fertilization, e.g., the impossibility of cross-fertilization
between certain individual organisms) which Romanes had already opposed
to natural selection, and crossing.

The second main division of the book is taken up with a very searching
and detailed criticism of Weismann. This criticism seems to me entirely
warranted; because not only the latter's unintelligible position with
regard to natural selection (the repudiation of which he seems to
regard as synonymous "with cessation of all investigation into the
causal nexus of phenomena in the domain of life") but likewise his
fanciful theory of heredity, utterly devoid as it is of any support
from actual observation, bespeak an utter lack of qualities essential
to a naturalist; and the manner in which he ignores his former pupil
and his labors, because they proved embarrassing to him, is entirely
unworthy of a man of science.

Eimer devotes special attention to "mimicry"; and indeed he was forced
to be very solicitous to dispel this fanciful conception of Darwinism
which radically contradicted his own views. Moreover, the untenableness
of the mimicry hypothesis must have revealed itself very clearly to him
in the course of his investigations regarding the coloring of
butterflies. Mimicry, as our readers are well aware, consists in this,
that living beings imitate other organisms or even inanimate objects;
Darwinism maintains that this is done for the sake of protection
against enemies. This phenomenon is said to have been produced by
selection. Those animals that possessed, for instance, some similarity
to a leaf, in consequence escaped their enemies more easily than others
and survived, while those that had no leaf-like appearance succumbed;
when this process had been repeated a few times, many animals
(butterflies) gradually developed that marvelous leaf-like appearance,
which frequently deceives the most practiced eye.

It appears so simple and natural that one need not wonder that this
peculiar phenomenon gained many an adherent for Darwinism. But, of
course, it is directly opposed to the views of Eimer; and it is for
this reason that he endeavors so assiduously to disprove the error of
Darwinism in this regard. As the underlying color design of the
butterfly Eimer designates eleven longitudinal designs; and the
examination of the leaf-like forms leads him to the conclusion, that
their appearance always depends on "the unaltered condition or the
greater prominence of certain parts of this fundamental design." There
is to be observed a shifting of the third band, so that in conjunction
with the fourth, which is curved, it forms the mid-rib of the leaf.
Eimer finds the cause of this phenomenon in the alteration of the form.
The leaf-like form results from an acumination and elongation of the
wings, which in turn results from a marked elongation of the rim of the
fore-wing. And this again is produced by the proportionately greater
growth of one part of the wing-section than of the others.

With reference to the reason of this growth it is of importance to note
that experiments, consisting in the application of artificial heat to
the chrysales of the swallow-tail and sailor-butterfly, demonstrated
that by this means "the fore-wing is drawn out more toward the outer
wing-vein, and the rim of the fore-wing becomes more elongated and
curved." It is observed, however, that the natural heat-forms of the
same genera and species, namely, the summer-forms and those which live
in the warm southern climate, exhibit, for instance, in the case of
butterflies akin to the sailor, the same features, the elongation and
more marked curvature of the fore-rim of the fore-wings and the
consequent more extended form, that are produced by the action of
artificial heat. Manifestly this is a matter of vital importance for
the solution of the question: heat, whether artificial or natural,
produces a difference in growth, which results in a change of form and
coloring. There is consequently no room for natural selection or the
struggle for existence.

The leaf-like form is generally associated with the dark, faded colors
of dry leaves, and when this similarity disappears even bright colors
appear on the fore-wings. In many cases the resemblance to leaves is
very imperfect; different forms of the same species live side by side
and among them are to be found those, the resemblance of which to
leaves is extremely slight. All these facts, and especially the
frequently recurring retrogression of the leaf-like appearance, justify
serious doubt regarding the Darwinian assumption, that adaptation was a
necessity for the forest-butterflies on account of the protection which
it provided.

An eye witness furthermore declares that the butterflies that resemble
leaves most closely do not always alight on withered leaves, on which
they would be almost invisible, but frequently rest on a green
background, against which they show off very clearly, and therefore
could not long escape the keen eye of birds. Besides, these butterflies
are but seldom pursued by the birds, of which there is question here,
and hence are in no need of protection.

The longer Eimer devoted his attention to the origin of this
resemblance the more "the poetic picture of the imitated leaf" vanished
out of sight, and he became convinced that it involved the necessary
expression of the lines of development, which the respective beings
were bound to follow, and that there was no question of imitation.

Apart from the resemblance to leaves, by reason of regular changes of
color, design, and wing-structure, numerous non-related butterflies
often develop such wonderful similarities--which are not, as hitherto
supposed, imitations or disguises produced by selection, but are either
the outcome of an entirely independent uniformity of development or, at
least, of its consequence--that it must be admitted that external
similarity may arise by different means and in various ways. These
relations of similarity are of such frequent recurrence because of the
limited number of directions of development in which changes or color
and design in butterflies may tend. Eimer finds the reason of this
small number of directions, in which development may proceed, in the
fact "that the elementary external influences of climate and
nourishment on the constitution of the organism are everywhere the
cause of the transformations."

Another important point is the difference of sex. If the butterflies
are of different sex, the males as a rule exhibit a more developed
stage of design and color than the females. These frequently present on
the upper side the stage of coloration, which the males present on the
lower side, while the upper side of the males is one stage in advance.
It is of special significance that the characters of the more advanced
sex frequently correspond to those of a related, superior species, and
occasionally to those of widely separated species. Eimer endeavors to
explain male predominance "by a more delicate and more developed, i.e.,
more complex, chemico-physical organization of the male organism." Even
this development tends toward simplification, the origin of dull-black

This most interesting question brings Eimer into conflict with another
Darwinian principle, the so-called principle of "sexual election,"
according to which the more striking characteristics of the male sex
become strengthened for the reason that females invariably give the
preference to the males endowed with them, over those that are less
"attractive." These exceedingly romantic ideas have been often and
deservedly repudiated, e.g., even by Wallace only a short time after
their first appearance. Eimer really does them too much honor when he
again undertakes, even with a certain amount of respect, a thorough
refutation of them, "as in every regard unfounded." It is of primary
importance to note here, that in the case of dimorphism of the sexes
abrupt modifications occur in connection with unilateral heredity. "It
is impossible for sexual selection to produce a change of design and
color, which results in the sudden kaleidoscopic formation of wholly
different designs, as we find actually taking place through the action
of artificial heat and cold and other factors in nature."

This brings us to a brief consideration of the answer, which Eimer
proposes to give to the question of the real causes of the formation of
species among butterflies. A precise and clear statement of this
important part of Eimer's theory of Descent, is contained in the
following extracts: "The transformation of organisms is primarily
conditioned by the action of immediate external influences on the
organisms. The same causes, which produce individual growth, especially
climate and nourishment, also produce the organic growth of organisms,
that is, transmutation, which is but a continuation in the progeny of
individual growth, through the transmission of the characteristics
acquired during the lifetime of the individual."

Hence, transmutation is simply a physiological process, a phyletic

"The changes, which the individual organism experiences during its life
in its material, physiological and morphological organization, are in
part transmitted to its progeny. The changes thus acquired become more
marked from generation to generation, until finally they result in a
perceptible new structure."

"In this process, new or changing external influences undoubtedly
exercise great activity, but the same influences, constantly repeated,
must in the course of time also produce a change in the organisms
through the physiological activity, which is conditioned by them, so
that after a long time elapses, a species will have changed even in an
unvarying environment and will react on new influences in a manner
quite different from their progenitors; their "constitution" has
undergone a change."

"This organic growth of living beings takes place regardless of the
active use of the organs and in many cases remains independent of this
(Lamarckian) factor of transformation. But use may exercise
considerable influence on the formation resulting from the primitive
organic growth, by modifying the growth, by restricting it to those
parts most frequently called into use, or even by depriving other parts
of the necessary matter (compensation)."

"The Lamarckian principle, therefore, offers but a possible and to
transformation, the principal cause is to be found in organic growth."

"* * * The organic growth of butterflies is primarily conditioned by
climatic influences. * * * The proof is to be found in the facts
revealed by the geographical distribution of butterflies, by the
variations corresponding to the seasons, and by experiments regarding
the influence of artificial heat and cold on development."

Experimental proof is naturally of vital importance for Eimer's theory.
He cites in this regard especially the experiments of Merrifield,
Handfuss, Fischer, Fickert, and Countess Maria von Linden. In Eimer's
own laboratory the latter performed experiments on Papilionides, "which
prove in the most striking manner the recapitulation of the
family-history in the individual." "The fact that it is possible by
raising or lowering the temperature during the time of development to
breed butterflies, possessed of the characteristics of related
varieties and species living in southern and northern regions
respectively, characteristics not merely of color and design, but also
of structure, is complete irrefragable proof of my views."

Eimer therefore belongs to the class of naturalists, like Wigand,
Askenasy, Naegeli, and many others, who reject the purely mechanical
trend of Darwinism and recognize an "immanent principle of
development." He seeks the essential cause of evolution in the
constitution of the plasm of organisms. This very analogy between the
development of the family and that of the individual should, in fact,
convince any one of this. If Eimer chooses to refer the analogy to
"growth" and to designate the evolution of the whole animated kingdom
as also a process of growth, there is, strictly speaking, no room for
objection. However, there is here a danger, which he does not seem to
have guarded against. To designate the whole process as a growth, as
Eimer does, really explains nothing, but merely defines more clearly
the status of the problem. For, what do we know of the so-called
process of growth? In truth, nothing, so that very little is gained by
referring evolution to organic growth; the problem remains unsolved.

The most important and correct part of Eimer's conclusion seems to be
the establishment of definite lines of development. He has, in fact,
permanently disposed of the Darwinian assumption of universal chaos in
evolution, upon which good mother Nature could at will exercise her
choice. Fortuitously initiated development is a condition sine qua non
of Darwinism and Weismannism. For any one, who has studied the work of
Eimer and still adheres to this fundamental error of Darwinism, there
is no possible escape from the labyrinth into which he has allowed the
hand of Darwinism to lead him.

If, on the one hand, Eimer recognizes the immanent principles of
development, he, nevertheless, on the other hand, also accords due
consideration and ascribes great efficacy to external influences; in
fact, he represents them as perhaps the more essential factor. Climate,
nourishment, etc., affect the inner structure, the plasm, transform it
and thus produce variation which is transmitted to the progeny. But,
however great may be the influence of environment, Eimer seems to
overestimate it. Indeed, the analogy of "growth" should have led Eimer
to a conception of the true relation between "internal" and "external"
causes. Warmth, air, light, moisture and nourishment, are undoubtedly
necessary factors in the process of growth, but they are only the
conditions which render it possible, and not the causes which produce
it. The latter are to be found in the individual organism itself. The
conditions may be ever so favorable and well-adapted for growth, still
the organism will not develop unless it bear within itself the power to
do so. On the other hand, although it is hampered and may become
abnormal, it will readily grow even in an unfavorable environment, as
long as it retains its inherent vital force. The same is very likely
true of the genealogical growth. Evolution took place in virtue of the
power inherent in the developing organisms. But only when the
environment was favorable and normal, did the evolution proceed
favorably and normally, that is, toward the perfection of the animate

It appears as if the internal principle of development were losing
influence and significance with Eimer; but the ulterior reason for this
is not far to seek. Whoever recognizes the validity of the internal
principle of development, eliminates chance, that stop-gap of
materialism, from evolution, and is lead at once to a supreme
Intelligence which directs evolution. As soon as it comes in sight,
however, certain persons take fright and turn aside or even turn back
in order to avoid it. This was the case with Eimer, although perhaps in
a lesser degree. This is sincerely to be deplored, since his theory
would have gained in depth if he had but done full justice to the
internal principle of development. For the same reason he seems to have
attacked Naegeli's principle of perfection, another fact which is very
much to be regretted. True, it is as anti-mechanical as it can be and
hence has gained but few adherents; but it is based on truth
nevertheless, and will some day prevail in the doctrine of Descent.

It is perfectly intelligible that the thought of "perfection" should
not have occurred to Eimer or should have slipped his memory during
his observations on butterflies. The fact however, reveals a
one-sidedness which he could have avoided. When the notion of utility
is rejected--and Eimer rejects it very emphatically in his discussions
on mimicry--it is undoubtedly difficult to arrive at the concept of a
perfecting tendency. This, however, can in no way mean that this
concept should be entirely banished from nature, even as the notion of
utility cannot be banished. Even if the coloration and design of the
wings of the butterfly do not reveal utility, other characteristics
certainly do reveal it. It is one of the fatal mistakes of Darwinism,
that it fails to recognize the possibility of dividing the characters
and qualities of organisms into two large groups, as I attempted
to do with more detail, for instance, in my "Catechism of Botany."
There I called them (p. 89) "Autochthon-morphological" and
"adaptive-morphological characters." The former reveal no relation
to utility, they are innate and distinguish the organism from other
organisms; the latter can be explained by means of certain vital
functions, hence they possess a certain utility and adapt themselves
more or less to environment. The former are permanent, the latter
changeable. Darwinians regard all the characters of organisms as
useful, physiological, and adaptive. If they have been hitherto
unable to make good this assumption, they appeal to our lack of
knowledge and console themselves with the thought that the future may
yet reveal the missing relations. The presence on plants and animals
of any autochthon-morphological characters means death to Darwinism,
because these can never be explained by means of selection and struggle
for existence.

Eimer is too much inclined towards the other extreme; he does not admit
the existence of adaptive-morphological characteristics. Viewed in this
aspect, his repudiation of mimicry may perhaps also seem somewhat harsh
and one-sided. In this narrowness of view must also be sought the
reason for his complete repudiation of Naegeli's principle of

It is an incontrovertible fact that in the organic world there exists
an ascending scale from the imperfect to the perfect. Every organism is
indeed perfect in its own sphere and from its own point of view. But
perfection with reference to things of earth is a very relative
concept; many an organism which is perfect in itself, appears very
imperfect when compared with others. If, then, there is a gradation of
animals and plants from the lower to the higher, it is the task of the
theory of Descent to explain this gradual perfection. The crude and
aimless activity of Darwinian selection, which necessarily operates
through "chance," can never explain this perfection, which remains, as
far as selection is concerned, one of the greatest enigmas of nature.
Far from solving the enigma, selection but makes it obscurer.

If, then, one refuses to recognize a directing creative Intelligence,
whose direction produces this perfection, nothing remains but Naegeli's
principle of perfection. The outer world with its influences can
certainly not produce perfection, hence this power must lie within the
organism itself. But when one has once brought himself to accept an
immanent principle of development, it surely cannot be difficult to
take the next step and ascribe to it the tendency towards perfection.

That Eimer does not take this step, is, to my mind, a mistake, which
must be attributed to his one-sidedness, which, in turn, results from
the fact that he generalizes too arbitrarily his observations on
butterflies and the conclusions which he draws from them. Animals and
plants certainly possess many characteristics which cannot be explained
by means of his theory alone. The conclusion will probably be finally
arrived at, that nature is inexhaustible and many-sided, even in the
lines on which it proceeds to attain this or that end.

One thing, however, of primary importance is evident from the
investigations of Eimer, namely the proof that the same lines of
development may be entered upon from entirely different
starting-points, and that the number of these lines is limited. This
fact is of importance because it enjoins more caution in arguing from
uniformity of development to family-relation, than has been usually
employed since the days of Darwin. The method commonly employed is
undoubtedly very convenient, but is somewhat liable to be misleading.
Hence, if one wishes to establish the genealogical relationship of
forms, nothing remains but to set out on the laborious path of studying
the development of both; and even then it remains questionable whether
the truth will be arrived at. However, he who concludes to relationship
from a comparison of developed forms, is much less likely to arrive at
the truth.

In one point Eimer concedes too much to Darwinism, in the matter of the
famous fundamental principle of biogenesis, according to which an
organism is said to repeat in its individual development the whole
series of its progenitors. Although he does not enter upon a
discussion of the principle, it is evident from one passage that he
accepts it. One is inclined to think that his careful observations and
experiments should have convinced him of the contrary. It appears to
me, at least, that the abundant materials of his observations bear
evidence radically opposed to the principle. During late years, the
antagonism to it has been on the increase, and the day is not very
distant when it shall have passed into history. It would certainly be
a laudable undertaking to enter upon a thorough investigation of the
actual basis of the principle.


In every disease, especially in a lingering one, there are times when
life's flickering embers glow with an unnatural brightness. Hence, it
would not be a all surprising if a similar phenomenon were to be
observed in the case of dying Darwinism; for it cannot be doubted that
its disease is chronic. It has, in fact, been dying this long time.
Certain indications render it very probable that we are at present
witnessing such a phenomenon, for to-day we behold once more a few
naturalists stepping before the public in defense of Darwinism. We are
desirous of presenting the present status of the Darwinian theory as
objectively as possible, hence, since we have hitherto heard exclusively
anti-Darwinian testimonies--as the nature of the case demanded--we
shall now lend our attention to a Darwinian. The reader may then decide
for himself whether this treatise should not still bear the title, "At
the Death-bed of Darwinism."

The naturalist in question is the zoologist, Professor F. von Wagner.
In the "Umschau" (No. 2, 1900) he published an article, "Regarding the
Present Status of Darwinism," which is highly instructive and important
in more respects than one.

We wish, in the first place, to call special attention to the following
statements embodied in the article: "It is not to be denied that in
serious professional circles the former enthusiasm has considerably
decreased and a scepticism is gaining ground more and more, which
betrays a widespread tendency towards revolutionizing current theories.
The _fin de siecle_ therefore, finds Darwinism not with the proud
mien of a conqueror, but on the defensive against new antagonists." And
again: "It seems, in fact, as if Darwinism were about to enter a
crisis, the outcome of which can scarcely be any longer a matter of

To what outcome reference is made, appears from two sentences in the
Introduction: "Thus it happens that a theory which was once accorded
enthusiastic approval, is treated with cold disdain or vice versa.
Examples of this are to be found in the history of all sciences and
circumstances seem to indicate that Darwinism is to add another to the
number of these theories."

Is not this exactly what we have repeatedly asserted? It is most
significant that these words are not written by an opponent of
Darwinism, but by one who seems to be thoroughly convinced of the truth
of Darwinism. I am of opinion that it can be no longer a matter of
doubt to any one, that the position of Darwinism is hopeless. If this
were not true, a Darwinian would be very careful about making such an
open and unreserved statement.

We therefore accept Professor von Wagner's words as a very welcome
endorsement of what we have constantly maintained. Professor von
Wagner, however, proposes to himself the further question: Whence comes
the unfavorable attitude of present-day natural science towards
Darwinism? A discussion of this question by a Darwinian cannot but be
of interest to us, and indeed is an important contribution to the
problem. With Goette, Professor von Wagner admits that the objections,
which are raised against Darwinism to-day, are the very same which were
raised from thirty to forty years ago. But when he then proceeds to
assert that this is not to be explained on the assumption that the
pristine enthusiasm for selection was due to a serious over-estimation
of that theory, he fails to furnish even a shred of evidence in support
of his assertion.

Anyone can readily point out that Darwinism explains the totality of
the world of organisms by interlinking them, but has generally failed
to account for the individual case, Wagner admits this as far as the
"actual" is concerned, for it is quite impossible to trace with any
certainty the action, in any particular case, of natural selection in
the process which results in the production of a new species. At the
outset it was reasonable to hope, that with the progress of science
this difficulty would be solved or at least lessened; but this
expectation has not been realized. * * * It is wholly unintelligible
how a naturalist can make this statement five hundred years after Bacon
of Verulam, without drawing therefrom the proper conclusion. This lack
of logic reminds me strongly of the assertion recently made by an
eminent authority, that the principal cause of the difficulties of many
naturalists in matters of religion is their deficient philosophical

Wagner's statement implies that, in the case of Darwinism one may in
defiance of all established law, actually reverse the methods of
natural science. How justifiable and how necessary was it not, then,
that even three decades ago Wigand should have written his
comprehensive work: "Darwinism and the Scientific Researches of Newton
and Cuvier."

Ordinarily the scientific (inductive) method proceeds from the "actual"
and attempts to deduce from the "individual case" an explanation, which
applies to the whole. Here, however, we are face to face with a theory,
which, according to the candid confession of an advocate, fails in the
individual case, but furnishes a unifying explanation of the whole.
This means nothing less than a complete subversion of all scientific
methods. Usually a theory is deduced from separate observations
regarding the "actual" but here--and this is what Wigand constantly
asserted--the theory was enunciated first, and then followed the
attempt to establish it in fact. One could then rest content and trust
to the future to establish the theory by producing evidences of the
"actual" in the individual case. But forty years have elapsed since the
Darwinian hypothesis first became known, naturalists by the thousands
have spent themselves in the endeavor to corroborate it by proofs based
on actual facts, and to-day one of its own advocates has to confess
that the endeavor has been a total failure. Instead of drawing the
conclusion, however, that the theory is unwarranted and that the
decrease of enthusiasm for it is therefore a natural consequence, he
gratuitously enters a flat denial of this inference.

Every intelligent observer must conclude with absolute certainty from
this confession of a Darwinian, that Darwinism is, in fact, not a
scientific but a philosophic theory of nature.

But let us proceed to a consideration of the other reasons which Wagner
suggests as an explanation of the retrogression of Darwinism. He states
as a first reason, that scientific research since Darwin "has amassed
such an abundance of empiric materials for the truth of the principle
of Descent, that this doctrine has been able, even for some time past,
to maintain an independent position and to draw proofs of its truth
immediately from nature itself, without the intervention of Darwinism."
* * * "From which it follows as a matter of course, that the question,
whether the manner indicated by Darwin for the origin of species is the
correct one, has decreased by no means inconsiderably in significance,
inasmuch as Darwin's theory could now, if it were necessary, be
abandoned with less concern than formerly because it could be
relinquished without detriment to the doctrine of Descent."

It is unintelligible how one can attempt to explain a fact of such
importance so superficially. With naive unconcern there appears on the
face of it the acknowledgement that Darwinism has really not been based
on actual observation but has been enunciated for the sake of the
doctrine of Descent. Come what may, this must be vindicated. Other
means are now said to substantiate it, hence the Darwinian crutches may
safely be discarded. The principle of action twenty or thirty years ago
was therefore: a poor explanation is better than no explanation. I
cannot understand, how Wagner dares to credit present-day naturalists
with such motives.

When he then proceeds to say "that with the advance of the principle of
development, new lines were entered upon, which led primarily to the
corroboration and empiric demonstration of the doctrine of Descent, and
not of Darwinism"--that the theory of Darwin was consequently neglected
and, in fact, forced into the background--"that the labors specifically
attributable to Darwinism as compared with the theory of Descent, put
the former more and more into a false position to the detriment of its
prestige"--when, I say, Wagner has marshalled all these considerations
to explain the present aversion to Darwinism, he is guilty of a total
subversion of facts. The true state of the case is the very contrary.

The credit given by Wagner to the Darwinian theory for stimulating
research, is the very same as I also accorded it. The purpose of this
research undoubtedly was to substantiate not only the doctrine of
evolution in general, but also the Darwinian hypothesis in particular.
To verify this, one need only glance over the various numbers of the
"Kosmos," the periodical, which Haeckel and his associates established
for that very purpose and which continued to publish good and bad
indiscriminately until some time in the eighties when lack of interest
compelled its discontinuance. Wagner therefore misconstrues facts when
he asserts that there have been no specifically Darwinian researches.
Since the thoughts of Darwin first found expression these researches
have been most abundant and their results have been consigned to the
printer's ink. No doubt--and this is the salient point, which Wagner
passes over in complete silence--they have been of service only to the
doctrine of Descent in general, and in spite of the energetic efforts
of the Darwinians, they have never led to the ardently desired proof
from facts of the hypothesis of selection. This and no other is the
state of the case.

In view of these vain endeavors, however, intelligent investigators
have gradually become perplexed and have turned away from Darwinism,
not because they have lost interest in it nor even because they no
longer feel the need of it to assist the doctrine of Descent, but for
the one sole reason that its insufficiency has become more and more
apparent and that all experiments undertaken on its behalf have made
the fact clearer and clearer that the first criticism of the great
naturalists of the sixties and seventies was perfectly justified.

In forming a judgment concerning the whole question it cannot but be a
matter of the utmost significance, that men have turned away from
Darwinism to entirely different theories of Descent. It is a mistake to
suppose, as Wagner would have us suppose, that the last decades have
produced nothing but generalities regarding the doctrine of Descent.
For they have also witnessed the publication of a number of significant
works, which aimed at giving a better individual explanation than was
found in Darwinism. I need but recall Naegeli, Eimer, Haacke and a host
of others. The most noteworthy feature of these new views regarding
theories of Descent, is the constantly spreading conviction that the
real determining causes of evolution are to be sought for in the
constitution of the organisms themselves, hence in internal principles.
This view, however, is not only absolutely and diametrically opposed to
Darwinism but completely destructive of it as well.

The actual circumstances, therefore, are the very reverse of those
pictured by Wagner. Darwinism has been rejected not on account of a
lack of research but on account of an abundance of research, which
provided its absolute insufficiency.

Besides these "general points of view," as he calls them, Wagner finds
two other "considerations of no less importance" for explaining the
decay of Darwinism. It is an incontrovertible fact, that the hereditary
transmission of acquired characters has in no way been proved. On the
contrary after it had at first received a general tacit recognition and
was postulated by Lamarck, Darwin and Haeckel, it was denied by
Weismann. Wagner asserts "that the number of those who have allied
themselves with Weismann in this matter is obviously on the increase as
is naturally the case, since, to the present day not a single
incontestable case of hereditary transmission of acquired characters
has been demonstrated, where as actual facts are at hand to prove the

It is perfectly evident that the doctrine that acquired characters are
not inherited is fatal to Darwinism. Hence Wagner rightly considers its
ascendancy a notable factor in bringing about the decay of Darwinism.

Finally, Wagner briefly indicates that certain new theories necessarily
exercised an influence on Darwinism. Haeckel and the palaeontologists
of North America supplemented it with a number of Lamarckian elements
without alteration of its essential principles (the Neo-Lamarckians);
Eimer regards the transmission of acquired characters as an established
fact, but rejects natural selection as wholly worthless; Weismann, on
the contrary, denies the transmission of acquired characters, but
nevertheless regards natural selection as the main factor in the
formation of species (the theory of the Neo-Darwinians). Eimer speaks
of the impotence of natural selection, Weismann of its omnipotence. All
this has shaken men's confidence in the trustworthiness of the
Darwinian principles. This fact we are in no way inclined to doubt, but
we must again differ from Wagner with regard to its significance. We
maintain that matters had to take this turn, since the reason why
Darwinism is now meeting with such serious opposition, is to be found
in its very nature. This indeed should have been recognized forty years
ago instead of just beginning to dawn on men of science at the present
day. For if acquired characters are not transmitted by heredity,
Darwinism is an impossibility. Forty years ago Darwinism should have
recognized that its first and supreme task was to prove the hereditary
transmission of acquired characters, so as to establish itself, first
of all, on a sound footing.

One of the most peculiar incidents in this scientific tragi-comedy is
the fact that Weismann, the mainstay of contemporary decadent
Darwinism, attacks with might and main its fundamental assumption, the
transmission of acquired characters, whereas Eimer, who is thoroughly
convinced that he has proved that doctrine, in his turn attacks
Darwinism and proves with telling effect the impotence of its
principles. The amused observer can really demand nothing more. He can
but rub his hands for joy and cheer on the heated combatants: Well
done! On with the struggle! and the last vestige of Darwinism will soon
have disappeared.

If, then, we were to summarize our strictures on the reasons which
Wagner adduces to account for the decay of Darwinism, we would say
this: Some of them are unwarranted, others are falsely interpreted.

There is, however, a third point which is of special interest to us, in
the article under consideration; we refer to the view, which there
finds expression, regarding the nature and outcome of the present
crisis--a crisis, which, as a candid naturalist, Wagner is not in a
position to deny.

This view rests on the entirely gratuitous assertion, "that the
decline, in the esteem enjoyed by Darwinism, is not due to a better
insight arising from widened experience, but is primarily the
expression of a tendency--a tendency which resulted almost as a
psychological necessity from the precarious position into which
Darwinism was forced under the sway of the theory of Descent." This
assertion rests, as stated above, on wholly erroneous assumptions. It
is a serious mistake, to speak in this connection of tendencies and
even to brand them as a "psychological necessity." The decline in
esteem is essentially due to experience, and indeed to experience which
has made it certain that Darwinism has everywhere failed.

The importance of the present crisis in Darwinism is to be restricted
even further, according to Wagner, by the fact, "that the real
objections, urged against the theory of Darwin, are almost in every
instance based on theoretic considerations, the validity of which can
be put to the test only in fictitious cases. This manner of proceeding
manifestly leads to the inevitable consequence, that the results thus
obtained can claim no decisive weight against Darwinism. A decisive
critique can be constructed only on the basis of experience, and in
this connection it cannot be emphasized sufficiently, that, as yet, the
path to it has been scarcely indicated, to say nothing of its having
been actually pursued." The reason for this fact according to Wagner,
is to be found "in the numerous and most extraordinary difficulties
that arise in the way of the empiric investigation of the theory of

After we have read all this, we instinctively ask ourselves: do we
actually live at the beginning of the 20th century? Is it possible,
that even at this late day the whole structure of scientific method is
to be subverted in this fashion?

Just consider for a moment, what according to these words is the actual
import of the whole article: Darwinism is a unifying explanation of the
origin of the totality of the world of organisms, but fails in the
individual case; in any specified case it is "almost impossible" to
trace with any certainty the action of natural selection in the process
which results in the production of a new species; that is, Darwinism
was enunciated with a complete disregard for inductive method, as an
hypothesis to explain the whole, and without actual proof in the
concrete--a most unscientific procedure. Immediately after, however,
the adversaries of Darwinism are asked in all seriousness to produce
individual facts in disproof of the theory.

In the same strain Wagner goes on to say that "from no point of view is
our vision so penetrating as to be able to grasp the coherence which
according to Darwin pervades the complex course of natural selection.
When men of science take occasion to repudiate Darwinism because of our
inability to explain satisfactorily any particular case by means of the
theory of selection, this inability arises not from the theory of
Darwin but from the inadequacy of our experience. For as yet the
empiric prerequisites for an objective judgment regarding the validity
or futility of the theory of selection are entirely lacking." Every
naturalist who believes in the inductive method must needs draw the
conclusion from these naive admissions, that, as Darwinism lacks the
empiric prerequisites, it should be discarded. Moreover, the demand is
made in all seriousness, that, in order to refute Darwinism which has
not as yet been established empirically, empiric proofs should be

To my mind, the scientific and logical bankruptcy of Darwinism was
never announced more bluntly and ingenuously. Furthermore it must be
remarked that Wagner's statement, regarding "fictitious cases," is not
even pertinent. He seems to have no idea of the observations and
experiments of Sachs, Haberlandt, Eimer, and a host of other
investigators. The disproof of Darwinism on the basis of scientific
research is an accomplished fact.

A word about the conclusion of Wagner's article, which in view of what
has been already said, cannot be a matter of surprise. He maintains
that the considerations which he adduces, "clearly" prove that there is
no "reasonable ground for despairing of the theory of Darwin--; for a
theory, which neither proceeds from questionable assumptions, nor loses
itself in airy hypotheses, but rests throughout and exclusively on
facts, need never fear the advance of science."

But a moment ago it was asserted that the theory of selection is
lacking "entirely as yet the empiric prerequisites" and now only
twenty-three lines further on, it rests "throughout and exclusively on
facts." It is difficult to know what conclusion to come to regarding a
naturalist and University professor who can commit himself to such a
contradiction. I shall abstain from any comment and let the reader form
his own judgment.

Does this article betoken the death-bed of Darwinism? For my own part I
repeat what I said above, that I consider it the most valuable
contribution to the characterization of decadent Darwinism that has
appeared up to the present time. The sooner a theory, which is thus
treated and characterized by one of its own advocates, is stored away
in the lumber-room of science, the better. In view of the sound
judgment, which is to-day becoming more and more apparent in scientific
circles, there is reason to hope that this article of Professor von
Wagner will be additional incentive for many naturalists to break
completely with Darwinism.


In the year 1899 Haeckel published a new work, which he intended as a
kind of testament; for with the close of the nineteenth century the
author desired to put a finishing touch to his life-work.

In the Preface Haeckel states with very remarkable modesty that his
book cannot reasonably claim to present a complete solution of the
riddles of existence; that his answer to the great questions can
naturally be only subjective and only partly correct; that his
attainments in the different branches is very unequal and imperfect;
and that his book is really only a sketch book of studies of very
unequal value. In this way the author naturally gains at once the
confidence of his reader who is thus prepared to yield assent when the
author makes pretense to sincerity of conviction and an honest search
after truth. The reader's surprise at the contents of the book and at
the manner of its presentation is, however, only increased by this
ruse. All modesty has vanished, monistic doctrines are presented as
absolute truth, every divergent opinion is contemptuously branded as
heretical; in short, the book reveals a Darwinian orthodoxy of the
purest type, with all the signs of blind bigotry and odious intolerance
which the author imagines he discovers in his Christian adversaries. It
is difficult to see where, in view of such a contradiction between the
work and its Preface, there is room for an honest striving after truth.
Personally I do not wish to deny Haeckel all honesty of purpose, for it
is my endeavor to understand the _whole_ man. The one prominent
feature of the "Weltraetsel" is the fact that, owing to a very marked
deficiency in philosophical training, Haeckel has become so completely
absorbed in his system that he has lost all interest in everything else
and takes cognizance only of what suits his purpose. What he lacks
above all, is the ability to appreciate even the "honest" opinion of
others; hence, from the very outset he brings into the discussion that
bitterness of which he complains in others (in the Weltraetsel he once
makes this accusation against me). Notwithstanding all this, honest
conviction may be present, but if so, it is joined with total
blindness. But what is to be thought of his search after truth since he
completely ignores his adversaries? For instance, in spite of Loofs'
attacks, he continues to have his book reprinted without alteration,
without submitting it to revision. The "Reichsbote" is perfectly in the
right when it says: Haeckel, in fact, takes account only of what suits
his purpose.

As regards the contents of the "Weltraetsel," it is not my intention to
enter here upon a criticism of it but merely to discuss it as
illustrating the general status of the theory of Descent. It is to be
noted, in the first place, that it is really not a scientific book at
all; for of its 472 pages, the first or "Anthropological Part," with
which alone we are here concerned, occupies only 74 (from pages 27 to
100), even less than one-sixth of the whole, whereas the "Theological
Part" is almost twice as long. The book is, in fact, rather a
theologico-natural-philosophical treatise than a work of natural
science. The scientific part is, however, the foundation on which
Haeckel builds up his natural philosophy, and which he uses as the
starting point of his criticism of theology. Hence it is worth our
while to discuss it.

How then fares it with the anthropological basis of Haeckel's whole
system? As an attentive student of his age the naturalist-philosopher
of Jena must have perceived the true position of Darwinism, namely,
that the foremost naturalists of to-day have no more than an historical
interest in it. Since, in accordance with the well known tendency of
old men to persevere in the position they have once assumed and not
easily to accept innovations, Haeckel is still an incorrigibly orthodox
Darwinian, we should naturally expect him to embody in this testament
some new cogent evidence of the truth of Darwinism. But nothing of that
nature is to be found in the book.

The first chapter of the "Anthropological part" is taken up with a
"general history of nineteenth century culture," in itself a sign of
peculiar logical acumen, that he should include this and the "struggle
regarding world-views" in the "anthropological part" instead of
embodying it in a general introduction. The remaining chapters treat:
"Our Bodily Structure," "Our Life," "Our Embryonic-history," "Our
Family-history." It is not to be supposed, however, that any arguments
are here adduced, nothing but assertions; a large part of the chapter
is taken up with historical sketches, in which Haeckel again proves
himself utterly devoid of all appreciation of history and all sense of
justice. He attributes the decay of the natural sciences to the
"flourishing condition of Christianity" and dares to speak of the
unfavorable influence of Christianity on civilization. Apart from the
historical sketch, each chapter presents only the quintessence of
Darwinism, fairly bristling with assertions, which are boldly put forth
as incontrovertible truths. In view of the author's demand to have at
least his sincere love of truth recognized, we can but throw up our
hands out of sheer astonishment. To illustrate Haeckel's "love of
truth" let it suffice to observe that in the second chapter he asserts
that man is not only a true vertebrate, a true mammal, etc.--which
indeed is passable--but even a true ape (having "all the anatomical
characteristics of true apes"). With a wonderful elasticity he passes
over the differences. What, indeed, is to be said, when he states as a
"fact" that "physiologically compared (!), the sound-speech of apes is
the preparatory stage to articulate human speech." It is so simply
monstrous, that even Garner's famous book of ape-speech, cannot surpass
it. As a third illustration of Haeckel's method of argumentation, if we
are still justified in speaking of such a thing, we may mention his
assertion (p. 97) as a "certain historical fact," "That man is
descended directly from the ape, and indirectly from a long line of
lower vertebrates." If, in view of the results of research during the
last forty years any one can assert this as a "certain historical fact"
and can still wish to be credited with honest conviction and love of
truth, there remains, to adopt Haeckel's own expression, but one
explanation for this psychological enigma, namely, intellectual
_marasmus senilis_, which may very easily have set in with a man
of sixty-six, who himself complains (p. 7) of "divers warnings of
approaching age."

Thus, the anthropological part of the "Weltraetsel" contains nothing
new; always the same old story, the same threadbare assertions without
a shred of evidence to corroborate them.

The remaining parts also contain various scientific assertions, which
are proposed as facts without being such, but these parts do not
immediately pertain to our theme. Suffice it to say that, after reading
Haeckel's "Weltraetsel," one would be led to think that there is no
question of a "deathbed of Darwinism," but that on the contrary
Darwinism, as remodeled by Haeckel, is more in the ascendant to-day
than ever. Let us judge of its prestige by the reception accorded the

One unaltered edition after the other, thousand after thousand, the
book is given to the public. Hence it must meet with approval. It does
indeed meet with approval, but the question is, from whom? Immature
college and university students will doubtless receive it with
reverential awe, just as they received the "Natural History of
Creation" twenty-five years ago. Bebel accepts the book as an
infallible source of truth, and after him the social democrats and
free-church members will add it to the list of their "body and stomach
books," which alone will afford it a respectable clientele, at least in
number. In no one of my "deathbed articles," however, have I as yet
ever maintained that Darwinism was decadent in _these_ circles. I
know full well, that Darwinism has filtered down into that sphere and
there satisfies the anti-Christian and anti-religious demands of

Nothing, however, really depends on these senseless blind adherents of
Haeckel's unproved assertions. We are now intent upon investigating how
the world of eminent thinkers and natural science regards the latest
product of Haeckel's fancy. That alone is of importance in ascertaining
the real status of Darwinism.

As regards, in the first place, the other parts of the book, it is well
known that all of them were vigorously attacked. Loofs in particular
exposed Haeckel's theology, according to its deserts, in the clear
light of truth, and convicted Haeckel of "ignorance" and "dishonesty;"
while the philosopher Paulsen made short work of the "Weltraetsel" from
his own standpoint, ("if a book could drip with superficiality, I
should predicate that of the 19th chapter"). Harnack also condemned the
theological section in the "Christliche Welt," and Troeltsch,
Hoenigswald, and Hohlfeld took Haeckel severely to task on philosophic
grounds. The naturalists have thus far maintained silence.

Scientific journals, and, I believe, only the more popular ones, pass a
varying judgment on the book according to the intellectual bent of
their book reviewers; but no one of the eminent and leading naturalists
has publicly expressed his opinion regarding it. They all maintain a
very significant silence, which speaks for itself. Now, however, just
at the proper time a book, _Die Descendenz-theorie_ has appeared
from the pen of the zoologist, Professor Fleischmann of Erlangen, in
which Haeckel is severely condemned. (See Chapter IX.)

The press-notices of the Weltraetsel, which are quoted in the book will
be considered presently. It appears that with reference to natural
science, only "laymen" discuss the book and approve of Haeckel's views.
This is a point of great importance since it proves satisfactorily that
men of science will have nothing to do with the "Weltraetsel." The
large number of replies would, however, not allow Haeckel's friends to
remain silent. The most extensive defense forthcoming was a pamphlet
published by a certain Heinrich Schmidt of Jena. It cannot be gathered
from his book (Der Kampf um die Weltraetsel, Bonn, E. Strauss 1900) to
what profession the author belongs, hence I am unable to judge whence
he derives the right to treat Haeckel's opponents in summary a manner.
It is significant to note what class of men, according to Schmidt,
received the "Weltraetsel" with enthusiasm and joy. They are August
Specht, the free-church editor of "Menschentum" and of the "Freien
Glocken," Julius Hart, Professor Keller-Zuerich, the philosopher and
"Neokantian" Professor Spitzer of Graz, the popular literateur W.
Boelsche, W. Ule, and a few unknown great men, Dr. Zimmer, Th.
Pappstein, R. Steiner, A. Haese; but stay, I came very near forgetting
the great pillar, Dodel of Zuerich. But where is there mention of the
professional colleagues of Haeckel whose testimonies could be taken
seriously? Under the heading "Literary Humbug," which evidently has
reference to the contents of his own work, Schmidt then meets numerous
objections. Here vigorous epithets are bandied about, as, for instance,
"absolute nonsense," "muddler," "foolish and senseless prattle," "idle
talk," etc.; and from Dodel he copies the words with which the latter
once sought to annihilate me: Job, verse 10, "Thou hast spoken like one
of the foolish women." And he ventures to express indignation at Loofs'
"invectives." As a compliment to Lasson he declares that he could
easily conceive of the possibility of an ape ascending the professor's
chair and speaking as intelligently as he (Lasson); which remark he
probably intended as a witticism. He informs his readers that the
criticism of Haeckel by men like Virchow, His, Semper, Haacke, Baer,
and Wigand have been examined by professional specialists and proved
practically worthless. This statement alone so clearly reveals
Schmidt's lack of critical faculty and judgment that by it he at once
forfeits his right to be taken seriously.

The whole book is nothing more than a collection of quotations from the
reviews of the "Weltraetsel," interspersed with characteristic
expressions like "idle talk," "nonsense," etc., as exemplified above. A
really pertinent reply and refutation of objections is entirely beyond
Schmidt's range; he waives the demand for a direct reply, for instance,
in the following amusing way (p. 28): "Two reasons, however, prevent me
from being more explicit: In the first place I do not like to dispute
with people who adduce variant readings and church-fathers as proofs
and can still remain serious. In the second place I would not like to
fall into the hands of a Loofs." In this manner it is indeed easy to
evade an argument, which for good reasons one is not able to pursue.
Loofs' criticism is so serious and destructive that it should be of the
utmost concern to Haeckel's friends to refute it. Since they are unable
to do so, they content themselves with references to Loofs' caustic
style, which he should indeed have avoided. There are, nevertheless,
cases in which one must employ trenchant phraseology, and Haeckel
himself has given an occasion for it; a dignified style is simply out
of the question in his case. Haeckel extricated himself with even
greater ease, by declaring that he had "neither time nor inclination"
for reply, and that a mutual understanding with Loofs was impossible
because their scientific views were entirely different. Could anything
be more suggestive of the words of Mephistopheles:

    "But in each word must be a thought--
    There is,--or we may so assume,--
    Not always found, nor always sought.
    While words--mere words supply its room.
    Words answer well, when men enlist 'em,
    In building up a favorite system."

There are two other points in Schmidt's book that are of interest to
us. The first of these is the manner in which the author treats the
Romanes incident. Romanes ranks, as is well known, among the first of
Haeckel's authorities. Hence it is a very painful fact that, but a
short time before the publication of the first edition of the
"Weltraetsel," my translation into German of Romanes' "Thoughts on
Religion" should have appeared. From this book it was evident that
Haeckel and his associates could no longer count this man among their
number since he--a life-long seeker after truth--had abandoned atheism
for theism, and died a believing Christian. Troeltsch and the
"Reichsbote" asked whether Haeckel had purposely concealed this fact,
and Schmidt now explains that Haeckel first became acquainted with the
"Thoughts on Religion" through him towards the end of January, 1900.
Unfortunately he does not add that since then a number of new editions
of the "Weltraetsel" have appeared, in which Haeckel could have
explained himself in an honorable manner. Schmidt has therefore not
been successful in his attempt to clear up this matter.

But how does he settle with Romanes? He says: "_We are assured_
that the thoughts were written down by the English naturalist George
John Romanes"; and again: "The thoughts are published by a Canon of
Westminster, Charles Gore, to whom _they are said_ to have been
handed over after the death of Romanes in the year 1894." Then he has
the audacity to place Romanes in quotation marks. And finally he
asserts that they would abide by Romanes' former works as their
authority, the more so, because these were not, like the "Thoughts,"
"published and glossed by a Canon only after his (Romanes') death." By
means of all this and of a comparison with the "Letters of the
Obscurantists" he wishes to create the suspicion that there might be
question here of forgery. Such an insinuation, (I employ Schmidt's own
words) "cannot be characterized otherwise than as contemptible." "Here
it is even worse than contemptible." I must beg my reader's pardon for
overstepping the bounds of reserve with these caustic words, although
they originated with Schmidt; but really the flush of anger rightfully
mounts to one's cheeks when a man, from the mere fact that he is a
disciple of the "great" Haeckel assumes the right to charge Canon Gore
and indirectly myself with forgery. It is really very significant that
these men should have to resort to such base and despicable expedients
to extricate themselves from their unpleasant predicament. Apart from
this, it was very amusing to me personally to think that for the sake
of my unworthy self, Schmidt should have borrowed from his lord and
master the epithet "pious," which Haeckel in his turn has drawn from
his cherished friend Dodel. In all probability they will continue to
hawk it about in order to bring me into disrepute with the rest of
their kind. The few remarks Schmidt still finds it proper to make
regarding the "Thoughts," betray his inability to understand the book.
But as I stated in the preface it was a difficult book to read and
understand. It is obviously not reading matter for shallow minds. I
refer Schmidt to the biography of Romanes, published by his wife, (The
Life and Letters of G. J. Romanes, London, Longmans, Green & Co.,
1898), where he will find Romanes' religious development described by a
well-informed hand. This development began as early as 1878, hence
during the time of his intimate friendship with Darwin. In this book on
pages 372 and 378 Schmidt will also find the words in which,
_before_ his death, Romanes begged that, if he were personally
unable to publish the "Thoughts," they should be given to his friend
Canon Gore after his own death. But why waste so many words on Mr.
Schmidt, for since all these things must be doubly disagreeable and
painful to him and Haeckel, he will very probably resort without delay
to personal insinuation and accuse Mrs. Romanes of forgery.

To us, however, who thoroughly appreciate the situation, it is a matter
of great moment that of one of the few really eminent naturalists, to
whom Haeckel thought to be able to lay full and exclusive claim, for
the last twenty years of his life should have been moving towards the
Christian faith in his eager search for truth and should die not a
monist, but a convinced Christian. Neither did he die an old man, to
whom the adherents of monism would certainly have the effrontery to
impute feeble-mindedness, but at the early age of forty-six years. Nor
was his a sudden deathbed conversion--an impression which Schmidt
attempts to create (p. 62) in order to be able with H. Heine to
relegate the conversion to the domain of pathology--but followed after
many years of diligent and honest study and research. The other point
of which we must treat here, is the manner in which, after the example
of Dr. Reh, Schmidt attempts in the "Umschau" to exonerate Haeckel in
the matter of the "History of the three cliches." To begin with, it is
at the very least dishonest on the part of Schmidt to say that, "in
default of scientific arguments, theological adversaries have for the
last thirty years been using it as the basis of their attacks." That is
untrue, the "theological adversaries" have not had knowledge of it for
that length of time. On the contrary Haeckel's own scientific
colleagues were the first to discover and publish the matter some time
in the seventies, and in consequence excluded Haeckel from their
circle. Why does Schmidt not mention here the names of Ruetimeyer, His,
and Semper? Furthermore Schmidt writes as if Haeckel had satisfied his
colleagues in the matter of his forgery by declaring soon after (1870)
that he had been "guilty of a very ill-considered act of folly." Why
does Schmidt not mention the fact that the weighty attacks of His (Our
Bodily Form and the Physiological Problem of its Origin, Leipzig, 1875)
dates from the year 1875, five years after Haeckel's forced, palliative
explanation? Besides, this incident of the three cliches is only one
instance; the other examples of Haeckel's sense of truthfulness are for
the most part entirely unknown to his "theological adversaries," who
have nowhere to my knowledge made use of them; but _all_ of them
have been brought to light and held up before Haeckel by naturalists,
namely, by Bastian (1874), Semper and Kossmann (1876 and 1877), Hensen
and Brandt (1891), and Hamann (1893). Does this in any way tend to
establish Schmidt's honesty? (Dr. Dennert has entered into a more
searching criticism of Haeckel in his book, _Die Wahrheit ueber
Haeckel_. 2 Aufl Halle a. S., 1902.)

In a word, the manner in which the "Weltraetsel" was received and in
which Haeckel has been defended by Schmidt, are valuable indications of
the decay of Darwinism. I repeat that I am speaking of course of the
leading scientific circles. Those who hold back are never lacking, and
one cannot be surprised that, in the case of Darwinism, their number is
considerable: for on the one hand, to understand it an extraordinarily
slight demand is made on one's mental capacity; and on the other hand
it is a very convenient and even a seemingly scientific means of
obviating the necessity of belief in God. These facts appeal very
strongly to the multitude.

In concluding this section, we shall quote a positive testimony to the
decay of Darwinism. On page 3 of his "Outlines of the History of the
Development of Man and of the Mammals" (Leipzig, W. Engelmann, 1897)
Prof. O. Schultze, Anatomist in Wuerzburg, says: "The idea entertained
by Darwin, that the development of species may be explained by a
natural choice--Selection--which operates through the struggle of
individuals for existence, cannot permanently satisfy the spirit of
inquiry. Even the factors of variability, heredity, and adaptation,
which are essential to the transformation of species, do not offer an
exact explanation."


I have already called attention several times to the fact that
Darwinism is indeed on the wane among men of science, but that it has
gradually penetrated into lay circles where it is now posing as
irrefragable truth. Especially the circles dominated by the social
democrats swear by nothing higher than Darwin and Haeckel. In fact,
only a short time ago Bebel publicly professed himself a convert to
Haeckel's wisdom.

It is inevitable, however, that light should gradually dawn even in
these circles, for it would be indeed strange, if no honest man could
be found to tell them the truth regarding Darwinism. This has occurred
sooner than I dared to hope. This chapter can announce the glad tidings
that even in "social-democratic science" Darwinism is doomed to decay.
Much printer's ink will, of course, be yet wasted before it will be so
entirely dead as to be no longer available as a weapon against
Christianity; but a beginning at least has been made.

In the December number of the ninth year of the _Sozialistische
Monatshefte_, a social-democratic writer, Curt Grottewitz,
undertakes to bring out an article on "Darwinian Myths." It is stated
there that Darwin had a few eminent followers, but that the educated
world took no notice of their work; that now, however, they seemed to
be attracting more attention. "There is no doubt, that a number of
Darwinian views, which are still prevalent to-day, have sunk to the
level of untenable myths. True, the main doctrine of Darwin--the origin
of new species from existing ones--is incontestably established, but
apart from this even some very fundamental principles, which the master
thought he discerned in the development of organisms, can scarcely be
any longer maintained."

It may be well to remark here, that this was not really Darwin's main
doctrine, for it already existed before his time (Lamarck, Geoffroy St.
Hilaire). Darwin's main doctrine is the explanation of the origin of
species by natural selection operating through the struggle for
existence. It is therefore the old error repeated. Darwinism is
confounded with the doctrine of Descent, of which it is merely one
form. It is not our intention to derogate in the least from Darwin's
merit, which consists in the fact that he gained general recognition
for the doctrine of Descent; but that was not his main work. He wished
above all to explain the _How_ of Descent; this is his doctrine,
and this doctrine we attack and declare to be on the point of expiring.

Grottewitz very frankly continues: "The difficulty with the Darwinian
doctrines consists in the fact that they are incapable of being
strictly and irrefutably demonstrated. The origin of one species from
another, the conservation of useful forms, the existence of countless
intermediary links, are all assumptions, which could never be supported
by concrete cases found in actual experience." Some are said to be well
established indirectly by proofs drawn from probabilities, while others
are proved to be absolutely untenable. Among the latter Grottewitz
includes "sexual selection," which is indeed a monstrous figment of the
imagination. There was moreover really no reason for adhering to it so
long. It is eminently untrue, that the biological research of the last
few years proved for the _first_ time the untenableness of this
doctrine, as Grottewitz seems to think. Clear thinkers recognized its
untenableness long ago, and surely Grottewitz and the whole band of
Darwinian devotees as well, could have known that as early as
twenty-five years ago this doctrine had been subjected to a reductio ad
absurdum with classic clearness in Wigand's great work.

It is certainly a very peculiar phenomenon; for decades we behold a
doctrine reverently re-echoed; thoughtful investigators expose its
folly, but still the worship continues, the Zeitgeist must have its
idol. It appears, however, as if the Zeitgeist were gradually tiring of
its golden calf and were on the point of casting it into the
rubbish-heap. Misgivings arise on all sides; here one class of
objections are considered, there another. A closer examination reveals
that these are by no means new reasons, based on new researches, but
the very oldest, urged long ago and perhaps much more clearly and
forcibly. At that time, however, the Zeitgeist was under the spell of
the suggestion of individual men: it heard and saw nothing but the
captivating, obvious simplicity of the doctrine; but now when the
subject begins to be tedious and the discussion lags, the interest
consequently abates and the Zeitgeist suddenly grasps the old
objections, presented in a new garb, and what was hitherto truth, clear
and irrefutable, now sinks into the dreary, gray mists of myth. Sic
transit gloria mundi!

This has been the history of Darwinism, and especially of Darwin's
theory of sexual selection. What Grottewitz urges against it, was
advanced decades ago by other and more eminent men; then people would
not listen, to-day they are inclined to listen. Of very special
interest is the further admission, that "the principle of gradual
development" has been "considerably shaken" and is "certainly
untenable." Grottewitz points out that it has been demonstrated that
the progeny of the same parents are often entirely dissimilar, and that
new organs very suddenly spring up in individuals even when they had
had no previous existence. "A slight variation from the parent form is
of no utility to the progeny; they must acquire at once a completely
developed, new character, if it is to be of any use to them." Quite
right! but this one admission is destructive of the entire doctrine of
natural selection. If one accepts saltatory evolution, as for instance,
Heer, Koelliker, and Wigand did long ago, then, as Grottewitz now
discovers, the difficulty arising for Darwinism from the absence of the
numerous intermediary forms which it postulates, naturally disappears.

Grottewitz attributes sudden variation to the influence of environment,
just as Geoffroy St. Hilaire had already done before Darwin. He
likewise repudiates Darwin's doctrine of adaptation and the theory of
"chance," which is bound up with all his views. "Darwin's theory of
chance seems to me to be especially deserving of rejection." The
article closed with these words: "There must evidently be a very
definite principle, according to which the frequent and striking
development from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, from the
no-longer adapted to the readapted, proceeds. We all of us are far from
considering this principle a teleological, mystical or mythical one,
but for that matter, Darwin's theory of chance is nothing more than a

He is most certainly in the right. To place this whole wonderful, and
so minutely regulated world of organisms at the mercy of chance is
utterly monstrous, and for this very reason Darwinism, which is
throughout a doctrine of chance, must be rejected; it is indeed a myth.
We are grateful to Grottewitz for undertaking to tear the assumed mask
of science from this myth and expose it before his associates. He
should, however, have done so even more vigorously and unequivocally
and should have stated plainly: Darwinism is a complete failure; we
believe indeed in a natural development of the organic world, but we
are unable to prove it.

In the conclusion of the article quoted there is, of course, again to
be found the cloven-hoof: by all means no teleological principle! But
why in the world should we not accept a teleological principle, since
it is clearly evident that the whole world of life is permeated by
teleology, that is, by design and finality? Why not? Forsooth, because
then belief in God would again enter and create havoc in the ranks of
the "brethren."

But however much men may struggle against the teleologico-theistic
principle and secure themselves against it, it is all of no avail, the
principle stands at the gate and clamors loudly for admission; and if
Grottewitz could but bring himself to undertake a study of Wigand's
masterful work, perhaps his heresy would increase and we might perhaps
then find another article in the "Sozialistische Monatshefte" tending
still more strongly toward the truth.

But what will Brother Bebel with his Haeckelism say to the present

All in all, instead of calling his article "Darwinian Myths" Grottewitz
might just as well have entitled it "At the Deathbed of Darwinism." May
he bring out a series of "deathbed articles" to disclose the truth
regarding Darwinism to his associates.


Professor Fleischmann, zoologist in Erlangen, recently published a book
bearing the title, "Die Descendenztheorie," in which he opposes every
theory of Descent. The book is made up of lectures delivered by the
author before general audiences of professional students, hence is
popular in form and of very special apologetic value. Numerous
excellent illustrations aid the reader in understanding the text.

One statement in the Introduction characterizes the decided position
assumed by the author. He says: "After long and careful investigation I
have come to the conclusion that the doctrine of Descent has not been
substantiated. I go even farther and maintain that the discussion of
the question does not belong to the field of the exact sciences of
zoology and botany." At the outset, Fleischmann establishes the fact
that in the animal kingdom there are rigidly separated types, which
cannot be derived from each other, whereas the doctrine of Descent
postulates "one single common model of body-structure" from which all
types have been developed. Cuvier in his day, set up four such types of
essentially different structure; when Darwin's work appeared two more
had been added; R. Hertwig postulates even seven, Boas nine (both
1900); J. Kennel (1893) seventeen, and Fleischmann himself sixteen. In
consequence the doctrine of Descent has become more complicated since
it now embraces sixteen or seventeen different problems, each of which
in turn gives rise to many subordinate problems.

The discussion which the author inaugurates regarding the domain to
which the question of Descent belongs, is very well-timed. He forcibly
and definitely discountenances the method which transfers it to the
domain of religion. The question must be decided by the naturalists
themselves according to the strict inductive method; that is, the
solution must be based on well ascertained facts, without resorting to
conclusions deduced from general principles. "Exact research must show
that living organisms actually have overstepped the bounds defining
their species, and not merely that they conceivably may have done so."
Hence it is absolutely necessary to procure the intermediary forms.
This is the foundation on which Fleischmann builds and against which no
opponent can prevail. Fleischmann first discusses the differences
between the classes of vertebrates; the mammals, birds, reptiles,
amphibians and fish. For if the differences of their bodily structure
could be shown to be one of degree and not radical, it could be
supposed that the lines of demarcation which now delimitate the larger
types might some day vanish. A single illustration suffices for
Fleischmann's purpose, viz., the plan of structure of the limbs of the
different classes of vertebrates. The four higher classes are
characterized by a common underlying plan of limb structure, whilst
fish have one peculiar to themselves. On the other hand it is an
inevitable postulate of the doctrine of Descent that fish are the
original progenitors of all other vertebrates. Hence the five-joint
limbs of the latter must have developed from the fins of fish. This
derivation was actually attempted but without success, as Fleischmann
points out at considerable length. By means of citations taken from the
writings of Darwinian adherents, he illustrates the confusion which
even now reigns among them on this matter. The evolution of the
remaining vertebrates from the fish is therefore a wholly gratuitous
assumption devoid of any foundation in fact.

Fleischmann further discusses the "parade-horse" of the theory of
Descent. It has been the common belief, especially fostered by Haeckel,
that the history of the Descent of our present horse lies before us in
its complete integrity as pictured in the drawings of Marsh. Here
Fleischmann again proves at great length the insufficiency of actually
available materials. Of special importance is his repeated demand that
not only individual parts of the animals but the whole organism as well
should be derived from the earlier forms. If, for instance, it be
possible to arrange horses and their tertiary kindred in an unbroken
line of descent according to the formation of their feet, whilst the
other characteristics (teeth, skull-structure, etc.,) do not admit of
arrangement in a corresponding series, the first line must be

Very similar to this is the case of the "family history of birds,"
which as all know, has been traced back to reptiles. It is in this
matter that the famous Archaeopteryx plays an important part.
Unfortunately, however, grave difficulties are again encountered in
this connection. This primitive form is a real bird according to
Zittel; and according to the same investigator as also according to
Marsh, Dames, Vetter, Parker, Tuerbringen, Parlow and Mehnert, it is
inadmissible to connect birds with a definite class of reptiles.
Haeckel finds his way out of the difficulty by supplying hypothetical
forms which no one has ever seen, but which his imagination has
admirably depicted as transitional forms. In so doing, however, he
abandons the inductive method of natural science.

It is impossible for us to treat at such length all the remaining
sections of this important book. We may mention in passing that
Fleischmann examines the "roots of the mammal stock," and enters upon a
detailed discussion of "the origin of lung-breathing vertebrates," the
"real phylo-genetic problem of the mollusks," and "the origin of the
echinodermata." It is evident that he boldly takes up the most
important problems connected with the theory of Descent, and does not
confine himself to a one-sided discussion of individual points. As he
did not fear to examine thoroughly the famous, and as it hitherto
appeared, invulnerable, "parade-horse," so neither does he hesitate to
demolish the other reputed proof for the doctrine of Descent, e.g., the
fresh-water snail of Steinheim, the remains of which Hilzendorf and
Neumayr examined and were said to have arranged in lines of descent
that "would actually stagger one." It is important to call especial
attention to this because the adversaries of the book ignore it. He
next shows up the so-called "fundamental principle of biogenesis"
according to which organisms are supposed to repeat during their
individual development the forms of their progenitors (enunciated by
Fritz Mueller and Haeckel). Fleischmann points out the exceptions which
Haeckel attributes to "Cenogenesis," (that is to falsification) and
shows the disagreement among contemporary naturalists regarding this
fundamental principle. Even Haeckel's friend and pupil, O. Hertwig
sounds the retreat.

The 15th chapter deals with the "Collapse of Haeckel's Doctrine," which
is revealed in the fact that "the practical possibility of ascertaining
anything regarding the primitive history of the animal kingdom is
completely exhausted and the hope of so doing forever frustrated."
"Instead of scientists having been able from year to year to produce an
increasing abundance of proof for the correctness of the doctrine of
Descent, the lack of proofs and the impossibility of procuring evidence
is to-day notorious." In the last chapter Fleischmann finally attempts
to prove on logical principles the untenableness of the evolutionary

He starts from the fact that philosophers use the word development to
designate a definite sequence of ideas, i.e., in a logical order.
"Metamorphosis, says Hegel, belongs to the Idea as such since its
variation alone is development. Rational speculation must get rid of
such nebulous concepts as the evolution of the more highly developed
animal organisms from the less developed, etc."

Naturalists use the word in a different sense. Instead of a sequence of
grades of being they posit a sequence of transformations; instead of a
logical sequence of ideas they posit a transforming and progressive
development. Zoology constructs a system of specific and generic
concepts, "an animal kingdom with logical relations." Our concepts are
derived from natural objects, but in reality do not perfectly
correspond to them. The phylogenetic school commits the capital mistake
of presenting a transformation which can be realized only in logical
concepts, as an actually occurring process, and of confounding an
abstract operation with concrete fact. "The logical transformation of
the concept ape into the concept man is no genealogical process." The
mathematician may logically 'develop' the concept of a circle from that
of a polygon, but it by no means follows that the circle is
phylo-genetically derived from the polygon.

Because the concept of species is variable, the species themselves,
according to Darwin, should be subject to a continual flux; whereas the
real cause of the variability which he observed lies in the discrepancy
between objective facts and their logical tabulation, in the narrowness
of our concepts and in the lack of adequate means of expression. He
thus makes natural objects responsible for our logical limitations.

With regard to organisms the Descent-school confounded the purely
logical signification of the word "related" with that of blood or
family affinity. But surely when they speak of the relation of forms in
the crystal systems, they do not refer to genetic connection. To-day
this interchange of concepts is so general that one needs to exercise
great care if one would avoid it.

The theory which postulates the blood-relationship of individuals of
the same species may be correct, but it is utterly incapable of proof,
and the same is true in a greater degree when there is question of
individuals of the same class but of different species. Since a direct
proof is impossible, an attempt was made to construct an indirect proof
by a comparison of bodily-organs. But in so doing the Descent
theorizers had to relinquish scientific analysis altogether.

In conclusion Fleischmann states that he does not mean to discard every
hypothesis of Descent. He simply gives warning against an
over-estimation of the theory. In opposition to those who esteem it as
the highest achievement of science, he looks upon it as a necessary
evil. Its proper sphere is the laboratory of the man of science, and
not the thronging market-place.

"The Descent hypothesis will meet the same fate (be cast aside), since
its incompatibility with facts of ordinary observation is manifesting
itself. At the time of its appearance in a new form, forty years ago,
it exercised a beneficial influence on scientific progress and induced
a great number of capable minds to devote themselves to the study of
anatomical, palaeontological and evolutionary problems. Meanwhile,
however, viewed in the light of a constantly increasing wealth of
actual materials, the hypothesis has become antiquated and the labors
of its industrious advocates makes it obvious to unbiased critics, that
it is time to relegate it ad acta."

          *       *       *       *       *       *       *

My own views agree with those of Fleischmann as presented above, except
in regard to his last chapter. I must, of course, admit that his
criticism has discredited the doctrine of Descent as a scientifically
established theory. Hence, as I have always asserted, it must be
excluded from the realm of exact science. No doubt people will come
gradually to see that the theory involves a creed and therefore belongs
to the domain of cosmic philosophy. All this I readily admit.

Not so, however, as regards the concept of "development." It seems to
me to be incorrect to regard this as a logical concept only, even with
reference to organisms. True, the whole zoological system is in reality
nothing more than a logical abstraction. And in view of this fact one
must be on one's guard against confusing a logical transformation of
concepts with a genealogical development.

We must, however, not forget that we possess the wonderful analogy of
ontogeny (individual development) and above all, the fact of mutation
and of metagenesis. And even if we wish to avoid the error of Haeckel
and others who find a necessary connection between ontogeny and
phylogeny, nevertheless the analogy will still entitle us to picture to
ourselves the development of the whole range of living organisms. Such
a representation will, of course, have only a subjective value.

No doubt, it is logically unjustifiable to argue from the variable
concept to the variability of the species. Still there is something
real in plants and animals which corresponds to our specific concepts.
In some cases the corresponding reality may be so well defined that it
is not difficult to form the concept accurately; whereas in other cases
where the task is more difficult, the difficulty must be due to the
object. Under these circumstances we may safely conclude from the lack
of definiteness in our concepts to a certain lack of rigid delimitation
in the organic forms.

This blending of certain forms suggests the idea of transformation, but
does not furnish definite proof of it. Such proof can be had only by
the direct observation of a transformation. And no doubt in certain
cases a transformation may occur. As regards animals, I may call
attention, for instance, to the experiments made with butterflies by
Standfuss, and as regards plants, to the experiments of Haberlandt, of
which I treated in Chapter III. The limits within which these
transformations take place are indeed very narrow as are also the
limits of those indisputable varieties which naturally arise within an
otherwise rigidly defined species. I am aware that the transformation
of one species into another has not yet been effected, but the
above-mentioned attempts at transformation have nevertheless
demonstrated that certain organic forms when subjected to changed
conditions of life, display certain mutations which clearly show that
variability is to be attributed, not, certainly, to the specific
concepts, but to the corresponding reality. This observation and
reflexion, joined with the fact that organisms form a progressive
series from the simple to the more complex, and with the observed
phenomena of individual development, lead me to regard the concept of
Descent as admissible, and in a certain sense, even probable. But I
agree with Fleischmann in saying that this is a mere belief, and that
all attempts to give it a higher scientific value by inductive proof
have signally failed.

My standpoint, moreover, requires me to admit the validity of the
hypothesis of Descent as an heuristic maxim of natural science. I
believe that we shall be justified in the future, as we were forty
years ago, in directing our investigation in the direction of Descent,
and I do not consider such investigation so utterly hopeless as
Fleischmann represents it. However, I entirely concur with him in the
opinion that we are here concerned (and shall be for a long time to
come) with a mere hypothesis which belongs not in the market-place, nor
among the world views of the multitude, but in the study of the man of

Above all it must not be mixed up with religious questions. Whether the
hypothesis will ever emerge from the study of the man of science as a
well-attested law, is still an open question, incapable of immediate

          *       *       *       *       *       *       *

It is of interest for us to inquire what reception Fleischmann's
protest against the theory of Descent has been accorded by his

Fleischmann was formerly an advocate of the theory of Descent. He was a
pupil and assistant of Selenka, who was then at Erlangen (died in
Muenster 1902). He had previously written a number of scientific works
from the standpoint of the Descent theory. In the year 1891,
investigations regarding rodents led him to oppose that theory. During
the winter term of 1891-92 he gave evidence of this change in a public
lecture. Not until 1895 was there question of his appointment to the
chair of zoology in Erlangen. In 1898 he published a Manual of Zoology
based on principles radically opposed to the doctrine of Descent. This
manual irritated Haeckel so much that he issued one of his well-known
articles, _Ascending and Descending Zoology_, in which, after his
usual manner, he casts suspicion on Fleischmann of having received his
appointment to the chair at Erlangen by becoming an anti-Darwinian in
accordance with a desire expressed at the diet of Bavaria. I am not
aware that Haeckel has paid any attention to the work of Fleischmann
which we have just reviewed.

By its publication, however, the author disturbed a hornet's nest.
Dispassionate, but still entirely adverse is Professor Plate's review
in the "Biologisches Zentralblatt," while the "Umschau" publishes two
criticisms, one by Professor von Wagner, the other by Dr. Reh, which
for want of sense could not well be equalled. It was the former who
furnished material for our sixth chapter and who there displayed such
utter confusion of thought regarding the inductive method. The same
confusion is apparent in his recent utterance in which he observes that
Fleischmann's whole aim is to accumulate observational data, meanwhile
avoiding speculation as far as possible. His criticism is replete with
bitter personal epithets, e.g., "reactionary," "mental incompetency,"
"dishonest mask of hypercritical exactness," which manifest the
writer's inability to enter upon an objective discussion of the

A still more reprehensible position is assumed by Dr. Reh, who censures
Fleischmann for introducing to the general public the question of
Descent which belongs properly to the forum of science. He claims that
Fleischmann, by so doing, forfeited his right to an unbiased hearing.
Dr. Reh forgets that but a short time ago he had no word of censure for
Haeckel's _Weltraetsel_ which was intended for a far wider circle
of readers. He next appropriates Haeckel's suspicion regarding
Fleischmann which we noticed above, and then adds the entirely untrue
assertion that the first half of Fleischmann's Manual, written before
he took possession of the chair in Erlangen, is written in the spirit
of Darwin, whereas the second half which appeared at a later date is
written in the contrary spirit. He then takes individual points of
Fleischmann's treatise out of their context in order to execute a cheap
and nonsensical criticism of them. Haeckel has evidently been giving
instructions on the best manner of dealing with adversaries. And very
docile disciples they are who imitate his method even to the extent of
defaming and abusing their scientific opponents.

But is not this another plain indication of the decay of Darwinism? Of
course Haeckel recognized at the very beginning of his career that it
was necessary to support the theory by means of personal bitterness,
forgeries and misrepresentations. But if the last surviving advocates
of Darwinism must needs have recourse to the same disreputable means,
to what a low estate, indeed, has it fallen!

Let us hope that these last wild convulsions are really the signs of
approaching dissolution.


In order to judge of the present status of Darwinism it is of primary
importance to note the position assumed by the few really eminent
investigators, who as pupils of Haeckel still seem to have remained
true to him. Among these I reckon Oskar Hertwig, the well known Berlin

As early as 1899 in an address at the University on, _Die Lehre vom
Organismus und ihre Beziehung zur Sozialwissenschaft_, Hertwig gave
expression to views which are very little in harmony with the doctrines
proceeding from Jena, and which are also put forth in his manual,
_The Cell and the Tissue_. In that address we read (p. 8): "With
the same right, with which, for the good of scientific progress, an
energetic protest has been raised against a certain mysticism which
attaches to the word Vitality, I beg to give warning against an
opposite extreme which is but too apt to lead to onesided and unreal,
and hence also, ultimately to false notions of the vital process,
against an extreme which would see in the vital process nothing but a
chemico-physical and mechanical problem and thinks to arrive at true
scientific knowledge only in so far as it succeeds in tracing back
phenomena to the movements of repelling and attracting atoms and in
subjecting them to mathematical calculation."

With right does the physicist Mach, with reference to such views and
tendencies, speak of a 'mechanical mythology in opposition to the
animistic mythology of the old religions' and considers both as
"improper and fantastic exaggerations based on a one-sided judgment."
"My position on the question just stated becomes apparent from the
consideration that the living organism is not only a complex of
chemical materials and a bearer of physical forces, but also possesses
a special organization, a structure, by means of which it is very
essentially differentiated from the inorganic world, and in virtue of
which it alone is designated as living."

Here, then, the distinction between living and non-living nature is
clearly and definitely expressed, and Hertwig expresses himself just as
definitely when he says (p. 21): "Whereas, but a few decades ago a
scientific materialistic conception of the world issuing from a
onesided, unhistorical point of view, misjudged the significance of the
historic religious and ethical forces in the development of mankind, a
change has become apparent in this regard."

To this gratifying testimony against materialism the distinguished
naturalist added an equally valuable testimony regarding Darwinism on
the occasion of the naturalists' convention in 1900. He there sketched
an excellent summary of the "Development of Biology in the Nineteenth
Century," in which he decidedly opposes the materialistic-mechanical
conception of life. In so doing he also touches upon Haeckel's
carbon-hypothesis, to which the latter still clings, and says: "That
from the properties of carbon, combined with the properties of oxygen,
hydrogen, nitrogen, etc., in certain proportions albumen should result,
is a process which in its essence is as incomprehensible as that a
living cell should arise from a certain organization of different
albumina." Then the speaker is inevitably led to speak of the doctrine
of Descent and Darwinism.

In the first place he declares definitely that ontogeny alone, i.e.,
the development of the individual being, is "capable of a direct
scientific investigation." On the other hand we move in the domain of
hypotheses in dealing with the further question: "How have the species
of organisms living to-day originated in the course of the world's
history?" This is a very valuable admission in view of Haeckel's
dogmatic assertion that the descent of man from the ape is a "certain
historical fact." Very moderate and pertinent are also the further
words of the speaker: "Of course, a philosophically trained
investigator will regard it as axiomatic that the organisms which
inhabit our earth to-day did not exist in their present form in earlier
periods of the earth and that they had to pass through a process of
development, beginning with the simplest forms."

"But in the attempt to outline in detail the particular form in which a
species of animals of our day existed in remote antiquity, we lose the
safe ground of experience. For out of the countless millions of
organisms, that lived in earlier periods of the earth, the duration of
which is measured by millions of years, only scanty skeleton remains
have by way of exception been preserved in a fossil state. From these
naturally but a very imperfect and hypothetical representation can be
formed of the soft bodies with which they were once clothed. And even
then it remains forever doubtful whether the progeny of the prehistoric
creature, the scant remains of which we study, has not become entirely
extinct, so that it can in no way be regarded as the progenitor of any
creature living at present." I should like to know wherein this differs
radically from Fleischmann's contention in his "Descendenztheorie" (p.
10.) For we find stated here what Fleischmann emphasizes so much, viz.,
that with the problem of Descent we leave the domain of experience. It
is worthy of special note in this connection that Hertwig likewise
evidently regards as the sole really empirically and inductively
serviceable proof of Descent, that which is drawn from palaeontology,
from prehistoric animal and plant remains. He makes not the least
mention of the indirect proofs taken from ontogenetic development or
comparative anatomy, to which the Darwinians and advocates of Descent
love so much to appeal, because they feel that the real inductive proof
is lacking and totally fails to sustain their position. Hertwig next
points out that the problem of Descent stirred scientific as well as
lay circles twice during the past century. He then pays Lamarck and
Darwin the necessary tribute, at which we cannot take offense since he
was reared in the Darwinian atmosphere of Jena. I also willingly admit
that Darwinism served science as a "powerful ferment," even if I must
emphasize just as decidedly how harmful it was that this "ferment" was
introduced into lay circles at an unseasonable time by the apostles of
materialism. For while it was very well adapted to bring about in
educated circles a fermentation which produced beneficial results, in
uncritical lay-circles this ferment produced nothing but a corruption
of world-views.

Hertwig then designates "Struggle for Existence," Survival of the
Fittest, and Selection, as "very indefinite expressions." "With too
general terms, one does not explain the individual case or produces
only the appearance of an explanation whereas in every case the true
causative relations remain in the dark. But it is the duty of
scientific investigation to establish for each observed effect the
prevenient cause, or more correctly, since nothing results from a
single cause, to discover the various causes."

"The origin of the world of organisms from natural causes, however, is
certainly an unusually complicated and difficult problem. It is just as
little capable of being solved by a single magic formula as every
disease is of yielding to a panacea. By the very act of proclaiming the
omnipotence of natural selection, Weismann found he was forced to the
admission that: "as a rule we cannot furnish the proof that a definite
adaptation has originated through natural selection," in other words:
We know nothing in reality of the complexity of causes which has
produced the given phenomenon. So we may on the contrary, with Spencer,
speak of the "Impotence of Natural Selection.""

"In this scientific struggle with which the past century closed, it
seems necessary to distinguish between the doctrine of evolution and
the theory of selection. They are based on entirely different
principles. For with Huxley we can say: "Even if the Darwinian
hypothesis were blown away, the doctrine of Evolution would remain
standing where it stood." In it we possess an acquisition of our
century which rests on facts, and which undoubtedly ranks amongst its

This last sentence affirms exactly what I have repeatedly asserted: the
doctrine of Descent remains, Darwinism passes away. Hertwig then is
decidedly of opinion that Darwinism entirely fails in the individual
case because in its application the basis of experience vanishes.
Indeed, according to him, phylogeny is not at all capable of direct
scientific investigation. These are all important admissions which one
would certainly have considered impossible twenty years ago; they
unequivocally indicate the decline of Darwinian views, and in a certain
way also harmonize with Fleischmann's work.

True, Hertwig still clings to the thought of Descent, but apparently no
longer as to a conclusion of natural science. This appears from the
assertion: "Ontogeny alone is capable of a direct scientific (he
evidently speaks of natural science) investigation," and from the other
statement that a _philosophically_ trained investigator will accept it
(Descent) as axiomatic although it belongs to the domain of hypothesis.
What else does this mean but that: We have no specific knowledge of
Descent but we believe in it. In short, this is not natural science but
natural philosophy; it forms no constituent part of our certain
knowledge of nature but it is one aspect of our world-view.

All the above-quoted assertions of Hertwig are calm and well-considered
and show a decided deviation from the Darwinian position. Above all we
are pleased to note that he appropriates Spencer's phrase regarding the
"Impotence of Natural Selection" and that in the citation from Huxley
he at least admits the possibility that the Darwinian doctrine will be
"wafted away."

It is also proper to mention here the fact that in another place
Hertwig no longer recognizes so fully the dogma set up by Fritz Mueller
and Haeckel which is so closely bound up with Darwinism. I mean the
so-called "biogenetic principle" according to which the individual
organism is supposed to repeat in its development the development of
the race during the course of ages.

In his book: "The Cell and the Tissue" (Die Zelle und die Gewebe, II.
Jena 1898, p. 273) Hertwig says: "We must drop the expression:
'repetition of forms of extinct ancestors' and employ instead:
repetition of forms which accord with the laws of organic development
and lead from the simple to the complex. We must lay special emphasis
on the point that in the embryonic forms even as in the developed
animal forms general laws of the development of the organized
body-substance find expression."

Any one can subscribe to these statements; in truth they contain
something totally different from the "biogenetic principle"; for
Haeckel has really no interest in so general a truth, but is intent
only upon a proof of Descent.

Hertwig continues: "In order to make our train of thought clear, let us
take the egg-cell. Since the development of every organism begins with
it, the primitive condition is in no way recapitulated from the time
when perhaps only single-celled amoebas existed on our planet. For
according to our theory the egg-cell, for instance, of a now extant
mammal is no simple and indifferent, purposeless structure, as it is
often represented, (as according to Haeckel's "biogenetic principle" it
would necessarily be); we see in it, in fact, the extraordinarily
complex end-product of a very long historic process of development,
through which the organic substance has passed since that hypothetical
epoch of single-celled organisms."

"If the eggs of a mammal now differ very essentially from those of a
reptile and of an amphibian because in their organization they
represent the beginnings only of mammals, even as these represent only
the beginnings of reptiles and amphibians, by how much more must they
differ from those hypothetical single-celled amoebas which could as yet
show no other characteristics than to reproduce amoebas of their own

This is a view which has frequently been clearly expressed by
anti-Darwinians: The egg-cells of the various animals are in themselves
fundamentally different and can therefore have nothing in common but
similarity of structure. In opposition to Hertwig, Haeckel in his
superficial way deduces from it an internal similarity as well. After a
few polite bows before his old teacher, Haeckel, Hertwig thus
summarizes his view: "Ontogenetic (that is, those stages in the
individual development) stages therefore give us only a greatly changed
picture of the phylogenetic (i.e., genealogical) stages as they may
once have existed in primitive ages, but do not correspond to them in
their actual content." This is a very resigned position, very far
removed from Haeckel's certainty and orthodoxy.

To sum up: O. Hertwig has become a serious heretic in matters
Darwinian. Will Haeckel, in his usual manner try to cast suspicion on
Hertwig also? For Haeckel himself says (Free Science and Free Doctrine,
Stuttgart, 1878, p. 85): "Since I am not bound by fear to the Berlin
Tribunal of Science or by anxieties regarding the loss of influential
Berlin connections, as are most of my like-minded colleagues, I do not
hesitate here as elsewhere to express my honest conviction, frankly and
freely, regardless of the anger which perhaps real or pretended privy
councillors in Berlin may feel upon hearing the unadorned truth."

Verily, it is a matter of suspense to know whether his school will now
pour forth their wrath upon O. Hertwig, or whether finally the
discovery will not be made in Jena that Hertwig secretly possessed
himself of his position in Berlin, in the same manner as Fleischmann
obtained his at Erlangen, viz., by a promise of desertion from


We may conveniently summarize what we have said in the foregoing
chapters in the following statement: The theory of Descent is almost
universally recognized to-day by naturalists as a working hypothesis.
Still, in spite of assertions to the contrary, no conclusive proof of
it has as yet been forthcoming. Nevertheless it cannot be denied that
the theory provides us with an intelligible explanation of a series of
problems and facts which cannot be so well explained on other grounds.

On the other hand, Darwinism, i.e., the theory of Natural Selection by
means of the Struggle for Existence, is being pushed to the wall all
along the line. The bulk of naturalists no longer recognizes its
validity, and even those who have not yet entirely discarded it, are at
least forced to admit that the Darwinian explanation now possesses a
very subordinate significance.

In the place of Darwinian principles, new ideas are gradually winning
general acceptance, which, while they are in harmony with the
principles of adaptation and use, (Lamarck) enunciated before the time
of Darwin, nevertheless attribute a far-reaching importance to _internal
forces of development_. These new conceptions necessarily involve
the admission that _Evolution has not been a purely mechanical


_Science and Christianity_


_Translated from the German_

The author among other things says in the preface: I wish to make clear
to my readers how little real science is hidden behind the fine phrases
and sounding words or the infidel, and how little he himself understands
of the material creation which he affirms to be the only one.... The
Christian and Biblical conception of the universe is more logical, more
harmonious, more in accordance with facts, therefore, more scientific
than all philosophies, all systems, materialistic and atheistic.
Contents of the book:

    Chapter   I. Progress
    Chapter  II. Evolution and Modern Science
    Chapter III. Christians and Science
    Chapter  IV. Science
    Chapter   V. Materialism

One of the many favorable reviews: It is a view of much scope, and so
far as it attempts reconciliation between science and christianity,
is eminently successful. There can be no doubt that at present, when
there is so pronounced a disposition to follow every fad in science,
especially if it opposes the Bible, such a book should have a wide
reading and is adapted to accomplish much good.

_Price $1.50_

Burlington, Iowa

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