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Title: Creation or Evolution? - A Philosophical Inquiry
Author: Curtis, George Ticknor
Language: English
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A Philosophical Inquiry.



New York:
D. Appleton and Company,
1, 3, And 5 Bond Street.

Copyright, 1887.
by George Ticknor Curtis.

    LEWIS A. SAYRE, M. D.,
    This Book

    "_Dost thou not know, my new astronomer!
    Earth, turning from the sun, brings night to man?
    Man, turning from his God, brings endless night;
    Where thou canst read no morals, find no friend,
    Amend no manners, and expect no peace._"



Perhaps it is expected of a writer who steps out of the sphere of his
ordinary pursuits, and deals with such a subject as that which is
treated in this work, that he will account for his so doing. It is not
necessary for me to say that no class of men can have a monopoly in any
subject. But I am quite willing to take my readers into my confidence
so far as to state how I came to write this book.

Most men, who have a special pursuit, find the necessity for recreation
of some kind. Some take it in one way, and some in another. It has been
my habit through life to seek occasional relief from the monotony of
professional vocations in intellectual pursuits of another character.
Having this habit--which I have found by experience has no tendency
to lessen one's capacity for the duties of a profession, or one's
relish of its occupations--I some years ago took up the study of the
modern doctrine of animal evolution. Until after the death of the late
Mr. Charles Darwin, I had not given a very close attention to this
subject. The honors paid to his memory, and due to his indefatigable
research and extensive knowledge, led me to examine his "Descent of
Man" and his "Origin of Species," both of which I studied with care,
and I trust with candor. I was next induced to examine the writings
of Mr. Herbert Spencer on the subject of evolution, with which I had
also been previously unacquainted except in a general way. I was a
good deal surprised at the extent of Mr. Spencer's reputation as a
thinker, and by the currency which his peculiar philosophy has had in
this country, where it has led, among the young and inexperienced, as
well as among older persons, to very incorrect habits of reasoning on
subjects of the highest importance. The result of my studies of these
writers is the present book. I have written it because I have seen,
or believe that I have seen, where the conflict arises between some
of the deductions of modern science and the principles which ought to
regulate not only religious belief, but belief in anything that is
not open to the direct observation of our senses. But I trust that I
shall not be understood as having written for the purpose of specially
defending the foundations of religious belief. This is no official
duty of mine. How theologians manage, or ought to manage, the argument
which is to convince men of the existence and methods of God, it is
not for me to say. But a careful examination of the new philosophy
has convinced me that those who are the special teachers of religious
truth have need of great caution in the admissions or concessions which
they make, when they undertake to reconcile some of the conclusions
of modern scientists with belief in a Creator. I do not here speak of
the Biblical account of the creation, but I speak of that belief in
a Creator which is to be deduced from the phenomena of nature. While
there are naturalists, scientists, and philosophers at the present
day, whose speculations do not exclude the idea of a Supreme Being,
there are others whose theories are entirely inconsistent with a belief
in a personal God, the Creator and Governor of the universe. Moreover,
although there are great differences in this respect between the
different persons who accept evolution in some form, the whole doctrine
of the development of distinct species out of other species makes
demands upon our credulity which are irreconcilable with the principles
of belief by which we regulate, or ought to regulate, our acceptance
of any new matter of belief. The principles of belief which we apply
in the ordinary affairs of life are those which should be applied to
scientific or philosophical theories; and inasmuch as the judicial
method of reasoning upon facts is at once the most satisfactory and the
most in accordance with common sense, I have here undertaken to apply
it to the evidence which is supposed to establish the hypothesis of
animal evolution, in contrast with the hypothesis of special creations.

I am no ecclesiastic. I advance no arguments in favor of one or another
interpretation of the Scriptures about which there is controversy among
Christians. While I firmly believe that God exists, and that he has
made a revelation to mankind, whereby he has given us direct assurance
of immortality, I do not know that this belief disqualifies me from
judging, upon proper principles of evidence, of the soundness of a
theory which denies that he specially created either the body or the
mind of man. How far the hypothesis of evolution, by destroying our
belief that God specially created us, tends to negative any purpose
for which we can suppose him to have made to us a revelation of our
immortality, it is for the theologian to consider. For myself, I am
not conscious that in examining the theory of evolution I have been
influenced by my belief in what is called revealed religion. I have,
at all events, studiously excluded from the argument all that has been
inculcated by the Hebrew or the Christian records as authorized or
inspired teachings, and have treated the Mosaic account of the creation
like any other hypothesis of the origin of man and the other animals.
The result of my study of the hypothesis of evolution is, that it is an
ingenious but delusive mode of accounting for the existence of either
the body or the mind of man; and that it employs a kind of reasoning
which no person of sound judgment would apply to anything that might
affect his welfare, his happiness, his estate, or his conduct in the
practical affairs of life.

He who would truly know what the doctrine of evolution is, and to
what it leads, must literally begin at the beginning. He must free
his mind from the cant of agnosticism and from the cant of belief. He
must refuse to accept dogmas on the authority of any one, be they the
dogmas of the scientist, or of the theologian. He must learn that his
mental nature is placed under certain laws, as surely as his corporeal
structure; and he must cheerfully obey the necessities which compel him
to accept some conclusions and to reject others. Keeping his reasoning
powers in a well-balanced condition, he must prove all things, holding
fast to that which is in conformity with sound deduction, and to that
alone. But all persons may not be able to afford the time to pursue
truth in this way, or may not have the facilities for the requisite
research. It seemed to me, therefore, that an effort to do for them
what they can not do for themselves would be acceptable to a great many

It may be objected that the imaginary philosopher whom I have
introduced in some of my chapters under the name of Sophereus, or the
searcher after wisdom, debating the doctrines of evolution with a
supposed disciple of that school, whom I have named Kosmicos, is an
impossible person. It may perhaps be said that the conception of a man
absolutely free from all dogmatic religious teaching, from all bias to
any kind of belief, and yet having as much knowledge of various systems
of belief as I have imputed to this imaginary person, would in modern
society be the conception of an unattainable character. My answer to
this criticism would be that I felt myself at liberty to imagine any
kind of character that would suit my purpose. How successfully I have
carried out the idea of a man in mature life entirely free from all
preconceived opinions, and forming his beliefs upon principles of
pure reason, it is for my readers to judge. With regard to the other
interlocutor in the dialogues, I hope it is not necessary for me to
say that I do not impute all of his opinions or arguments to the
professors of the evolution school, or to any section of it. He is a
representative of the effects of some of their teachings, but not an
individual portrait. But as, for the purposes of the antagonism, it
was expedient to put into the mouth of this person whatever can be
said in favor of the hypothesis of evolution, it became necessary to
make him represent the dogmatic side of the theory; and thus to make
the collision and contrast between the minds of the two debaters as
strong as I could. Controversial discussion in the form of debate has
been used from the time of Plato. While I have adopted a method, I have
not presumed to imitate its great exemplars. But for the value of that
method I shall presently cite weighty testimony. It was a relief to
me to resort to it after having pursued the subject in the more usual
form of discussion; and indeed it forced itself upon me as a kind of
necessity, because it seemed the fairest way of presenting what could
be said on both sides of the question. I hope it may have the good
fortune to keep alive the interest of the reader, after he has perused
the previous chapters.

One disadvantage of all positive writing or discourse is that there is
no one to confute, to contradict, or to maintain the negative. At the
bar, and in some public assemblies, there is an antagonist; and truth
is elicited by the collision. But in didactic writing, especially on a
philosophical topic, it is best to introduce an antagonist, and to make
him speak in his own person. Two of the best thinkers of our time have
forcibly stated the advantage--the necessity, in short--of personal
debate. Mr. John Stuart Mill, in his essay on Liberty, observes that--

"The loss of so important an aid to the intelligent and living
apprehension of a truth as is afforded by the necessity of explaining
it to or defending it against opponents, though not sufficient to
outweigh, is no trifling drawback from the benefits of its universal
recognition. Where this advantage can not be had, I confess I should
like to see the teachers of mankind endeavoring to provide a substitute
for it; some contrivance for making the difficulties of the question as
present to the learner's consciousness as if they were pressed upon him
by a dissentient champion eager for his conversion.

"But instead of seeking contrivances for this purpose, they have lost
those they formerly had. The Socratic dialectics, so magnificently
exemplified in the dialogues of Plato, were a contrivance of this
description. They were essentially a discussion of the great questions
of life and philosophy, directed with consummate skill to the purpose
of convincing any one, who had merely adopted the commonplaces of
received opinion, that he did not understand the subject--that he as
yet attached no definite meaning to the doctrines he professed, in
order that, becoming aware of his ignorance, he might be put in the way
to attain a stable belief, resting on a clear apprehension both of the
meaning of doctrines and of their evidence. The school disputations
of the middle ages had a similar object. They were intended to make
sure that the pupil understood his own opinion, and (by necessary
correlation) the opinion opposed to it, and could enforce the grounds
of one and confute those of the other. The last-mentioned contests
had, indeed, the incurable defect that the premises appealed to were
taken from authority, not from reason; and as a discipline to the mind
they were in every respect inferior to the powerful dialectics which
formed the intellects of the 'Socratici viri.' But the modern mind
owes far more to both than it is generally willing to admit; and the
present modes of instruction contain nothing which in the smallest
degree supplies the place either of the one or of the other.... It
is the fashion of the present time to disparage negative logic--that
which points out weakness in theory or errors in practice, without
establishing positive truths. Such negative criticism would indeed
be poor enough as an ultimate result, but as a means to attaining
any positive knowledge or conviction worthy the name, it can not be
valued too highly; and until people are again systematically trained
to it there will be few great thinkers, and a low general average of
intellect in any but the mathematical and physical departments of
speculation. On any other subject no one's opinions deserve the name
of knowledge, except so far as he has either had forced upon him by
others, or gone through of himself, the same mental process which would
have been required of him in carrying on an active controversy with

Mr. Grote, in his admirable work on "Plato and the other Companions of
Socrates," has the following passage:

"Plato is usually extolled by his admirers as the champion of the
Absolute--of unchangeable forms, immutable truth, objective necessity,
cogent and binding on every one. He is praised for having refuted
Protagoras, who can find no standard beyond the individual recognition
and belief of his own mind or that of some one else. There is no doubt
that Plato often talks in that strain, but the method followed in his
dialogues, and the general principles of methods which he lays down
here as well as elsewhere, point to a directly opposite conclusion.
Of this the Phædrus is a signal instance. Instead of the extreme of
generality, it proclaims the extreme of speciality. The objection
which the Socrates of the Phædrus advances against the didactic
efficacy of written discourse is founded on the fact that it is the
same to all readers--that it takes no cognizance of the differences
of individual minds nor of the same mind at different times. Socrates
claims for dialectic debate the valuable privilege that it is constant
action and reaction between two individual minds--an appeal by the
inherent force and actual condition of each to the like elements in the
other--an ever-shifting presentation of the same topics, accommodated
to the measure of intelligence and cast of emotion in the talkers
and at the moment. The individuality of each mind--both questioner
and respondent--is here kept in view as the governing condition of
the process. No two minds can be approached by the same road or by
the same interrogation. The questioner can not advance a step except
by the admission of the respondent. Every respondent is the measure
to himself. He answers suitably to his own belief; he defends by
his own suggestions; he yields to the pressure of contradiction and
inconsistency _when he feels them_, and not before. Each dialogist is
(to use the Protagorean phrase) the measure to himself of truth and
falsehood, according as he himself believes it. Assent or dissent,
whichever it may be, springs only from the free working of the
individual mind in its actual condition then and there. It is to the
individual mind alone that appeal is made, and this is what Protagoras
asks for.

"We thus find, in Plato's philosophical character, two extreme opposite
tendencies and opposite poles co-existent. We must recognize them both,
but they can never be reconciled; sometimes he obeys and follows the
one, sometimes the other.

"If it had been Plato's purpose to proclaim and impose upon every one
something which he called 'Absolute Truth,' one and the same alike
imperative upon all, he would best proclaim it by preaching or writing.
To modify this 'Absolute,' according to the varieties of the persons
addressed, would divest it of its intrinsic attribute and excellence.
If you pretend to deal with an Absolute, you must turn away your eyes
from all diversity of apprehending intellects and believing subjects."

With such testimony to the value of dialectic debate, I hope that my
adoption of it as a method will be regarded as something better than an

Mr. Spencer, in one of his works,[1] referring to and quoting from
Berkeley's "Dialogues of Hylas and Philolaus," observes that "imaginary
conversation affords great facilities for gaining a victory. When
you can put into an adversary's mouth just such replies as suit
your purpose, there is little difficulty in reaching the desired
conclusion." I have not written to gain a victory; and, indeed, I
am quite aware that it would be impossible to gain one over those
with whom I can have no common ground of reasoning. In the imaginary
conversations in this work, I have taken great care not to put into
the mouth of the supposed representative of the doctrine of evolution
anything that would suit my own purpose; and, in every instance in
which I have represented him as relying on the authority of Mr. Darwin
or of Mr. Spencer, I have either made him quote the words or have made
him state the positions as I suppose they must be understood, and have
referred the reader to the proper page in the works of those writers.

And here I will render all honor to the admirable candor with which Mr.
Darwin discussed objections to his theory which have been propounded by
others, and suggested further difficulties himself. If I do not pay the
same tribute to Mr. Spencer, the reason will be found in those portions
of my work in which I have had occasion to call in question his methods
of reasoning.

Some repetition of facts and arguments will be found in the following
pages in the different aspects in which the subject is treated. This
has been intentional. When the tribunal that is addressed is a limited
and special one, and is composed of a high order of minds accustomed
to deal with such a science, for example, as jurisprudence, he who
undertakes to produce conviction can afford to use condensation.
He seldom has to repeat what he has once said; and often, the more
compact his argument, the more likely it will be to command assent if
it is clear as well as close. But this work is not addressed to such a
tribunal. It is written for various classes of readers, some of whom
have already a special acquaintance with the subject, some of whom have
less, and some of whom have now none at all. It is designed to explain
what the theory of evolution is, and to encounter it in the mode
best adapted to reach the various minds of which the mass of readers
is composed. If I had written only for scientists and philosophers, I
should not have repeated anything.

For similar reasons I have added to this volume both a general index
and a glossary of the scientific and technical terms which I have had
occasion to use.

The whole of the text of this work had been written and electrotyped
before I had an opportunity to see the very interesting "Life and
Correspondence" of the illustrious naturalist, the late Louis Agassiz,
edited by his accomplished widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, and
published in October, 1885, by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston.
For a long period of years, after his residence in this country began,
and until my removal from Boston to New York in 1862, I enjoyed as much
of his intimacy as would be likely to subsist between persons of such
different pursuits. I believe that I understood his general views of
creation, from his lectures and conversation. It is now made entirely
certain that he never accepted the doctrine of evolution of distinct
types out of preceding and different types by ordinary generation;
and it has been to me an inexpressible satisfaction to find that the
opinions and reasoning contained in my work, and adopted independently
of any influence of his, are confirmed by what has now been given to
the world. I need only refer to his letter to Prof. Sedgwick, written
in June, 1845, and to his latest utterance, the paper on "Evolution
and Permanence of Type," in the thirty-third volume of the "Atlantic
Monthly," published after his lamented death in 1873, for proof
that his opinions on the Darwinian theory never changed. Of all the
scientists whom I have ever known, or whose writings I have read,
Agassiz always seemed to me the broadest as well as the most exact and
logical reasoner.

 NEW YORK, _September, 1886_.


 [1] "Principles of Psychology," vol. i, p. 336.



  Nature and importance of the subject--Is there a relation of Creator
  and creature between God and man?--Rules of rational belief--Is
  natural theology a progressive science?                           1


  The Platonic Kosmos compared with the Darwinian theory of
  evolution                                                        44


  The Darwinian pedigree of man--The evolution of organisms out of
  other organisms, according to the theory of Darwin               87


  The doctrine of evolution according to Herbert Spencer          131


  The doctrine of evolution according to Herbert Spencer further
  considered                                                      167


  The doctrine of evolution according to Herbert Spencer further
  considered                                                      200


  Mr. Spencer's agnosticism--His theory of the origin of religious
  beliefs--The mode in which mankind are to lose the consciousness
  of a personal God                                               257


  The existence, attributes, and methods of God deducible from the
  phenomena of Nature--Origin of the solar system                 300


  Does evolution account for the phenomena of society and of nature?
  --Necessity for a conception of a personal actor--Mr. Spencer's
  protoplasmic origin of all organic life--The Mosaic account of
  creation treated as a hypothesis which may be scientifically
  contrasted with evolution                                       334


  "Species," "races," and "varieties"--Sexual division--Causation 372


  Origin of the human mind--Mr. Spencer's theory of the composition
  of mind--His system of morality                                 394


  Mr. Spencer's philosophy as a whole--His psychology, and his
  system of ethics--The sacred origin of moral injunctions, and
  the secularization of morals                                    434


  Sophereus discourses on the nature and origin of the human mind 467

  GLOSSARY                                                        547

  INDEX                                                           557



 Nature and importance of the subject--Is there a relation of Creator
 and creature between God and man?--Rules of rational belief--Is
 natural theology a progressive science?

Man finds himself in the universe a conscious and thinking being. He
has to account to himself for his own existence. He is impelled to this
by an irresistible propensity, which is constantly leading him to look
both inward and outward for an answer to the questions: What am I? How
came I to be? What is the limit of my existence? Is there any other
being in the universe between whom and myself there exists the relation
of Creator and creature?

The whole history of the human mind, so far as we have any reliable
history, is marked by this perpetual effort to find a First Cause.

However wild and fantastic may be the idea which the savage conceives
of a being stronger and wiser than himself; however groveling and
sensual may be his conception of the form, or attributes, or action
of that being, he is, when he strives after the comprehension of his
deity, engaged in the same intellectual effort that is made by the
most civilized and cultivated of mankind, when, speculating upon the
origin of the human soul, or its relation to the universe, or the
genesis of the material world, they reach the sublime conception of
an infinite God, the creator of all other spiritual existences and
of all the forms of animal life, or when they end in the theory that
there is no God, or in that other theory which supposes that what we
call the creation, man included, is an evolution out of primordial
matter, which has been operated upon by certain fixed laws, without any
special interposition of a creating power, exerted in the production
of the forms of animal life that now inhabit this earth, or ever have
inhabited it. In the investigation of these contrasted theories, it
is necessary to remember that the faculties of the human mind are
essentially the same in all conditions of civilization or barbarism;
that they differ only in the degree of their growth, activity, and
power of reasoning, and therefore that there must be a common standard
to which to refer all beliefs. The sole standard to which we can refer
a belief in anything is its rationality, or a comparison between that
which is believed and that which is most probable, according to the
power of human reason to weigh probabilities. In the untutored and
uncultivated savage, this power, although it exists, is still very
feeble; partly because it is exercised upon only a few objects, and
partly because the individual has comparatively but little opportunity
to know all the elements which should be taken into account in
determining a question of moral probabilities.

In the educated and cultivated man this power of judging probabilities,
of testing beliefs by their rationality, is carried, or is capable of
being carried, to the highest point of development, so as to comprehend
in the calculation the full elements of the question, or at least to
reduce the danger of some fatal omission to the minimum. It is, of
course, true that the limited range of our faculties may prevent a full
view of all the elements of any question of probability, even when our
faculties have attained the highest point of development experienced
by the age in which we happen to live. This renders the rationality of
any hypothesis less than an absolutely certain test of truth. But this
rationality is all that we have to apply to any question of belief; and
if we attend carefully to the fact that moral probabilities constitute
the groundwork of all our beliefs, and note the mental processes by
which we reach conclusions upon any question depending upon evidence,
we shall find reason to regard this power of testing beliefs by a
conformity between the hypotheses and that which is most probable to
be the most glorious attribute of the human understanding, as it is
unquestionably the safest guide to which we can trust ourselves.

It may be that, while philosophers will not object to my definition
of rationality, churchmen will ask what place I propose to assign to
authority in the formation of beliefs. I answer, in the first place,
that I am seeking to make myself understood by plain but reflecting
and reasoning people. Such persons will perceive that what I mean by
the rationality of a belief in any hypothesis is its fitness to be
accepted and acted upon because it has in its favor the strongest
probabilities of the case, so far as we can grasp those probabilities.
I know of no other foundation for a belief in anything; for belief
is the acceptance by the mind of some proposition, statement, or
supposed fact, the truth of which depends upon evidence addressed to
our senses, or to our intellectual perceptions, or to both. In the
next place, in regard to the influence of authority over our beliefs,
it is to be observed that the existence of the authority is a question
to be determined by evidence, and this question, therefore, of itself
involves an application of the test of rationality, or conformity with
what is probable. But, assuming that the authority is satisfactorily
established, it is not safe to leave all minds to the teaching of that
authority, without the aid of the reasoning, which, independent of
all authority, would conduct to the same conclusion. There are many
minds to whom it is useless to say, You are commanded to believe.
The question instantly arises, Commanded by whom, or what? And if the
answer is, By the Church, or by the Bible, and the matter is left to
rest upon that statement, there is great danger of unbelief. It is
apparent that a large amount of what is called infidelity, or unbelief,
now prevailing in the world, is due to the fact that men are told that
they are commanded to believe, as if they were to be passive recipients
of what is asserted, and because so little is addressed to their

I do not wish to be understood as maintaining that there is no place
for authority in matters of what is called religious belief. I am quite
sensible that there may be such a thing as authority even in regard to
our beliefs; that it is quite within the range of possibilities that
there should be such a relation between the human soul and an infinite
Creator as to require the creature to accept by faith whatever a proved
revelation requires that intelligent creature to believe. But, in
view of the fact that what is specially called revealed religion is
addressed to an intelligent creature, to whom the revelation itself
must be proved by some evidence that will satisfy the mind, there is an
evident necessity for treating the rationality of a belief in God as
an independent question. In some way, by some process, we must reach a
belief in the existence of a being before we can consider the claims of
a message which that being is supposed to have sent to us. What we have
to work with, before we can approach the teaching of what is called
revealed religion, is the mind of man and the material universe. Do
these furnish us with the rational basis for a belief in God?

And here I shall be expected to say what I mean by a belief in God.
I have neither so little reverence for what I myself believe in, nor
so little respect for my readers, as to offer them anything but the
common conception of God. All that is necessary for me to do, in
order to put my own mind in contact with that of the reader, is to
express my conception of God just as it would be expressed by any one
who is accustomed to think of the being called God by the Christian,
the Jew, the Mohammedan, or by some other branches of the human race.
These different divisions of mankind may differ in regard to some of
the attributes of the Deity, or his dealings with men, or the history
or course of his government of the world. But what is common to them
all is a belief in God as the Supreme Being, who is self-existing and
eternal, by whose will all things and all other beings were created,
who is infinite in power and wisdom and in goodness and benevolence. As
an intellectual conception, this idea of a Supreme Being, one only God,
who never had a beginning and can have no end, and who is the creator
of all other beings, excludes, of course, the polytheism of the ancient
civilized nations, or that of the present barbarous tribes; and it
especially excludes the idea of what the Greeks called Destiny, which
was a power that governed the gods as well as the human race, and was
anterior and superior to Jove himself. The simple conception of the one
God held by the Christian, the Jew, or the Mohammedan, as the First
Cause of the universe and all that it embraces, creating all things
and all other beings by his will, in contrast with the modern idea
that they came into existence without the volition of a conscious and
intelligent being making special creations, is what I present to the
mind of the reader.

This idea of God as a matter of belief presents, I repeat, a question
of moral probabilities. The existence of the universe has to be
accounted for somehow. We can not shut out this inquiry from our
thoughts. The human being who never speculates, never thinks, upon the
origin of his own soul, or upon the genesis of this wondrous frame of
things external to himself, or upon his relations to some superior
being, is a very rare animal. If he is much more than an animal, he
will have some idea of these things; and the theories by which some of
the most cultivated and acute intellects of our race, from the widest
range of accumulated physical facts and phenomena yet gathered, have
undertaken to account for the existence of species without referring
them to the volition of an infinite creator, are at once a proof of the
universal pressure of the question of creation upon the human mind, and
of the logical necessity for treating it as a question dependent upon
evidence and probability.

I lay out of consideration, now, the longing of the human mind to
find a personal God and Creator. This sentiment, this yearning for an
infinite father, this feeling of loneliness in the universe without the
idea of God, is certainly an important moral factor in the question
of probability; but I omit it now from the number of proofs, because
it is a sentiment, and because I wish to subject the belief in God as
the Creator to the cold intellectual process by which we may discover
a conformity between that hypothesis and the phenomena of Nature as a
test of the probable truth. If such a conformity can be satisfactorily
shown, and if the result of the process as conducted can fairly claim
to be that the existence of God the Creator has by far the highest
degree of probability above and beyond all other hypotheses that have
been resorted to to account for our existence, the satisfaction of a
moral feeling of the human heart may well become a source of happiness,
a consolation in all the evils of this life, and a support in the hour
of death.

But in this preliminary chapter I ought to state what I understand to
be the scientific hypothesis or hypotheses with which I propose to
contrast the idea of God as the creator of species by applying the test
of probability. To discuss the superior claims of one hypothesis over
another, without showing that there is a real conflict between them,
would be to set up a man of straw for the sake of knocking it down as
if it were a living and real antagonist. What I desire to do is not to
aim at a cheap victory by attacking something that does not call for
opposition; but it is to ascertain first whether there is now current
any explanation or hypothesis concerning the origin of the creation, or
anything that it contains, which rejects the idea of God as the creator
of that which we know to exist and as it exists, and then to ascertain
which of the two hypotheses ought to be accepted as the truth, because
it has in its favor the highest attainable amount of probability. There
is an amount of probability which becomes to us a moral demonstration,
because our minds are so constituted that conviction depends upon
the completeness with which the evidence in favor of one hypothesis
excludes the other from the category of rational beliefs.

I pass by the common sort of infidelity which rejects the idea of an
intelligent creator acting in any manner whatever, whether by special
creations or by laws of development operating on some primordial form
of animal life. But among the modern scientists who have propounded
explanations of the origin of species, I distinguish those who do not,
as I understand, deny that there was an intelligent Creator by whose
will some form of animal life was originally called into being, but who
maintain that the diversified forms of animal life which we now see
were not brought into being by the special will of the Creator as we
now know them, but that they were evolved, by a process called natural
selection, out of some lower type of animated organism. Of this class,
the late Mr. Darwin is a representative. There is, however, at least
one philosopher who carries the doctrine of evolution much farther,
and who, if I rightly understand him, rejects any act of creation,
even of the lowest and simplest type of animal existence. This is
Mr. Herbert Spencer--a writer who, while he concurs in Mr. Darwin's
general theory of natural selection as the process by which distinct
organisms have been evolved out of other organisms, does not admit of
any primal organism as the origin of the whole series of animals and as
the creation of an intelligent will.

It will be appropriate hereafter to refer to the doctrine of evolution
as a means of accounting for the existence of the human mind. At
present it is only necessary to say that I understand it to be
maintained as the hypothesis which has the highest attainable amount
of evidence in its favor, that distinct species of animals are not a
creation but a growth; and also that the mind of man is not a special
creation of a spiritual existence, but a result of a long process
by which organized matter has slowly worked itself from matter into
intellect. Wherever, for instance, these scientists may place the
non-human primate, out of which man has been evolved by what is called
natural selection, and whether they do or do not assume that he was a
creation of an intelligent will, they do not, as I understand, claim
that the primate was endowed with what we call intellect; so that at
some time there was a low form of animal life without intellect, but
intellect became evolved in the long course of countless ages, by the
process of natural selection, through the improving conditions and
better organization of that low animal which had no intellect. In
other words, we have what the scientist calls the non-human primate,
a low form of animal without intellect, but capable of so improving
its own physical organization as to create for itself and within
itself that essence which we recognize as the human mind. Here, then,
there is certainly a theory, an hypothesis, which may be and must be
contrasted with the idea that the mind of man is a spiritual essence
created by the volition of some other being having the power to create
such existences, and put into a temporary union with a physical
organization, by the establishment of a mysterious connection which
makes the body the instrument of the soul so long as the connection
exists. If I have stated correctly the theory which assigns the origin
of the human mind to the process of evolution, I have assuredly not set
up a man of straw. I stand confronted with an hypothesis which directly
encounters the idea that the human intellect is a creation, in the
sense of a direct, intelligent, conscious, and purposed production of
a special character, as the human mind and hand, in the production of
whatever is permitted to finite capacities, purposely creates some new
and independent object of its wishes, its desires, or its wants. The
human mind, says the scientist, was not created by a spiritual being as
a spiritual existence independent of matter, but it grew out of matter,
that was at first so organized that it did not manifest what we call
intellect, but that could so improve its own organization as to evolve
out of matter what we know as mind.

And here I lay out of view entirely the comparative dignity of man as a
being whose existence is to be accounted for by the one hypothesis or
the other, because this comparative dignity is not properly an element
in the question of probability. The doctrine of evolution, as expounded
by Darwin and other modern scientists, may be true, and we shall still
have reason to exclaim with Hamlet, "What a piece of work is man!"

On the other hand, the hypothesis that man is a special creation of
an infinite workman, if true, does not enhance the mere _a priori_
dignity of the human race. It may, and it will hereafter appear that
it does, establish the moral accountability of man to a supreme being,
a relation which, if I correctly understand the doctrine of evolution,
is left out of the system that supposes intellect to be evolved out of
the improving process by which matter becomes nervous organization,
whose action exhibits those manifestations which we call mind. The
moral accountability of man to a supreme being may, if it becomes
established by proper evidence, be a circumstance that distinguishes
him from other animals, and may, therefore, raise him in the scale of
being. But then this dignity is a fact that comes after the process
of reasoning has shown the relation of creator and creature, and it
should not be placed at the beginning of the process among the proofs
that are to show that relation. Mr. Darwin, in concluding his great
work, "The Descent of Man," which he maintains to have been from some
very low type of animated creature, through the apes, who became
our ancestors, and who were developed into the lowest savages, and
finally into the civilized man, has anticipated that his theory will,
he regrets to say, be "highly distasteful to many"; and he adds, by
way of parrying this disgust, that "he who has seen a savage in his
native land will not feel much shame if forced to acknowledge that the
blood of some more humble creature flows in his veins." For his own
part, he adds, he would as soon be descended from a certain heroic
little monkey who exposed himself to great danger in order to save
the life of his keeper, as from a savage who delights to torture his
enemies, offers bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide, etc. Waiving
for the present the question whether the man who is called civilized
is necessarily descended from or through the kind of savage whom Mr.
Darwin saw in the Tierra del Fuego, or whether that kind of savage is a
deteriorated offshoot from some higher human creatures that possessed
moral and intellectual characteristics of a more elevated nature, I
freely concede that this question of the dignity of our descent is not
of much logical consequence. However distasteful to us may be the idea
that we are descended from the same stock as the apes, and that their
direct ancestors are to be traced to some more humble creature until
we reach the lowest form of organized and animated matter, the dignity
of our human nature is not to be reckoned among the probabilities by
which our existence is to be accounted for. It is, in this respect,
like the feeling or sentiment which prompts us to wish to find an
infinite creator, the father of our spirits and the creator of our
bodies. As a matter of reasoning, we must prove to ourselves, by
evidence that satisfies the mind, that God exists. Having reached this
conviction, the belief in his existence becomes a vast and inestimable
treasure. But our wish to believe in God does not help us to attain
that belief. In the same way our feeling about the dignity of man, the
nobleness or ignobleness of our descent from or through one kind of
creature or another, may be a satisfaction or a dissatisfaction after
we have reached a conclusion, but it affords us no aid in arriving at a
satisfactory conclusion from properly chosen premises.

And here, in advance of the tests which I shall endeavor to apply to
the existence of God and the existence of man as a special creation, I
desire to say something respecting the question of a logical antagonism
between science and religion. I have often been a good deal puzzled to
make out what those well-meaning persons suppose, who unwarily admit
that there is no necessary antagonism between what modern science
teaches and what religion teaches. Whether there is or is not, depends
upon what we mean by science and religion. If by science we understand
the investigation of Nature, or a study of the structure and conditions
of everything that we can subject to the observation of our senses,
and the deduction of certain hypotheses from what we observe, then
we must compare the hypotheses with the teachings or conclusions
which we derive from religion. The next question, therefore, is, What
is religion? If we make it to consist in the Mosaic account of the
creation, or in the teachings of the Bible respecting God, we shall
find that we have to deal with more or less of conflict between the
interpretations that are put upon a record supposed to have been
inspired, and the conclusions of science. But if we lay aside what is
commonly understood by revealed religion, which supposes a special
communication from a superior to an inferior being of something which
the former desires the latter to know, after the latter has been for
some time in existence, then we mean by religion that belief in the
existence of a superior being which we derive from the exercise of
our reasoning powers upon whatever comes within the observation of
our senses, and upon our own intellectual faculties. In other words,
for what we call natural religion, we look both outward and inward,
in search of a belief in a Supreme Being. We look outward, because
the whole universe is a vast array of facts, from which conclusions
are to be drawn; and among this array of facts is the construction
of our bodies. We look inward, because our own minds present another
array of facts from which conclusions are to be drawn. Now, if the
conclusions which the scientist draws from the widest observation
of Nature, including the human mind itself, fail to account for the
existence of the mind of man, and natural religion does account for
it, there is an irreconcilable conflict between science and religion.
I can not avoid the conviction that Mr. Darwin has missed the point of
this conflict. "I am aware," he says, "that the conclusions arrived
at in this work will be denounced by some as highly irreligious; but
he who denounces them is bound to show why it is more irreligious to
explain the origin of man, as a distinct species by descent from a
lower form, through the laws of variation and natural selection, than
to explain the birth of the individual through the laws of ordinary
reproduction." I do not understand him, by the terms "religious" or
"irreligious," to refer to anything that involves praise or blame for
adopting one hypothesis rather than another. I suppose he meant to say
that a belief in his theory of the descent of man as a species is no
more inconsistent with a belief in God than it is to believe that the
individual is brought into being through the operation of the laws of
ordinary reproduction which God has established. This would be strictly
true, if the hypothesis of man's descent as a distinct species from
some lower form accounted for his existence by proofs that satisfy
the rules of evidence by which our beliefs ought to be and must be
determined. In that case, there would be no inconsistency between his
hypothesis and that to which natural religion conducts us. On the other
hand, if the Darwinian hypothesis fails to establish a relation between
the soul of man, as a special creation, and a competent creator, then
the antagonism between this hypothesis and natural religion is direct,
immediate, and irreconcilable; for the essence of religion consists in
that relation, and a belief in that relation is what we mean, or ought
to mean, by religion.

There is another form in which Mr. Darwin has depreciated the idea of
any antagonism between his theory and our religious ideas, but it has
the same logical defect as the suggestion which I have just considered,
because it involves the same assumption. It is put hypothetically,
but it is still an assumption, lacking the very elements of supreme
probability that can alone give it force. "Man," he observes, "may
be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, not through his
own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact
of his having so risen, instead of being aboriginally placed there,
may give him some hope for a still higher destiny in the distant
future." I certainly would not misrepresent, and I earnestly desire
to understand, this distinguished writer. It is a little uncertain
whether he here refers to the hope of immortality, or of an existence
after the connection between our minds and our bodies is dissolved, or
whether he refers to the further elevation of man on this earth in the
distant future of terrestrial time. If he referred to the hope of an
existence after what we call death, then he ought to have shown that
his theory is compatible with such a continued existence of the soul
of man. It will be one of the points on which I propose to bestow some
attention, that the doctrine of evolution is entirely incompatible with
the existence of the human soul for one instant after the brain has
ceased to act as an organism, and death has wholly supervened; because
that doctrine, if I understand it rightly, regards the intellect of
man as a high development of what in other animals is called instinct,
and instinct as a confirmed and inherited habit of animal organism to
act in a certain way. If this is a true philosophical account of the
origin and nature of intellect, it can have no possible individual
existence after the organ called the brain, which has been in the habit
of acting in a certain way, has perished, any more than there can be
a digestion of food after the stomach or other assimilating organ has
been destroyed. If, on the contrary, the mind of man is a special
creation, of a spiritual essence, placed in an intimate union with
the body for a temporary period, and made to depend for a time on the
organs of that body as its means of manifestation and the exercise of
its spiritual faculties, then it is conceivable that this union may be
severed and the mind may survive. Not only is this conceivable, but,
as I shall endeavor hereafter to show, the proof of it rises very high
in the scale of probability--so high that we may accept it as a fact,
just as confidently as we accept many things of which we can not have
absolute certainty.

And here I think it needful, although not for all readers, but for
the great majority, to lay down as distinctly as I can the rules
of evidence which necessarily govern our beliefs. I do so because,
in reading the works of many of the modern scientists who have
espoused the Darwinian doctrine of evolution, I find that the rules
of evidence are but little observed. There is a very great, often
an astonishingly great, accumulation of facts, or of assumed facts.
It is impossible not to be impressed by the learning, the industry,
and the range of these writers. Nor would I in the least impugn their
candor, or question their accuracy as witnesses of facts, which I am
not competent to dispute if I were disposed to do so. But there is one
thing for which I may suppose myself competent. I have through a long
life been accustomed to form conclusions upon facts; and this is what
every person does and must do who is asked to accept a new theory or
hypothesis of any kind upon any subject.

Most of our beliefs depend upon what is called circumstantial
evidence. There are very few propositions which address themselves to
our belief upon one direct and isolated proof. We may class most of
the perceptions of our senses among the simple and unrelated proofs
which we accept without hesitation, although there is more or less
of an unconscious and instantaneous process of reasoning, through
which we pass before the evidence of our senses is accepted and acted
upon. Then there are truths to which we yield an instant assent,
because they prove themselves, as is the case with the mathematical
or geometrical problems, as soon as we perceive the connection in the
steps of the demonstration. Besides these, there are many propositions
which, although they involve moral reasoning, have become axioms about
which we do not care to inquire, but which we assume to have been so
repeatedly and firmly established that it would be a waste of time to
go over the ground again whenever they come up. But there is a very
large class of propositions which address themselves to our belief,
which do not depend on a single perception through our senses, and are
not isolated facts, and are not demonstrable by mathematical truth, and
are not axioms accepted because they were proved long ago, and have
by general consent been adopted into the common stock of ideas. The
class of beliefs with which the rules of circumstantial evidence are
concerned are those where the truth of the proposition, or hypothesis,
is a deduction from many distinct facts, but the coexistence of which
facts leads to the inevitable conclusion that the proposition or
hypothesis is true. We can not tell why it is that moral conviction is
forced upon us by the coexistence of certain facts and their tendency
to establish a certain conclusion. All we know is, that our minds are
so constituted that we can not resist the force of circumstantial
evidence if we suffer our faculties to act as reason has taught them.
But, then, in any given case, whether we ought to yield our belief
in anything where we have only circumstantial evidence to guide us,
there are certain rules to be observed. The first of these rules is,
that every fact in a collection of proofs from which we are to draw
a certain inference must be proved independently by direct evidence,
and must not be itself a deduction from some other fact. This is the
first step in the process of arranging a chain of moral evidence.
There is a maxim in this branch of the law of evidence that you can
not draw an inference from an inference. In other words, you can not
infer a fact from some other fact, and then unite the former with two
or more independent facts to make a chain of proofs. Every link in
the chain must have its separate existence, and its existence must be
established by the same kind and degree of evidence as if it were the
only thing to be proved. The next rule is to place the several facts,
when so proved, in their proper relation to each other in the group
from which the inference is to be drawn. In circumstantial evidence a
fact may be established by the most direct and satisfactory proofs,
and yet it may have no relation to other facts with which you attempt
to associate it. For example, suppose it to be proved that A on a
certain occasion bought a certain poison, and that soon after B died
of that kind of poison; but it does not appear that A and B were ever
seen together, or stood in any relation to each other. The fact that
A bought poison would have no proper relation to the other fact that
B died of that kind of poison. But introduce by independent evidence
the third fact, that A knew B intimately, and then add the fourth
fact, that A had a special motive for wishing B's death, you have some
ground for believing that A poisoned B, although no human eye ever saw
the poison administered. From this correlation of all the facts in a
body of circumstantial evidence, there follows a third rule, namely,
that the whole collection of facts, in order to justify the inference
sought to be drawn from them, must be consistent with that inference.
Thus, the four facts above supposed are entirely consistent with the
hypothesis that A poisoned B. But leave out the two intermediate facts,
or leave out the last one, and B might as well have been poisoned by
C as by A. Hence there is a fourth rule: that the collection of facts
from which an inference is to be drawn must not only be consistent
with the probable truth of that inference, but they must exclude the
probable truth of any other inference. Thus, not only must it be shown
that A bought poison, that B died of poison, that A was intimate with
B and had a motive for wishing B's death, but, to justify a belief in
A's guilt, the motive ought to be shown to have been so strong as to
exclude the moral probability that B was poisoned by some one else,
or poisoned himself. It is in the application of these rules that in
courts of justice the minds of jurymen often become perplexed with
doubts which they can not account for, or else they yield a too easy
credence to the guilt of the accused when the question of guilt depends
upon circumstantial evidence.

I shall not spend much time in contending that these rules of evidence
must be applied to scientific investigations which are to affect
our belief in such a proposition as the descent of man from a common
ancestor with the monkey. This is not only an hypothesis depending upon
circumstantial evidence, but it is professedly a deduction from a great
range of facts and from a very complex state of facts. In reasoning
upon such subjects, when the facts which constitute the chain of
circumstantial evidence are very numerous, we are apt to regard their
greater comparative number as if it dispensed with a rigid application
of the rules of determination. Every one can see, in the illustration
above employed, borrowed from criminal jurisprudence, that the facts
which constitute the chain of circumstantial evidence ought to be
rigidly tested by the rules of determination before the guilt of the
accused can be safely drawn as a deduction from the facts. But, in
reasoning from physical facts to any given physical hypothesis where
the facts are very numerous, there is a strong tendency to relax the
rules of evidence, because, the greater the accumulation of supposed
facts becomes, the greater is the danger of placing in the chain of
evidence something that is not proved, and thus of vitiating the whole
process. To this tendency, which I have observed to be very frequent
among scientists, I should apply, without meaning any disrespect,
the term invention. A great accumulation of facts is made, following
one another in a certain order; all those which precede a certain
intermediate link are perhaps duly and independently proved, and the
same may be the case with those which follow that link. But there is
no proof of the fact that constitutes the link and makes a complete
chain of evidence. This vacuity of proof, if one may use such an
expression, is constantly occurring in the writings of naturalists, and
is often candidly admitted. It is gotten over by reasoning from the
antecedent and the subsequent facts that the intermediate facts must
have existed; and then the reasoning goes on to draw the inference of
the principal hypothesis from a chain of proof in which a necessary
intermediate link is itself a mere inference from facts which may be
just as consistent with the non-existence as with the existence of
the supposed intermediate link. In such cases we are often told very
frankly that no one has yet discovered that the intermediate link ever
actually existed; that the researches of science have not yet reached
demonstrative proof of the existence of a certain intermediate animal
or vegetable organization; that geological exploration has not yet
revealed to us all the specimens of the animal or vegetable kingdoms
that may have inhabited this globe at former periods of time; but that
the analogies which lead down or lead up to that as yet undiscovered
link in the chain are such that it must have existed, and that we may
confidently expect that the actual proof of it will be found hereafter.
The difficulty with this kind of reasoning is that it borrows from the
main hypothesis which one seeks to establish the means of showing the
facts from which the hypothesis is to be drawn as an inference. Thus,
for example, the hypothesis is that the species called man is a highly
developed animal formed by a process of natural selection that went on
for unknown ages among the individuals descended from the progenitor
of the anthropomorphous apes. The facts in the physical organization
and mental manifestations of the animal called man, when viewed
historically through all the conditions in which we know anything of
this species, lead up to that common supposed ancestor of the apes.
The facts in the physical organization and instinctive habits of the
ape, when viewed historically through all the conditions in which we
know anything of his species, show that he, too, was evolved by the
process of natural selection out of that same ancestor. Intermediate,
respectively, between the man and the monkey and their primordial
natural-selection ancestor or predecessor, there are links in the chain
of proof of which we have no evidence, and which must be supplied by
inferring their existence from the analogies which we can trace in
comparing things of which we have some satisfactory proof. Thus, the
main hypothesis, the theory of natural selection as the explanation
of the existence of distinct species of animals, is not drawn from a
complete chain of established facts, but it is helped out by inferring
from facts that are proved other facts that are not proved, but which
we have reason to expect will be discovered hereafter. I need not say
that this kind of argument will not do in the common affairs of life,
and that no good reason can be shown why our beliefs in matters of
science should be made to depend upon it.

We do not rest our belief in what is called the law of gravitation
upon any chain of proof in which it is necessary to supply a link
by assuming that it exists. The theory that bodies have a tendency
to approach each other, that the larger mass attracts to itself the
smaller by a mysterious force that operates through all space, is a
deduction from a great multitude of perpetually recurring facts that
are open to our observation, no one of which is inferred from any other
fact, while the whole excludes the moral probability that any other
hypothesis will account for the phenomena which are continually and
invariably taking place around us.

This illustration of the rules of evidence, when applied to scientific
inquiries, leads me to refer to one of the favorite postulates of
the evolution school. We are often told that it ought to be no
objection to the doctrine of evolution that it is new, or startling,
or contrary to other previous theories of the existence of species.
We are reminded again and again that Galileo's grand conception was
scouted as an irreligious as well as an irrational hypothesis, and
that the same reception attended the first promulgation of many
scientific truths which no intelligent and well-informed person now
doubts.[2] Then we have it asserted that the doctrine of evolution
is now accepted by nearly all the most advanced and accomplished
natural philosophers, especially those of the rising scientists who
have bestowed most attention upon it. Upon this there are two things
to be said: First, it is a matter of very little consequence that the
learned of a former age did not attend to the proofs of the law of
gravitation, or of any other new theory of physics, as they should
have done, and that they consequently rejected it. Their logical
habits of mind, their preconceived religious notions, and many other
disturbing causes, rendered them incapable of correct reasoning on some
particular subject, while they could reason with entire correctness
on other subjects. Secondly, the extent to which a new theory is
accepted by those whose special studies lead them to make the necessary
investigations, does not dispense with the application of the laws
of evidence to the facts which are supposed to establish the theory.
The doctrine of evolution addresses itself not only to the scientific
naturalist, but to the whole intelligent part of mankind. How is one
who does not belong to this class of investigators to regulate his
belief in the theory which they propound? Is he to take it on their
authority? or is he, while he accords to their statements of facts all
the assent which as witnesses they are entitled to expect from him, to
apply to their deduction the same principles of belief that he applies
to everything else which challenges belief, and to assent or dissent
accordingly? No one, I presume, will question that the latter is the
only way in which any new matter of belief should be approached. I have
not supposed that any scientist questions this; but I have referred to
the constant iteration that the doctrine of evolution is now generally
admitted by men of science, that the assertion, supposing it to be
true, may pass for just what it is worth. It is worth this and no
more: that candid, truthful, and competent witnesses, when they speak
of facts that they have observed, are entitled to be believed as to
the existence of those facts. When they assume facts which they do not
prove, but which are essential links in the chain of evidence, or when
the facts which they do prove do not rationally exclude every other
hypothesis excepting their own, the authority of even the whole body
of such persons is of no more account than that of any other class
of intelligent and cultivated men. In the ages when ecclesiastical
authority exercised great power over the beliefs of men upon questions
of physical science, the superiority was accorded to the authority
which claimed it, and the scientist who propounded a new physical
theory that did not suit the theologian was overborne. It seems to me
that it is a tendency of the present age to substitute the authority
of scientific experts in the place of the ecclesiastical authority
of former periods, by demanding that something more than the office
of witnesses of facts shall be accorded to them. We are told that it
is a very important proof of the soundness of deductions, that the
deductions are drawn by the greater number of the specialists who
have examined the facts. Sometimes this is carried so far as to imply
presumption in those who do not yield assent to the theory, as if it
ought to be accepted upon the authority of the experts whose proper
office it is to furnish us with the facts, and whose deductions we have
to examine upon the strength of their reasoning. Those of us who are
not professors of the particular science may be charged with ignorance
or incapacity if we do not join in the current of scientific opinion.
But, after all, the new theory challenges our belief. If we examine it
at all, we must judge of it, not by the numbers of those who propound
or accept it, or by any amount of mere authority, but by the soundness
of the reasoning by which its professors support it.

The reader is now informed of what he may expect to find discussed
in this volume. It remains for me to indicate the mode in which the
discussion will be carried on. I propose to divest my own mind, and
so far as I may to divest the mind of the reader, of all influence
from revealed religion. I shall not refer to the Mosaic account of the
creation excepting as I refer to other hypotheses. With its authority
as an account given by the Deity himself through his chosen servant,
I have here nothing to do. Nor shall I rely upon the revelation
recorded in the New Testament. All the inquiries which I propose to
make are those which lie in the domain of natural religion; and while
I can not expect, in exploring this domain, to make discoveries or to
find arguments which can claim the merit of originality, I may avoid
traveling in a well beaten path, by pursuing the line of my own
reflections, without considering whether they coincide with or differ
from the reasonings of others. Although, at a former period of my life,
I have studied the great writers whose speculations in the science
of natural theology are the most famous and important pieces in its
literature, it is more than forty years since I have looked into one of
them; and I do not propose to turn to them now, in order to see whether
they have or have not left any traces in my mind. It is quite possible
that critics may array against me the authority of some great name or
names; but even if I am to be charged with presumption in entering upon
this field, it will not be found, so far as I am conscious, that I have
borrowed an argument, imitated a method, or followed an example.

There is a passage in one of the writings of Lord Macaulay in which
that brilliant essayist maintained that natural theology is not
a progressive science. Macaulay's tendency to paradox was often
aggravated by the superficial way in which he used his multifarious
knowledge. As in the course of this work I am about to do that which
he regarded as idle, namely, to inquire whether natural religion,
aside from revelation, is of any value as a means of reaching a belief
in the existence and attributes of God and the immortality of man, I
cite the passage in which Macaulay makes the assertion that natural
theology has made no progress from the time of the Greek philosophers
to the present day: "As respects natural religion, revelation being
for the present altogether left out of the question, it is not easy to
see that a philosopher of the present day is more favorably situated
than Thales or Simonides. He has before him just the same evidences
of design in the structure of the universe that the early Greeks had.
We say just the same, for the discoveries of modern astronomers and
anatomists have really added nothing to the force of that argument
which a reflecting mind finds in every beast, bird, insect, fish,
leaf, flower, and shell. The reasoning by which Socrates in Xenophon's
hearing confuted the little atheist Aristophanes, is exactly the
reasoning of Paley's 'Natural Theology.' Socrates makes precisely the
same use of the statues of Polycletus and the pictures of Zeuxis which
Paley makes of the watch. As to the other great question, the question
what becomes of man after death, we do not see that a highly educated
European, left to his unassisted reason, is more likely to be in the
right than a Blackfoot Indian. Not a single one of the many sciences
in which we surpass the Blackfoot Indians throws the smallest light on
the state of the soul after the animal life is extinct. In truth, all
the philosophers, ancient and modern, who have attempted without the
aid of revelation to prove the immortality of man, from Plato down to
Franklin, appear to us to have failed deplorably.

"Then, again, all the great enigmas which perplex the natural
theologian are the same in all ages. The ingenuity of a people just
emerging from barbarism is quite sufficient to propound those enigmas.
The genius of Locke or Clarke is quite unable to solve them. It is
a mistake to imagine that subtile speculations touching the Divine
attributes, the origin of evil, the necessity of human actions, the
foundation of moral obligation, imply any high degree of intellectual
culture. Such speculations, on the contrary, are in a peculiar manner
the delight of intelligent children and of half-civilized men. The
number of boys is not small who, at fourteen, have thought enough on
these questions to be fully entitled to the praise which Voltaire gives
to Zadig: 'Il en savait ce qu'on a su dans tous les ages; c'est à dire,
fort peu de chose.'

"The book of Job shows that, long before letters and arts were known
to Ionia, these vexing questions were debated with no common skill and
eloquence under the tents of the Idumean emirs; nor has human reason,
in the course of three thousand years, discovered any satisfactory
solution of the riddles which perplexed Eliphaz and Zophar. Natural
theology, then, is not a progressive science."[3]

Here, in the space of two not very long paragraphs, is a multitude
of allusions which evince the range of Lord Macaulay's reading, but
which are employed, without very close thinking, in a quite inaccurate
way, to sustain assertions that are not true. If he had said that a
modern philosopher has before him in the structure of the universe
not only all the same evidence of design which the early Greeks had,
but a great deal more, he would have hit the exact truth. It is
simple extravagance to say that modern astronomy has added nothing to
the strength of the argument which shows the existence of a supreme
lawgiver and artificer of infinite power and skill. What did the
early Greeks know about the structure of the solar system, the law
of universal gravitation, and the laws of motion? Compare the ideas
entertained by the Greek philosophers of the phenomena of the universe
with those which modern astronomy has enabled a modern philosopher
to assume as scientific facts established by rigorous demonstration;
compare what was known before the invention of the telescope with
what the telescope has revealed; compare the progress that was made
in Greek speculative philosophy from the time of Thales to the time
of Plato, and then say whether natural religion had not made advances
of the greatest importance even before modern science had multiplied
the means for still greater progress. A brief summary of the Greek
philosophy concerning the producing causes of phenomena will determine
whether Lord Macaulay was right or wrong in the assertion that the
"early Greeks" had as good means of making true deductions in natural
theology as the means which exist to-day.

All scholars who have attended to the history of Greek speculation know
that the Greeks held to the belief in polytheistic personal agents as
the active producers of the phenomena of Nature. This was the system of
Homer and Hesiod and the other old poets. This was the popular belief
held throughout all the Hellenic world, and it continued to be the
faith of the general public, not only after the different schools of
philosophy had arisen, but down to and after the time when St. Paul
stood on Mars Hill and told the men of Athens how he had found that
they were in all things too superstitious. Thales, who flourished in
the first half of the sixth century before Christ, was the first Greek
who suggested a physical agency in place of a personal. He assumed the
material substance, water, to be the primordial matter and universal
substratum of everything in Nature. All other substances were, by
transmutations, generated from water, and when destroyed they all
returned into water. His idea of the earth was that it was a flat,
round surface floating on the immense watery expanse or ocean. In
this he agreed with the old poets; but he did not, like them, suppose
that the earth extended down to the depths of Tartarus. The Thalesian
hypothesis, therefore, rejected the Homeric Okeanus, the father of
all things, and substituted for that personal agency the agency of
one primordial physical substance, by its own energy producing all
other substances. This is about all that is known of the philosophy of
Thales, and even this is not known from any extant writing of his, but
it is derived from what subsequent writers, including Aristotle, have
imputed to him.[4] Why Lord Macaulay should have selected Thales as the
Greek philosopher who was as favorably situated as a philosopher of
the present day for dealing with questions of natural religion, is not
very apparent. All that Thales did, assuming that we know what he did,
was to strike out a new vein of thought, the direct opposite of the
poetical and popular idea of the origin of phenomena.

From Thales to Plato, a century and a half intervened.[5] During this
period there arose, according to Mr. Grote, twelve distinct schemes
of philosophy, the authors of which that learned Englishman has
enumerated, together with an admirable summary of their respective
systems. From this summary certain things are apparent. All these
philosophers, from Thales to Democritus, while each speculated
upon Nature in an original vein of his own, endeavored to find an
explanation or hypothesis on which to account for the production and
generation of the universe by some physical agency apart from the
mythical personifications which were believed in by the populace and
assumed in the poetical theologies. Some of them, without blending
ethics and theology in their speculations, adopted, as the universal
and sufficient agents, the common, familiar, and pervading material
substances, such as water, fire, air, etc.; others, as Pythagoras and
his sect, united with ethical and theological speculations the idea
of geometrical and arithmetical combinations as the primal scientific
basis of the phenomena of Nature. But what was common to all these
speculations was the attempt to find a scientific basis on which to
explain, by physical generation, by transmutation and motion from place
to place, the generation of the Kosmos, to take the place of generation
by a divine personal agency or agencies. But while these speculations
were of course unsuccessful, their abundance and variety, the inventive
genius which they exhibit, the effort to find a scientific basis apart
from the popular and poetic belief in a multitude of personal and
divine agencies, constitute, as Mr. Grote has well said, "one of the
most memorable facts in the history of the Hellenic mind"; and "the
mental effort required to select some known agency and to connect it
by a chain of reasoning with the result, all this is a new phenomenon
in the history of the human mind." Such an amount of philosophical
speculations could not go on for a century and a half without enlarging
the means for dealing with questions of natural theology; for they very
nearly exhausted the "causings and beginnings" which could be assigned
to regular knowable and predictable agencies; and these they carried
through almost every conceivable form of action by which such agencies
could be supposed to operate. While the authors of these systems
of philosophy were constantly hampered by the popular and poetic
conceptions of a diversified and omnipresent polytheistic agency, a
belief which, as Mr. Grote has said, was "eminently captivating and
impressive," and which pervaded all the literature of their time,
their speculations accumulated a vast fund of ideas in the sphere of
scientific explanations, which, although unsatisfactory to modern
science, became, when we reach Plato, the principal influence which led
him to revert to the former idea of a divine agency, intentionally and
deliberately constructing out of a chaotic substratum the system of the
Kosmos; and which also led him to unite with it the idea of a mode in
which it acted on and through the primordial elements of matter.

So that, from the class of philosophers to whom Lord Macaulay
presumably referred as "the early Greeks," down to and including Plato,
there was a great advance. The earlier Greek philosophers did not
divide substance from its powers or properties, nor did they conceive
of substance as a thing acted upon by power, or of power as a thing
distinct from substance. They regarded substance, some primordial
substance, with its powers and properties, as an efficient and
material cause, and as the sole cause, as a positive and final agent.
They did not seek for a final cause apart from the substances which
they supposed to be the sole agents operating to produce important
effects. But, inasmuch as they carried their various theories through
nearly the whole range of possible speculation, they enabled Plato
and Aristotle to see that there was a fundamental defect in their
reasoning; that there must be an abstract conception of power as
something distinct from substance or its properties. It was by Plato
and Aristotle that this abstract conception was reached, of course
without any influence of what we regard as revelation; and, although
they did not always describe correctly the mode in which this power
had acted, their perception of the logical necessity for such a final
cause marks a great progress in philosophical speculation. It entirely
refutes Lord Macaulay's assertion that natural theology is not a
progressive science. It had made great progress from Thales to Plato;
and while in a certain sense it is true that "a modern philosopher
has before him just the same evidence of design in the structure of
the universe which the early Greeks had"--that is, he has the same
physical phenomena to observe--it is not true that the early Greeks
did not develop conceptions of the origin of the universe valuable
to their successors. Lord Macaulay should not have compared Thales
with the modern philosopher, in respect of advantage of situation,
but he should have compared the modern philosopher with Plato, and
Plato with his predecessors; and if he had done this, he could not
have asserted with any show of truth that natural theology has
made no advance as a science from the time of Thales, the Milesian
philosopher, and Simonides, the poet, to the present day. I shall have
occasion hereafter to speak of the masterly intellectual power by
which Plato wrought out his conception of a formative divine agency in
the production of the Kosmos, and the bold and original speculation
by which he avoided the charge of infidelity toward the established
religion of his countrymen.

When I come to speak of what modern astronomy has done in furnishing
us with new means of sound philosophical speculation on the being,
attributes, and methods of God, it will be seen whether Lord Macaulay
is correct in the assertion that it has added nothing to the argument.
At present I will briefly advert to what the "early Greeks," or any of
the Greeks, knew of the structure of the solar system. We learn, from
a work which dates from nearly the middle of the second century of the
Christian era, what was the general conception of the solar system
among the ancients, including the Greeks. This work is known as the
"Almagest" of Ptolemy, and the name of the "Ptolemaic System" has been
given to the theory which he describes. This theory was common to all
the ancient astronomers, Ptolemy's statement of it being a compendium
of what they believed. Its principal features are these: 1. The heavens
are a vast sphere, in which the heavenly bodies are set, and around the
pole of this sphere they revolve in a circle every day. 2. The earth
is likewise a sphere, and is situated in the center of the celestial
plane as a fixed point. The earth having no motion, and being in the
center of all the motions of the other bodies, the diurnal revolutions
of those bodies are in a uniform motion around it. 3. The sun, being
one of the heavenly bodies making a revolution around the earth, was
supposed to be placed outside of the position of Venus in the heavenly
sphere. The order of the Ptolemaic system was thus: The moon was first,
being nearest to the earth; then came Mercury and Venus, the sun being
between Venus and Mars. Beyond Mars came Jupiter and Saturn. Plato's
arrangement was in one respect different, his order being the moon, the
sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. But this ideal heavenly
sphere, with the earth in the center of all the revolutions of the
other bodies, and remaining quiescent--a theory which was common to all
the ancient astronomers--was the result of observing the motions of
the heavenly bodies as they appear to a spectator on the earth. Such a
spectator would have this appearance of a celestial sphere presented
to him wherever he might be; and, judging from the apparent motions
of the heavenly bodies relative to his own position at the center, he
would conclude that the earth is at that center, and that it remains
at rest, supported on nothing. It required certain discoveries to
explode this system of a celestial sphere. First came Copernicus, who,
about the middle of the sixteenth century of our era, published his
demonstrations, which convinced the world of two great propositions: 1.
That the diurnal revolution of the heavens is nothing but an apparent
motion, caused by the revolution of the earth on its own axis. 2. That
the earth is but one of a group of planets, all of which revolve around
the sun as a center. Next came Kepler, who, in the early part of the
seventeenth century, recognizing the truth of the Copernican system,
determined the three laws of planetary motion: 1. That the orbit of
each planet is an ellipse, the sun being in one focus. 2. That as each
planet moves around the sun, the line which joins it to the sun passes
over equal areas in equal times. 3. That the square of the time of a
planet's revolution around the sun is in proportion to the cube of its
mean distance from the sun. These laws were discovered by Kepler as
deductions made upon mathematical principles from observations which
had to be carried on without the aid of the telescope, and without that
knowledge of the general laws of motion which came later. Kepler's
laws, although in the main correct, were subsequently found to be
subject to certain deviations in the planetary motions. It was when
Galileo, the contemporary of Kepler, who, if he was not the first
inventor of the telescope, was the first to use it in astronomical
observations, was able by means of it to discover the general laws of
motion, that the substantial accuracy of Kepler's three laws could be
proved, while at the same time the deviations from them were accounted
for. Still, there was wanting the grand discovery, which would disclose
the cause of these motions of the planets in elliptical orbits, and the
relations between their distances and their times of revolution, and
thus reduce the whole of the phenomena to a general law. Descartes,
who flourished 1596-1650, first attempted to do this by his theory of
Vortices. He supposed the sun to be immersed in a vast fluid, which, by
the sun's rotation, was made to rotate in a whirlpool, that carried the
planets around with it, the outer ones revolving more slowly because
the parts of the ethereal fluid in which they were immersed moved more
slowly. This was a reversion back to some of the ancient speculations.
It was reserved for Newton to discover the law of universal
gravitation, by which, in the place of any physical connection between
the bodies of the solar system by any intervening medium, the force
of attraction exerted by a larger body upon a smaller would draw the
smaller body out of the straight line that it would pursue when under
a projectile force, and would thus convert its motion into a circular
revolution around the attracting body, and make the orbit of this
revolution elliptical by the degree in which the attracting force
varied in intensity according to the varying distance between the two
bodies. When Newton's laws of motion were discovered and found to be
true, the phenomena of the solar system were explained.

It may be interesting, before leaving for the present this branch of
the subject, to advert more particularly to one of the philosophical
systems of the Greeks, which, when compared with the discoveries of
modern astronomy, illustrates the great addition that has been made
to our means of sound speculation upon the origin of the material
universe. I refer to the system of the Pythagoreans--one of the most
remarkable instances of the invention of facts to fit and carry out
a theory that can be found in the history of philosophy, although
we are not without striking examples of this practice in modern
speculations. It has already been seen that, during the whole period
of Greek philosophy before the time of Plato, the problem was to find
a primordial and universal agent by which the sensible universe was
built up and produced; supplying, that is to say, the matter and force
required for the generation of successive products.[6] It has been seen
that the Thalesian philosophers undertook to solve this problem by the
employment of some primordial physical substance, such as water, fire,
air, etc. Pythagoras and his school held that the essence of things
consisted in number; by which they did not mean simply that all things
could be numbered, but they meant that numbers were substance, endowed
with an active force, by which things were constituted as we know them.
In the Pythagorean doctrine number was the self-existing reality; not,
as in Plato's system of ideas, separate from things, but as the essence
or determining principles of things, and having, moreover, magnitude
and active force.[7] This remarkably subtle conception of an agent in
the production of material things evinces the effort that was making,
in a direction opposite to that of Thales and his immediate successors,
to find a First Cause. It was carried out by the Pythagoreans in the
movements of the heavenly bodies, in the works of human art, and in
musical harmony; in all of which departments, according to Mr. Grote,
they considered measure and number as the producing and directing
agencies. We are here concerned only with their application of this
theory to the celestial bodies. One of their writers is quoted by Mr.
Grote as a representative of the school which was founded by Pythagoras
(about 530 B. C.), and which extended into the Græco-Italian
cities, where, as a brotherhood, they had political ascendency
until they were put down and dispersed about 509 B. C.; but
they continued for several generations as a social, religious, and
philosophical sect. According to this writer (Philolaus), "the Dekad,
the full and perfect number, was of supreme and universal efficacy as
the guide and principle of life, both to the Kosmos and to man. The
nature of number was imperative and law-giving, affording the only
solution of all that was perplexing or unknown; without number all
would be indeterminate and unknowable."

Accordingly, the Pythagoreans constructed their system of the universe
by the all-pervading and producing energy of this primordial agent,
Number, in the manner thus described by Mr. Grote (i, 12-15): "The
Pythagoreans conceived the Kosmos, or the universe, as one single
system, generated out of numbers. Of this system the central point--the
determining or limiting One--was first in order of time and in order of
philosophical conception. By the determining influence of this central
constituted One, portions of the surrounding Infinite were successively
attracted and brought into system: numbers, geometrical figures, solid
substances were generated. But, as the Kosmos thus constituted was
composed of numbers, there could be no continuum; each numeral unit
was distinct and separate from the rest by a portion of vacant space,
which was imbibed, by a sort of inhalation, from the infinite space or
spirit without. The central point was fire, called by the Pythagoreans
the Hearth of the Universe (like the public hearth or perpetual fire
maintained in the prytaneum of a Grecian city), or the watch-tower of
Zeus. Around it revolved, from west to east, ten divine bodies, with
unequal velocities, but in symmetrical movement or regular dance.
Outermost was the circle of the fixed stars, called by the Pythagoreans
Olympus, and composed of fire like the center. Within this came
successively, with orbits more and more approximating to the center,
the five planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury; next, the sun,
the moon, and the earth. Lastly, between the earth and the central
fire, an hypothetical body, called the Antichthon, or counter-earth,
was imagined for the purpose of making up a total represented by
the sacred number ten, the symbol of perfection and totality. The
Antichthon was analogous to a separated half of the earth, simultaneous
with the earth in its revolutions, and corresponding with it on the
opposite side of the central fire. The inhabited portion of the earth
was supposed to be that which was turned away from the central fire
and toward the sun, from which it received light. But the sun itself
was not self-luminous: it was conceived as a glassy disk, receiving
and concentrating light from the central fire, and reflecting it upon
the earth, so long as the two were on the same side of the central
fire. The earth revolved in an orbit obliquely intersecting that of the
sun, and in twenty-four hours, round the central fire, always turning
the same side toward that fire. The alternation of day and night was
occasioned by the earth being, during a part of such revolution, on the
same side of the central fire with the sun, and thus receiving light
reflected from him; and during the remaining part of her revolution on
the side opposite to him, so that she received no light at all from
him. The earth, with the Antichthon, made this revolution in one day;
the moon, in one month; the sun, with the planets Mercury and Venus,
in one year; the planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in longer periods
respectively, according to their distances from the center; lastly, the
outermost circle of the fixed stars (the Olympus, or the Asslanes), in
some unknown period of very long duration.

"The revolutions of such grand bodies could not take place, in the
opinion of the Pythagoreans, without producing a loud and powerful
sound; and as their distances from the central fire were supposed to
be arranged in musical ratios, so the result of all these separate
sounds was full and perfect harmony. To the objection, Why were not the
sounds heard by us? they replied that we had heard them constantly and
without intermission from the hour of our birth; hence they had become
imperceptible by habit."

Beautiful as was this theory--the origin of the phrase, "the music of
the spheres"--it owed its perfection as a theory to a pure invention,
resorted to in order to carry out the hypothesis of the sacred
number Ten, of which all the greater numbers were only compounds and
derivatives. This perfect and normal Ten, as a basis on which to
rest a bold astronomical hypothesis, required the imagination of the
Antichthon, or counter-earth, in order, with the other bodies, to make
up the primordial number to whose generative force the whole of these
bodies owed their origin. The resort to this conception of number, as
a formative and active agent, was doubtless due to the fact that the
Pythagoreans were the earliest cultivators of mathematical science. We
are told, in fact, that they paved the way for Euclid and Archimedes,
notwithstanding their symbolical and mystical fancies, and from their
mathematical studies they were led to give exclusive supremacy to
arithmetical and geometrical views of Nature. But what is curious about
this whole speculation is, that in the invention or substitution of
certain facts in order to make a perfect theory, it resembles some
modern hypotheses, in which facts have been assumed, or argued as
existing from analogies, when there is no evidence which establishes
them. Modern instances of this will appear hereafter.

Enough has now been said about the speculations of the "early Greeks"
to show the extravagance of Lord Macaulay's assertion that the
discoveries of modern astronomy have placed the modern philosopher in
no better situation to make safe deductions in natural theology than
that occupied by the Hellenic philosophers from Thales to Plato. The
evidences of design in the formation of the solar system--of that kind
of design which acts in direct and specific exertions of a formative
will--have been enormously multiplied by the discoveries of modern
astronomy. Those discoveries, instead of leaving us to grope among
theories which require the invention or imagination of facts, relate to
facts that are demonstrated; and they tend in the strongest manner to
establish the hypothesis of an infinite Creator, making laws to govern
material objects, and then creating a system of objects to be governed
by those laws. In a future chapter I shall endeavor to show why this
hypothesis in regard to the solar system is most conformable to the
rules of rational belief.

Not to anticipate what will be said hereafter concerning the modern
discoveries in anatomy and in comparative zoölogy, it is enough to
say here that in the writings of the Greek philosophers, especially
of Plato and Aristotle, we may discover what the Greeks knew or did
not know, and may therefore compare their knowledge with what is
now known. What was known about the human anatomy to the Greeks of
Plato's time is probably pretty well reflected in his "Timæus," the
celebrated dissertation in which he developed his theory of the Kosmos;
for, although Plato in that superb philosophical epic made use of the
organs of the human body for ethical and theological purposes, and
did not make a special study of matters of fact, it is not probable
that in his mode of using them he so far departed from the received
ideas of his time respecting the human anatomy that his treatise would
have been regarded by his contemporaries as an absurdity. Indeed,
Mr. Grote considered that Plato had that anatomical knowledge which
an accomplished man of his time could hardly fail to acquire without
special study.[8] Moreover, even Galen, who came five centuries after
Plato, and whose anatomical knowledge was far greater than could have
been commanded in Plato's day, was wholly wrong in respect to the
functions of some of the human organs. He agreed with Plato's ethical
view of the human organism, but not in his physiological postulates.
He considered, according to Mr. Grote, that Plato had demonstrated the
hypothesis of one soul to be absurd; he accepted Plato's triplicity of
souls, but he located them differently. He held that there are three
"originating and governing organs in the body: the brain, which is the
origin of all the nerves, both of sensation and motion; the heart, the
origin of the arteries; the liver, the sanguifacient organ, and the
origin of the veins which distribute nourishment to all parts of the
body. These three are respectively the organs of the rational, the
energetic, and the appetitive soul."[9] Plato, on the other hand, had
placed the rational soul in the cranium, the energetic soul in the
thoracic cavity, and the appetitive soul in the abdominal cavity; he
connected them by the line of the spinal marrow continuous with the
brain, making the rational soul immortal, and the two inferior souls,
or two divisions of one inferior soul, mortal. Galen did not decide
what is the essence of the three souls, or whether they are immortal.
Plato assigned to the liver a very curious function, or compound of
functions, making it the assistant of the rational soul in maintaining
its ascendency over the appetitive soul, and at the same time making
it the seat of those prophetic warnings which the gods would sometimes
vouchsafe to the appetitive soul, especially when the functions of the
rational soul are suspended, as in sleep, disease, or ecstasy.

But while there was much scientific progress from Plato to Galen, and
while Galen's physiological ideas of the functions of the brain, the
heart, and the liver held their place until Harvey's discovery of the
circulation of the blood in the seventeenth century, that discovery
and the subsequent investigations proved that Galen, although not far
wrong as to the brain, was wholly wrong as to the liver, and partially
wrong as to the heart. Yet Galen's physiological theories concerning
these organs were founded on many anatomical facts and results of
experiments, such as could then be made.

There is another fact which marks the state of anatomical knowledge
among the Greeks in the time of Plato, and of Aristotle, who belonged
to the same century. The "Timæus" of Plato shows that there were
physicians at that period, and that he was acquainted with the writings
of Hippocrates. The important fact is, as stated by Mr. Grote, that
"the study and practice of medicine was at that time greatly affected
by the current speculations respecting Nature as a whole; accomplished
physicians combined both lines of study, implicating cosmical and
biological theories."[10]

It is now only needful to say that modern anatomy and physiology
afford aids to sound deductions in natural theology in reference to
the structure of the human body as an animal organism, and all the
functions of its different organs, which immeasurably transcend all
that was known or assumed among the early Greeks, or in the time of
Plato and Aristotle, or in the time of Galen. Notwithstanding the
dispute whether the origin of man as an animal is to be referred to
a special act of creation, or to the process of what has been called
evolution, there can be no controversy on one point, namely, that
modern anatomy and physiology have vastly increased our knowledge
of the structure of the human frame, and the means of rational
speculation upon the nature of intellect, as compared with any means
that were possessed by the most accomplished and learned of the Greeks
of antiquity. It matters little on which side of the controversy,
between creation and evolution, the great anatomists of the present
day range themselves. It is upon the facts which their investigations
have revealed that we have to judge of the probable truth of the one
hypothesis or the other. The probable destiny of man as an immortal
being is an inquiry that has certainly lost nothing by our increased
knowledge of the facts in his animal structure which tend to support
the hypothesis of design in his creation.

Lord Macaulay attributes an utter failure to the efforts of the
philosophers, from Plato to Franklin, to "prove" the immortality of
the soul without the help of revelation. What did he mean by proof?
Revelation is, of course, the only direct proof. It is so, because it
is direct testimony of a fact, proceeding from the only source that
can have direct and certain knowledge of that fact. When the evidences
which are supposed to establish the existence and authority of the
witness have become satisfactory to us, we are possessed of proof of
our immortality, and this proof is the only direct evidence of which
the fact admits, and it constitutes all that should be spoken of as
proof. But there is collateral although inferior evidence--inferior,
because it consists in facts which show a high degree of probability
that the soul of man is immortal, although this kind of evidence
is not like the direct testimony of a competent witness. Is all
this presumptive evidence, with its weighty tendency to establish
the probable truth of immortality, to be pronounced of no value,
because it belongs to a different order of proof from that derived
from the assertion of a competent witness to the fact? It is one of
the advantages of our situation in this life, that the collateral
evidence which tends to show the high probability of a future state of
existence is not withheld from us. As a supplemental aid to the direct
teaching of revelation, it is of inestimable importance if we do not
obscure it by theories which pervert its force, and if we reason upon
it on sound philosophical principles. What we have to do in estimating
the probable truth of our immortality, as shown by the science of
natural religion, is to give the same force to moral evidence in this
particular department of belief, that we give to the moral evidence
which convinces us of many things of which we have no direct proof, or
of which the direct proof lies in evidence of another kind.

"He knew as much about it," said Voltaire, "as has been known in all
ages--that is to say, very little indeed." This, like many of the
witticisms of Voltaire, pressed into the service of an argument against
the value of natural religion at the present day when studied by mature
and disciplined minds, is quite out of place. What human reason has
done in the course of three thousand years is not to be put on a par
with the speculations of intelligent children or half-civilized men;
and although some of the riddles which perplexed Eliphaz and Zophar
have not had a perfectly satisfactory solution, it is quite wide
from the truth to assert that there has been no approximation to a
satisfactory solution, or that some of the riddles have not ceased to
be the riddles which they were three thousand years ago. In that period
there has been an accumulation of evidence concerning the phenomena of
Nature, and the phenomena of mind, vast beyond comparison when placed
in contrast with what was known in the tents of the Idumean emirs, and
the importance of this accumulation of evidence is proved by the fact
that theories have been built upon it which undertake to explain it
by hypotheses that were never heard of before, and which may possibly
leave the "riddles" in a far less satisfactory state than they were
in the time of Job. On the other hand, while the companions of Job may
have been unable to suggest to him any solution of the problems of
life, it does not at all follow that we are as helpless as they were,
even if we avail ourselves of nothing but what the science of natural
theology can now teach us.[11]

It will be seen that I attach great importance to natural theology. But
I do not propose to write for the confirmed believers in revelation, on
the one hand, who have become convinced by the evidence which supports
revelation; or for those, on the other hand, who believe nothing, and
who have become confirmed in habits of thinking which unfit them for
judging of the weight of evidence on such subjects as the existence
of God and the creation of man. I write for that great mass of people
of average intelligence, who do not understand accurately what the
doctrine of evolution is as expounded by its leading representatives,
and who do not know to what it leads. It will be found that in some
respects there is a distinction between the school of which Darwin is
the representative and the school which follows Spencer. To point out
this distinction, and yet to show that both systems result in negatives
which put an end to the idea of immortality, and that the weight of
evidence is against both of them, is what I propose to do.


 [2] Galileo's "heresy," that the earth moves round the sun, was
 condemned by a papal decree in the sixteenth century as "absurd,
 philosophically false, and formally heretical, because it is expressly
 contrary to Holy Scripture." No Roman Catholic now dreams of disputing
 what the Florentine astronomer maintained; and the evolutionists are
 perpetually foretelling that the time will come when to question
 their doctrine will be admitted to be as ridiculous as was the papal
 interdict fulminated against Galileo. If their doctrine had nothing
 to confront it but a similar condemnation, proceeding from some
 ecclesiastical authority claiming to be "infallible," or, if it could
 be met only by the assertion that it is "contrary to Holy Scripture,"
 there would be some analogy between the two cases. But there is a
 vast unlikeness between the two cases. While the hypothesis of animal
 evolution is plainly enough "contrary to Holy Scripture," no one who
 has any perception of the weakness of its proofs is obliged to rest
 his rejection of it on that ground. If, in the sixteenth century,
 there had been as good scientific and physical grounds on which to
 refute Galileo as there now are for questioning the doctrine of
 the evolution of distinct species out of other species, the papal
 condemnation would have been superfluous even for churchmen. We must
 not forget the age in which we live, or allow any kind of truth to
 fail of vindication, from fear of being classed with those who in some
 former age have blunderingly mistaken the means of vindicating truth.
 Belief in special creations, whatever the Bible may say, does not now,
 and in all probability never will, stand on a par with the belief that
 the sun moves round the earth.

 [3] Macaulay's "Essays," etc., Riverside edition, vol. ii, 502-504.

 [4] Grote's "Plato," i, 4.

 [5] Thales flourished 620-560 B. C. Plato's life extended from 427-347
 B. C.

 [6] Grote's "Plato," i, 10. I follow Mr. Grote in describing the
 hypothesis of the Pythagoreans.

 [7] Ibid.

 [8] Grote, iii, 290.

 [9] Ibid., 287, 288.

 [10] Grote, iii, 289.

 [11] It should be stated that the passage from Macaulay's writings
 here commented on was written and first published in 1840, before the
 speculations of the scientists who maintain the doctrines of evolution
 had attracted much attention, or been promulgated in their present


The Platonic Kosmos compared with the Darwinian theory of evolution.

It is my purpose in this chapter to draw a parallel between the theory
of the origin of different animals propounded in the "Timæus" of Plato
and that of Mr. Darwin. The analogy between them has been briefly
hinted by Mr. Grote, but he has not followed it out in detail, as it
was no part of his object to make minute comparisons between any of
the speculations of Plato and those of modern philosophers. The great
English scholar and critic seems to regard it as somewhat uncertain how
far Plato meant in the "Timæus" to have his description of the Kosmos
stand as an expression of his own belief, or as a mere work of his
imagination and fancy. Plato, we are told, and this is quite obvious,
dealt but little with facts, while he dealt largely with theories.
But, even as a pure work of the imagination, or as a philosophical
epic, the daring conception of the Kosmos is wonderfully complete; and
it will repay any one, who follows Mr. Grote in his analysis of it,
to observe how Plato employs a process of degeneration to account for
the formation of different species of animals, from the higher to the
lower, by agencies that bear a strong resemblance to those which are
assumed by Darwin to have worked in the opposite process of variation
and natural selection, resulting in the evolution of a higher from a
lower animal. But, in order to render this comparison intelligible, it
is necessary to make an abstract of Plato's system of the Kosmos before
adverting to the analogies between that system and the Darwinian
theory. I follow, although I have greatly condensed, Mr. Grote's
description of the Platonic Kosmos.

According to the Platonic idea of the Kosmos, as given in the "Timæus,"
there existed, anterior to all time, primordial matter in a state of
chaos. This matter was not created for; according to Mr. Grote, whose
authority upon such a point is the highest, the notion of absolute
creation was unknown to the Greeks of antiquity, and it does not appear
that Plato suggests it. But, without accounting for its existence,
Plato assumes that there was matter in a condition of utter chaos
before time could have had an existence; and, in order to make the
chaotic condition the more impressive in its primitive destitution
of all form or active principles tending to union or arrangement, he
supposes that the four elements of fire, air, earth, and water had
no existence save in the abstract, or as ideas and forms. But, as
abstract ideas, these four elements of fire, air, earth, and water were
distinct, self-existing, and indestructible, coeval with the chaotic
matter which was waiting to receive their impress and to take on their
distinctive elemental characters. They had already begun to act on the
_fundamentum_, or primordial chaotic matter, as upon a recipient, but
it was in a confused way and without regularity of plan, so that they
had not become concrete existences or determinate agents.

In this state of things there appears upon the scene the Demiurgus,
a being coeval with the chaos of matter, that is, self-existing and
eternal. But, consistently with the philosophy which did not admit of
the idea of absolute creation, the Demiurgus was not a creator, but
an architect or designer, working on materials that lay within his
reach. His moral attribute was goodness, which was, in his situation,
synonymous with order, regularity, symmetry, and proportion, and, along
with this tendency, he had supreme artistic skill. In other words, he
was the personification of νους, or reason, working against necessity:
the latter being, not what we mean by that term, something preordained
and fixed, but confusion, uncertainty, irregularity, and unreason,
which are to be overcome by their opposites.

Besides the chaotic matter and the ideas or forms of the four elements,
as yet unrealized in the actual substances of fire, air, earth, and
water, there were coeval ideas or forms of animals, or, as we should
say, abstract animals, or conceptions of animals. The first and
grandest of these was the eternal self-animal, or the ideal of animal
existence. Next came the ideas or forms of four other animals: 1. The
celestial gods; 2. Man; 3. Birds, or animals living in air; 4. Land
or water animals. Bearing in mind that we are still in the region of
abstract conceptions in regard to these types of animals, which as
yet have no concrete existence, and that they are, so to speak, the
intellectual models from which the Demiurgus is to work, in order to
make the real animals conformably to the pre-existing and eternal
plan, we come to the process of forming the Kosmos, which is to be the
containing animal of all the other four. Out of the confused chaos of
existing matter the Demiurgus proceeds to construct the Kosmos, which
was to become the one self-animal, by impressing the idea or abstract
form of animal upon a physical structure built out of the primordial
chaotic matter and comprehending the whole of it. The first step was
to bring the four elements of fire, air, earth, and water out of their
chaotic and confused condition by separating them according to the
forms of their eternal ideas. The total of each element, when made to
take its normal form, was used in the construction of the Kosmos, which
thus came to possess the whole existing body of material; "so that,"
to borrow the words of Mr. Grote, "there remained nothing of the four
elements apart, to hurt the Kosmos from without, nor anything as raw
material for a second Kosmos."

The Kosmos was made a perfect sphere, and with a perfectly smooth outer
surface, without organs of sight or hearing, because there was nothing
outside to be seen or heard; without organs of respiration, because
there was no outside atmosphere to be breathed; and without nutritive
or excrementory organs, because it was self-sufficing, being supplied
with nourishment by its own decay. It was not furnished with limbs or
means of locomotion or standing, because, being a sphere turning on an
axis, and having only one of the seven possible varieties of movement,
namely, rotation in a circle in one and the same plane, there was
nothing for it to grasp or repel.[12] This body, the only-begotten,
because in its formation all existing bodily material was employed,
perfectly spherical and smooth, equidistant from its center to all
points of its circumference, and suspended upon its own axis traversing
its diameter, was now to be animated by a soul.

The Demiurgus, in the formation of the soul of the Kosmos, took three
constituent ingredients and mixed them together. They were: 1. The
Same, or the Identical, the indivisible and unchangeable essence of
Ideas; 2. The Different, or the Plural, the divisible essence of
bodies or of the elements; 3. A compound of both of these ingredients
melted into one. Blended together in one grand compound, these three
ingredients formed the soul of the Kosmos by first dividing the mixture
into different portions, and then uniting the portions according to
a complicated scale of harmonious numerical proportions. The outer
or sidereal sphere of the Kosmos was made to receive the Same, or
Identity, by being placed in an even and undivided rotation toward the
right, turning on the great axis of the whole sphere. The interior, or
planetary spheres, the five planets, and the sun and the moon, were
made to be under the influence of the Different, or Diversity--that
is to say, their rotations on their separate axes, all oblique, were
toward the left, while the overpowering force of rotation of the
outer sphere carried them along with it, although the time of their
separate rotations was more or less modified by their own inherent and
countermoving forces.

Thus the sentient capacity of the cosmical soul became the cognition
of the Same and the Different, and the blended Same and Different,
because it embodied these three ingredients in its own nature. It was
invisible; rooted at its center and pervading and inclosing the whole
visible body, circulating and communicating, without voice or sound,
all impressions and information concerning the existing relations
between the separate parts and specialties of the cosmical body.

Anterior to the Kosmos there was no time. With the rotation of the
Kosmos time began. It was marked first by the eternal and unchanging
rotation of the outer circle, in which were placed the fixed stars,
which revolved with it in unaltered position with regard to each other;
and one revolution of this outer or most rational circle made a day.
The sun, moon, and planets were distributed in different portions of
the Circle of the Different; one revolution of the moon marking a
month, and one revolution of the sun marking a year. The earth, the
first and oldest of the sidereal and planetary gods, was packed around
the great axis which ran through the center of the Kosmos, and turned
that axis; so that the earth regulated the movement of the great
cosmical axis, and was the determining agent of night and day.

Thus far we have the formation of the Kosmos, animated with a pervading
soul, the body being formed out of the whole of existing matter, molded
into the specific elements of fire, air, earth, and water, and the
soul being formed out of the constituent ingredients furnished by the
eternal and invisible essence of ideas. The whole, body and soul of
the Kosmos, was thus an animal, formed on the abstract but eternal
idea or form of an animal which had existed before time began. We
now approach the formation of the other animals. Of the Kosmos there
could be but one. All existing material of matter had been used in
his construction. He could not become a species, as there could be no
second Kosmos. Something could be borrowed from him, for the formation
of other animals, but nothing could be destroyed. He was not yet,
however, a full copy of the model of the Generic Animal or Idea of
Animal, because the eternal plan of that model required that he should
be peopled or inhabited by four other animals, which might constitute
species. Accordingly, the Demiurgus proceeds to form the first of
these sub-animals, the gods, who are to inhabit different portions of
the Kosmos. The first of these in formation was the earth, planted
in the center, and made sentinel over night and day; next the fixed
stars, formed chiefly out of fire, and placed in the outer circle of a
fixed revolution, or the Circle of the Same, to give to it light and
brilliancy. The sidereal orbs thus became animated beings, eternal and
divine. They remained constantly turning round in the same relative
position, but the sun, moon, and planets, belonging to the Circle of
the Different, and trying to revolve by their own effort in a direction
opposite to that of the outer sphere, became irregular in their
revolutions and varied in their relative positions. Thus the primitive
gods were the earth and the fixed stars, which revolved without
variation with the Circle of the Same, and became immortal as well as
visible; while the sun, moon, and planets were not among the primitive
gods, but were simply spherical bodies placed in the inner Circle
of the Different. The primitive gods preside over and regulate the
Kosmos. From them are generated and descended the remaining gods.[13]

Having completed the Kosmos and the primitive gods, the Demiurgus
paused in his work. There were still other animals to be constructed,
the first and noblest of which was to be Man. But the Demiurgus,
who, in the construction of these gods, had made them immortal, not
in their own nature but through his determination, seems to have
apprehended that, if he proceeded to construct the other animals
himself, they would likewise be thereby rendered of immortal duration.
He therefore assembled the newly generated gods and made to them a
personal address. He informed them of their immortal existence, and of
his purpose to confide to them the construction of the other animals,
stating at the same time, in the case of man, that he would himself
supply an immortal element which they were to incorporate with a
mortal body, in imitation of the power which he had exercised in the
generation of themselves. He then proceeded to compound together, but
in inferior perfection and purity, the remnant of the same elements
out of which he had formed the cosmical soul.[14] He then distributed
the whole of this mass into souls equal in number to the fixed stars,
placed each of them in a star of its own, where it would be carried
round in the cosmical rotation, explained to it its immortal destiny,
and that at an appointed hour of birth it would be transferred into a
mortal body in conjunction with two inferior kinds of soul or mind.
These irrational enemies, the two inferior souls, the rational and
immortal soul would have to control and subdue, so as to live a good
life. If it triumphed in the conflict, it would return after death to
its own star, where in an everlasting abode it would dwell forever
in unison with the celestial harmonies and perfections of the outer
sphere. But, if it failed, it would be born again into an inferior
body, and on the death of that body, if it continued evil, it would be
again born into a still more degraded animal, through an indefinite
transmigration from animal to animal, until the rational soul should
have obtained the mastery over the irrational and turbulent, when it
would be released and permitted to return to its own peculiar star.[15]
Here, then, the Demiurgus retired, leaving to the gods the work of
fabricating mortal bodies for man, and two mortal and inferior souls,
with which the immortal soul was to be joined. But before he withdrew
he inculcated upon the gods to construct the new mortal animal in the
best manner, so that the immortal soul should have the fairest chance
of guiding and governing rightly, in order that the animal might
not be the cause of mischief and misery to himself; a possible and
even probable result which the Demiurgus proclaimed beforehand, thus
relieving himself of responsibility, and casting it, it would seem,
upon the gods.[16] The latter stood, then, in the position of workmen,
who have received certain directions from a superior architect, have
been supplied with certain materials, and are obliged to conform to a
prescribed model, the cosmical animal, as far as circumstances will
allow. The Demiurgus retires, and leaves the gods to their work.

They borrow from the Kosmos, from which they are permitted to obtain
materials, portions of the four elements, for the construction of the
human body, with an engagement that these materials shall one day be
returned. These they unite in one body by numerous minute and invisible
fastenings; over this body they place a head or cranium, into which
they introduce the immortal soul, making the head, with its spherical
form like that of the Kosmos, and admitting of no motion but the
rotary, the most divine portion of the human system and master of the
body, which is to be subject and ministerial. To the body they give all
the six varieties of motive power, forward, backward, upward, downward,
to the right and to the left. The phenomena of nutrition and sensation
begin as soon as the connection is formed between the immortal soul and
the mortal body, but as the irregular movements and agitations arising
from the diverse rotations of the Same and the Different convey false
and foolish affirmations to the soul in the cranium. That soul is
destitute of intelligence when first joined to the body, and remains
so for some time. But gradually these disturbing currents abate,
the rotations of the Same and the Different in the head become more
regular, and the man becomes more intelligent.

It is now necessary to account for the introduction of the two mortal
souls, and to show how the conflict appointed for the immortal soul
became the test of a life which was to determine whether the latter
should be permitted, on the death of the body, to return to its
peculiar star, or whether it should be degraded into some lower form
of animal. The immortal soul has its special abode in the head, which
is both united to and separated from the trunk by the neck. The gods
kept the two mortal souls separate, so that the rational or immortal
soul might be defiled by the contact as little as possible. The better
portion of the mortal soul they placed in the thoracic cavity. It
was the energetic, courageous, contentious soul, placed above the
diaphragm, so as to receive orders easily from the head, and to aid
the rational soul in keeping the mutinous soul of appetite, which was
placed below the diaphragm, in subjection.

It is unnecessary to follow here the minute anatomical descriptions
which Plato gives of the different organs of the human body, or of
the way in which they are supposed to act on the two divisions of
the mortal soul, or to be acted on by them, or the mode in which the
latter act upon the encephalic or immortal soul which is seated in the
cranium. These descriptions evince much knowledge of the human anatomy,
and probably all the knowledge that was possessed in Plato's time. It
is immaterial how far this anatomical knowledge was correct, and of
course there was in Plato's use of the various organs a great deal that
was fanciful. It is sufficient, without following Mr. Grote's analysis
through these details, to note that, in Plato's arrangement, the
immortal soul was supposed to be fastened in the brain, the two mortal
souls in the line of the spinal marrow continuous with the brain, and
that this line formed the thread of connection between them all.

Passing on toward the point where the process of degradation might
begin, which would result in the reduction of this new and divinely
constructed animal to a lower form, we have to note, first, that it was
made a non-sexual animal, being intended for an angelic type. In the
original plan of the gods, it was not contemplated that this primitive
type should reproduce itself by any process of generation. According
to the original scheme, it would seem that every time a new immortal
soul was to be brought down from its peculiar star, the process of
constructing for it a mortal body would have to be repeated. Plato,
Mr. Grote observes, does indeed tell us that the primitive non-sexual
type had the option of maintaining itself. But this must mean that
each individual of that type had the option of maintaining itself in
its struggle with the debasing influences of appetite and disease.
But not one representative of it has held his ground; and as it was
foreseen that such an angelic type could not maintain itself, we
are to look for a reconstruction of the whole organism. This came
about from the degeneracy of the primitive non-sexual animal below
the standard of good life which it had the option of continuing.
Men whose lives had fallen below this standard became effeminate,
cowardly, unjust. In their second birth, their immortal souls had to be
translated into a body resembling that to which they had debased the
first body into which they were born. The first transition, therefore,
was from man into woman. In other words, the gods, seeing that the
non-sexual primitive type did not maintain itself at the high point
intended for it, reconstructed the whole organism upon the bi-sexual
principle, introducing the comparatively lower type of woman. A partial
transformation of the male structure makes the female. A suitable
adjustment of the male organs, and the implanting of the sexual
impulse in both sexes, by the agency of the gods, make provision for
generative reproduction, and a species is formed, which takes the place
of the primitive non-sexual type which did not reproduce itself in the
original scheme. The primitive type disappears, and it disappears by
a process of degradation, which it undergoes by reason of its failure
to avail itself of the option which it originally had of living a good
life that would entitle the immortal soul to return to its peculiar
star without further conflict with the debasing tendencies to which it
was exposed in the first body that it inhabited.

In this curious theory we see how a process of declension or
degradation is induced by what may almost be called a choice, since
the primitive human being, by not resisting the debasing tendencies of
his lower nature, is made by those tendencies to assume a less divine
form than that in which he originally existed. To the primitive man the
gods assigned the encephalic or head-soul, which was connected with
and suspended from the divine soul of the Kosmos. They assigned it to
each man as his presiding genius. If he neglected it, and directed
all his development toward the energetic or appetitive mortal soul,
he would become debased. He did so. Hence it became necessary for the
gods to reconstruct the whole organism, and in this reconstruction
the primitive non-sexual type becomes the bi-sexual, and a species is

It is not necessary to enter into the metaphysical argument which
relates to the question of responsibility for this change from the
original plan. Plato tells us that the gods foresaw it as a necessary
consequence of the original scheme; and, moreover, that they foresaw
that they must make preparation for the still more degenerate varieties
of birds and quadrupeds, into which the corrupt and stupid part of
mankind would sink, all of which were according to the great eternal
scheme of the four kinds of ideal animals embraced in the idea of the
Kosmos itself. But with the moral justice of the whole theory we have
no concern here. We are here concerned, first, with the nature of the
process by which, in the Platonic theory, the bi-sexual human race
became formed out of the primitive non-sexual type; and, next, with
the process by which individuals of this race became degraded into the
lower animals.[17]

After the process of degradation had begun, after the primitive type
had given place to the bi-sexual human race, and a species was thus
formed, further degradation would be inevitable under the same causes
which produced the first one. The female part of mankind would go on
bringing forth new males and new females, and to each one at birth
there would come from its peculiar star an immortal soul, for I do not
understand that Plato's women were supposed not to be constructed, in
this respect, upon the same plan as the men. But each of these newly
arrived immortal souls would be placed in a mortal body in contact and
conflict with the two mortal souls of appetite, disturbance, and mutiny
against the divine laws of reason. Each new human being would then be
exposed to further debasement, by which his or her human organs and
human form would undergo transformation into a lower type of animal
life. Accordingly, we find that Plato, in perfect consistency with his
theory, supposes that birds are a degraded birth or formation derived
from one peculiar mode of degeneracy in man, hair being transmuted into
feathers and wings. If we inquire from what kind of men the birds were
formed, and how they came to be assigned to the air, we shall best
learn from the words employed by Mr. Grote to express Plato's idea:
"Birds were formed from the harmless but light, airy, and superficial
men, who, though carrying their minds aloft to the study of cosmical
phenomena, studied them by visual observation and not by reason,
foolishly imagining that they had discovered the way of reaching

Next to the birds came the land-animals, a more brutal formation.
These, to borrow the words of Mr. Grote's analysis, "proceeded from men
totally destitute of philosophy, who neither looked up to the heavens
nor cared for celestial objects; from men making no use whatever of
the rotations of their encephalic soul, but following exclusively
the guidance of the lower soul in the trunk. Through such tastes and
occupations, both their heads and their anterior limbs became dragged
down to the earth by the force of affinity. Moreover, when the rotation
of the encephalic soul from want of exercise became slackened and fell
into desuetude, the round form of the cranium was lost and became
converted into an oblong or some other form. These now degenerated into
quadrupeds and multipeds, the gods furnishing a greater number of feet
in proportion to the stupidity of each, in order that its approximation
to earth might be multiplied. To some of the more stupid, however, the
gods gave no feet or limbs at all, constraining them to drag the whole
length of their bodies along the ground, and to become reptiles. Out of
the most stupid and senseless of mankind, by still greater degeneracy,
the gods formed fishes, or aquatic animals--the fourth and lowest genus
after men, birds, land-animals. This race of beings, from their extreme
want of mind, were not considered worthy to live on earth, or to
respire thin and pure air. They were condemned to respire nothing but
deep and turbid water, many of them, as oysters and other descriptions
of shell-fish, being fixed down at the lowest depth or bottom. It is by
such transitions (concludes the Platonic 'Timæus') that the different
races of animals passed originally, and still continue to pass, into
each other. The interchange is determined by the acquisition or loss of
reason or rationality."[19]

Here, then, we have a process of degradation by which the different
races of animals were formed, by a kind of selection which, commencing
in the human species from the neglect of the encephalic soul to
maintain its high duties and aims, goes on in successive debasements
which result in the formation of lower and still lower animals until
we reach the shell-fish fixed upon the earth at the bottom of the
water. The bi-sexual principle of construction having been introduced
in the human species, was continued through all the other species
formed by the still descending process of deterioration, so that to
each successive species there remained the power of reproducing its
own type, along with the tendency to evolve a lower type by further
loss of reason or rationality. It is not material to the purpose of
the parallel, which I am about to draw between the Platonic and the
Darwinian system, to consider the precise nature of the Platonic idea
of an intelligent power, by which these successive degradations were
in one sense purposely ordained. Enough is apparent on the Platonic
system to show that, while these degradations were according to an
eternal plan, because they resulted from the conflict between reason
and unreason, order and disorder, between purity and impurity, yet the
different species of animals, after man, were not special creations by
an infinite power interfering in each case by a separate exercise of
creative will. They were a growth of an inferior organization out of a
superior through the inevitable operation of tendencies which changed
the forms of the animals. As fast as these tendencies operated--and
they were continually operating--the ministers of the Demiurgus, the
gods, stood ready to adapt the structure to the new conditions in
which the tendencies resulted, so that the new animal might be fitted
to and fixed in those conditions. Still, the gods are not represented
as making separate creations of new species as an act of their will,
without the pre-existing operation in the preceding type of tastes and
occupations which modify the structure into one of a more degraded
character. It may thus be said with entire truth that the Platonic idea
of the origin of the different races of animals presents a parallel
to the Darwinian theory, in which it will be found that the one is
the reverse of the other, both of them proceeding upon and involving
analogous principles of evolution, operating in the one system from
below upward, and in the other from a higher point downward. If, in
the Platonic system, the idea of an original immortal soul placed
in a heavenly abode, but afterward brought down and fixed in a
mortal body, is the starting-point--if a conflict of a spiritual and
angelic existence with corporeal and earthly tendencies is at first
the predominant fact--the parallel between the Platonic process of
degradation and the Darwinian process of elevation remains the same;
for, in the one system, reason degenerates into instinct, and instinct
at last reaches its lowest possible action, or ceases entirely; and,
in the other, instinct rises from its lowest action through successive
improvements until it becomes mind or intellect: so that somewhere in
the two processes there must be a point where they pass each other in
opposite directions, the one losing or merging intellect in instinct,
the other losing and merging instinct in mind, each of the two
processes being a process of development or evolution, but in opposite

It is not easy to ascertain at once what was Mr. Darwin's idea of the
mode in which a supreme intelligence has presided over the creation.
In his work on "The Descent of Man", he adduces some evidence that man
was not "originally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence
of an Omnipotent God," this evidence being that numerous savage races
have existed, and still exist, who have had and have no words in their
language to express this idea. But this, if true, does not help us
to understand what part in Mr. Darwin's theory an Omnipotent God is
supposed to play. Scattered through the same work we find references
to the hypothesis of such a being, and to the influences which this
belief has exerted upon the advance of morality. But I assume that we
are to understand that Mr. Darwin adopts as a fact, to be taken into
account in judging of his theory of evolution, that there is such a
being as an Omnipotent God, having equally the power to make separate
creations, or to establish certain laws of matter, and to leave them
to operate through secondary causes in the production and extinction
of the past and present inhabitants of the world. In his work on the
"Origin of Species" he refers to "what we know of the laws impressed
upon matter by the Creator."[21] In his "Descent of Man" the following
passage occurs toward the close of the work: "He who believes in the
advancement of man from some low organized form will naturally ask,
How does this bear on the belief in the immortality of the soul? The
barbarous races of man, as Sir J. Lubbock has shown, possess no clear
belief of this kind; but arguments, derived from the primeval beliefs
of savages, are, as we have just seen, of little or no avail. Few
persons feel any anxiety from the impossibility of determining at what
precise period in the development of the individual, from the first
trace of a minute germinal vesicle, man becomes an immortal being;
and there is no greater cause for anxiety, because the period can not
possibly be determined in the gradually ascending organic scale."

Surely it is a most pertinent inquiry, How does his theory of the
advancement of man from some lower organized form bear on the
immortality of the soul? and it is no answer to this inquiry to say
that upon no hypothesis of man's origin can we determine at what
precise period he becomes an immortal being. That the idea of an
Omnipotent God, capable of creating a spiritual essence, or an immortal
soul, is not denied by Mr. Darwin, is doubtless to be inferred from
his strong affirmation that our minds refuse to accept as the result
of blind chance the grand sequence of events which the birth both of
the species and the individual presents to our view. That variations of
structure, the union of pairs in marriage, the dissemination of seeds,
and similar events, have all been ordained for some special purpose,
is the hypothesis according to which he regards them as events brought
about by the laws of natural selection, which laws were ordained by
the Creator and left to operate. Now, while this hypothesis excludes,
or tends to exclude, the idea of blind chance, it still remains to
be considered whether the soul of man, or the essence which we call
intellect, is in each case a direct creation of a special character, or
whether it is a result from the operation of the laws which have been
ordained for the action of organized matter. If it is the former, the
soul may survive the destruction of the body. If it is the latter, the
soul as well as all the other manifestations or exhibitions which the
material body gives forth in its action, may and in all probability
must cease with the organs whose action leads us falsely to believe
that we are animated by an immortal spirit while we are in the flesh.
If it is a necessary result of any theory that what is supposed to be
the immortal soul of man is a product of the operation of certain laws
imposed upon organized matter, without being a special creation of
something distinct from matter, it is immaterial whether the organized
form of matter with which the soul is connected, or appears to act for
a time, was a special creation, or was an evolution out of some lower
form, or came by blind chance. Nor is it material that we can not
determine at what precise period in the genesis of the individual, by
the ordinary process of reproduction, he becomes an immortal being. The
question is, Does he ever become an immortal being, if in body and in
mind he is a mere product of organized matter, formed from some lower
type through the laws of variation and natural selection, resulting in
an animal whose manifestations or exhibitions of what we call intellect
or mind are manifestations of the same nature as the instincts of the
lower animals, differing only in degree?

That I may not be misunderstood, and especially that I may not be
charged with misrepresentation, I will state the case for the Darwinian
theory as strongly as I can. The question here is obviously not a
question of power. An Omnipotent Creator has just the same capacity to
make special creations, by a direct and special exertion of his will,
as he has to make one primordial type and place it under fixed laws
that will in their operation cause a physical organization to act in
such a way as to evolve out of it other and more or less perfect types.
In either method of action, he would be the same Omnipotent God, by
whose will all things would exist; and I assume that upon this point
there is no difference between some of the evolution school and its
opponents. But in considering the question of the origin of the human
soul, or the intellect of man, we are dealing not with a question of
power, but with the probable method in which the conceded Omnipotent
capacity has acted. On the one hand, we have the hypothesis that the
Eternal and Omnipotent capacity has created a spiritual and immortal
being, capable of existing without any union with the body that is
formed out of earthly material, but placed for a time in unison with
such a body; and that for the effectual purpose of this temporary
union this body has been specially constructed, and constructed in two
related forms, male and female, so that this created species of animal
may perpetuate itself by certain organic laws of reproduction. Now it
is obviously immaterial that we can not detect the point of time, or
the process, at or by which the union between the spiritual essence
and the earthly body takes place in the generation of the individual.
It is conceded to be alike impossible to detect the time or mode in
which descendants of the lower animals, which had nothing resembling
intellect, become endowed with and inhabited by intellect, through the
supposed laws of variation and natural selection, operating to produce
an animal of a more elaborate organization. The point of divergence
between the two hypotheses is precisely this: that the one supposes the
mind of man to be a special creation, of a spiritual nature, designed
to be immortal, but placed in union with a mortal body for a temporary
purpose. The other hypothesis supposes no special creation of either
the mind or the body of man, but maintains that the latter is evolved
out of some lower animal, and that the former is evolved out of the
action of physical organization.[22] Either mode of projecting and
executing the creation of both the body and the mind of man is of
course competent to an Omnipotent God. The question is, Which mode has
the highest amount of probability on which to challenge our belief?
If the one, as it is described, leads to the conclusion that the mind
can not survive the body, and the other leads to the conclusion that
it can, we are left to choose between them: and our choice must be
determined by what we can discover of satisfactory proof that the mind
of man was destined to become immortal. What, then, is the Darwinian
theory of the origin of man as an animal, and to what does it lead
respecting the origin and nature of the human soul?

Whoever will carefully examine Mr. Darwin's hypothesis of the
descent of man as an animal, will find that commencing at a point
opposite to that at which Plato began his speculations, the modern
naturalist assumes the existence of a very low form of animated and
organized matter, destitute of anything in the nature of reason,
even if acting under what may be called instinctive and unconscious
impulses, imposed upon it by the preordained laws by which animated
matter is to act. By some process of generation, either bi-sexual or
uni-sexual or non-sexual, this very low type of animal is endowed with
a power of reproducing other individuals of the same structure and
habits. In process of time, for which we must allow periods very much
longer than those of which we are accustomed to think in relation to
recorded history, the individuals of this species become enormously
multiplied. A struggle for existence takes place between these very
numerous individuals; and in this struggle there comes into operation
the law to which Mr. Darwin has given the name of "natural selection,"
which is but another name for a series of events. He does not mean
by this term to imply a conscious choice on the part of the animals,
nor an active power or interfering deity. He employs it to express
a constantly occurring series of events or actions, by which, in
certain circumstances, animals secure themselves against the tendency
to destruction which is caused by the great disparity between their
numbers and the amount of food that is accessible to them, or by the
unfavorable influences of a change of climate upon so great a body
of individuals. He calls this series of events or actions _natural_
selection, in order, as I understand, to compare what takes place
in nature with what takes place when a breeder of animals purposely
selects the most favorable individuals for the purpose of improving
or varying the breed. In nature, the selection is supposed to operate
as follows: The strongest and most active individuals of a species
of animals have the best chance of securing the requisite amount of
food from the supply that is insufficient for all. They do this by
their greater fleetness in overtaking the common prey, or by making
war upon the more feeble or inactive of their fellows; and numerous
individuals are either directly destroyed by this warfare, or are
driven off from the feeding-ground and perish for want of nourishment.
Thus the best specimens of the race survive; and to this occurrence is
given the name of the "survival of the fittest," meaning the survival
of those individuals best fitted to continue their own existence and
to continue their species. A physical change in the country inhabited
by a great multitude of individuals of a certain species, or by
different species--for example, a change of climate--operates to make
this struggle for existence still more severe, and the result would
be that those individuals of the same species which could best adapt
themselves to their new condition would tend to be preserved, as
would the different species inhabiting the same country which could
best maintain the struggle against other species. The improvement
in the structure of the animals takes place, under this process of
natural selection, in the following manner: The best individuals being
preserved, the organs of which they make most use in the struggle for
existence undergo development and slight modifications, favorable
to the preservation of the individual, and these modifications are
transmitted to their offspring. Here there comes in play a kind of
collateral aid to which is given the name of "sexual selection,"
which is defined as a form of selection depending "not on a struggle
for existence in relation to other organic beings or to external
conditions, but on a struggle between individuals of one sex, generally
the males, for the possession of the other sex."[23] "The result,"
continues Mr. Darwin, "is not death to the unsuccessful competitor,
but few or no offspring. Sexual selection is, therefore, less rigorous
than natural selection. Generally, the most vigorous males, those which
are best fitted for their place in nature, will leave most progeny.
But, in many cases, victory depends not so much on general vigor, as
on having special weapons, confined to the male sex." As, by means of
this warfare of sexual selection, the victor would always be allowed
to breed, his courage and his special weapons of offense or defense,
in their increased development, would descend to his offspring. Thus
the improvement and modification induced by natural selection would be
enhanced and transmitted by the sexual selection.[24]

In regard to the operation of the two kinds of selection in the
evolution of man from a lower form of animal, we find the theory
to be this: That organic beings with peculiar habits and structure
have passed through transitions which have converted the primordial
animal into one of totally different habits and structure; that,
in these transitions, organs adapted to one condition and mode
of life have become adapted to another; that such organs are
homologous, and that in their widely varied uses they have been
formed by transitional gradations, so that, for example, a floating
apparatus, or swim-bladder, existing in a water-animal for one
purpose--flotation--has become converted in the vertebrate animals into
true lungs for the very different purpose of respiration. Thus, by
ordinary generation, from an ancient and unknown prototype, not only
have organs, by minute and successive transitions, become adapted to
changed conditions of life, but the whole organism has become changed,
and this has resulted in the production of an animal vastly superior
to his ancient and unknown prototype; and yet to that prototype, of
which we have no specimen and no record, are to be traced the germs
of all the peculiarities of structure which we find in the perfect
animals of different kinds that we thoroughly know, until we come to
man, these successive results being brought about by the two kinds of
selection--natural and sexual.

There can be no better illustration of the character of Mr. Darwin's
theory than that to which he resorts when he means to carry it to its
most startling length, while he candidly admits that he has felt the
difficulty of this application of it far too keenly to be surprised
at the hesitation of others. This illustration is the eye. Here he
very justly says it is indispensable that reason should conquer
imagination; but on which side of the question reason or imagination
is most employed might, perhaps, be doubtful. Mr. Darwin's hypothesis
concerning the eye begins with the fact that in the highest division
of the animal kingdom, the vertebrata, we can start from an eye so
simple that it consists, as in the lancelet,[25] of a little sack of
transparent skin, furnished with a nerve, and lined with pigment, but
destitute of any other apparatus. From this prototype of a visual
organ, up to the marvelous construction of the eye of man or of the
eagle, he supposes that extremely slight and gradual modifications
have led, by the operation of natural and sexual selection; and by
way of illustrating this development, he compares the formation of
the eye to the formation of the telescope. "It is scarcely possible
to avoid comparing the eye with a telescope. We know that this
instrument has been perfected by the long-continued efforts of the
highest human intellects, and we naturally infer that the eye has been
formed by a somewhat analogous process. But may not this inference
be presumptuous? Have we any right to assume that the Creator works
by intellectual powers like those of man? If we must compare the eye
to an optical instrument, we ought, in imagination, to take a thick
layer of transparent tissue, with spaces filled with fluid, and with a
nerve sensitive to light beneath, and then suppose every part of this
layer to be continually changing slowly in density, so as to separate
into layers of different densities and thickness, placed at different
distances from each other, and with the surface of each layer slowly
changing in form. Further, we must suppose that there is a power,
represented by natural selection or the survival of the fittest,
always watching each slight alteration in the transparent layers, and
carefully preserving each which, under varied circumstances, in any way
or in any degree, tends to produce a distincter image. We must suppose
each new state of the instrument to be multiplied by the million, each
to be preserved until a better one is produced, and then the old ones
to be all destroyed. In living bodies variations will cause the slight
alterations, generation will multiply them almost infinitely, and
natural selection will pick out with unerring skill each improvement.
Let this process go on for millions of years, and during each year on
millions of individuals of many kinds, and may we not believe that a
living optical instrument might thus be formed as superior to one of
glass as the works of the Creator are to those of man?"[26]

It might have occurred to the very learned naturalist that the
formation of a mechanical instrument by the hand of man, guided by
his intellect, admits of varieties of that instrument for different
purposes, as products of an intelligent will. Different kinds of
telescopes for different uses have been produced, not by destroying
the poorer ones and preserving the better ones, but by a special
and intentional adaptation of the structure to special uses, until
an instrument is made which will dissolve the nebulæ of the milky
way, and bring within the reach of our vision heavenly bodies of the
existence of which we had no previous knowledge. Why may not the same
intelligent and intentional formation of the human eye, as a special
structure adapted to the special conditions of such an animal as man,
have been the direct work of the Creator, just as the lowest visual
organ--that of such a creature as the lancelet--was specially made
for the conditions of its existence? Why resort to the theory that
all the intermediate varieties of the eye have grown successively out
of the lowest form of such an organ by transitional grades of which
we can not trace the series, when the probabilities concerning the
varieties of this organ of which we have any knowledge are so strongly
on the side of a special and intentional adaptation of each one to the
circumstances of the animal to which it has been given? As a question
of power in the Creator, either method of action was of course just as
competent as the other. As a question of which was his probable method,
the case is very different; for we know comparatively very little of
the modifications produced by such causes as natural or even sexual
selection, while we may, without presumption, assume that we know much
more about the purposes of special adaptation to special conditions,
which an omnipotent Creator may have designed and effected. But this is
a digression, and also an anticipation of the argument.

To state the pedigree of man according to the Darwinian theory, we
must begin with an aquatic animal as the early progenitor of all the
vertebrata. This animal existing, it is assumed, "in the dim obscurity
of the past," was provided with branchiæ or gills, or organs for
respiration in water, with the two sexes united in the same individual,
but with the most important organs of the body, such as the brain and
heart, imperfectly or not at all developed. From this fish-like animal,
or from some of its fish descendants, there was developed an amphibious
creature, with the sexes distinct. Rising from the amphibians, through
a long line of diversified forms, we come to an ancient marsupial
animal, an order in which the young are born in a very incomplete state
of development, and carried by the mother, while sucking, in a ventral
pouch.[27] From the marsupials came the quadrumana[28] and all the
higher mammals.[29] Among these mammals there was, it is supposed, a
hairy, tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits, from which
man is descended. It was an inhabitant of the Old World. It branched
into the lemuridæ, a group of four-handed animals, distinct from the
monkeys, and resembling the insectivorous quadrupeds in some of their
characters and habits;[30] and from these came the simiadæ, of which
there were two great stems--the New World and Old World monkeys. "From
the latter, at a remote period, man, the wonder and glory of the
universe, proceeded."[31]

The reader must now, in order to do justice to this theory, imagine
a lapse of time, from the period of the existence of the aquatic
progenitor of all the vertebrata, to be counted by millions of years,
or by any figures that will represent to the mind the most conceivable
distance between a past and a present epoch. Through this enormous
stretch of centuries, in order to give scope to the operation of the
laws of natural and sexual selection, we must suppose the struggle for
existence to be going on among the individuals of the same species, and
among different species inhabiting the same country, and the sexual
selection among the individuals of the same species to be perpetually
transmitting to offspring the improved and more developed organs and
powers induced by natural selection; so that in the countless sequence
of generations there are evolved animals that are so widely different
from their remote progenitors that in classifying them we find them to
be new species, endowed with a power of reproducing their own type, and
similarly capable, it would seem, of still further development into
even higher types in the long-distant future.

I know not how it may appear to others, but to me the parallelism
between the Platonic and the Darwinian theory is very striking. Both
speculators assume the existence of a Supreme Intelligence and Power,
presiding over the creation of animals which are to inhabit this earth.
Behind the celestial or primitive gods the Greek philosopher places
the Demiurgus, to whom the gods stand in the relation of ministers
or servants to execute his will. The modern naturalist assumes the
existence of the Omnipotent God; and although he does not directly
personify the laws of natural and sexual selection which the Omnipotent
power has made to operate in nature, they perform an office in the
transitional gradations through which the animals are successively
developed, that very closely resembles the office performed by the
gods of Plato's system in providing the modifications of structure
which the animals undergo. In the two processes the one is the reversed
complement of the other. Plato begins with the formation of an animal
of a very exalted type, and by successive degradations, induced by the
failure of the animal to live up to the high standard of its rational
existence, he supposes a descent into lower and still lower forms, the
gods all the while providing a new structure for each successive lower
form, until we reach the shell-fish fixed on the earth beneath the
water. Darwin begins with the lowest form of animated organization,
and by successive gradations induced by the struggle of the animal to
maintain its existence, he supposes an ascent into higher and still
higher forms, the laws of natural and sexual selection operating to
develop a new structure for each successive higher form, until we reach
man, "the wonder and glory of the universe," an animal whose immediate
ancestor was the same as the monkey's, and whose remote progenitor was
an aquatic creature breathing by gills and floating by a swim-bladder.

Nor had Plato less of probability to support his theory than Darwin
had to support his. The Greek philosopher might have adduced the
constant spectacle of men debasing their habits and even their physical
appearance into a resemblance to the brutes. He might have suggested,
and he does suggest, how the degrading tendencies of the lower
appetites and the ravages of disease drag down the human frame from its
erect carriage and its commanding power over matter to an approximation
with the condition of the inferior animals. He might have adduced
innumerable proofs of the loss of reason, or rationality, through
successive generations of men, brought about by the transmission of
both appetites and physical malformation from parents to children.
He might have compared one of his Athenian fellow-citizens of the
higher class with the lowest savage known throughout all the regions
accessible to an observer of his day and country. He might have
portrayed the one as a being preserving his physical organization
in the highest state of perfection by gymnastic exercises, by a
well-chosen diet, by observance of all the conditions of health, by the
aid of the highest medical skill known to the age; cultivating his mind
by philosophy, practicing every public and private virtue as they were
understood among a people of rare refinement, and adorning his race by
an exhibition of the highest qualities that were then attainable. All
these qualities, physical, mental, and moral, Plato might have shown
were transmissible in some degree, and in a good degree were actually
transmitted from sire to son. Turning to the other picture, and
comparing "Hyperion to the satyr," he might have shown that the lowest
savage, in those physical points of structure which were best adapted
to his animal preservation as an inhabitant of the wildest portion of
the earth, had retained those which made him more nearly resemble the
brute inhabitants of the same region, and that in his intellectual
and moral qualities the resemblance between him and his Athenian
contemporary was almost wholly lost. Intermediate between these extreme
specimens of the human race, why could not Plato have found with great
probability, and often with actual proof, successive degradations of
structure and uses of organs, just as well supported by facts, or
analogies, or hypotheses, as are Mr. Darwin's successive elevations
from a lower to a higher animal? If Plato had known as much about the
animal kingdom as is now known, he could have arrayed the same facts
in support of his theory, by an argument as powerful as that which now
supports the doctrine of evolution.

Nay, it is certain that Plato's attention was drawn to some of these
facts, and that he makes use of them in a way that is as legitimately
a probable occurrence as any use that is made of them at the present
day. For example, he was struck with the existence of what in
scientific parlance are called "rudiments," a term that is employed
to describe an organ or part which appears to have no special use
where it is found in one animal, but which, in a more developed or
in a diversified condition, has an obvious use in another animal.
Thus, he tells us that the gods, with a long-sighted providence,
introduced a sketch or rudiment of nails into the earliest organization
of man, foreseeing that the lower animals would be produced from
the degeneration of man, and that to them claws and nails would be
absolutely indispensable.[32] In the same way, he seems to regard hair
as a rudiment, relatively speaking; for while its use on different
parts of the body of man, or even on the head, is not very apparent,
its use to the lower animals is very obvious. Why, then, is it not just
as rational, and just as much in accordance with proper scientific
reasoning, to suppose those parts of animal structure which are
called "rudiments" to have been introduced as mere sketches in the
organization of a very high animal, and then to have been developed
into special uses in lower animals produced by the degeneration of the
higher, as it is to suppose that they were developed in full activity
and use in the lower animals, but sank into the condition of useless
or comparatively useless appendages as the higher animal was evolved
out of the lower by a process of elevation? The modern naturalist of
the evolution school will doubtless say that "rudiments" in the human
structure, for which there is no assignable use that can be observed,
are not to be accounted for as sketches from which Nature was to work,
in finding for them a use in some other animal in a developed and
practically important condition; that, to the extent to which such
things are found in man, they are proofs of his cognate relations to
the lower animals, in which they have a palpable use; and that the
gradations by which they have proceeded from practical and important
uses in the lower animals, until they have become mere useless or
comparatively useless sketches in the human structure, are among the
proofs of the descent of man from the lower animals which had a use for
such things. I shall endeavor hereafter to examine the argument that
is derived from "rudiments" more closely. At present, the point which
I suggest to the mind of the reader arises in the parallel between
the Platonic and the Darwinian theory of the origin of the different
species of animals. I ask, why is it not just as probably a true
hypothesis to suppose that man was first created with these rudimentary
sketches in his organization, and that they became useful appendages
in the lower animals, into which man became degenerated, as it is to
suppose that these parts existed in full development, activity, and
practical use in the lower animals, out of whom man was generated,
and that in man they lost their utility and became relatively mere
rudiments? To my mind, neither theory has the requisite amount of
probability in its favor compared with the probability of special
creations; but I can see as much probability in the Platonic as in the
Darwinian explanation, and a strong parallelism between them.

I will pursue this parallel somewhat further by again adverting to
Plato's idea of the origin of the human soul. He supposes it to have
been an immortal being, formed out of the eternal essence of Ideas
by the Demiurgus. He manifestly makes it an existence distinct from
matter, because he places its first abode in a heavenly mansion, where
it is in unison with the celestial harmonies and perfections of the
outer circle. This heavenly sphere is again to be its abode, after it
shall have been released from its temporary abode on earth, which has
been appointed to it for purposes of discipline and trial. At a fixed
time of birth it is brought down from its celestial abode and united
with a mortal body, that it may assert and prove its power to preside
over and govern that body according to the eternal laws of reason and
rectitude. If it fulfills this high duty, when the fastenings, which
have bound it to the mortal frame, are dissolved with the dissolution
of those which hold together the material structure, the soul flies
away with delight to its own peculiar star. If it fails in this high
duty, it is on the death of the first body transferred by a second
birth into a more degraded body, resembling that to which it has
allowed the first one to be debased. At length, somewhere in the
series of transmigrations, the lower and bestial tendencies cease to
have power over the immortal soul; the animal with which it was last
united remains an animal bereft of reason, and the soul, released from
further captivity, escapes to its original abode in the heavens, more
or less contaminated by what it has undergone, but still immortal,
indestructible, spiritual, and capable of purification.

Here, then, we have a conception of the origin and nature of the human
soul as a spiritual existence, quite as distinctly presented as it can
be by human reason. Stripped of the machinery by which Plato supposes
the soul to have come into existence, his conception of its origin and
nature is the most remarkable contribution which philosophy, apart
from the aid of what is called inspiration, has made to our means of
speculating upon this great theme. Of course, it affords, with all the
machinery of which Plato makes use, no explanation of the point or the
time of junction between the soul and the body. But, as a conception
of what in the poverty of language must be called the substance of
the soul, of its spiritual and immortal nature, of its distinctive
existence separate from what we know as matter, whether Plato borrowed
more or less from other philosophers who preceded him, it is a very
distinct presentation of the nature of the human mind.

Turn now to what can be extracted from the Darwinian theory of the
origin and nature of the human mind, and observe where it holds with
and where it breaks from the parallelism between it and the Platonic
theory. The doctrine of evolution, so called, presents to us no
distinct suggestion that the mind of man is a separate and special
creation. Rejecting, and very properly rejecting, the Platonic idea of
an existence of the human soul anterior to the birth of the individual,
the Darwinian theory supposes that in the long course of time, during
which natural and sexual selection were operating to produce higher and
still higher animals, there came about, in the earlier and primitive
organizations, a habit of the animal to act in a certain way; that this
habit descended to offspring; that it became developed into what is now
called instinct; and that instinct became developed into what we now
call mind. I know not how otherwise to interpret Mr. Darwin's repeated
affirmations that, in comparing the mental powers of man and those of
the lower animals, there can be detected no difference in kind, but
that the difference is one of degree only; that there is no fundamental
difference, or difference in nature, between the mental powers of
an ape and a man, or between the mental power of one of the lowest
fishes, as a lamprey or lancelet, and that of one of the higher apes;
that both of these intervals, that between the ape and man, and that
between the lancelet and the ape, which are much wider in the latter
case than in the former, are filled up by numberless gradations.[33] If
this be true, it must be because the lancelet, supposing that animal to
be the progenitor, formed a habit of acting by an implanted impulse,
which became, under the operation of natural and sexual selection,
confirmed, developed, and increased in its descendants, until it not
only amounted to what is called instinct, but took on more complex
habits until something akin to reason was developed. As the higher
animals continued to be evolved out of the lower, this approach to
a reasoning power became in the ape a true mental faculty; and, at
length, in the numberless gradations of structure intermediate between
the ape and the man, we reach those intellectual faculties which
distinguish the latter by an enormous interval from all the other
animals. "If," says Mr. Darwin, "no organic being, excepting man, had
possessed any mental power, or if his powers had been of a wholly
different nature from those of the lower animals, then we never should
have been able to convince ourselves that our high faculties had been
gradually developed. But it can be shown that there is no fundamental
difference of this kind."[34]

I will not here ask how far this is theoretical assumption. I shall
endeavor to examine in another place the evidence which is supposed
to show that the mental powers of man are in no respect fundamentally
different, or different in kind, from the powers in the other animals
to which the distinguished naturalist gives the name of "mental"
powers. At present I am still concerned with the parallelism between
the Platonic and the Darwinian theory; and I again ask whether the
latter is not the former reversed, in respect to the process by which
reason in the one case becomes lost, and that by which in the other
case it becomes developed out of something to which it bears no
resemblance? Plato supposes the creation of pure reason, or mental
power, in the shape--to use the counterpart of a physical term--of
a non-physical, spiritual intelligence, or mind. It remains always
of this nature, but the successive animals which it is required to
inhabit on earth undergo such degradations that the immortal reason
loses in them the power to control their actions; nothing is left to
govern in them but mere instinct, and this at last sinks into its
lowest manifestations. Darwin, on the other hand, supposes the first
creation to have been a very low animal of a fish-like structure, with
the lowest capacity for voluntary action of any kind, but impelled to
act in a certain way by superimposed laws of self-preservation; that
in the infinitude of successive generations these laws have operated
to produce numberless gradations of structure, in the growth of which
fixed habits have become complex instincts; that further gradations
have developed these instincts into something of mental power, as the
successive higher animals have become evolved out of the lower ones,
until at length the intellect of man has been "gradually developed" by
a purely physical process of the action of organized matter.

This materialistic way of accounting for the origin of the human
mind necessarily excludes the idea of its separate creation or its
distinctive character. The theory is perfectly consistent with itself,
in supposing that the mind of man does not differ in kind, or differ
fundamentally, from those exhibitions which in the lower animals lead
us to attribute to them some mental power. But whether the theory is
consistent with what we know of our own minds, as compared with what
we can observe in the other animals, is the real question. In the
first place, it is to be remembered that we can read our own minds, by
the power of consciousness and reflection. In the next place, it is
conceded that we can know nothing of the minds of the other animals,
excepting by their outward actions. They can not speak, to tell us
of their emotions, their memories, their fears, their hopes, their
desires, what they think, or whether they think at all. They do acts
which wonderfully resemble the acts of man, in outward appearance,
as if they were acts which proceeded from the same power of reason
but in a less perfect degree; yet they can tell us nothing of their
mental processes, if they have such processes, and the utmost that we
can do is to argue from their acts that they have mental faculties
akin to those of men. It is in the ordained nature of things that we
know and can know, by introspection, what our own minds are. We can
know the mind of no other animal excepting from his outward acts. How
far these will justify us in assuming that his mind is of the same
nature as ours, or that ours is an advanced development of his, is the
fundamental question.

Plato was evidently led, by that study of the human mind which is open
to all cultivated intellects through the process of consciousness
and reflection, to conceive of the soul as a created intelligence of
a spiritual nature. The fanciful materials out of which he supposes
it to have been composed were the mere machinery employed to express
his conception of its spiritual nature and its indestructible
existence. He was led to employ such machinery by his highly
speculative and constructive tendencies, and because it was the habit
of Greek philosophy to account for everything. Some machinery he was
irresistibly impelled to employ, in order to give due consistency to
his theory. But his machinery in no way obscures his conception of
the nature of the soul, and we may disregard it altogether and still
have left the conception of a spiritual and immortal being, formed for
separate existence from matter, but united to matter for a temporary
purpose of discipline and trial.

The modern naturalist, on the other hand, although assuming the
existence of the Omnipotent God, supposes the human mind to have become
what it is by the action of organized matter beginning at the lowest
point of animal life, and going on through successive gradations of
animal structure, until habits are formed which become instincts, and
instincts are gradually developed into mind. Take away the machinery
that is employed, and you have left no conception of the immortal and
indestructible nature of the human soul. The material out of which it
is constructed is all of the earth earthy, and the twofold question
arises: first, whether this was the probable method employed by the
Omnipotent Creator; and, secondly, whether it will account for such an
existence as we have reason to believe the mind of man to be.

There is another point in the parallel between the Platonic and the
Darwinian systems which is worthy of note. We have seen that, according
to Plato, when the Demiurgus had completed the construction of the
Kosmos and that of the human soul, he retired and left to the gods the
construction of a mortal body for man and of bodies of the inferior
animals into which man would become degraded. According to Darwin,
the Omnipotent God constructs some very low form of animal, and then,
retiring from the work of direct creation, he leaves the laws of
natural and sexual selection to operate in the production of higher
animals through the process that is called evolution. Perhaps it may be
unscientific to ask why the Omnipotent God should cease to exercise,
or refrain from exercising, his power of special creation, after he
has once exerted it. Perhaps there is some view of the nature and
purposes of that infinite being which would render such an abstention
from his powers a probable occurrence. But it is difficult to conceive
what this view can be. If we take a comprehensive survey of all the
facts concerning the animal kingdom that are within the reach of our
observation; and if, then, in cases where we know of no intermediate
or transitional states, we assume that they must have existed; if we
array the whole in support of a certain theory which undertakes to
account both for what we see and for what we do not see, we very easily
reach the conclusion that the Omnipotent God performed but one act of
special creation, or at most performed but a very few of such acts,
and those of the rudest and simplest types, and then left all the
subsequent and splendid exhibitions of animal structure to be worked
out by natural selection. This is the scientific method adopted by the
evolution school to account for the existence of all the higher animals
of which we have knowledge, man included. It may be very startling, but
we must acknowledge it as the method of action of the Omnipotent God,
because it is said there is no logical impossibility in it.

There is a passage in Mr. Darwin's "Origin of Species" which I must now
quote, because it shows how strongly the supposed action and abstention
of the infinite Creator, according to the Darwinian theory, resembles
the action and abstention of Plato's Demiurgus: "Although the belief
that an organ so perfect as the eye could have been formed by natural
selection, is enough to stagger any one; yet in the case of any organ,
if we know of a long series of gradations in complexity, each good for
its possessor; then, under changing conditions of life, there is no
logical impossibility in the acquirement of any conceivable degree of
perfection through natural selection. In the cases in which we know of
no intermediate or transitional states, we should be extremely cautious
in concluding that none can have existed, for the metamorphoses of many
organs show what wonderful changes in function are at least possible.
For instance, a swim-bladder has apparently been converted into an
air-breathing lung. The same organ having performed simultaneously
very different functions, and then having been in part or in whole
specialized for one function; and two distinct organs having performed
at the same time the same function, the one having been perfected while
aided by the other, must often have largely facilitated transitions."

Here, then, we have it propounded that after the creation of the
rudest and simplest form of a visual organ, the infinite God abstains
from direct and special creation of such a perfect and elaborate
organ as the human eye, and leaves it to be worked out by natural
selection; there being no logical impossibility, it is said, in this
hypothesis. We are cautioned not to conclude, because we can not find
the intermediate and transitional states of the visual organs, that
they never existed; we are told that they are at least possible, and
that analogies show they must have existed; and from the possibility of
their existence and from the assumption that they happened, we are to
believe that the Omnipotent God, refraining from the exercise of his
power to create the human eye, with its wondrously perfect structure,
left it to be evolved by natural selection out of the rudest and
simplest visual organ which he directly fashioned.

All things are possible to an infinite Creator. He who made the visual
organ of the lowest aquatic creature that ever floated could make the
human eye as we know it, or could make one that would do more than
the eye of man ever was capable of. He could by a direct exercise of
his power of creation form the eye of man, or he could leave it to be
evolved out of the only type of a visual organ on which he saw fit
to exercise his creative power. He could create in the land-animals
a true air-breathing lung as a special production of his will, or
could permit it to be formed by transitional gradations out of the
swim-bladder of an aquatic creature. But why should he abstain from the
one method and employ the other? This question brings us at once to
the probabilities of the case; and, in estimating those probabilities,
we must take into the account all that reason permits us to believe
of the attributes of the Almighty. We can not, it is true, penetrate
into his counsels without the aid of revelation. But if we confine
ourselves to the domain of science, or to the mere observation of
nature, we shall find reason for believing that the Omnipotent God
had purposes in his infinite wisdom that render the acts of special
creation vastly more probable than the theory of evolution. A study of
the animal kingdom and of all the phenomena of the universe leads us
rationally and inevitably to one of two conclusions: either that there
is no God, and that all things came by chance; or to the belief that
there is a God, and that he is a being of infinite benevolence as well
as infinite wisdom and power. Now, why should such a being, proposing
to himself the existence on earth of such an animal as man, to be
inhabited for a time by a soul destined to be immortal, abstain from
the direct creation of both soul and body, and leave the latter to be
evolved out of the lowest form of animal life, and the former to become
a mere manifestation or exhibition of phenomena, resulting from the
improved and more elaborate structures of successive types of animals?
Is there no conceivable reason why an infinitely wise, benevolent, and
omnipotent being should have chosen to exercise the direct power of
creation in forming the soul of man for an immortal existence, and also
to exercise his direct power of creation in so fashioning the body as
to fit it with the utmost exactness to be serviceable and subservient
to the mind which is to inhabit it for a season? Why depict the
infinite God as a quiescent and retired spectator of the operation of
certain laws which he has imposed upon organized matter, when there are
discoverable so many manifest reasons for the special creation of such
a being as man? It is hardly in accordance with any rational theory of
God's providence, after we have attained a conception of such a being,
to liken him intentionally or unintentionally to the Demiurgus of the
acute and ingenious Greek philosopher. We must conclude that human
society, with all that it has done or is capable of doing for man on
earth, was in the contemplation of the Almighty; and if we adopt this
conclusion, we must account for the moral sense, for moral obligation,
and for the idea of law and duty. We can not account for these things
upon any probable theory of their origin, if we reject the idea that
they were specially implanted in the structure of the human soul, and
suppose that both the intellectual faculties and the moral sense were
evolved out of the struggle of lower animals for their existence,
resulting in the formation of higher animals and in the development
of their social instincts into more complex, refined, and consciously
calculating instincts of the same nature.

I have not drawn this parallel between the Platonic and the Darwinian
theories of the origin of different animals for any purpose of
suggesting that the one was in any sense borrowed from the other.
Plagiarism, in any form, is not, so far as I know, to be detected in
the writings of the evolution school. But the speculations of Plato in
regard to the origin and nature of the human soul, fanciful as they
are, afford great assistance in grasping the conception of a spiritual
existence; and the parallel between his process of degradation and
Darwin's process of elevation shows to my mind as great probability in
the one theory as there is in the other.


 [12] Rotation was considered the movement most conformable to reason
 and intelligence, and it is impracticable to any figure but the
 spherical. Grote, iii, 253.

 [13] The primitive gods of Plato's conception (in the "Timæus") are
 not to be confounded with the gods of the poetic and popular faith.
 As Mr. Grote has pointed out, there is nothing more remarkable in
 Plato's writings than the subtilty and skill with which he contrived
 to elude the charge of impiety and infidelity toward the gods of
 tradition and of the popular faith. In a passage of the "Timæus,"
 on which Mr. Grote seems to be in doubt whether it was ironical or
 sincere, Plato boldly confronts the difficulty by saying that we
 must believe competent witnesses whose testimony we have, respecting
 the genesis of the remaining gods who have personal names and were
 believed in by his contemporaries. For his own part, he says, he does
 not pretend to account for their generation. The sons of the gods,
 the heroic and sacred families, who must have known their own fathers
 and all about their own family affairs, have given us their family
 traditions, and we must obey the law and believe. But concerning
 the primitive gods, the first progenitors of the remaining gods,
 we are at liberty to speculate. The ingenuity of this admission of
 authority where authority has spoken, reconcilable with speculation
 upon matters on which authority has not spoken, is admirable. Plato,
 as Mr. Grote has observed, was willing to incur the risk of one count
 of the indictment which was brought against his master Socrates,
 that of introducing new divine persons. In legal parlance he might
 have demurred to this count, as not charging any offense against the
 established religion. But the other count, for not acknowledging the
 gods whom the city acknowledged, he did not choose to encounter. As to
 them, he prudently, and perhaps sarcastically, accepts the testimony
 of witnesses who speak by inspiration and authority. But as to the
 primitive gods, the progenitors of the gods from whom were descended
 the heroic and sacred families of men, he expresses in the "Timæus"
 his own convictions, without appealing to authority and without
 intimating that he is speaking of mysteries beyond the comprehension
 of his reason. The boldness of this flight beyond all authority into
 the realms of pure reason is very striking, even if it does end in
 nothing but probability, which is all that Plato claims for his theory.

 [14] It must be remembered that, in the formation of the cosmical
 soul, the ingredients were the eternal Ideas; of these there could be
 a remnant after the cosmical soul was formed. But the cosmical body,
 which was formed out of the material elements, comprehended the whole
 of them, and there could be no remnant or surplus of them remaining
 outside. But portions of them could be borrowed for a limited period
 of mortal existence, and would return to their place in the Kosmos
 when that existence terminated. If this distinction be carried along,
 Plato will not be found to be inconsistent with himself.

 [15] It does not distinctly appear what was to become of the rational
 soul if it finally failed in the conflict with evil, at the lowest end
 of the transmigration. Being immortal, it could not perish. But in
 providing for it an opportunity of final success through all the forms
 of animal life to which it might be condemned, it would seem that
 Plato was pressed by a reluctance to encounter the idea of endless
 misery. This point, however, does not obscure his explanation of the
 process by which species of animals, and a succession of inferior
 animals, came to exist.

 [16] Mr. Grote has pointed out that in his other writings, notably
 in the "Republic" and in the "Leges", Plato is not consistent with
 this idea that the gods are responsible for the evil that man causes
 to himself; and that in the "Timæus" he plainly makes the Demiurgus
 responsible, because he brings, or allows to be brought, an immortal
 soul down from its star, where it was living pure, intelligent, and in
 harmony with reason, and makes it incur corruption, disturbance, and
 stupidity, by junction with a mortal body and two mortal and inferior

 [17] I have omitted the description of the influence of disease
 induced by an over-indulgence of appetite, etc., in aiding the process
 of debasement from the primitive type. The reader can find this
 influence developed in Grote, or can consult the original Greek of
 the "Timæus." It would appear that Plato considered the effect of all
 the appetites, when too much indulged, as tending in the primitive
 non-sexual type toward the development of that lower kind of animal
 which the gods saw fit to treat as fit only to become woman.

 [18] Grote.

 [19] Grote's "Plato," iii, 282.

 [20] See, as to the reception of the Platonic Demiurgus by the
 Alexandrian Jews, first chapter.

 [21] "Origin of Species," p. 428, American edition, from the sixth
 English. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1882.

 [22] Mr. Darwin refers to Mr. Herbert Spencer's theory of "the
 necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation";
 and indeed it is apparent that this class of philosophers have
 constructed a theory which denies the creation of the human mind as a
 spiritual essence, independent of matter, although some of them may
 adhere to the idea that it was God who caused matter to evolve out of
 its own action the substance or existence that we call mind.

 [23] "Origin of Species," p. 69.

 [24] For the illustrations of both kinds of selection I must refer the
 reader to Mr. Darwin's works. In regard to birds, he makes the sexual
 selection operate less by the "law of battle" among the males, or by
 fighting, and more by the attractions of plumage and voice, by which
 the males carry on their rivalry for the choice of the females in
 pairing. But he attributes the same effect to the sexual selection in
 birds as in the other animals, namely, the transmission to offspring,
 and chiefly to the male offspring, of those peculiarities of structure
 which have given to the male parent the victory over his competitors.

 [25] A very low form of fish, without brain, vertebral column, or
 heart, classed by the older naturalists among the worms. ("Descent of
 Man," p. 159.) The technical name of the lancelet is _Amphioxus_.

 [26] "Origin of Species," p. 146.

 [27] The kangaroos and opossums are of this group.

 [28] Animals with four hands.

 [29] Animals which produce living young, and nourish them after birth
 by milk from the teats of the mother.

 [30] The lemur is one of a genus of four-handed mammals, allied to
 the apes, baboons, and monkeys, but with a form approaching that of

 [31] "Descent of Man," p. 165.--The reader will need to observe that
 monkey is the popular name of the ape and the baboon. In zoölogy,
 monkey designates the animals of the genus _Simia_, which have long
 tails. The three classes are apes, without tails; monkeys, with long
 tails; baboons, with short tails.

 [32] Grote, iii, p. 276.

 [33] "Descent of Man," p. 65.

 [34] "Descent of Man," p. 65.


 The Darwinian pedigree of man--The evolution of organisms out of other
 organisms, according to the theory of Darwin.

It is doubtless an interesting speculation to go back in imagination to
a period to be counted by any number of millions of years, or covered
by an immeasurable lapse of time, and to conceive of slowly-moving
causes by which the present or the past inhabitants of this globe
became developed out of some primordial type, through successive
generations, resulting in different species, which became final
products and distinct organisms. But what the imagination can do in the
formation of a theory when acting upon a certain range of facts is,
as a matter of belief, to be tested by the inquiry whether the weight
of evidence shows that theory to be, in a supreme degree, a probable
truth, when compared with any other hypothesis. It is in this way that
I propose to examine and test the Darwinian pedigree of man. The whole
of Mr. Darwin's theory of the descent of man as an animal consists in
assigning to him a certain pedigree, which traces his organism through
a long series of other animals back to the lowest and crudest form of
animal life; and it must be remembered that this mode of accounting for
the origin of man of necessity supposes an unbroken connection of lives
with lives, back through the whole series of organisms which constitute
the pedigree, and that, according to the Darwinian theory, there was
no aboriginal creation of any of these organisms, save the very first
and lowest form with which the series commences. Not only must this
connection of lives with lives be shown, but the theory must be able
to show how it has come about that there are now distinct species of
animals which never reproduce any type but their own.

Two great agencies, according to the Darwinian theory, have operated
to develop the different species of animals from some low primordial
type, through a long series which has culminated in man, who can not
lay claim to be a special creation, but must trace his pedigree to
some ape-like creature, and so on to the remote progenitor of all the
_Vertebrata_. It is now needful to grasp, with as much precision as
such a theory admits of, the nature and operation of these agencies,
and to note the strength or weakness of the proof which they afford of
the main hypothesis. First, we have what is called "the struggle for
existence," which may be conceded as a fact, and to which more or less
may be attributed. The term is used by Mr. Darwin in a metaphorical
sense, to include all that any being has to encounter in maintaining
its individual existence, and in leaving progeny, or perpetuating its
kind. In the animal kingdom, the struggle for individual existence
is chiefly a struggle for food among the different individuals which
depend on the same food, or against a dearth of one kind of food which
compels a resort to some other kind. The struggle for a continuation
of its species is dependent on the success with which the individual
animal maintains the contest for its own existence. Now, it is
argued that in this great and complex battle for life it would occur
that infinitely varied diversities of structure would be useful to
the animals in helping them to carry on the battle under changing
conditions. These useful diversities, consisting of the development
of new organs and powers, would be preserved and perpetuated in the
offspring, through many successive generations, while the variations
that were injurious would be rigidly destroyed. The animals in whom
these favorable individual differences and variations of structure
were preserved would have the best chance of surviving and of
procreating their kind. So that, by this "survival of the fittest,"
Nature is continually selecting those variations of structure which
are useful, and continually rejecting or eliminating those which are
injurious; the result being the gradual evolution of successive higher
types of animals out of the lower ones, until we reach man, the highest
animal organism that exists on this earth. In the next place, we have,
as an auxiliary agency, in aid of natural selection, what is called
"the sexual selection," by which the best endowed and most powerful
males of a given species appropriate the females, and thus the progeny
become possessed of those variations of structure and the superior
qualities which have given to the male parent the victory over his

The proofs that are relied upon to establish the operation and effect
of these agencies in producing the results that are claimed for them,
ought to show that, in one or more instances, an animal of a superior
organization which, when left to the natural course of its reproduction
by the union of its two sexes, always produces its own distinct type
and no other, has, in fact, been itself evolved out of some lower and
different organism by the agencies of natural and sexual selection
operating among the individuals of that lower type. One of the proofs,
on which great stress is laid by Mr. Darwin, may be disposed of without
difficulty. It is that which is said to take place in the breeding of
domestic animals, or of animals the breeding of which man undertakes to
improve for his own practical benefit, or to please his fancy, or to
try experiments. In all that has been done in this kind of selection,
in breeding from the best specimens of any class of animals, there
is not one instance of the production of an animal varying from its
near or its remote known progenitors in anything but adventitious
peculiarities which will not warrant us in regarding it as a new or
different animal. No breeder of horses has ever produced an animal
that was not a horse. He may have brought about great and important
improvements in the qualities of fleetness, or strength, or weight,
or endurance, by careful selection of the sire and the dam; but the
race-horse or the hunter, or the draught-horse or the war-horse, is
but a horse of different qualities and powers, with the same skeleton,
viscera, organs, muscles, which mark this species of animal, and with
no other variations of structure than such as follow from the limited
development of different parts for different uses. No breeder of cows
ever produced a female animal that was not a cow, although he may have
greatly improved the quality and quantity of the milk peculiar to this
animal by careful selection of the individuals which he permits or
encourages to breed. No breeder of sheep ever produced an animal that
was not a sheep, although the quality of the fleece or of the mutton
may have been greatly improved or varied. Among the domestic fowls, no
animal that was not a bird was ever bred by any crossing of breeds,
although great varieties of plumage, structure of beak, formation of
foot, development of wing, habits of life, adaptation to changes of
situation, and many minor peculiarities, have been the consequences
of careful and intelligent breeding from different varieties of the
same fowl. In the case of the pigeon, of which Mr. Darwin has given
a great many curious facts from his own experience as a breeder, the
most remarkable variations are perhaps to be observed as the results
of intentional breeding from different races of that bird; but with
all these variations nothing that was not a bird was ever produced.
In the case of the dog, whatever was his origin, or supposing him to
have been derived from the wolf, or to belong to the same family as
the wolf, it is, of course, impossible to produce, by any crossing of
different breeds of dogs, an animal that would not belong to the class
of the _Canidæ_. Indeed, it is conceded by Darwin, with all the array
of facts which he adduces in regard to the domesticated animals, that
by crossing we can only get forms in some degree intermediate between
the parents; and that although a race may be modified by occasional
crosses, if aided by careful selection of the individuals which present
the desired character, yet to obtain a race intermediate between two
distinct races would be very difficult, if not impossible. If this is
so, how much more remote must be the possibility, by any selection, or
by any crossing to which Nature will allow the different animals to
submit, to produce an animal of so distinct a type that it would amount
to a different species from its known progenitors!

From all that has been brought about in the efforts of man to improve
or to vary the breeds of domestic animals--a kind of selection that is
supposed to be analogous to what takes place in Nature, although under
different conditions--it is apparent that there are limitations to the
power of selection in regard to the effects that are to be attributed
to it. A line must be drawn somewhere. It will not do in scientific
reasoning, or in any other reasoning, to ignore the limitations to
which all experience and observation point with unerring certainty, so
far as experience and observation furnish us with facts. It is true
that the lapse of time during which there has been, with more or less
success, an intentional improvement in the breeds of domestic animals
carried on with recorded results has been very short when compared
with the enormous period that has elapsed since the first creation
of an animal organization, whenever or whatever that creation was.
But history furnishes us with a pretty long stretch of time through
which civilized, half-civilized, and savage nations have had to do
with various animals in first taming them from a wild state and then
in domesticating so as to make them subservient to human wants, and
finally in improving their breeds. But there is no recorded or known
instance in which there has been produced under domestication an animal
which can be said to be of a different species from its immediate known
progenitors, or one that differed from its remote known progenitors
in any but minor and adventitious peculiarities of structure. If in
passing from what has been done by human selection in the breeding of
animals to what has taken place in Nature in a much longer space of
time and on a far greater scale, we find that in Nature, too, there
are limitations to the power of that agency which is called natural
selection--that there is an impassable barrier which Nature never
crosses, an invincible division between the different species of
animals--we must conclude that there is a line between what selection
can and what it can not do. We must conclude, with all the scope and
power that can be given to natural selection, that Nature has not
developed a higher and differently organized animal out of a lower
and inferior type--has not made new species by the process called
evolution, because the infinite God has not commissioned Nature to do
that thing, but has reserved it unto himself to make special creations.
Do not all that we know of the animal kingdom--all that naturalists
have accumulated of facts and all that they concede to be the absence
of facts--show that there is a clear and well-defined limitation to
the power of natural selection, as well as to the power of that other
agency which is called sexual selection? Grant that this agency of
natural selection began to operate at a period, the commencement of
which is as remote as figures can describe; that the struggle for life
began as soon as there was an organized being existing in numbers
sufficiently large to be out of proportion to the supply of food; that
the sexual selection began at the same time, and that both together
have been operating ever since among the different species of animals
that have successively arisen and successively displaced each other
throughout the earth. The longer we imagine this period to have
been, the stronger is the argument against the theory of evolution,
because the more numerous will be the absences of the gradations and
transitions necessary to prove an unbroken descent from the remote
prototype which is assumed to have been the first progenitor of the
whole animal kingdom. Upon the hypothesis that evolution is a true
account of the origin of the different animals, we ought practically
to find no missing links in the chain. The fact is that the missing
links are both extremely numerous and important; and the longer the
period assumed--the further we get from the probability that these two
agencies of natural and sexual selection were capable of producing the
results that are claimed for them--the stronger is the proof that a
barrier has been set to their operation, and the more necessary is it
to recognize the line which separates what they can from what they can
not do.

Let us now see what is the state of the proof. It may assist the
reader to understand the Darwinian pedigree of man if I present it in
a tabulated form, such as we are accustomed to use in exhibiting to
the eye the pedigree of a single animal. Stated in this manner, the
Darwinian pedigree of man may be traced as follows:

    I. A marine animal of the maggot form.
     II. Group of lowly-organized fishes.
        III. Ganoids and other fishes.
             IV. The Amphibians.
          V. The ancient Marsupials.
  VI. The Quadrumana and all the higher mammals.
            VII. The Lemuridæ.
            VIII. The Simiadæ.
          |                   |
  IX. Old World Monkeys.  New World Monkeys.
                  X. Man.

These ten classes or groups of animals are supposed to be connected
together by intermediate diversified forms, which constitute the
transitions from one of the classes or groups to the other; and in
reading the table downward it must be remembered that we are reading
in fact through an ascending scale of beings, from the very lowest
organized creature to the highest. The whole, taken together, forms a
chain of evidence; and, according to the rational rules of evidence,
each distinct fact ought to be proved to have existed at some time
before our belief in the main hypothesis can be challenged. I know of
no reason why the probable truth of a scientific hypothesis should
be judged by any other rules of determination than those which are
applied to any other subject of inquiry; and, while I am ready to
concede that in matters of physical science it is allowable to employ
analogy in constructing a theory, it nevertheless remains, and must
remain, true that where there are numerous links in a supposed chain
of proofs that are established by nothing but an inference drawn from
an analogous fact, the collection of supposed proofs does not exclude
the probable truth of every other hypothesis but that which is sought
to be established, as it also does not establish the theory in favor of
which the supposed facts are adduced. Upon these principles of evidence
I propose now to examine the Darwinian pedigree of man.

I. The group of marine animals described as resembling the larvæ of
existing Ascidians; that is to say, an aquatic animal in the form
of a grub, caterpillar, or worm, which is the first condition of an
insect at its issuing from the egg. These assumed progenitors of the
Vertebrata are reached, according to Mr. Darwin, by "an obscure glance
into a remote antiquity," and they are described as "apparently"
existing, and as "resembling" the larvæ of existing Ascidians. We are
told that these animals were provided with branchiæ, or gills, for
respiration in water, but with the most important organs of the body,
such as the brain and heart, imperfectly or not at all developed. This
simple and crude animal "we can see," it is said, "in the dim obscurity
of the past," and that it "must have been the early progenitor of
all the Vertebrata."[35] It is manifest that this creature is a mere
hypothesis, constructed, no doubt, by the aid of analogy, but existing
only in the eye of scientific imagination. Why is it placed in the
water? For no reason, apparently, but that its supposed construction
is made to resemble that of some creatures which have been found in
the water, and because it was necessary to make it the progenitor of
the next group, the lowly-organized fishes, in order to carry out the
theory of the subsequent derivations. It might have existed on the
land, unless at the period of its assumed existence the whole globe was
covered with water. If it had existed on the land, the four subsequent
forms, up to and including the Marsupials, might have been varied to
suit the exigencies of the pedigree without tracing the descent of the
Marsupials through fishes and the Amphibians.

II. The group of lowly-organized fishes. These are said to have been
"probably" derived from the aquatic worm (I), and they are described
to have been as lowly organized as the lancelet, which is a known fish
of negative characters, without brain, vertebral column, or heart,
presenting some affinities with the Ascidians, which are invertebrate,
hermaphrodite marine creatures, permanently attached to a support,
and consisting of a simple, tough, leathery sack, with two small
projecting orifices. The larvæ of these creatures somewhat resemble
tadpoles, and have the power of swimming freely about. These larvæ of
the Ascidians are said to be, in their manner of development, related
to the Vertebrata in the relative position of the nervous system,
and in possessing a structure closely like the _chorda dorsalis_ of
vertebrate animals.[36] Here, again, it is apparent that a group of
lowly-organized fish-like animals, of which there are no remains,
have been constructed by a process of scientific reasoning from a
certain class of marine creatures that are known. As a matter of pure
theory, there can be no serious objection to this kind of construction,
especially if it is supported by strong probabilities furnished by
known facts. But when a theory requires this kind of reasoning in order
to establish an important link in a chain of proofs, it is perfectly
legitimate and necessary criticism that we are called upon to assume
the former existence of such a link; and, indeed, the theorists
themselves, with true candor and accuracy, tell us that they are
arguing upon probabilities from the known to the unknown, or that a
thing "must have existed" because analogies warrant the assumption that
it did exist. In a matter so interesting, and in many senses important,
as the evolution theory of man's descent, it is certainly none too
rigid to insist on the application of the ordinary rules of belief.

III. The Ganoids and other fishes like the Lepidosiren. These, we
are told, "must have been developed" from the preceding (II). The
Ganoids, it is said, were fishes covered with peculiar enameled bony
scales. Most of them are said to be extinct, but enough is known about
them to lay the foundation for their "probable" development from the
first fishes that are supposed to have been derived from the aquatic
worm (I). There is a reason for arguing the existence of these first
fishes as a true fish with the power of locomotion, because the next
ascending group of animals is to be the Amphibians. In a fish, the
swim-bladder is an important organ; and it is an organ that plays an
important part in the Darwinian theory, furnishing, it is claimed,
a very remarkable illustration that an organ constructed originally
for one purpose, flotation, may be converted into one for a widely
different purpose, namely, respiration. As the Amphibians, which as
a distinct group were to come next after the fishes in the order of
development, must be furnished with a true air-breathing lung, their
progenitors, which inhabited the water only, must be provided with an
organ that would undergo, by transitional gradations, conversion into
a lung. But what is to be chiefly noted here is that it is admitted
that the prototype, which was furnished with a swim-bladder, was "an
ancient and unknown prototype"; and it is a mere inference that the
true lungs of vertebrate animals are the swim-bladder of a fish so
converted, by ordinary generation, from the unknown prototype because
the swim-bladder is "homologous or 'ideally similar' in position and
structure with the lungs of the higher vertebrate animals."[37] One
might ask here without presumption, why the Omnipotent God should not
have created in the vertebrate animals a lung for respiration, as well
as have created or permitted the formation of a swim-bladder in a fish;
and looking to the probabilities of the case, it is altogether too
strong for the learned naturalist to assert that "there is no reason
to doubt that the swim-bladder has actually been converted into lungs
or an organ used exclusively for respiration"; especially as we are
furnished with nothing but speculation to show the intermediate and
transitionary modifications between the swim-bladder and the lung.
While we may not assume "that the Creator works by intellectual powers
like those of man," in all respects, it is surely not presumptuous to
suppose that an Omnipotent and All-wise Being works by powers that are
competent to produce anything that in his infinite purposes he may see
fit specially to create.

IV. The Amphibians. Here we come to what is now a very numerous group,
of which it is said that the first specimens received, among other
modifications, the transformation of the swim-bladder of their fish
progenitors into an air-breathing lung. We are told that from the
fishes of the last preceding group (III) "a very small advance would
carry us on to the Amphibians."[38] But whether the advance from an
animal living in the water and incapable of existing out of that
element, to an animal capable of living on the land as well as in the
water, was small or large, we look in vain, at present, for the facts
that constitute that advance.

V. The Ancient Marsupials. These were an order of mammals such as
the existing kangaroos, opossums, etc., of which the young, born in
a very incomplete state of development, are carried by the mother,
while sucking, in a ventral pouch. They are supposed to have been
the predecessors, at an earlier geological period, of the placental
mammals, namely, the highest class of mammals, in which the embryo,
after it has attained a certain stage, is united to the mother by a
vascular connection called the _placenta_, which secures nourishment
that enables the young to be born in a more complete state. There is a
third and still lower division of the great mammalian series, called
the Montremata, and said to be allied to the Marsupials. But the
early progenitors of the existing Marsupials, classed as the Ancient
Marsupials, are supposed to constitute the connection between the
Amphibians and the placental mammals; that is to say, an animal which
produced its young by bringing forth an egg, from which the young is
hatched, became converted into an animal which produced its young from
a womb and nourished it after birth from the milk supplied by its
teats, the young being born in a very incomplete state of development
and carried by the mother in a ventral pouch while it is sucking. The
steps of variation and development by which this extraordinary change
of structure, of modes of reproduction and formation of organs, as well
as habits of life, took place, are certainly not yet discovered; and
it is admitted, in respect to forms "now so utterly unlike," that the
production of the higher forms by the process of evolution "implies
the former existence of links binding closely together all these
forms."[39] In other words, we are called upon to supply by general
reasoning links of which we have as yet no proof.

VI. The Quadrumana and all the higher (or Placental) Mammals. These are
supposed to stand between the implacental mammals (V) and the Lemuridæ
(VII). The latter were a group of four-handed animals, distinct from
the monkeys, and "resembling the insectivorous quadrupeds." But the
gradations which would show the transformation from the implacental
Marsupials to the placental Quadrumana are wanting.

VII. The Lemuridæ. This branch of the placental mammals is now actually
represented by only a few varieties. The early progenitors of those
which still exist are placed by Darwin in the series intermediate
between the Quadrumana and the Simiadæ; and according to Huxley they
were derived from the lowest, smallest, and least intelligent of the
placental mammalia.

VIII. The Simiadæ. This is the general term given by naturalists to the
whole group of monkeys. From the Lemuridæ to the Simiadæ we are told by
Darwin that "the interval is not very wide." Be it wider or narrower,
it would be satisfactory to know whether the gradations by which the
former became the latter are established by anything more than general

IX. The Catarrhine, or Old-World Monkeys. These are the great stem
or branch of the Simiadæ which became the progenitors of man. His
immediate progenitors were "probably" a group of monkeys called by
naturalists the Anthropomorphous Apes, being a group without tails or
callosities, and in other respects resembling man. While this origin of
man is gravely put forward and maintained with much ingenuity, we are
told that "we must not fall into the error of supposing that the early
progenitor of the whole Simian stock, including man, was identical
with, or even closely resembled, any existing ape or monkey."[40] So
that somewhere between the early progenitor of the whole Simian stock
and all that we know of the monkey tribe, there were transitions and
gradations and modifications produced by natural and sexual selection
which we must supply as well as we can.

X. Man. We have now arrived at "the wonder and glory of the universe,"
and have traced his pedigree from a low form of animal, in the shape
of an aquatic worm, through successive higher forms, each developed
out of its predecessor by the operation of fixed laws, and without the
intervention of any special act of creation anywhere in the series,
whatever may have been the power and purpose by and for which existence
was given to the first organized and living creature, the aquatic worm.
Speaking of man as belonging, from a genealogical point of view, to the
Catarrhine, or Old-World stock of monkeys, Mr. Darwin observes that "we
must conclude, however much the conclusion may revolt our pride, that
our early progenitors would have been properly thus designated."[41]

I have already said that our pride may be wholly laid out of
consideration. The question of the probable truth of this hypothesis
of man's descent should not be affected by anything but correct
reasoning and the application of proper principles of belief. Treating
it with absolute indifference in regard to the dignity of our race,
I shall request my readers to examine the argument by which it is
supported, without the smallest influence of prejudice. I am aware
that it is asking a good deal to desire the reader to divest himself
of all that nature and education and history and poetry and religion
have contributed to produce in our feelings respecting our rank in the
scale of being. When I come to treat of that which, for want of a more
suitable term, must be called the substance of the human mind, and to
suggest how it bears upon this question of the origin of man, I shall,
as I trust, give the true, and no more than the true, scope to those
considerations which lead to the comparative dignity of the race. But
this dignity, as I have before observed, should follow and should not
precede or accompany the discussion of the scientific problem.

What has chiefly struck me in studying the theory of evolution as an
account of the origin of man is the extent to which the theory itself
has influenced the array of proofs, the inconsequential character of
the reasoning, and the amount of assumption which marks the whole
argument. This is not said with any purpose of giving offense. What is
meant by it will be fully explained and justified, and one of the chief
means for its justification will be found in what I have here more than
once adverted to--Mr. Darwin's own candor and accuracy in pointing out
the particulars in which important proofs are wanting. Another thing
by which I have been much impressed has been the repetition of what is
"probable," without a sufficient weighing of the opposite probability;
and sometimes this reliance on the "probable" has been carried to the
verge, and even beyond the verge, of all probability. Doubtless the
whole question of special creations on the one hand and of gradual
evolution on the other is a question of probability. But I now refer
to a habit among naturalists of asserting the probability of a fact or
an occurrence, and then, without proof, placing that fact or occurrence
in a chain of evidence from which the truth of their main hypothesis is
to be inferred. It is creditable to them as witnesses, that they tell
us that the particular fact or occurrence is only probably true, and
that we are to look for proof of it hereafter. But the whole theory
thus becomes an expectant one. We are to give up our belief that God
made man in his own image--that he fashioned our minds and bodies after
an image which he had conceived in his infinite wisdom--because we
are to expect at some future time to discover the proof that he did
something very different; that he formed some very lowly-organized
creature, and then sat as a retired spectator of the struggle for
existence, through which another and then another higher form of being
would be evolved, until the mind and the body of man would both have
grown out of the successive developments of organic structure. We can
not see this now; we can not prove it; but we may expect to be able to
see it and to prove it hereafter.

The present state of the argument does not furnish very strong
grounds for the expectation of what the future is to show. As far as
I can discover, the main ground on which the principle of evolution
is accepted by those who believe in it, is general reasoning. It is
admitted that there are breaks in the organic chain between man and his
nearest supposed allies which can not be bridged over by any extinct or
living species. The answer that is made to this objection seems to me
a very singular specimen of reasoning. It is said that the objection
will not appear of much weight to those who believe in the principle
of evolution from general reasons. But how is it with those who are
inquiring, and who, failing to feel the force of the "general reasons,"
seek to know what the facts are? When we are told that the breaks in
the organic chain "depend merely on the number of related forms which
have become extinct," is it asking too much to inquire how it is known
that there were such forms and that they have become extinct? Geology,
it is fully conceded on its highest authorities, affords us very little
aid in arriving at these extinct forms which would connect man with
his ape-like progenitors; for, according to Lyell, the discovery of
fossil remains of all the vertebrate classes has been a very slow and
fortuitous process, and this process has as yet reached no remains
connecting man with some extinct ape-like creature.[42] The regions
where such remains would be most likely to be found have not yet been
searched by geologists. This shows the expectant character of the
theory, and how much remains for the future in supplying the facts
which are to take the place of "general reasons."

But perhaps the most remarkable part of the argument remains to be
stated. The breaks in the organic chain of man's supposed descent are
admitted to be of frequent occurrence in all parts of the series, "some
being wide, sharp, and defined, others less so in various degrees."[43]
But these breaks depend merely, it is said, upon the number of related
forms that have become extinct, there being as yet no proof, even by
fossil remains, that they once existed. Now, the prediction is that
at some future time such breaks will be found still more numerous and
wider, by a process of extinction that will be observed and recorded;
and hence we are not to be disturbed, in looking back into the past,
by finding breaks that can not be filled by anything but general
reasoning. The passage in which this singular kind of reasoning is
expressed by Mr. Darwin deserves to be quoted:

"At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries,
the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and
replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the
anthropomorphous apes, as Prof. Schaafhausen has remarked, will no
doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies
will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more
civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape
as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian
and the gorilla."[44]

I do not quite comprehend how the "more civilized state of man" in the
more or less remote future is to lead to this wider break. One can
understand how the whole of mankind may become more civilized, and
how the savage races will disappear by extermination or otherwise. It
may be, and probably will be, that the anthropomorphous apes will be
exterminated at the same time. But the question here is not in regard
to a more perfect and widely diffused civilization--a higher and
universal elevation of the intellectual and moral condition of mankind,
a more improved physical and moral well-being--but it is in regard to
a change in the physical and organic structure of the human animal, so
marked and pronounced as to produce a wider break between man and his
nearest supposed allies than that which now exists between the negro
or the Australian and the gorilla. The anthropomorphous ape existing
now will have disappeared; but it will be a well-known and recorded
animal of the past. But what reason is there to expect that natural and
sexual selection, or the advance of civilization, or the extermination
of the savage races of mankind, or all such causes combined, are going
to change essentially the structure of the human body to something
superior to or fundamentally different from the Caucasian individual?
We have had a tolerably long recorded history of the human body as it
has existed in all states of civilization or barbarism. And although
in the progress from barbarism to civilization--if utter barbarism
preceded civilization--the development of its parts has been varied,
and the brain especially has undergone a large increase in volume and
in the activity of its functions, we do not find that the plan on which
the human animal was constructed, however we may suppose him to have
originated, has undergone any material change.

The most splendid specimen of the Caucasian race that the civilized
world can show to-day has no more organs, bones, muscles, arteries,
veins, or nerves than those which are found in the lowest savage.
He makes a different use of them, and that use has changed their
development, and to some extent has modified stature, physical,
intellectual, and moral, and many other attributes; as climate and
habits of life have modified complexion, the diseases to which the
human frame is liable, and many other peculiarities. But if we take
historic man, we find that in all the physical features of his animal
construction that constitute him a species, he has been essentially
the same animal in all states of civilization or barbarism; and unless
we boldly assume that the prehistoric man was an animal born with a
coat of hair all over his body, and that clothing was resorted to as
the hair in successive generations disappeared, we can have no very
strong reason for believing that the human body has been at any time an
essentially different structure from what it is now. Even in regard to
longevity or power of continued life, if we set aside the exceptional
cases of what is related of the patriarchs in the biblical records,
we do not find that the average duration of human life has been much
greater or much less than the threescore and ten or the fourscore years
that are said to have been the divinely appointed term. As to what may
have been the average duration of life among prehistoric men, we are
altogether in the dark.

I must now revert to one of the most prominent of the admitted breaks
in the Darwinian pedigree, namely, that which occurs at the supposed
transition from the amphibians to the mammalia. There is a term which
is used in mechanics to mark the characteristic and fundamental
distinction between one complex machine and another. We speak of the
"principle" on which a mechanical structure operates, meaning the
essential construction and mode of operation which distinguish it from
other machines of the same general class. Although we are not to forget
that an animal organization, to which is given that mysterious essence
that is called life, may come into being by very different processes
from those which are employed by man in dealing with dead matter and
the forces which reside in it, yet there is no danger of being misled
into false analogies, if we borrow from mechanics a convenient term,
and speak of the "principle" on which an animal is constructed and on
which its animal organization operates. We find, then, that in the
animal kingdom there is a perfectly clear and pronounced division
between the modes in which the reproductive system is constructed and
by which it operates in the continuation of the species. The principle
of construction and operation of the reproductive system, by which an
individual animal is produced from an egg brought forth by the female
parent, and is thereafter nourished without anything derived from the
parental body, is as widely different from that by which the young
animal is born from a womb and nourished for a time from the milk of
the mother, as any two constructions, animate or inanimate, that can be
conceived of. Whatever may be the analogy or resemblance between the
embryo that is in the egg of one animal and the embryo that remains in
the womb of another animal, at the point at which the egg is expelled
from the parental system the analogy or resemblance ceases. In certain
animals a body that is called an egg is formed in the female parent,
containing an embryo, or fœtus, of the same species, or the substance
from which a like animal is produced. This substance is inclosed in an
air-tight vessel or shell; when this has been expelled from the parent
the growth of the embryo goes on to the stage of development at which
the young animal is to emerge from the inclosure, and, whatever may
have been the process or means of nourishment surrounding the embryo
within the shell and brought in that inclosure from the body of the
parent, the young animal never derives, at any subsequent stage of its
existence, either before or after it has left the shell, anything more
from the parental system. It may be "hatched" by parental incubation
or by heat from another source, but for nourishment, after it leaves
the shell, the young animal is dependent on substances that are not
supplied from the parental body, although they may be gathered or put
within its reach by the parental care.

The transition from this system of reproduction to that by which the
fœtus is formed into a greater or less degree of development within the
body of the parent, and then brought forth to be nourished into further
development by the parental milk, is enormous. The principle of the
organic construction and mode of perpetuating the species, in the two
cases, is absolutely unlike after we pass the point at which the ovule
is formed by the union of the male and the female vesicles that are
supposed to constitute its substance. When we pass from the implacental
to the placental mammals we arrive at the crowning distinction between
the two great systems of reproduction which separates them by a line
that seems to forbid the idea that the one has grown out of the
other by such causes as natural selection, and without a special and
intentional creation of a new and different mode of operation. On
the one hand, we have a system of reproduction by which the ovule is
brought forth from the body of the parent in an inclosed vessel, and
thereafter derives nothing from the parental body. In the other, we
have the ovule developed into the fœtus within the body of the parent,
and the young animal is then brought forth in a more or less complete
state of development, to be nourished by the parental secretion called
milk. The intervention of the placental connection between the fœtus
and the mother, whereby nourishment is kept up so that the young animal
may be born in a more complete state of development, is a contrivance
of marvelous skill, which natural selection, or anything that can be
supposed to take place in the struggle for existence, or the result
of the sexual battle, seems to be entirely inadequate to account for.
If two such very diverse systems could be supposed to have been the
product of human contrivance, we should not hesitate to say that the
principle of the one was entirely different from that of the other, and
that the change evinced the highest constructive skill and a special

The Darwinian hypothesis is that this great transition from the one
system of reproduction to the other took place between the amphibians
and the ancient marsupials, by the operation of the influences
of natural and sexual selection. That is to say, the system of
reproduction through an egg, which is the characteristic of the
amphibians, became changed by gradations and modifications into the
system of the lowest mammals, the distinction between the former and
the latter being an obvious and palpable one. Then we are to suppose a
further change from the marsupials, or the implacental mammals, to that
wonderful contrivance, the _placenta_, by which the mother nourishes
the fœtus into a more complete state of development before the young
animal is born. This enormous change of system is supposed to have
been brought about by a struggle among the individuals of one species
for food, aided by a struggle between the males of that species for
the possession of the females, by the growth and development of organs
useful to the animal in the two battles, and by the transmission of
these enhanced powers and improved weapons to offspring, and possibly
by the crossing of different varieties of the new animals thus
produced. But what potency there could be in such causes to bring about
this great change it is extremely difficult to imagine, and we must
draw largely on our imaginations to reach it. It would seem that if
there is any one part of animal economy that is beyond the influence of
such causes as the "survival of the fittest," it is the reproductive
system, by which the great divisions of the animal kingdom continue
their respective forms. Give all the play that you can to the operation
of the successful battle for individual life, and to the victory of
the best-appointed males over their competitors for the possession
of the females, and to the transmission of acquired peculiarities to
offspring--when you come to such a change as that between the two
systems of reproduction and perpetuation, you have to account for
something which needs far more proof of the transitional gradations of
structure and habits of life than can now be found between the highest
of the amphibians and the lowest of the mammalia. I know not how there
could be higher or stronger evidence of design, of a specially planned
and intentionally elaborated construction, than is afforded by this
great interval between the one reproductive system and the other. But
it is time now to pass to those points of resemblance between man and
the other mammals which are asserted as the decisive proofs of his and
their descent from some pre-existing form, their common progenitor.
These points of resemblance may be considered in the following order:

1. _The Bodily Structure of Man._--He is notoriously constructed on
the same general type or model as other mammals. "All the bones in his
skeleton can be compared with corresponding bones in a monkey, bat, or
seal. So it is with his muscles, nerves, blood-vessels, and internal
viscera. The brain, the most important of all the organs, follows the
same law."[45]

2. _The Liability of Man to certain Diseases to which the Lower
Animals are liable._--These diseases, such as hydrophobia, variola,
the glanders, syphilis, cholera, etc., man both communicates to and
receives from some of the lower animals. "This fact proves the close
similarity of their tissues and blood, both in minute structure
and composition, far more plainly than does their comparison under
the best microscope or by the aid of the best chemical analysis."
Monkeys are liable to many of the same non-contagious diseases as
we are, such as catarrh and consumption. They suffer from apoplexy,
inflammation of the bowels, and cataract in the eye. Their young die
from fever when shedding their milk-teeth. Medicines produce the
same effect on them as on us, and they have a strong taste for tea,
coffee, spirituous liquors, and even tobacco. Man is infested with
both internal and external parasites of the same genera or families as
those infesting other mammals; in the case of scabies, he is infested
with the same species of parasites. He is subject to the same law of
lunar periods, in the process of gestation, and in the maturation and
duration of certain diseases. His wounds are repaired by the same
process of healing, and, after the amputation of his limbs, the stumps
occasionally possess some power of regeneration, as in the lowest

3. _The Reproductive Process._--This is strikingly the same, it is
said, in all mammals, from the first act of courtship by the male to
the birth and nurturing of the young.[47] The closeness of the parallel
here, however, is obviously between man and the other placental
mammalia, if we regard the whole process of reproduction of the
different species.

4. _Embryonic Development._--From the human ovule, which is said to
differ in no respect from the ovule of other animals, into and through
the early embryonic period, we are told that the embryo of man can
hardly be distinguished from that of other members of the vertebrate
kingdom. It is not necessary to repeat the details of the resemblance,
which are undoubtedly striking, because they show a remarkable
similarity between the embryo of man and that of the dog and the ape,
in the earlier stage of the development, and that it is not until quite
in the later stages of development that the three depart from each
other, the difference between the young human being and the ape being
not so great as that between the ape and the dog. We may, of course,
accept Prof. Huxley's testimony that "the mode of origin [conception?]
and the early stages of the development of man are identical with those
of the animals immediately below him in the scale; without a doubt, in
these respects, he is far nearer to the apes than the apes are to the

5. _Rudiments._--This is a somewhat obscure branch of the proofs, which
requires a more detailed examination in order to appreciate its bearing
on the general theory of evolution. A distinction is made between
rudimentary and nascent organs. The former are absolutely useless to
their possessor--such as the mammæ of male quadrupeds, or the incisor
teeth of ruminants, which never cut through the gums--or else they are
of such slight service to their present possessors that they can not be
supposed to have been developed under the conditions which now exist.
These useless, or very slightly useful, organs in the human frame,
are supposed to have been organs which had an important utility in
the lower animals from which man is descended, but, by disuse at that
period of life when the organ is chiefly used, and by inheritance at a
corresponding period of life, they became of less and less utility in
the successive animals that were evolved out of the preceding forms,
until they sank into the condition of useless appendages, although
perpetuated by force of the derivation of one species of animal from
another, caused by the operation of the laws of natural and sexual
selection. Nascent organs, on the other hand, are those which, though
not fully developed to their entire capability, are of high service to
their possessor, and may be carried to a higher degree of utility. One
of the characteristics, as it is said, of rudimentary organs, is that
they often become wholly suppressed in individuals, and then reappear
occasionally in other individuals, through what is called reversion,
or a return to ancestral peculiarities.[49] We are told that "not one
of the higher animals can be named which does not bear some part in a
rudimentary condition; and man forms no exception to the rule."[50]

Among the rudiments that are peculiar to man, and which are supposed
to be proofs of his cognate relations to the lower animals, we are
referred to certain muscles in a reduced condition, which in the other
animals are used to move, twitch, or contract the skin, and remnants
of which, in an efficient state, are found in various parts of our
bodies; for instance, the muscles which raise the eyebrows, those which
contract the scalp, those which, in some individuals, move the external
ear, and similar muscular powers in different parts of the body. These
are adduced as illustrations of the persistent transmission of an
absolutely useless, or almost useless, faculty, "probably" derived from
our remote semi-human progenitors. There is also another rudiment in
man, found in the covering of the eye, and called by anatomists the
"semi-lunar fold," which in birds is of great functional importance,
as it can be rapidly drawn across the whole eyeball. In those animals
in which, with its accessory muscles and other structures, it is well
developed, as in some reptiles and amphibians, and in sharks, it is a
third eyelid. In the two lower divisions of the mammalian series, the
monotremata and the marsupials, and in some few of the higher mammals,
as in the walrus, it is said to be fairly well developed. But in
man, in the quadrumana, and most other mammals, it has become a mere

The sense of smell in man is also classed by Darwin and other
naturalists among the rudiments. It is argued that it was not
originally acquired by man as he now exists, but that he has inherited
this power, in an enfeebled and so far rudimentary condition, from some
early progenitor, to whom it was highly serviceable, and by whom it was
continually used.

Then we have the rudiment of hair, which, so far as it now exists on
different parts of our body, is regarded as a mere remnant of the
uniform hairy coat of the lower animals. Man, as he is now born,
"differs conspicuously from all the other primates in being almost
naked." But this nearly nude condition was not, it is said, the
condition of his progenitors, and it is not the condition of his
co-descendants from the same progenitors. At some time the progenitors
of man and his co-descendants became covered all over with a coat of
hair. What remains upon our bodies of this peculiar growth, that is
called hair, is what was left after the agency of natural selection
had worked off what was useless to the successive animals, and sexual
selection had operated to transmit to offspring the absence of hair
that had accrued in the nearer progenitors and the immediate parents.
The illustrations which render this view "probable" do not need to
be repeated, nor is it necessary to follow out the speculations
concerning the mode in which our progenitors, near or remote, became
varied in respect to the quantity, position, or direction of the hairs
on various parts of their bodies.

There are several other alleged homologues or rudiments which are
supposed to connect man with the lower animals, but which, whatever may
be the resemblances, it is not necessary to discuss in detail, because
there is one consideration at least which applies to the whole of
this class of proofs, and to that I now pass. The three great classes
of facts on which the whole argument rests, viewing man as an animal
and omitting all reference to his intellect, are the resemblances of
his bodily structure to that of the other mammals, the similarity
between his embryonic development and theirs, and the rudiments. I
reserve for separate discussion the counter-proof which may be derived
from the nature of the human mind, and the special adaptation of the
human structure to become the temporary residence and instrument of a
spiritual and immortal being.

"It is," says Mr. Darwin, "no scientific explanation to assert that
they have all [man and the other animals of the mammalian class] been
formed on the same ideal plan."[51] The similarity of pattern is
pronounced "utterly inexplicable" upon any other hypothesis than that
all these animals are descended from a common progenitor, and that
they have become what they are by subsequent adaptation to diversified
conditions. I may incur some risk in undertaking to suggest what is
a "scientific" explanation. Certainly I do not propose to "assert"
anything. But I will endeavor to keep within the bounds of what I
suppose to be science. I take that to be a scientific explanation
which, embracing the important facts of natural history as the
groundwork of the reasoning, undertakes to show the rationality of one
hypothesis that differs from another, when the question is, Which has
the greater amount of probability in its favor?

All correct reasoning on this subject of man's descent as an animal
begins, I presume, with the postulate of an Infinite Creator, having
under his power all the elements and forms of matter, organized and
unorganized, animate and inanimate. There is no fundamental difference
of opinion on this point, as I understand, between some of the
evolutionists and their opponents.[52] Omnipotence, boundless choice of
means and ends, illimitable wisdom, a benevolence that can not fail and
can not err, are the conceded attributes of the being who is supposed
to preside over the universe; and, however difficult it may be for us
to express a conception of infinite power and infinite wisdom, as it
is to describe infinite space and duration, we know what we mean to
assume when we speak or think of faculties that are without limit, and
of moral qualities that are subject to no imperfection. It is true that
we have no means of forming an idea of superhuman and infinite power
but by a comparison of our own limited faculties with those which we
assume to belong to an eternal and infinite God. But the nature of our
own limited powers teaches us that there may be powers that are as far
above ours as the heavens are above the earth, as the endless realms
of space stretch beyond and forever beyond any measurable distance,
as eternity stretches beyond and forever beyond all measurable time.
At all events, the postulate of an infinite God is the one common
starting-point for the scientists of the evolution school and those
who accept their doctrine, and for those who dissent from it. If I
did not assume this, I could not go one step further, for without it
there could not be a basis for any reasoning on the subject that would
lead anywhere but to the conclusion that all that exists came by blind
chance. This conclusion is rejected alike by the scientists, whose
views I am now examining, and by those who differ from them.

In the economy of Nature, which is but another term for the economy
of the Omnipotent Creator, there is no waste of power, as there is no
abstention from the exercise of power, where its exertions are needed
to accomplish an end. By this I mean that when a general plan of
construction is found carried out through a variety of organizations,
the rational inference is that so much power has been exerted as was
needful to accomplish in each organization the objects that are common
to all of them, and that no more power has been used in that direction.
But where a special adaptation in some one variety of the same class
of constructions is needful to accomplish an object peculiar to a new
variety, the necessary amount of power never fails to be exerted. A
study of the animal kingdom reveals this great truth, as palpably as a
study of the products of human skill reveals the fact that man, from
the imperfection of his faculties, is constantly exerting more or less
power than was needful in his efforts to produce a new variety in his
mechanical constructions. Experience and accumulated knowledge enable
us to carry a general plan of construction through a considerable group
of mechanical forms; but it is when we endeavor to vary the principle
of construction so as to produce a new and special mode of operation,
that we either waste power in repeating the general plan or fail to
exercise the amount of power necessary to adapt the general plan to the
introduction of the special object at which we are aiming. Our success
in making such adaptations is often wonderful, but our failures evince
that our imperfect faculties do not always enable us to accomplish
the necessary adaptations of the general plan of construction to the
special objects which we wish to attain. To the Infinite Creator, all
such difficulties are unknown. He neither wastes power by new plans
that are unnecessary, nor makes "vain repetitions," nor fails to exert
the requisite amount of power and wisdom in the introduction of new
and special contrivances which he ingrafts upon or superadds to the
general plan, and which he has devised for the accomplishment of a
new object. With a boundless choice of means and ends, with a skill
that can not err, with a prescience that sees the end from the first
conception of the design, he can repeat the general plan throughout
any variety of constructions without any waste of power, and can
introduce the new adaptations or contrivances which are to constitute
a new construction, by the exercise of all the power that is required
to accomplish a special object. Whether we are to suppose that he does
this by the establishment of certain laws which he leaves to operate
within prescribed limits, or does it by special creations proceeding
from direct and specific exertions of his will, the question of his
power to employ the one method or the other remains always the same.
The question of which was his probable method depends upon the force of
evidence; and upon this question we must allow great weight to the fact
which all Nature discloses, namely, that the Creator does not waste
power by making new plans of construction where an existing plan may be
usefully repeated, and that he does not fail to exercise the necessary
power when he wishes to add to the general plan of construction a new
and special organism for a particular purpose.

Is there anything presumptuous in thus speaking of the determination
and purposes of the Omnipotent Creator? We have his existence and
infinite attributes conceded as the basis of all sound reasoning on his
works. Why then should we not infer his purposes and his acts from his
works? Why should we not attribute to him a special design, when we
can not examine his works without inferring such special design, unless
we conclude that the most amazing and peculiar constructions grew up
under the operation of causes of which we have no sufficient proof, and
in the supposed result of which there are admitted chasms that can not
be bridged over?

To return now to the resemblance between the bodily structure of
man and that of his supposed progenitors. The assertion is that a
repetition of the same general plan of construction throughout a class
of animals can only be explained upon the hypothesis of their descent
from a common progenitor. They are, it is claimed, co-descendants
from some one ancient animal; and however they may differ from each
other, in all these co-descendants from that animal we find the same
general plan of construction, the same ideal model repeated. Among the
whole class of the higher mammals, we have skeletons, muscles, nerves,
blood-vessels, internal viscera, organs, that closely correspond. What
does this prove but that there was no waste of power, because there
was no necessity in making man, for the formation of a general plan
of construction different in these particulars from that which was
employed in making the monkey, the bat, or the seal? The similarity
of pattern between the hand of a man or a monkey, the foot of a
horse, the flipper of a seal, or the wing of a bat, is pronounced
"utterly inexplicable" upon any hypothesis but that of descent from a
common progenitor. But why is not this sameness of ideal plan just as
consistent with the hypothesis that the same ideal plan would answer
for the human hand or the hand of an ape, the foot of the horse, the
flipper of the seal, or the wing of the bat?[53] It is when you pass
from such resemblances and come to the special contrivances which
separate one animal from another by a broad line of demarkation,
that you are to look for the adaptation of special contrivances to
repetitions of the same ideal model through the varying species. Take,
for example, the introduction among the mammals of the placental system
of reproduction, parturition, and subsequent nourishment of the young,
combined with the nourishment of the fœtus while it continues in the
body of the mother. This system would require no material variation
from the general plan of construction that is common to the different
mammals of this class in respect to the parts where the resemblances
are kept up throughout the series, such as those of the skeleton,
muscles, nerves, viscera, and other organs that are found in all of
them. But for the introduction of this peculiar system of reproduction
and continuation of the species, there was needful a special and
most extraordinary contrivance. If such a contrivance or anything
like it had been produced by human skill, and been introduced into a
mechanical structure, we should not hesitate to say that there had
been an invention of a most special character. When you follow this
system through the different animals in which it is found operating,
and find that the period of gestation and of suckling is varied for
each of them, that for each there is the necessary modification of
trunk, situation of the organs, assimilation of food and formation
of milk, and many other peculiarities, what are you to conclude but
that there has been an adaptation of a new system to a general plan
of construction, and that while the latter remains substantially the
same, it has had ingrafted upon or incorporated with it a most singular
contrivance, so original, comprehensive, and flexible, that its
characteristic principle admits of the most exact working in animals
that are as far asunder as man and the horse, or as the horse and the
seal, or as the seal and the bat?

The resemblances between the embryonic development of man and the
other mammals present another instance of the constantly occurring
fact that there has been no waste of power on the one hand, and on the
other no failure to exert the amount of power requisite to produce a
new variation of the general principle. There is no more logical force
in the hypothesis of a common progenitor, in order to account for
these resemblances, than there is in the hypothesis that the general
system of embryonic development was first devised, and that it was
then varied in each distinct animal according to the requirements of
its special construction. Upon the latter supposition, there would
be resemblances to a certain stage, and then there would follow the
departures which we have no difficulty in tracing. Upon the former
supposition we should expect to find, what we actually do find, that
it is very difficult, if not impossible, to assign any reason for
the departures, or to suggest how it has happened that one animal is
so absolutely distinct from another. Thus, to begin with the embryo
itself, and to trace it through its stages of development, we find
that in man it can hardly be distinguished from that of other members
of the vertebrate kingdom. This we should expect to be the case after
we have learned the great fact that Nature operates upon a uniform
principle up to the point where variations and departures are to
supervene. The system of embryonic development being devised to operate
in parallel lines through all the placental mammals until the lines
should begin to depart from each other so as to result in animals
of different species, would necessarily show strong resemblances of
structure until the departures supervened. There would be, in other
words, a strong illustration of the truth that in the Divine economy
there is no waste of power. But when the stage is reached at which the
departures may be noted, and the lines diverge into the production of
organized beings differing widely from each other, we reach an equally
striking illustration of the corresponding truth that the amount of
power necessary to produce very different results never fails to be
put forth. There is no good reason why this latter exertion of power
should not be attributed to special design just as logically and
rationally as we must attribute to intentional purpose and infinite
skill the general system of embryonic development which has been made
for the whole class of the placental mammals. While, therefore, we may
accept as a fact Prof. Huxley's statement on this branch of comparative
anatomy, we are under no necessity to accept his conclusion. To the
question whether man originates in a different way from a dog, bird,
frog, or fish, this anatomist answers, as already quoted: "The reply
is not doubtful for a moment; without question, the mode of origin and
the early stages of the development of man are identical with those
of the animals immediately below him in the scale; without a doubt,
in these respects he is far nearer to apes than apes are to the dog."
This refers, of course, to the parallelism that obtains in the early
stages of the embryonic development. It necessarily implies, at later
stages, diverging lines, which depart more or less from each other, and
thus we have between the ape and the man a nearer approach than we have
between the ape and the dog. But how does this displace, or tend to
displace, the hypothesis of a general system of embryonic development
for all animals of a certain class, and an intentional and special
variation of that system so as to produce different species of animals?
The identity between the mode of origin and the early stages of the
development of man and those of the animals immediately below him in
the scale, is strong proof of the applicability of the same general
principle of development throughout all the animals of a certain class.
The cessation of the parallelism at the diverging lines is equally
strong proof of a design to create an animal differing as man does from
the ape, or as the ape does from the dog. The argument that these three
species are co-descendants from a common progenitor, viewing man simply
as an animal, is at least no stronger than the argument which leads to
the conclusion of special creations.

The same thing may be said of the liability of man to certain
contagious or non-contagious diseases in common with some of the lower
animals. That there is a similarity in the chemical composition of
the blood of an entire class of animals, in the structure of their
tissues and blood-vessels, so that they are subject to the same causes
of inflammation or to the same parasites, is proof of a uniform plan
of the fluids and the vascular system, or, in other words, it evinces
that here, too, there has been in these respects no waste of power in
forming the different animals of the same class. But trace back the
supposed pedigree of the animals sharing this chemical composition
of the blood, character of tissues, and vascular system, until you
have passed through the amphibians and reached their supposed fish
progenitors. Somewhere between the fishes and the higher mammals,
you have not only a great change in the chemical composition of the
blood-vessels and tissues, but an equally great change in the apparatus
by which the blood is oxygenated.[54] How can these changes have
been brought about without a new and intentional structure of the
vessels and the apparatus for supplying the oxygen demanded for the
continuation of life? How can we explain these changes by such agencies
as the natural selection which is supposed to lead to the "survival
of the fittest," and the sexual selection which is supposed to give
to the best-appointed males of a given species the power to transmit
to their offspring the new peculiarities which they have acquired
through successive generations? Do not these changes show that there
is a line of division which such agencies alone can not cross? Do they
not clearly point to the exercise of the creative power in a special
manner, and for special purposes? That power being once exercised, the
new chemical composition and mechanical appliances being devised, the
same "ideal plan" could be carried through a new class of animals by
a repetition which is in accordance with the economy of Nature, and
which an infinite power could adapt to the formation of animals, each
of which was designed to perpetuate its own species and no other. Hence
we should expect to find in the animals sharing in the same formation
of the blood and the vascular system a corresponding process of healing
the parts severed by a wound, and a continuous secretion from such
vessels as have not been cut away; but we should not expect to find the
stumps growing into a new and perfect part, to take the place of what
has been removed by amputation.[55] We should expect to find the same
drugs affecting different animals of the same class alike; and when the
nervous system of a class of animals is upon the same general plan,
we should expect to find them similarly affected by stimulants. But
these resemblances do not militate very strongly against the hypothesis
of special creations, when we consider that it is according to the
universal economy of the Omnipotent Creator to employ the necessary,
and no more than the necessary, power in originating a plan that may
be applied to the formation of a distinct class of beings, and that
his adaptations of this plan to further and specific constructions of
beings belonging to a general class, but differing widely from each
other, are among the strongest and plainest proofs of his infinite
power and the nature of his methods.

In regard to the "rudiments" that are found in man, the theory of Mr.
Darwin can be best stated in his own words: "In order to understand the
existence of rudimentary organs, we have only to suppose that a former
progenitor possessed the parts in question in a perfect state, and that
under changed habits of life they became greatly reduced, either from
simple disuse or through the natural selection of those individuals
which were least encumbered with a superfluous part, aided by the
other means previously indicated."[56] But, in order to do justice to
this theory, it is necessary to repeat the description and operation
of the supposed agencies of natural and sexual selection. Natural
selection is an occurrence which takes place among the individuals
of a certain species in the struggle for existence, whereby those
who are best appointed secure the necessary supply of food, and the
weaker or less active are either directly destroyed in the contest or
perish for want of nourishment. The "fittest" having survived, they
have the best chance of procreating their kind, and are likely to have
the most progeny. To these individuals there comes in aid the sexual
selection, which means chiefly the victory of the fittest males over
their less fit competitors for the possession of the females. Whatever
peculiarities of structure or development, or diminution of structure
or development, these fittest males possess, they would transmit
to their offspring. This tendency would be enhanced by the varying
conditions of life through which the successive generations might have
to pass; so that if the former progenitor possessed naturally an organ
in a perfect state, but ceased to make use of it, and for thousands
of generations its use went on diminishing, it would sink into the
condition of a mere rudiment. Supposing this to be a partially true
explanation of the modes in which organs become rudimentary, how does
it militate against the idea of separate creations? We have "only
to suppose" that the first men possessed, for example, the power of
moving the skin all over their bodies by the contraction of certain
muscles, and that their remote descendants lost it everywhere excepting
in a few parts, where it remains in an efficient state, and that it
has become varied in different individuals. The process by which
organs become rudimentary is an hypothesis just as consistent with
the separate creation of man as it is with his being a co-descendant
from some lower animal whose descendants branched into men, apes,
horses, seals, bats, etc.; for, on the supposition of the separate
creation of all these different animals, each species might have been
originally endowed with this power of muscular contraction of the
skin, and in their descendants it might have been retained or varied
or have become more or less rudimentary, according to its utility
to the particular species. The truth is, that our own faculties of
creation or construction, when we undertake to deal with matter and
its properties, are so imperfect, and that which constitutes living
organisms is so utterly beyond our reach, that we do not sufficiently
remember how entirely it is within the compass of the infinite Power,
which has given to matter all the properties that it possesses and
has living organisms under its absolute control, to form a system of
construction and operation for beings of entirely distinct characters,
carrying it through each of them in parallel lines, or causing it to
diverge into varying results with an economy that neither wastes the
constructive power nor fails to exert it where it is needed. To argue
that the presence of rudiments in different animals, in different
comparative states of development or efficiency, or in a purely useless
condition, can only be explained by a descent from some remote common
progenitor, is what the logicians call a _non sequitur_. It overlooks
the illimitable faculty of the creating Power, and disregards the
great fact that such a power acts by an economy that is saving where
uniformity will accomplish what is intended, that is profuse where
variation is needful, and that can guide its own exertions of power,
or its abstention from such exertions, by unerring wisdom, to the most
varied and exact results.

I trust that by the use of the term "economy" in speaking of what
is observable in the works of the Creator, I shall be understood as
comprehending both the avoidance of unnecessary and the exertion of
all necessary power. Of the degree of necessity in any exercise of a
power which we suppose to be infinite, we can only judge by what we
can see. If omnipotence and omniscience are to be predicated of the
being who is supposed to preside over the universe, it is rational to
conclude, from all that we can discover, that, in applying a uniform
system of construction to different animals of a certain general class,
he acted upon a principle that his unerring faculties enabled him to
see was a comprehensive one; and that in producing variations of that
system of construction that would result in adapting its uniformity
to the varying conditions of the different species, he acted by the
same boundless wisdom and power. If these postulates of the Divine
attributes are conceded, rudiments do not by any means necessarily
lead to the conclusion that all the animals of a certain class are
co-descendants from some remote common progenitor, for they do not
exclude the hypothesis that each distinct animal was formed upon a
general plan of construction that could be applied throughout the
class, but that it was varied according to the special conditions of
its intended being. Organs or parts may thus have become more or less
rudimentary without resorting to the supposition of a common progenitor
for the whole class. That supposition, indeed, makes it necessary
to assume that the infinite Creator fashioned some one animal, and
then, abstaining from all work of further direct creation, left all
the other animals to be evolved out of that one by the operation of
secondary causes that fail even as a theory to account for what we
see, and that can not be traced through any results that have yet been
discovered. Wherever we pause in the ascending scale of the Darwinian
descent of man, wherever we place the first special act of creative
power, whether we put it at the fish-like animal of the most remote
antiquity, and call that creature the original progenitor of all the
vertebrata, or whether we suppose a special creation to have occurred
at the introduction of the mammalian series, or anywhere else, we
have to account for changes of system, new constructions, elaborately
diversified forms, by the operation of agencies that were incapable of
producing the results, if we are to judge of their capacity by anything
that we have seen or known of their effects.

I will conclude this chapter by expressing as accurately as I can
what has struck me as the excessive tendency of modern science to
resolve everything into the operation of general laws, or into what
we call secondary causes. I may be able to suggest nothing new upon
this part of the subject, but I shall at least be able, I hope, to
put my own mind in contact with that of the reader by explaining what
has impressed me in the speculations of those who lay so much stress
upon the potency of general laws to produce the results which we
see in Nature. Of course, I do not question the great fact that the
infinite Power acts by and through the uniform methods from which we
are accustomed to infer what we call laws; which in physics is nothing
but a deduction of regularity and system from that which we see to
be perpetually and invariably happening. Now, I do not enter here
into the question of the tendency of modern science to displace our
religious ideas of a special Providence, by attributing everything
in Nature to the operation of fixed laws of matter; or its tendency,
in other words, to remove the infinite Being at a greater distance
from us than that in which our religious feelings like to contemplate
him. I am perfectly sensible that in truth the infinite God is just
as near to us, when we regard him as acting by general laws and
secondary causes, as when we believe him to be exercising a direct and
special power. I am equally sensible that it is in the very nature
of infinite power, wisdom, and benevolence to be able and willing to
ordain uniform and fixed principles of action. That Power which gives
to matter all its properties may well be supposed to have established
uniformity and regularity of movements, forces, combinations, and
qualities. How supremely consistent this uniformity and regularity
are, with what stupendous accuracy they are kept forever in operation,
we are more or less able to discern; and that benevolence which is
believed to accompany the power may well be supposed to have intended
that its intelligent and rational creatures should be able in some
degree to discover and to avail themselves of these unvarying laws of
the physical world. But are these laws to be supposed to be the only
methods by which the infinite Will has ever acted? Is it to be assumed
that, having settled and established these perpetual principles, on
which matter, organized or unorganized, is to act, he leaves everything
to their operation and abstains from all further exertion of his
creative power for any special purpose? Has he given to these general
laws a potency to produce, in and of themselves, all the results? In
other words, has he affixed to their operation no limitations, or has
he set bounds to them, and reserved to himself, by direct, specific,
and occasional exercise of his will and power, for new purposes, to
produce results for which the general laws were not ordained?

It is not necessary here to enter into the consideration of what
are called "miracles." These, in their true meaning, are special
interpositions, which the Divine Power is supposed to make, by a
suspension or interruption of the established laws of Nature; and,
whatever may be the grounds of our belief or our unbelief in such
occurrences, they are not exercises of power such as those which are
supposed to take place in special creations of new beings. That the
hypothesis of special creations of new beings involves no interruption
or displacement of the fixed laws of Nature, is quite manifest.


 attached some importance to a fact which he asserted respecting the
 efforts of Nature to restore a part of an organism which has been
 severed by amputation, I think it well to quote his statement, and to
 point out what I believe to be an inaccuracy. His statement is this:
 "His [man's] wounds are repaired by the same process of healing,
 and the stumps left after the amputation of his limbs, especially
 during an early embryonic period, occasionally possess some power of
 regeneration, as in the lowest animals." It is not quite apparent
 what he means by amputation during an early embryonic period. If he
 is to be understood as referring to a case of complete severance of
 any part of an embryo before birth, it has not been demonstrated
 that such a severance has been followed by a successful effort of
 Nature to replace the severed part; and it is difficult to understand
 how there could be such an amputation during embryonic life without
 destroying the life of the embryo; or, if the severed part were one
 of the extremities, how there could be a new extremity formed. In
 such a case, if life continued and birth were to take place, the
 animal must be born in an imperfect state. In regard to amputations
 taking place at any time after birth, if the expression "some power
 of regeneration" means to imply a new formation to take the place
 of the severed part, the assertion is not correct. What occurs in
 such cases may be illustrated by the very common accident of the
 severance of the end of a human finger at the root of the nail. If
 the incision is far enough back to remove the whole of the vessels
 which secrete the horny substance that forms the nail, there will
 be no after growth of anything resembling a nail. If some of those
 vessels are left in the stump, there will be continuous secretion
 and deposit of the horny substance, which may go so far as to form a
 crude resemblance to a nail. But if all the vessels which constitute
 the means of perpetuating a perfect nail are not left in their normal
 number and action, there can be no such thing as the formation of a
 new nail. Whether it is correct to speak of the imperfect continuation
 of a few of the vessels to secrete the substance which it is their
 normal function to secrete, as a "power of regeneration," is more
 than doubtful, if by such a power is meant a power to make a new
 and complete structure to take the place of the structure that has
 been cut away. It is nothing more than the continued action of a
 few vessels, less in number than the normal system required for the
 continued growth and renewal of the part in question. The abortive
 product in such cases looks like an unsuccessful effort of Nature
 to make a new structure in place of the old one; but it is not in
 reality such an effort. The fact that the same thing occurs, in just
 the same way and to a corresponding extent, in different animals, has
 no tendency to prove anything excepting that these different animals
 share the same general system of secreting vessels for the formation
 and perpetuation of the several parts of their structures. It has no
 tendency to prove that they are co-descendants from a common ancestral
 stock, for on the hypothesis of their special and independent creation
 a common system of secreting vessels would be entirely consistent with
 their peculiar and special constructions.


 [35] "Descent of Man," pp. 164, 609.

 [36] "Descent of Man," p. 159.

 [37] "Origin of Species," p. 148.

 [38] "Descent of Man," p. 165.

 [39] "Descent of Man," p. 158.

 [40] "Descent of Man," p. 155.

 [41] Ibid.

 [42] "Descent of Man," pp. 156, 157.

 [43] Ibid., p. 156.

 [44] "Descent of Man," p. 156.

 [45] "Descent of Man," p. 6.

 [46] Ibid., p. 8.

 [47] Ibid.

 [48] "Descent of Man," pp. 9, 10, quoting Huxley, "Man's Place in
 Nature," p. 65.

 [49] "Descent of Man," p. 11 _et seq._

 [50] Ibid.

 [51] "Descent of Man," p. 24. Consult Mr. Darwin's note on Prof.
 Bianconi's explanation of homologous structures upon mechanical
 principles, in accordance with their uses.

 [52] Mr. Herbert Spencer's peculiar views are not here included in the
 discussion, but they will be considered hereafter.

 [53] It is immaterial, of course, in this discussion, whether the
 formation of man preceded that of the other animals, according to
 the Platonic idea, or whether, as in the account given in the book
 of Genesis, the other animals were first formed. So far as an ideal
 plan entered into all of them, that plan may have been devised for and
 first applied to any part of the series, and then varied accordingly.

 [54] The popular terms--"fish" and "flesh"--present to the mind the
 most vivid idea of this change from the characteristic substance of
 one of these animals to that of another.

 [55] See the note on amputation, or severance of parts, at the end of
 this chapter.

 [56] "Descent of Man," p. 25.


 The doctrine of evolution according to Herbert Spencer.

Passing from Mr. Darwin as the representative of that class of
naturalists who have undertaken to assign the pedigree of man by
tracing the stages of his development back to the lowest and crudest
form of animal life, I now come to a philosopher whose speculations
carry the doctrine of evolution through every field of inquiry, and
who, finding, as he supposes, evidence of its operation throughout all
the other realms of the physical and the moral word, contends that it
also obtains in the animal kingdom. It were to be wished that this
writer, whose intellect is of the order of minds to which we naturally
look for a judicial treatment of such themes, had been a little less
dogmatic in his treatment of the doctrine of special creations. Mr.
Spencer has, indeed, consistently recognized the necessity of trying
the question between the hypothesis of special creations and the
hypothesis of evolution, as one to be decided, if it is to be decided
at all, only by an examination of evidence. But to one who approaches
this question in a spirit of inquiry, and with a desire to learn
whatever can be said on both sides, it is somewhat disappointing to
find that the most eminent writer of the evolution school is unjust
in his treatment of the belief which he opposes. There can be no
objection to advocacy, or to strong and decided advocacy, when settled
convictions are to be vindicated. But with advocacy we may expect that
kind of fairness which consists in a full recognition of the opposite
argument. A great master of dialectics once laid it down as a maxim of
advocacy, "State the case of your opponent as strongly as you know how,
stronger if possible than he states it himself, and then answer it, if
you can." Some instances in which Mr. Spencer has not followed this
wise rule may now be mentioned:

1. He attacks with great vigor the hypothesis that living beings
resulted from special creations, as a primitive hypothesis; and because
it is a very ancient belief he pronounces it to be probably untrue. He
even goes so far as to assert that its antiquity raises a presumption
against it. He classes it among a family of beliefs which began in
primitive ages, and which have one after another been destroyed by
advancing knowledge, until this one is almost the only member of the
family that survives among educated people.[57] He says that if you
catechise any one who holds this belief as to the source from which he
derived it, he is forced to confess that it was put into his mind in
childhood, as one portion of a story which, as a whole, he has long
since rejected. It will give way at last, along with all the rest of
the family of beliefs which have already been given up. It may be that
the arguments of those whose controversial writings on this subject
Mr. Spencer had before him, relied on the antiquity of this belief
as one of the strongest proofs of its probable truth. I have not
looked to see how any writer on that side of the question has used the
antiquity of the doctrine of special creations. But it is certainly
not in accordance with the sound rule, even of advocacy, to state the
argument in support of the belief which you oppose with less than the
force that may be given to it, whether your opponents have or have not
given to it the true force that belongs to it. The mere antiquity of
the belief in special creations has this force and no more: that a
belief which began in the primitive ages of mankind, and has survived
through all periods of advancing knowledge, must have something to
recommend it. It is not one of those things that can be swept away with
contempt as a nursery-tale, originating in times of profound ignorance
and handed down from generation to generation without inquiry. That it
has survived, after the rejection of other beliefs that originated at
the same period--survived in minds capable of dealing with the evidence
in the light of increasing knowledge--is proof that it has something
more to rest upon than the time of its origin. If some of its defenders
now assert its antiquity as the sole or the strongest argument in its
favor, its opponents should not assume that this is the only or the
best argument by which it can be supported. Nor can it be summarily
disposed of by classifying it as one of a family of beliefs that
originated in times of ignorance, and that have mostly disappeared from
the beliefs held by educated people. Its association with a special
class of mistaken beliefs affords no intrinsic improbability of its
truth. Every belief has come to be regarded as a mistaken or a true
one, not according to its associated relations with other beliefs that
have come to be regarded as unfounded, but according to the tests that
the knowledge of the age has been able to apply to it. Take the whole
catalogue of beliefs that began to be held in the darkest ages, and
it will be found that their association has had no influence beyond
inducing incorrect habits of reasoning on certain subjects, or a
habit of accepting the official authority of those who claimed to be
the special custodians of truth. These intellectual habits have been
temporary in their influence, and have gradually changed. Every one of
the beliefs that have been given up by the lettered or the unlettered
part of mankind, has been given up because better knowledge of a
special character has come to show that it is unfounded, and because
mere official authority has ceased to have the power that it once
had. If a belief has survived from a remote antiquity among those who
are competent to judge of the evidence in its favor, by comparing the
phenomena that increasing knowledge has accumulated, the force of the
fact that it has so survived is not weakened by its association for a
period with other beliefs that are now rejected.

Mr. Spencer asserts that, as the supposition of special creations is
discredited by its origin in a time when men were profoundly ignorant,
so conversely the supposition that races of organisms have been
gradually evolved is credited by its origin, because it is a belief
that has come into existence in the most instructed class, living in
these better instructed times. This is a kind of argumentation that is
often the result of a love of antithesis. The soundness of the last
branch of the proposition appears to depend upon the soundness of the
first branch. Make it to appear that the origin of the elder hypothesis
is unfavorable by reason of the time of its origin, and it seems to
follow that the origin of the modern hypothesis is favorable by reason
of its time of origin. But this antithesis does not express the exact
truth in either branch of it. It is not because of its antiquity, or
of the character of the times in which it was first believed, that
the doctrine of special creations can be shown to be irrational or
improbable. There is no presumption against the truth of any belief,
to be derived from the fact that it was held by persons who also held
some erroneous beliefs on other subjects. If there were, nothing could
be worthy of belief unless it could show a recent origin, or at least
until demonstration of its truth had overcome the presumption against
it. On the other hand, there is no presumption in favor of the truth
of a new theory to be derived from the fact that it is new, or that it
originated among those who think that they do not hold any erroneous
beliefs, or because it originated in a comparatively very enlightened
age. Every physical and every moral theory, unless we mean to be
governed by mere authority, whether it is ancient or recent, must be
judged by its merits, according to the evidence.

2. Another of Mr. Spencer's naked assertions is that the belief in
special creations is "not countenanced by a single fact." Not only did
no man "ever see a special creation," but "no one ever found indirect
proof of any kind that a special creation had taken place." In support
of this sweeping dogma, he adduces a habit of the naturalists who
maintain special creations to locate them in some region remote from
human observation.[58] This is another instance of not stating the case
of your adversary as strongly as you might state it, or as he states
it himself. "While no naturalist and no other person who believes in
special creations ever saw one take place, indirect and circumstantial
evidence tending to show that the earth is full of them has been
accumulated to an enormous amount." It is a monstrous extravagance to
assert that the hypothesis is "absolutely without support of any kind."
What if Mr. Spencer's opponents were to retort that no man ever saw
an instance in which an animal of a distinct species had been evolved
out of one of an entirely different organization; that there is no
external evidence to support the hypothesis of such derivations, and
that the naturalists of the evolution school habitually place the scene
of operations in the region of scientific imagination? The discovery
of truth is not likely to be much advanced by this mode of attacking
opposite opinions, yet it could be used with as much propriety on the
one side of this question as on the other.

3. Next, and completing the misrepresentation, we have the assertion
that, "besides being absolutely without evidence to give it external
support, this hypothesis of special creations can not support itself
internally--can not be framed into a coherent thought.... Immediately
an attempt is made to elaborate the idea into anything like definite
shape, it proves to be a pseud-idea, admitting of no definite shape.
Is it supposed that a new organism when specially created is created
out of nothing? If so, there is a supposed creation of matter, and the
creation of matter is inconceivable, implies the establishment of a
relation in thought between nothing and something--a relation of which
one term is absent--an impossible relation.... Those who entertain
the proposition that each kind of organism results from divine
interposition do so because they refrain from translating words into
thoughts. The case is one of those where men do not really believe,
but _believe they believe_. For belief, properly so called, implies
a mental representation of the thing believed; and no such mental
representation is here possible."[59]

When I first read this passage I could hardly trust the evidence
of my eye-sight. It seemed as if the types must have in some way
misrepresented the distinguished writer; for I could scarcely conceive
how a man of Mr. Spencer's reputation as a thinker could have
deliberately penned and published such a specimen of logic run riot. It
reads like some of the propositions propounded by the scholastics of
the middle ages. But, having assured myself that the American edition
of his work is a correct reprint, and having carefully pondered and
endeavored to ascertain his meaning, I was forced to the conclusion
that he supposes this to be a conclusive answer to the idea of absolute
creation in respect to anything whatever, because, when put into a
logical formula, one term of the relation is nothing, and the other
term is something. Logical formulas are not always the best tests of
the possibility of an intellectual conception, or of what the mind
can represent to itself by thought, although to a certain class of
readers or hearers they often appear to be a crushing refutation of the
opposite opinion or belief against which they are employed.

Is there in truth anything impossible because it is unthinkable
in the idea of absolute creation? Is the creation of matter, for
example, inconceivable? It certainly is not if we adopt the postulate
of an infinite Creator. That postulate is just as necessary to the
evolutionist who maintains the ordination of fixed laws or systems
of matter, by the operation of which the organized forms of matter
have been evolved, as it is to those who maintain that these forms
are special creations. Who made the laws that have been impressed
upon matter? Were they made at all, or were they without any origin,
self-existing and eternal? If they were made, they were made out of
nothing, for nothing preceded them. Then apply to them the logical
formula, and say that one term of the relation is absent--is mere
nothingness--and so there is an impossible relation, a relation in
thought between nothing and something, which is inconceivable. This
dilemma is not escaped by asserting, as Mr. Spencer does, that "the
creation of force is just as inconceivable as the creation of matter."
It is necessary to inquire what he means by a "conceivable" idea. If he
means that we can not trace or understand the process by which either
force or matter was created, our inability may be at once conceded.
But if he means that, granting the postulate of an infinite creating
power, we can not conceive of the possibility that matter and all
the forces that reside in it or govern it were called into being by
the will of that power, the assertion is not true. Human faculties
are entirely equal to the conception of an infinite creating power,
whatever may be the strength or the weakness of the proof by which
the existence of such a power is supported; and if there is such a
power it is a contradiction in terms to assert that absolute creation,
or the formation of "something" out of "nothing," is an impossible
conception. Such an assertion is simply a specious play upon words, or
else it involves the negation of an infinite creating power. The term
"creation," as used in all modern philosophy, implies, _ex vi termini_,
the act of causing to exist; and, unless we assume that nothing which
exists was ever caused to exist, we must suppose that the causing power
was alike capable of giving existence to matter and to the forces that
reside in it.

The reason why the Greek philosophers did not embrace the idea of
absolute creation was not because it was an unthinkable idea, or one
incapable of representation in thought. They were, as we have seen,
surrounded by a mythology which attributed the origin of the world
to polytheistic agencies. They struggled against the cosmogony of
poetical and popular traditions in an effort to find a cause of a
different character. Monotheism, the conception of the one only and
omnipotent God, freed philosophy from the great want which had hampered
its speculations. This want was the conception of divine power, as
abstracted from substance or the qualities of substance. When this
conception had been obtained, absolute creation was seen to be a
legitimate deduction from the illimitable scope and nature of the power
which monotheism imputed to the Being supposed to preside over the
universe, and to have existed before all the objects which the universe
contains: and this conception of the act of creation thus became
equally capable of representation in words and in thought. You may say
that it has no evidence to support it; that it leads to contradictory
ideas of the attributes claimed for the Creator; that upon the
hypothesis of those attributes, his works are inexplicable. Whether
you can say this truly or not, you can not say that absolute creation
is inconceivable; and unless you mean to claim that neither matter nor
force was ever created, that there never was a being competent to make
either the one or the other to exist, you can not deny the probability
that both were called into being by a definite and specific exercise
of power. Mr. Spencer's philosophy manifestly leads to the conclusion
that there is no God, or no such God as the hypothesis of special
creations supposes, or such as the hypothesis of evolution necessarily
calls for. If I understand him rightly, he rejects the idea of any
creation, whether of matter, or force, or the properties of matter, or
even of law of any kind, physical or moral. Hence it is that I admit
the necessity of treating the existence of the Omnipotent Creator as an
independent question to be judged upon moral evidence; and hence, too,
in reasoning upon the probable methods of the Almighty, I maintain that
the postulate of his existence is alike necessary to the evolutionist
and to those who believe in special creations, and that both must adopt
the same cardinal attributes as attributes of his power and character.

It is well to pursue this particular topic somewhat further, because
this special difficulty arising from the creation of something out of
nothing, triumphantly propounded by a certain class of philosophers,
is echoed by others as if it concluded the question. The received
meaning of language is often a great help to the mind in representing
to itself in thought the idea that is expressed by the word. The word
contains and suggests the thought. Lexicographers are the learned
persons, one part of whose business it is to exhibit the thought that
is represented by a word, not according to the popular and, perhaps,
uncertain or erroneous use of the term, or according to its secondary
meanings, but according to the exact correspondence between the word
and the idea which it conveys in its primary and philosophic usage.
The definition given to our English verb "create," in its primary
and philosophical sense, is: "To produce," "to bring into being from
nothing"; "to cause to exist." "Creation," as a noun expressing the
act described by the verb, is defined as "the act of creating: the act
of causing to exist, and _especially_, the act of bringing this world
into existence." "Created," as the past participle which describes what
has been done, is defined as "formed from nothing: caused to exist;
produced; generated."[60] This is the sense in which the word is used
in the English version of the first verse of the book of Genesis: "In
the beginning God _created_ the heavens and the earth"; and whatever
may be said about the source from which Moses derived his knowledge
of the fact which he relates, there can be no doubt about the nature
of the fact which he intended to assert. Now, does the lexicographer,
when he describes creation as the act of causing something to exist,
or the act of producing something out of nothing, present an idea
that is incapable of mental representation--a relation impossible in
thought? What he means to express is clear enough. Is the idea which he
expresses impossible to be conceived by the mind?

It will be a good test of this supposed insuperable difficulty to
apply the term "creation" to some human act. When Shakespeare composed
the tragedy of "Hamlet," he created something in the sense which we
are here considering.[61] He created that something out of nothing:
for he caused something to exist which did not exist before. He did
not merely inscribe certain words upon paper, by the material process
of writing, and afterward cause the same words to be repeated by the
material process of printing upon another paper. He gave intellectual
existence to certain male and female persons of his imagination,
carried them through certain periods of their imaginary lives, and
made them and their history an imperishable intellectual idea. It is
entirely immaterial to the present discussion that such a product of
the imagination presents to us nothing but intellectual ideas; that
Hamlet and Ophelia, and the King and Queen, and all the rest of the
_dramatis personæ_, were mere creatures of the poet's fancy. Although
they were nothing but intellectual conceptions, they were "creations"
in the sense of being intellectual products that never existed in idea
before the poet made them, and therefore they were made out of nothing.
Now, although we can not look into the mind of Shakespeare and describe
the process by which he formed these creatures of his imagination,
we experience no difficulty when we contemplate these imaginary
personages, in representing in thought what we mean when we say that
he "created" them. It would be simple absurdity to say that he did not
create these ideal persons, because the notion of creation implies
the formation of something out of nothing. That is the very meaning
of creation in its primary and philosophical sense; and, when applied
to works of the human imagination, it presents to us an idea that is
perfectly capable of representation in thought.

Pass from this illustration of the idea of human creation to the
hypothesis of a supreme being, possessing infinite power, and existing
before the material universe began. The hypothesis of his existence
includes the power to call into being things that had no previous
being, whether these things be matter and material properties or
moral and intellectual ideas. The whole realms of possible existence,
spiritual and material, the whole void which consists in mere
nothingness, are, according to the hypothesis, under his absolute sway.
He holds the power of absolute creation; and the power this hypothesis
imputes to him is no more incapable of representation in thought
than is the inferior and limited power of creation, which we know
to be performed by the finite human intellect, and which we have no
difficulty in conceiving as a true creating faculty. When Watt formed
the steam-engine, he did something more than to place certain portions
of matter in certain relations, and make them to operate in a certain
manner so as to produce a certain effect. He made the intellectual plan
of a certain arrangement of matter; and to this act of giving being to
something, both intellectual and physical, which did not exist before,
we ascribe in its true sense the act of creation, and the idea we
express by the term is perfectly capable of mental representation.

"Those," says Mr. Spencer, "who entertain the proposition that each
kind of organism results from a divine interposition, do so because
they refrain from translating words into thoughts"; and he adds, quite
truly, that there is no assignable mode or conceivable way in which the
making of a new organism can be described. Let this be applied to some
new mechanical structure produced by the intellect and hand of man. It
is a result or product of human interposition. When we describe this
human product as an invention, do we refrain from translating words
into thoughts because we can not describe the process of invention? or,
in other words, because we can not assign the mode in which the mind
of the inventor reached his conception, are we to conclude that he did
not attain to the conception which is plainly embodied in the machine
that stands before our eyes? If we say that he created something, do we
make a statement that can not be consistently imagined because we can
not assign the mode in which his mind operated when it thought out the
idea and constructed the plan? We can see how he put together certain
material substances, and how they operate; but we can not see or
describe the mental process by which he obtained his conception. Yet
we ascribe to his act, and rightly ascribe to it, the idea of creation;
and the term represents a thought of the mind that is as capable of
being imagined as the word is of being spoken and understood.

When Raphael painted the Sistine Madonna, he formed in his mind an
image of the heaven-chosen mother of Christ, and the marvelous skill of
his artist hand transferred that face of surpassing loveliness to the
canvas. The story that it tells may be a fiction or a fact. The image
is a reality. It was a new existence; and, if we call it a creation,
do we use a word which we can not translate into thought because we do
not know how the painter attained to that sweet conception of the human
mother's tenderness, and the dignity of her appointed office as the
handmaiden of the Lord?

There is nothing unphilosophical in thus ascribing what is done by
finite human faculties and what is done by the infinite Creator to
a power that is of the same nature, but which in the one being is
limited and imperfect, and in the other is superhuman and boundless.
If we know, as we certainly do, that weak and finite man can perform
some acts of creation, can cause some things to exist that did not
previously exist, how much more may we safely conclude that a being
of infinite powers can call into existence, out of the primeval
nothingness, objects of the most stupendous proportions, of the
nicest adaptations, of the most palpable uses--can cause matter and
force and law to be where before all was vacuity, where force was
unknown, where law had never operated! When the mind contemplates that
Omnipotent Power, it reaches forth to an awful presence; but it does
not contemplate something of which it can not conceive, for its own
inferior faculties teach it that creation is a possible occurrence.

We do not need to be and are not indebted to superstition, to
tradition, or to deceptive words, for the idea of creation. At an
immeasurable distance from the Almighty Power, we ourselves are
constantly creating; and it is when we do so that our acts resemble
his in their nature, however below his productions may be the
productions of our poor human faculties. It is one of the proofs of
our relationship to the infinite Creator, a proof for which we are not
indebted solely to revelation, that we are endowed in this imperfect
degree with a power that resembles his. It is also one of the chief
of the characteristics that distinguish man from the other animals:
for, wonderful as are the constructions made by some of them, they are
uniformly made under the involuntary and uncontrollable impulse of an
implanted instinct; whereas, the constructions of man are made by the
exercise of a constructive faculty that is guided by his will, which
enables him to effect variations of structure entirely unattainable
by any other being that exists on this earth. All the other animals
are confined in the exercise of their constructive faculties to
an invariable model, appointed for each of them according to the
circumstances of its being. The range of choice is bounded by the
limitations of the instinct under which the animal is compelled to do
its work. It may appear to select a favorable site for its habitation,
to cull its materials with judgment, to guard against disturbance from
the elements or from enemies. But we have not much reason to suppose
that any of these things are done from anything but an irresistible
impulse, and we certainly have no reason to suppose that the animal has
the moral power to do them or to refrain from them. To man alone does
there appear to have been given the power of varying his constructions
by the exercise of an intelligent will; and that will is bounded only
by the limitations of his power over matter: so that, in respect to
material structures, the power of man to make creations approaches
nearest to the power of the Almighty Creator, and is, within its
limitations, a true creating power. In the realm of intellectual or
ideal creations, the resemblance of human and divine power is the same,
and the limitations upon the former are those fixed by the finite
nature of human faculties.[62]

4. Mr. Spencer has a great deal to urge against "the current
theology," and he treats of some of the theological difficulties in
which those who espouse the hypothesis of special creations entangle
themselves.[63] I have nothing to do with the current theology. I do
not borrow from it or rely upon it, and do not undertake to disentangle
its professors from any of the difficulties in which they may have
involved themselves. The only question that interests me is, whether
the objections propounded by this philosopher as an answer to the
hypothesis of special creations present insuperable difficulties to
one who does not depend upon the current theology for arguments,
explanations, or means of judgment. I shall therefore endeavor to
state fairly and fully the chief of the supposed difficulties, without
considering the answer that is made to them by those who are taken as
the representatives of the current theology.

Put into a condensed form, one of Mr. Spencer's grand objections
to the belief in special creations of organized beings is that it
involves a deliberate intention on the part of the Creator to produce
misery, suffering, pain, and an incalculable amount of evil, or else
that there was an inability to prevent these results. Omitting for
the present the human race, and confining our first view to the other
animals, the earth is largely peopled by creatures which inflict on
each other and on themselves a vast amount of suffering. The animals
are endowed with countless different pain-inflicting appliances and
instincts; the earth has been a scene of warfare among all sentient
creatures; and geology informs us that, from the earliest eras which
it records, there has been going on this universal carnage. Throughout
all past time there has been a perpetual preying of the superior upon
the inferior--a ceaseless devouring of the weak by the strong. In
almost every species, the number of individuals annually born is such
that the majority die of starvation or by violence before arriving at
maturity. But this is not all. Not only do the superior animals prey
upon the inferior, for which there may be suggested some compensating
benefit by the sustentation of a higher order of life through the death
of the lower, or by leaving the most perfect members of a species to
continue that species, but the inferior prey upon the superior, and
organisms that are incapable of feeling have appliances for securing
their prosperity at the expense of misery to organisms capable of
happiness. Of the animal kingdom, as a whole, more than half, it is
said, are parasites, and almost every known animal has its peculiar
species. Passing over the evils thus inflicted on animals of inferior
dignity and coming to man, we find that he is infested by animal and
vegetable parasites of which two or three dozens may be distinctly
enumerated; which are endowed with constitutions fitting them to live
by absorbing the juices of the human body, furnished with appliances by
which they root themselves in the human system, and made prolific in
an almost incredible degree. They produce great suffering, sometimes
cause insanity, and not infrequently death.[64]

The dilemma that is supposed to be created by these facts for those
who believe in the doctrine of special creations is this: If any
animals are special creations, all are so; and each animal must be
supposed to have been created for the special purposes that are
apparent upon an examination of its structure and mode of life. As the
superior are constantly preying upon the inferior, and as there are
numerous inferior animals that are constantly inflicting evil upon
the superior, it results that malevolence rather than benevolence was
a characteristic attribute of the creating power, or else that the
power which is supposed to have created was unable to make the perfect
creation which the hypothesis of infinite benevolence calls for.
Infinite goodness fails to be demonstrated by a world that is full of
misery, caused by special appliances to bring it about; and infinite
power can not have existed, unless it comprehended the power to produce
perfect and universal happiness.

I pass entirely aside from the argument which is drawn from the
supposed manifestations of Almighty power in the creation of
diversified forms of animal and vegetable life, because that argument
leads doubtless to the inquiry whether the Almighty made these
manifestations to demonstrate his power to himself, or made them to
demonstrate it to his human creatures. Admitting the fact, as Mr.
Spencer puts it, that millions of these demonstrations took place on
earth when there were no intelligent beings to contemplate them--a
statement that is said to be verified by the deductions of geology
and paleontology--an inquiry into the period or the purpose of these
manifestations of divine power as manifestations only, merely leads
us into some of the arguments of the current theology. There is
another realm of thought and reasoning into which it will be far more
profitable to enter. It is that realm which lies outside of tradition
and the teachings of theologians, and which takes the hypothesis of
infinite power and infinite goodness, not as something which we have
been taught to believe, but as a postulate of philosophical reasoning;
and, applying this hypothesis to the known facts of the animal and
vegetable world, endeavors to ascertain whether these facts necessarily
create an insuperable difficulty in the hypothesis which lies at the
basis of all sound reasoning on the subject. For I must again insist,
and shall endeavor specifically to show, that this hypothesis of
infinite power and goodness is equally necessary to the evolutionist
and to the believer in special creations, unless all speculation on the
genesis of the world is to end in blind chance, and the negation of a
personal creating power of any kind.

What, then, is the true philosophical mode of dealing with the
existence in the world of physical and moral evil, in reference to
the hypothesis of infinite power and infinite goodness? I do not
ask what is a perfect demonstration of the problem of physical and
moral evil--although I think that the natural solution is very near
to demonstration; but the inquiry which I now make is. What is the
reasonable mode of comparing the existence of suffering, pain, misery,
and their immediate agencies, with the supposition of an all-wise,
all-powerful, and perfectly beneficent Creator?[65]

What we have to do, in the first place, is to contemplate the scope
of infinite goodness; or, in other words, to consider that infinite
benevolence is, in its very nature, guided by unerring wisdom, and
consequently that its methods, its plans, and its results are as far
beyond the methods, plans, and results which our imperfect benevolence
would adopt or achieve, as infinite power is beyond our finite and
imperfect capacity. This does not call upon us to conceive of something
that is inconceivable, or that can not be represented in thought;
for power and goodness are qualities that we know to exist: we know
that they exist in degrees; and that what exists in a measurable and
limited degree may exist without measurable limitation, or in absolute
perfection. The philosophic mode of regarding perfect goodness requires
us to consider its methods and results with reference to its perfect
character, and not to measure them by the inferior standards of human
wisdom. Following out this obvious truth, we have next to inquire
whether the physical and moral evil which we see ought to destroy the
very idea of an infinitely benevolent Creator, and to compel us to
regard him as a malevolent being, or else to destroy our belief in
his infinite power, because his power has been unable to make a world
of perfect happiness and enjoyment for his creatures. If this dilemma
seriously exists, it is just as great a difficulty for the hypothesis
of evolution as it is for that of special creations, and it drives
both schools into the utter negation of any intelligent causing power
adequate to produce what we see.

In the next place, let us see what is the sum total of the physical
and moral evil in the animal kingdom, which, in reference to the sum
total of happiness, is supposed to create this formidable impeachment
of the Almighty benevolence on the one hand, or of the Almighty power
on the other. As to the order of things which permits the superior
animals to prey upon the inferior, there is an explanation which lies
on the surface of the facts, and which would seem to satisfy all the
requirements of philosophic reasoning, whatever may be the mode in
which this part of the moral problem is dealt with by theologians.
We find the fact to be that, as we rise higher and higher in the
scale of organized beings, the superior are capable of happiness
in a greater degree than the inferior, in some proportion to the
superiority of their organization. The comparative duration of life
among the different animals also enters into the estimate of the sum
total of happiness. As a general rule, the inferior organizations
are individually more short-lived than the superior. Now, it might
have pleased the Creator to cause all animals to be fed by manna from
heaven, or to find their sustenance only in vegetable products; and
he could thus have dispensed with the carnivorous appetite, and have
rendered it unnecessary for the superior to prey upon and destroy the
inferior. But, although he could thus have made a world from which the
misery of this perpetual carnage would have been absent, and which
would have been so far a world of perfect happiness, the fact is
that this law of universal destruction is so shaped as to follow the
increasing capacity for happiness and enjoyment which moves through
the ascending scale of the organized beings. It also follows another
obvious purpose of the carnivorous appetite and of the permission to
indulge it. A large part of the whole animal kingdom is so constructed
that sustentation requires animal food. The blood, the tissues, the
whole substance of some animal structures require to be renewed by
similar substances; and although life may sometimes be continued by the
assimilation of vegetable substances alone, it is not the life for
which the animal was formed, because it is not always the life which
makes the full end of its being, and realizes its best capacity for
enjoyment and for the continuation of its species. In some cases, the
carnivorous appetite is withheld. The animal lives and thrives best
upon a vegetable diet, and so far as the flesh of these animals enters
into the wholesome and beneficial food of man, the animal fulfills one
purpose of its existence. Some animals, before they become fit food
for man, have been nourished by the substance of still other animals.
In all this variety of modes in which animal food is prepared for
man, and in the whole of the stupendous economy by which the superior
organizations prey upon the inferior in order that each species may
continue itself and may fulfill the purposes of its existence, we may
without any difficulty trace an obvious reason for the permission that
has been given to such destruction of individual life. When to the sum
total of happiness and benefit which this permission bestows on each
of the orders of the inferior animals according to its capacity for
enjoyment, whether it does or does not enter into the food of man,
whether it comes or never comes within the reach of his arm, we add
the sum total of happiness and benefit which this law of universal
destruction bestows on man, so far as he avails himself of it, we shall
find no reason to impeach the Divine Goodness or to adopt a conclusion
derogatory to the Infinite Power. We may dismiss the difficulty that is
supposed to arise from the warfare of the superior upon the inferior
beings, because that warfare, when we trace it through all its stages,
involves no sort of deduction from the perfect character of the Divine
Goodness or the Divine Power.

Next, we come to the liability of animals, man included, to be preyed
upon by parasites, creatures of a very inferior order when compared
to the animals which they infest. I have looked in vain through Mr.
Spencer's speculations for any explanation which makes the existence
of the parasitic animals a support to the theory of evolution without
involving the same impeachment of the Divine Power or the Divine
Goodness which is supposed to be involved in the hypothesis of special
creations. We are indeed told that evolution brings about an increasing
amount of happiness, all evils being but incidental; that, applying
alike to the lowest and to the highest forms of organization, there is
in all cases a progressive adaptation, and a survival of the fittest.
"If," it is argued, "in the uniform working of the process, there are
evolved organisms of low types, which prey on those of higher types,
the evils inflicted form but a deduction from the average benefits. The
universal and necessary tendency toward supremacy and multiplication
of the best, applying to the organic creation as a whole as well as
to each species, is ever diminishing the damage done, tends ever
to maintain those most superior organizations which, in one way or
another, escape the invasions of the inferior, and so tends to produce
a type less liable to the invasions of the inferior. Thus the evils
accompanying evolution are ever being self-eliminated."[66]

Admitting, for the argument's sake, that this is true, how does the
hypothesis of evolution meet the difficulty? The parasitic inferior
organizations exist, and they have existed, more or less, as long as we
have known anything of the superior organizations on which they prey.
They have inflicted and still inflict an incalculable amount of evil,
an untold diminution of the happiness that might have been enjoyed if
they had never existed. The mode in which they came into existence,
whether by the process of evolution or by special creations of their
respective forms, does not affect the amount of evil which their
ravages have produced and are still producing. If they exist under an
order of things which has made them the products of an evolving process
that has formed them out of still lower types, while they exist they
have the same power of inflicting evil as if they had been specially
made in their respective types without the former existence of any
other type. If they owe their existence to the process of evolution,
they exist under a system that was designed to lead to their production
by the operation of uniform laws working out a uniform process; and
under this process, so long as they are produced by it, they imply
gratuitous malevolence, just as truly as they do if they are supposed
to have been specially created. The evils which they have inflicted
and still inflict were deliberately inflicted, unless we suppose that
the hypothetical process of evolution was not a system ordained by any
supreme and superhuman power, but was a result of blind chance; that
the system was not created, but, without the volition of any power
whatever, grew out of nothing.

The compensating tendency of the evolution system to evolve superior
organisms, which in one way or other "will escape the parasitic
invasions," by becoming less liable to them, and so to diminish the
damage done, as a sum total, finds a corresponding result in the system
of special creations by a different process and at a more rapid rate.
For the hypothesis of special creations, rightly regarded, does not
assume the special creation of each individual animal as a miraculous
or semi-miraculous interposition of divine power; and even when we
apply it to the lowest types of animals it implies only the formation
of that type with the power in most cases of continuing its species.
Assuming the parasitic animals to be in this sense special creations,
the superior organisms on which they prey during their existence may
become less liable to their invasions by an infinity of causes which
will diminish and finally put an end to the parasitic ravages. In
the progress of medical science man may be wholly relieved from the
worst and most obscure parasites that have ever infested him, without
waiting for their evolution into some other type of animal that does
not desire or need to prey upon the human system, or without waiting
to have the human organism developed into one that will not be exposed
to such causes of suffering or death. We know already that very simple
precautions will ward off from man some of the most subtle of these
enemies; and even in the case of animals lower than man we know that
instinct teaches them how to avoid the ravages of some of the parasites
to which they are exposed, even if there are others which they can not
now escape.

So that, viewing as a whole the amount of misery inflicted by the
inferior organisms upon the superior, and looking from the first
forward to the last "syllable of recorded time," we are able upon
either of the two hypotheses respecting the origin of animals to
reach certain definite conclusions, which may be stated as follows:
This world was not intended to be a state of unmixed and unbroken
individual happiness for any of the animal organisms. Death for every
individual in some form was necessary to the carrying on and the
carrying out of the scheme of average enjoyment and the accomplishment
of a sum total of benefit that becomes larger and larger as time goes
on; and, although death without suffering might have been ordained,
the moral purpose for which suffering was allowed to precede death
required that it should be permitted in numberless cases and forms,
and by almost numberless agencies, although not always made necessary.
This great purpose can be discerned without taking into view at all
the idea of a future state of existence for man or any of the other
terrestrial beings, and looking only at the moral development of man
individually and collectively as an agent in the promotion of happiness
on this earth. Man, however he originated, stands at the head of the
whole animal kingdom. If for himself and for all the inferior animal
organisms death without suffering had been ordained as the universal
rule, he would have been without the full strength of the moral
stimulus which now leads him to relieve, to palliate, to diminish, and,
as far as possible, to terminate every kind of suffering for himself
and the superior organisms that are below him in the scale, which are
the most capable of enjoyment and happiness, next after himself, in
their various proportionate capacities. He would have had no strong
motive for exterminating the inferior and noxious organisms excepting
for his own individual and immediate benefit; no reason for extending
the protection of his scientific acquirements to the lower animals
excepting to promote his own immediate advantage. Human society would
have been without that approach to moral perfection which is indicated
by a tenderness for life in all its forms, where its destruction is
not needed by some controlling necessity or expediency, and by the
alleviation of suffering in all its forms for the sake of increasing
the sum total of possible happiness. Human life itself would have been
less sacred in human estimation if there had been no suffering to draw
forth our sympathies and to stimulate us to the utmost contention
against its evils. Civilization would have been destitute of that which
is now its highest and noblest attribute. Wars would have been more
frequent among the most advanced portions of the human race; pestilence
would not have been encountered with half the vigor or the skill which
now wage battle against it; poverty would have been left to take care
of itself, or would have been alleviated from only the lowest and most
selfish motives, which would have left half its evils to be aggravated
by neglect. As the world has been constituted, and as we have the
strongest reason to believe it will continue to the end, there is to
be added to the immeasurable sum of mere animal enjoyment of life that
other immeasurable sum of moral happiness which man derives from doing
good and from the cultivation of his power to do it--an acquisition
and accumulation of benefit which would have been wanting if there had
been no physical suffering to awaken pity and to prompt our exertions
for its relief.

So that the objection that the hypothesis of infinite goodness required
a world where physical pain would have been unknown to any of its
organisms, where human sorrow would never have been felt, where human
tears would have never flowed, and where death would have been always
and only euthanasia, is by no manner of means a necessary conclusion,
as the existence of suffering is no impeachment of the Infinite Power.
If we consider man only in the light of his rank at the head of all the
terrestrial beings, and as therefore capable of the greatest amount
of benefit, to himself and to the other creatures, and if we regard
him individually as nothing more than a being dwelling on this earth
for a short-lived existence and endowed with the power of perpetuating
his species, he would have been morally an inferior being to what he
is now capable of becoming, and human society would have been far
below what it can be made and what we know that to a large degree it
already is, if physical suffering had been excluded from the world. All
this can be discerned without the aid of revelation; it can be seen
by the eye of philosophic reason alone; and it is all equally true
upon any hypothesis of the physical origin of man or any other living
creature on this earth, unless we suppose that the whole animal kingdom
came into being without any intentional design, without any plan of
intentional benefit, without any purpose, and without the conscious
exertion of any power of any kind.

And, if the question is asked, What is to be the end of this world? or
if we go forward in imagination toward the probable end of all this
animal life, I can not see that the hypothesis of evolution has more
to recommend it than the hypothesis of special creations in reference
to the perfectibility of the world, or to the sum of approximate
perfection that seems to be attainable. As, upon either of the two
hypotheses, a perfect world does not even now seem to have demanded
an absence of suffering, since suffering tends obviously to produce
greater benefit than could have followed from its absence, so, in
the remotest conceivable future, a nearer and nearer approximation
to a state of universal happiness will continue to be worked out by
physical and moral causes, which will be as potent under the system of
special creations as they can be supposed to be under the system of
evolution. It is true that the moral causes will supplement and aid
the physical under either of the two systems. But one difficulty with
the evolution theory as the sole method by which the past or present
inhabitants of the world have come into existence is that, so far as
we can judge, it has done and completed its work just as effectually
and finally as special creation appears to have terminated in certain
forms, some of which are extinct and some of which are living. Take
the Darwinian pedigree of man, as stated in a former chapter, or any
other mode of tracing the supposed stages of animal evolution. The
process has hypothetically culminated in man. At whatever species in
the ascending scale you pause, you find that the particular type of
animal has either become extinct or that it has continued and still
continues to be produced in that same type, with only such variations
and incidental differences as have resulted from changed conditions
of life, and from the intermingling of different breeds of the same
animal. I do not now speak of the theory, which admits, of course, of
the hypothetical development of every known animal, past or present,
out of its supposed predecessors. But I speak of the facts as yet
revealed by the researches of naturalists among all the extinct and
living forms of animal life. If there had ever been discovered any one
instance in which it could be claimed by satisfactory proof that an
animal of a distinct species had been evolved out of races of animals
of a fundamentally different organization, and without the special
interposition of any creating power operating to make a new organism,
we should certainly have it cited and relied upon as a fact of the
utmost importance. I do not say that it would be reasonable to expect
direct and ocular demonstration of such a product, any more than it
would be reasonable to expect direct and ocular demonstration of an
act of special creation. But I say that it could be shown by proofs
that ought to be satisfactory if there were any evidence from which the
inference that such a fact ever occurred could be reasonably drawn;
just as it is possible to draw the inference of special creation by
reasonable deduction from the evidence that tends to establish it as
a safe conclusion. But if there has ever been such an instance of the
evolution of any known species of animal out of other species shown by
satisfactory proof, or if we assume such an occurrence in the past as
the theory calls for, what reason have we to suppose that the process
of evolution is still going on, and to expect it to go on to the end
of time? We must judge of the future by the past, for we have no other
means of judging it. The past and the present both show, so far as we
can yet perceive by the facts, that each distinct and peculiar type
of animal life remains a perfect and completed production, however it
was fashioned or grew into that type; and that, so far as we have any
means of actual knowledge, no crosses of different races of that animal
produce anything but incidental variations of structure and mode of
life. It is a mere hypothesis that they produce distinct species.

Apply this to the most important of the supposed connections between
different animals according to the theory of evolution--that between
man and the monkey. The theory calls for the intermediate link or
links. Nothing can be yet found that shows the pedigree without
eking it out by general reasoning, and by assumptions that are more
or less imaginary. But suppose that the chain of proof were complete,
what would it show? It would show that the process of evolution has
culminated in man, as its crown and summit, and has there stopped. For,
whatever may have been the length of time required for the production
of this result, we know what the product is. We have the history of man
as an animal for a period of time that has been quite long enough to
show that, after he had become in his essential structure as an animal
what we know him to be, no subsequent intermingling of the races or
families into which the species became divided has produced any change
in his essential structure, or any new organs or any differences but
differences in the development of powers which are to be found in him
at all the stages of his known existence as parts of his characteristic
animal structure. The period of his known existence is certainly
infinitely small when compared with the whole indefinite future. It
is long enough, however, to afford some basis of reasoning about the
future; and, short as it is, it tends very strongly to show that the
further development of man on earth is to be chiefly a moral and
intellectual development; that in physical structure he is a completed
type; and that whatever superiorities of mere animal life he may
attain to hereafter are to be such improvements as can be worked out,
within the limits of his animal constitution, by the science which his
accumulating experience and knowledge will enable him to apply to the
physical and moral well-being of his race.

To return now to the line of thought from which these suggestions have
diverged. If, as we have every reason to believe upon either hypothesis
of man's origin, he is a completed animal, standing by original
creation or by the effect of the evolution process at the head of the
whole animal kingdom in the apparent purpose of his existence, his
agency and his power in promoting the sum of happiness on earth, for
himself and all the other animals, are the same upon either hypothesis
of his origin. The hypothesis of his origin by evolution gives him no
greater power over his own happiness or that of the other creatures
than he has if we suppose him to have been specially created; and it is
only by adopting the belief that in his own constitution he is to be
hereafter developed into a being incapable of suffering, or one vastly
less capable of suffering than the animal called man now is, that the
theory of evolution, even in regard to the sum total of happiness on
earth, has any advantage over the theory of special creations. If we
suppose the future gradual development of a terrestrial being standing
still higher in the animal scale than man now stands, exempt from the
suffering which man now suffers, we have a great amount of suffering
hereafter eliminated from the world by a certain process. But how does
this better satisfy the idea of infinite goodness in the power that
devised the process, than the hypothesis of special creation which has
formed man as an ultimate product of the divine benevolence and power
acting together, endowed him with the faculty of eliminating pain and
evil from the circumstances of his existence, by his own exertions,
and furnished him with the strongest motives as well as with almost
immeasurable means for diminishing the amount of evil for himself and
all the other beings within his reach?

5. Another of the specific objections urged by Mr. Spencer against
the doctrine of special creations is so put that it is manifestly
directed against one of the positions assumed by the representatives
of the current theology. The learned philosopher begins this part of
his argument by imputing to those who assert this doctrine as their
reason for maintaining it, that it "honors the Unknown Cause of
things," and that they think any other doctrine amounts to an exclusion
of divine power from the world. To encounter this supposed reason for
maintaining the doctrine of special creations, he proceeds to ask
whether the divine power "would not have been still better demonstrated
by the separate creation of each individual than it is by the separate
creation of each species? Why should there exist this process of
natural generation? Why should not omnipotence have been proved by the
supernatural production of plants and animals everywhere throughout
the world from hour to hour? Is it replied that the Creator was able
to make individuals arise from one another in natural selection, but
not to make species thus arise? This is to assign a limit to power
instead of magnifying it. Is it replied that the occasional miraculous
origination of a species was practicable, but that the perpetual
miraculous origination of countless individuals was impracticable? This
also is a derogation. Either it was possible or not possible to create
species and individuals after the same general methods. To say that it
was not possible is suicidal in those who use this argument; and, if it
was possible, it is required to say what end is served by the special
creation of species that would not be better served by the special
creation of individuals?"[67] I must again disclaim any participation
in the views of those who contemplate this question with reference
to the manifestations of divine power by one method of its supposed
action or another, or who are influenced by the idea of honoring or
dishonoring the Creator. This is not a question of the mode in which
the Creator has chosen to manifest his power for the purpose of making
it more impressive in the eyes of his intelligent human creatures or
more palpable to their perceptions. Nor is it a question, excepting for
the theologian who begins to reason upon it from a peculiar point of
view, by what belief we best honor the Creator, or the power which Mr.
Spencer describes as the "Unknown Cause." In the eye of philosophic
reason, apart from all the religious dogmas that have been taught by
human interpretations of revelation, this is a question of the probable
mode in which the assumed omnipotent power has acted; and it is not a
question of how we can best honor or magnify that power by believing
that it has acted in one mode and not in another. We have to take,
first, the postulate of an infinitely powerful Creator, whose existence
is an independent inquiry, which we are to make out upon evidence that
satisfies the mind. The hypothesis of his existence and attributes
includes the power to create species and to establish the process of
natural generation for the continuation of each species, or the power
to make separate creations of each individual, as Mr. Spencer phrases
it, "from hour to hour." In either mode of action, the power was the
same. It is no derogation from it to suppose that the one or the other
mode was adopted. It is no augmentation of it to suppose that the one
was adopted instead of the other. It is simply a question of what
does the evidence show, to the reasonable satisfaction of the human
mind, to have been most probably the method that was chosen by a power
that could adopt any method whatever. If we find that the creation of
species and the establishment of the process of natural generation for
the multiplication of individuals is upon the whole sustained by a
predominating weight of evidence, it is safe to adopt the belief that
this hypothesis of the Almighty method is in accordance with the facts.
If the evidence fails to show that species have arisen from each other
in the same way that individuals have arisen from each other in natural
succession, we have no reason to conclude that such has been the fact.
On the other hand, if the evidence shows, by reasonably satisfactory
proofs, that a process has been established for the evolution of
distinct species out of other and different species, similar to
the process by which individuals arise from each other by natural
generation, it will be safe to conclude that such has been the fact.
Upon either hypothesis, the power of the Creator remains the same.

Nor is it in any degree necessary to consider in what sense the one
method of action or the other was "miraculous," or that the one was an
occasional and the other a perpetual exercise of power. The special
creations of individuals from hour to hour would be just as miraculous
as the special creation of species, and it would be occasional,
although the occasions would be indefinite in number. The special
creation of species would be just as miraculous as the special creation
of individuals, but the occasional exercise of such a power would be
limited by the number of species, each of which would be a finality
in itself. The dilemma that is suggested by Mr. Spencer is a dilemma
only for those who think it necessary to mingle the idea of honoring
or dishonoring the Creator by one or another mode of interpreting his
works, with a question of his probable method of action. His method of
action is to be judged upon the evidence which a study of his works

6. Mr. Spencer, in summing up his objections to the doctrine of
special creations, has said that it not only "fails to satisfy men's
intellectual need of an interpretation," but that it also "fails to
satisfy their moral sentiment"; that "their moral sentiment is much
better satisfied by the doctrine of evolution, since that doctrine
raises no contradictory implications respecting the Unknown Cause, such
as are raised by the antagonist doctrine."[68] I have already suggested
what seems to me a sufficient answer to the supposed contradictory
implications respecting the goodness and power of the Almighty Creator.
But it is here worthy of the further inquiry, What has been the
influence upon the sacredness of human life, in human estimation, of
a belief in any other theory of man's origin, or of no belief on the
subject, compared with the effect of a belief in the doctrine that he
is a creature of an Almighty Creator, formed by an exercise of infinite
power for the enjoyment of greater happiness on earth than any other
creature, and therefore having a peculiarly sacred individual right to
the life that has been given to him? This, to be sure, does not afford
a direct test of the probable truth of the hypothesis respecting his
origin. But the answer to this inquiry will afford some test of the
claim upon our consideration that may be put forward for any other
hypothesis than the one that embraces the full idea of man's special
creation, even if we do not look beyond this world. Compare, then, the
civilization of the Romans at the period when it was at its highest
development (the age of Julius and Augustus Cæsar), when in many
respects it was a splendid civilization. Neither among the vulgar,
nor among the most cultivated; not among the most accomplished of the
statesmen or philosophers, was there any such belief as the simple
belief in the relation between Creator and creature, such as had been
held by a people who were regarded by the Romans as barbarians, in
respect to man and all the other animals; or such a belief as is now
held by the least educated peasant of modern Europe. One consequence
of the absence of this belief, or of the want of a vivid perception of
it, was that the highest persons in the Roman state, men possessed of
all the culture and refinement of their age, not only furnished for the
popular amusement combats of wild beasts of the most ferocious natures,
but they provided gladiatorial shows in which human beings, trained for
the purpose, were by each other "butchered to make a Roman holiday."
The statesmen who thus catered to the popular tastes, and never
thought of correcting them, subjected themselves to enormous expenses
for the purpose; and all that was noble and dignified and cultured of
both sexes, as well as the rabble, looked on with delight at the horrid
spectacle. But this was not all. The Roman law, in many ways a code
of admirable ethics, in utter disregard of the natural rights of men,
left the life of the slave within the absolute power of the master,
without any mitigation of the existing law of nations which made slaves
of the captive in war and his posterity. Compare all this with the
civilization of any modern country in which the life or liberty of
man can be taken away only by judicial process and public authority,
for actual crime; in which institutions exist for the relief of human
suffering and for the prevention of cruelty to the inferior creatures;
and then say whether the belief in special creations is not a doctrine
that has worked vast good in the world, and one that should not be
scouted because it is a "primitive belief."

Again, compare the ages in modern Europe when statesmen and politicians
of the highest standing with entire impunity employed assassination for
political ends, with periods in the same countries when assassination
had come to be regarded not only with abhorrence, but as incapable of
justification for any end whatever, public or private, and then say
whether the world can lose its belief that man is a special creation of
God, without losing one of the strongest safeguards of human life that
can be derived from any belief on the subject. All these, and a great
many similar considerations, while they do not prove the hypothesis
of special creation, show strongly that, unlike some of the family of
beliefs with which it was associated in the darkest ages, this one
has worked no mischiefs; that, on the contrary, it has been producing
moral, social, and political benefits in all the ages in which it has
been most vividly present to the popular faith. The command, "Thou
shalt do no murder," from whatever source it came, whether it was
delivered to Moses on the mount of fire, or came from the teachings of
Nature and the dictates of social expediency, whether it is a divine or
a human law, or both, has unhappily been broken in all times, in all
lands, and in all conditions of civilization. It is broken still. But
it has never yet ceased, for its moral foundation and for the moral
sanction of all the methods which have aimed to enforce it, to rest
on the belief that man is peculiarly the child of God, whose life is
sacred beyond the life of all other creatures. Whether any other belief
of man's origin will afford an equally good foundation for that law,
is a question which modern scientific speculation may or may not be
able to answer. If its speculations conduct to the conclusion that the
"unknown cause" has not specially caused anything, has not established
any relation of Creator and creature, that is sufficiently special to
imply divine care for the creature, we know what the answer must be.
The theologian is not the only person who has occasion to examine the
doctrine of evolution; it must be examined by the statesman as well.


 [57] "The Principles of Biology," by Herbert Spencer, vol. i, p. 334
 _et seq._ I use the American edition, D. Appleton & Co., 1881.

 [58] "Biology," i, p. 336.

 [59] "Biology," i, pp. 336, 337.

 [60] Webster's "Dictionary of the English Language."

 [61] Let it be remembered that the sense which is here considered
 comprehends not only material objects, but also ideas, images, and
 in short whatever, in its kind, had no previous existence. This is
 just as true of an original poem, or picture, or statue, or musical
 composition, as it is of a machine that is both original and new as a
 piece of mechanism.

 [62] Perhaps I owe an apology to a large class of readers for having
 bestowed so much attention upon the logical formula with which Mr.
 Spencer aims to dispose of the idea of creation. But I have observed,
 especially among young persons and others whose habits of thinking
 are unformed or not corrected by sound and comprehensive reasoning, a
 popular reception of this particular dogma, which makes it necessary
 to subject it to some careful analysis. In fact, one of my chief
 objects in writing this book has been to contribute what I might
 to the formation of habits of testing philosophical and scientific
 theories by something better than specious assumptions which can be
 thrown into the plausible form of logical propositions. There is
 nothing more valuable than logic, when its forms represent a true and
 correct ratiocination; and, when they do not, there is nothing that is
 more delusive. It needs some discipline of mind to enable people to
 see when logic is valuable and when it is not.

 [63] "Biology," i, p. 340 _et seq._

 [64] This is given almost _verbatim_ from Mr. Spencer's "Biology," i,
 p. 340 _et seq._

 [65] In treating of the existence of physical and moral evil, I do
 not mean to include sin in the discussion. I mean now by moral evil
 that loss or diminution of happiness, for the individual or a race,
 which results from physical evil produced by causes for which the
 sufferer is not responsible. The sin that is in the world is a matter
 that is to be considered entirely with reference to the accountability
 of man as a moral being; and the reasons which may be assigned for
 its permission may be quite distinct from those which relate to the
 existence of physical suffering for which man is not responsible upon
 any rational theory of moral accountability.

 [66] "Biology," i, p. 354.

 [67] "Biology," i, p. 339.

 [68] "Biology," i, pp. 344, 355.


The doctrine of evolution according to Herbert Spencer further

In the last preceding chapter, I have examined Mr. Spencer's chief
objection to the doctrine of special creations when considered in
its general aspects. I now advance to the general aspects of the
evolution hypothesis as applied by this philosopher to the animal
kingdom. I have already suggested the appropriate answer to the
claim that the derivation of the evolution hypothesis is favorable
because it has originated "among the most instructed class and in
these better-instructed times," and that the derivation of the other
hypothesis is unfavorable because "it originated in times of profound
ignorance." On this point it is unnecessary to say more. But there is
a supposed "kindred antithesis" between "the two families of beliefs"
to which these two hypotheses are said respectively to belong; one of
which families "has been dying out," while the other family "has been
multiplying." This brings into view the peculiar philosophical system
of Mr. Spencer, by which he maintains "the unity of Nature," or the
prevalence of a universal law of evolution, as the law which is to be
discerned in remote fields of inquiry, and which "will presently be
recognized as the law of the phenomena which we are here considering,"
namely, the phenomena of animal life. "The discovery that evolution has
gone on, and is going on, in so many departments of Nature, becomes a
reason for believing that there is no department of Nature in which it
does not go on."[69]

In considering this mode of generalization it is important to
distinguish between the phenomena that are observable in those
departments of Nature which include only dead or inanimate matter, and
the phenomena that are peculiar to matter organized into living beings.
Again: it is important to distinguish between phenomena which have been
influenced by human agencies and those which can not have been affected
by the power of man. Another distinction of the greatest consequence
is that which divides the phenomena in question according to their
relation to a moral purpose. In one class of phenomena, a moral purpose
may be plainly discovered as the purpose of an intelligent causing
power, which has chosen a particular means for the accomplishment
of an end. In another class of phenomena, a moral purpose may not
be discoverable as the end for which the existing arrangement of
things was specially designed, and to which that arrangement was an
indispensable means. By classifying the departments of Nature and
observing their phenomena with these discriminations, we shall be
able to judge of the value of Mr. Spencer's philosophical system when
applied to the animal kingdom.

In grouping the departments and their respective phenomena as
departments in which the law of evolution has obtained, and in drawing
from them the sweeping deduction that there is no department in which
this law has not obtained as the _causa causans_, Mr. Spencer does not
appear to have made these necessary discriminations. He specifies the
following remote fields of inquiry, in which he maintains that this law
of evolution is now admitted to be the solution of the phenomena that
lie in those respective fields: First, the solar system, which, as he
asserts, astronomers now consider has been gradually evolved out of
diffused matter.[70] Second, geological discoveries, which show that
the earth has reached its present varied structure through a process of
evolution. Third, society, which has progressed through a corresponding
process of gradual development. "Constitutions are not made, but grow,"
is said to be now a recognized truth among "philosophical politicians,"
and a part of the more general truth that "societies are not made, but
grow." Fourth, languages, which, we are told, are now believed not
to have been artificially or supernaturally formed, but to have been
developed. Finally, the histories of religions, philosophy, science,
the fine arts, and the industrial arts, show, it is said, development
"through as unobtrusive changes as those which the mind of a child
passes on its way to maturity."[71]

It is obvious that in some of these departments neither human agency
nor the human will and choice can have had any influence in producing
the phenomena, while in some of them human agency, will, and choice
have had a vast influence in making the phenomena what they are. That
political constitutions or social institutions are not made, but grow,
is a dogma that is by no means universally true, however wise it may
sound, or with whatever confidence in a paradox it may be asserted by
"some political philosophers." While past events and present exigencies
may have largely shaped some political constitutions, we know that
others have been deliberately modified by a choice that has had more
or less of a free scope, and that sometimes this has amounted to an
arbitrary decision. Languages may or may not have been a direct and
supernatural gift from Heaven, but we know that their structure has
been powerfully influenced by human agencies, when they have come
to be written expressions of thought; for they have then received
expansion by the actual coinage of new words, as well as by new
meanings of old words; and even when they were in the first stages
of a spoken tongue, inflections that were purely arbitrary have been
introduced. So it has been with systems of religion, philosophy, the
fine arts, the mechanic arts, legislation, and jurisprudence. While
in all these departments changes have been going on, which upon a
superficial view appear to indicate a kind of spontaneous development,
when they are analyzed they are seen to have been wholly caused, or
more or less influenced, by the genius, the thought, the discoveries,
the exertions, and the acts of particular individuals who have had the
force to impress themselves upon the age, and thus to make new systems,
new beliefs, new products, new rules of social or political life, new
tastes, and new habits of thinking and acting.

Again: in some of the various orders of phenomena which are found in
these different departments, there is discernible a distinct moral
purpose in the shape which they have been made to assume, and in
others of them there is no moral purpose discoverable, which we can
say required the employment of the particular means to effect the
end. Thus, astronomers can not assign a moral purpose for which the
distribution of the fixed stars was made to be what it is, and which
purpose could not have been answered by some other arrangement. At
the same time, it is easy to see that the solar system was arranged
with reference to the law of universal gravitation, which made this
arrangement of the different bodies essential to the harmonious working
of a great and complex piece of mechanism. The present formation of
the earth may have resulted just as geologists think it has, and yet
they can not say that there was no moral purpose in the division of the
exterior surface of our globe into land and water, seas, continents,
mountains, etc. These are departments of Nature in which man has had no
influence in producing the phenomena. When we turn to those departments
in which man is placed as an actor, we often find an adjustment of
means to an end that is so comprehensive, as well as so plain, that
we may justly conclude it to have been chosen by the creating power,
with the express intent that human agency should be the means by which
certain effects are to be produced. For example: man is eminently
a social animal. Human society is a result of his strong social
propensities. He is placed in it as an actor; and in this arrangement
there is discoverable a moral purpose so plain that we may rightfully
regard the social phenomena of mutual protection and improvement
as proofs that society was ordained as the sphere of man's highest
development on earth.

So that, in reasoning about the phenomena of any of the departments
of Nature as affording indications of the so-called universal law
of evolution, we must not forget the distinction between organized
inanimate and organized animated matter; or the distinction between
those departments in which human will or choice, or the human
intellect, has had no influence in shaping the phenomena, and those
in which they have had great influence; or the distinction between
phenomena in which a special moral purpose can be and those in which
it can not be discovered, as the reason for the existing order of
things. It is especially hazardous to argue that because a spontaneous
development, or a gradual evolution, can be traced in some of the
phenomena of inanimate matter, it therefore must obtain in the animal
kingdom. It is alike hazardous to argue, because there has been what
is called evolution in some departments of Nature over which man has
had no control, that the same law obtains in other departments over
which he has also had no control, or those in which he has had a large

The bearing of these discriminations upon the supposed universality
of the law of evolution may now be seen if we attend to the further
inquiry whether that law obtains throughout all the phenomena of
any one department of Nature as the sole cause of the phenomena in
that department. Take again, for example, the solar system. Suppose
it to be true that the bodies which compose it, the sun and the
planetary spheres, were gradually evolved out of diffused matter. Does
it necessarily follow that their existing arrangements and mutual
relations were not specially designed? That their orbits, their
revolutions, their distances from each other, were not specially
planned? That they were not hung in their respective positions with
an intentional adjustment to the great force of gravitation that was
prevailing throughout the universe? Must we suppose that all this part
of the whole phenomena of the solar system resulted from the operation
of an ungoverned evolution, because the bodies themselves may have been
gradually formed out of diffused matter into their present condition
without being spoken at once into that condition by the fiat of the
Almighty? We can certainly see that the existing arrangements must have
been intentional; and, if intentional, the intention must have taken
effect in the production of the phenomena exhibited by the arrangement,
as any design takes effect in the production of the phenomena which
are open to our observation. The moral purpose evinced by one part of
this arrangement, the alternation of day and night upon the earth,
for example, might have been effected by some other means than the
means which now produce it. But there is the strongest evidence that
a certain means was chosen and intentionally put into operation; and
although we can not tell why that means was preferred, the fact that it
was both designed and preferred makes it a special creation. To suppose
that it was left to be worked out by a process such as the hypothesis
of evolution assumes, by the gradual, fortuitous, and ungoverned
operation of infinitely slow-moving causes, which might have made the
adjustments very different from what they are, is to deprive it of the
element of intentional preference that is proved by its existence.
The hypothesis of evolution, when applied to all the phenomena of the
solar system, relegates one great branch of those phenomena to a realm
from which all special purposes and all direct design are absent, and
confines the explanation of the phenomena to the operation of causes
that might have brought about very different arrangements. That this
supposed process of evolution has, in fact, been followed by the
existing arrangements of the solar system, does not prove, or tend to
prove, that the existing arrangements are solely due to the supposed
method of their production; for we can not leave out the element of
some design, and if there was a design, the very nature of the system
required that the design should be executed by a special creation of a
plan for the mutual relations of the bodies composing it. The bodies
themselves might have been gradually formed out of diffused matter,
floating loosely in the realms of space. The relations of the bodies
to each other required the act of an intelligent will, in the direct
formation of an intentional plan; and that act was an act of special
creation in the same sense in which the structural plan of a species of
animal was a special creation.

Here, then, is one department of Nature in which it is not necessary
and not philosophical to assume that the law of so-called evolution has
been the universal law to which all the phenomena of that department
are to be attributed. If we follow out the same inquiry in other
departments of Nature remote from the animal kingdom, we shall find
reason to adopt the same conclusion in respect to their phenomena.
Thus, let us for a moment contemplate another of the departments
in which inanimate matter is the subject of observation, and in
which human will or intelligence has had no agency in producing the
phenomena, namely, the formation of the present structure of the
earth as it is described by geologists. This is a department in which
the hypothesis of evolution finds perhaps its stronghold. Yet it is
necessary even here to recognize an intentional plan and direct design
in some part of the phenomena. Let us suppose that during the period
required by any of the speculations of geologists, however long, a
mass of matter was gathered in an unformed condition, and gradually
shaped into the present condition of the earth by the action of its
constituent elements upon each other, influenced by the laws of
mechanical forces, of chemical combinations, of light and heat, and
of whatever physical agencies were made to operate in the process of
evolving the mass into the condition in which it has been known to us
for a certain time. Is it a rational conclusion that the intelligent
power which put these forces in operation--an hypothesis with which we
must begin to reason, or leave the origin of both matter and forces to
blind chance--did not guide their operation at all to the intentional
production of the results which we see? The results disclose some
manifest purposes; and although these purposes, or others equally
beneficent, might have been accomplished by different arrangements,
we can see that they have been effected by a certain arrangement of a
specific character. The results have been continents, seas, mountains,
rivers, lakes, formation and distribution of minerals, growth of
forests, and an almost innumerable, and certainly a very varied,
catalogue of phenomena, physical formations, and adaptations. All these
varied results disclose a plan by which this earth became a marvelously
convenient abode for the living creatures that have inhabited or still
inhabit it, especially for man. The formation of this plan was an
intelligent act, if we suppose that any intelligent being projected
the original gathering of the crude primordial matter and subjected it
to the operation of the forces employed to shape it into its present
condition. This plan was an act of special creation, in the same
sense in which the plan of a particular animal organism may have been
a special creation. While, therefore, a process which may be called
evolution may have operated as the agency through which the earth has
reached its present physical condition, the plan of that condition was
certainly not formed by any such process; for it was, if it was the
product of anything, the product of an intelligent will operating in
the production of preconceived results by the exercise of superhuman
and infinite wisdom and foresight.

When we turn to a department in which human influence has largely
or wholly shaped the phenomena, we find numerous special creations
that are not attributable to the operation of any law of development
or evolution such as is supposed to have led to the production of
one species of animal out of another, or out of several previous
species. In short, a survey of all the departments of Nature leads to
the conclusion that while there may be phenomena which are properly
traceable to the operation of the forces of Nature, or to fixed
general systems of production, there is another very large class
of the phenomena which owe their existence to special acts of an
intelligent will, finite or infinite, human or divine, according as
their production required superhuman power or admitted of the efficacy
of man's intervention.

The way is now somewhat cleared for an examination of Mr. Spencer's
application of the law of evolution to the gradual formation of
different species of animals out of one or more previous species,
without any act of special creation intervening anywhere in the series.
We have seen that this alleged law is not of universal force as the
cause of all the phenomena in all the departments of Nature. When
we come to apply it as the hypothesis which is to account for the
existence of different species of animals of very different types, we
must remember that we are dealing with organisms endowed with life,
and, although we can not sufficiently explain what life is, we know
that animated organisms are brought into being by systems of production
that are widely different from the modes in which inanimate matter
may have been or has been made to assume its existing forms. Bearing
this in mind, we come to the arguments and proofs by which Mr. Spencer
maintains the immense superiority of the evolution hypothesis over
that of special creations, in reference to the animal kingdom. It must
be remembered that this is a department in which man can have had no
agency in producing the phenomena, for whatever may have been the
slight variations produced by human interference with the breeding of
animals domesticated from their wild condition, we must investigate the
origin of species as if there had never been any human intervention
in the crossing of breeds, because that origin is to be looked for in
a sphere entirely removed from all human interference. Man himself is
included in the investigation, and we must make that investigation in
reference to a time when he did not exist, or when he did not exist as
we now know him.

One of the favorite methods of Mr. Spencer consists in arraying
difficulties for the believers in special creations, which, he argues,
can not be encountered by their hypothesis, and then arguing that there
are no difficulties in the way of the hypothesis of evolution. His
position shall be stated with all the strength that he gives to it,
and with all the care that I can bestow upon its treatment. He puts
the argument thus: In the animal kingdom individuals come into being
by a process of generation--that is to say, they arise out of other
individuals of the same species. If we contemplate the individuals
of any species, we find an evolution repeated in every one of them by
a uniform process of development, which, in a short space of time,
produces a series of astonishing changes. The seed becomes a tree,
and the tree differs from the seed immeasurably in bulk, structure,
color, form, specific gravity, and chemical composition; so that
no visible resemblance can be pointed out between them. The small,
semi-transparent gelatinous spherule constituting the human ovum
becomes the newly-born child; and this human infant "is so complex in
its structure that a cyclopædia is needed to describe its constituent
parts. The germinal vesicle is so simple that it may be defined in a
line. Nevertheless, a few months suffice to develop the one out of
the other, and that, too, by a series of modifications so small that
were the embryo examined, at successive minutes, even a microscope
would with difficulty disclose any sensible changes. Aided by such
facts, the conception of general evolution may be rendered as definite
a conception as any of our complex conceptions can be rendered. If,
instead of the successive minutes of a child's fœtal life, we take
successive generations of creatures, if we regard the successive
generations as differing from each other no more than the fœtus did in
successive minutes, our imaginations must indeed be feeble if we fail
to realize in thought the evolution of the most complex organism out of
the simplest. If a single cell, under appropriate conditions, becomes
a man in the space of a few years, there can surely be no difficulty
in understanding how, under appropriate conditions, a cell may, in the
course of untold millions of years, give origin to the human race."[72]

Here, then, we have a comparison between what takes place in the
development of the individual animal in the space of a few years,
and what may be supposed to take place in the successive generations
of different creatures through untold millions of years. We turn
then to the proof, direct or indirect, that races of entirely
distinct organisms have resulted from antecedent races by gradual
transformation. Direct proof sufficient to establish the progressive
modifications of antecedent races into other races is not claimed to
exist; yet it is claimed that there are numerous facts of the order
required by the hypothesis which warrant our acceptance of it. These
facts are the alterations of structure which take place in successive
generations of the same species, amounting, in the course of several
generations of the same race, to additions and suppressions of parts.
These changes among the individuals of the same race, comprehended in
what is scientifically called "heredity" and "variation," are exhibited
by the transmission of ancestral peculiarities of structure, by their
occasional suppression in some individuals of the race and their
reappearance in others, and by a difference in the relative sizes of
parts. These variations, arising in successive short intervals of time,
are said to be quite as marked as those which arise in a developing
embryo, and, in fact, they are said to be often much more marked. "The
structural modifications proved to have taken place since organisms
have been observed is not less than the hypothesis demands--bears as
great a ratio to this brief period as the total amount of structural
change seen in the evolution of a complex organism out of a simple germ
bears to the vast period during which living forms have existed on

The difficulty that is thus prepared for the hypothesis of the special
creation of species may now be stated. There is a professed conception
of the ultimate power which is manifested to us through phenomena.
That conception implies omnipotence and omniscience, and it therefore
implies regularity of method, because uniformity of method is a mark
of strength, whereas irregularity of method is a mark of weakness. "A
persistent process, adapted to all contingencies, implies greater skill
in the achievement of an end than its achievement by the process of
meeting the contingencies as they severally arise." And, therefore,
those who adopt the notion of the special creation of species do, it
is said, in truth impair the professed character of the power to which
they assume that the phenomena of the existence of species are to be
referred, whereas the hypothesis of the evolution of species out of
other species is much more consistent with the professed conception of
the ultimate power.

In this claim of superiority for the evolution hypothesis, the learned
philosopher seems to have been almost oblivious of the fact that he was
dealing with animal organisms in two aspects: first, in regard to the
method by which individuals of the same species come into existence;
and, secondly, in regard to the method by which different species have
come into existence. In the first case, regularity of method is evinced
by the establishment of a uniform process of procreation and gestation.
This process, while retaining throughout the different classes of
animals one fundamental and characteristic method, namely, the union
of the sexes, is widely varied in respect to the time of gestation,
the fœtal development, and the nourishment of the young before and
after birth. There is no difficulty whatever in discovering the great
reason for which this system of the reproduction of individuals was
established. The tie that it makes between parents and offspring, and
more especially the tie between the female parent and the offspring,
was obviously one grand end for which this system of giving existence
to individuals was adopted; and although the instinct which arises
out of it is in some species feeble and almost inactive, it rises
higher and higher in its power and its manifestations in proportion
as the animals rise in the scale of being, until in man it exhibits
its greatest force and its most various effects, producing at last
pride of ancestry, and affecting in various ways the social and even
the political condition of mankind. But how can any corresponding
connection between one race of animals and another, or between
antecedent and subsequent species, be imagined? The sexual impulse
implanted in animals leads to the production of offspring of the same
race. The desire for offspring keeps up the perpetual succession of
individuals, and love of the offspring insures the protection of the
newly born by the most powerful of impulses. But what can be imagined
as an analogous impulse, appetite, or propensity which should lead one
species to strive after the production of another species? Is it said
that the different species are evolved out of one another by a process
in which the conscious desires, the efforts, the aspirations of the
preceding races play no part? This is certainly true, if there was
ever any such process as the evolution of species out of species; and
it follows that, in respect to one great moral purpose of a process,
there is no analogy to be derived from the regularity and uniformity of
the process by which individuals of the same species are multiplied.
Moreover, in regard to the latter process, we know that a barrier has
been set to its operation; for Nature does not now admit of the sexual
union between animals of entirely distinct species, and we have no
reason to believe that it ever did admit of it at any period in the
geological history of the earth.

Still further: In what sense are special creations "irregularities
of method"? In what sense are they "contingencies"? And if they are
"contingencies," how does it imply less skill to suppose that they
have been met as they have severally arisen, than would be implied by
supposing that they have been achieved by a uniform process adapted
to all contingencies? This notion that something is derogated from
the idea of omnipotence and omniscience by the hypothesis that such
a power has acted by special exercises of its creating faculty in
the production of different orders of beings as completed and final
types, instead of allowing or causing them to be successively evolved
out of each other by gradual derivations, is neither logical nor
philosophical. In no proper sense is a method of action an irregular
method unless it was imposed upon the actor by some antecedent
necessity, which compelled him to apply a method which was made uniform
in one case to another case in which the same kind of uniformity
would not be indispensable. The uniformity of the process by which
individuals of the same species are multiplied is a uniformity for that
particular end. The regularity in that case is a regularity that has
its special objects to accomplish. The uniformity and regularity of
a different method of causing different types of organisms to exist,
so long as the object is always effected in the same way, is just as
truly a regularity and uniformity for that case, and just as completely
fulfills the idea of infinite skill. That such creations are specially
made, that they are independently made, and that each is made for a
distinct purpose and also for the complex purposes of a varied class
of organisms, does not render them contingencies arising at random, or
make the method of meeting them an occasional, irregular, spasmodic
device for encountering something unforeseen and unexpected. The very
purposes for which the distinct organisms exist--purposes that are
apparent on a comprehensive survey of their various structures and
modes of life--and the fact that they have come into existence by some
process that was for the production of the ends a uniform and regular
one, whether that process was special creation or evolution, render the
two methods of action equally consistent with the professed conception
of the ultimate power. On the hypothesis of special creations so many
different types of organism as the Creator has seen fit to create have
been made by the exercise of a power remaining uniformly of the same
infinite nature, but varying the products at will for the purposes of
infinite wisdom.

What, again, does the learned author mean by meeting "contingencies"
"as they have severally arisen"? This suggestion of a difficulty for
the believers in special creations seems to imply that the distinct
types of animal organisms arose somehow as necessities outside of the
divine will, and that the Almighty artificer had to devise occasional
methods of meeting successive demands which he did not create. The
hypothesis of special creations does not drive its believers into any
such implications. The several distinct types of animal organisms are
supposed to have arisen in the divine mind as types which the Almighty
saw fit to create for certain purposes, and to have been severally
fashioned as types by his infinite power. They are in no sense
"contingencies" which he had to meet as occasions arising outside of
his infinite will. A human artificer has conceived and executed upon a
novel plan a machine that is distinguishable from all other machines.
He did not create the demand for that machine; the demand has grown
out of the wants of society; and the artificer has met the demand by
his genius and his mechanical skill, which have effected a marked
improvement in the condition of society. In one sense, therefore, he
has met a "contingency," because he has met a demand. But the infinite
Creator, upon the hypothesis of his existence and attributes, does not
meet an external demand; there is no demand upon him; he creates the
occasion; he makes the different organisms to effectuate the infinite
purposes which he also creates; the want and the means of satisfying
the want alike arise in the infinite wisdom and will. Such is the
hypothesis. We may now, therefore, pursue in some further detail the
argument which maintains that this hypothesis is of far inferior
strength to that of evolution, as the method in which the Almighty
power has acted in the production of different animal organisms.

First we have the analogy that is supposed to be afforded by what takes
place in the development of a single cell into a man in the space of
a few years, and an alleged correspondence of development by which
a single cell, in the course of untold millions of years, has given
origin to the human race. Granting any difference of time which this
comparison calls for, and substituting in place of the successive
moments or years of an individual life, from the formation of the
ovum to the fully developed animal, the successive generations of any
imaginable series of animals, the question is not merely what we can
definitely conceive, or how successfully we can construct a theory.
It is whether the supposed analogy will hold; whether we can find
that in the two cases development takes place in the same way or in
a way that is so nearly alike in the two cases as to warrant us in
reasoning from the one to the other. In the case of the development of
the single cell into the mature animal, although we can not, either
before or after birth, detect the changes that are taking place from
minute to minute, the infinitesimal accretions or losses, we know that
there is a perpetual and unbroken connection of life maintained from
the moment when the fœtus is formed to the moment when the mature
animal stands before us. Break this connection anywhere in the process
of development, and life is destroyed; the development is at once
arrested. It is this connection that constitutes, as I presume, what
the learned author calls the "appropriate conditions," in the case of
the production of the individual animal; it is, at all events, the one
grand and indispensable condition to the development of the cell into
the fœtus, of the fœtus into the newly born child, and of the child
into the man. Now, if we are to reason from this case of individual
development to the other case of successive generations of creatures
differing from each other in the same or any other ratio in which
the perfect man differs from the ovum, the fœtus, or the newly born
child, which are all successive stages of one and the same individual
life, we ought to find in the successive generations of the different
creatures some bond of connection, some continuity of lives with lives,
some perpetuation from one organism to another, that will constitute
the "appropriate conditions" for a corresponding development from a
single cell through the successive types of animal life into the human
race. Without such connection, continuity, perpetuation from organism
to organism, shown by some satisfactory proof, we have nothing but a
theory, and a theory that is destitute of the grand conditions that
will alone support the analogy between the two cases. If anywhere in
the supposed chain of successive generations of different animals the
continuity of animal and animal is broken, the hypothesis of special
creations of new organisms must come in: for we must remember that
we are reasoning about animal life, and if the continuity of lives
with one another is interrupted, the series terminates, just as the
series between the ovum, the fœtus, the child, and the man terminates,
at whatever stage it is interrupted by a cause that destroys the
mysterious principle of life. It is therefore absolutely necessary to
look for some proof which will show that in the supposed series of
successive generations of animals out of antecedent types, by whatever
gradations and in whatever space of time we may suppose the process
of evolution to have been worked, there has been a continuity of life
between the different types, a perpetuation of organism from organism,
a connection of lives with lives.

We now come to another supposed analogy, on which great stress is laid
by the evolution school, and especially by Mr. Spencer. Individuals
of the same family are found to be marked by striking peculiarities
of structure, ancestral traits, which appear and disappear and then
appear again, in successive generations. This is obviously a case where
the "appropriate conditions" are all comprehended in the connection
of life with life. When we trace the pedigree of a single man or any
other individual animal back to a remote pair of ancestors, we connect
together in an unbroken chain the successive generations of parents
and offspring. If the chain is anywhere broken, so that direct descent
can not be traced throughout the series, we can not by direct evidence
carry the peculiarities of family traits any further back than the
ancestor or pair of ancestors with which we can find an unbroken
connection of life with life. We do indeed often say in common parlance
that an individual must have a trace of a certain blood in his veins,
because of certain peculiarities of structure, complexion, or other
tokens of descent, even when we can not find a perfect pedigree
which would show where the infusion of the supposed blood came in.
But although it might be allowable, in making out the descent of an
individual man or any other animal, from a certain ancestor or pair of
ancestors, to aid the pedigree by strong family or race resemblance,
even when a link is wanting, it could only be for the purpose of
establishing a pedigree, a connection of lives with lives, that such
collateral evidence could be resorted to. If by direct proof of an
unbroken descent a full pedigree is made out, or if, when some link is
wanting, the collateral proof from strong family or race resemblances
is sufficient to warrant the belief that the link once existed, we
might accept it as a fact that the individual descended from the
supposed ancestors in a direct line, or that some peculiarity of blood
came into his constitution at some point in the descent of individuals
from individuals.[74]

Can we apply this mode of reasoning to the evolution of distinct types
of animals out of antecedent and different types? The very nature of
the descent or derivation that is to be satisfactorily established
requires a connection of lives with lives, just as such a connection is
required in making out the pedigree of an individual animal. We must
construct a pedigree for the different classes or types of animals
through which, by direct or collateral evidence, we can connect the
different organisms together, so as to warrant the belief that by
the ordinary process of generation these animals of widely different
organizations have been successfully developed out of each other, life
from life, organisms from organisms. The hypothesis is, that from a
single cell all the various races and types of animals have in process
of time been gradually formed out of each other, through an ascending
scale, until we reach the human race, whose race pedigree consists of a
series of imperceptible formations, back to the single cell from which
the whole series proceeded. This, we must remember, is not a case of
the evolving production of different forms of inanimate matter, but it
is the case of the evolving production of different forms of animal
life out of other preceding and different forms, by the process of
animal generation.

Of direct evidence of this evolution of species, it can not be said
that we have any which will make it a parallel case with the direct
evidence of the descent of an individual from parents and other
ancestors. We have different animal organisms that are marked by
distinctions which compel us to regard them as separate species, and
there is no known instance in which we can directly trace a production
of one of these distinct species out of another or others by finding
a connection of lives with lives. Even in the vegetable kingdom, with
all the crosses for which Nature has made such wonderful and various
provision, we do not find such occurrences as the production of an oak
out of the seed of an apple, or the production of an orange-tree out of
an acorn. We do not gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles. There
are barriers set to miscegenation even in the vegetable world, and we
have no direct evidence that at any period in the geological history of
the earth these barriers have been crossed, and very little indirect
evidence to warrant us in believing that they ever have been or ever
will be. In the animal kingdom such barriers are extremely prominent
and certain. We not only have no direct evidence that any one species
of animal was at any period of the earth's history or in any length of
time gradually evolved out of another distinct species, but we know
that the union of the sexes and the production of new individuals can
not take place out of certain limits; that, while Nature will permit
of the crossing of different breeds of the same animal, and so will
admit of very limited variations of structure, she will not admit of
the sexual union of different species, so as to produce individuals
having a union of the different organisms, or a resultant of a third
organism of a different type from any that had preceded it. Is it, for
example, from mere taste or moral feeling that such occurrences as the
sexual union between man and beast have not been known to have produced
a third and different animal? We know that it is because the Almighty
has "fixed his canon" against such a union in the case of man and in
the cases of all the other distinct animal organisms; and to find this
canon we do not need to go to Scripture or revelation, although we may
find it there also.

We are remitted, therefore, to indirect evidence, and in considering
this evidence we have to note that we have nothing but an imaginary
pedigree, or one hypothetically constructed, to which to apply it. In
tracing the pedigree of an individual animal, we have a certain number
of known connections of life with life; and where it becomes necessary
to bridge over a break in the connection so as to carry the line back
to an earlier ancestor, we may perhaps apply the collateral evidence
of family or race resemblance to assist in making the connection with
that particular ancestor a reasonably safe deduction. But in the case
of the hypothetical pedigree which supposes the human race to have been
evolved from a single cell through successive organisms rising higher
and higher in the scale of being, we have no known connections of lives
with lives to which to apply the collateral proofs. The collateral
proofs are not auxiliary evidence; they are the sole evidence; and
unless they are such as to exclude every other reasonable explanation
of the phenomena which they exhibit excepting that of the supposed
evolution, they can not be said to satisfy the rules of rational belief
in the hypothesis to which we apply them.

What, then, is the indirect and collateral evidence? It consists, as
we have already seen, of two principal classes of phenomena: first,
resemblances of fœtal development which are found on comparing the
fœtal growth of different species of animals; second, resemblances in
the structure of different species of animals after birth and maturity.
These various resemblances are supposed to constitute proof of descent
from a common stock, which may be carried back in the series as far as
the resemblance can be carried, at whatever point that may be. Thus,
in comparing all the vertebrata, we find certain marked peculiarities
of structure common to the whole class: the deduction is, that all the
vertebrate animals came from a common stock. In comparing all the
mammalia, we find certain marked peculiarities of structure common
to the whole class: the deduction is that all the mammalia came from
a common stock. Going still further back in the supposed series, we
come to the amphibians, as the supposed common stock from which the
vertebrate and mammalian land animals were derived; and, comparing the
different classes of the amphibians, we find certain resemblances which
point to the fish inhabitants of the water as their common stock; and
then we trace the more highly organized fishes through the more lowly
organized back to the aquatic worm, which may itself be supposed to
have been developed out of a single cell.[75]

The resemblances of structure, wherever we make the comparison
between different species, are referable to an ideal plan of animal
construction, followed throughout a class of animals, and adjusted to
their peculiar differences which distinguish one species from another,
just as in the vegetable world there is an ideal plan of construction
of trees followed throughout a class of plants, and adjusted to the
peculiar differences which distinguish one kind of tree from another.
As between man and the monkey, or between man and the horse, or the
seal, or the bat, or the bird, there are certain resemblances in the
structure of the skeleton, which indicate an identity of plan, although
varied in its adjustments to the distinguishing structure of each
separate species of animal. In a former chapter, I have shown why the
adoption of an ideal plan of a general character is consistent with
what I have called the "economy of Nature" in the special creation of
different species. On a careful revision of the subject, I can see
no reason to change the expression, or to modify the idea which it
was intended to convey, and which I will here repeat. It is entirely
consistent with the conception of an infinite and all-wise creating
power, to suppose that in the formation of a large class of organisms,
all the constructive power that was needed for the formation of a
general plan was exercised throughout the class, and that there was
super added the exercise of all the power of variation that was needful
to produce distinct species. Repetition of the same general plan of
construction is certainly no mark of inferiority of original power,
if accompanied by adaptations to new and further conditions. It is
a proof that in one direction all the necessary power was used, and
no more, and that in producing the distinct organisms the necessary
amount of further power was also used. If we follow the resemblances of
structure that may be traced through all the animals of a varied class,
we shall find that they may be referred, as a rational and consistent
hypothesis, to this method of giving to each animal its characteristic
formation. If this is a rational hypothesis, it is so because it is
consistent with all the observable phenomena; and consequently, the
opposite hypothesis that all these phenomena of resemblances and
differences are due to the law of evolution does not exclude every
other explanation of their existence.

To apply this now to one of the comparisons on which great stress
is laid--the comparison between the brain of man and that of the
ape. Two questions arise in this comparison: 1. Do the resemblances
necessarily show that these two animals came from a common stock? 2.
Do the resemblances necessarily show that man was descended from some
ape through intermediate animals by gradual transformations? And, when
I ask whether the comparison necessarily leads to these conclusions,
I mean to ask whether the resemblances point so strongly to the
conclusions that they must rationally be held to exclude every other

Prof. Huxley furnished to Mr. Darwin a very learned note, in which he
stated the results of all that is now known concerning the resemblances
and differences in the structure and the development of the brain in
man and the apes. The differences may be laid aside in the present
discussion, because it is not necessary, for my present purpose, to
found anything upon them. But the resemblances, just as they are stated
by the eminent anatomist, without regard to controverted details,
are the important facts to be considered. The substance of the whole
comparison is that the cerebral hemispheres in man and the higher apes
are disposed after the very same pattern in him as in them; that every
principal "gyrus" and "sulcus" of a chimpanzee's brain is clearly
represented in that of a man, so that the terminology which applies
to one answers for the other; that there is no dispute as to the
resemblance in fundamental character between the ape's brain and man's;
and that even the details of the arrangement of the "gyri" and "sulci"
of the cerebral hemispheres present a wonderfully close similarity
between the chimpanzee, orang, and man.[76] These are said to be
the result of a comparison of the adult brain of man and the higher
apes; and, although it is claimed by some anatomists that there are
fundamental differences in the mode of their development which point
to a difference of origin, this is denied by Huxley, who maintains
that there is a fundamental agreement in the development of the brain
in man and apes. His views of the facts for the purpose of the present
inquiry may be accepted without controversy, not only because he is an
authority whose statements of facts I am not disposed to dispute, but
because it is not necessary to dispute them. What, then, do they show?

They show that there are animals known as apes and animals known as
men, whose brains are found to be fundamentally constructed upon the
same general plan, with strong resemblances throughout the different
parts of the organ; and the first question is, Do these resemblances
show that the two animals came from a common stock? Upon the theory
that man has resulted from the gradual modifications of the same form
as that from which the apes have sprung, the resemblances in the
structure of their respective brains are claimed as having a tendency
to show that there was an animal which preceded both of them, and which
was their common ancestor, in the same sense in which an individual
progenitor was the common ancestor of two other individuals, whether
one of these two individuals was or was not descended from the other in
a direct line. On the other hand, upon the hypothesis of the special
creation of the ape as one animal, and the special creation of man as
another animal, there was no common stock from which the two animals
have been derived, and the resemblances of their brains point to the
adoption of a general plan of construction for that organ, or its
construction upon the same model, and the adaptation of that model to
the other parts of the structure, and the purposes of the existence of
each of the two animals. Without again repeating the argument which
shows that the latter hypothesis is perfectly consistent with the
professed conception of the infinite power, I will now inquire whether,
on the former hypothesis, we have anything to which we can apply the
evidence of resemblance as a collateral aid in reaching the conclusion
that these two animals were derived from a common progenitor, or from
some antecedent animal whose brain and other parts of the structure
became modified into theirs by numerous intermediate gradations.

Between the higher apes, or between any of the apes and any known
antecedent and different animal, no naturalist has discovered the
intermediate link or links. Darwin supposes that there was some
one extremely ancient progenitor from which proceeded the two main
divisions of the _Simiadæ_--namely, the Catarrhine and Platyrhine
monkeys, with their sub-groups. This extremely ancient progenitor is
nothing but a scientific hypothesis; or, to use a legal phrase, it
had nothing but a constructive existence. It is necessary to believe
in the principle of evolution, in order to work out the hypothesis
of this creature from which the two great stems of the _Simiadæ_ are
supposed to have proceeded. Here, then, we have the case of a pedigree
or succession of animal races, the _propositum_ of which has no known
existence. Next we have two known divisions of the _Simiadæ_, or
monkeys; but, between them and their imaginary common progenitor, we
have no known intermediate animals constituting the gradations of
structure from the progenitor to the descendants. The whole chain has
to be made out by tracing resemblances among the animals of a certain
class that are known, then applying these resemblances to the supposed
divergencies from the structure of a supposed progenitor, and then
drawing the conclusion that there was such a progenitor. It may be
submitted to the common sense of mankind, whether this is a state of
facts which will warrant scientists or philosophers in using toward
those who do not accept their theory quite so much of the _de haut en
bas_ style of remark as we find in the writings of Mr. Spencer.[77]
If the researches of geologists had ever discovered any remains of
an animal that would fulfill the requirements, and thus stand as the
progenitor of the _Simiadæ_. By the case would correspond to that of a
known individual from whom we undertake to trace the descent of another
individual through many intermediates; and in such a case strong family
resemblances of various kinds might possibly afford some aid in making
out the pedigree as a reliable conclusion. But there is no means of
connecting the Old World and the New World apes with any but an unknown
and imaginary, progenitor. Darwin himself frankly tells us that "the
early progenitor of the whole Simian stock, including man," is an
undiscovered animal, which may not have been identical with, or may not
even have closely resembled, any existing ape or monkey.[78]

Passing from the supposed common progenitor to the resemblances
between the brain of the higher apes and the brain of man, we come to
the question whether these resemblances show that man was descended
from any of the Simian stock through intermediate animals by gradual
transformation. Here the case is in one respect different; for the
animals that are to be compared are known, and their respective brains
have been subjected to close anatomical scrutiny. This part of the
process of evolution begins from one true species, the ape, and ends
in another true species, the man. We are unable to trace the man and
the ape to a common progenitor race; but we find the ape possessed of
a brain which strongly resembles man's. I have searched diligently in
the writings of naturalists for a sound reason which ought rationally
to exclude the hypothesis that the brain of the ape was formed upon
the same ideal plan as the brain of man, each animal being a distinct
species and separately created. Anatomical comparison of the two
brains shows that, whether they were separately planned upon the same
general model, or the one was derived from the other by a process of
gradual transformation through successive intermediate animals, the
resemblances are consistent with either hypothesis. We are remitted,
therefore, to an inquiry for the evidence which will establish the
existence of a race or races of animals through whom there descended
to man the peculiar structure of brain found in one of the classes of
apes--namely, the Catarrhine or Old World monkeys. If such intermediate
races could be found, their existence at any period anterior to the
period of man's appearance on earth would have some tendency to
show that man was descended from one of the families of apes, and
this tendency would become stronger in proportion to the number of
successive links in the family chain that could be made out. But not
one of these links is known to have existed. There is an assumption
that man, "from a genealogical point of view, belongs to the Catarrhine
or Old World stock" of monkeys; and this assumption is claimed to be
supported by the fact that the character of his brain is fundamentally
the same as theirs.

A brain is an organ which, upon the hypothesis of an independent
creation of distinct species of animals, would be expected to be found
in very numerous species, although they might differ widely from
each other. In all the vertebrate animals this organ is the one from
which, by its connection with the spinal chord, the central portion
of the nervous system, that system descends through the arches of
the vertebræ, and thence radiates to the various other organs of
the body. The brain is the central seat of sensation, to which are
transmitted, along certain nerves, the impressions produced upon or
arising in the other organs; and it is the source from which voluntary
activity is transmitted along other nerves to organs and muscles that
are subjected to a power of movement from within. The office which
such an organ performs in a complex piece of animal mechanism is
therefore the same in all the vertebrate animals in which it is found;
and it would necessarily be found to be constructed upon the same
uniform plan, and with just the degree of uniformity and adaptation
which would fit it to perform its office in the particular species
of animal to which it might be given. In point of fact, we find this
office of the brain performed in all the vertebrate animals upon the
same uniform plan, with the necessary adaptations to the various
structures of the different animals. Resemblances, therefore, in the
convolutions of different parts of this organ, as found in different
vertebrate animals, however close they may be, prove nothing more than
the adoption of a general plan for the production of objects common
to the whole class of the vertebrate animals; and unless we can find
other and independent proof that one species was descended from another
by connection of lives with lives through successive generations,
the hypothesis of special creations of the different species is not
excluded by the facts.

Let us now further examine the supposed kinship of man with the
monkey, as evidenced by the similarity of the structure of the
brains of the two animals, in reference to the supposed process of
evolution as the means of accounting for the origin of two species
so essentially distinct. How has it happened that different species
have become completed and final types, transmitting, after they have
become completed, one and the same type, by the ordinary process of
generation, and not admitting of the sexual union with any other
distinct species? On the theory of the evolution of animal out of
animal, we must suppose that at some time the secondary causes of
natural and sexual selection have done their work. It ends in the
production of a species which thereafter remains one and the same
animal, and Nature has established a barrier to any sexual union with
any other species. If we give the rein to our imaginations, and, taking
the process of evolution as it is described to us, suppose that in the
long course of countless ages the struggle for existence among very
numerous individuals has led to gradual transformations of structure
which the sexual selection has transmitted to offspring, and so a new
animal has at length been formed through the successive "survivals of
the fittest," we reach an animal of a new species, and that species,
under no circumstances, produces any type but its own, so far as we
have any means of knowledge. All the knowledge respecting the ape that
has been accumulated shows only that this species of animal, since it
became a completed type, has procreated its own type and no other.
Whatever struggle for existence the individuals of this type have had
to undergo, whatever modifications of structure or habits of life the
survival of the fittest individuals of this type may have produced
from the earliest imaginable period until the present time, the fact
remains that this species of animal is a completed and final product.
At the same time we have another completed and final type of animal
known as man, which, so long as he has been known at all, is a distinct
and peculiar species. Between the brain of this animal and the brain
of the other we find certain strong resemblances. In each of them
this organ is a structure performing the same office in the animal
mechanism, with adaptations peculiar to the varying structure of each
of them. In order to justify the conclusion that the one animal is a
modified descendant from the other, so as to exclude the hypothesis
that the resemblances of any one or of all of their respective organs
was a result of the adoption of a general plan in special creations of
distinct species, we ought to find some instance or instances in which
the completed animal called the ape has been developed into an animal
approaching more nearly to man than the man, as he is first known to
us, approached to the first ape that is known to us. Without such
intermediate connections, the analogy of the descent of individuals
from other individuals of the same species will not hold. There is
nothing left but resemblances of structure in one or more organs, which
are just as consistent with the hypothesis of special creations as with
that of evolution. Strong resemblances of structure and in the offices
of different organs may be found between man and the horse, but upon
no theory of evolution has it been suggested that man is descended
from the horse, or from any other animal to which he bears more or
less resemblance, excepting the monkey; and it is quite possible that
naturalists have been led unconsciously to make this exception by
external resemblances of the monkey and the man, by the imitative power
of the inferior animal when it comes in contact with man, and by some
of its habits when found in its wild and native haunts.


 [69] "Biology," i, pp. 346-348 _et seq._

 [70] Concerning the nebular hypothesis, and what astronomers now
 consider, see _post._

 [71] "Biology," i.

 [72] "Biology," i, pp. 349, 350.

 [73] "Biology," i, p. 351. I am not quite sure that I understand
 what Mr. Spencer means by "direct" proof. In the passage immediately
 following the sentence last quoted, he speaks of "the kind and
 quantity of _direct evidence_ that all organic beings have gradually
 arisen," etc., whereas, in a previous passage, he had admitted that
 the facts at present assignable in _direct_ proof of this hypothesis
 are insufficient. I presume he meant insufficient in number. (Compare
 "Biology," i, pp. 351 and 352). Now, I should say that _direct_ proof
 of the hypothesis that all animal organisms have arisen successively
 out of one another would require more or less positive evidence of
 such occurrences; and that the proof which is afforded by what has
 taken place within the limits of a single species in the course of
 successive generations would be _indirect_ evidence of what may have
 taken place in the evolution of different species, because it requires
 the aid of analogy to connect the two. I am not aware that there is
 supposed to be any proof of the evolution of species out of species,
 excepting that which is derived from what has taken place in single
 races in the development of the ovum into the infant, the development
 of the infant into the mature animal, and the limited varieties of
 structure appearing among individuals of the same race. As I go on
 through the examination of Mr. Spencer's argument, it will appear
 whether there are grounds for regarding this kind of reasoning as
 satisfactory or the reverse.

 [74] I have stated here, in reference to the pedigree of an
 individual, a far more liberal rule of evidence than would probably be
 allowed in courts of justice, where anything of value was depending
 upon the establishment of a descent from a certain ancestor. But I
 have purposely suggested the broadest rule that can be applied to
 family or race resemblances as a means of aiding a pedigree in popular
 determination or in a _judicium rusticum_. For example, suppose that
 there were persons now living in this country who trace their descent
 from the English husband of Pocahontas, the daughter of an Indian
 chief, and from her. They bear, we will suppose, the family name of
 the Englishman whom she is known to have married, and perhaps one of
 them bears very strong resemblance to the Indian race in features,
 complexion, and hair. In a judicial trial of this person's supposed
 pedigree I do not suppose that these resemblances, if they constituted
 his sole evidence, together with the name of Rolfe which he bears, and
 which a certain number of his ancestors may have borne before him,
 would be received as evidence of his descent from the Indian girl
 whose name was Pocahontas, and who married an Englishman of the name
 of Rolfe more than two centuries ago. It would be necessary to make
 some proof of the whole pedigree by the kind of evidence which the law
 admits in such cases, and then the resemblances of the individual to
 the Indian race might possibly be received as confirmatory proof, in
 aid of the proof derived from the family name of Pocahontas's English
 husband, from reputation, written or oral declarations of deceased
 witnesses, family documents, ancient gravestones, and the like. In
 popular judgment most persons would be apt to accept the family name
 of Rolfe and the apparent trace of Indian blood as sufficient proof of
 the descent of the individual from the Indian girl who married John
 Rolfe. But in a court of justice these facts would go for nothing
 without some independent proof of the pedigree.

 [75] See the table of the Darwinian pedigree of man, _ante_. Any
 other mode of arranging the order of evolution that will admit of the
 application of the steps of supposed development to what is known of
 the animal kingdom, will equally serve to illustrate the theory.

 [76] Darwin's "Descent of Man," Prof. Huxley's note, p. 199 _et seq._

 [77] Mr. Spencer observes that the hypothesis of special creations is
 one "which formulates absolute ignorance into a semblance of positive
 knowledge...." Thus, however regarded, the hypothesis of special
 creations turns out to be worthless--worthless by its derivation;
 worthless in its intrinsic incoherence; worthless as absolutely
 without evidence; worthless as not satisfying a moral want. "We must
 therefore consider it as counting for nothing, in opposition to any
 other hypothesis respecting the origin of organic beings." There is a
 great deal more in the same tone. (See "Biology," i, pp. 344, 345, and
 _passim_ throughout Chapters II and III of Part III of that work.) Mr.
 Darwin, who is sufficiently positive, is much more moderate, and in my
 opinion a much better reasoner, although I can not subscribe to his
 reasoning or his conclusions. A rather irreverent naval officer of my
 acquaintance once extolled a doctrinal sermon, which he had just heard
 preached by a Unitarian clergyman, in this fashion: "I tell you what,
 sir, the preacher did not leave the Trinity a leg to stand upon."
 Probably some of Mr. Spencer's readers think that he has equally
 demolished the doctrine of special creations.

 [78] "Descent of Man," p. 155.


 The doctrine of evolution, according to Herbert Spencer, further

In the last two preceding chapters I have examined what Mr. Spencer
regards as the direct supports of the doctrine of evolution. I have now
to consider the different orders of facts which, as he claims, yield to
it indirect support. These are the facts derived from classification,
from embryology, from morphology, and from distribution. An explanation
is here needful of the sense in which he uses these respective terms,
before the reader, who is not accustomed to them, is called upon to
understand and appreciate the argument:

1. By classification is meant an arrangement of organic beings in some
systematic manner, according to attributes which they have in common,
and which may form the principle of a division into different classes
or families. Pointing out that in the early history of botanical and
zoölogical science the tendency was to make classifications according
to a single characteristic, Mr. Spencer reminds us that later
naturalists, by attending to a greater number of characteristics,
and finally to the greatest number that can be found to be common to
various classes of vegetable and animal organisms, have constructed
systems of classification which, in place of a linear or a serial
order, have exhibited the alliances of different groups, then the
sub-groups, and the sub-sub-groups, so that the divergences and
redivergences become developed, while the resemblances which obtain
are preserved throughout the whole class. But it is at once apparent
that, although classification, on whatever principle it is conducted,
may be valuable as a means of fixing in the mind the resemblances
or differences of structure that obtain in the different orders
of organized beings, as, for example, among the vertebrate or the
invertebrate animals, the flowering or the flowerless plants, the seeds
naked or the seeds inclosed in seed-vessels, yet that any other system
of classification, based upon other resemblances or differences which
actually present means of grouping or separating the different families
of organized beings, is just as valuable an aid in the investigation of
facts. How far any classification affords an argument, or the means of
constructing an argument, which will yield a support to the doctrine of
evolution superior to that which it yields to the doctrine of special
creations, is of course a question.

2. Embryology: This is the term employed to express that branch of
inquiry which is concerned in a comparison of the increase of different
organisms through the stages of their embryonic life, and in noting
at different stages of this growth the characters which they have
in common with each other; the resemblances of structure which at
corresponding phases of a later embryonic stage are displayed by a less
extensive multitude of organisms; and so on step by step, until we find
the class of resembling embryos becoming narrower and narrower, and
then we finally end in the species of which a particular embryo is a
member. This process of tracing and eliminating embryonic resemblances
is said to have "a profound significance"; because, beginning with
a great multitude of resemblances between the embryonic development
of different organisms, it reveals the divergences which they take
on, and through every successive step we find new divergences, by
means of which "we may construct an embryological tree, expressing
the developmental relations of the organisms, resembling the tree
which symbolizes their classificatory relations." We thus arrive at
"that subordination of classes, orders, genera and species, to which
naturalists have been gradually led," and which is said to be "that
subordination which results from the divergence and redivergence
of embryos, as they all unfold."[79] On this mode of comparing the
embryonic development of different organized beings Mr. Spencer builds
a scientific parallelism, which indicates, as he claims, a "primordial
kinship of all organisms," and a "progressive differentiation of them,"
which justifies a belief in an original stock from which they have all
been derived. In what way this method of investigation destroys or
tends to destroy the hypothesis of special creations, or how it affords
an important support to the doctrine of evolution, will be considered

3. Morphology, or the science of form, involves a comparison of
the structure of different organisms in their mature state; an
ascertainment of the resemblances between their structures, and of
the community of plan that exists between them. Here, as in the aids
derived from classification and embryology, it is claimed that the
fundamental likenesses of forms of structure have a meaning which is
altogether inconsistent with the hypothesis of predetermined typical
plans pursued throughout immensely varied forms of organisms.

4. Distribution: This is the term applied to the phenomena exhibited
by the presence of different organisms in different localities of the
globe; or, as Mr. Spencer phrases it, "the phenomena of distribution
in space." These phenomena are very various. Sometimes, it is said, we
find adjacent territories, with similar conditions, occupied by quite
different faunas. In other regions, we find closely allied faunas in
areas remote from each other in latitude, and contrasted in both soil
and climate. The reasoning, as given by Mr. Darwin and adopted by Mr.
Spencer, is this: that "as like organisms are not universally or even
generally found in like habitats, nor very unlike organisms in very
unlike habitats, there is no predetermined adaptation of the organisms
to the habitats." "In other words," Mr. Spencer adds, "the facts of
distribution in space do not conform to the hypothesis of design."
The reason why they do not is claimed to be that there are impassable
barriers between the similar areas which are peopled by dissimilar
forms; whereas there are no such barriers between the dissimilar areas
which are peopled by dissimilar forms. The conclusion is, "that each
species of organism tends ever to expand its sphere of existence--to
intrude on other areas, other modes of life, other media." That is
to say, there is a constant competition among races of organisms
for possession of the fields in which they can find the means of
subsistence and expansion; and this leads to new modes of existence,
new media of life, new structures and new habitats.

The reader can now retrace his steps, and advert to the facts that are
relied upon, under the four heads of the argument:

1. With regard to the argument derived from classification: it is to
be observed that any system of classification is in a certain sense
artificial, and at all events is manifestly conventional. But, in
order that no injustice may be done to this branch of the argument for
evolution, I shall state it in its full force. The classifications
which naturalists make of the different organized beings according
to their resemblances and differences reveal the fact of unity amid
multiformity. This fact it is said points to propinquity of descent,
"which is the only known cause of the similarity of organic beings."
It is the bond, hidden indeed by various degrees of modification, but
nevertheless revealed to us by the classifications which display the
resemblances. Again, we have, it is said, in the influence of various
conditions of animated organisms, "the only known cause of divergence
of structure." Classification reveals to us these divergences. We have,
then, the bond of resemblances which indicate propinquity of descent,
and the divergences of structure produced by varying conditions of
life. Put the two together, and we have remarkable harmonies of
likenesses obscured by unlikenesses; and to this state of facts it is
claimed that no consistent interpretation can be given, without the
hypothesis that the likenesses and the unlikenesses were produced by
the evolution of organisms out of organisms by successive generation,
through a great lapse of time.

This argument contains no inconsiderable amount of assumption. While
it may be true that some naturalists do not assign any cause for the
similarity which obtains among organic beings excepting their descent
from a common ancestral stock, it is not true that the similarity
of structure is inconsistent with the hypothesis of another cause,
namely, the adoption of a general plan of structure for a large class
of organisms, and an intentional variation in those parts of structure
which mark the divisions of that class into species that are very
unlike. It is true that evolutionists treat with scorn the idea of
a pattern of structure followed throughout a class of animals, but
made by designed adaptations to coalesce with differences that mark
the peculiarities which distinguish one organism of that class from
all the others. Mr. Spencer, for example, observes that "to say that
the Creator followed a pattern throughout, merely for the purpose of
maintaining the pattern, is to assign a motive which, if avowed by a
human being, we should call whimsical."

Let us now follow this mode of disposing of the hypothesis of special
creations, by adverting to some of the facts that are adduced in its
summary condemnation; and, although the passage which I am about to
quote is found in Mr. Spencer's work under the head of morphology, the
illustration applies equally well to his argument from classification.
Speaking of fundamental likenesses of structure, he says: "Under
the immensely varied forms of insects, greatly elongated like the
dragon-fly, or contracted in shape like the lady-bird, winged like
the butterfly, or wingless like the flea, we find this character in
common--there are primarily twenty segments. These segments may be
distinctly marked, or they may be so fused as to make it difficult to
find the divisions between them. This is not all. It has been shown
that the same number of segments is possessed by all the _Crustacea_.
The highly consolidated crab, and the squilla with its long,
loosely-jointed divisions, are composed of the same number of somites.
Though, in the higher crustaceans, some of these successive indurated
rings, forming the exo-skeleton, are never more than partially marked
off from each other, yet they are identifiable as homologous with
segments, which, in other crustaceans, are definitely divided. What,
now, can be the meaning of this community of structure among these
hundreds of thousands of species filling the air, burrowing in the
earth, swimming in the water, creeping about among the sea-weed, and
having such enormous differences of size, outline, and substance, as
that no community would be suspected between them? Why, under the
down-covered body of the moth and under the hard wing-cases of the
beetle, should there be discovered the same number of divisions as in
the calcareous framework of the lobster? It can not be by _chance_ that
there exist just twenty segments in all these hundreds of thousands of
species. There is no reason to think it was _necessary_, in the sense
that no other number would have made a possible organism. And to say
that it is the result of _design_--to say that the Creator followed
this pattern throughout, merely for the purpose of maintaining the
pattern--is to assign a motive which, if avowed by a human being, we
should call whimsical. No rational interpretation of this, and hosts
of like morphological truths, can be given except by the hypothesis of
evolution; and from the hypothesis of evolution they are corollaries.
If organic forms have arisen from common stocks by perpetual
divergences and redivergences--if they have continued to inherit, more
or less clearly, the characters of ancestral races, then there will
naturally result these communities of fundamental structure among
extensive assemblages of creatures, that have severally become modified
in countless ways and degrees, in adaptation to their respective
modes of life. To this let it be added that, while the belief in an
intentional adhesion to a predetermined pattern throughout a whole
group is totally negatived by the occurrence of occasional deviations
from the pattern, such deviations are reconcilable with the belief in
evolution. As pointed out in the last chapter, there is reason to think
that remote ancestral traits will be obscured more or less according
as the superposed modifications of structure have or have not been
great or long maintained. Hence, though the occurrence of articulate
animals, such as spiders and mites, having fewer than twenty segments,
is fatal to the supposition that twenty segments was decided on for the
three groups of superior _Articulata_, it is not incongruous with the
supposition that some primitive races of articulate animals bequeathed
to these three groups this common typical character--a character which
has nevertheless, in many cases, become greatly obscured, and in some
of the most aberrant orders of these classes quite lost."[81]

Whatever may be the explanation suggested by one or another hypothesis
as to the mode in which this uniformity of structure came to exist, it
is certain that it does exist. Twenty segments are found in hundreds
of thousands of species which are immensely different from each other
in size, outline, substance and modes of existence. Here, then, is a
plan. There is a pattern, on which all these different organisms are
constructed with a common peculiarity. It is averred that this could
not have been the result of design, because this would be to impute to
the Creator a whimsical motive, namely, that he followed the pattern
throughout a vast group of different organisms merely for the purpose
of following it. On the contrary, it may be contended that this
uniformity of plan, this repeated pattern, affords the highest probable
evidence of design; and that the supposed whimsicality of motive will
entirely disappear as soon as we reach a purpose which may have had
very solid reasons for this uniformity of structure. When we reason
about the works of the Creator, we are reasoning about the methods of
a being who, we must suppose, is governed by a purpose in all that he
does. In reasoning about the methods of such a being, it is entirely
unphilosophical to suppose that he has done anything merely for the
sake of doing it, or for the sake of exercising or displaying his
powers in repetitions that had no practical value. In order to reason
consistently with the supposed attributes of the Creator, we should
endeavor to find the value of any given pattern which we discover in a
certain very large class of organisms differing widely from each other
in other respects; and in order to find that value it is by no means
essential to make out that the particular plan of construction was
necessary to the making of any organism whatever. The true question
is, not whether twenty segments were necessary to the construction
of any organism, but whether, in each of the different species, this
peculiar number of divisions was useful to each particular organism. If
naturalists of the evolution school, instead of looking at everything
through the medium of a certain theory, would in their dissection,
for example, of the framework of the lobster, the body of the moth,
and the body of the beetle, furnish us with facts which would show
that these twenty divisions are of no use either for strength, or
resistance, or suppleness, or adaptation to what is contained within
them, we should have a body of evidence that could be claimed as
tending to overthrow the hypothesis of intentional design. They might
then speak of the repetition of this pattern as whimsical, upon the
hypothesis that it was a repetition by design. But so little is done
by this class of naturalists to give due consideration to the value
of such repetitions, and so little heed is paid to the truth that
the Creator does nothing that is useless--a truth which all sound
philosophy must assume, because it is a necessary corollary from the
attributes of the Creator--that we are left without the aid which we
might expect from these specialists in natural science. Is it, then,
impossible to discover, or even to suggest, that for each of these
organisms this number of twenty divisions had a value? If they were of
no value, we may safely conclude that they would never have existed,
unless we ignore the hypothesis of infinite wisdom and skill. That
hypothesis is a postulate without which we can not reason on the
case at all. With it, we have as a starting-point the conception of
a being of infinite perfections, who does nothing idly, nothing from
whim, nothing from caprice, and nothing that is without value to the
creature in which it is found. So that, while we can not in all cases
as yet assign that value, we have the strongest reasons for believing
that there is a value; and, instead of asserting that an extensive
community of structure throughout a great branch of the animal kingdom
has no meaning excepting upon the doctrine of evolution, it is the
part of true science to assume that it may have another meaning, and
to discover if possible what that other meaning is. This is the part
of true science, because it is the part of sound philosophy. There
is another remark to be made upon Mr. Spencer's reasoning on this
particular case of a community of pattern. He says that it can not
be imputed to _chance_. It was, then, either an intentional design,
or it came about through the process of descent "from common stocks,
which process was at the same time producing perpetual divergences and
redivergences." Without turning aside for the present to ask from how
many common stocks, it may be shown as in the highest degree probable
that the occasional deviations from the pattern did not arise by the
evolution process, because that process has in itself an element
of chance which is fatal to the theory. The assertion is that "an
intentional adhesion to a predetermined plan throughout a whole group
is totally negatived by the occurrence of occasional deviations from
the pattern." Let this assertion be examined first in the light of
facts, and secondly by the absence of facts.

The hypothesis is that some primitive race of articulated animals,
possessed by some means of the twenty segments, transmitted this
ancestral trait to hundreds of thousands of species having no community
of structure in other respects. Unfortunately for the theory, no
figures can measure the chances against the preservation of a single
pattern through such a multitude of differing organisms descending
from a common stock. Infinity alone can express the chances against
such a result. While, according to the theory, the deviations from the
original type were constantly working out new organisms of the most
diversified forms, until there came to be hundreds of thousands of new
species differing from each other in all but this one peculiarity--a
diversity which is supposed to have been caused by the fundamental law
of evolution--how did it happen that the same law did not break this
uniformity of articulation? If it was potent enough to differentiate
the enormous multitude of these animals in all other traits, why did
it not vary the number of segments with which the primitive race
was endowed? Is the law of evolution limited or unlimited? If it is
limited in its effects, then there are patterns of animal structure
which it has not modified, and the presence of which in hundreds of
thousands of different species must be explained as a form of structure
designed for some end that was to be common to a great multitude
of different beings. If the law of evolution was unlimited in its
power, then the community of pattern has had to undergo chances of
destruction or discontinuance that are immeasurable; as there can be
no measure which will represent to the mind the infinitely diversified
and innumerable causes that have produced the dissimilarities
which compel a classification into the different species, upon the
hypothesis of their descent from a common stock. Grant, too, for the
purpose of the argument, that the occasional deviations from the
pattern of twenty segments, producing a few groups with a smaller
number of articulations, are reconcilable with the belief that some
later ancestral form became endowed with the smaller number which it
transmitted to its descendants. How came that later ancestral form
to be endowed with the smaller number of segments? Was there a still
more remote ancestral race, which in some way became possessed of the
smaller number, or did the spiders and the mites, in the countless
generations of evolution, branch off from ancestral races having the
full number of twenty segments? Upon either supposition, what an
infinity of chances there were, against the natural selection of the
smaller number, and against its preservation as the unvarying type of
articulation found in the spiders and the mites! The supposition that
the number of twenty segments was decided on for the three groups of
superior _Articulata_ for the mere sake of adhering to a pattern is
doubtless unphilosophical. But it is not unphilosophical to suppose
that whatever amount of articulation is found in each species was
given to it because in that species it would be useful. If in some of
the most aberrant orders of these animals the articulation is greatly
obscured, or not found at all, the conclusion that it was not needed,
or not needed in a like degree, is far more rational than the theory
which commits the particular result to an infinity of chances against
it; or which supposes it to have been worked by a process that might
have produced a very different result, since it can not be claimed that
natural selection works by methods of which any definite result can be
predicated more than another.

Thus far I have considered Mr. Spencer's argument from the _Articulata_
in the light of the facts that he adduces. Let us now test it by the
absence of facts. In a former discussion, I have asked for facts
which show, aside from the theory, that any one species of animal,
distinctly marked as a continuing type, is connected by intermediate
types or forms with any pre-existing race of another character. Take
this class of the articulated animals, said to be of hundreds of
thousands of different species having no community of form but this
of articulation, and now known as perfect organisms, each after its
kind. What naturalist has discovered the continuity of lives with
lives, which would furnish the steps of descent of any one of this
species from an antecedent and a different species? It is very easy
to construct a theory, and from it to argue that there must have been
intermediate links, which, if discovered, would show the continuity
of lives from lives which the descent of one organism from another
necessarily implies. To a certain extent, within certain limits, the
sub-groups and the sub-sub-groups of the articulated class of animals,
which classification or morphology reveals, may lay the foundation for
a theoretical belief in an ancestral stock from which the different
and now perfect forms of these distinct animals may have become
developed by successive changes of structure. But the extent to which
connected changes can be actually traced in the animal kingdom is
extremely limited; and the important practical question is whether any
one fact, or class of facts, has been discovered which will warrant
the belief that beings of totally dissimilar forms and habits of
life have, without any design, been evolved by the ordinary process
of successive generation, through the operation of causes that have
gradually modified the structure in all respects save one, and have at
the same time enabled or allowed that one peculiarity of structure to
escape from the influences which have modified both structure and modes
of life in every other respect. Why, for example, upon the hypothesis
of descent from a common stock, has that stock deviated under the
influences of natural selection into the lobster, the moth, and the
beetle, and yet the community of twenty segments of articulation
has entirely escaped the effect of those influences? No reason can
be assigned for the fact that it has escaped those influences,
excepting that it was originally designed, and was impressed upon the
proto-typical stock with such force as to place it beyond the reach
of all such causes of modification as those which are ascribed to
natural or sexual selection. Without the latter supposition, those
causes were just as potent to bring about a modification in the number
of articulations as they were to bring about all the astonishing
diversities of structure and modes of life that we see, and therefore
the most probable conclusion from the fact of this uniformity of the
twenty segments is, that there was a barrier placed in this whole
class of organisms, which has limited the modifying force of the
supposed process of evolution, for the reason of some peculiar utility
in this plan of articulation.

Perhaps it will be said that the process of evolution itself tends to
the preservation of whatever is most useful, while the modifications
are going on which develop new organs and new structures; and that
thus, in the case before us, the twenty segments have been preserved
throughout an enormous group by one of the fundamental laws of
evolution, so that, if there is any peculiar utility in the twenty
segments, that utility has been answered by the very process of gradual
descent of one organism from another. But the difficulty with this
reasoning is, that while it assumes for the modifying influences of
natural and sexual selection a range of fortuitous causes sufficient to
change the ancestral type into the acquisition of vastly diversified
organs, powers, and modes of existence, so as to constitute new
animals, it yet assumes that, by some recognition of a superior and
paramount utility in the particular number of segments, the law of
evolution has preserved that number from the influence of causes
which have changed everything else. Now, the range of causes which
was sufficiently varied, accidental, long-continued and complex to
produce the diversities of structure in all other respects, by the
infinitely modifying influences which have developed new organs and
new modes of existence, must also have been of a sufficiently varied,
accidental, long-continued, and complex character to have broken this
plan of the twenty segments, unless we suppose that in some mysterious
and inexplicable manner the different generations of these beings were
endowed with some kind of sagacity which would enable them to strive
for the preservation of this one peculiarity, or unless we suppose that
Nature was ever on the watch to guard them from its destruction or
variation, on account of its peculiar utility. The first supposition is
not in accordance with the evolution theory; for that theory rejects
all idea of conscious exertion on the part of any of the organisms.
The second supposition leads us at once to the inquiry, how came it
to be imposed upon a whole group of beings as a law of nature, that
whatever utility of structure was of paramount importance to the
whole group should be preserved against the modifying influences that
were to produce species differing absolutely from each other, through
hundreds of thousands of varieties, in every other feature of their
existence? Can we get along here without the hypothesis of design? And,
if there was such design, how does the fact of this uniformity amid
such diversity become an argument against the hypothesis of a Creator?
Or, how does it tend to displace the hypothesis of special creations,
when we find that the very process of so-called evolution has failed
to break the uniformity of a pattern that is conceded not to have been
the result of chance, although that pattern was exposed to just as
many and as powerful causes of modification as those which are assumed
to have brought about the modifications in every other feature of the
animal existence? The truth would seem to be, that the uniformity amid
so great a diversity was either the result of a design which placed it
out of the reach of all the modifying influences, or else it has, by a
most incalculable result, escaped from the effect of those influences
by a chance in which the ratio of one to infinity can alone measure the
probability of such an escape.

Let us now advert to another of Mr. Spencer's illustrations of the
futility of the "supernatural" and of the rationality of the "natural"
interpretation.[82] This illustration is derived from what are
called "homologous" organs; and the particular instance selected is
the vertebral column.[83] There are creatures, such as snakes, a low
order of the vertebrate kingdom, in which the bony axis is divided
into segments of about the same dimensions from end to end, for the
obvious advantage of flexibility throughout the whole length of the
animal. But in most of the higher vertebrata, some parts of this axis
are flexible and others are inflexible; and this is especially the case
in that part of the vertebral column called the sacrum, which is the
fulcrum that has to bear the greatest strain to which the skeleton is
exposed, and which is yet made not of one long segment or vertebra,
but of several segments "fused together." Mr. Spencer says: "In man
there are five of these confluent sacral vertebræ; and in the ostrich
tribe they number from seventeen to twenty. Why is this? Why, if the
skeleton of each species was separately contrived, was this bony mass
made by soldering together a number of vertebræ like those forming the
rest of the column, instead of being made out of one single piece? And
why, if typical uniformity was to be maintained, does the number of
sacral vertebræ vary within the same order of birds? Why, too, should
the development of the sacrum be the roundabout process of first
forming its separate constituent vertebræ, and then destroying their
separativeness? In the embryo of a mammal or bird, the substance of the
vertebral column is, at the outset, continuous. The segments that are
to become vertebræ, arise gradually in the midst of this originally
homogeneous axis. Equally in those parts of the spine which are to
remain flexible, and in those which are to grow rigid, these segments
are formed, and that part of the spine which is to compose the sacrum,
having passed out of its original unity into disunity by separating
itself into segments, passes again into unity by the coalescence of
these segments. To what end is this construction and reconstruction?
If, originally, the spine in vertebrate animals consisted from head to
tail of separate movable segments, as it does still in fishes and some
reptiles--if, in the evolution of the higher vertebrata, certain of
these movable segments were rendered less movable with respect to each
other, by the mechanical conditions to which they were exposed, and at
length became relatively immovable--it is comprehensible why the sacrum
formed out of them should continue ever after to show more or less
clearly its originally segmented structure. But on any other hypothesis
this segmented structure is inexplicable."

We here see the predominating force of a theory which refuses all
possible rationality to any hypothesis but its own. The confident tone
with which facts are arrayed and are then pronounced inexplicable
upon any other hypothesis than that which the writer asserts, without
one scintilla of proof of their tendency to exclude every other
supposition, renders the refutation of such reasoning a wearisome
task. But there is here one plain and sufficient answer to the whole
of the supposed difficulty. The evolution theory, in this particular
application of it, is that originally there were vertebrate animals
in which the spine consisted of separate movable segments from head
to tail, as it does now in fishes and reptiles; but, as the higher
vertebrata were evolved out of these lower forms, the movable segments
were rendered less movable with respect to each other, and at length
in the sacrum the segments became relatively immovable, and yet the
originally segmented structure was retained in this part of the
column, by force of the propinquity of descent from an antecedent type
which had the whole column divided into movable segments. Upon no other
hypothesis, it is asserted, is this result explicable.

Mr. Spencer's analysis of the sacrum is somewhat defective. It is, as
he says, that part of the vertebrate column which in the higher class
of vertebrate animals is, during fœtal life, composed, like all the
rest of the column, of distinct vertebræ. These vertebræ, like the
others, are flexible in the fœtal stage, but after birth they become
coalesced or united into one piece, instead of remaining in separate
pieces. Thus far, Mr. Spencer's description is, I am informed by
anatomists, correct. But the questions which he propounds as if they
were unanswerable upon the assumption that this change is inexplicable
upon any other hypothesis than that of the evolution of the higher
vertebrata out of the lower vertebrate animals, and that the sacrum,
with its continuous piece, has retained the segmented outward form by
force of the descent, demand closer consideration. Let us trace the
process of formation in the human species, and then see what is the
just conclusion to be derived from it. In the embryonic condition,
the substance which is to form the vertebral column is continuous.
As the fœtus is developed, this substance separates itself into
the segments which are called vertebræ, and these segments remain
flexible and movable throughout the column. After birth, the five
lower segments become united in what is substantially one piece,
but of course the marks of the original segments remain. This is
what occurs in the origin and growth of the individual. Now, looking
back to the period when this species of animal did not exist, and
supposing it to have been specially created in the two related forms
of male and female, endowed with the same process of procreation and
gestation that has been going on ever since there is any recorded or
traditionary knowledge of the race, why should not this very growth
of the sacrum have been designed, in order to produce, after the
birth of the individual, that relative rigidity which would in this
part of the vertebral column be useful to an animal destined to an
upright posture of the whole skeleton and to the habits and life of
a biped? And, if we extend the inquiry to other species, why should
we not expect to find, as in the case of an oviparous vertebrate like
the ostrich, a repetition of the same general plan of forming the
spinal column, for the same ultimate purpose, with such a variation in
the number of original segments that are to constitute the sacrum as
would be most useful to that bird, thus establishing for the ostrich
a sacrum that in a reptile or a fish would not only not be required,
but would be a positive incumbrance? Upon the hypothesis of special
creations of the different species of vertebrate animals, every one
of Mr. Spencer's questions, asked as if they were unanswerable, can
receive a satisfactory solution. Thus, he asks, "Why, if the skeleton
of each species was separately contrived, was this bony mass [the
sacrum] made by soldering together a number of vertebræ like those
forming the rest of the column, instead of being made [aboriginally]
in one single piece?" The answer is, that in the establishment of
the process of gestation and fœtal growth, if a human artificer and
designer could have devised the process, he would have selected the
very one that now exists, for certain obvious reasons. First, he would
have designedly made the process to consist, in the embryo, of a
division of the substance which was to form the vertebral column in a
continuous and uniform division into segments, because the whole column
is to have at first the flexibility that may be derived from such a
division. Secondly, when the time was to arrive at which the formation
of the sacrum, with its practical continuity of a single piece, was
to commence, he would select the number of the lower vertebræ that
would make a sacrum most useful to the particular species of animal,
and would weld them together so as to give them the relative rigidity
and action of a single piece. But as the whole formation is the result
of a growth of the sacrum out of a part of the slowly forming column
originally divided into vertebræ, the marks of these separate vertebræ
would remain distinguishable, while they would cease to have the
mechanical action of separate vertebræ.

Another of Mr. Spencer's questions is, "Why, if typical uniformity was
to be maintained, does the number of sacral vertebræ vary within the
same order of birds?" The answer is the same as that which assigns
a reason for all other variations in the skeleton of animals of the
same order but of different varieties, namely, the special utility
of the variations in the number of sacral vertebræ that would be
most useful in that variety. The typical uniformity maintained is a
uniformity in the process of growth and formation, down to a point
where the variations are to come in which mark one animal from another;
and I have more than once had occasion to suggest that the typical
uniformity, and its adaptation to the varying requirements of different
beings, is the highest kind of moral evidence of the existence, wisdom,
and power of a supreme artificer, and that it militates so strongly
against the doctrine of evolution that, without more proof than can
possibly be claimed for that doctrine, we ought not to yield to it our

The theory that the original condition of all vertebrate animals was
that of separate movable segments throughout the spinal column, as it
is now in fishes and some reptiles, and that in the evolution of the
higher vertebrates out of these lower forms, certain of these movable
segments were rendered less movable with respect to each other by
the mechanical conditions to which the successive generations were
exposed, until at length the sacrum was formed, is undoubtedly a theory
that excludes all design of an infinite artificer, and all intention
whatever. It is a theory which relegates the most special contrivances
and the most exact adaptations to the fortuitous operation of causes
that could not have produced the variations of structure and at the
same time have preserved the typical uniformity. It is certainly a
theory which we should not apply to the works of man, if we were
investigating products which seemed to be the result of human ingenuity
and skill, but of the origin of which we had no direct evidence. In
such a case, we should not shut our eyes to the proofs of intentional
variations and adaptation, or, if we did, our speculations would not
be likely to command the assent of cultivated and sound reasoners. We
may treat the works of Nature by a system of logic that we should not
apply to the works of man, but if we do, we shall end in no tenable
results. The principal and in fact the only essential distinction to
be observed between the works of Nature and the works of man relates
to the degree of power, intelligence, and skill in the actor. If we
assume, as we must, that in the one case there was an actor, applying
will, intelligence, and power to the properties of matter, and molding
it into certain products and uses, and that in the other case there
was no actor, but that all products and results are but the ungoverned
effects of what are called natural laws in contradistinction to all
intentional purposes, we must argue upon principles that are logically
and diametrically inconsistent in themselves, and at variance with
fundamental laws of reasoning.

I will now advert to an omission in Mr. Spencer's analysis of the
sacrum, which overlooks one of the strongest proofs of intentional
design afforded by that part of the spinal column. We have seen what
was its general purpose and growth, and the process of its formation.
We have now to note its variations in the male and the female skeleton.
In the male, the sacrum, thus formed before birth, after birth answers
to and performs its ultimate function of a comparatively rigid and
inflexible piece of bone, and it is provided with no other special
characteristic. In the female, on the contrary, there is a most
remarkable adaptation of this piece to the function of maternity. While
all the upper vertebræ of which this piece was originally composed
are welded together after birth in the female as in the male, in the
female the lowest segment of all remains for a certain time flexible
relatively to the upper part of the sacrum, in order to admit of the
necessary expansion of the pelvis during the passage of the infant
from the womb of the mother. In the normal condition of females of
all the vertebrate orders, this flexibility of the lower part of the
sacrum continues while the period of possible maternity continues. If
in any individual female it happens to be wanting during the period
of possible conception, delivery can not take place without danger
to the mother or the offspring, or both. Hence, in very bad cases,
nature has to be assisted by extraordinary means. But in the normal
condition of the female sacrum, this flexibility, so essential in the
process of safe delivery, is always found, and its special purpose is
known to every anatomist, while it has no existence in the structure
of the male. Is this distinction to be accounted for by the same
kind of reasoning that undertakes to account for all the other great
distinctions between the related forms of male and female, which
reproduce their kind by a common process of the sexual union, namely,
that this division of male and female came about by a habit that
resulted now in the production of a male and now in the production
of a female, from tendencies that were ungoverned by any special
purpose? Must we not conclude, however inscrutable are the causes that
determine the sex of a particular infant, that the sexes themselves
were specially ordained? And if they were specially ordained, how are
we to account for the special construction and function of each of
them, without the interposition of a special design? And when we find
a structure in the female obviously designed for a special purpose, and
not existing in the male, are we to conclude that some particular race
of females, in some remote period of antiquity, among the countless
generations of the vertebrata, found that this flexibility of the
sacrum would be highly convenient to them, and, having adopted it
as a habit, transmitted it, as a specially acquired peculiarity of
structure, to their female descendants? This is all very well as a
theoretical speculation, but as a speculation it is entirely defective,
because it assigns the peculiarity of structure to a cause that could
not have produced it. On the other hand, the hypothesis of its special
creation assigns it to a cause that could have produced it, and its
existence is among the highest of the multitudinous evidences of
intentional design and special formation.

Wherein consists the irrationality of the hypothesis that a plan of
construction was intentionally, and with supreme skill, framed for
very different beings, to answer in each of them a common purpose? The
asserted irrational character of this hypothesis consists in nothing
but a denial that there was a Creator. It comes down to this, if it
comes to anything: because, if we assume that there was a Supreme Being
who took any care whatever of the complex and manifold product that we
call nature--if we suppose that he ordained anything--we must suppose
that his power to construct was boundless, and that a repetition of
his plans wherever they would be useful, to answer the beneficent
and diversified ends of infinite skill and benevolence, is just as
much in accordance with the whole hypothesis of his attributes as it
is to suppose that he caused anything whatever to exist. If we deny
his existence, if we can not satisfy ourselves of it at all, if we
suppose that nothing was ordained, nothing was created, but that all
these diversified forms of animal organisms grew out of a protoplasmic
substance, and that there was never any absolute commencement of
organic life on the globe, or any absolute commencement of anything
whatever, it is of course idle to speculate upon the adoption or
preservation of patterns, as it is equally idle to pursue the theory of
evolution through stages which at last end nowhere whatever.[84]

It may be well to cite Mr. Spencer's final summary of the general
truths which he claims to be revealed by morphology, because it will
enable the reader to see just where the logical inconsequence of his
position occurs: "The general truths of morphology thus coincide
in their implications. Unity of type, maintained under extreme
dissimilarities of form and mode of life, is explicable as resulting
from descent with modification; but is otherwise inexplicable. The
likenesses disguised by unlikenesses, which the comparative anatomist
discovers between various organs in the same organisms, are worse than
meaningless if it be supposed that organisms were severally formed as
we now see them; but they fit in quite harmoniously with the belief
that each kind of organism is a product of accumulated modifications
upon modifications. And the presence, in all kinds of animals and
plants, of functionally useless parts corresponding to parts that are
functionally useful in allied animals and plants, while it is totally
incongruous with the belief in a construction of each organism by
miraculous interposition, is just what we are led to expect by the
belief that organisms have arisen by progression."[85]

Without expending much criticism upon the phrase "miraculous
interposition," as a description of what takes place in special
creation, it is sufficient to say that the act of special creation of a
distinct organism is to be first viewed by itself, as if it stood alone
in nature, and that it is like any other act of causing a new thing
to exist which did not exist before. To this idea should be added
the fact that in the creation of an animal organism there is involved
the direct formation of a peculiar type of animal, with a capacity
of producing other individuals of the same type through a process of
generation. When, after having attained this conception of the act of
special creation, and contemplated a single instance of the supposed
exercise of such a power, we extend our inquiries, we find many other
instances of the exercise of the same power; and then we observe a
certain unity of type in some peculiarity of structure, maintained
under extreme dissimilarities of form and mode of life. How, then,
is this one similarity of pattern, amid such multiformity in other
respects, "worse than meaningless," if we suppose that "organisms were
severally framed as we now see them"? The very hypothesis that they
were so severally framed carries in itself a meaning which can not be
thus summarily ignored; because that hypothesis implies a power in the
Creator to do just what we see. You may deny the power; but if you
admit the existence of the infinite creating power, you are remitted
to the inquiry into its probable methods; and you can no more say that
the special creation of distinct organisms, with a certain unity amid
a great multiformity, leaves the whole phenomena without a meaning,
than you can say that any method which you can suggest is necessarily
the only method which will afford a rational meaning in what we see.
You must go the length of denying the entire postulate of a Creator,
before you can be in a situation to deny the meaning that is involved
in the idea of creation; for that idea implies an absolute power to
apply a uniform pattern of structure to a whole class of organisms
varied in all other respects. The theory that each kind of organism
is a product of accumulated modifications upon modifications, without
any special interposition to produce the modified and distinct forms,
must be maintained on one of two suppositions: either that at some
period there was an absolute commencement of organic life in some form,
upon this globe, and that then all the other forms which we see were
left to be evolved out of that one by the ungoverned accumulation of
modifications upon modifications, or else that there was never any
absolute commencement of organic life at any time, but that matter,
by some peculiar property derived from some source that is not
suggested, took on combinations which resulted in some crude form of
animated organism, and that then the accumulations of modifications
upon modifications followed from some process of generation by which
the successive organisms became multiplied and varied. Of the former
supposition, I understand Mr. Darwin to have been a representative
naturalist. Of the latter, I understand Mr. Spencer to be an advocate.
Upon what may be called the Darwinian doctrine, the idea of a Creator,
causing to exist at some time some crude form of animal life, is
admitted. Upon the Spencerian doctrine, which will be in this respect
more closely examined hereafter, I do not see that the idea of a
creating power comes in anywhere, either at the commencement of a
series of organisms or at any point in that series. But, upon the
logical proposition asserted in the passage last above quoted, it is
obvious that, unless the idea of a Creator is absolutely denied, the
presence of a unity of type amid any amount of dissimilarities of form
and mode of life can not be pronounced to be without meaning, because
the idea of a Creator implies a power to make that very unity amid the
uniformity, which is asserted to be inexplicable without resorting
to the theory that it was not made at all, but that it grew out of
events over which no superintending or governing power was exercised.
Upon this kind of dogmatic assertion there can be no common ground of

The assumed incongruity between the facts and the hypothesis of a
special creation of each organism is an incongruity that arises out of
the assumption that such special creation was an impossibility. If once
the idea of an infinite creating faculty is assumed as the basis of the
reasoning, all seeming incongruity vanishes, and the probable method
of that creating power must be determined by the preponderance of
evidence. If the power is denied, we must grope our way through systems
which impute everything to the properties of substance, without any
suggestion of a source from which those properties were derived, and
without anything to guide them but the tendencies implanted in them,
we know not how or when, and of the origin of which we have not even a
suggestion. Some of the speculations of Greek philosophers adverted to
in a previous chapter may serve to show us what comes of the omission
to conceive of power as abstracted from substance or its properties.
The philosophy which first attained to this conception led the way
to that conception of an Infinite Being, without whose existence and
attributes all speculation upon the phenomena of nature leads to
nothing. A belief in his existence and attributes must undoubtedly be
attained by an examination of his works, if we set aside the teachings
of revealed religion. But if we can not attain it, we have no better
means for believing in the doctrine of evolution than we have for
believing in any other method by which the phenomena of nature have
become what they are.

The question here is, not whether descent of organisms from organisms,
with modifications upon modifications, is a supposable theory, but
whether it is so satisfactorily shown that it can be said to exclude
the hypothesis of a special creation of each organism. There may be
parts of structure in one animal which seem to have no functional use,
although we should be cautious in making the assumption that they are
of no use because we have not yet discovered that use. But let it be
assumed that these apparently useless parts in one animal correspond to
parts which in another animal are functionally useful. If there was
established for these two separately created animals a like system of
procreation and gestation, that system, affected at the same time by a
law of growth imposed by the special type of the species, might in one
species lead to the presence of parts of which we can not recognize
the use, and might in other species lead to the presence of parts of
which we can see the use. It does not help to a better explanation
to say that there has been an accumulation of modifications upon
modifications in the course of an unknown descent of one organism from
another. Why did these modifications stop short of the production of
a species or of several species in which no resemblance of parts more
or less functionally useful could be found? The supposition is that
the modifications have been going on through millions of years. Time
enough, therefore, has elapsed for the destruction of all uniformity
of structure; and the causes of modification are as immeasurable as
the period through which they are supposed to have been operating.
The imaginary ancestral stock, wherever it is placed in the line of
remote descent, had, in its first distinctive existence, a peculiar
structure, which it bequeaths to its offspring. In the countless
generations of its descendants, modifications of that structure take
place, until a new animal is evolved. What preserved any unity of
type from the modifying influences? It was not choice on the part of
the several descending species; not a conscious exertion to preserve
something; it was nothing but the propinquity of descent, which by the
law of heredity transmitted certain resemblances. But why was that
law so potent that it could preserve a certain unity of type, and at
the same time so powerless as not to prevent the modifications which
the successive organisms have undergone in all other respects? Or, to
reverse the terms of the question, why were the causes of modification
sufficiently powerful to produce distinct species, and yet not
powerful enough to eliminate the resemblances which we find obtaining
throughout the whole group of animals to which these several species
belong? It would seem that here we are not to lose sight of the fact
that, in the animal kingdom, procreation never takes place between
a male and a female of distinct species, and that we have no reason
to believe that it ever did take place. Now, although the evolution
hypothesis supposes that, starting from an ancestral stock, the
modifications of structure have been produced in offspring descended
from parents of that same stock, which have transmitted acquired
peculiarities to their immediate progeny, and so on indefinitely, yet
there must have been a time when the diverging species became distinct
and peculiar organisms, and when it became impossible for any crossing
of these organisms to take place. All the supposed modifications,
therefore, have taken place within the limits of an actual descent of
one kind of animal from another, each successive pair belonging to the
species from which they were individually generated. In this descent
of lives from lives, there came about changes which in progress of
time led to two animals as wide asunder as the man and the ostrich,
or as the man and the horse, and yet the causes which were powerful
enough to produce these widely diverging species were not powerful
enough to break up all unity of plan in some one or more respects. If
naturalists of the evolution school would explain how there has come to
be, for example, in the skeleton of the _vertebrata_, a bony structure
called the spine, in which a certain resemblance and a certain function
obtain throughout the whole class, and yet one species creeps upon its
belly, another walks on four legs, and another on two, and one flies
in the air and another never can do so, and how this could be without
any design or special interposition of a creating power, but that the
whole of this uniformity amid such diversity has arisen from acquired
habits among the different descendants from an aboriginal stock that
had no such habits in either mode of locomotion, and no organs for such
modes of life, they would at least be able to commend their theory to
a better appreciation of its claims than is now possible to those who
want "grounds more relative" than a naked hypothesis.

3. The argument from embryology requires for its appreciation a
careful statement of its abstract proposition, and a statement of
it in a concrete form. As an abstract proposition, embryology, or
the comparison of the development of different organisms under their
embryonic stages, shows that in the earliest stage of any organism
it has the greatest number of characters in common with all other
organisms in their earliest stage; that at a later stage its structure
is like the structures displayed at corresponding phases by a less
extensive number of organisms; that at each subsequent stage the
developing embryo becomes more and more distinguished from the groups
of embryos that it previously resembled; and that this divergence goes
on, until we reach the species of which the embryo is a member, in
which the class of similar forms is finally narrowed to that species.

It seems that Von Baer formulated this generalization of embryologic
development into an "embryologic law," which, according to Mr.
Spencer, becomes a support to the hypothesis of evolution in this way:
Species that had a common ancestry will exhibit a parallelism in the
embryonic development of their individual members. As the embryos of
the ancestral stock were developed in their growth, so the embryos of
the descended species would be developed at corresponding phases in a
similar way. As one species diverged from its ancestral stock, there
would come about modifications in the development of its embryos, and
thus a later ancestral stock would be formed, which would in turn
transmit to its descendants in the development of the embryo less and
less resemblances, and so on, until finally the individual animal, at
birth, would structurally resemble only the individual infants of its
own race.

Here, then, is another remarkable instance of the force of an adopted
theory. First, we have a comparison of the embryonic development of
different animals from their seminal germs which displays certain
phenomena of resemblances and departures. Next, we have the assumption
of an ancestral stock, the common origin of all the organisms in the
development of whose embryos among its descendants an embryologic law
was to work, starting from the visible resemblance of all the germs,
then exhibiting structural changes into later ancestral stocks, and so
on, until the resemblances are reduced to those which obtain only among
individuals of the same species. So that, without the hypothesis, the
assumption of an ancestral stock of all the organisms, formed somehow
in the course of descent from a germ that gave rise to an animal of
some kind, we have nothing to which to apply the embryologic law. We
are to infer the embryologic law from the parallelism of embryonic
development which prevails in the whole series of animal generation, or
from its divergences, or from both, and then we draw from _this law_
the inference that the whole series of animals came from some common
stock. The difficulty with this whole theory is, as I have more than
once suggested, that we have no means, aside from the theory itself, of
connecting lives with lives, in the generation of one distinct species
out of another. Without some proof of the fact that the human fœtus was
a diverging growth out of some ancestral stock that was the same as
that from which the fœtus of another animal was a different diverging
growth, the embryologic law is no help to us whatever. If this kinship
of the human fœtus with the fœtus of some other animal can not be
found, by tracing the intermediate links which carry them respectively
back to their common ancestor, between what animals in respect to
their embryonic development can such kinship be found, excepting upon
the theoretical assumption of a common origin of the whole vertebral
class? If there was such a common ancestral stock, where is it to
be placed, what was its character, when did the law of embryologic
development begin to operate upon its descendants? Until some facts
can be adduced which will have a satisfactory tendency to show the
kinship of one animal with another by reason of ancestral descent from
a common ancestral stock that was unlike either of them, the phenomena
of embryologic development have no tendency to displace the hypothesis
of special creations; for, on the latter hypothesis, the phenomena of
resemblances and differences in the growth from the germ into the fœtus
and from the fœtus into the newly born infant, evinced by any range of
comparison of the different species, would be the same. If man was a
special creation, and one of the higher quadrumana was also a distinct
and separate creation, the establishment for each of a like process of
procreation and gestation would produce all the resemblances of fœtal
growth that obtain between them, and the ordained differences of their
animal destinies would explain all the divergences. Let us see if this
is not a rational conclusion.

It is exceedingly difficult for the common reader of such a work
as that of Mr. Spencer, on which I am now commenting, to avoid the
influence of the perpetual assertion that facts are explicable upon
one hypothesis alone. At each step in the argument, the array of facts
terminates with the assertion that, upon the hypothesis of design, the
facts are inexplicable; and yet we are furnished with no reasoning
that has a tendency to show that the facts necessarily exclude
the hypothesis of design, or, in other words, that the facts are
inconsistent with that hypothesis. It is essential to understand what
is the true scope of the hypothesis of special creation; for, without
a definite idea of what that term implies, we have no proper means of
comparing the facts of animal resemblances or differences with the
rationality of the hypothesis that they resulted from an intentional
design. Recollecting, then, that we are now pursuing the resemblances
and divergences that are found in a comparison of the embryologic
development of different species of animals, let us endeavor to
understand the meaning of what I have suggested at the close of the
last preceding paragraph; namely, the establishment for a large class
of animals of a like general system of procreation and gestation, and
the ordination of different destinies for the different species of
animals belonging to that class. I have said that the two branches of
this hypothesis would account for the resemblances in the embryological
growth of different animals, and would explain the divergences which
obtain among their embryological developments. The first inquiry is,
whether this hypothesis presents a true philosophic idea of special
creation. The next inquiry is, whether it affords a satisfactory
explanation of the phenomena of comparative embryologic development.

We must never lose sight of the one grand postulate of an infinite
Creator. This postulate must be conceded to the believers in special
creations, because any idea of creation implies a creating power. If
we conceive of creation without a Creator, we must stop all argument.
Now, the hypothesis of creation, as I have more than once said,
implies a being of boundless faculties. There can be absolutely no
limitation to the power of such a being, either in respect to the
methods by which he will accomplish his objects, or to the number and
variety of these objects, or to the purposes for which they are to
exist. If we narrow our conception of creating power to anything less
than an infinite faculty; if we suppose it to be restricted in any
direction; if we argue about it as if there were things that it can not
do, we shall be without the means of reasoning soundly upon anything
that it is supposed to have done. It is quite otherwise when we are
reasoning about the operation and effect of secondary causes. There
is no secondary cause--no imaginable operation of a fixed quality of
substance--no action of any of the properties of substance--that is not
limited. The scope of its action may be very wide; within its sphere it
may be enormously potent; but in its very nature it is bounded.[86] It
is not so with the First Cause of all things; not so with the Infinite
Power which, upon the hypothesis of a First Cause, has established all
the physical laws of the universe and all the properties of matter.
So that, when we reason about the methods of that infinite creating
power, if we find a general system established, or a pattern repeated
through a very large class of organisms, the proper inference is, not
that the power was limited, but that it has been exercised to the whole
extent of what was useful, and in that direction has been exercised
no further; and if we find variations or additional structures
incorporated with the repetition of a general pattern, the proper
inference is that the unlimited creating power has put forth all the
additional exertion and skill needful for the formation of new beings.

What, then, does the establishment of a like system of procreation
and gestation imply, upon the supposition of the distinct creation of
species? It implies a certain parallel embryonic development, from
the germ to the fœtus and from the fœtus to the new-born infant,
throughout a large group of different animals; and this parallelism
would in certain stages of the embryonic growth display identity
or close similarity of form and structure. But as in each species
of animal the distinct creation would necessarily imply a distinct
destiny, the parallelism of embryonic form and structure would cease
at the point of development at which the characteristic structure
of the species would begin to unfold itself. The general system of
procreation and gestation common to a whole class of different animals,
and the ordained diversity of species, would present the same phenomena
of resemblances and differences in the embryonic development that
are supposed to be explicable only by the hypothesis of a descent of
all the species from a common ancestral stock through the process of

Notwithstanding the mystery and obscurity in which the process of
animal procreation is involved--a mystery and obscurity which will
perhaps never be fully solved--we can see enough to warrant some
definite conclusions. One of these conclusions is that, in the
formation of the germ which becomes developed into the fœtus, the male
and female parent each contributes some cellular substance to the
compound which constitutes that germ. We may safely infer this, because
the individual animal becomes a union of characteristics belonging
to both the parents, although the traits that are peculiar to one of
the parents may be more or less marked in their different offspring,
so that in one of the descendants the paternal and in another the
maternal traits will predominate. But in every descendant from the
same pair there is more or less of the peculiarities of each parent
plainly discernible. The inference, therefore, may be safely drawn
that the male and the female parent each contributes to the formation
of the ante-fœtal germ some cellular substance, in which resides the
typical characteristic of animal organism which each parent possesses.
The compound germ that is thus formed is endowed with the mysterious
principle of animal life which admits of growth and development; and
whether after its formation the female parent bestows most or bestows
least upon the product, that product consists of a union of cellular
substances contributed by both the male and the female parent in
the sexual act of procreation. This compound resultant germ, in the
earliest stage of its formation, like the separate cells of which it is
a union, exhibits no visible difference when we compare the ante-fœtal
germ of one animal with that of a different animal. Perhaps we shall
never be able to detect either chemical or mechanical differences
in the cellular substances or in the earliest stage of the compound
product which has resulted from their union. But in that compound
product there resides a contributory cellular substance derived from
each of the parents; and it is a just inference from this fact, and
from what we learn when we trace the further development, that there
is a peculiar and typical structure impressed upon and inwrapped in
this compound germ, which is to grow into a fœtal development by a
law of its own. There will at the same time be a particular law of
development for each distinct species of animal, and a general law of
development for a great variety of species among whom there obtains a
common process of the sexual union and of the contribution of male and
female cellular substance. When the fœtus becomes formed, there will
still be marked resemblances in the different species, before the stage
is reached at which the characteristic structure of each species is to
begin to unfold itself. But at some time the fundamental difference of
structure originally lodged in the cellular substances of which the
compound ante-fœtal germ was composed, and impressed upon that germ as
the type which was gradually to unfold itself into a distinct being,
will begin to exert its force. The resemblances of structure will
become less and less, as the fœtus of the different animals approaches
to the time of birth. Organs, or appearances of organs, which at one
stage of the comparison have seemed to indicate descent from a common
ancestral stock, but which may have been only the result of a common
process of fœtal development, will be found to be varied by force of
the original diversity of structure and destiny that was made to reside
in the seminal substance of each distinct species of animal; and, at
length, this original and intentional peculiarity of structure and
being would become perfected at or before the period when birth is to
take place, leaving only those resemblances which must obtain in all
organisms constructed in certain respects upon a uniform plan, and
brought into being by a common process of procreation and gestation.

Let us now see whether this reasoning involves any such unphilosophical
or unscientific belief as is supposed. Passing by the often-repeated
assertion that the facts of comparative embryologic development are
reconcilable only with the belief in evolution, let us advert to some
of those facts. "The substitutions," says Mr. Spencer, "of organs and
the suppression of organs, are among those secondary embryological
phenomena which harmonize with the belief in evolution, but can not
be reconciled with any other belief. There are cases where, during
its earlier stages of development, an embryo possesses organs that
afterward dwindle away, as there arise other organs to discharge the
same functions. And there are cases where organs make their appearance,
grow to certain points, have no functions to discharge, and disappear
by absorption." The concrete illustration of this substitution and
suppression of organs is thus given by Mr. Spencer:

"We have a remarkable instance of this substitution in the successive
temporary appliances for aërating the blood which the mammalian embryo
exhibits. During the first phase of its development, the mammalian
embryo circulates its blood through a system of vessels distributed
over what is called the _area vasculosa_, a system of vessels
homologous with one which, among fishes, serves for aërating the blood
until the permanent respiratory organs come into play. After a time,
there buds out from the mammalian embryo a vascular membrane called the
allantois, homologous with one which, in birds and reptiles, replaces
the first as a breathing apparatus. But while, in the higher oviparous
vertebrates, the allantois serves the purpose of a lung during the
rest of embryonic life, it does not do so in the mammalian embryo. In
implacental mammals it aborts, having no function to discharge; and in
the higher mammals it becomes "placentiferous, and serves as the means
of intercommunication between the parent and the offspring"--becomes
an organ of nutrition more than of respiration. Now, since the first
system of external blood-vessels, not being in contact with a directly
oxygenated medium, can not be very serviceable to the mammalian embryo
as a lung; and since the second system of external blood-vessels is, to
the implacental embryo, of no greater avail than the first; and since
the communication between the embryo and the placenta among placental
mammals might as well or better have been made directly, instead
of by metamorphosis of the allantois--these substitutions appear
unaccountable as results of design. But they are quite congruous with
the supposition that the mammalian type arose out of lower vertebrate
types. For, in such case, the mammalian embryo, passing through states
representing, more or less distinctly, those which its remote ancestors
had, in common with the lower _vertebrata_, develops these subsidiary
organs in like ways with the lower vertebrata."[87]

In what way, then, are these substitutions unaccountable as results
of design, and why are they any more congruous with the supposition
that the mammalian type arose out of the lower vertebrate type? In the
first place, it is necessary to have a distinct conception of what
is meant by design. In the present case, it means that for a certain
large group of animals there was established a system of reproduction
by the sexual union of male and female, each contributing a cellular
substance peculiar to itself, in the formation of a compound cellular
substance in which the separate substances are united, and which is
to be developed into the fœtus by a law of growth; and as a further
design there is wrapped up in the compound germ of each distinct
species of animal a typical plan of ultimate form and structure.
This typical plan can not be detected in the germ itself, as it is
too subtile and obscure even for the microscope; but we have every
reason to believe that it is there in all its distinctness of original
purpose, because at a later stage of the embryonic development we
find a distinct species of animal is the result. This is a conclusion
that must be adopted by the evolutionist, as well as by the believer
in special creations, because it has nothing to do with the question
of how distinct species came to exist. Whether they were designedly
and separately created, or were evolved out of one another, the
reproductive process by which the individuals of the same species
are brought into being alike involves the conclusion that, in the
ante-fœtal germ of that species, there is somehow involved, in a form
so minute that it can not be seen, the type of animal which is to
belong to that species, and to no other. Here, then, we have the grand
and compound design which is to obtain throughout a whole group of
different animals; namely, that they shall multiply in the production
of individuals of their own types, by a sexual union, in which the
male and the female each contributes a cellular substance of its own
to the formation of a compound germ, and in that germ there is made
to reside the typical form and structure of a distinct organism, so
minute that we can not see it, but which we must conclude from the
result has been put there to be developed by a law of growth ordained
for the accomplishment of a certain distinct order of beings. But
the very obscurity of this type, in the earliest stage of embryonic
development, leads to the conclusion that while it will never be lost,
so long as its life is preserved, it will unfold itself in ways that
will be equally beyond our ken, until the point is reached where it is
no longer obscured, but where it is revealed in all its distinctness
of outline and its peculiarity of structure. What is certain and
invariable is, that the type peculiar to the species is at some time
in the growth of the individual animal perfectly developed. But in the
modes of its development through different embryonic stages, there will
be variations and substitutions of organs in the different species,
but in each distinct species these variations and substitutions will
be uniformly the same, because the law of development imposed by
the distinct type, while it may operate differently among different
species, will always operate in the same way in the same species.
Thus in one animal the development from the original type which was
implanted in its seminal ante-fœtal germ may at one stage exhibit an
organ for which at a later stage another organ will be substituted; and
in another animal a seemingly corresponding organ may serve a different
purpose, or may altogether abort. These embryologic phenomena, varying
in different species, but occurring uniformly in the same species,
are necessarily among the most obscure of all the phenomena of animal
life, on account of the fact that they take place where we can not
watch the changes or modifications as they are taking place during
actual fœtal life. But they are no more explicable upon the hypothesis
of the descent of distinct animals from a common stock, than they are
upon the hypothesis of distinct creations of species. Upon the former
hypothesis, the assumed propinquity of descent implies the preservation
of the same mode of embryonic development until it becomes varied by
the operation of causes that bring about a new habit of development,
and then a fixation in this new habit after a new species or a new
ancestral stock is formed; so that in each distinct species there comes
at length to be a uniform process of substituting and suppressing
organs, or changing the functions of organs. But how are we to account
for the operation of causes that have preserved a parallelism of
development, along with the operation of causes that have produced the
different modes of development, when all the species are supposed to be
derived from a common ancestral stock, which first began to procreate
and to develop its descendants in one and the same way? What are the
facts which will enable us to say that the mammalian type arose out
of the lower vertebrate types, when we compare the different modes
of their embryologic development? How are we to estimate the chances
for a preservation of so much resemblance as exists between the two
in their embryologic lives, and the chances for the variations that
are observable? What we can safely conclude is that there is a law
which holds each species in a constant repetition of its own fœtal
growth, according to its unvarying development in the same series of
changes, substitutions, or suppressions. But we can not safely conclude
that this species became formed in the supposed process of descent
from a remote ancestral stock, which may or may not have originally
exhibited the same series of changes, substitutions, or suppressions.
If the ancestors of the mammalian vertebrates were the kind of animal
supposed, we have to find, in order to justify the supposed descent,
those states which represent the correspondence between the mode in
which the ancestral stock developed its own embryos, when compared
with the mode in which the type of the lower vertebrata developed its
embryos, so as to make it reasonably certain that these subsidiary
organs derived their several substitutions or suppressions from the
process of descent, and not from any special mode of development
ordained for each distinct species. We may imagine these states through
which the mammalian embryo has passed, but as yet we have only a theory
which suggests their existence without facts to support it. The truth
would seem to be that this whole subject of comparative embryology,
upon the hypothesis of the kinship of all organized beings, or the
descent of many distinct species from a common stock, is involved in
very great difficulties; not the least of which is the difficulty of
explaining how the diverging descendants from that stock came to be
endowed with habits of embryologic life and growth that resulted in the
production of very different modes of development, and at the same time
preserved for each new species its own peculiar mode of development.
To say, for example, that the mammalian embryo passed through states
representing, more or less distinctly, those which its remote ancestors
had in common with the lower vertebrata, and that it developed certain
subsidiary organs in like ways with the lower vertebrata, is merely to
state a theory, which, without some evidence that the mammalian embryo
was a formation resulting from a connection of lives with lives back
to a common ancestor whose embryo was developed as those of the lower
vertebrata are, amounts to nothing. Often as this want of evidence has
been adverted to, it must be here again pointed out: for the whole
argument from embryology, like that derived from a comparison of the
forms of mature animals, lacks the support of facts that are essential
to show the connection of life with life which descent from a common
ancestral stock necessarily implies.

On the other hand, the hypothesis of the distinct creation of
different species deals with the phenomena of embryologic life in
a very different way. It supposes the creation of a pair, male and
female, and a law of procreation, designed for the multiplication of
individuals of a fixed type. It supposes many such creations, each
having in its own peculiar germ the characteristic type of organism
that will distinguish the mature animal from all the others. It
supposes finally a law of development common to all the species the
individuals of which are multiplied by the sexual union of male
and female; a law of growth under like conditions, which leads to
a parallelism of development until the typical plan of form and
structure designed for each distinct animal, and implanted in its germ,
begins to take on a mode of development peculiar to that species,
and at length the perfect individual of that species is the result.
In this hypothesis, therefore, there is no necessity for resorting
to any connection with an imaginary ancestral stock of a different
type, or for resorting to a theoretical process by which successive
generations may be supposed to have gradually arisen out of the
ancestral stock by successive changes which have at length resulted
in a totally new species. The new species is what is supposed to have
been aboriginally created, and to have been placed under its own law
for the multiplication of individuals of the same type. In point of
simplicity, of comparative certainty, of freedom from accidental
causes of variation of which we can predicate no specific result, this
hypothesis seems to have a far greater degree of probable evidence in
its favor than the theory which entirely lacks the requisite evidence
of intermediate connections between the lives of one species with the
lives of a remote and different species. For, while it may be truly
said that no man ever saw a special creation take place, and while such
an act of the infinite power is of a nature that places it beyond the
observation of our senses, it is neither inconceivable nor improbable,
nor inconsistent with the idea of the divine attributes which we
derive from the study of nature. On the other hand, it is not only
equally true that no man ever saw, or in the nature of things ever can
see, an evolution of distinct species out of other distinct species,
but the whole nature of the supposed process of transformation involves
an element of chance which forbids all calculation of the results.
How, for example, in this very matter of comparative embryological
development on the hypothesis of descent of all the species of the
vertebrate animals from a common ancestral stock of a different type,
are we to account for the fact that the embryo of any one of the
descended species has come to be developed in a mode peculiar to itself
and differing from the mode in which the embryo of the ancestral stock
was developed? The law of sexual union, under which the individuals
of the supposed ancestral stock were multiplied, must have imposed on
that species an invincible necessity of reproducing in its offspring
the same type that constituted the peculiar organism of the parents,
whether these parents were or were not the fittest survivors of their
race after the severest struggle for existence which they may have had
to undergo. If the pair, or the male of that pair, has in the course
of that struggle acquired a new organ, or more completely developed
an old one, before the act of procreation takes place, how is it that
the ovum is developed into the fœtus, and the fœtus into the newly
born infant, in an invariable mode peculiar to the species to which
the parents belonged? Why did not the same causes of variation which
are supposed to have changed the ancestral type into one of a new and
entirely distinct character, also vary the mode of fœtal development?
When and how did the new organs become fixed in the type which the
parents have transmitted to the offspring? And if they became so
fixed in the germ which was formed out of the cellular substance
contributed by each of the parents, why do we find in every known
species participating in this process of reproduction a uniform mode
of embryologic development peculiar to the species, and exhibiting its
own suppressions and substitutions of organs, irrespective of any newly
acquired peculiarities in the individual structures of the parents?

The believer in special creations has to answer no such questions as
these. His hypothesis assumes the creation of a pair of animals of a
certain distinct species; a law of procreation and gestation common
to a vast multitude of organisms; and a law of embryologic growth
peculiar to each species. Whatever peculiarities of structure may have
been possessed by the immediate parents of any individual of any one
of these different species--peculiarities which did not separate the
parents from their race, but only made them the fittest survivors of
their race--those peculiarities would or would not descend to their
immediate offspring, according to varying and very inappreciable
circumstances. But that which constituted the special type of the
race, and especially that which constituted its peculiar mode of
development during the embryonic stage, would remain unaffected by
these incidental and accidental peculiarities of the parents, because,
from all that we can discover, that special type was impressed upon
the embryo at the earliest stage of its existence, and constituted
the living model that was to be developed into the perfect animal of
that species, by a law which placed it beyond the influence of any
adventitious and non-essential advantages which the male or female
parent may have acquired over other individuals of the same race. So
that, if the postulate of a special creation of species be assumed
as the groundwork of the reasoning, we have to go through with no
speculations about a common ancestral stock of all the species, and
we have to account for no phenomena that are exposed to chances which
might have produced very different results from those which are open to
our observation, and results of which we can predicate nothing with
any degree of certainty. On the hypothesis of the special creation of
a species, and an aboriginal pair of each species, with all that this
implies, we can with a high degree of certainty predicate most of the
phenomena that we have to observe, and more especially so much of the
phenomena of embryologic growth of the different species as are open to
our investigation after the life of both mother and embryo has become

It only remains for me to give to this reasoning a concrete
application. Take the case made use of by Mr. Spencer in the passage
above cited--that of the "allantois," a vascular membrane, which is
said to be in the mammalian embryo homologous with one which in the
higher oviparous vertebrates, such as the birds and reptiles, replaces
what was at first a breathing apparatus, and becomes for them, during
the rest of embryonic life, a sort of lung, or an organ that aërates
the blood until the permanent respiratory organs come into play. In
the mammalian embryo, the first appliance for aërating the blood is
described as a system of vessels distributed over the _area vasculosa_,
and like that which is first observable for the same purpose in
fishes. But, as the mammalian embryo continues to grow, a change
takes place. There buds out from it the vascular membrane called the
"allantois," which is substituted in the place of the first aërating
apparatus. Then a further change takes place, as between the higher
oviparous vertebrates and the mammalian vertebrates. In the former, the
"allantois" continues to perform the breathing function through the
rest of the embryonic life. In the mammalian vertebrates it undergoes
two changes: In the implacental mammals, it aborts, having no function
to discharge; in the placental mammals it becomes modified into another
organ, namely, that which serves to convey nutrition from the mother to
the offspring. After birth, it is of course ended.

Now, the reasoning, or rather the assertion, that these substitutions
are unaccountable as the results of design, appears to me to be
singularly inconclusive. It is quite illogical, according to all
philosophic meaning of design as applied to the works of the Creator,
or to the works of nature, if that term is preferred, to argue that
a particular object could have been better accomplished directly,
than by a metamorphosis of an organ from one function to another, or
by substitution. The metamorphosis, or substitution, which in such
cases we find in nature, is of itself the very highest evidence that
the indirect method was the best, if we admit the idea of a Creator,
because it was the method chosen by a being of infinite perfections
for reasons which we may not be able to discover, but which we must
presume to have existed, if we concede that hypothesis of attributes
which "design" in this case necessarily implies. But how are these
metamorphoses and substitutions any more accountable upon the
supposition that the mammalian type arose by generation out of the
lower vertebrate types which in their embryonic life exhibited the same
changes? The doctrine or theory of evolution does not account for them
at all; for, while the doctrine supposes, as matters of pure theory,
that there were certain states through which the mammalian embryo
passed, which represented more or less distinctly those which it had in
common with its assumed remote ancestors, the lower vertebrata, it does
nothing more than to suggest the theoretical idea that the mammalian
embryo came to develop these subsidiary organs in the mode in which
they were developed in the embryo of the lower vertebrata, because it
was descended from the lower vertebrata. The varying states through
which the embryo passed from the lower vertebrata to the mammalian
type, are all hypothetical, and there is, therefore, no basis of
fact on which to rest the belief in a common mode of development, as
resulting from a connection of lives with lives between the mammalian
type and the types of birds, reptiles, or fishes.

On the other hand, the hypothesis of the special creation of a species
implies the simple fact of a designed process of embryonic development
for each species, with substitutions of organs and changes of function
in certain organs peculiar to that species; a fact which may well
consist in a certain parallelism in the different metamorphoses, and
a preservation of the same unvarying changes in the development of
each separate embryo. Why these changes should exist, we can not tell;
but their existence is very strong proof that they were designed, or
made to take place, for some reason, if we admit the hypothesis of a
Creator. For that hypothesis, we must look to a wider class of facts,
and to the whole phenomena of nature.

4. We now come to the argument from distribution. This is one of the
weakest of the indirect supports of the doctrine of evolution; but,
as it is much relied upon, it must be stated with all the force that
it is supposed to have. The facts that are relied upon are these:
When we survey the whole surface of the globe, so far as it is known
to us, we find, in the first place, that the areas which have similar
conditions (of soil and climate), and sometimes, where the areas are
nearly adjacent, are occupied by quite different faunas. On the other
hand, it is said that areas remote from each other in latitude, and
contrasted in soil and climate, are occupied by closely allied faunas.
The inference drawn is, that there is no manifest predetermined
adaptation of the organisms to the areas, or habitats, in which they
are found, because we do not find that like organisms are universally
or generally found in like habitats, nor very unlike organisms in very
unlike habitats. The conclusion is, that the facts of distribution
in space do not conform to the hypothesis of design. In other words,
the different animals found in different regions were not specially
designed for those regions, but some of them have extended into regions
of a different character; and when the regions are very unlike there
are not found very unlike organisms, but there is a general similarity,
or a less extensive variety. There is said, also, to be another
important fact, namely, that "the similar areas peopled by dissimilar
forms are those between which there are impassable barriers; while the
dissimilar areas peopled by similar forms, are those between which
there are no such barriers." Hence is drawn the conclusion that "each
species of organism tends ever to expand its sphere of existence--to
intrude on other areas, other modes of life, other media."[88] A good
deal of aid is supposed to be derived for this argument respecting
animal life by analogies drawn from the vegetable kingdom; but I
can not help thinking that there is much caution to be observed in
formulating such analogies into a law of universal application, or into
one that relates to the existence of animal organisms. The origin,
the multiplication, and the spread of animals involve a principle of
life, organization and development which is very different in some
important respects from that which obtains in the vegetable world.
But, without laying any stress upon this distinction, and without
intending to deprive the argument for animal evolution of any aid which
it can derive from such supposed analogies, I pass to the specific
argument respecting animal distribution. The argument is this: Races
of organisms become distributed over different areas, and also through
different media. They are thrust by the pressure of overpopulation from
their old into new habitats, and as they diverge more widely in space
they undergo more and more modifications of structure, by reason of the
new conditions on which they enter. Thus, these powerfully incident
forces, the new conditions on which the migrating races enter in new
regions, vary the structure which they originally brought with them,
and which descended to them from the common stock of which they were
modified descendants. The widest divergences in space, under such
circumstances, will indicate the longest periods of time during which
these various descendants from a common stock have been subject to
modifying conditions. There will, therefore, come to be, it is said,
among organisms of the same group, smaller contrasts of structure in
the smaller areas; and, where the varying incident forces vary greatly
within given areas, the alterations will become more numerous than in
equal areas which are less variously conditioned: that is to say, in
the most uniform regions there will be the fewest species, and in the
most multiform regions there will be the most numerous species. These
hypotheses are said to be in accordance with the facts of distribution
in space.[89]

But there are also facts of distribution through different media. The
meaning of this is, that, whereas all forms of organisms have descended
from some primordial simplest form, which inhabited some one medium,
such as the water, its descendants, by migration into some other
medium or other media, underwent adaptations to media quite unlike
the original medium. In other words, the earth and the air have been
colonized from the water. Numerous facts are adduced in support of this
conclusion, which are thus summarized:

 There are particular habitats in which animals are subject to changes
 of media. In such habitats exist animals having, in various degrees,
 the power to live in both media, consequent on various phases of
 transitional organization. Near akin to these animals, there are some
 that, after passing their early lives in the water, acquire more
 completely the structures fitting them to live on land, to which
 they then migrate. Lastly, we have closely-allied creatures like
 the Surinam toad and the terrestrial salamander, which, though they
 belong by their structures to the class Amphibia, are not amphibious
 in their habits--creatures the larvæ of which do not pass their early
 lives in the water, and yet go through these same metamorphoses!
 Must we, then, think that the distribution of kindred organisms
 through different media presents an insurmountable difficulty? On the
 contrary, with facts like these before us, the evolution-hypothesis
 supplies possible interpretations of many phenomena that are else
 unaccountable. Realizing the way in which such changes of media are
 in some cases gradually imposed by physical conditions, and in other
 cases voluntarily commenced and slowly increased in the search after
 food, we shall begin to understand how, in the course of evolution,
 there have arisen those strange obscurations of one type by the
 externals of another type. When we see land-birds occasionally feeding
 by the water-side, and then learn that one of them, the water-ouzel,
 an "anomalous member of the strictly terrestrial thrush family, wholly
 subsists by diving--grasping the stones with its feet and using its
 wings under water"--we are enabled to comprehend how, under pressure
 of population, aquatic habits may be acquired by creatures organized
 for aërial life; and how there may eventually arise an ornithic type,
 in which the traits of the bird are very much disguised.

 Finding among mammals some that, in search of prey or shelter, have
 taken to the water in various degrees, we shall cease to be perplexed
 on discovering the mammalian structure hidden under a fish-like form,
 as it is in the Cetacea. Grant that there has even been going on that
 redistribution of organisms which we see still resulting from their
 intrusions on one another's areas, media, and modes of life, and we
 have an explanation of those multitudinous cases in which homologies
 of structure are complicated with analogies. And while it accounts for
 the occurrence, in one medium of organic types fundamentally organized
 for another medium, the doctrine of evolution accounts also for the
 accompanying unfitness. Either the seal has descended from some mammal
 which, little by little, became aquatic in its habits, in which
 case the structure of its hind-limbs has a meaning; or else it was
 specially framed for its present habitat, in which case the structure
 of its hind-limbs is incomprehensible.[90]

Along with these phenomena of distribution in space and in medium of
life, we have the further element of distribution in time; the facts
of which are admitted, however, to be too fragmentary to be conclusive
either for or against the doctrine of evolution. Still it is claimed
that there is one general truth respecting distribution in time,
which is "profoundly significant, namely, that the relations between
the extinct forms of life, found by geological exploration, and the
present forms of life, especially in each great geographical region,
show in the aggregate a close kinship, and a connection which is in
perfect harmony with the belief in evolution, but quite irreconcilable
with any other belief. As Mr. Darwin has expressed it, there is 'a
wonderful relationship in the same continent between the living and the

The argument from distribution is thus summed up by Mr. Spencer:

 Given, then, that pressure which species exercise on one another,
 in consequence of the universal overfilling of their respective
 habitats--given the resulting tendency to thrust themselves into one
 another's areas, and media, and modes of life, along such lines of
 least resistance as from time to time are found--given, besides the
 changes in modes of life hence arising, those other changes which
 physical alterations of habitats necessitate--given the structural
 modifications directly or indirectly produced in organisms by modified
 conditions--and the facts of distribution in space and time are
 accounted for. That divergence and redivergence of organic forms,
 which we saw to be shadowed forth by the truths of classification
 and the truths of embryology, we see to be also shadowed forth by
 the truths of distribution. If that aptitude to multiply, to spread,
 to separate, and to differentiate, which the human races have in
 all times shown, be a tendency common to races in general, as we
 have ample reason to assume, then there will result that kind of
 relation among the species, and genera, and orders, peopling the
 earth's surface, which we find exists. Those remarkable identities
 of type discovered between organisms inhabiting one medium, and
 strangely-modified organisms inhabiting another medium, are at
 the same time rendered comprehensible. And the appearances and
 disappearances of species which the geological record shows us, as
 well as the connections between successive groups of species from
 early eras down to our own, cease to be inexplicable.[92]

Passing by what is here said of the aptitude of the human race to
multiply, to spread, to separate, and to differentiate--an aptitude
which has never resulted in the production of an essentially different
animal, or in anything but incidental variations within the limits
of the same species--I propose now to apply to this argument from
distribution a test which seems to me to be a perfectly fair one,
and one which it ought to be able to encounter. If the theory that
the different species of animals now known to us have been evolved
successively by descent from some primordial simplest form through
modifications induced by change of habitation, of medium of life, and
accumulation of new structures occurring through an immense period of
time, be a sound hypothesis, the process which has evolved superior out
of inferior organizations ought, in consistency with itself and with
all its supposed conditions, to be capable of being reversed, so as
to lead to the evolution of inferior out of superior organisms. For,
although the doctrine of evolution has thus far been applied only to
facts which are supposed to show an ascent in the scale of being, the
argument ought to be equally good for a descent in the scale of being,
provided we take care to include all the elements and causes of a
change of structure, mode and medium of life, and the necessary element
of time, in the operation of the process. The imaginary case that is
about to be put shall include all the elements of the evolutionary
hypothesis, and will serve to test at least the rationality of that

Let it be supposed, then, that there was a period in the history of
this earth when the whole human race, however it originated, was
confined to an island, thousands of miles from any other land. This
race of men adapted to a life in one medium, the air, may be supposed
to have so far advanced in the ruder arts of hunting and fishing,
and in the higher art of tillage, as to be able for many generations
to support life by what the sea and the land would put within their
reach, and by the product which their rude agriculture could extract
from the soil, or which the soil would spontaneously yield. But as the
centuries flow on, the population begins to press upon the resources
of the territory, and the struggle for life becomes very great. At
length a point is reached where the supply of food from the land
becomes inadequate to sustain the population, and what can be made
up from the sea will not supply the deficiency. The population will
then slowly decrease, but, while this decrease goes on, there comes
in a disturbing cause which will prevent any adjustment of the supply
of food to the diminished number of the consumers. The sea begins by
almost imperceptible but steadily progressing encroachments to diminish
the area of dry land; a change of climate reduces the number of other
animals available for human food, and reduces the productive capacity
of the earth. Then ensues that struggle for existence which is supposed
to entail changes of medium of life, and to induce transformations of
structure. The conditions of existence have become wholly changed.
The wretched descendants of a once comparatively thriving race are
dwelling on a territory which has become a marsh. They have no means
of migrating to another territory; they can only migrate to another
medium. They begin by feeding exclusively on what the water will
afford. They pass their lives in the pursuit of a prey which lives
only in the water, and in this change of life they acquire or develop
organs adapted to the new condition, organs which, in such miserable
reproduction of their own species as can go on, they transmit to their
offspring. Modifications upon modifications accumulate in this way
through untold periods of time, until at last a new aquatic or a new
amphibious creature is formed, and the difference between that creature
and his remote ancestral human stock is as great as that between man
and the seal, or between man and any fish that swims. Still, there will
be peculiarities of structure retained, which might lead any inhabitant
of another world, alighting on this globe and undertaking to trace the
origin of this new creature, to the supposition that he was akin to a
race of men whose fossil remains he might find buried in some stratum
beneath the marsh which was the last habitat of this unfortunate race,
when it had all the characteristics of its original type.

Is it conceivable that this transformation could take place? Could such
a condition and situation result in anything but the utter extinction
of the human race, or, in other words, in an absolute break? Could
there be any modifications exhibited by the last survivors of that race
other than those which are familiar to us among the varieties of the
human species which have never separated themselves from their race,
and between whom and their ancestral stock, wherever it was originally
placed on this globe, we recognize no fundamental difference of
structure, whatever may have been the changes of habitat or conditions
of life? Yet the conditions and elements of this imaginary case,
which is simply the process of evolution reversed, are just what the
evolution theory assumes as the causes of that modification which
proceeds from a lower to a higher organism; and whatever may be said of
the tendency, through "the survival of the fittest," to evolve higher
out of lower forms of animal life, if we allow time enough for the
process, there is no reason, in the nature of things, why corresponding
conditions should not lead to a degradation as well as to an elevation
in the scale of beings. There is, however, one reason why no such
potency should be ascribed to the conditions, either in respect to
the one result or the other. That reason is that all such causes of
modification, either in the ascending or the descending scale, are so
limited in their effects that distinct beings can not be rationally
predicated as their product, whereas the power of the Infinite
Artificer to give existence to distinct beings is absolutely without
limit. If naturalists would turn their attention to the limitations
upon the power of all such causes as those which are supposed to work
in the process of evolution, and would give us the explanations to
which those limitations point, in those cases of local variation which
are exhibited by animals that can clearly be traced to a parent form,
they would not be compelled to resort to a sweeping theory that refuses
all force to any hypothesis but its own.

But now let us go a step further in this imaginary case. Let us suppose
that after this new creature, fish or amphibian, descended from the
human race, has inhabited the water surrounding the ill-fated island
for a million of years, another great change takes place. The water
begins to recede from the land by gradations as slow as those by which
in the former period it encroached. The land rises from the low level
to which it had sunk, by volcanic action. Forests spring up upon the
sides of mountains. The soil becomes firm; verdure overspreads the
fields; the climate grows genial; the wilderness blossoms as the rose.
Allow another million years for this restoration of the territory
to an inhabitable condition. Slowly and in an unbroken series of
generations the aquatic creatures, descended from the ancient human
inhabitants of the island, emerge from the sea and betake themselves
to the land. Modifications upon modifications accumulate, new organs
are acquired; the survival of the fittest perpetuates them; the animals
ascend in the scale of being, until the human type is again evolved
out of the degraded descendants of the population which two millions
of years previously dwelt as men upon the island, and carried on in
some primitive fashion the simpler arts of human life. Is not this just
as supposable as the evolution of the human race out of some lower
form of organism? Are not all the elements--time, migration from one
medium to another, change of conditions, and what is supposed to lead
to the production of different organisms--just as powerful to produce
the inferior out of the superior as to produce the superior out of the
inferior, and so on interchangeably? The answer in each case is, that
all such causes of modification in the animal kingdom are limited; that
when once a distinct species is in existence, we have no evidence that
it loses its distinct type or merges itself in another, although the
earth may be full of evidence that types which formerly existed are no
longer among the living organisms.


 [79] "Biology," i, p. 366.

 [80] "In the presence of the various genealogical trees of animal
 descent which have been put forward so frequently of late, a judicious
 skepticism seems the attitude best warranted by the evidence yet
 obtained. If so many similar forms have arisen in mutual independence,
 then the affinities of the animal kingdom can never be represented by
 the symbol of a tree. Rather, we should conceive of the existence of
 a grove of trees, closely approximated, greatly differing in age and
 size, with their branches interlaced in a most complex entanglement.
 The great group of apes is composed of two such branches; but their
 relations one to another, to the other branches which represent
 mammalian groups, and to the trunks from which such branches diverge,
 are problems still awaiting solution."--_"Encyclopædia Britannica,"
 article "Apes."_

 [81] "Biology," i, pp. 380-382.

 [82] I use these terms with quotation-marks, because I do not admit
 any philosophical antagonism such as they are intended to imply.

 [83] "Homology" is defined by lexicographers as "the doctrine of
 similar parts." "Homologous organs" is a term used by scientific
 writers to describe organs having a relation of some proportion to
 each other. In this particular case of the vertebral column, the
 different parts of the column are treated as if they were different
 organs, and they are said to be homologous organs in the same animal,
 because they bear a certain relation or ratio of proportion to each

 [84] See the discussion of how evolution works, _post_.

 [85] "Biology," i, p. 387.

 [86] The Greek philosophers, as we have seen, before Plato and
 Aristotle, found that their systems of causes, which did not involve
 the idea of power as abstracted from substance, would not account for
 the phenomena of nature. With all their subtilty and ingenuity, they
 did not reach the truth that secondary causes are necessarily limited
 in their action, and that there must be an unlimited cause.

 [87] "Biology," i, pp. 369, 370.

 [88] "Biology," i, p. 388.

 [89] "Biology," i, pp. 390, 391.

 [90] "Biology," i, p. 396.

 [91] "Biology," i, p. 399. It is to be noted that the relationship
 here referred to is supposed or apparent kinship between the
 _aggregate_ of the surviving and the _aggregate_ of the extinct forms
 which have died out in recent geologic times. But this does not supply
 the steps of descent by which any one surviving form can be traced
 back to any one extinct form.

 [92] "Biology," i, p. 401.


 Mr. Spencer's agnosticism--His theory of the origin of religious
 beliefs--The mode in which mankind are to lose the consciousness of a
 personal God.

In a former chapter I had occasion to advert to one of Mr. Spencer's
favorite dogmas, namely, the impossibility of an intellectual
conception of creation, which he thinks is made apparent by the
statement that one term of the relation, the thing created, is
something, and the other term of the relation, that out of which the
thing was created, is nothing. When I wrote the chapter in which I
commented on this extraordinary kind of logic, I felt a little disposed
to apologize to my readers for answering it. I had not then met with
the fuller statement of Mr. Spencer's peculiar agnosticism which I
am now about to quote. The controversy recently carried on between
Mr. Spencer and Mr. Harrison was closed by the former in an article
entitled "Last Words about Agnosticism and the Religion of Humanity,"
which appeared in the "Nineteenth Century" for November, 1884. This
drew my attention to a passage in Mr. Spencer's "Essays," which he
has reproduced in his late article for the purpose of repeating his
position against some of the misrepresentations which he complains
had been made of it by Mr. Harrison. I have nothing to do with the
controversy between these two gentlemen, or with any of the arguments
which Mr. Spencer's opponents, be they churchmen or laymen, have
employed against him. I take the passage as he has quoted it from his
"Essays," for the purpose of making his agnostic views the subject of
a more extended commentary than I had bestowed on them in my previous
chapter, in writing which I had before me only a passage contained in
his "Biology." There is no occasion, however, for altering a word of
what I had previously written; for, on a comparison of his position as
given in the "Biology," and that given in the "Essays," it appears very
plainly that I had not misunderstood him. But as the passage in the
"Essays" displays much more fully the peculiar reasoning by which he
supports his agnostic philosophy, I should not do justice to him or to
my readers if I did not notice it. The passage is the following:

 Always implying terms in relation, thought implies that both terms
 shall be more or less defined; and as fast as one of them becomes
 indefinite, the relation also becomes indefinite, and thought becomes
 indistinct. Take the case of magnitudes. I think of an inch; I think
 of a foot; and having tolerably definite ideas of the two, I have a
 tolerably definite idea of the relation between them. I substitute
 for the foot a mile; and being able to represent a mile much less
 definitely, I can not so definitely think of the relation between an
 inch and a mile--can not distinguish it in thought from the relation
 between an inch and two miles, as clearly as I can distinguish in
 thought the relation between an inch and one foot from the relation
 between an inch and two feet. And now, if I endeavor to think of the
 relation between an inch and the 240,000 miles from here to the moon,
 or the relation between an inch and the 92,000,000 miles from here to
 the sun, I find that while these distances, practically inconceivable,
 have become little more than numbers to which I frame no answering
 ideas, so too has the relation between an inch and either of them
 become practically inconceivable. Now this partial failure in the
 process of forming thought relations, which happens even with finite
 magnitudes when one of them is immense, passes into complete failure
 when one of them can not be brought within any limits. The relation
 itself becomes unrepresentable at the same time that one of its terms
 becomes unrepresentable. Nevertheless, in this case it is to be
 observed that the almost blank form of relation preserves a certain
 qualitative character. It is still distinguishable as belonging to
 the consciousness of extensions, not to the consciousnesses of forces
 or durations; and in so far remains a vaguely identifiable relation.
 But now suppose we ask what happens when one term of the relation has
 not simply magnitude having no known limits, and duration of which
 neither beginning nor end is cognizable, but is also an existence
 not to be defined? In other words, what must happen if one term
 of the relation is not only quantitatively but also qualitatively
 unrepresentable? Clearly in this case the relation does not simply
 cease to be thinkable except as a relation of a certain class, but it
 lapses completely. When one of the terms becomes wholly unknowable,
 the law of thought can no longer be conformed to; both because one
 term can not be present, and because relation itself can not be framed
 ... In brief, then, to Mr. Martineau's objection I reply that the
 insoluble difficulties he indicates arise here, as elsewhere, when
 thought is applied to that which transcends the sphere of thought;
 and that just as when we try to pass beyond phenomenal manifestations
 to the Ultimate Reality manifested, we have to symbolize it out of
 such materials as the phenomenal manifestations give us; so we have
 simultaneously to symbolize the connection between this Ultimate
 Reality and its manifestations, as somehow allied to the connections
 among the phenomenal manifestations themselves. The truth Mr.
 Martineau's criticism adumbrates is that the law of thought fails
 where the elements of thought fail; and this is a conclusion quite
 conformable to the general view I defend. Still holding the validity
 of my argument against Hamilton and Mansel, that in pursuance of
 their own principle the Relative is not at all thinkable _as such_,
 unless in contradiction to some existence posited, however vaguely,
 as the other term of a relation, conceived however indefinitely; it
 is consistent on my part to hold that in this effort which thought
 inevitably makes to pass beyond its sphere, not only does the product
 of thought become a dim symbol of a product, but the process of
 thought becomes a dim symbol of a process; and hence any predicament
 inferable from the law of thought can not be asserted.[93]

In judging of the soundness of this reasoning, the first thing to be
done is to determine what we are thinking about when we compare the
finite with the infinite, or when, to put it as Mr. Spencer does, we
have two terms of a relation, one of which is a thing open to the
observation of our senses, and the other of which lies beyond them.
In this case, does all thinkable relation lapse, or fade into an
impossible conception, when we undertake to conceive of that which
lies beyond what we see? Does the relation between the two supposed
terms cease to be a continuously existing relation? Or, to quote Mr.
Spencer's words, is it true that "insoluble difficulties arise, because
thought is applied to that which is beyond the sphere of thought"?

We must be careful to distinguish between the "insoluble difficulties"
which arise out of the imperfection of language adequate to give
a formal description of a thing, and which may lead us to suppose
ourselves involved in contradictions, and the "insoluble difficulties"
which may arise out of the impossibility of having a mental
representation of that thing. The latter is the only difficulty about
which we need concern ourselves; and the best way to test the supposed
difficulty as an insuperable one is to take one of the illustrations
used by Mr. Spencer--the idea of space. We measure a foot or a mile
of space, and then compare it with the idea of endless or (to us)
immeasurable space. Figures afford us the means of expressing in
language a certain definite number of miles of space, but, beyond the
highest figures of which we have definite forms of expression, we can
not go in definite descriptions of space. But when we have exhausted
all the expressions of number that our arithmetical forms of expression
admit, does it follow that we can not conceive of extension beyond
that number? On the contrary, the very measure which we are able to
express in figures, to a certain extent, in regard both to space and
time, gives us the idea of space and time, and shows us that there
must be an extension of both beyond and forever beyond the portion of
either which language will allow us definitely to describe. This to
us immeasurable and indescribable extent of space or time becomes a
thinkable idea, because we are all the while thinking of space or time,
whether it is a measurable portion of either, or an immeasurable and
endless existence.

Take as another illustration a purely moral idea. We know that there is
a moral quality which we call goodness; an attribute of human character
of which we have a clear conception, and which we can describe because
it is manifested to us in human lives. When we speak of the moral
phenomena to which we give the name of goodness, or virtue, all mankind
know what is meant. But human virtue is imperfect, limited, measurable.
It may be idealized into something approaching to perfection, but the
ideal character thus drawn must fall short of perfection if it is made
consistent with human nature. But from human character we derive the
idea of goodness or virtue as a thinkable idea. Is the idea of absolute
perfection of this quality any less thinkable? Absolute perfection
of moral character can not be described by a definition; but, as we
know that a measurable goodness which we can describe exists, wherein
consists the failure or lapse of a thinkable relation, when we reason
from that which exists in a measurable degree to that which transcends
all degree? We are all the while thinking of goodness or virtue,
whether we think of it as limited and imperfect, or as unlimited and
perfect. Take another quality--power. We know that there is such a
quality as power, wielded by human beings, and guided by their will.
But human power is limited, measurable, and therefore finite. When we
reason from the finite power of man to the idea of an infinite and
immeasurable power held and wielded by another being, do we strive to
conceive of something that is unthinkable because we can only say that
the power of that other being is without limit? We are all the while
thinking of power, of the quality of power, whether we think of it
as measurable or immeasurable. All qualities and all faculties which
are manifested to us in a limited degree, when we conceive of them
as unlimited and without degree, become proofs that what exists in a
measurable and limited degree may exist without limitation and without
degree. Although we can only define the finite, the infinite is not
the less a subject of true thinking, because, whether we think of the
finite or the infinite, what we are all the time thinking about is the
quality of power, and nothing else. In the one case it is limited, in
the other it is unlimited, but it is all the time the quality itself of
which we are thinking.[94]

But now let us attend a little more closely to Mr. Spencer's grand
objection to this mode of thinking. The reader will be careful to note
that what he needs to ascertain is, whether Mr. Spencer's agnostic
theory is really sound. To test it, he must inquire just where the
supposed difficulty lies. Translated into other language, Mr. Spencer's
position is this: In order to keep within the sphere of possible
thought, there must be a definite relation between any two ideas, which
must not lapse, but the two ideas must be equally capable of mental
representation. When one term of the relation is an idea capable of
mental representation, as when we think of a thing cognizable by our
senses, and the other term of the relation is something that lies
beyond them, the law of thought, according to Mr. Spencer, can no
longer be conformed to; the relation lapses; the latter term can not
be present to the mind; we pass out of the sphere of thought into that
which can not be a subject of thought, the unknown and the unknowable.
What takes place in this process is assumed to be this: We take
certain phenomenal manifestations which we are able to observe and to
describe. Out of the materials which these phenomenal manifestations
give us, we "symbolize the Ultimate Reality." We do this, by arguing
from the phenomenal manifestations which convince us of the existence
of a being whom we know and can observe, to the existence of a being
in whom we "symbolize" qualities and faculties which the phenomenal
manifestations show us to belong to human beings. At the same time we
represent to ourselves by the same symbolizing process a connection
between the Ultimate Reality and its manifestation, which is allied to
the connections among the phenomenal manifestations which we observe in
man, or in nature. In other words, we reason from what we see and can
measure and describe, to that which we can not see or describe, and we
end in a term of the relation which can not be present to the mind, and
thus no thinkable relation can be framed.

Whatever may be said of the rational force of the evidence derived from
phenomenal manifestations which we can observe when we reason about
other phenomenal manifestations which we can not measure, it can not
be said that we have reached a term in the relation that is beyond
the sphere of thought. What I understand Mr. Spencer to mean when he
speaks of "symbolizing" out of the materials which the phenomenal
manifestations give us, may be a process liable to error, but it does
not involve or lead to the "insoluble difficulties" that are supposed
to arise. For example, when, from the existence and power of man, a
being whom we know, and whose phenomenal manifestations lead us to a
knowledge of his limited faculties, we reason to the existence of a
being whose faculties are boundless, we may be in danger of conclusions
into which imperfection will find its way; but it certainly is not
true that in thinking of unlimited power or goodness, or any other
unlimited quality, we transcend the sphere of thought. When we have
expressed in figures the greatest measurable idea of space that can
be so expressed, what do we "symbolize," when we say that beyond that
measured space there stretches a space that we can not measure, and to
which there is of necessity no limit? Does a thinkable relation cease
to exist, because one of the terms is immeasurable to us? As soon as we
have formed an idea of a measurable portion of space, we necessarily
have an idea of endless and immeasurable space; and in this deduction
we have employed no "symbol" formed out of the materials which the
measurable manifestations have given us. We have simply reached a
conclusion that is inevitable. We are all the while thinking of space,
whether it is definite space that we can measure, or indefinite space
that we can not measure.

When the moral and intellectual qualities of men constitute one part
of the phenomenal manifestations which we adopt as the basis of
reasoning to the existence of God, we are in danger of assigning to
that being attributes of character which would be far from perfection.
Nearly all the religions that have existed, and of which we have much
knowledge--perhaps all of them but one--have displayed more or less of
this tendency. It is only necessary to instance the Hebrew Scriptures,
for there are parts of that narrative in which the Deity is represented
as actuated by something very much like human passions and motives, and
these representations are among the hardest things to be reconciled
with the idea that those books were inspired writings. Every one knows
with what effect these passages of the Hebrew Scriptures are used by
those who reject both the Old and the New Testaments as inspired books.
But is philosophy therefore to shrink from the use of materials with
which the world is filled, and which lead to the conception of a being
of infinite faculties and perfect goodness? Grant all that may be said
of the stupid and fatal errors into which men have been led by likening
the Deity to man: there remains a vast store-house of materials on
which to reason to the existence of God, which philosophy can not
afford to reject, which can be freed from the peril that has often
attended their use, and which involve no "symbolizing" process of the
kind which Mr. Spencer imagines.

Let us again translate Mr. Spencer's language, and endeavor to analyze
his position. There is, he says, a law of thought, which requires and
depends upon certain elements of thought. By "thought" he means a
conceivable idea, or one which the mind can represent to itself. By
the elements of thought he means, I suppose, the data which enable us
to have an idea of a product. The process of reaching this product
is supposed to be conducted according to a law which requires us to
have the data or elements by which the process is to be conducted. For
example, in the process of reaching an idea of definite space as a
product of thought, we take certain data or elements, by conceiving of
space as divided into successive portions to which we give the name of
feet or miles. The product of thought is the number of feet or miles
into which we divide the definite space of which we form an idea. In
this process we have conformed to Mr. Spencer's law of thought, because
we have data or elements by which to conduct the process and reach the

But now, says Mr. Spencer, when thought undertakes to have as its
product the idea of endless space, it makes an effort to pass beyond
its sphere; the elements of thought fail, and therefore the law of
thought fails; the product is nothing but a dim symbol of a product;
the process becomes nothing but a dim symbol of a process; and no
predicament, that is, no fact, is here inferable from the law of
thought as a fact or predicament that can be asserted. But what, in the
case supposed, is the fact or predicament that is asserted, when we
speak or think of endless space, or of space that transcends all our
powers of measurement? Is it correct to say that the law of thought
fails, because we can not express endless space in feet or miles? Is it
true that we have only "symbolized" the product of endless space out
of the data or elements of measurable space? Here it is necessary to
inquire what the learned philosopher means by "symbolizing" a product
or a process. I understand him to mean, in the case supposed, that
whereas in reference to the idea or product of a measurable space we
have certain data or elements out of which to form that idea, when
we undertake to think of endless space we transfer the notion of a
measurable space to that of which no measure can be predicated, and
therefore we can have no conception of endless space, but only a
"formless consciousness of the inscrutable." Let us see if this is

Take as a convenient idea of a measurable space the 92,000,000 miles
from the earth to the sun, and lay it down on paper. If, after having
measured this space, we could transport ourselves to the sun, we could
extend the line in the same direction beyond the sun, by laying down
a further measurement of 92,000,000 miles from the sun to any object
that we could observe beyond the sun. This process we could repeat
indefinitely and forever, if we could be successively removed to the
different stages at each point of departure. But when an aggregate of
such multiplied measurements had been reached greater than could be
expressed in figures, we should still have the intellectual power of
thinking of an extension of space indefinitely beyond that which we
have measured. Nothing would have failed us but the power of expressing
in figures the endless extent of space which lies beyond the utmost
limit that we can so express.

It is precisely here, as I suppose, that Mr. Spencer's "symbolizing
process" and his "symbolized product" come in. We have taken as the
elements of thought the idea of successive measurements of space; and
the law of thought permits us to have as a definite product whatever
extent of space can be marked off by such successive measurements.
But when we undertake to have, as the product of thought, a
consciousness, or conception, of endless space, we have merely used
the idea of a definite space as a "symbol," or _simulacrum_, of that
which is without form, and is only a "formless consciousness of the
inscrutable"--whatever that means.

Let us see what has happened. The power of measuring, or describing
in form, a definite extent of space, has given us an idea of space.
The product of our thought is extension between two given points. Such
extensions must be capable of indefinite multiplication, although we
can not express in figures an indefinite multiplicand. The product is
then something beyond what we can express in a definite form; but is
it beyond the sphere of thought? What is it? It is an idea which we
deduce by a strict process of reasoning, and to which we do not need to
give and can not give expression in figures. The process of reasoning
is this: Measurement has given us an idea of space; our faculty of
applying measurement is limited; but our faculty of conceiving of space
through which we could go on forever multiplying such measurements,
if we had the means, is certainly a faculty of which all men are
conscious who are accustomed to analyze the processes of thought. In
this process we may reach that which in one sense is "inscrutable." It
is inscrutable, inasmuch as we can not understand how eternity of space
or time came to exist. Our experience of phenomena enables us to have
an idea of space and time, and from the fact that we have measured off
portions of space or time, we deduce the fact that there must be an
eternity of both. It is immaterial whether we call this a "symbolizing"
process, or call it something else. The product is an idea at which we
arrive by a strict process of reasoning. Eternity of space or time is
an inscrutable idea, when we attempt to inquire how it came to be. That
it exists, is an idea from which the human mind can not escape, and
which it reaches by a perfectly sound deduction. We are all the while
thinking of space or time, whether we are thinking of that which is
measurable, or of that which is immeasurable.

I now come to a passage in Mr. Spencer's recent article which it is
necessary to attempt to explain to the unlearned reader, and to bring
it, if possible, within the reach of ordinary minds. This passage,
which follows in his recent article immediately after his quotation
from his "Essays," is the following:

 Thus, then, criticisms like this of Mr. Martineau, often recurring in
 one shape or other, and now again made by Mr. Harrison, do not show
 the invalidity of my argument, but once more show the imbecility of
 human intelligence when brought to bear on the ultimate question.
 Phenomenon without noumenon is unthinkable; and yet noumenon can not
 be thought of in the true sense of thinking. We are at once obliged
 to be conscious of a reality behind appearance, and yet can neither
 bring this consciousness of reality into any shape, nor can bring into
 any shape its connection with appearance. The forms of our thought,
 molded on experience of phenomena, as well as the connotations of our
 words formed to express the relations of phenomena, involve us in
 contradictions when we try to think of that which is beyond phenomena;
 and yet the existence of that which is beyond phenomena is a necessary
 datum alike of our thoughts and our words. We have no choice but to
 accept a formless consciousness of the inscrutable.

Some definitions must now be given. The word "phenomenon" has become
naturalized in our English tongue. Derived as a noun from the Greek
verb Φαίνομαι, _to appear_, it means anything visible; whatever
is presented to the eye by observation or experiment, or what is
discovered to exist; as the phenomena of the natural world, the
phenomena of the heavenly bodies, of terrestrial substances, the
phenomena of heat and color.[95] In this application the word denotes
what appears to us, or what we discover by our senses. It is also used,
in the plural, more loosely, to denote occurrences or things which we
observe to happen; as when, speaking of physical occurrences, we mean
physical facts the happening of which we observe. Moral phenomena, on
the other hand, are the appearances exhibited by the action of mind.

The word _noumenon_ has not become naturalized in our language, and
did not exist in Greek.[96] It can convey no intelligible meaning to
common readers without tracing its derivation, and when it is analyzed
we can attribute to it no meaning but a purely arbitrary one, even if
we can arrive at that arbitrary signification. In fact, it is a word
made by and for the school of Kant. Its first syllable is the Greek
noun νοῦς or νόος, which corresponds to our English word _thought_ or
_intelligence_. The Greek verb νοέω, _to think_, was primarily used as
_I perceive_; the act of the mind in seeing. This idea was distinct
from εἴδω, which conveyed the plain meaning of I _see_. But so subtile
were the Greeks in their use of words, that εἴδω was sometimes used
specifically to mean _to see with the mind's eye_, or, as we sometimes
say, to _realize_, or to have a mental perception of. In the Greek
use of the two words νοεω and εἴδω, no distinction was made between
_phenomenon_ and _noumenon_. To a cultivated Greek, _phenomenon_
would mean something perceived, and _noumenon_, if he had possessed
the word, would have had the same meaning. He would have used the two
words interchangeably, to express either sight by the visual organs or
mental perception. Mr. Spencer uses them as if they meant different
things, as if _phenomenon_ were something different from _noumenon_.
But _noumenon_, according to its derivation (for it is coined as the
participle of nοεων), means a thing, subject, or object, _perceived by
the mind_. The root idea is mind-action, the verb νοεω meaning to do
what the mind does in apprehending a subject or object. So that the
derivation of _noumenon_ does not help us to understand the Kantian or
Spencerian use of the word.

As this use of the word is, then, purely arbitrary, we must try to
understand, as well as we can, what this arbitrary meaning is. As well
as I can fathom it, in contrast with _phenomenon_, the meaning is that
_phenomenon_ is something that we see, and _noumenon_ is the ghost or
double of what we see. We see a thing with our eyes; but our mind does
not see it--it perceives its ghostly double. This is _noumenon_.

Penetrating, or trying to penetrate, a little further into Mr.
Spencer's meaning, it would seem that when he says that _phenomenon_
without _noumenon_ is unthinkable, he means that, although we can see a
thing with our corporeal eye, we can not think of it without the mental
act of seeing its image with the mind's eye; and then he adds that
_noumenon_ can not be thought of in the true sense of thinking, because
_noumenon_ is an abstraction or a mere ghost of a subject or an object.

What is all this but a kind of play upon words? We are so constituted
that the impressions which a thing external to us produces upon our
nerves of perception are instantly transmitted to the brain, and the
mind has an instantaneous perception of that object. The phenomenon
which we see with our eyes, or become sensible of by touch, thus
becomes a thing perceived by the mind, and when we think of it we do
not think of its ghost, but we think of the thing itself. Did Laura
Bridgman, who had neither eye-sight nor hearing nor speech, but who
acquired all her ideas of external objects by the sense of touch,
conceive of a round or a square, a rough or a smooth surface, by
contemplating the ghost or double of what she touched? And had she no
thinking in the true sense of thinking, because the double, or _imago_
of the thing which she touched--the so-called _noumenon_--was at once
necessary to her mental perception, and yet could not be thought of
without seeing the object by the corporeal eye? She had no corporeal
eye in which there was any vision. All her mental perceptions of
external objects were acquired by the sense of touch alone; and we
may well believe that she did not need the supposed _noumenon_ to
give her an idea of _phenomenon_. She perceived many phenomena by the
simple transmission to her brain, along her nerves of touch, of the
impressions produced upon them by external objects; and there is every
reason to believe that many of her perceptions were as accurate and
true as those which we derive from all our senses. We may now dismiss
Mr. Spencer's distinction between _phenomenon_ and _noumenon_ as a
distinction quite needless for the elucidation of what takes place in
thinking of that which is behind appearance, and may proceed with the
discussion of what remains of the passage above quoted.

At the risk of wearying by repetition, I will again resort to the
illustration before employed, and will again describe how we reach the
conception, for example, of endless space. According to Mr. Spencer,
space, or extension, as a thinkable idea, or a subject of thought,
is confined to a measurable extent of space. This is the phenomenon,
or appearance. All our forms of thought are, it is said, molded on
our experience of phenomena that are measurable, or capable of being
definitely described; and the connotations of our words which express
the relations of phenomena relate to phenomena that we measure, or see,
and can definitely describe. Therefore, we can not think of a reality
that is behind appearance; can not bring the consciousness of such a
reality into any shape, nor bring into any shape its connection with

If mankind are never to think of that which is behind appearance--can
never think of a reality that is behind what they see--because their
forms of thought are molded on experiences of phenomena that they see,
and because the connotations of their words express the relations of
those phenomena and no others, a vast domain of thinking is necessarily
closed to them. This is not the experience of our minds. Every day of
our lives we go on in search of that which is beyond appearance, and we
find it. Take again, for example, the phenomena of a measurable portion
of space or time. What appears to us gives an idea of space and time.
We measure as great a portion of either as our forms of expression
admit of our describing by definite terms, but we are immediately
conscious of another reality, an endless extension or duration, because
we are conscious that we have not exhausted and can not exhaust, by our
measurements and descriptions, the whole possible existence of space or
time. This new reality behind appearance is just as truly thinkable,
just as true a consciousness, as is the measurable portion of time or
space; for it is time or space of which we are constantly thinking,
whether it is an extent or duration which we can describe in words, or
whether we can only say that it is extent or duration without beginning
and without end. Our minds are so constituted that the existence which
is manifested to us by observable phenomena leads us to go behind
the appearance in search of another reality beyond that which is
manifested by the phenomena that we see. All that is inscrutable about
this other reality that lies behind appearance is that we can not
understand how it came to be, any more than we can understand how the
phenomenon which we see and can measure and describe in a definite
form came to exist. We do not bring, and do not need to bring, this
other reality into connection with appearance. We first have an idea of
space and time from observable and measurable phenomena. The reality
of extension without limit, and duration without end, follows of
necessity, by a process of thought which we can not escape.

But now it becomes needful to answer a further objection. I have said
that we are all the while thinking of space, whether it is a measurable
and limited or an immeasurable and illimitable space. Mr. Spencer,
anticipating this obvious statement, admits that the form of relation
between the two ideas, although "almost blank," preserves a certain
qualitative character; that is, it is of the quality of space of which
we think, whether it is measurable or immeasurable, and therefore it
remains "a vaguely identifiable relation." But when, in place of one
of the terms of the relation qualitatively the same as the other, we
substitute an existence that can not be defined, and is therefore both
quantitatively and qualitatively unrepresentable, the relation, he
asserts, lapses entirely; one of the terms becomes wholly "unknowable."

I will not again repeat that extension or magnitude having no known
limits is a thinkable term, because the subject of thought is the
quality of extension or magnitude; quantity not being essential to
the idea of extension or magnitude. But I will pass to the idea of an
existence which can not be defined. I suppose that by an existence is
meant a being. If we undertake to think of a being whose quality we
do not know to be the same as the quality of another being whom we
do know, and the quantity of whose powers and faculties we can not
measure, we propose, says Mr. Spencer, a term of impossible thought,
because the law of thought can not be conformed to; the term can not be
present to the mind, and no thinkable relation can be framed. Let this
supposed difficulty be tested by a plain inquiry into that which we
undertake to make the subject of thought when we think of a being who
is said to be "unknowable."

"Agnosticism" is a doctrine which eludes a definite grasp. I have
seen it defined by one of its most distinguished professors in this
way: "Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or
modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes
that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or
believe.... Agnosticism simply says that we know nothing of what may
be beyond phenomena."[97] Mankind are apt to be rather practical in
their habits of thinking: experience teaches them that there is a
well-founded distinction between knowledge and belief, when it comes to
be a question of asserting the one or the other.[98] They find, too,
by experience that, in regard to what they speak of when they say that
they know a thing, there is a distinction to be observed in respect to
the means of knowledge. No one hesitates to say that he knows there
was such a man as Napoleon Bonaparte, although he never saw him, and
although our knowledge of him is now derived from hearsay. But when we
speak of knowing that a certain living person was at a certain spot on
a certain day, we become immediately aware that in order to justify the
assertion we or some one ought to have seen the person at the time and
place, especially if anything important depends upon the assertion.
There are a great many things that we say we know without scientific or
other rigorous proof, and there are a great many other things which we
do not say that we know without the kind of proof which is required.
All our actions in life proceed upon this distinction, and we could
not live in this world with any comfort if we did not act upon the
assumption that we know things of which we have no scientific proof.

A very clever _jeu d'esprit_ went the rounds of the periodical press
some time ago, in which a well-born and highly educated young agnostic
was represented as losing his birthright, his _fiancée_, and all his
prospects in life, because he demanded rigorous proof of everything
that affected him. As he would not admit that he was the son of his own
parents, without having better proof of it than their assertion, he was
turned out-of-doors and disinherited. He would not accept the bloom on
the cheek of his mistress as natural unless she gave him her word that
she did not paint; and he would not admit that they loved each other
without some better proof than their mutual feelings, about which they
might be mistaken. The young lady indignantly dismissed him, but he
consoled himself as a martyr to the truth of agnosticism. He became
tutor to the son of a nobleman, whose belief in the boy's extraordinary
talents, although justified by his progress in his studies, the tutor
would not admit had the requisite proof. He propounded his denial of
what the father had no proper grounds for maintaining, in an offensive
way, and of course he lost his place. He retired to a sort of agnostic
brotherhood, glorying in his adhesion to truth. Some of his companions
remained long enough in the brotherhood to find out that they were
making fools of themselves, and at the first opportunity for acting on
the ordinary grounds of knowing a fact without rigorous demonstration
of it they left him in solitude, went into the world, and achieved

"A man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no
scientific grounds for professing to know or believe." By "scientific
grounds," I presume is meant, in the case of a fact or occurrence,
proper proof of the fact or occurrence. This varies with the nature of
the thing which one professes to know. We constantly act upon proofs
which do not amount to demonstration, and there could be no practical
enjoyment of our lives and no safety if we did not. If a government
were to receive information that a foreign army was on the border of
the country and about to invade it, and the information fell short of
being the testimony of eye-witnesses, what would be thought of the
rulers if they were to fold their hands and say that they did not know
the fact because they had no "scientific grounds for professing to know
it"? On the other hand, if in a court of justice the question to be
determined were the presence of an individual at a certain place and at
a certain time, the established rules of evidence require certain kinds
of proof of the fact.

Belief, however, is a conviction of something which may or may not
require what are called "scientific grounds" before we can be permitted
to profess that we believe. It depends upon the thing which we profess
to believe, and upon the grounds on which we rest the belief, whether
we have or have not safe and sufficient means of belief. Belief in
the law of gravitation as a force operating throughout the universe
is arrived at as a deduction from scientific data. Belief in an
existence beyond phenomena, in a being who is the producing agent
of the phenomena, depends upon a great variety of grounds, some of
which are scientific data and some of which are the elements of moral
reasoning. We may not say that we "_know_" that God or any other
supernatural being exists, but we may say that we "_believe_" in his
existence. Here knowledge is one thing; belief is another. Knowledge
of the existence of God, like knowledge of the existence of any other
being, might come to us through the testimony of a competent witness
commissioned and authorized to inform us. Belief in the existence of
God may be founded on many and various grounds without the direct
testimony of the competent witness; and these grounds may be perfectly
satisfactory without being mathematical or scientific demonstration. It
is a very remarkable fact that some of the most eminent of the school
of agnosticism profess to have, and probably have, the most undoubting
faith in the theory and actual occurrence of animal evolution, without
any data, scientific or other, which can enable other men to arrive
at the same conviction, whatever may be the character of the supposed
proofs. They certainly have no grounds for professing to know that
an evolution of species out of species has ever taken place; and the
grounds of their belief in the fact, whether denominated "scientific"
or called something else, do not satisfy the rules of belief on
which mankind must act, in accordance with their mental and moral
constitutions; and this belief does not rise any higher in the scale of
moral probabilities than the belief in special creations, nor does it
rise so high. But to return to Mr. Spencer.

If we did not act upon the process of thinking of another reality than
that which appearance gives, act upon it fearlessly and by a mode of
thinking to which we can safely trust ourselves, science would stand
still, there would be no progress in physics, discoveries would cease,
there would be no improvement in morals, the world would remain
stationary. What did Columbus do, when, going behind the phenomena
that made the earth appear to be a flat surface, he thought of it as a
sphere? Did he break the law of thought? He formed an idea of a reality
behind appearance, not by employing the phenomenal manifestations to
help him to the new conception, but by going away from them in search
of a reality that lay behind them, and which they seemed to contradict.
This conception of a sphere as the reality of the earth's condition
proved to be the truth. He did not bring it, and did not need to bring
it, into connection with appearance. He did not use, and did not need
to use, the relations of the visible phenomena to help him to attain
his conception of a spherical form of the earth. He contradicted them

Did all the moral lawgivers who have reformed the world break the law
of thought, when, going behind the phenomena of human conduct, with
their relations pointing to one idea of right and wrong, they conceived
the idea of a new and a better rule of life? When it was said, in place
of the old law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, "Love your
enemies and pray for those who persecute you"--when for the old rule
of revenge there was substituted forgiveness of injuries--something
was inculcated that contradicted all the appearances of the social
phenomena, and that lay beyond them. Did the consciousness of this new
reality become "a formless consciousness of the inscrutable"? What
is there about it that is inscrutable? There is nothing inscrutable
about it, or in the consciousness of it, excepting the mode in which
the being who promulgated it came to exist. The idea of forgiveness is
clearly within the compass of human thought and of human endeavor.

When we are in the process of making a new physical discovery, or of
forming a new rule of moral action, we work away from the materials
which the phenomenal manifestations give us, to a new conception.
We become conscious of a new reality behind appearance, and of an
existence beyond the relations of the phenomena with which we have
heretofore been familiar. It is to this striving after realities behind
appearances--striving by an entirely true process of thinking--that the
world owes its progress.

When the phenomenal manifestations of an intellectual and moral nature
in man have given us the idea of an existence of an intellectual and
moral being as a reality of which we become conscious, what is to
prevent us from thinking of another intellectual and moral being as a
reality, with faculties and powers immeasurably superior to ours? It
is true that the phenomenal manifestations of man's intellectual and
moral nature give us an idea of a being of very limited faculties and
very imperfect moral qualities. But what is the "insoluble difficulty"
in which we become involved, when we think of a being whose faculties
are boundless, and whose moral nature is perfect? Does the "insoluble
difficulty" consist in the impossibility of thinking of that which
transcends all our powers of measurement? All that we have done, in the
case of man, is to have a consciousness of a being whose phenomenal
manifestations evince the existence of an intellectual and moral
nature. He happens to be a being of very limited faculties and very
imperfect moral characteristics. What prevents us from thinking, in
the true sense of thinking, of another being, whose powers are without
limit, and whose moral nature is perfect? Is it said that we can
not bring into any shape the idea of unlimited power or of perfect
goodness, or bring into any shape its connection with appearance,
because all our ideas of power and goodness, all our forms of thought
and expression, are molded on experiences of limited power and
imperfect goodness? The truth is that we do not and need not strive
to bring into connection with appearance the idea of any quality
which we conceive of as unlimited. What we derive from the phenomenal
manifestations of human power and goodness is a consciousness of the
qualities of power and goodness. It is perfectly correct thinking to
reason that these qualities, whose phenomenal manifestations, in the
case of man, show that in him they exist only in a limited degree, may
exist in another being in unlimited perfection and without degree.
Our minds are so constituted that we reason from the finite to the
infinite, by observing that one class of phenomena evince the existence
of the finite and another class of phenomena evince the existence of
the infinite.

When, therefore, we pass from the phenomenal manifestations of human
power and goodness, we come into the presence of other phenomena which
we know could not be and were not produced by such a limited and
imperfect being as man, but which must yet have had an author, a maker,
an originator, a creator. We thus contemplate and investigate facts
which show that the phenomena were the products of a skill, wisdom, and
power that transcend all measurement. Is it said that the phenomena of
nature, stupendous and varied and minute and wonderful as they are,
evince only that a certain degree of power and wisdom was exerted in
their production, even if their production is attributed to a being
competent to bring them about? And therefore that the idea of a being
of unlimited faculties and perfect goodness is as far as ever from our
reach by any true process of thought? This assumption begs something
that should not be taken for granted. It assumes that the production
of the phenomena of nature does not evince unlimited power and perfect
goodness; did not call for the existence of boundless faculties and
inexhaustible benevolence; involved only a degree of such qualities,
although a vastly superior degree to that possessed by us. The
correctness of this assumption depends upon the force of the evidence
which nature affords of the character of the Deity. It is an assumption
which has led to enormous errors--errors of conception and belief
which impute to the Supreme Being only a superior degree of power and
wisdom, greater than our own, but still limited and imperfect, liable
to error, and acting in modes which distress us with contradictions and

It may without rashness be asserted that the phenomena of the universe
could not have been produced by a power and wisdom that were subject to
any limitations. While all the researches of science, from the first
beginnings of human observation to the present moment, show that in
the production of the phenomena of nature there has been exerted a
certain amount of power and wisdom, they also show that it is an amount
which we can not measure; that there is, moreover, a power and wisdom
that have not been exhausted; that the reserved force and skill and
benevolence are without limit. For, in every successive new discovery
that we make, in every new revelation of the power and goodness
which our investigations bring forth, we continuously reach proofs
of an endless capacity, an inexhaustible variety of methods and of
products. So that, if we conceive of the whole human race, with all its
accumulated knowledge, as ending at last in one individual possessed
of all that has been learned on earth, and imagine him to be then
translated to another state of existence, with all his faculties of
observation and study preserved, and new fields of inquiry to be opened
to him, his experience on earth would lead him to expect to find, and
we must believe that in his new experience he will find, that the
physical and the moral phenomena of the universe are an inexhaustible
study; that search and discovery must go on forever; and that forever
new revelations of power and goodness will be made to the perceptions
whose training began in a very limited sphere. His experience in
that limited sphere has taught him that there was no end to the
discoveries which were here partially within his reach. His experience
in the new sphere will be a continuation of his experience in the old
one; for there is a law by which we judge of the future by the past.
This law is one of the conditions of our intellectual existence; an
inevitable habit of our minds; imposed upon us by an inexorable but
familiar authority. Our experience in this life has taught us that,
in the investigation of the phenomena of nature that are open to our
observation here, we have never reached the end of possible discovery;
that every fresh discovery has evinced that there are still new things
to be learned, new manifestations of power to be revealed, new products
and new methods to be seen. However long we may suppose the human race
to exist on earth and its researches to be prosecuted here, we must
suppose an endless accumulation of knowledge hereafter, because the
law which compels us to judge of the future by the past obliges us to
accept as the fruition of the future that which has been the fruition
of the past.[99]

Is there in this any violation of the true law of thought? Does the
relation between our past experience and the experience which we
forecast for the future fade into a dim symbol of a relation? On the
contrary, both are equally capable of mental representation; for
we are mentally so constituted that the consciousness of what has
happened to us in the past--the unending succession of new discoveries,
the constant accumulation of knowledge, which we have experienced
here--gives us the conception of the same endless progress hereafter,
compels us to believe in it, and enables us to grasp it as a product of
true thought.

Mr. Spencer has much to say of "the imbecility of human intelligence
when brought to bear on the ultimate question." What is the ultimate
question? The ultimate question with which science and philosophy are
concerned is the existence of the Supreme Being. It is of the utmost
consequence for us to understand wherein consists the imbecility of
human intelligence when brought to bear upon this question of the
existence of God. How does our imbecility manifest itself? What is
the point beyond which thought can not go? We become conscious of the
existence of the being called man, because, from the phenomena which we
know that he produces by the exercise of his will and power, and which
we know must have had an author and producer, we deduce an existence
beyond the phenomena, an actor in their production. What more, or
what that is different, do we do or undertake to do, when, from the
phenomena of nature which we know that man did not produce, we think
of another existence beyond the phenomena? In both cases, we study
the phenomena by our senses and powers of observation; in both cases
we reason that there is an actor who produces the phenomena; yet the
existence of the actor who produces the phenomena is inscrutable in the
case of the Deity in the same sense and for the same reason that it
is inscrutable in the case of man. How the human mind came to exist,
by what process it was made to exist, by what means it was created,
what was the genesis of the human intellect, is just as inscrutable,
no more and no less so, as the mode in which the Deity came to exist.
In both cases the existence of a being is what we think of; and when
we think of either being we think of that which is beyond phenomena
but which we deduce from phenomena. In neither case do we "accept a
formless consciousness of the inscrutable"; for what we accept is the
consciousness of a being, and it is not a consciousness of the mode in
which he came to exist. The latter consciousness is the inscrutable
problem. The existence is what we think of, and we think of it by a
perfectly true process of thought, deducing it from the simple truth
that the phenomena must have had an actor in their production. We do
not undertake to think of the process by which man was created, or of
the mode in which that other existence came to be without beginning and
without end.

I have thus discriminated between what we do and what we do not think
of, when we think of an existence beyond phenomena, but which we deduce
from phenomena. This is a most necessary discrimination; for, in
thinking of the existence, we do not try to think how it came to be an
existence. We think only of the existence; and we deduce it from our
observation and study of phenomena, which teach us that they must have
had an actor, an author, a producer, and that they did not produce or
create themselves.

It remains for me to advert to Mr. Spencer's theory of the origin of
the religious consciousness, or the origin of the idea of supernatural
beings, and hence of one highest supernatural being. This is his
ghost-theory. He has recently told us that in his "Descriptive
Sociology"--a work commenced in 1867, and which preceded his
"Principles of Sociology" (written in 1874)--he caused to be gathered
adequate materials for generalization, consisting of a great number
of excerpts from the writings of travelers and historians who have
given accounts of the religious beliefs of the uncivilized races. He
numbers 697 of these extracts which refer to the ghost-theory, and
only 87 which refer to fetichism. This great ratio of eight to one
he considers overwhelming proof that the ghost-theory, as opposed
to fetichism, is sustained by the beliefs of a vast majority of the
uncivilized races. What if it is? What is the ghost-theory, and
what is fetichism, as the chief source and origin of religion? Mr.
Spencer, in his recent article, explains fetichism as most persons
understand it, namely, the worship of inanimate objects, or belief in
their supernatural powers. The ghost-theory, which his 697 extracts
illustrate, is "the belief in a wandering double, which goes away
during sleep, or fainting, and deserts the body for a longer period
at death; a double which can enter and possess other persons, causing
disease, epilepsy, insanity, etc., which gives rise to ideas of
spirits, demons, etc., and which, originates propitiation and worship
of ghosts."[100] Further on, he reiterates his ghost-theory as the
origin of religious beliefs, and explains it thus:

 Setting out with the statement that "unlike the ordinary
 consciousness, the religious consciousness is concerned with that
 which lies beyond the sphere of sense," I went on to show that the
 rise of this consciousness begins among primitive men with the
 belief in a double belonging to each individual, which, capable of
 wandering away from him during life, becomes his ghost or spirit after
 death; and that from this idea of a being eventually distinguished
 as supernatural, there develop, in course of time, the ideas of
 supernatural beings of all orders up to the highest. Mr. Harrison has
 alleged that the primitive religion is not belief in and propitiation
 of the ghost, but is worship of "physical objects treated frankly as
 physical objects" (p. 498). That he has disproved the one view and
 proved the other, no one will, I think, assert. Contrariwise, he has
 given occasion for me to cite weighty authorities against him.

 Next it was contended that in the assemblage of supernatural beings
 thus originating in each tribe, some, derived from chiefs, were
 superior to others; and that, as the compounding and recompounding
 of tribes gave origin to societies having social grades and rulers
 of different orders, there resulted that conception of a hierarchy
 of ghosts or gods which polytheism shows us. Further it was argued
 that while, with the growth of civilization and knowledge, the
 minor supernatural agents became merged in the major supernatural
 agent, this single great supernatural agent, gradually losing the
 anthropomorphic attributes at first ascribed, has come in our days to
 retain but few of them; and, eventually losing these, will then merge
 into a consciousness of an Omnipresent Power to which no attributes
 can be ascribed. This proposition has not been contested.

Without entering into any consideration of what Mr. Harrison has
disproved or proved, as between fetichism and the ghost-theory, I will
now ask why the beliefs of the uncivilized races, or of the primitive
men, should be regarded as important evidence of the origin of beliefs
among civilized and cultivated men? Is modern philosophy, in accounting
for or justifying the belief in a Supreme Being which is held to-day
by most of the cultivated and educated part of mankind, to assign its
origin to the primitive and uncivilized men? Is the whole idea of a
supernatural being to be regarded as traditionally handed down from our
barbarian ancestors? Is there no other source from which we can derive
that idea? Are we none of us capable of finding for ourselves rational
grounds of belief in a supernatural agent, deducing his existence from
a study of nature? Or must we trace this belief back through the ages
until we arrive at an origin which we shall of course despise? What has
philosophy to do now with "the primitive religion"? Is there nothing
that science and reason and disciplined methods of thought and sound
deduction can teach us? Are we to throw away all the proofs which
nature spreads before us, and for the investigation of which we have
accumulated so many facilities, and turn to the beliefs of uncivilized
men? Are the conceptions of supernatural beings, to which a barbarian
attained, to be taken as the origin of the conception of a personal
God to which an educated philosopher can now attain? And because of the
inadequate and childish superstitions of the past, and of their growth
into a belief of one supreme supernatural agent--whatever that idea of
him may have been--is the consciousness which we have of a personal God
to be hereafter merged into a consciousness of an Omnipresent Power to
which no attributes can be ascribed?

It should seem that the mode in which philosophy, after it came to be
cultivated by civilized thinkers and observers, freed itself first
from fetichism and the ghost-theory and all the beliefs of polytheism,
next from physical agents as the causes of all phenomena, and finally
attained an independent conception of a First Cause as a supreme
personal intelligence and power, is worthy of some consideration.

In the first chapter of this work, borrowing from the English scholar
and critic, Mr. Grote, I have given a condensed account of some of
the systems of Greek philosophy which began in the first half of the
sixth century before Christ, and extended down to Plato, whose life
was embraced in 427-347 of the ante-Christian era. About 150 B.
C., the Greek philosophy, and especially the speculations of
Plato, encountered at Alexandria the monotheism of the Hellenizing
Jews.[101] This history of Greek philosophy, as developed by Mr. Grote,
shows that the struggle against polytheistic agencies, as the causes of
natural phenomena, began with efforts to find purely physical agencies;
that this struggle, in spite of the surrounding beliefs in a multitude
of supernatural beings of different orders, was long continued, and
gave rise to a most remarkable variety of scientific explanations:
that it passed through an extraordinary number of physical theories,
until at length in Plato there was developed the idea of a distinct
personal constructive actor, the Demiurgus, a being to whom, whether
intended by Plato as a philosophical myth, or as an entity in which
he had something of faith or conviction, he assigned the formation of
his Kosmos. With characteristic acumen, the English commentator points
out Plato's skill in eluding the possible charge of infidelity to the
established religion of Athens, while he at the same time propounded
the existence of a personal First Cause that was in a striking degree
inconsistent with the popular faith. The whole course of this history
of Greek speculation evinces that from an early period the Greek
philosophers were utter skeptics in regard to the popular religion and
the poetic traditions; that they not only did not derive anything from
the primitive religion, from fetichism, from the ghost-beliefs of their
barbarian ancestors--if their ancestors had such beliefs--or from their
heroic ages, or from the multitudinous gods of the popular theology and
the popular worship, or from the old poetical imagery, but that they
strove to get away from all these sources, and to construct theories
of the universe that would explain the ultimate cause or causes in a
very different manner. The earliest Greek speculators got no further in
their theories than the construction of systems of physical agencies,
or agencies that stood to them in the quality of physical actors.
Plato, on the other hand, resorted to the conception of a supreme
personal actor.

Mr. Grote has further mentioned a very striking fact, which is, that
before the Christian era, the Demiurgus of Plato was received by the
Hellenizing Jews at Alexandria as a conception kindred to the God of
Moses. His statement, in substance the same as that previously made by
a Continental critic, Gfrörer, is so interesting and important that
I quote his words: "But though the idea of a pre-kosmic Demiurgus
found little favor among the Grecian schools of philosophy before
the Christian era, it was greatly welcomed among the Hellenizing Jews
at Alexandria, from Aristobulus (about B. C. 150) down to
Philo. It formed the suitable point of conjunction between Hellenic
and Judaic speculation. The marked distinction drawn by Plato between
the Demiurgus, and the constructed or generated Kosmos, with its
in-dwelling gods, provided a suitable place for the Supreme God of the
Jews, degrading the pagan gods by comparison. The 'Timæus' was compared
with the book of Genesis, from which it was even affirmed that Plato
had copied. He received the denomination of the Atticising Moses--Moses
writing in Attic Greek. It was thus that the Platonic 'Timæus' became
the medium of transition from the polytheistic theology, which served
as philosophy among the early ages of Greece, to the omnipotent
monotheism to which philosophy became subordinated after the Christian

Perhaps there is no more remarkable fact than this in the whole history
of philosophical speculation. Possibly Mr. Spencer would say that it
adds another proof to his ghost-theory. But the important fact is that
Plato's Demiurgus partakes in no degree of the ghost idea, and, instead
of being a modification of that idea, is an original and perfectly
independent conception. The Demiurgus of Plato is not a chief spirit
evolved in imagination out of a hierarchy of spirits. He is himself the
originator and fashioner of the gods, of whom he makes use as ministers
in the formation of the bodies of the primitive men, after he has
himself formed the souls which are to inhabit them for a season.

It appears, by Mr. Grote's citations from Gfrörer, that the latter had
previously noted what Aristobulus maintained one hundred and fifty
years earlier than Philo, namely, that "not only the oldest Grecian
poets, Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus, etc., but also the most celebrated
thinkers, especially Plato, had acquired all their wisdom from a
very old translation of the Pentateuch." Neither of these modern
critics appears to have accepted the assertion of Aristobulus, and
its intrinsic improbability is very great. Certainly the internal
evidence of the "Timæus" negatives the assumption that Plato had seen
the Pentateuch, for his Demiurgus is not the God of Moses, although
it was very natural for the Alexandrian Jews to think they recognized
a resemblance. Mr. Grote, moreover, seems to put this matter beyond
doubt, for he says that the Platonic "Timæus" _became the medium of
transition_ from the polytheism of early Greece to the monotheism
of the Christian era. This implies very clearly that Mr. Grote did
not consider the Demiurgus of Plato to be either derived from the
polytheism of the early Grecian ages, on the one hand, or from the
Mosaic Jehovah, on the other hand, but that he considered it a
conception which stood between them. The point of resemblance is in
the idea of a divine and supreme personal actor in the production of

It does not seem, therefore, that a philosopher at the present day is
confined to the source of the primitive religion, be that source what
it may. The primitive religion, whether its origin was fetichism or a
belief in ghosts, has imposed no shackles upon our minds. The beliefs
of the primitive men may have originated as Mr. Spencer supposes, but
the question for us--revelation being laid aside--is just what it was
for Plato, the difference being that our means of investigation are
superior to his. The grounds of our belief in a personal God are not
the same as those on which the uncivilized races formed first the idea
of a wandering double emanating from the human body, then conceived
of spirits or ghosts, next of different orders of spirits or ghosts,
and finally of a chief and supreme spirit. Our materials for sound
deduction are not the same as those of the primitive races of mankind,
or of the uncivilized tribes of the present day. I have before remarked
that the intellectual effort of a savage in striving for the idea of a
deity is the same kind of effort as that of the civilized and educated
man; but that the difference between them is in the growth and activity
of the reasoning power, and in the materials on which it is exercised.
While our barbarian predecessors lived in an age of ignorance, we live
in an age of knowledge. We are surrounded by extraordinary discoveries,
and are possessed of the means of still further research. They had
almost no means for investigating physical phenomena. We are, or ought
to be, disciplined reasoners. They, on the contrary, while able to
reason correctly on a very few subjects, could not reason correctly
on all subjects. We are, or ought to be, capable of subjecting the
materials which the phenomena of nature spread before us, to sound
processes of thought and to logical deductions. We are, or ought to
be, capable of discriminating between that which is really inscrutable
and that which is not so. We are, or ought to be, able to know when we
are within the bounds of possible thought, and when we transcend them.
We are, or ought to be, able to see that the existence of phenomena
necessarily implies a causing power; that when the phenomena are such
as we know that man produces, the idea of an intelligent personal actor
is both a legitimate deduction and a perfectly appreciable subject
of thought. Are we not entitled to apply the same reasoning to the
phenomena of nature which we know that man did not produce? And when
we so reason, do we borrow anything whatever from the primitive idea
of ghosts or spirits, whether they are supposed to have first emanated
from human bodies, or to reside in inanimate objects?

There are two distinct values to be assigned to the researches of
science. One of them consists in the practical improvement of the
material condition of society; the lessening of physical evil, the
increase of physical good; the advancement of our power over matter.
In an age intensely devoted to this materialistic improvement, there
will be a great accumulation of physical knowledge. At the same
time there are accumulating in the same ratio new materials for
philosophical speculation concerning the causes of the phenomena that
are investigated. The specialists who carry on the investigations
may not always be the best reasoners in the application of the new
materials to the purpose of philosophical inquiry into the producing
causes of the phenomena. But the other distinct value of their
investigations consists in the accumulation of materials from which the
philosopher can deduce the existence of an actor in the production of
the phenomena. When, from these materials, constantly accumulating and
constantly to be used in a uniform process of reasoning to which the
human mind is both able and obliged to resort, the philosopher deduces
the conception of a supreme, personal, intelligent being, he assigns
to that being just those attributes which the phenomena of nature
compel him to believe in, because if the attributes did not exist the
phenomena of nature could not have become what they are. There can be
no reason to suppose that as the materials increase, as the researches
of science, for whatever purpose carried on, lead to greater and still
greater accumulations of knowledge, the law of thought by which we
deduce the idea of an actor in the production of phenomena will change,
or that the logical necessity for conceiving, or the intellectual
capacity to conceive of, the attributes of that actor will either
diminish or fade away. An Omnipotent Power without attributes, or one
to which no attributes can be assigned, is not likely to be the end of
all philosophical speculation about the ultimate cause. Power without
attributes, power without a determining will, power without guidance,
or purposes, or objects, is not a conception to which a well-trained
intellect is now likely to attain; and the greater the accumulation of
physical knowledge becomes, the greater will be the necessity to such
an intellect for recognizing attributes, and for assigning them to the
power which is manifested by the phenomena.

According to Mr. Spencer, the process by which mankind are ultimately
to lose the consciousness of a personal Deity is the following:
Anthropomorphic attributes were at first ascribed to the single great
supernatural agent of whom the primitive men conceived. But in our
days, the idea of such a supreme supernatural agent has come to retain
but a few of these attributes. These few will eventually be lost,
and there will be nothing left but a consciousness of an Omnipotent
Power to which no attributes can be ascribed. The probability of
this result depends upon the necessity for ascribing what are called
anthropomorphic attributes to the Supreme Being; or, in other words, it
depends upon the inquiry whether, in order to ascribe to the Supreme
Being any attributes at all, we are necessarily confined to those which
are anthropomorphic.

"Anthropomorphism," a term compounded from the Greek ἄνθρωπος, man,
and μορφή, form, has come to signify the representation of the Deity
under a human form, or with human attributes and affections. It is
therefore important to know what we in fact do, when reasoning on the
phenomena of nature, we reach the conclusion that they must have had
an author or producer, and then ascribe to him certain attributes. The
fact that the ancient religious beliefs ascribed to the Supreme Being
grossly anthropomorphic attributes, is unimportant. So is the fact that
the anthropomorphic attributes have been slowly diminishing in the
conceptions of the reasoning and cultivated part of mankind. The really
important question is whether there can be no conception of a Supreme
Being without ascribing to him attributes which liken him to man; or
whether, when the anthropomorphic attributes are lost, the idea of a
personal God will be lost.

The essential character of any anthropomorphic or human
attribute--power for example, or wisdom, or goodness--is that it is
limited, imperfect, and liable to error. But when we conceive of these
qualities as existing in absolute perfection and boundless capacity,
while we retain the idea that they are personal qualities, we in fact
divest them of their anthropomorphic or human character. It is a
contradiction in terms to say that an imperfect human capacity is the
same attribute as a divine and unlimited capacity. The difficulty with
the ancient religious beliefs, the whole error of anthropomorphism,
was that the conceptions stopped short of the idea of unlimited power,
wisdom, and benevolence. The attributes ascribed to the Deity likened
him to man in form, character, powers, dispositions, passions. He was
an exaggerated human being, with vastly more power, more skill, more
wisdom, but still with the same kind of power, skill, and wisdom,
actuated by like motives and governed by like passions. Now the truth
is, that the difference between a limited and imperfect attribute of
character and one that is boundless--power, for example--is more than
a difference of degree. It is a difference in kind; for while in both
cases we conceive of a personal capacity to act and a will to guide
the act, in the one case we are thinking of that which is inferior,
limited, and feeble, and in the other case we are thinking of that
which knows no limitations and is absolutely inexhaustible. It is
not true, therefore, that there can be no conception of a Supreme
Being without ascribing to him human attributes. When we reason from
phenomena to the conclusion that they must have had an author--when
we reach the conviction that phenomena must have had a cause, that
there must have been an actor, a process, and a product--we have
to deal with two classes of phenomena. One is the class in which we
know, from the observations of our senses and our experience, that the
author and actor was man. It becomes verified to us with irresistible
certainty that the phenomena of human society were produced by an
actor, and that that actor was man; a personal agent with a limited and
imperfect power. When we turn to the phenomena of nature which we know
that man did not produce, we are led by the same irresistible logical
sequence of thought to the conviction that these phenomena must have
been caused to exist, for human reason revolts at the idea that the
phenomena which exist were not caused to exist. We come immediately
to perceive that the phenomena of nature are of such a character that
the power which has produced them must not only have been superhuman,
but it must have been absolutely boundless. At the moment we depart
from the investigation of phenomena which belong in the department of
human efforts, and come to the phenomena which belong in the department
of nature alone, while the necessity for a personal actor continues,
the character and capacities of the actor become entirely changed.
We see that the phenomena of nature required for their production
power without limitation, skill incapable of error, benevolence that
was inexhaustible. We thus pass entirely away from anthropomorphic
attributes, to the conception of attributes that are not human. We
may go on to divest the idea of a Supreme Being of all the attributes
that can appropriately be classed as anthropomorphic, and there will
still remain the conception of a Supreme Being to whom we not only may
but must ascribe attributes that are forced upon our convictions, not
because some of them belong in an inferior degree to man, but because
all of them are of such a character that if they did not exist in
boundless perfection the phenomena of nature could not have existed.

Among the origins which have been assigned to religious beliefs,
there is one remarkable hypothesis which may be contrasted with the
ghost-theory, and which, so far as the beliefs of cultivated men at
the present day are concerned, is about as important as the origin of
the belief in ghosts, or as fetichism. It seems that some of the Greek
philosophers and historians, entirely regardless of the ghost-theory as
the origin of beliefs in supernatural beings, considered that they were
fictions invented by the first lawgivers, and promulgated by them for
useful purposes. Belief in the gods was thus imposed by the authority
of those who organized society and dictated what men were to believe in
order to exercise a useful restraint. Plato himself regarded this as
the origin of what the communities around him believed respecting the
attributes and acts of the gods; the matters believed being fictions
prescribed by the lawgivers. In his "Republic," in which he sketches
the entire political, social, ethical, and religious constitution of
an ideal city, assuming it to be planned and put in operation by an
absolute and unlimited authority, he laid it down as essential for
the lawgiver to determine what the fictions were to be in which his
own community were to be required to believe. Some fictions there
must be; for in the community there would be originally nothing but a
vague emotional tendency to belief in supernatural beings, and this
tendency must be availed of by some positive mythical inventions which
it was for the lawgiver to produce and the citizens to accept. Such
fictions were the accredited stories about the gods and heroes, which
formed the religious beliefs among Plato's contemporaries, and were
everywhere embodied in the works of poets, painters, and sculptors,
and in the religious ceremonies. But the ancient fictions were, in
Plato's opinion, bad, inasmuch as they gave wrong ethical ideas of the
characters of the gods. They did not rest upon traditionary evidence,
or divine inspiration, being merely pious frauds, constructed by
authority and for an orthodox purpose. But they did not fulfill the
purpose as well as they should have done. Accordingly, Plato directs
in his "Republic" the coinage of a new body of legends, for which he
claims no character of veracity, but which will be more in harmony
with what he conceives to be the true characters of the gods, and
will produce a more salutary ethical effect upon those who are to
be the efficient rulers of the commonwealth after it is founded. As
the founder of his ideal city, he claims and exercises an exclusive
monopoly of coining and circulating such fictions, and they are to
be absolutely accepted by those who are to constitute its rulers,
and who are to promulgate and teach them to the community, as the
physician administers wholesome remedies. To prevent the circulation of
dissenting narratives, he establishes a peremptory censorship. There is
thus no question of absolute truth or absolute falsehood. That is true
which is stamped at the mint of the lawgiver, and that is false which
he interdicts.[103]

Nowhere has orthodoxy been rested more distinctly upon the basis of
absolute human authority--authority acting upon the highest motives of
the public good, for the most salutary purposes, but without claiming
anything in the nature of divine inspiration, or even pretending to any
other truth than conformity to preconceived ideas of the characters
of the gods. As evidence of what Plato regarded as the origin of the
religious beliefs which were held by his contemporaries, his "Republic"
is an important testimony; for he assigns almost nothing to mankind in
general, but an emotional tendency to believe in invisible quasi-human
agents, of whom they had no definite conceptions, and at the same time
they were entirely ignorant of recorded history, past and present.
They needed distinct legendary fictions and invented narratives; these
were furnished to them by those who could coin them, and were accepted
upon the authority of those who promulgated them. Those who first
embodied the fictions as narratives were the oldest poets; in progress
of time the authority which dictated belief in them came to be the
state. Plato rejected the fictions of the state, and in his "Republic"
proposed to substitute fictions of his own. The testimony of Plato,
therefore, in respect to the origin of religious beliefs in the early
ages of Greece is decidedly against the ghost-theory, whatever support
may be found for that theory in the beliefs of the uncivilized races
of our own day, or in the beliefs of other nations of antiquity. But
neither the ghost-theory, as the origin of beliefs in supernatural
beings, nor the origin of such beliefs in the will of the lawgiver,
which Plato clearly held in his "Republic" to be the foundation of
orthodoxy, is any test or measure of what philosophy may attain to as a
rational conception at the present day.[104]

I propose, therefore, to imagine a man of mature years, without any
religious prepossessions whatever, a perfectly independent thinker,
furnished with the knowledge that is now within the easy reach of human
acquisition, capable of correct reasoning, and with no bias to any kind
of belief. It is only necessary to personify in one individual the
intellectual capacity of the cultivated and educated part of mankind,
but without the religious ideas instilled into them by education, in
order to have a valuable witness to the mental processes and results
which can be followed and attained by a right employment of our
faculties. And, the better to exhibit the processes and results, I
propose to let this imaginary person discuss in the form of dialogue,
in which another imaginary interlocutor shall be a modern disciple of
the evolution school, whatever topics would be likely to come into
debate between such persons.


 [93] "Essays," vol. iii, pp. 293-296.

 [94] For the answer to the objection that we thus ascribe
 anthropomorphic attributes to the Supreme Being, see _infra._

 [95] Webster's Dictionary, "Phenomenon."

 [96] Our other American lexicographer, Worcester, who was pretty
 strict in regard to the words which he admitted into the English
 language, gives the word "noumenon," but he was careful to designate
 its arbitrary use. His definition is this:

 "Noumenon, _n._ [Gr. νοῦς, the mind.] In the philosophy of Kant, an
 object in itself, not relatively to us; opposed to _phenomenon_.

 [97] Prof. Huxley, who claims a sort of patent right or priority of
 invention in the term and doctrine "agnosticism."

 [98] "There are some things I know and some things I believe," said
 the Syrian; "I know that I have a soul, and I believe that it is
 immortal." ...

 "I wish I could assure myself of the personality of the Creator," said
 Lothair; "I cling to that, but they say it is unphilosophical!" "In
 what sense," asked the Syrian, "is it more unphilosophical to believe
 in a personal God, omnipotent and omniscient, than in natural forces,
 unconscious and irresistible? Is it unphilosophical to combine power
 with intelligence?"--_Disraeli's "Lothair."_

 [99] The practice of judging of the future by the past is sometimes
 treated as if it were a mere habit of the uncultivated and
 undisciplined part of mankind--a kind of mental weakness. Undoubtedly,
 our past experience is not always an infallible guide to what is to
 be our experience in the future. We often have to correct our past
 experience, by carefully separating the accidental from the essential;
 by more comprehensive analysis of the facts which constitute our
 former experience. But when we have full, comprehensive, and accurate
 views of that which has happened to us heretofore, our beliefs in what
 is to happen to us hereafter are not only attained by a safe process
 of reasoning, but that process is imposed upon us by a law of our
 mental constitution.

 [100] "Nineteenth Century" for November, 1884, p. 827.

 [101] Grote's "Plato," iii, pp. 284, 285.

 [102] Grote's "Plato," iii, p. 285, and notes.

 [103] Grote's "Plato," iii, p. 181 _et seq._

 [104] The contradictions between Plato's ideas of the origin of
 beliefs in the gods, as given in his various writings, are of course
 unimportant in reference to the present discussion. In the "Timæus,"
 as Mr. Grote has pointed out, Plato "accepts the received genealogy
 of the gods, upon the authority of the sons and early descendants of
 the gods. These eons must have known their own fathers; we ought,
 therefore, to 'follow the law and believe them,' though they spoke
 without either probable or demonstrative proof.... That which Plato
 here enjoins to be believed is the genealogy of Hesiod and other
 poets, though he does not expressly name the poets." (Grote, iii, p.
 189, note.) In other words, the sons of the gods are authoritative
 witnesses to their genealogy, whose _ipsi diximus_ must be believed.
 On the other hand, in his "Republic" and "Leges," Plato rejects the
 authority of those witnesses, and boldly proclaims that their legends
 are fictions, which must be displaced by better fictions, more
 consonant to a true ethical conception of the characters of the gods.
 It is the province of the lawgiver to supply these better legends, but
 they are all the while fictions, although the multitude do not know
 that they are so. Mr. Grote accounts for these and other discrepancies
 in the writings of Plato by explaining that his different dialogues
 are not interdependent productions, but separate disquisitions. (See
 his admirable and critical examination of the Platonic canon, in
 Chapters IV, V, VI, of his first volume.)


 The existence, attributes, and methods of God deducible from the
 phenomena of Nature--Origin of the solar system.

In all that has been said in the preceding chapters respecting the
two hypotheses of special creation and evolution, the existence and
attributes of the Supreme Being have been assumed. The question of the
existence and attributes of God has been reserved for discussion as
an independent inquiry; and this inquiry it is now proposed to make,
without any reference to the teachings of revealed religion, or to
the traditionary beliefs of mankind. The simple idea of God, which I
suppose to be capable of being reached as a philosophical deduction
from the phenomena of the universe, embraces the conception of a
Supreme Being existing from and through all eternity, and possessed of
the attributes of infinite power and goodness, boundless, that is to
say in faculties, incapable of error, and of supreme beneficence. While
this idea of God corresponds with that which has been held from an
early period under more or less of the influence exerted by teachings
which have been accepted as inspired, or as authorized by the Deity
himself, the question here to be considered is whether the same idea of
God is a rationally philosophical deduction from the phenomena of the
universe without the aid of revelation.

In order to conduct this inquiry so as to exclude all influence of
traditionary beliefs derived from sources believed to have been
inspired, or from any authority whatever, let us suppose a man to
have been born into this world in the full maturity of average human
faculties, as they are found in well-disciplined intellects of the
present age, but without any inculcated ideas on religious subjects.
In the place of education commencing in infancy and carried on to the
years of maturity, in the course of which more or less of dogmatic
theology would have become incorporated almost with the texture of the
mind, let us suppose that the mind of our inquirer is at first a total
blank in respect to a belief in or conception of such a being as God,
but that his intellectual powers are so well developed that he can
reason soundly upon whatever comes within the reach of his observation
or study. Let us further imagine him to be so situated that he can
command at will the knowledge that science, as it now exists, could
furnish to him, and that he is able to judge impartially any theories
with which he meets. Such a person would be likely to deal rationally
and independently with any question that might arise in the course of
his investigations; and the fundamental question that would be likely
to present itself to his mind would be, How came this universe and its
countless phenomena to exist?

Stimulated by an eager curiosity, but careful to make his
investigations with entire coolness of reasoning, let us suppose
that our inquirer first turns his attention to the phenomena of the
solar system, and to what astronomy can teach him in regard to its
construction. He finds it to consist of--

1. The sun, a great central body giving forth light and heat.

2. A group of four interior planets: Mercury, Venus, the Earth, and

3. A group of small planets, called asteroids, revolving beyond the
orbit of Mars, and numbering, according to the latest discoveries,
about two hundred and twenty.

4. A group of four planets beyond the asteroids: Jupiter, Saturn,
Uranus, and Neptune.

5. The satellites of the planets, of which there are twenty now known;
all but three of them belonging to the outer planets.

6. An intermediate number of bodies called comets and meteors, which
revolve in very eccentric orbits.

This system of bodies, constituting a mechanism by itself, apart from
what are called the fixed stars, is the first object in nature to which
our inquirer directs his studies. Inasmuch as the comets and meteors
move in very eccentric orbits, and are supposed to come into our system
from the illimitable spaces beyond it, although in the case of the
comets, or some of them, mathematical calculations enable astronomers
to predict their return when they have passed out of the solar system,
and inasmuch as the sun and the superior planets may be contemplated
as a grand piece of mechanism, and as the greatest mechanical object
in nature of whose construction and movements we have some accurate
knowledge, we will suppose that our inquirer confines his attention
to this part of the solar system, without adverting to the action of
the bodies which are not always, as these are, within the range of the

One of the first things that would strike him would be the enormous
range in the sizes, distances, and relative weights of these different
bodies. He would learn, for example, that Neptune is eighty times as
far from the sun as Mercury, and that Jupiter is several thousand times
as heavy; and he would observe that these differences in magnitude,
distance from the sun, and weight of each mass, are carried through a
range of proportions stupendously great. If he followed the best lights
of modern astronomy, he would learn that what is known, or accepted as
known, in regard to the operation of any law among these bodies, is
that they are bound together by the law of universal gravitation as
a force to which all matter would be subjected when it should come to
exist, in whatever forms it might be distributed; secondly, that when
the bodies now composing the solar system should come into existence,
the system would not owe its proportions to the operation of the law of
gravitation, but would be the result of a plan so shaped as to admit
of its being governed by the law of gravitation after the system had
been made, in such a manner as to produce regularity and certainty of
movement and to prevent dislocation and disturbance. What the great
modern telescopes have enabled astronomers to discover tends very
strongly to show that the plan of the solar system, in respect to the
relative distances, magnitudes, and revolutions of the different bodies
around the sun, and their relations to that central body and to each
other, are not the result of any antecedent law which gradually evolved
this particular plan, but that the plan itself was primarily designed
and executed as one on which the law of gravitation could operate
uniformly, and so as to prevent any disturbance in the relations of the
different bodies to each other.[105]

An illustration will help to make the meaning of this apparent. Let
us suppose a human artificer to project the formation of a complex
mechanism, in which different solid bodies would be made to revolve
around a central body; and let us imagine him to be situated outside
of the earth's attraction, so that its attraction would not disturb
him. He would then have to consider the law of gravitation only in
reference to its operation among the different bodies of his machine;
and he would adjust their relative distances, weights, and orbits of
revolution around the central body, so that the law of gravitation,
instead of producing dislocation and disturbance, would bind the
whole together in a fixed system of movement, by counteracting the
centrifugal tendency of a revolving body to depart from its intended
orbit, and at the same time relying on the effect of the two forces in
preventing the revolving bodies from falling into the center or from
rushing off into the endless realms of space.

This is what may well be supposed to have taken place in the formation
of the solar system, for it is consistent with the law which must have
preceded the existence of that system. We can not suppose that the law
of gravitation was itself a mere result of the relative distances,
magnitudes, and orbits of the different bodies. This supposition would
make gravitation not a law, but a phenomenon. We do indeed arrive at
the existence of the law of gravitation by observing the actions of
the bodies which compose the solar system; in other words, we discover
the law that holds them together, by observing their actions. But we
should entirely reverse the proper process of reasoning, if we were to
conclude that the law of gravitation is a phenomenon resulting from
an arrangement of certain bodies according to a certain plan. The
discoveries of astronomy, on the contrary, should lead us to regard
gravitation as a universal law, which existed before the existence of
the bodies which have been subjected to it. This is the only way in
which our inquirer could reason in regard to the formation of the solar
system, whether he supposed its plan to have been a special creation,
or to have been evolved out of a nebulous vapor by the operation of
the laws of motion or any other laws. Reasoning upon the hypothesis
that the law of gravitation existed before there were any bodies for
it to operate upon, or, in other words, that it had become in some
way an ordained or established principle by which all bodies would be
governed, he would have the means of understanding the adaptation of
the solar system to be operated upon by the law which he had discovered.

He would next ask himself, How came this law of gravitation to exist?
That it must have had an origin, must have proceeded from some lawgiver
competent to make and enforce it, would be a conclusion to which he
would be irresistibly led, for the very idea of a law implies that
it is a command proceeding from an authority and power capable of
ordaining and executing it. When it is said that a law is a rule of
action ordained by a supreme power, which is perhaps the most familiar
as it is the most exact definition, the idea of a command and of a
power to enforce it is necessarily implied. This is just as true of a
physical as it is of a moral law; of a law that is to govern matter as
of a law that is to govern moral and accountable beings. Both proceed
from a supreme authority and power, and both are commands. There is,
however, one distinction between a moral law and a law of Nature,
which relates to the mode in which we arrive at a knowledge of the
law; a distinction which our inquirer would learn in the course of his
investigations. We infer the existence of a law of Nature, or a law
designed to operate upon matter, from the regularity and uniformity
of certain physical phenomena. As the phenomena occur always in the
same way we infer it to be an ordinance of Nature that they shall
occur in that way. But the moral phenomena exhibited by the actions
of men have not this regularity and uniformity. They are sometimes
in accordance with and sometimes grossly variant from any supposed
rule of moral action. We can not, therefore, deduce a moral law from
our observation of the actions of the beings whom it was designed to
govern, but we must discover it from the rules of right reason and
from such information as has been given to us by whatever revelation
may have come to us from another source than our own minds. But this
distinction between the modes of reaching a knowledge of physical
and moral laws does not apply to the authority from which they have
proceeded. Both of them being commands, or fixed rules of action, both
must have had an enacting authority. We learn the one by observing the
phenomena of Nature. We learn the other from reason and revelation.

To return now to the examination of the solar system, which our
inquirer is supposed to be prosecuting. The study, which astronomy
and its implements will have enabled him to make, has taught him
the existence of the law of gravitation, and has led him to the
conclusion that it must have had an enacting authority. Following out
the operation of this law, through the stupendous spaces of the solar
system, he would begin to form conclusions respecting the attributes
of its author. He would see that the power must have been superhuman;
in other words, that it must have immeasurably transcended anything
that can be imagined of power wielded by a being of less than infinite
capacities; for, although the space occupied by the solar system, from
the central sun out to the orbit of the planet Neptune, is a measurable
distance, the conception of the law of gravitation, and its execution,
through such an enormous space and among such a complex system of
bodies, evince a faculty in the lawgiver that must have been boundless
in power and skill. The force of gravitation is found to exactly
balance the centrifugal tendency of the bodies revolving around the
sun, so that, when once set in motion around that center, they remain
in their respective orbits and never fall into the sun or into each
other. Our learner would thus see the nature of the adjustment required
to produce such a result; and, even if he endeavored to follow out
this balancing of forces no farther than to the extreme boundary of
the solar system, he would see that the being, who could conceive and
execute such a design on such a scale, must have had supreme power and
boundless intelligence. So that, by the study of the solar system, as
its arrangements and movements are disclosed by astronomy, our inquirer
would be naturally led to the conception of a lawgiver and artificer of
infinite power and wisdom, ordaining the law of gravitation to operate
against the centrifugal force, which would otherwise conduct out of its
orbit a body revolving around a center, and then adjusting the relative
distances, weights, and revolutions of the different bodies, so as to
subject them to the operation of the great law that is to preserve them
in fixed relations to each other.

If, next, our inquirer should go farther in his investigations of the
solar system, and endeavor to satisfy himself concerning the mode in
which the different bodies of this system came into existence in their
respective positions, the history of astronomy would teach him that
there has been a theory on this subject which fails to account for
the existence of this system of bodies without the hypothesis of some
special creation. This theory is what is called the nebular hypothesis.
It supposes that the solar system was evolved out of a mass of fiery
vapor, which filled the stellar spaces, and which became the bodies
now observable by the telescope, and that they were finally swung into
their respective places by the operation of the fixed laws of motion.
But all that astronomers now undertake to say is that this hypothesis
is a probably true account of the origin of the solar system, and not
that it is an established scientific fact, or a fact supported by
such proofs as those which show the existence of the laws of motion.
The history of the nebular hypothesis, from the time of its first
suggestion to the present day, shows that there are no satisfactory
means of accounting for the method in which the supposed mass of
fiery vapor became separated, consolidated, and formed into different
bodies, and those bodies became ranged and located in their respective
positions. The hypothesis that these results were all produced by
fixed laws working upon a mass of fiery vapor, is one that has been
reasoned out in very different ways; and this diversity of views is
such that astronomers of the higher order do not undertake to say that
opinions may not reasonably differ in regard to the principal question,
namely, the question between the nebular hypothesis and the hypothesis
of a special act or acts of creation.

Inasmuch, therefore, as scientific astronomy would present to our
inquirer nothing but the nebular hypothesis to account for the
production of the bodies of the solar system as they now exist, and as
there are admitted difficulties in this hypothesis which may not be
insurmountable but which have not been as yet by any means overcome,
it can not be said that philosophers are warranted in assuming that
all the phenomena of the solar system are to be explained by this
theory. The hypothesis that the phenomena, or some part of them, have
been produced by a cause operating in a different way, that is, by
an act or acts of intentional and direct or special creation, is not
excluded by the discoveries of the astronomer. Those discoveries lie
in the domain of astronomy, and they do not exclude the hypothesis of
a special creation of the solar system upon the plan on which we find
it arranged. The latter hypothesis lies in the domain of philosophy. It
is to be judged by the inquiry whether it is a rational explanation of
phenomena, which astronomy does not show as an established scientific
fact, or by proofs that ought to be deemed satisfactory, to have been
produced by the method suggested by the nebular hypothesis.

The philosophic reasoning, which would conduct our inquirer to his
conclusions, would begin for him with the existence of an omnipotent
being, by whom the laws of matter and motion were established. This
conception and belief he has attained from having discovered those
laws, which must have had an author. He would soon hear the scientist
speak of "natural" and "supernatural" methods, and he would understand
that by the former is meant the operation of certain fixed laws, and,
by the latter, a mode of action in a different way. But he would also
and easily understand that the power which could establish the laws
of matter and motion, the operation of which the scientist calls the
natural method, could equally act in another way, which the scientist
calls the supernatural, but which, in the eye of philosophy, is just
as competent to the Infinite Power as the method called natural. To
state it in different words, but with the same meaning, that which
the scientist calls the supernatural is to the philosopher just as
conceivable and just as consistent with the idea of a supreme being as
the order of what we call Nature; for Nature is the phenomena that are
open to our observation, and from which we deduce the probable method
by which they have been brought about. It will never do to say that
they could not have been produced by a cause operating differently from
a system of fixed laws so long as we reason from the hypothesis of the
existence and attributes of a Supreme Being. If we reason without that
hypothesis, we may persuade ourselves of anything or of nothing.

This idea of a Supreme Being, possessed of the attributes of infinite
power and wisdom, is one that our inquirer would have reached as a
rational deduction from the operation of a law (gravitation) which must
have had an author; from the structure of a mechanism so designed as to
be governed successfully by that law, and from the execution of the law
through such enormous spaces that nothing short of infinite power and
wisdom could have produced the result.

At this stage of his investigations, our inquirer encounters a modern
scientist. I shall take the liberty of coining convenient names for
these two interlocutors: calling the one Sophereus, as representing
the spirit of unprejudiced research in the formation of beliefs without
the influence of previous teaching; and the other Kosmicos, as a
representative of the dogmatic school of evolution and agnosticism.

Sophereus has imparted to his scientific friend the conclusions which
he has thus far reached, concerning the existence and attributes of a
supreme lawgiver and artificer, as deduced from the phenomena of the
solar system. The discussion between them then proceeds as follows:

KOSMICOS. I do not wish to convince you at present of my
own views on this subject, but I put before you a difficulty which
you ought to solve, if you can, to your own satisfaction, before you
proceed farther. You have learned of the law of gravitation; and you
have imagined a being who has established this and other laws by which
matter is to be governed. To this being you have imputed certain
personal attributes, which you call infinite power and boundless
wisdom. Observe now that the laws to which you assign this origin are
of perpetual duration; they have operated without change from the
remotest period of their existence just as they operate now, and we
have no reason to doubt that they will continue to operate in the same
way through the indefinite future. They constitute the order of Nature.
Now, you suppose a Supreme Being, who has established these invariable
laws, but has not left them anything to do; has not left to them the
production of the solar system, but has specially interposed, and in a
supernatural mode of action has constructed the machine which has the
sun for its center and the surrounding bodies which revolve about it.
How can you suppose that the same being has acted in different ways?
How can you suppose that the being who you imagine established the
general laws of Nature and gave to them a fixed operation throughout
the universe, so that they never would be suspended or interrupted,
has gone aside from them, and made occasional constructions by special
interpositions of his power? Is it not a contradiction to suppose that
an Almighty Being, who must have acted by uniform methods without
reference to occasions, has acted on certain occasions by special
methods that were not uniform with his fixed laws? Does not this
hypothesis imply that his fixed laws were insufficient for the purposes
for which he designed them, and that he had to resort to other means?
How do you get over this difficulty?

SOPHEREUS. What you propound as a difficulty does not disturb
me. I understand the distinction which you make between the natural
and the supernatural. I can see in the solar system how the law of
gravitation and all the other laws of motion operate; but I do not
see, nor can you explain, how these laws, or the laws of chemical
combination or any other laws, can have evolved the plan of the solar
system out of a mass of fiery vapor. I can understand the enactment and
establishment of laws of motion, of chemical combination, and of the
mechanical action of different states of matter upon each other, to
operate in fixed and invariable ways, in certain conditions. But I do
not see that there is any interruption or displacement of these laws,
after they are established, when an end that is to be accomplished
calls for a complex system of new objects among which they are to
operate. It is manifest that the question is whether the different
bodies of the solar system have been formed and placed in their
respective positions, according to a special design of their relative
distances, magnitudes, and orbits, or whether these are the results
of the operation of fixed laws, without any special interposition
of a creating power. Astronomers have not explained how the latter
hypothesis is anything more than a probable conjecture. It remains
for me to consider whether the hypothesis of a special interposition,
whereby the plan of the solar system has been made, is attended with
the difficulty which you suggest. We are reasoning about a period of
the remote past when this system of bodies did not exist, but when the
general laws that were to govern all matter may be supposed to have
been previously ordained. If we think of the solar system, conceived
and projected by the Supreme Being, as a complex mechanism that was to
exist in Nature, the occasion would be one calling for the exercise
of infinite wisdom and power. The production of such a mechanism, to
answer any ends for which it was intended that it should exist, implies
attributes that transcend all our human experience of the qualities of
power and wisdom. That it was an occasional exercise of power, in no
way implies any irregularity or inconsistency of method, if the power
was so exercised as to leave all the general laws of Nature in full
operation, so that there would be no clashing between what you call
the natural and the supernatural. I have first to ascertain what was
the probably intended scope of the general laws which are supposed to
have been ordained before the solar system came into existence. If
it appears to have been the purpose of the constructor to have these
laws work out this system of bodies without any special interposition
and formative skill directly exercised, I need go no further. But I
see no evidence of that purpose. No one has suggested anything but a
theory on this subject, which is not supported by any satisfactory
proofs. I am left, therefore, to the consideration of the question
whether an act of special interposition, in the formation of a plan
obviously calling for the exercise of infinite wisdom and power, is
in any way inconsistent with the establishment of a system of laws
which were to operate on these bodies and among them after they had
come to exist. My conclusion, from what I have learned of the solar
system, is, that in the exercise by the same being of the method which
you call the natural, and the exercise of the method which you call
the supernatural, there is no inconsistency; that each of the fixed
laws of matter and motion was designed to have its own scope; and that
each of them may well consist, within its limitations, with occasional
exercises of power, for the production of objects that were to be
operated upon by the laws, but of which they were not designed to be
the producing cause. Thus it seems to me to be a rational conclusion
that the law of gravitation, the general laws of motion, and all the
other laws of matter, which preceded the existence of the solar system,
were not designed to be the agents by which the plan of that system
would be worked out, but that the plan was so formed and executed that
the bodies composing it would be subject to the operation of laws
enacted by the Infinite Will for the government of all the forms of
matter. The question is, whether the plan of the solar system is due to
the operation of the fixed laws, or to a special interposition; or, to
state it in another way, whether the whole of the phenomena, the plan
and arrangement of the solar system included, are to be referred to the
operation of certain fixed laws as the producing agents, or whether
some part of the phenomena, namely, the mechanism of the system,
should be referred to the special interposition. I am taught, by the
physics on which astronomers are now agreed, that gravitation is a
force by which the particles of matter act on each other; _that every
particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle with
a force varying directly as their masses, and inversely as the square
of the distance which separates them_. This I understand to be the
formula in which the law of universal gravitation is expressed. But,
for the purpose of illustrating what I understand to be the operation
of this force, I have constructed a diagram, in which two bodies are
represented as A and B. From each of these bodies there radiates in
all directions an attracting force, which acts directly upon every
other body in the universe, and which is represented in the diagram
by dotted lines. In the diagram, the bodies A and B are first supposed
to be one thousand miles apart. A certain portion of the attracting
rays proceeding from A would strike directly upon B. All the other rays
proceeding in the same direction from A would pass on either side of B
without striking it. If B is removed to the distance of two thousand
miles from A, the sum total of the attractive force which A would exert
upon B would be diminished by the square of the distance, because B
would intercept just one fourth of the number of rays proceeding from
A compared with the number which it intercepts when the two bodies
are only one thousand miles apart; and the rays which B does not
intercept would pass along through the realms of space, until they
encountered some other body, on which they would exert a force that
would follow the same law of diminution. In the diagram, the two bodies
A and B may be single particles of matter or collections of particles;
they are represented as cubes; but the law of direct action of the
attracting force and the law of its diminution would be the same if the
bodies were spheres or oblongs. The power of attraction which bodies
exert upon each other resides in every individual particle of matter
composing the body, and the attraction which that body exerts upon
another body is the sum total of the attractions which proceed from all
the particles composing the mass and which impinge upon that other body.


In the diagram the two bodies A and B are supposed to be of the same
mass. If, as in the case of the sun and the earth, one of the bodies
is of far greater mass than the other, then the attraction of the
sun for the earth is the same as the attraction of the earth for the
sun, because the action is mutual; but the sun, being the greater
mass, tends, by reason of its correspondingly greater inertia, to
remain comparatively stationary, or, in other words, it has a greater
resistance to being pulled out of its normal position, while the
earth, having less inertia, is more easily deflected from its straight
course in which its momentum tends to carry it, and so travels in an
orbit around the sun, the resisting or centrifugal pull of the earth,
due to its inertia, exactly balancing the inward pull due to the
mutual attraction. I understand that, besides the law of universal
gravitation, there are two fundamental laws of motion. By one of these
laws, if a body be set in motion and be acted on by no other than the
projectile force, it will move forward in a straight line and with a
uniform velocity forever. But by another law, if the moving body is
acted on by another force than that which originally projected it in
a straight line, it will deviate from that line in the direction of
that other force and in proportion to it. If A, the earth, liable to
be drawn toward B, the sun, by their mutual attraction, was originally
projected into space, at a certain distance from the sun, by a force
which would carry it on in a straight line, it would be acted on by two
forces: the projectile force would cause it to move in a straight line;
the force of the mutual attraction would cause it to deviate from that
line in the direction of the sun. The result would be that the earth
would be carried around the sun in a circular or an elliptical orbit.
Every other planet in the solar system would be under the operation of
the same compound forces governed by the same laws; and while the sun
would exert upon each of them its force of attraction, and they would
each exert upon the others an attractive force that would be diminished
by the squares of their distances from one another, each of them
would be deflected from the straight line that would have otherwise
been the path of its motion, and the result would be a perpetual
revolution around the body that could exert upon each just the amount
of attraction requisite to overcome the projectile force by which it
was first put in motion.

KOSMICOS. You have made an ingenious explanation of the law of
gravitation, which may or may not be correct. But now let me understand
what you infer from this hypothesis, supposing it to be true. What
should have prevented the law of gravitation and the laws of motion
from working out this very system of bodies, by operating upon a mass
of crude matter lying in the universe, supposing it to have been fiery
vapor or anything else?

SOPHEREUS. I have thus far arrived, by the aid of what
astronomy teaches, at a complex system of physical laws, the law of
universal gravitation, and the laws of motion. I must suppose that
these laws had an intelligent author. I must suppose that they were
enacted, in the same sense in which we speak of any rule of action
ordained by a power competent to conceive of it and to put it into
execution. To me, as I view the facts of the solar system, the idea
that the law of gravitation and the laws of motion are to be regarded
as mere phenomena of matter, or as qualities of matter according to
which, from some inherent condition, it must act, does not explain the
solar system. I can not explain to myself what I see, without asking
myself how these qualities of matter came to exist. How came it to
be a condition of all matter that its particles should attract each
other by a certain force according to a certain rule? How came it to
be a law of motion that bodies projected into space should continue to
move on forever in a straight line, unless deviated from that line by
some other force? To say that things happen, but that no power ever
commanded them to happen; that things occur because they do occur, and
not because some power has ordained that they shall occur, is to me an
inconceivable kind of reasoning, if it be reasoning at all. Because men
act or profess to act upon certain principles of moral conduct, I can
not suppose that justice, and truth, and mercy are mere phenomena of
human conduct, that they never had any origin as moral laws in the will
of a lawgiver. For the same reason I can not suppose that the physical
laws of matter, stupendous in their scope, and of unerring certainty in
their operation, did not proceed from an enacting authority. In short,
it seems to me that the conception of power, as something independent
of the qualities of substance, is a logical necessity.

KOSMICOS. I am not now trying to persuade you that the law
of gravitation and the laws of motion did not have an intelligent
author. For the purposes of the argument, I will concede that they were
enacted, as you term it. You have explained your understanding of the
operation of these; laws as they are expressed in the formula given
by astronomers, and for the present I will assume that they operate
in some such way. I will also concede that the idea of power in the
abstract, as something independent of the qualities of substance, is
necessary to the explanation of all physical phenomena. But I now
recall your attention to the point which I originally suggested.
Explain to me how it has happened that the being who you suppose
established certain laws for the government of all matter has not
allowed those laws to evolve out of diffused matter certain bodies
which we find grouped together in the universe, but has specially
interposed by another act, and constructed this system of bodies
without the agency of his own laws. All that we know about the law of
gravitation and the laws of motion we derive from observing the actions
of these bodies which compose the solar system. We infer the existence
of these laws from the actions of these bodies. Now tell me how you
suppose that the same being who ordained these laws as fixed conditions
to which matter was to be subjected, and made them to operate upon all
matter, whether in a crude and unformed state or after it had become
organized into bodies of definite shapes and dimensions, did not rely
upon these inherent conditions of matter to produce those shapes and
dimensions, but went to work by special interposition, and produced the
mechanism of the solar system as a human artificer would make a machine
of a corresponding character.

SOPHEREUS. We must take things in a certain order. I
understand you to concede, for the present, that the laws of
gravitation and motion must, or may, have existed before the sun
and the planets were formed. We are agreed, then, that power has an
existence anterior to and separate from the qualities of substance.
What, then, is the difficulty attending the hypothesis that the
Infinite Power, which devised and established the laws of gravitation
and motion before the bodies of the solar system were formed, so
fashioned and distributed those bodies that while each of them
shall exert upon every other a certain amount of direct attraction,
that attraction shall diminish in a certain fixed ratio, as the
distance between them increases? We can not suppose that the relative
magnitudes, weights, and distances of these bodies were accidental, or
that they resulted from the property of attraction that was given to
the particles of matter of which they are composed. That property of
mutual attraction became at some time a fixed condition of all matter,
but it will not account for the formation of a system of bodies so
adjusted that the attracting force will act among them by a specific
law, by the operation of which they will be prevented from exerting
on each other an excessive amount of such force, or any amount but
that which is exactly needful to preserve their relative distances
from each other. Let it be supposed that the property of attraction
was impressed upon all the particles of matter in the universe, and
then that the Infinite Power, abstaining from all farther action, and
without forming and arranging the bodies of the solar system upon any
intentional plan, left all that plan to be worked out by that property
of matter; what reason have we to conclude that the law of gravitation
would, as the sole efficient cause, have produced just exactly this
complex piece of mechanism, so wonderfully adjusted? What reason have
we to conclude that the property of attraction, although ordained as an
inherent quality of all matter, would not, if left without any special
interposition, have resulted in some very different arrangement and
disposition of the matter lying in the space now occupied by the solar

KOSMICOS. Give me your idea of the condition which is called
"chaos," and I will then explain to you why it is that you do not do
justice to the scientific distinction between the natural and the
supernatural method by which things have been produced as we see them.

SOPHEREUS. I presume you do not mean to ask how I suppose
chaotic matter came to exist. Its origin is one thing--its condition
is another. In regard to its condition, it seems very plain that there
was a period when diffused matter had not received the impress of the
qualities or been subjected to the laws which we now recognize. Take
the Mosaic hypothesis, where it speaks of the earth, for example, as
"without form and void." In this terse expression, there is embraced
the idea of a condition of matter without qualities, properties, or
laws; lying in an utterly crude state, waiting to receive the impress
of the divine will. The laws of motion have not begun to operate upon
it; the laws of chemical combination have not been applied to it. It
is a rational conclusion that this was the condition of things in that
remote period of eternity before the solar system was formed. Chaos,
then, was the condition of primeval matter before it had received the
fixed properties that were afterward to belong to it, and before the
laws that were ever afterward to govern it had been ordained. Lying in
this utterly crude state, without tendencies, without combinations,
without definite motion, floating in the universe without fixed form or
qualities, it awaits the action of the Infinite Power. It pleases that
power, out of its illimitable resources, to bestow upon this chaotic
matter certain properties, and to subject it to certain laws. One of
these properties is that its particles shall attract one another by a
certain force; one of these laws is that this force shall operate by an
invariable and fixed rule of direct action, and by an invariable and
fixed rule of diminution, according to the distance of the particles
from each other; and another law is that a body projected into space,
by any force, shall continue to move in a straight line until and
unless it is deflected from that line by some other force. There
are, too, chemical properties belonging to matter as we know it, by
which it takes on certain combinations and undergoes modifications
and arrangements of its particles. All these properties, qualities,
and laws--these unavoidable methods of action--must have been imposed
upon the chaotic matter at some time by a power competent to establish
them, and to put them in operation. But the laws and the methods of
their operation do not account for the PLAN on which the solar
system has been formed, consisting of different bodies of such shapes,
dimensions, and relative distances, that the laws, when applied to
them, will produce the wonderfully exact and perpetual movements which
the telescope reveals. That PLAN is a _creation_, for which we
must look to something more than the laws and properties of matter; and
we can only find it in the will and purposes of the infinite artificer
who devised the laws by which this mechanism was to be governed after
it had been made, and who has so made it that it would be governed by

KOSMICOS. I do not see that you have yet reached a stronger
ground on which to rest the hypothesis of special interposition than
that on which is based the hypothesis which imputes the formation of
the solar system to certain fixed laws operating upon crude matter
not yet formed into definite shapes or placed in certain relative
positions. You will have to adduce some proof that has a stronger
tendency to exclude the supposition that the mechanism of the solar
system was produced by the laws of matter and motion working upon some
material that lay in the condition which you have described as "chaos."

SOPHEREUS. Let us, then, look a little farther into some of
the details of this vast machine. Take one that is most obvious, and
that lies the nearest to us; I mean the moon, which accompanies our
earth as its satellite. The most remarkable thing about the motion of
the moon is the fact that she makes one revolution on her axis in the
same time that she takes to revolve around the earth, and consequently
she always presents to us the same face, and her other side is never
seen by human eyes. How came this to be the case? How came this to be
the adjustment of the two motions, the axial revolution of the moon and
her revolution around the earth, causing her always to present to us
the same side? It is said by astronomers that the two motions are so
exactly adjusted to each other that the longer axis of the moon always
points to the earth, without the slightest variation. It is conceded,
as I understand, to be infinitely improbable that this adjustment was
the result of chance. A cause for it is therefore to be found. Where
are we to look for that cause, unless we look for it in the will and
design of the Creator, who established it for some special purpose?

KOSMICOS. You are aware that there is a physical explanation
of this phenomenon which accounts for it without the special design.
This explanation is that the moon was once in a partially fluid state,
and that she rotated on her axis in a period different from the present
one. In such a condition, the attraction of the earth would produce
great tides in the fluid substance of the moon; this attraction,
combined with the centrifugal force of the moon's rotation on her own
axis, would cause a friction, and this friction would retard the rate
of her axial rotation, until it became coincident with the rate of her
revolution around the earth. It is highly improbable that the moon was
originally set in rotation on her axis with just the same velocity with
which she was made to revolve around the earth. This improbability is
based on the ellipticity of the moon's orbit, which is caused by the
attraction of the sun. The mean distance of the moon from the earth
is 240,300 miles; her smallest possible distance is 221,000 miles;
and the greatest possible distance is 259,600. The usual oscillation
between these extremes is about 13,000 miles on each side of the mean
distance of 240,300. The diameter of the moon is 2,160 miles, or less
than two sevenths of the earth's diameter. In volume she is about one
fiftieth as large as the earth, but her density, or the specific
gravity of her material, is supposed to be a little more than half
of that of our globe; and her weight is about three and a half times
the weight of the same bulk of water. When she is nearest to the sun,
the superior attraction of that body tends to draw her out of her
circular orbit around the earth; when she is farthest from the sun,
this attraction is diminished, and thus her terrestrial orbit becomes
slightly elliptical. But there is another attraction to be taken into
account. This other attraction, in her former fluid condition, has
given her the shape, not of a perfect sphere, but of an ellipsoid, or
an elongated body with three unequal axes. The shortest of her axes is
that around which she rotates; the next longest is that which points
in the direction in which she is moving; and the longest of all points
toward the earth. This shape of the moon, resulting from the earth's
attraction, has been produced by drawing the matter of the moon which
is nearest to the earth toward the earth, and by the centrifugal force
which tends to throw outward the matter farthest from the earth. The
substance of the moon being a liquid, so as to yield freely, she would
be elongated in the direction of the earth. But if she was originally
set in motion on her own axis at precisely the same rate with which
she was made to revolve around the earth, the correspondence between
the two motions could not have been kept up; her axial rotation would
have varied, by reason of the fact that her relative distance from the
sun and the earth varies with the ellipticity of her orbit around the
earth, and thus the two motions would not correspond. But if we allow
for the attraction of the earth upon a liquid or semi-liquid body,
producing for the moon an elongated shape, her axial rotation would,
if the two motions were in the beginning very near together, vary
with her revolutions around the earth, and the correspondence between
the two motions would be kept up. Here, then, you have a physical
explanation of the phenomenon which strikes you as so remarkable--a
result brought about by natural causes, without the supposition of what
you call intentional design, or formative skill directly exercised by a
supernatural interposition.

SOPHEREUS. This is a very plausible theory, but it all depends
upon two assumptions: First, it assumes it to be extremely improbable
that the two motions were aboriginally made to correspond, by an
intentional adjustment of the moon's weight, dimensions, and shape,
upon such a plan that the laws of gravitation and movement would keep
the two motions in exact correspondence. Why should not the rates
of movement have been originally designed and put in execution as
we find them? You anticipate the answer to this question by another
assumption, namely, that the substance of the moon was at first in a
fluid or semi-fluid state, so that she owed her present shape to the
effect of the earth's attraction, and the centrifugal tendency of
its most distant part to be thrown out of the line of its motion. I
should be glad to have you explain why it is extremely improbable that
the Creator planned this part of the solar system, the earth and its
satellite, and so adjusted the dimensions, shapes, and weights of each
of them, and fixed the rates of revolution of the satellite, that the
laws of attraction and motion would find a mechanism which they would
keep perpetually in operation, and thus preserve a constant relation
between the moon's axial rotation and her revolution around the
earth. I have thus far learned to regard the probable methods of the
Creator somewhat differently from those which you scientists ascribe
to him. Most of you, I observe, have a strong tendency to regard
the Deity as having no specific plan in the production of anything,
which plan he directly executed; and, so far as you regard a First
Cause as the producing cause of phenomena, you limit its activity to
the establishment of certain fixed laws, and explain all phenomena
upon the hypothesis that the Supreme Being--if you admit one--made no
special interpositions of his will and power in any direction, after
he had established his system of general laws. But to me it seems that
the weight of probability is entirely against your hypothesis. In this
particular case of which we have been speaking, that of the moon's
revolution, the supposed improbability of an original and intentional
adjustment of the two motions turns altogether on the argument that if
they had been so adjusted at the beginning they would not have kept
on, and this argument is supported by the assumption that the moon
was at first a mass of fluid. I do not understand this mode of making
facts to support theories; and I wish you would explain to me why, in
this particular instance, the inference of a divine and intentional
plan in the structure of this part of the solar system is so extremely
improbable. To me it seems so obvious a piece of invented mechanism,
that I can not avoid the conclusion that it was the intentional work
of a constructor, any more than I could if I were to find a piece of
mechanism under circumstances which indicated that it was produced by
human hands.

KOSMICOS. You do not even yet do justice to the scientific
method of reasoning. The deductions of science--the conclusions
which the scientist draws from the phenomena of Nature--rest upon
the postulate of fixed laws of Nature, which never change, and which
have not been varied by any supernatural interference. We mean by
a supernatural cause one which is not uniformly in operation, or
which operates in some way different from the fixed laws which we
have deduced from the observed order of the phenomena that we have
studied and found to be invariable. We adopt this distinction between
the natural and the supernatural because the observable phenomena of
Nature do not furnish any means of discovering as a fact the operation
of anything but the fixed laws, or any cause which has acted in a
different way. Let us now apply this to the phenomena which we have
been considering--the composition and arrangement of the solar system.
What do we find? We find a system of bodies in the movements of which
we detect certain fixed laws operating invariably in the same way.
When the question is asked, How were these bodies produced? we have no
means of reaching a conclusion except by reasoning upon the operation
of the forces which these laws disclose, working on the primordial
matter out of which the bodies became formed. It is for this reason
that, in accounting for their existence, we speak of the method of
their formation as the natural, in contradistinction to some other
method which we call the supernatural; by which latter term we mean
some mode in which there has been a power exerted differently from the
established and fixed agency of the laws of matter, which constitute
all that we have ever discovered. The nebular hypothesis affords a
good illustration of the distinction which I am endeavoring to show
you, whether it is well established or not, or is ever likely to be.
It supposes that there was a mass of fiery vapor, floating in the
space now occupied by the solar system. Under the operation of the
laws of gravitation and motion, of mechanical forces and chemical
combination, this crude matter becomes consolidated and formed into
the different bodies known to us as the sun and the planets, and the
laws which thus formed them continue to operate to keep them in the
fixed relations to each other which resulted from the process of their
formation. Whether as a matter of fact the solar system was formed in
this way, this, or some other mode of operation through the action of
certain established laws operating upon primeval matter, is what we
call the natural method, in opposition to the supernatural; and we can
not discover the supernatural method, because the closest and most
extensive investigations never enable us to find in nature any method
of operation but that which acts in a fixed and invariable way.

SOPHEREUS. What you have now said brings me to a question that
I have all along desired to ask you: How do you know that the Infinite
Power never acts, or never has acted, in any way different from the
established order of Nature? Is science able to determine this? If it
is not, it must be for philosophy to consider whether there can have
been, or probably has been, in operation at any time any cause other
than those fixed laws of Nature which the scientist is able to deduce
from observable phenomena. Because science can only discover certain
fixed laws as the forces governing the bodies which compose the solar
system, or governing the materials of which they are supposed to be
made, it does not seem to me that a philosopher is precluded from
deducing, by a proper method of reasoning upon a study of the solar
system, the probable truth that its mechanism was specially planned
and executed by a special act of the creating power. The degree to
which this probability rises--whether it rises higher in the scale
than any other hypothesis--must depend upon the inquiry whether any
other hypothesis will better account for the existence of this great
object, with its enormous mechanism, its adjustments, and its unerring
movements. I must say, from what I have learned of this planetary
system, with the sun as its center, viewed as a mechanism, that I can
conceive of no hypothesis concerning its origin and formation which
compares in probability with the hypothesis that it was directly and
specially created, as we know it, by the Infinite Artificer.

KOSMICOS. Pray, tell me what you mean by an act of creation?
Did you or any other man ever see one? Can you tell what creation is?

SOPHEREUS. I think that your question can be answered.
Creation is the act of giving existence to something that did not
previously exist. We see such acts performed by men, very frequently,
so that we do not hesitate to speak of the product as a created thing.
We do not see acts of creation performed by the Infinite Power, but it
is surely not unphilosophical to suppose that what can be and is done
by finite human faculties, can be and has been done by the infinite
faculties of the Deity, and done upon a scale and in a perfection that
transcend everything that human power has produced. The sense in which
I have been led to conceive of the solar system as a creation is the
same as that by which I represent to myself the production, by human
power and skill, of some physical object which never existed before,
such as a machine, a statue, a picture, a pyramid, or an obelisk; any
concrete object which, whether or not new of its kind, did not as an
individual object previously exist. In weighing the probabilities as
to the mode in which the solar system came to exist, the reasons why
the idea of its special creation stands by far the highest in the scale
are these: 1. There must have been a period when this great object in
nature did not exist, and therefore it must have been caused to exist.
2. The necessary hypothesis of a causing power leads inevitably to the
conclusion that the power was adequate to the production of a system of
bodies so proportioned and arranged that they would act on each other
by certain fixed rules. 3. The causing or creating power must have
conceived the proportions and arrangements of the different bodies as
a plan, and must have executed that plan according to the conception.
4. While as a theory we can represent to ourselves that the causing
power established certain laws of matter and motion, which would by
their fixed operation on crude substances lying in the universe produce
this system of bodies without any preconceived and predetermined plan,
without any occasional or special interposition, yet that the system,
as we find it, is a product of such a nature as to have called for
and required the special interposition of a formative will. For, if
we proceed upon the hypothesis that this enormous and exact mechanism
was nothing but the product of certain pre-established laws operating
on crude matter, without direct and special interposition exerted in
the execution of a formed design, we have to obtain some definite
conception, and to find some proof of a method by which these laws
can have operated to produce this system of bodies exactly as we know
them to be proportioned and arranged. Astronomical science, and all
other science, has not discovered, or even suggested, any method by
which this result could have been brought about, without a special
act of creation in the execution of an original design. On the other
hand, the hypothesis of a special interposition in the execution of a
preconceived plan of construction is the most rational, the most in
accordance with probability, because it best meets the requirements of
the case. These requirements were that the proportions, arrangements,
and relations of the different bodies composing one grand mechanism,
should be such that the laws of gravitation and motion would operate
upon and among them so as to keep them in uniform and unvarying

KOSMICOS. Very well. You have now come to the end of your
reasoning. Tell me, then, why it is not just as rational a supposition
that the Deity conceived of the plan of the solar system as a product
that would result, and that he intended should result, from the
operation of his fixed laws of matter and motion, and then left it to
the unerring certainty of their operation to produce the mechanism by
the process of gradual evolution?

SOPHEREUS. The being who is supposed to hold and exercise
supreme power over the universe, holds a power to execute, by direct
and special creation, any design which he conceives and proposes to
accomplish. I am prepared to concede that the process of gradual
evolution can produce and apparently has produced some results. But
when we are looking for the probable methods of the Deity in the
production of such a mechanism as the solar system, we must recognize
the superior probability of the direct method, because the indirect
method which you describe as gradual evolution does not seem adequate
to the production of such a system of bodies. If we could obtain
facts which could have any tendency to show that, without any special
interposition, the mechanism of the solar system, or any part of it, is
a mere result of the working of the laws of gravitation and motion upon
a mass of crude matter, we might yield assent to the probability of
that occurrence. But of course we have no such facts; we have nothing
but theories; and therefore there appears nothing to exclude the
probable truth of a special creation.

KOSMICOS. We shall not convince each other. You have stated
your conclusions concerning the solar system fairly enough, and I have
endeavored to answer them. But now let me understand how you propose
to apply them to other departments of Nature, in which we have means
of closer investigation. You will find it very difficult, I imagine,
to maintain that every organism, every plant, animal, fish, insect, or
bird, is a special creation, or even that man himself is.

SOPHEREUS. Let me state for myself just what my conclusions
are in regard to the solar system. You will then know what the
convictions are with which I shall come to the study of other
departments. I have arrived at the conception of an Infinite Being
having the power to create anything that seems to him good; and I
have experienced no difficulty in conceiving what an act of creation
is. I have also reached the conviction that there is one great object
in Nature, the existence of which I can not account for without the
hypothesis of some special act of creation. Whether I shall find this
to be the case in regard to every other object in Nature, I can not
now tell. Perhaps, as many of these objects are nearer to us, and more
within our powers of investigation, the result may be different. I
shall endeavor to keep my mind open to the necessary discriminations
which facts may disclose. Possibly I may find reason to reverse the
conclusions at which I have arrived in regard to the solar system, if
I find that the hypothesis of evolution is fairly sustained by other

 NOTE.--Newton, whose reasoning powers have certainly not
 been surpassed by those of any other philosopher, ancient or modern,
 not only deduced the existence of a personal God from the phenomena
 of Nature, but he felt no difficulty in ascribing to the Deity those
 personal attributes which the phenomena of Nature show that he must
 possess, because without them "all that diversity of natural things
 which we find suited to different times and places" could not have
 been produced. They could, he reasons, "arise from nothing but the
 ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing." Newton does indeed
 say that all our notions of God are taken from the ways of mankind;
 but this is by way of allegory and similitude. There is a likeness,
 but not a perfect likeness. There is therefore no necessity for
 ascribing to God anthropomorphic attributes, because the enlargement
 of the faculties and powers to superhuman and boundless attributes
 takes them out of the category of anthropomorphic qualities and
 capacities. In his "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,"
 Newton had occasion to treat of the theory of vortices, as a
 hypothesis by which the formation of the solar system is to be
 explained. The "General Scholium," by which he concludes the third
 book of his "Principia," lays down the masterly reasoning by which he
 maintains that the bodies of the solar system, while they persevere
 in their orbits by the mere laws of gravity, could by no means have
 at first derived the regular position of the orbits themselves from
 those laws. I had written the whole of the preceding chapter on the
 origin of the solar system just as I have printed it, before I looked
 into the "Principia" to see what confirmation might be derived from
 Newton's speculations. I found that while I had not included the
 comets in my examination of the solar system, but had confined myself
 to the bodies that are at all times within the reach of the telescope,
 the same deductions are re-enforced by the comets, eccentric as are
 the orbits through which they range into and out of our system. I
 quote the entire Scholium, as given in Motte's English translation of
 the "Principia" from the Latin in which Newton wrote, published with a
 Life by Chittenden, at New York, in the year 1848.


"The hypothesis of vortices is pressed with many difficulties.
That every planet by a radius drawn to the sun may describe areas
proportional to the times of description, the periodic times of the
several parts of the vortices should observe the duplicate proportion
of their distances from the sun; but that the periodic times of the
planets may obtain the sesquiplicate proportion of their distances
from the sun, the periodic times of the parts of the vortex ought
to be in the sesquiplicate proportion of their distances. That the
smaller vortices may maintain their lesser revolutions about _Saturn_,
_Jupiter_, and other planets, and swim quietly and undisturbed in the
greater vortex of the sun, the periodic times of the parts of the
sun's vortex should be equal; but the rotation of the sun and planets
about their axes, which ought to correspond with the motions of their
vortices, recede far from all these proportions. The motions of the
comets are exceedingly regular, are governed by the same laws with the
motions of the planets, and can by no means be accounted for by the
hypothesis of vortices; for comets are carried with very eccentric
motions through all parts of the heavens indifferently, with a freedom
that is incompatible with the notion of a vortex. Bodies projected in
our air suffer no resistance but from the air. Withdraw the air, as is
done in Mr. _Boyle's_ vacuum, and the resistance ceases; for in this
void a bit of fine down and a piece of solid gold descend with equal
velocity. And the parity of reason must take place in the celestial
spaces above the earth's atmosphere; in which spaces, where there is no
air to resist their motions, all bodies will move with the greatest
freedom; and the planets and comets will constantly pursue their
revolutions in orbits given in kind and position, according to the laws
above explained; but though these bodies may, indeed, persevere in
their orbits by the mere laws of gravity, yet they could by no means
have at first derived the regular position of the orbits themselves
from those laws.

"The six primary planets are revolved about the sun in circles
concentric with the sun, and with motions directed toward the same
parts, and almost in the same plane. Ten moons are revolved about the
earth, Jupiter, and Saturn, in circles concentric with them, with
the same direction of motion, and nearly in the planes of the orbits
of those planets; but it is not to be conceived that mere mechanical
causes could give birth to so many regular motions, since the comets
range over all parts of the heavens in very eccentric orbits; for by
that kind of motion they pass easily through the orbits of the planets,
and with great rapidity; and in their aphelions, where they move the
slowest, and are detained the longest, they recede to the greatest
distances from each other, and thence suffer the least disturbance
from their mutual attractions. This most beautiful system of the sun,
planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion
of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the
centers of other like systems, these being formed by the like wise
counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since
the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of
the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems;
and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity,
fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense
distances one from another."


 [105] The reader will understand that I do not assert this to be what
 astronomers teach, but I maintain it to be a rational deduction from
 the facts which they furnish to us.


 Does evolution account for the phenomena of society and of
 nature?--Necessity for a conception of a personal actor--Mr.
 Spencer's protoplasmic origin of all organic life--The Mosaic account
 of creation treated as a hypothesis which may be scientifically
 contrasted with evolution.

A long interval has elapsed since the conference described in the last
chapter, between the searcher after wisdom and his scientific friend.
At their next interview they take up the subject of a First Cause where
they left it at the conclusion of their debate on the solar system.

KOSMICOS. Well, Sophereus, what have you been studying since
we last met?

SOPHEREUS. Many things. I have been studying what is commonly
called Nature, and I have been studying society. With regard to
society, I have been endeavoring to discover to what the phenomena of
social life are to be attributed as their producing cause or causes;
whether they can be said to owe their existence to the direct action
or influence of intelligent wills, or are to be considered as effects
produced in the course of an ungoverned development, wrought by
incidental forces in varying conditions of human existence. The latter,
I find, is one of the theories now prevailing.

KOSMICOS. And what is your conclusion?

SOPHEREUS. My general conclusion in regard to the phenomena
of human society is the same as that which I formed from a study of
the phenomena of the solar system. I find a great many things which
I can not explain without the hypothesis of a direct creating power
exerted by an intelligent being. I know that you object to the idea
of creation, but I explained to you in our last discussion that I
understood it to mean the causing something to exist which did not
exist before, and the doing it by an intentional and direct act of

KOSMICOS. No matter about your definition. What are the facts
that you propose to discuss?

SOPHEREUS. In the social phenomena I find many acts of
creation. I do not find that buildings spring out of the ground without
human intervention, or that machinery is formed by the spontaneous
arrangement of matter in certain forms and relations, or by the
tendencies that are implanted in matter as its inherent properties.
I find an enormous multitude of concrete objects, formed out of dead
matter, by human intervention, availing itself of those properties of
matter, which without such active intervention would have remained
quiescent, and would not have resulted in the production of these
objects. It is a common form of expression to speak of the "growth"
of cities, but no one understands by this form of speech that a city
has become what it is without the action of numerous individuals
projecting and building their separate structures, or without the
combined action of the whole body of the inhabitants in determining and
executing a general plan to which individuals are to conform, more or
less exactly, their particular erections. Again, I find that there are
rules of social life, which take the form of what are called "laws,"
and these are imposed by the will of some governing authority; they are
always the product of some one human will, or of the collective will
of a greater number of persons. I have looked into history and have
found many instances of military conquest, invasions of the territory
inhabited by one race of men by another race, domination of different
dynasties, overthrow of one governing power, and substitution of
another. Although the changes thus produced are often very complex,
sometimes rapid and sometimes slow in reaching the consequences, I do
not find that they have ever taken place without the direct action of
some one human will, or of the aggregate force of many human wills.
The conquests of Alexander and Napoleon are instances of what a single
human will can do in changing the condition of nations; and I have
not been able to read history by the interpretation that makes such
men mere instruments in the hands of their age, which would, without
their special existences and characters, have brought about the same or
something like the same results. The invasions of the Roman Empire by
the Northern barbarians are instances of the pressure of one population
upon another, not attributable, perhaps, to the will and leadership
of any one individual, but produced by the united force of a great
horde of individuals determined to enjoy the plunder which a superior
civilization spread before them. Then, with regard to the phenomena of
what are called constitutions of government, or the political systems
of exercising public authority, I find numerous cases in which the
force of an individual will and intelligence has been not only a great
factor, but by far the largest factor in the production of particular
institutions. The genius of Cæsar, and his extraordinary constructive
faculties, molded the institutions of Rome in the most direct manner,
and created an imperial system that lasted for a thousand years,
and that even out of its ruins affected all subsequent European
civilization. In such cases, more than once repeated in modern times,
the particular circumstances of the age and the co-operation of many
other individuals have helped on the result, but the conception, the
plan, the purpose, and the execution, have had their origin in some
one mind. But for the individual character, the ambition, the force,
and the mental resources of the first Napoleon, can one believe that
the first French Empire of modern times would have grown out of the
condition of France? Suppose that Oliver Cromwell had never lived. The
protectorate, the system of government which he gave to England, was
the most absolute product of the will and intellect of one man that the
world in that kind of product had ever seen; for, although the people
of England were ready for and needed that system, and although the
antecedent and the surrounding circumstances furnished to Cromwell many
materials for a political structure that was not the old monarchy, and
yet had while it lasted all the vigor, and more than the vigor, of the
old monarchy, still, without his personal characteristics, his ambition
to found a dynasty on the wants of his country, and his personal
capacity to devise and execute such a system, one can not believe that
England would have had what he gave her. What he could not give her
was a son capable of wielding the scepter which he had fashioned. Here
is this America of yours--a country in which, to a certain extent,
the political institutions have been influenced by the circumstances
that followed the separation of your colonies from the English crown.
Undoubtedly, your ancestors of the Revolutionary epoch could not
construct a monarchy for the group of thirteen newly existing States,
each with its right and enjoyment of an actual autonomy. The habits
and genius of the people forbade the experiment of monarchical or
aristocratic institutions; no materials for either existed. But within
the range of republican institutions there was a choice open, and the
people exercised that choice. They made one system of confederated
States, and found it would not answer. They then deliberately assembled
their wisest and greatest men. They gave to them a commission that
was restricted by nothing but the practical necessity of framing
a government that would unite the requirements of power with the
requirements of liberty. The result was the Constitution of the United
States--a system of government that was, within the limitations of
certain practical necessities, both in its fundamental principles and
in many of its details, the deliberate choice and product of certain
leading minds, aided by the public consent, to a degree that is almost
unparalleled in the formation of political institutions. After it had
gone into operation, it was believed that the requirements of liberty
had not been sufficiently regarded, and it was directly and purposely
modified by the intervention of the collective will of the whole
people. And when I turn to the history of philosophies, of religions,
of the fine arts, or of the mechanical arts, I find everywhere traces
of the force of individual genius, of the direct intervention of
individual wills, and of the power of men to cause new systems of
thought and action to come into existence, and to create new objects of
admiration or utility. In regard to languages, I have read a good deal
about the controversy concerning their origin, but I have observed one
thing to be very apparent: whether the gift of articulate speech was
bestowed on man, when he had become a distinct being, in a manner and
for a purpose which would distinguish him from all the other animals,
or whether it became a developed faculty akin to that by which other
animals utter vocal sounds intelligible to those of their species, it
is certain that in man there is a power of varying his vocal utterances
at pleasure, which is possessed by no other creature on this earth.
The expansion of languages, therefore, the coinage of new words,
the addition of new inflections, the introduction of new shades of
meaning, the method of utterance which is called pronunciation, and
the different dialects of the same tongue, are all matters which have
been under the control of individuals dwelling together, and have all
resulted from the arbitrary determination of more or less numerous
persons, followed by the great mass of their nation, their race, or
their tribe. Even when a new and third language has been formed by
the contact of two peoples speaking separate tongues, we may trace the
same arbitrary adoption of parts of each separate tongue, in the first
beginning of the fusion, and the new language consequently exhibits a
greater or a less predominance of the characteristics of one of its
parent tongues, according as the one population has compelled the other
to adopt the greater part of its peculiar modes of speech.

KOSMICOS. You have gone over a good deal of ground, but now
what do you infer from all this, supposing that you have taken a right
view of the facts?

SOPHEREUS. I infer that, as in the social phenomena there are
products and effects which have owed their existence to human will
and direct human action, so, in other departments, for example, in
the domain which is called Nature, and which is out of the sphere of
human agency and human force, it is reasonable to conclude that there
are products and effects which must have owed their existence to a
will and a power capable of conceiving and producing them. And this is
what leads me, as I was led in the examination of the solar system,
to the idea of a Supreme Being, capable of producing those objects in
nature which are so varied, so complex, so marvelously constructed, so
nicely adapted to the conditions of each separate organism, that if we
attribute their existence to any intelligent power, it must be to a
power of infinite capacities, since nothing short of such capacities
could have conceived and executed them.

KOSMICOS. You have now come to the very point at which I have
been expecting to see you arrive, and at which I will put to you this
question: Why do you personify the power to which you trace these
products in the natural world? Substitute for the term God, or the
Creator, the power of Nature. You then have a force that is not only
immense, but is in truth without any limit--a force that embraces
everything, gives life to everything, is at once cause and effect,
is incessantly active and inexhaustible. It commands all methods,
accomplishes all objects, and uses time, space, and matter as its
means. Why do you personify this all-pervading and sufficient power of
Nature? Why make it a being, a deity, when all you know is that it is a
power? "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the world?" is a
question that God is supposed to have asked of Job; and it simply shows
that Job had been traditionally taught to believe that there is such a
being as God, and that that being laid the foundations of the world.
Substitute Nature in the question, let Nature ask the question, and it
is just as pertinent, and involves the same problem of human existence.
Where was man when Nature began to exhibit that power which has evolved
all things that we see out of the primeval nothingness?

SOPHEREUS. Well, here I must say that you have left out
certain ideas that are essential to all true reasoning on this
subject. Power without a guide, power without control, power without a
determining will, power that acts without a volition which determines
the how and the when, is a thing that I can not conceive. I thought
that in our former conversation, when we were considering the solar
system, you conceded that power, as something abstracted from substance
or its properties, was a logically necessary conception.

KOSMICOS. I did. But I did not concede that power must be
converted into a person. You must not misunderstand me. It certainly is
my idea that power is a thing to be contemplated by itself; and we are
surrounded everywhere by its manifestations. But it is not my idea that
it is held and exercised by the being called God, or by any being. We
only know of it by its effects; and these show that Nature is, after
all, both cause and effect, manner and execution, design and product.
You can go no farther. You can not go behind Nature and find a being
who sat in the heavens and laid the foundations of the world, unless
you mean to accept a story which wise men have at last abandoned along
with many kindred beliefs which came from the ages of the greatest

SOPHEREUS. Pardon me: the question that was put to Job has
more than one aspect. But I have considered the narrative that is found
in the first chapter of Genesis only as a hypothesis to be weighed
with other hypotheses of the origin of the world and its inhabitants.
I have studied the phenomena to which you give the name of Nature, and
I will tell you what seems to me to be a postulate necessary to be
carried into that study. I have observed that in the works of man two
things are apparent: One is, that power is exercised; the other is,
that the exercise of the power is always accompanied by a determining
will, which decides that the power shall be exerted, or that it shall
be deferred, or that it shall be applied variously as respects the mode
and the time. In human hands, power is not illimitable, but within
certain limitations it may be exercised, and it is always under the
guidance of a will. A man determines to build a house; he decides
on its dimensions, and when he will begin to erect it. A general
determines to attack the enemy on a certain day, and he marshals his
forces accordingly. A people determine to change their government, and
they decide what their new government shall be. An artist determines to
paint a certain picture, and he paints it. Whenever we see human power
exercised, so that we can connect product and power, the power itself
is put in motion by an intelligent will. I say, therefore, that the
idea of power without a controlling will, without a determining design,
is inconceivable: for I am obliged to draw my conclusions from what
I observe, and certainly the phenomena of society do not present any
instances of a product resulting from an exercise of power without a
determination to exercise it. Power diffused, power without guidance,
power moving by its own volition and without the volition of any
intelligent being, is not exhibited in the works of man.

KOSMICOS. But we are now dealing with the works of Nature;
and the question is, whether the power that is manifest in Nature is,
to adopt your language, under the control or guidance of a being who
is something other than the power itself. You must remember that this
is a domain in which you can see nothing but products and effects. You
must also remember that if the immensity and variety of those products
and effects lead to the conclusion that the power transcends all
human faculty, is superhuman, and, so far as we can tell, boundless,
all that we can know is that the power itself is illimitable. The
quality of an infinite and illimitable capacity may be imputed to the
power of Nature, because a power without limit seems necessary to
the production of such effects as we see. But here we must stop. We
have no warrant for believing that the power which we trace in the
phenomena of Nature is held and controlled by a person, as man holds
and controls the power which he exercises with his hands. What we
see in Nature is the exercise of an immense and apparently boundless
power. But the imputation of that power to a being distinct from the
power itself, is a mere exercise of the human imagination, without
any proof whatever. See how this imagination has worked at different
periods. Monotheism and polytheism are alike in their origin. The one
has imputed to different beings all the phenomena in the different
departments of Nature, one being having the charge and superintendence
of one department and another being having another department. Good
and evil have thus been parceled out to different deities or demons.
On the other hand, monotheism attributes all to some one being, and
his existence is no more rational than the existence of the whole
catalogue of the mythologies of all antiquity, or the stupid beliefs of
the present barbarous tribes. But Nature is a great fact, or rather a
vast store-house of facts, which we can study; and what we learn from
it is that there is a power which Nature is constantly exerting, which
is without any assignable limit, which is itself both cause and effect,
and beyond this we can not go.

SOPHEREUS. Let us see if you are correct. In the first
place, do you not observe that the tendency of mankind to personify
the powers of Nature is one of the strongest proofs of the logical
necessity for an interpretation which seeks for an intelligent being
of some kind as the actor in the production of the phenomena? It is
the fashion, I find, among a certain class of philosophers, to impute
this propensity to the proneness of the human mind toward superstitious
beliefs; to the mere effect of poetical or imaginary temperament
in certain races of men, or to fear in other races; or to a vague
longing for some superior being who can sympathize with human sorrows
or assist human efforts. Something of all these influences has, no
doubt, in different degrees and in various ways, worked itself into
the religious beliefs of mankind. But neither any one of them, nor the
whole of them, will satisfactorily account for either polytheism or
monotheism. We must go deeper. There has been an unconscious reasoning
at work, more or less unconscious, which has led to the conclusion
that power, the manifestation of power, necessarily implies that the
power is held and wielded by some intelligent being. The beliefs of
mankind, whether embracing one such being or many, have not been the
mere results of superstition, or fear, or longing for divine sympathy,
or for superhuman companionship or protection. Those beliefs owe as
much to the reasoning powers of mankind as they do to the influence
of imagination. In many ages there have been powerful intellects,
which have been free from the influence of superstition or fancy, and
which have recognized the logical necessity for a conception of power
as a force that must be under the guidance and control of intellect.
While the popular belief has not attained this conviction by the same
conscious and logically conducted process of reasoning, it has been
unconsciously led through the same process, by what is open to the
observation of human faculties, even in the less civilized portions of
the human race. The savage who is sufficiently raised above the brute
creation to exercise his own will and intelligence in the pursuit of
his game, or in building his wigwam, or in fighting his enemy, knows
that he exercises a power that is under his own control; and, as
soon as he begins to observe the phenomena of Nature, he conceives
of some being who holds a like power over the material universe, and
whom he begins to personify, to propitiate, and to worship. This is
the result of reasoning: feeble in some cases, but in all cases the
intellectual process is the same. Now let us see whether this process
is a sound one. Are you sure that you are correct in saying that the
power of Nature is without limit? Is there a single force in Nature,
a single property of matter, or any sequence of natural events, that
is not circumscribed? Do not the very regularity and uniformity of
the phenomena of Nature imply that some authority has said, from the
beginning, Thus far shalt thou go and no farther? You surely do not
imagine that the law of universal gravitation made itself, or that it
settled itself into an exact and invariable method of action by the
mere force of habit, beginning without prescribed and superimposed
limits, and finally resulting in a fixed rule which never changes.
You do not imagine that the mysterious, impalpable motion to which is
now given the name of electricity, created for itself, as a matter
of habit, the perpetual tendency to seek an equilibration of the
quantity accumulated in one body with the quantity that is contained
in another, by transmission through intermediate bodies; or that it
established for itself the conditions which make one substance a
better conducting medium than another. You do not suppose, I take it,
that certain particles of matter adopted for themselves a capacity
to arrange themselves in crystals of certain fixed combinations and
shapes, and that other particles of matter did not choose to take on
this habit. All these forces, powers, and tendencies are of very great
extent, much beyond any that man can exercise; but they all have their
limitations, their prescribed and invariable methods of action; they
all act as if they have been commanded to act in a certain way and to
a certain extent, and not as if they have chosen for themselves both
method and scope. Now, is it not a rational deduction that what is
really illimitable is not the power of Nature, but the power which made
Nature what it is? Is it not a necessary conclusion that, inasmuch as
all Nature acts within certain limits, stupendous and minute and varied
as the products or effects may be, there must have been behind Nature
a power that could and did prescribe the methods, the limitations, the
lines within which Nature was to move and act? You can not put into
the mouth of Nature the question, Where wast thou (Man) when I laid
the foundations of the world? without suggesting the retort, "Where
wast _thou_ (Nature) when the foundations of the world _were_ laid?"
And this question Nature can no more answer, for itself, than man can
answer for himself when the question is put to him. Each must answer,
I was nowhere--I did not exist. Each must answer, There was a power
which called me into being, which prescribed the conditions of my
existence, which gave me the capacities that I possess, which ordained
the limitations within which I was to act.

KOSMICOS. And all this you derive from the fact that a being
whom we call Man has some power over matter; that he has an intelligent
faculty by which he can do certain things with matter, and that he
actually does produce certain concrete forms of new things that he did
not find made to his hand. Is this the basis of your reasoning about
the origin of Nature?

SOPHEREUS. It is, and I will tell you why. Man is the
one being on this earth in whom we find an intelligent will and
constructive faculty united, to a degree which shows a power of
variation and execution superior to that of all other beings of whose
actions we have the direct evidence of our senses. We might select one
or more of the inferior animals, and find in them a strong constructive
faculty; but we do not find it accompanied by a power of variation and
adaptation that is equal to that of man in degree, or that is probably
the same in kind. I will not insist on the distinction between reason
and instinct, but I presume you will admit that, when we compare
the constructive faculty of man and that of the most ingenious and
wonderfully endowed animal or insect, the latter acts always under an
implanted impulse, which we have no good ground for regarding as of
the same nature as man's reasoning power, however striking may be the
products. When, therefore, we select the human power of construction
or creation as the basis of reasoning upon the works of Nature, we
resort to a being in whom that power is the highest of which we have
direct evidence. In the works of man we have direct and palpable proof
that the phenomena--the products of human skill and human force--are
brought about by the faculties of an intelligent and reasoning being.
If we dig into the earth and find there a statue, an implement, or a
weapon, we do not hesitate to conclude that the spot was once inhabited
by men, just as surely as we should conclude the same thing if we
found there human bones. The world, above-ground and below-ground,
is full of concrete objects that we know must have been fashioned by
human skill, guided by human intelligence. This intelligence, this
intellect, is not matter; it is a being; it is a person. It is not a
force, acting without consciousness; it is a being wielding a force
which is under the control of volition. The force and the volition are
both limited, but within the limitations they constitute the power
of man. Pass, then, to the works of Nature, or to what you call the
power of Nature. As, in the case of man, you can not conclude that he
created for himself his own faculties, that he prescribed for himself
the limitations of his power over matter, or that he formed those
limitations as mere matters of habit, or that it was from habit alone
that he derived his great constructive powers, so, in studying the
works of Nature, you must conclude that some intelligent being made the
laws of matter and motion, prescribed the unvarying order and method
of action, laid down the limitations, originated the properties, and,
in so doing, acted by volition, choice, and design. The distinction,
as I conceive, between man and Nature is, that there has been bestowed
on man, in a very inferior degree, a part of the original power of
creation. On Nature there has been bestowed none of this power. As we
find that the existence of man as an intelligent being, endowed with
certain high faculties, among which is a certain degree of the power of
creating new objects, can not be accounted for without the hypothesis
of a creator, still less can we account for the existence and phenomena
of Nature, which has in itself no degree of the creating power, without
the same hypothesis.

KOSMICOS. Stop where you are. Why do you separate man from
Nature? Have you yet to learn that man is a part of Nature? I suspect
you have, after all, been reading the book of Genesis for something
more than a hypothesis, and that you have adopted the notion that God
made Adam a living soul. Put away all the nursery-stories, and come
down to the "hard-pan" of actual facts, which show by an overwhelming
array of evidence that man had a very different origin.

SOPHEREUS. You know, my friend, that I never learned any
nursery-stories, and therefore I have none to unlearn. It may be my
misfortune, but I find myself here in the world in mature years,
studying the phenomena of life, without having had any early teaching,
but with such reasoning as I can apply to what I observe, and to what
science, history, and philosophy can furnish to me. I belong to no
church, to no sect, to no party, and I have not even a country. I am
a citizen of the world, on my travels through it, learning what I
can. Now, what are your facts? Let us get down, as you say, upon the
"hard-pan," and make it as hard as you please.

KOSMICOS. First answer my question: Why do you separate man
from Nature?

SOPHEREUS. I know very well that in a certain sense man is a
part of Nature. But it is necessary to contemplate man apart from all
the rest of Nature, because we find that he is endowed with intellect,
and we have very good and direct evidence that his intellect is an
actor; and we know that he is endowed with consciousness, and we have
very good and direct evidence that, by introspection, he becomes aware
of his own consciousness, and what it is.

KOSMICOS. Very well, assume all that if you choose. Now let me
show you an origin of man, with his intellect and consciousness, which
will entirely overthrow the idea that he was a special creation in the
sense to which you seem to be drifting, namely, that of miraculous
interposition by a being called God. You must be aware, as you have
read so much, that modern science has made great discoveries, and that
there are certain conclusions on this subject which are drawn from
very numerous and important data. Those data involve the origin of
all the different animals, man included. They are all to be accounted
for in the same way and by the same reasoning. Now, if we go back to
a period when none of them existed, we find a method of accounting
for them that is infinitely superior as a hypothesis to any idea of
their special creation as an act or as a series of acts of divine and
direct interposition. I will take this method as it is given by Herbert
Spencer, because, as he has reasoned it, it accounts for both intellect
and consciousness; and Mr. Spencer is allowed to be one of the leading
minds of this age. Mark the starting-point of his whole philosophy
on this subject of organic life. Darwin, as you know, supposes some
one very low form of organic life, an aquatic grub, and out of it he
evolves all the other animal organisms, by the process of natural and
sexual selection, through successive generations, ending in man. This
hypothesis leaves the original organism to be accounted for, and,
although Darwin does not expressly assert that it was the Creator who
fashioned the first organism, he leaves it to be implied. Spencer, on
the other hand, explicitly denies the absolute commencement of organic
life on the globe. Observe that the terms of his theory of evolution
are much more complete than Darwin's, for he says that "the affirmation
of universal evolution is in itself a negation of an absolute
commencement of anything. Construed in terms of evolution, every
kind of being is conceived as a product of modifications wrought by
insensible gradations on a pre-existing being; and this holds as fully
of the supposed commencement of organic life, or a first organism, as
of all subsequent developments of organic life."[106]

You will see, therefore, that the idea of a Creator, fashioning a
type of animal organism, or making a commencement of organic life, is
excluded by this great philosopher, although he does concur in the main
in Darwin's general explanation of the mode in which one organism is
evolved out of a pre-existing organism. He goes much farther, because
his system of universal evolution embraces the elements out of which
any organic life whatever has been developed, and negatives the idea
of any absolute commencement of anything whatever. He begins with the
original molecules of organizable matter. By modifications induced
upon modifications these become formed, by their inherent tendencies,
into higher types of organic molecules, as we see in the artificial
evolution effected by chemists in their laboratories; who, although
they are unable to form the complex combinations directly from their
elements, can form them indirectly through successive modifications
of simpler combinations, by the use of equivalents. In Nature, the
more complex combinations are formed by modifications directly from
the elements, and each modification is a change of the molecule into
equilibrium with its environment, subjecting it, that is to say, to
new conditions. Then, larger aggregates, compound molecules, are
successively generated; more complex or heterogeneous aggregates arise
out of one another, and there results a geometrically increasing
multitude of these larger and more complex aggregates. So that by the
action of the successive higher forms on one another, joined with the
action of the environing conditions, the highest forms of organic
molecules are reached. Thus in the early world, as in the modern
laboratory, inferior types of organic substances, by their mutual
actions under fit conditions, evolved the superior types of organic
substances, and at length ended in organizable protoplasm. Now, let
me read to you Mr. Spencer's description of the mode in which the
substance called "protein" becomes developed into organic life. "And
it can hardly be doubted," he says, "that the shaping of organizable
protoplasm, which is a substance modifiable in multitudinous ways
with extreme facility, went on after the same manner. As I learn
from one of our first chemists, Prof. Frankland, protein is capable
of existing under probably at least a thousand isomeric forms; and,
as we shall presently see, it is capable of forming, with itself
and other elements, substances yet more intricate in composition,
that are practically intricate in their varieties of kind. Exposed
to those innumerable modifications of conditions which the earth's
surface afforded, here in amount of light, there in amount of heat,
and elsewhere in the mineral quality of its aqueous medium, this
extremely changeable substance must have undergone, now one, now
another, of its countless metamorphoses. And to the mutual influences
of its metamorphic forms, under favoring conditions, we may ascribe
the production of the still more composite, still more sensitive,
still more variously-changeable portions of organic matter, which, in
masses more minute and simpler than existing _protozoa_, displayed
actions varying little by little into those called vital actions, which
protein itself exhibits in a certain degree, and which the lowest known
living things exhibit only in a greater degree. Thus, setting out
with inductions from the experiences of organic chemists at the one
extreme, and with inductions from the observations of biologists at the
other extreme, we are enabled to deductively bridge the interval--are
enabled to conceive how organic compounds were evolved, and how, by a
continuance of the process, the nascent life displayed in these becomes
gradually more pronounced."[107]

It is in this way that Spencer accounts for the formation of the cell
which becomes developed into a living organism, out of which are
successively evolved all the higher forms of animal organisms, until we
reach man.

SOPHEREUS. And is this put forward as something which rational
people are to believe?

KOSMICOS. Undoubtedly it is put forward as something that is
to be believed, because it is supported by a vast array of evidence;
and let me tell you that this conception of Nature as a whole is
the consummate flower of this nineteenth century in the domain of
philosophic speculation.

SOPHEREUS. Perhaps it is. But although this nineteenth
century has witnessed many great scientific discoveries, and has
produced extraordinary inventions, I do not find that among the
speculative philosophers of this age there are such very superior
powers of reasoning displayed that we ought to regard them as
authorities entitled to challenge our acceptance of their theories
without examination. I must say that among your scientific people of
the present day, and especially among the philosophers of the class
of which Mr. Spencer is the leading representative, there are certain
tendencies and defects which surprise me. One of their defects is that
they do not obviate remote difficulties, perhaps because they have not
been trained, as other men have, to foresee where such difficulties
must arise. This is sometimes apparent even when the difficulties
are not very remote, but are quite obvious. One of their tendencies
is to arrive at a theory from some of the phenomena, and then to
strain the remaining phenomena to suit the theory; and sometimes
they proceed to the invention or imagination of phenomena which are
necessary to the completion of a chain of proof. This last process
is called bridging the interval. I will now apply this criticism to
Mr. Spencer's philosophy of the origin of man. In the first place he
has not obviated a fundamental difficulty, whether it be a near or a
remote one. Where did the molecules get their tendency or capacity to
arrange themselves into higher and more complex forms? Whence came the
auxiliary or additional force of their surrounding environment? What
endowed _protein_ with its capacity to assume a thousand isomeric
forms? What made the favoring conditions which have helped on the
influence of its metamorphic tendencies, so as to produce still more
sensitive and variously-changeable portions of organic matter? These
questions must have an answer; and, when we ask them, we see the
significance of the inquiry, "Where wast thou (man) when I laid the
foundations of the world?" For these things, on the evolution theory,
_are_ the foundations of the world. It is no answer to say, as Mr.
Spencer does, that these tendencies, or capacities of matter, and
these laws of the favoring conditions, came from the Unknown Cause.
Known or unknown, did they have a cause, or did they make themselves?
Did these, the foundations of the world, have an origin, or were they
without any origin? If they had an origin, was it from the will and
power of a being capable of giving existence to them and prescribing
their modes of action? If they had no origin, if they existed from all
eternity, how came it that they formed this extraordinary habit of
invariable action in a certain method, which amid all its multiformity
shows an astonishing persistency? If we deny, with Mr. Spencer, the
absolute commencement of organic life on the globe, we must still go
back of all the traces of organic life, and inquire whence matter,
molecules, organized or unorganized, derived the capacities or
tendencies to become organized, and how the favoring conditions became
established as auxiliary or subsidiary forces. And therefore it is that
this difficulty, whether remote or near at hand, is not met by Mr.
Spencer: for whether we call the cause an unknown or a known cause, the
question is, Was there a cause, or did the foundations of the world
lay themselves? The reasoning powers of mankind, exercised by daily
observation of cause and effect, of creative power and created product,
are equal to the conception of a First Cause as a being who could have
laid the foundations of the world, but they are utterly unequal to
the conception that they had no origin whatever. Again, consider how
numerous are the missing links in the chain of evolution, how many gaps
are filled up by pure inventions or assumptions. The evolution of one
distinct and perfect animal, or being, out of a pre-existing animal
or being of a different type, has never been proved as a fact. Yet
whole pedigrees of such generation of species have been constructed
upon the same principles as we should construct the pedigree of an
individual. Furthermore, if we regard the facts about which there can
be no controversy, we find not only distinct species of animals, but
we find the same species divided into male and female, with a system
of procreation and gestation established for the multiplication of
individuals of that species. Now go back to the imaginary period when
protein began to form itself into something verging toward organic
life, and then there became evolved the nascent life of an organized
being. How did the division of the sexes originate? Did some of the
molecules or their progressive forms, or their aggregates, or masses,
under some conditions, tend to the production of the male, and others
under certain conditions tend to the development of the female, so
that the sexes were formed by a mere habit of arrangement without any
special intervention? Here is one of the most serious difficulties
which the doctrine of evolution, whether it be the Darwinian or the
Spencerian theory, has to encounter. There is a division into male and
female: there is a law of procreation by the union of the two sexes.
This is a fact about which there can be no dispute. It is one of the
most remarkable facts in Nature. It is the means by which species are
continued, and the world is peopled with individuals of each species.
Is it conceivable that this occurred without any design, that it had no
origin in a formative will, that it had, properly speaking, no origin
at all, but that it grew out of the tendencies of organized matter to
take on such a diversity in varying conditions? And if the latter was
all the origin that it had, whence came the tendencies and whence the
favoring conditions that helped them on toward the result? It seems to
me that the Spencerian theory, so far as it suggests a mode in which
the two sexes of animals came to exist, is hardly less fanciful than
what Plato has given us in his "Timæus." I have studied them both.

If you will hand me Mr. Spencer's work from which you have just quoted,
I will point out a passage which fully justifies my criticism. It is
this: "Before it can be ascertained how organized beings have been
gradually evolved, there must be reached the conviction that they have
been gradually evolved." He says this in praise of De Maillet, one of
the earliest of the modern speculators who reached this conviction,
and whose "wild notions" as to the way should not make us, says Mr.
Spencer, "forget the merit of his intuition that animals and plants
were produced by natural causes."[108] That is to say, first form
to yourself a theory, and have a thorough conviction of it. Then
investigate, and shape the facts so as to support the theory. Is it
not plain that an inquiry into the mode in which organized beings have
been gradually evolved must precede any conclusion or conviction on the
subject? It is one of those cases in which the _how_ a thing has been
done lies at the basis of the inquiry whether it has probably been done
at all. If a suggested mode turns out to be wild and visionary, what is
the value of any "intuition" of the main fact? But, what is still more
extraordinary in this kind of deduction, which is no deduction, is the
way in which, according to Mr. Spencer, the first conviction is to be
reached before one looks for the facts. The process of the evolution
of organisms, according to Mr. Spencer's philosophy, is contained as
a part in the great whole of evolution in general. We first convince
ourselves that evolution obtains in all the other departments of
Nature, and is the interpretation of all their phenomena. Then we
conclude that it has obtained in the animal kingdom, and so we have the
conviction necessary to be acquired before we examine the phenomena;
and then we make that investigation so as to reconcile the facts with
the supposed universal laws of matter and motion. I do not exaggerate
in the least. Here is what he says: "Only when the process of evolution
of organisms is affiliated on the process of evolution in general can
it be truly said to be explained. The thing required is to show that
its various results are corollaries from first principles. We have
to reconcile the facts with the universal laws of the redistribution
of matter and motion."[109] What would Bacon have thought of this
method of establishing the probable truth of a theory? It leaves out
of consideration a multitude of facts, and one of them at least is of
the utmost importance. It is that in the domain of animated matter,
in organized beings, and most signally in the animal kingdom, there
is a principle of life; and, whatever may be the universal laws of
the redistribution of matter and motion, in their operation upon or
among the products which are not endowed with this principle, when
we come to reason about products that _are_ endowed with it we are
not entitled to conclude that this principle of animal life is itself
a product of the operation of those laws because they have resulted
in products which do not possess life, or life of the same kind. In
order to reach the conviction that animal organisms have resulted
solely from the operation of the laws of matter and motion, we must
not undertake to reconcile the facts with those laws, but we must have
some evidence that those laws have produced living beings with complex
and diversified organisms, and this evidence must at least tend to
exclude every other hypothesis. It is not enough to flout at all other
hypotheses, or to pronounce them _ex cathedra_ to be idle tales.

KOSMICOS. You must not catch at single expressions and
make yourself a captious critic. That would be unworthy of such an
inquirer as you profess to be, and as I believe you are. Mr. Spencer
did not mean, by reconciling the facts with the laws of matter and
motion, that we are to distort the facts. He meant that we are to
discover the correspondence between the facts and the operation of
those laws. Now, let me show you more explicitly that he is quite
right. There are certain laws of matter and motion, discoverable and
discovered by scientific investigation, which prevail throughout all
Nature. The phenomena which they produce, although not yet fully
understood, justify the assumption of their universality and their
modes of operation. It is perfectly legitimate, therefore, to reason
that the same laws which have produced the observable phenomena in
other departments of Nature have had a like potency as causes by which
the phenomena in the animal kingdom have been produced. Using this
legitimate mode of reasoning, Mr. Spencer traces the operation of
those laws upon the primal molecules, which are peculiarly sensitive
to their effects. He follows them through the successive aggregations
of higher combinations until he arrives at the protoplasmic substance,
out of which, from its capability of assuming an infinity of forms,
aided by the environing conditions, the simplest organic forms become
evolved, and thus what you call the principle of life gradually arose
through a vast extent of time. He is therefore perfectly consistent
with himself in denying the absolute commencement of organic life on
the globe; for you must understand that he means by this to deny that
there was any point of time, or any particular organism, at or in which
animal life can be said to have had its first commencement, without
having been preceded by some other kind of being, out of which the more
highly organized being has been produced by modifications wrought by
insensible gradations. If you will attend closely to his reasoning,
you will see that you have small cause for criticising it as you have;
and, if you will look at one of his illustrations, you will see the
strength of his position. Hear what he says: "It is no more needful to
suppose an absolute commencement of organic life or a 'first organism'
than it is needful to suppose an absolute commencement of social life
and a first social organism. The assumption of such a necessity in this
last case, made by early speculators with their theories of 'social
contracts' and the like, is disproved by the facts; and the facts,
so far as they are ascertained, disprove the assumption of such a
necessity in the first case."[110] That is to say, as the social facts,
the social phenomena, disprove the "social contract" as an occurrence
taking place by human design and intention, so the phenomena of animal
life disprove the assumption of such an occurrence as its commencement
by divine intervention, or its commencement at all.

SOPHEREUS. I think I understood all this before, just as you
put it, but I am not the less obliged to you for the restatement.
In regard to society, I know not why the family, the institution of
marriage, is not to be regarded as the first social organism, and
the union of two or more families in some kind of mutual league is
certainly the first society in a more comprehensive sense. I care
very little about the theory of the social contract, as applied to
more complex societies, although, as a kind of legal fiction, it is
well enough for all the uses which sound reasoners nowadays make of
it. But the institution of marriage, the family, is no fiction at
all; it is a fact, however it was first established, and it was the
absolute commencement of social life. But I do not hold to this sort
of analogies, or to this mode of reasoning from what happens in a
department, in which the actions of men have largely or exclusively
influenced the complex phenomena, to a department in which human
influence has had nothing to do with the phenomena. But now let us come
back to the proposition that there never was any absolute commencement
of organic life on the globe. I will take Mr. Spencer's meaning--his
denial, as you put it--and will test it by one or two observations
upon his own explanation, as given in the elaborate paper in which
he replied to a critic in the "North American Review" a little more
than four years ago.[111] In the first place, then, as to time. It
will not do to say that there never was a time when such a product as
life, animated or organized life, had its first existence. To whatever
it owed its existence, it must at some time have begun to exist. It
matters not how far back in the ages of the globe you place it: you
must contemplate a time when it did not exist, and a point of time at
which it began to exist. It matters not that you can not fix this time.
There was such a time, whether you can fix it chronologically or not.
In the next place, however minute the supposed gradations which you
trace backward from a recognizable organism to the primal protoplasmic
substance, out of which you suppose it to have been gradually evolved,
and through whatever extent of time you imagine these gradations
to have been worked out by the operation of the forces of Nature,
modifying successive beings, you must find an organism to which you can
attribute life. Whatever that organism was, it was the commencement of
organic life; for, when you go back of it in the series, you come to
something that was not organic life, but was merely a collection of
molecules or a product of aggregated molecules, that had a capacity to
be developed into an animated organism under favorable conditions. "It
is," says Mr. Spencer, "by the action of the successively higher forms
on one another, joined with the action of environing conditions, that
the highest forms are reached." Some one, then, of those highest forms,
something that can be called an animal organism, some being endowed
with life, was the commencement of organic life on the globe; and it
is just as correct and necessary to speak of it as the "absolute"
commencement as it is when we speak of Darwin's aquatic grub, or of the
Mosaic account of the creation of the different animals by the hand
and will of God. Neither Mr. Spencer nor any other man can construct a
chain of animated existence back into the region of its non-existence
without showing that it began to have an existence. He can say that
the affirmation of universal evolution is in itself a negation of an
absolute commencement of anything. And so it is theoretically. But this
does not get over the difficulty. On his own explanation of the mode
in which organisms have been evolved, there must have been a first
organism, and in that first organism life began. So that I am not yet
prepared to yield my criticism, or to yield my convictions to a writer
who is so much carried away by his theory.

KOSMICOS. But you will allow that the theory is perfect in
itself; and why, then, do you say that he is carried away by it? You
ought either to give up your criticism, or to show that there is a
superior hypothesis by which to account for the origin of organisms,
and one that is supported by stronger proofs and better reasoning. You
have nothing to oppose to Mr. Spencer's explanation of the origin of
organic life, excepting the fable which you find in the book of Genesis.

SOPHEREUS. Undoubtedly the opposite hypothesis is that which
attributes to a Creator the production of organic life; and whether
the Mosaic account, as it stands, be a fable or a true narrative of an
actual occurrence, what we have to do is to ascertain, upon correct
principles of reasoning, whether the creating power can be dispensed
with. Mr. Spencer dispenses with it altogether. He gives it a direct
negative in the most absolute manner. But the perfection of his theory
depends upon its ability to sustain itself as an explanation of the
existence of organisms without the intervention of a creating power
anywhere at any time. I have already suggested the serious defect of
his whole philosophic scheme as applied to the existence of organisms,
namely, that the foundation of the theory, the existence of the
molecules with their properties and capacities tending to rearrangement
under the laws of matter and motion, those laws themselves, and the
environing conditions which assist the process of adjustment and
combination, must all have had an origin, or a cause. If we can get
along without that origin, without any cause, without any actor
laying the foundations of the world, we can make a theory. But that
theory can not sustain itself by such a negation if all experience,
observation, and reflection amount to anything; for these all point in
one direction. They all tend to show that every existing thing must
have had a cause, that every product must have had an origin, and, if
we place that origin in the operation of certain laws of matter and
motion upon and among the primal molecules of matter, we still have to
look for the origin of those laws and of the molecules on which they
have operated. If we say that these things had no origin, that they
existed without having been caused to exist, we end in a negation at
which reason at once rebels. If, on the other hand, we reject, as we
must reject, this negation, then the same power which could establish
the laws of matter and motion, and give origin to the molecules and
the favoring conditions by which their aggregated higher forms are
supposed to have been developed, was alike capable of the direct
production of species, the creation of the sexes, and the establishment
of the laws of procreation and gestation. So that it becomes a question
of probability, of the weight of evidence, as to whether we can explain
the phenomena of species, of the sexual division and the sexual
union, with all that they involve, without the hypothesis of direct
intervention, design, and formative skill of a boundless character. I
have seen no explanation of the origin of species and of the sexual
distinction, with its concomitant methods of reproduction, that does
not end in an utter blank, whenever it undertakes to dispense with
that kind of direct design to which is derisively given the name of
"miraculous interposition," but which in truth implies no miracle at

KOSMICOS. I have to be perpetually recalling you to the first
principles of Mr. Spencer's philosophy. You seem to think it enough
to point to the existence of species and the sexual division, as if
his philosophy did not afford the means of accounting for them by the
operation of natural causes. Let me put to you, then, this question: If
natural causes have produced a crystal, by successive new combinations
of molecules of matter through gradations rising successively into
higher forms, why should not natural causes, acting upon other
molecules in a corresponding way, have produced organic life, or
animated organisms? If natural causes have evolved out of certain
molecules the substance known as organizable protein, why should not
the continued operation of the same or similar causes have modified
organizable protein into some distinct and recognizable animated
organism? If you admit this as a possible or highly probable result,
why should not natural causes have produced, in the course of millions
of years, the division of the sexes and the methods of procreation and

SOPHEREUS. I will assign the reasons for not adopting the
conclusions to which you expect me to arrive, in a certain order. In
the first place, the capacity of certain molecules to result in the
formation of a crystal, under the operation of what you call natural
causes, requires that the molecules, their capacity, and the natural
causes should all have had an origin, call it known or unknown. The
cause was of equal potency to produce the crystal directly, or anything
else that exists in Nature. The same thing is true of certain other
molecules which, under the operation of the so-called natural causes,
have resulted in organizable protein. There must have been an origin
to the molecules, to their capacity, and to the laws which effect
their combinations; and this cause could equally fashion an organism
and fashion it in the related forms of male and female by direct
intervention, for to such a power there is no assignable limit. In the
next place, the distinction between inanimate and animated matter,
between beings endowed and beings not endowed with animal life, is a
distinction that can not be overlooked; for, although we find this
distinction to be a fact that has resulted after the operation of
whatever causes may have produced it, we must still note that there is
a distinction, and a very important one. It may be that the dividing
line is very difficult of detection; that it is impossible to determine
in all cases just where organizable matter passes from dead matter into
a living organism. But that at some point there has arisen a living
organism, however produced, is certain. Now, suppose that what you
call natural causes have operated to bring organizable matter up to
this dividing line, the question is, whether we can conclude that they
have had the potency to pass that line, and to lead of themselves to
all the varying and manifold results of species, the division of the
sexes, and all that follows that division. Certain great facts seem to
me to negative this conclusion. The first is, that we have species,
which differ absolutely from each other as organisms, in their modes
of life, and their destinies, however strong may be the resemblances
which obtain among them in certain respects. The second fact is, that
each of the true species is divided into the related forms of male and
female, and is placed under a law of procreation, by the sexual union,
for the multiplication of individuals of that species. The third fact
is, that no crosses take place in Nature between different species
of animals--between the true species--resulting in a third species,
or a third animal. It is true that multiplication of individuals of
some of the lowest organisms takes place without the bisexual process
of procreation, as where, in the severance of a part of an organism
the severed part grows, under favorable conditions, into a perfect
organism of the same kind, as in the analogous phenomenon of a plant
propagated by a branch or a slip from the parent stem. But this
occurrence does not take place among the animals which are placed
for their multiplication under the law of the sexual union and the
sexual procreation. The sexual division, therefore, the law of sexual
procreation, and all that they involve, have to be accounted for.
Can they be accounted for by the theory of evolution? Wherever you
place their first occurrence, you have to find a process adequate to
their production. What, then, entitles you to say that the hypothesis
of their production, by the capacity and tendency of organizable
substances, when they have reached certain combinations, is superior
to the hypothesis of a direct interposition and a formative will? At
the outset, you must begin with some interposition and some formative
will; you must account for the existence of the very capacities of
matter to become organized under the laws of the redistribution of
matter and motion, or you will end nowhere whatever. If you assume, as
you must, that, in laying "the foundations of the world," there was
exercised some interposition and some formative will, you have a power
which was just as adequate to the production of species, and their
sexual division, as it was to the endowment of matter with certain
properties and capacities, and the establishment of any laws for the
redistribution of matter and motion. If you deny the existence and
potency of the original power in the one production you must deny them
in the other. If you concede them in the one case, you must concede
them in the other. Now, although the original power was equal to the
endowment of organizable matter with its capacities for and tendencies
to organization, and may be theoretically assumed to have made that
endowment, the question is, whether these capacities and tendencies,
without special formative interposition, and by the mere force of what
you call natural causes, were equal to the production of such phenomena
as the division of the sexes and all that follows that division. Can
it with any truth he said that the so-called natural causes have
produced any phenomena which can be compared, on the question of
special design, to the phenomena of the sexual division, the law of
sexual procreation, and the whole system of the multiplication of
individuals of distinct and true species? When I can see any facts
which will warrant the belief that the origin of the sexes is to be
attributed to the capacity of organizable protein to form itself into
new compounds, to the capacity of these new compounds to become living
organisms, and to the capacity of these living organisms, without the
intervention of any formative will specially designing the result, to
divide themselves into related forms of male and female, to establish
for themselves the law of procreation, and to limit that procreation
to the same species, I shall, perhaps, begin to see some ground for
the superior claims of the evolution hypothesis. I should like,
by-the-by, to see a system of classification of animal organisms, based
exclusively on the distinction between the bisexual and the unisexual,
or the non-sexual, methods of reproduction, and without running it out
into the analogies of the vegetable world. I fancy that it would be
found extremely difficult to account for the bisexual division without
reaching the conclusion that it required and was effected by a special
interposition. At all events, I should like to see it explained how the
asexual and the unisexual construction passed into the bisexual by the
mere operation of what you call natural causes.

KOSMICOS. You said, a while ago, that you had never learned
any nursery-stories. Yet, all along, you seem to me to have been under
the influence of the Mosaic account of the creation. Of course you
have read it, and, although you did not learn anything about it in
childhood, and now try to treat it solely as a hypothesis, without any
regard to its claims as a divinely inspired narrative, it is certainly
worth your while to see how completely it becomes an idle tale of the
nursery when scientific tests are applied to it. Hear what Spencer says
about the creation of man, as given by Moses: "The old Hebrew idea
that God takes clay and molds a new creature, as a potter might mold a
vessel, is probably too grossly anthropomorphic to be accepted by any
modern defender of special creations."

SOPHEREUS. Let us see about this. Let us discard all idea
of the source from which Moses received his information of the
occurrences which he relates, and put his account upon the same level
with Plato's description of the origin of animals, and with the
Darwinian or Spencerian theory of that origin; regarding all three
of them, that is to say, as mere hypotheses. Whatever may be the
supposed conflict between the Mosaic account of the creation and the
conclusions of geologists concerning the periods during which the
earth may have become formed as we now find it, the question is, on
the one hand, whether the Hebrew historian's account of the process
of creation is a conception substantially the same as that at which
we should have arrived from a study of Nature if we had never had
that account transmitted to us from a period when the traditions of
mankind were taking the shapes in which they have reached us from
different sources; or whether, on the other hand, it is so "grossly
anthropomorphic" and absurd that it is not worthy of any consideration
as an occurrence that it will bear the slightest test of scientific
scrutiny. Let any one take the Mosaic narrative, and, divesting himself
of all influence of supposed inspiration or divine authority speaking
through the chosen servant of God, and disregarding the meaning of
those obscure statements which divide the stages of the work into
the first and the second "day," etc., let him follow out the order
in which the Creator is said by Moses to have acted. He will find in
the narrative an immense condensation, highly figurative expressions,
and many elliptical passages. But he will also find that the Creator
is described as proceeding in the exertion of his omnipotent power
in a manner which we should be very likely to deduce from a study of
his works without this narrative. We have, first, the reduction of
the earth from its chaotic condition--"without form and void"--to the
separation of its elemental substances; then the creation of light;
the separation of earth and water; the productive capacity of the
dry land; the establishment of the vegetable kingdom, each product
"after its kind"; the formation of the heavenly bodies as lights in
the firmament, to make the division of day and night, seasons and
years. It is obviously immaterial, so far as this order of the work is
concerned, down to the stage when the formation of the first animals
took place, in what length of time this first stage of the work was
accomplished; whether it was done by an Omnipotence that could speak
things into existence by a word, or whether the process was carried on
through periods of time of which we can have no measure, and by the
operation of infinitely slow-moving agencies selected and employed for
the accomplishment of a certain result. Confining our attention to the
first stage of the work as we find it described, we have the formation
of the earth, light, air, the heavenly bodies, alternations of day
and night, seasons and years, and the vegetable kingdom, before any
animal creation. We then come to the formation of animals which are to
inhabit this convenient abode, and which are described as taking place
in the following order: first the water animals, the fowls of the air,
and the beasts of the field, "each after its kind"; then, and finally,
the creation of man. Respecting his creation, we are told that it was
the purpose of the Almighty to make a being after a very different
"image" from that of any other creature on the earth; and whatever may
be the true interpretation of the language employed, whether man was
created literally "in our image, after our likeness," or according
to an image and a likeness of which his Creator had conceived, there
can be no doubt that what Moses described as the purpose of God was
to make a being differing absolutely from all the other animals by
a broad line of demarkation which is perfectly discoverable through
all the resemblances that obtain between him and all the other living
creatures. To this new being there was given, we are told, dominion
over all the other animals, and the fruits of the earth were assigned
to him for food; he was formed out of the dust of the earth, the breath
of life was breathed into his nostrils, and he became "a living soul."
Let us now see if this statement of the creation of man is so "grossly
anthropomorphic" as is supposed. You are aware that Buffon, who was
certainly no mean naturalist or philosopher, and who was uninfluenced
by the idea that the book of Genesis was an inspired production,
reached the conclusion that a study of nature renders the order of
man's creation as described by Moses a substantially true hypothesis.
"We are persuaded," said Buffon, "independently of the authority of
the sacred books, that man was created last, and that he only came to
wield the scepter of the earth when that earth was found worthy of
his sway."[112] You evolutionists will say that this may be very true
upon your hypothesis of his gradual development out of other animals,
through untold periods of time. But now let us see whether Moses was
so grossly unscientific, upon the supposition that God created man
as he describes. If man was created, or molded, by the Deity, he was
formed, in his physical structure, out of matter; and all matter may
be figuratively and even scientifically described as "the dust of the
earth," or as "clay," or by any other term that will give an idea of a
substance that was not spirit. If Moses had said that man's body was
formed out of the constituent elements of matter, or some of them, he
would have said nothing that a modern believer in special creations
need shrink from, for he would have stated an indisputable fact. He
stated in one form of expression the very same fact that a modern
scientist would have to state in another form, whatever might have been
the mode, or the power, or the time in or by which the constituent
elements were brought together and molded into the human body. So that
the derisive figure of God taking clay and molding it into the human
form, as a potter would mold a vessel, does not strike me as presenting
any proof that the account given by Moses is so destitute of scientific
accuracy, or as rendering his statements a ridiculous hypothesis.

KOSMICOS. Well, then, it comes at last to this: that you
consider the substance of the Mosaic account of the creation,
independent of its authority as an inspired statement, to be entitled
to stand as a hypothesis against the explanations given to us by the
scientists of the great modern school of evolution, notwithstanding
those explanations are in one form or another now accepted by the most
advanced scientific thinkers and explorers?

SOPHEREUS. I certainly do. But understand me explicitly.
As, after my study of the probable origin of the solar system, and
our discussion of that subject, I expressed my conclusion that the
phenomena called for and manifested the exercise of a formative will
by some acts of special creation, so now, in reference to the animal
kingdom, I have reached the same conclusion, for reasons which I have
endeavored to assign. I can see that the operation of the process which
you call evolution may have caused certain limited modifications in
the structure and habits of life of different animals; or rather, that
limited modifications of structure and habits of life have occurred,
and hence you deduce what you call the process of evolution. But
to me this entirely fails to account for, or to suggest a rational
explanation of, the distinct existence of species, their division into
male and female, and the establishment of the laws of procreation by
which individuals of a species are multiplied--a process which does not
admit of the production of individuals of an essentially different type
from the parents, and which, so far as we have any means of knowledge,
has never commenced in one species and ended in another, in any length
of time that can be imagined, or through any series of modifications.

KOSMICOS. Let us postpone the farther discussion of the origin
of species to some future time, when I will endeavor to convince you
that both Darwin and Spencer have satisfactorily accounted for them.

SOPHEREUS. Very well; I shall be glad to be enlightened.


 NOTE.--It will readily occur to the reader that Sophereus
 might most pertinently have asked: Whence did the primal cell
 originate? It is conceived of as the ultimate unit of organizable
 matter; invisible to the naked eye, perhaps incapable of being
 reached by the microscope, but consisting of an infinitesimally small
 portion of matter, more or less organized in itself, and possessing a
 capacity to unite with itself other minute particles of matter, and
 so to form larger aggregates of molecules. The hypothesis is, that
 this single cell has given origin to all animated organisms, and,
 through an indefinite series of such organisms, to the human race.
 The single cell, then, having this capacity and this extraordinary
 destiny, was either the first and only one of its kind, or it was one
 of many of the same kind. If we select any supposed point of time
 in the far antecedent history of matter, the question may be asked
 whether there existed at first but one such cell, or many. If there
 were many of such cells, how came they to exist? If one only was
 selected out of many, for this extraordinary destiny of giving origin
 to all the animated organisms, who or what made the selection for
 this transcendent office of the one cell? If there never was but one
 such cell, how did it come to exist? As these questions are clearly
 pertinent, the effort to answer them inevitably conducts us to the
 idea of creation, or else to the conclusion that the numerous cells
 and the selected one had no origin; that the selection was not made,
 but was accidental; or that the one cell, if there never was but one,
 was not a created thing. Human reason can not accept this conclusion.


 [106] "Biology," i, p. 482.

 [107] "Biology," i, Appendix, pp. 483, 484.

 [108] "Biology," i, p. 408.

 [109] "Biology," i, pp. 409, 410.

 [110] "Biology," i, p. 482.

 [111] Now contained in "Biology," i, Appendix.

 [112] Quoted by M. Guizot in his "History of France," vol. vi, p.
 328. Guizot observes that Buffon was "absolutely unshackled by any
 religious prejudice," and that he "involuntarily recurred to the
 account given in Genesis."


 "Species," "races," and "varieties"--Sexual division--Causation.

The two friendly disputants have again met. Sophereus begins their
further colloquy, in an effort to reach a common understanding of
certain terms, so that they may not be speaking of different things.

SOPHEREUS. I have more than once referred to the fact that
Nature does not permit crosses between the true species of animals,
in breeding, and that we have no reason to suppose it ever did. This
is a very important fact to be considered in weighing the claims of
your theory of evolution. I have been looking into Darwin, and I find
it somewhat uncertain in what sense he uses the terms "species,"
"races," and "varieties." In his "Descent of Man," he devotes a good
deal of space to the discussion of the various classifications made by
different naturalists under these respective terms; and there is no
small danger of confusion arising from the use of these terms unless
they are defined. The possibility of the process of evolution, as a
means of accounting for the existence of any known animal, depends
in some degree upon the animals among which, by sexual generation,
the supposed transition from one kind of animal to another kind has
taken place. Darwin speaks of the difficulty of defining "species";
and yet it is obvious (is it not?) that the theory of the graduation
of different forms into one another depends for its possibility upon
the forms which have admitted of interbreeding. While, therefore,
the term "species" is in one sense arbitrary, as used by different
naturalists, and there is no definition of it common to them all, it is
still necessary to have a clear idea of the limits within which crosses
can take place in breeding, because there are such limits in nature.
Thus, in the case of man, as known to us in history and by observation,
there are different families, which are classed as "races." Darwin
speaks of the weighty arguments which naturalists have, or may have,
for "raising the _races_ of man to the dignity of _species_." Whether
this would be anything more than a matter of scientific nomenclature,
is perhaps unnecessary to consider. Whether we call the "races" of men
"species," or speak of them as families of one race, we know as a fact
that interbreeding can take place among them all, and that between man
and any other animal it can not take place. The same thing is true of
the equine and the bovine races and their several varieties. Whether,
in speaking of the different families or races of men, we consider them
all as one "species," or as different species--and so of the varieties
of the equine or the bovine races--the important fact is, that there
are limits within which interbreeding can take place, and out of which
it can not take place. Do you admit or deny that the barriers against
sexual generation between animals of essentially different types,
which are established in nature, are important facts in judging of the
hypothesis of animal evolution?

KOSMICOS. Take care that you have an accurate idea of what the
theory of evolution is. Apply it, for example, to the origin of man,
as an animal, proceeding "by a series of forms graduating insensibly
from some ape-like creature to man as he now exists." This expresses
the whole theory as applied to one animal, man, without going behind
his ape-like progenitors. It does not suppose a crossing between
the ape-like creature and some other creature that was not an ape.
It supposes a gradual development of the ape-like creature into the
man as he now exists; and, of course, the interbreeding took place
between the males and the females of that ape-like race and their
descendants--the descendants, through a long series of forms, being
gradually modified into men, by the operation of the laws of natural
and sexual selection, which I need not again explain to you.

SOPHEREUS. Very well, I have always so understood the theory.
But then I have also understood it to be a part of the same theory that
there is important auxiliary proof of the supposed process of evolution
to be derived from what is known to take place in the interbreeding
of different races or families of the same animal. Whatever value
there may be in this last fact, as auxiliary evidence of the supposed
process of evolution, there must have been a time, in the development
of the long series of forms proceeding from the ape-like progenitor,
when an animal had been produced which could propagate nothing but
its own type, and between which and the surrounding other animals no
propagation could take place, if we are to judge by what all nature
teaches us. You may say that the laws of natural and sexual selection
would still go on operating among the numerous individuals of this
animal which had become in itself a completed product, and that to
their descendants would be transmitted newly acquired organs and
powers, new habits of life, and all else that natural and sexual
selection can be imagined to have brought about. But at some time,
somewhere in the series, you reach an animal of a distinct character,
in which natural and sexual selection have done all that they can
do; in which there can be no propagation of offspring but those of
a distinct and peculiar type, and the invincible barrier against a
sexual union with any other type becomes established. For this reason,
we must recognize the limits of possible interbreeding. It is best
for us, therefore, to come to some understanding of the sense in
which we shall use the term "species." For I shall press upon you
this consideration--that animals differ absolutely from each other;
that there can be no interbreeding between animals which so differ;
and yet that, without interbreeding between animals having distinct
organizations, natural and sexual selection had not the force necessary
to produce, in any length of time, such a being as man out of such a
being as the ape.

KOSMICOS. I will let Darwin answer you, in a passage which
I will read. "Whether primeval man," he observes, "when he possessed
but few arts, and those of the rudest kind, and when his power of
language was extremely imperfect, would have deserved to be called
man, must depend on the definition which we employ. In a long series
of forms graduating insensibly from some ape-like creature to man as
he now exists, it would be impossible to fix on any definite time when
the term 'man' ought to be used. But this is a matter of very little
importance." That is to say, in the long series of forms descending
from the ape-like creature, we can not fix on any one of the modified
descendants which we can pronounce to be separated from the family
of apes, and to have become the new family, man, because to do this
requires a definition of man. Man as he now exists we know, but the
primeval man we do not know. He may have been an animal capable of
sexual union with some of his kindred who stood nearest to him, but
yet remained apes, or he may not. It is not important what he was, or
whether we can find the time when he ceased to belong to the family
of apes and became the primeval man. The hypothesis of his descent
remains good, notwithstanding we can not find that time, because it is
supported by a great multitude of facts.

SOPHEREUS. I have never seen any facts which I can regard
as giving direct support to the theory. But, waiving this want
of evidence, doubtless it is not important to find the time,
chronologically, when the modified descendants, supposed to have
proceeded from the ape-like creature, became the primeval man; but
it is of the utmost importance to have some satisfactory grounds for
believing that there ever was such an occurrence as the development of
the animal man, primeval or modern man, out of such an animal as the
ape. And therefore, without reference to the sense in which naturalists
use the term "species," I shall give you the sense in which I use it.
I use it to designate the animals which are distinct from each other,
as the man, the horse, the ape, and the dog are all distinct from each
other. Speaking of man as one true species, I include all the races
of men. Speaking of the apes as another species, I include all the
families of apes. Speaking of the bovine, the equine, or the canine
species, I include in each their respective varieties. Now, as crosses
in interbreeding can take place between the different varieties or
families of these several species, and can not take place between the
species themselves--between those which I thus class as species--the
limits of such crosses become important facts in considering the theory
of evolution, because they narrow the inquiry to the possibility of
effecting a propagation of one species out of another species. Take any
animal which has become a completed and final product--a peculiar and
distinct creature--whether made so by aboriginal creation or produced
by what you call evolution. The reproductive faculty of the males and
the females of this distinct and peculiar animal is limited to the
generative reproduction of individuals of the same type, by a sexual
union of two individuals of that type. Their progeny, in successive
generations, may be marked by adventitious and slowly acquired
peculiarities; but unless there can be found some instance or instances
in which the process of modification has resulted in an animal which
we must regard as an 'essentially new creature--a new species--what
becomes of the auxiliary evidence which is supposed to be derived
from the effects of interbreeding between those individuals which
can interbreed? I lose all hold upon the theory of evolution, unless
I can have some proof that natural and sexual selection have overcome
the barriers against a sexual union among animals which are divided
into males and females of the several species, each of which is placed
under a law of procreation and gestation peculiar to itself, and never
produces any type but its own.

KOSMICOS. You wander from the principle of evolution. I
have to be perpetually restating it. Observe, then, that there are
multitudes of facts which warrant the belief that, starting with
any one kind of animal organism, however peculiar and distinct, the
struggle for existence among the enormous number of individuals of
that animal becomes most intense, and a furious battle is constantly
going on. The best-appointed males, in the fierceness of the strife
for possession of the females, develop new organs and powers, or their
original organs and powers are greatly enhanced. Their descendants
share in these modifications; and the modifications go on in a
geometrical ratio of increase through millions of years, until at
some time there is developed an animal which differs absolutely from
its remote progenitors which were away back in the remote past, and
which began the struggle for individual life and the continuation
of their species or their race in a condition of things which left
the fittest survivors the sole or nearly the sole propagators of new
individuals. This struggle for existence may have begun--probably
it did begin--before the separation of the sexes, when the organism
was unisexual or even asexual. That is to say, there may have been,
and there probably was, an organism which multiplied with enormous
rapidity, without the bisexual method of reproduction. The vast
multitude of such individuals would lead to the destruction of the
weakest; the strong survivors would continue to give rise to other
individuals, modified from the original type, until at length, by
force of this perpetual exertion and struggle and the survival of the
fittest, modifications of the method of reproduction would ensue, and
the bisexual division would be developed and perpetuated.

SOPHEREUS. I confess I did not expect to hear you go quite so
far. I will yield all the potency to natural and sexual selection that
can be fairly claimed for them as modifying agencies operating after
the sexual division has come about; but I have, I repeat, seen no facts
which justify the hypothesis that they have led to distinct organisms
between which no propagation can take place. But now you expect me to
accept the startling conclusion that at some time the asexual or the
unisexual method of reproduction passed into the bisexual, without
any formative will or design of a creating power, and without any
act of direct creation. We know what Plato imagined as the origin
of the sexual division, and that he could not get along without the
intervention of the gods. What modern naturalist has done any better? I
have examined Darwin's works pretty diligently, and I can not get from
them any solution of the origin of the bisexual division. I am left to
reason upon it as I best can. We know, then, that in the higher animal
organisms the individuals of each species are divided into the related
forms of male and female, and that for each species there exists the
one invariable method of the sexual union, and a law of gestation
peculiar to itself. One hypothesis is that this system was produced by
the operation of natural causes, like those which are supposed to have
differentiated the various kinds of organisms; the other hypothesis is
that it was introduced with special design, by an act of some creative
will. If we view the phenomena of the sexual division and the sexual
genesis in the highest animal in which they obtain, we find that
they lead to certain social results, which plainly indicate that in
this animal they exist for a great and comprehensive moral purpose,
which far transcends all that can be imagined as the moral purpose
for which they exist in the other animals. To a comparatively very
limited extent, certain social consequences flow from the law of sexual
division and genesis among the other animals. But there is no animal in
which the moral and social effects of this law are to be compared to
those which it produces in the human race. Not only does the same law
of multiplication obtain among the human race; not only does it lead to
love of the offspring far more durable and powerful than in the case
of any other animal; not only is it the origin of a society far more
complex, more lasting, and more varied in its conditions than any that
can be discovered in the associations of other animals which appear
to have some social habits and to form themselves into communities,
but in the human race alone, so far as we have any means of knowledge,
has the passion of sexual love become refined into a sentiment. You
may remember the passage in the "Paradise Lost" in which Raphael, in
his conversation with Adam, touches so finely the distinction between
sexual love in the human race and in all the other animals. The angel
reminds Adam that he shares with the brutes the physical enjoyment
which leads to propagation; and then tells him that there was implanted
in his nature a higher and different capacity of enjoyment in love. The
conclusion is:--

                    "... for this cause
    Among the beasts no mate for thee was found."

In the human being alone, even when there is not much else to
distinguish the savage from the beasts around him, the passion of
love is often something more nearly akin to what might be looked for
in an elevated nature, than it can be among the brutes. What do the
poetry and romance of the ruder nations show, but that this passion of
sexual love in the human being is one in which physical appetite and
sentimental feeling are so "well commingled" that their union marks the
compound nature of an animal and a spiritual being? How human society
has resulted from this passion, how in the great aggregate of its
forces it moves the world, how in its highest development it gives rise
to the social virtues, and in its baser manifestations leads to vice,
misery, and degradation, I do not need to remind you. How, then, is it
possible to avoid the conclusion that in man the sexual passion was
implanted by special design and for a special purpose, which extends
far beyond the immediate end of a continuation of the race?

KOSMICOS. Why do you resort to a special purpose in the
constitution of one animal, and to the absence of a similar purpose
from the constitution of another animal? In both, the consequences make
a case of the _post hoc_ just as plainly as they make a case of the
_propter hoc_. It is just as rational to conclude that they only show
the former as it is to conclude that they establish the latter. In man,
we have the physical fact of the sexual division, and all you can say
is that it is followed by certain great and varied moral phenomena. In
the other animals, we have the same physical fact, followed by moral
phenomena less complex and varied, and not so lasting. In neither case
can you say that there was a special and separate design, according
to which the same physical fact was intended to produce the special
consequences which we observe in each. Why, as the species called man
became developed into beings of a higher order than the primates of
the race or than their remote progenitors, should not this passion of
sexual love have become elevated into a sentiment and been followed by
the effects of that elevation, just as the gratification of another
appetite, that for food, _par exemple_, has been refined by the
intellectual pleasures of the social banquet and the interchange of
social courtesies? Is there anything to be proved by the institution
or the practice of marriage, beyond this--that it has been found by
experience to be of great social utility, and is therefore regulated
by human laws and customs, which vary in the different races of
mankind? Monogamy is the rule among some nations, polygamy is at least
allowed in others. You can predicate nothing of either excepting that
each society deems its own practice to be upon the whole the most
advantageous. You can not say that there is any fixed law of nature
which renders it unnatural for one man to have more than one wife.
In many ages of the world there have been states of society in which
the family has had as good a foundation in polygamous as it has had
in monogamous unions. Looking, then, at these undeniable facts, and
also at the fact that marriage, whether monogamous or polygamous, is
an institution regulated by human law and custom, we have to inquire
for the reason why human law and custom take any cognizance of the
relation. We find that, among some of the other animals, the sexes
do not pair excepting for a single birth. The connection lasts no
longer than for a certain period during which the protection of both
parents is needed by the offspring, and not always so long even as
that. It has become the experience of mankind that the connection
of the parents ought to be formed for more than one birth; shall be
of indefinite duration; and this because of the physical and social
benefits which flow from such a permanency of the union. This has given
rise to certain moral feelings concerning the relation of husband and
wife. But we have no more warrant, from anything that we can discover
in nature, for regarding the permanency of marriage among the human
race as a divine institution than we have for regarding its temporary
continuance among the other animals as a divinely appointed temporary
arrangement. In the one case, the permanency of the union has resulted
from experience of its utility. In the other case, the animal perceives
no such utility, and therefore does not follow the practice. Upon the
hypothesis that all the animals, man included, had a common origin,
it is very easy to account for the difference which prevails between
man and the other animals in this matter of marriage, or the pairing
of the sexes. As man became by insensible gradations evolved out of
some pre-existing organism, and as moral sentiments became evolved
out of his superior and more complex relations with his fellows, from
his experience of the practical utility of certain kinds of conduct
and practice, the sentiments became insensibly interwoven with his
feelings about the most important of his social relations, the union
of the sexes in marriage. This is quite sufficient to account for the
difference between man and the other animals in regard to the duration
of such unions, without resorting to any intentional or divine or
superhuman origin of that difference.

SOPHEREUS. For the purpose of the argument, I concede that
this is a case of either the _post hoc_ or the _propter hoc_. I have
been pretty careful, however, in all my investigations, not to lose
sight of this distinction in reasoning on the phenomena of nature or
those of society. I think I can perceive when there is a connection
between cause and effect, when that connection evinces an intelligent
design, and when the phenomena bear no relation to a certain fact
beyond that of sequence in time. What, then, have we to begin with?
We have the fact that the human race is divided into the two forms of
male and female, and that the passion or appetite of sexual love exists
in both sexes, and that its gratification is the immediate cause of
a production of other individuals of the same species. We next have
the fact that this union of the sexes is followed by an extraordinary
amount of moral and social phenomena that are peculiar to the human
race. This sequence proves to me an intentional design that the moral
and social phenomena shall flow from the occurrence of the sexual
union, for it establishes not only a possibility, but an immensely
strong probability, that the phenomena were designed to flow from
this one occurrence among this particular species of animal. If this
connection between the original physiological fact and the moral and
social phenomena be established to our reasonable satisfaction, it is
the highest kind of moral evidence of a special design in the existence
of the sexual division and the sexual passion among the human race.
You remember old Sir Thomas Browne's suggestion, that men might have
been propagated as trees are. But they are not so propagated. If they
were, no such consequences would have followed as those which do follow
from the mode in which they are in fact propagated. These consequences
are most numerous and complex, and they are capable of being assigned
to nothing but the sexual division and the sexual union as the means
of continuing the race. Turn now to some of the other animals among
whom there prevail the same bisexual division and the same method of
procreation and multiplication. You find they result in sexual unions
of very short duration, and that, if it is followed by phenomena that
in some feeble degree resemble those which are found in human society,
they bear no comparison in point of complexity and character to those
which in the human race mark the family, the tribe, and the nation.
And here there occurs something which is closely analogous to what
I pointed out to you in considering the supposed development of the
first animal organism. I said that although you may theoretically
suppose that the first animal organism was formed by the spontaneous
union of molecular aggregates, and that the higher organisms were
evolved out of the lower solely by the operation of causes which you
call "natural," yet that when you come to account for the existence of
true and distinct species, each with its sexual division and its law
of procreation and gestation, you must infer a special design and a
formative will, because there has never been suggested any method by
which the so-called natural causes could have produced this division
of the sexes and this invariable law of the sexual procreation among
individuals of the same species. Here, then, we arrive at a distinct
moral purpose; for, when we compare the different social phenomena
which follow the operation of the sexual division and procreation in
man with the social phenomena which follow in the case of the other
animals, we find a difference that is not simply one of degree, but
is one of kind. We find the origin of the family, the tribe, and the
nation: the source of the complex phenomena of human society. We may
therefore rationally conclude that in man the sexual division and
the sexual passion were designed to have effects that they were not
designed to have in the other animals. To suppose that these vastly
superior consequences in the case of man are the mere results of his
perception of their utility will not account for the fact that when
he does not recognize the utility--when he departs from the law of
his human existence--human society can not be formed and continued.
Although it is possible for human society to exist with polygamous
marriages, and even to have some strength and duration, yet human
society without the family, with promiscuous sexual intercourse, with
no marriages and no ties between parents and children, never has
existed or can exist. Compare Plato's curious constitution of the body
of "guardians," in his "Republic," and the strange method of unions,
the offspring of which were not allowed to know their parents or the
parents to know their own children. This was not imagined as a form
of human society, but was entirely like a breeding-stud. Among the
brutes, permanent marriages, families, do not exist, not because the
animals do not perceive their social utility, but because the purposes
of their lives, their manifest destinies, show that there was no reason
for endowing them with any higher capacity for the sexual enjoyment
than that which leads to the very limited consequences for which the
division of the sexes was in their cases ordained. But in the case of
man there is a further and higher capacity for the sexual enjoyment,
which becomes the root of his social happiness, and which distinguishes
him from the brute creation quite as palpably as the superiority of his
intellectual faculties. In all this we must recognize a moral purpose.

KOSMICOS. Pray tell me why it is not just as rational to
conclude that these moral phenomena, as results of the human passion
of love, have become, in all their complex and diversified aspects,
the consequences of a progressive elevation of the human animal to a
higher plane of existence than that occupied by the inferior species,
or than that occupied by the primeval man. When man had become
developed into an animal in whom the intellect could become what it
is, he could begin to perceive the social utility of certain modes
of life, and from this idea of their utility would result certain
maxims of conduct which would be acted on as moral obligations. Thus,
commencing with a consciousness that the race exists with the sexual
division into male and female, there would begin to be formed some
ideas of the superior social utility of a regulated sexual union of
individuals and of permanent marriages. These ideas would become
refined as the progressive elevation of the race went on, and that
which we recognize as the sentimental element in the passion of love
would become developed out of the perceptions of a superior utility
in the permanent devotion and consecration of two individuals to
each other. If, then, by a moral purpose in the establishment of the
bisexual division you mean that all these social phenomena of the
family, the tribe, and the nation were designed in the human race to
follow from that division, I see no necessity for resorting to any such
moral purpose on the part of a creator, because they might just as
well have followed from the progressive elevation and development of
the human animal, supposing him to be descended from some pre-existing
type of animal of another and inferior organization. The philosophy
which you seem to be cultivating closely resembles that which ascribes
everything to the action of mind as its cause. This, you must be aware,
it is the tendency of modern science to antagonize by a different
view of causation. What have you been reading, that you adhere so
pertinaciously to the idea of a moral purpose adopted by some being,
overlooking those physical causes which may have produced all the
results without that hypothesis?

SOPHEREUS. I have been reading a good deal, but I have
reflected more. I may not be able to reconcile the metaphysical
speculations of the different schools of philosophy by explanations
that will satisfy others, but I can satisfy myself on one point. This
is, that power, force, energy, causation, are all attributes of mind,
and can exist in a mind only. Let us pass for a moment from abstract
reasoning to an illustration drawn from familiar objects. A ton of coal
contains a certain amount of what is scientifically called energy.
This energy becomes developed by combustion, which liberates heat. The
heat, when applied to water, converts the water into a vapor called
steam--a highly elastic substance. The expansion of the steam against a
mechanical instrument called a piston produces motion, and an engine is
driven. The force thus obtained represents the energy that was latent
in the coal. If we inquire whence the coal obtained this latent energy,
there is a hypothesis which assigns its origin to the sun, which laid
up a certain quantity of it in the vegetable substances that became
converted into coal in one of the geological periods of the earth's
formation. But in order to find the ultimate and original cause--the
_causa causans_ of the whole process--we must go behind the steam and
its expansive quality, behind the heat which converts the water into
steam, behind the coal and its combustible quality, and behind the sun
and its indwelling heat, a portion of which was imparted to and left
latent in the vegetable substances that became coal. We must inquire
whence they all originated. If they did not create themselves--an
inconceivable and inadmissible hypothesis--they must have originated
in some creating power, which commanded them to exist and established
their connections. Without a mental energy and its exertions, matter
and all its properties, substance and all its qualities, the sun's
indwelling heat and its capacity to be stored up in vegetable fiber
in a latent condition, could not have existed, and the forces of
nature of which we avail ourselves would never have emerged from the
non-existent state that we conceive of as "chaos." I know very well
that we are accustomed to associate with inanimate matter the ideas of
power, force, energy, and causation. But if we rest in the conception
of these as acting of themselves, and without being under the control
of an originating mind or a determining will, we may think that we
have arrived at ultimate causes, but we have not. We have arrived at
subsidiary causes--the instruments, so to speak, in the control of an
intellect which has ordained and uses them. Whether we look at the
physical causes by which the early Greek philosophers endeavored to
explain the phenomena of the universe, or at one of Plato's conceptions
of a designing and volitional agency in the formation of the Kosmos,
or to another of his conceptions, the sovereignty of universal ideas
or metaphysical abstractions, we are everywhere confronted with the
necessity for assigning an origin to the physical causes, or to
the universal ideas; and the result is that the idea of a supreme,
designing, and volitional agency is forced upon us--it is upon me--by
an irresistible process of reasoning, an invincible necessity of my
mental constitution. I can not agree with Auguste Comte, who regards
it as the natural progress of the human mind to explain phenomena at
first by reference to some personal agency, and to pass from this
mode of explanation to that by metaphysical abstractions. Nor can I
agree with you scientists, who not only rest satisfied yourselves with
the explanation of the ultimate cause of phenomena by mere physical
agencies, but who insist that others shall not deduce a personal and
volitional agency from the existence of those physical agencies. To me
it seems indispensable, in the study of phenomena, to recognize moral
purposes for which they have been made to be what they are: and of
course a moral purpose is not assignable to the physical agencies of
matter, or to metaphysical abstractions. Hence it is that in reasoning
on the phenomena of human society, I am obliged to recognize a moral
purpose in the sexual division, of far greater scope and far more
varied consequences than can be found in the case of the same division
among the other animals.

KOSMICOS. I put to you this question: What do you mean by a
moral purpose? In teleology, or the science of the final causes of
things, you must find out the producing agencies. Let me give you a
theory of causation, which will show you that your notion of a moral
purpose is altogether out of place. The only true causes are phenomenal
ones, or what is certified by experience. There are uniform and
unconditional antecedents, and uniform and unconditional sequences.
Something goes before, uniformly and invariably; something uniformly
and invariably follows. The first are causes; the last are effects.
We can not go farther back than the antecedent cause; we can not go
farther forward than the effect. We can not connect the effect with
anything but the antecedent cause. When, therefore, you speak of a
moral purpose, what do you mean? Where do you get the evidence of the
moral purpose? What is the purpose, and what is the evidence of it?

SOPHEREUS. I answer you as I have before--that the agencies
which you call phenomenal causes could not have established themselves;
could not have originated their own uniformity; could not have made
the invariable connection between themselves and the effects. If we
discard the idea of a moral and sentient being, a mind originating
and ordaining the physical agencies, we have nothing left but those
agencies; and in this the human mind can not rest. It is not enough to
say that it ought to rest there. It does not, will not, and can not.
Science--what you call science--may rest there, but philosophy can not.
It is unphilosophical to speak of the Unknown Cause, or the Unknown
Power, underlying all manifestations, as something of which we can not
conceive and must not personify. The ultimate power which underlies
all phenomena necessarily implies a will, an intellectual origin, and
a mental energy. That it is something whose mental operations we can
not trace, is no argument against its personality, and no reason why we
should not conceive of it as a mental energy.

KOSMICOS. You have more than once referred to the constitution
of the human mind as if it had been constructed with an irresistible
necessity to attribute everything to the action of a being, an
intelligence, and a will. You should rather say that _some minds_ have
trained themselves to this mode of reasoning, because they have first
received the idea of such a being as the final cause, as a matter of
dogmatic teaching, and they have tried to reason it out so as to attain
a conviction that what they have been taught is true. It is in this way
that they have found what they consider as evidence of a moral purpose.
But you have no warrant for the assumption that the human intellect
has been put together in such a way that it can not avoid reaching the
conclusion that all phenomena are to be imputed to the volition of a
mind as their producing cause.

SOPHEREUS. In speaking of the human mind and its incapacity
to rest satisfied with what science can discover of immediate physical
agencies in the production of phenomena, I have not overlooked the
fact that the idea of a Creator has been dogmatically inculcated as
a matter of belief. But I form my conception of the construction of
the human mind from the operations of my own mind. I have not trained
myself into any mode of reasoning. I have somehow been so placed in
this world that, as I have frequently told you and as I am perfectly
conscious, I am uninfluenced by any early teaching, and can judge
for myself of the force of evidence. When I say, therefore, that
the human intellect is so constituted that it is obliged to regard
mind as the source of power, I exclude all teaching but the teaching
of experience. There can not be two courses of reasoning that are
alike correct. If you uncover a portion of the earth's surface, and
find there structures, implements, and various objects which you
are convinced that the forces of nature did not produce, you must
conclude that they were the productions of mind availing itself of the
capabilities of matter to be molded and arranged by the force of an
intelligent will. You do not see that mind, you do not see the work in
progress, but you are irresistibly led to the conclusion that there
was a mind which produced what you have found. You can not reason on
the phenomena at all, without having the conviction forced upon you
that the ultimate cause was an intelligent being. You can not explain
the phenomena without this conclusion. How, then, can you explain the
more various and extraordinary phenomena of nature without attributing
their production to mind? You have no more direct evidence that the
Pyramids of Egypt, or an obelisk which has lain buried in the earth
for thousands of years, were made by human hands, than you have for
believing that an animal organism, or the solar system, was planned
and executed by an intelligent being. In both cases, you have only
indirect evidence; but in both cases that evidence addresses itself to
your intellect upon the same principles of belief. In the case of the
pyramid or the obelisk, you refer the construction to mind, because you
see that mind alone could have been the real cause of its existence.
In the case of the animal organism, or the mechanism of the heavenly
bodies, you are obliged to reason in the same way. Hence I say that
our minds are so constituted that there is but one method of correct
reasoning, whether the phenomena are those which can be attributed only
to human intellect, or are those which must be attributed to superhuman
power and intelligence. Hence, too, I speak of a moral purpose as
indicated by the phenomena. The pyramid and the obelisk were built
with a moral purpose. The animal organism and all that follows from
it, the structure of the solar system and all that follows from it,
were made to be what they are with a moral purpose. When you ask me for
the evidence of this purpose, I point to the fact that the phenomenal
causes, as you denominate the mere physical agencies employed in the
production of certain objects, were incapable of any volitional action,
and that without volition the connection between the physical agencies
and their effects could not have been established. The stone and the
chisel were the immediate physical agencies which produced the obelisk.
But who selected the stone and wielded the chisel? And who designed the
moral uses of the obelisk? Procreation, by the sexual union, is the
immediate physical cause of the existence of an individual animal. But
who designed its structure, appointed for it a law of its being, and
established the physical agencies which brought the individual into
existence and the moral consequences that those agencies produce?

KOSMICOS. We are no nearer to an agreement than we have been
in our former discussions. And the reason is that you do not perceive
the mission and the method of science. Science undertakes to discover
those causes of phenomena which can be verified by experience; so that
we can truly say that our knowledge has been advanced, and that we
really do know something of the things which we talk about. This is the
domain of science. Its conclusions do not extend into the region of
that which is unknown and unknowable. Inasmuch as its conclusions are
strictly positive, because they are demonstrated by experience, they
negative, as matter of knowledge, anything beyond. You may speculate
about what lies beyond, but you have no reason for saying that you know
anything about it; whereas men who reason as you do, and yet who do
not accept dogmas simply as matters of faith, are constantly trying to
persuade themselves that they know something about that of which they
have no means of knowledge. If you accept that something as a matter of
faith, because you are satisfied with the evidence which establishes,
or is supposed to establish, a divine revelation, you have a ground for
belief with which science does not undertake to interfere. But you have
no ground for maintaining that, from the phenomena of nature alone, you
can derive any knowledge beyond that which you can demonstrate as a
scientific fact.

SOPHEREUS. I accept your definition of the aims and methods
of science. But what I find fault with is the assumption that we are
not entitled to say that we know or believe a thing which can not be
demonstrated as a scientific fact, when we are all the time grounding
such knowledge or belief upon reasoning that convinces us of the truth
and reality of other things which in like manner are not demonstrable
as scientific facts. You may say that this is not the knowledge
which we derive from scientific facts, and therefore it is not to be
dignified by the name of knowledge. But we are always acting and must
act upon proofs which are not scientific demonstrations; and whether we
call this knowledge, or call it belief, we govern our lives according
to it. We accept the proof that a buried city was the habitation and
work of intelligent human beings, because we know that the forces of
nature, not guided and applied by intelligent wills, never constructed
a city. We accept the proof that men are just, merciful, courageous,
truthful, or the reverse of all this, because their actions prove it,
although we can not look into their hearts. What does all the estimate
of the characters of men rest upon, but upon their actions? And is not
this entitled to be ranked as knowledge of the characters of individual

KOSMICOS. We must each retain his conclusions. Let our next
discussion relate to the origin of the human mind, and then we shall
see whether you will be able to resist the origin which evolution
assigns to it.

SOPHEREUS. I shall be glad to meet you again.


 Origin of the human mind--Mr. Spencer's theory of the composition of
 mind--His system of morality.

According to their appointment, our two disputants have met to discuss
the origin of mind.

SOPHEREUS. Will you begin this conference by stating the
evolution theory of the origin of the human mind?

KOSMICOS. Most willingly. I have thus far spoken of the
hypothesis of evolution as affording an explanation of the origin of
distinct animals, regarded simply as living organisms, differentiated
from each other by the slow process of development from a common stock,
by the operation of certain physical causes. I am now to account to you
for the origin of the human mind, upon the same hypothesis, namely,
that man is a development from some previous and lower organism. I
acknowledge that what we call mind, or intellect, has to be accounted
for; and that we who hold the evolution theory of the origin of man as
an animal must be able to suggest how his intellect became developed by
the operation of the same natural causes which produced his physical
organization. It is not material, in this inquiry, whether we agree
with Darwin in assuming some one distinct living organism of a very
low type, as the original stock from which all the other animal
organisms have been derived, or whether we go with Spencer back to
the primal molecules of organizable matter, and suppose that from a
single cell have been developed all the organisms possessing life, in
a regular order of succession. Upon either supposition, the doctrine
of evolution explains the origin of the human mind. For, upon either
supposition, there was a point in the long series of new forms, each
descending from a pre-existing form, at which the manifestations of
what we call mind may be said to have begun. This link in the connected
chain of organisms occurred where nervous organization began to act
with some spontaneous movement, with some power of voluntary exertion,
as distinguished from the involuntary exertions of a substance that
acted only in a certain and fixed way, although that substance was
endowed with life. The substance of nervous organization is alike
in all animals. In some it acts in a limited manner, and without
volitional control; in others, it acts in more varied modes, and it
manifests some power of volitional control and volitional rest, as
well as of involuntary movement. But in all animals the substance of
which nervous organization is composed--the substance which acts in
producing movement, whether voluntary or involuntary--is the same kind
of physical structure. In the higher animals, the great nerve-center
is the organ called the brain. To this organ proceed the impressions
produced upon one set of nerves by external objects, or by light or
heat. From the same organ proceed, by another set of nerves, those
movements which the animal is endowed with the power of making from
within. Contemplating, then, the whole animal kingdom as one great
connected family, but divided into different species, all of which have
a nervous organization, we find that each species is endowed with the
power of generating other individuals of the same species and of the
same nervous organization. In the long course of development of the
several species, or forms of animal life, there comes about a nervous
organization which acts freely within certain limits, but in a fixed
and invariable mode, so that the movements are uniformly the same,
and not in any proper sense volitional. To such an animal we should
not attribute any mind, for mind implies some power of comparison and
variation, some ability to act in more than a prescribed way. This
animal, which I have just supposed to possess a very limited power of
nervous action, transmits that power to its descendants; and in some of
the successive generations the power remains always at the same fixed
point. But the laws of natural and sexual selection are perpetually
operating among those descendants. In progress of time there comes
to be developed another organism, which has a wider range of nervous
action; and, as this ceaseless process of modification and improvement
goes on, there is developed still another nervous organization which
acts with still more varied movements. As the different species
of animals become evolved out of those that have gone before, the
expansion of nervous organization goes on; and as each new and higher
and more complex stage is gained, individuals of the species have the
power to transmit it to their descendants by ordinary generation.
At length, as in some of the mammalia, a nervous organization is
attained, whose action exhibits manifestations of what we call mind.
There appears to be a power of something like reasoning and volition,
because the nervous actions are so various and so much adapted to
outward circumstances. Thus, before we reach the human animal, we
find nervous organizations widely separated from those of the remote
progenitor species, because they can do so much more, and can do it
with an apparent power of voluntary variation. At last, this process of
modifications accumulating upon modifications culminates in an animal
in whose nervous organization we find the freest, the most complex,
and the most various power of receiving into his brain the impressions
derived from the external world, and of transmitting from his brain to
the different organs of his body those movements which the external
circumstances of his life, or his internal efforts, cause him to strive
for and to effect. This animal was the primeval man.[113]

Looking back, then, to the primal source of all nervous organization,
in the remote animal in which the nervous structure and action were
at the crudest state of development, and remembering that there was
a power of transmitting it to offspring, and that natural and sexual
selection were unceasingly operating to expand and perfect it, we may
trace the successive stages of its modification and growth, from the
lowest to the highest, until we reach in the primeval man the highest
development that it had yet attained. But throughout all its stages,
from the lowest to the highest, the system of nervous organization and
action is the same in kind. We do not call its manifestations or action
mind, or speak of them as indicating mind, until we find it developed
into a condition of some voluntary activity and power of variation, as
it is in many of the animals inferior to man. But in all the animals,
man included, mind is the action of the nervous organization when it
evinces a superior power of variation; and we speak of the brain of
such animals as the seat of mind because that organ is the source to
and from which nervous action proceeds.

Let me now illustrate this view by the acquisition of articulate speech
and the formation of language. In many of the lower animals with
which we are acquainted there is a power of uttering vocal sounds,
and of understanding them when uttered by their fellows. It must have
been a power possessed by those animals which were the progenitors
of man in the long line of descent of one species from another. But
in them it was a very limited power. It increased as the nervous
organization and the vocal organs became in the successive species
capable of a more varied action. The sounds of the external world
impressed themselves upon the brains of the primeval men more forcibly
than they did upon the brains of the other animals, and excited the
nervous organization to reproduce or imitate them. Those emotions
and desires which originated in the brain itself--the impressions
of pain or the sensations of pleasure experienced in the nervous
system--sought expression through the vocal organs. Certain sounds
repeated alike by the same individual, or by numerous individuals, for
a long time, became associated in their brains with certain feelings
or sensations. What are called words were thus formed; which, at
first, could have been nothing but the utterance of certain sounds
by the vocal organs, expressing the sensations felt by the nervous
organization, or the imitations of external noises. At length these
vocal sounds are gathered in the memory, multiplied and systematized,
and a rude language is formed. But, all the while, the first crude
human language was nothing but the result of nervous action excited
to greater activity than in the other animals, accompanied by nicer
and more capable vocal organs and a greater power of using them.
This acquisition, obtained by the primeval men, was transmitted to
their descendants as an improved physical organization, and in those
descendants it finally reached the marvelous development of the most
perfect languages of antiquity.

Let us now retrace our steps back to the time when nervous
organization, in the successive generations of the whole animal series
regarded as one great family of kindred animals successively developed
out of a common stock, began to act in such a way as to evince the
presence of what we call mind. Once attained, this improved nervous
organization would be transmitted by the parents to new individuals;
and so on through countless generations, just as the offspring would
inherit the same physical structure as the parents in other respects.

Mental phenomena are the products of nervous organization. We have no
means of knowing that mind is an organism or an entity. If it is an
existence capable of surviving the death of the body, which evolution
neither affirms nor denies, you must go to revelation for the grounds
of belief in its immortality. There is no conflict between the
evolution theory of the nature of mind and the doctrine of immortality
as taught by revealed religion.

SOPHEREUS. I am not disposed to constitute myself a champion
of revealed religion. I have lately read in the writings of some
well-meaning persons, whose positions and convictions made them anxious
about the truths of revelation, expressions of the opinion that there
is no necessary conflict between the hypothesis of a revelation and
the teachings of evolution. I have been rather surprised by such
concessions. But through all our discussions, and throughout all my
reflections and inquiries, I have excluded revealed religion from the
number of proofs of our immortality. But it seems to me that, as to
the possibility of a survival of the mind after the death of the body,
you have stated yourself out of court, not because you have propounded
something that is inconsistent with revelation, although it certainly
is, but because you have made mind to consist in nothing but the
action of nervous organization, and when that has perished what can
remain? You may say that science does not undertake to determine that
mind is or is not a special existence capable of surviving the body.
But, observe that you attribute to nervous action the production of
phenomena to which you give the name of mind, when the nervous action
evinces some power of volitional variation and control. Now, when and
where did this begin, in the long series of animal organisms which
you assume have been successively evolved out of one another? Remember
that, according to the system of evolution, there are supposed to
have been countless forms of animal organisms, graduating by slow
improvements into higher and higher organisms. Where and when and what
was the first animal that possessed a nervous organization which would
manifest the power of variation in so marked a degree as to render
it proper to speak of the animal as possessing or evincing mind? Are
not the works of naturalists of the evolution school filled with
comparisons of the minds of different animals, and do they not contend
that in many of them there are manifestations of mental power, of the
exercise of reason and comparison, and a volitional action according
to varying circumstances? Did, then, these manifestations of something
like mental power begin in the anthropomorphous ape from whom we are
supposed to be descended, or who is supposed to be of kin to us? Or did
it begin in any one and which of the innumerable intermediate forms
between that ape-like creature and the primeval man? And when once this
improved and improving nervous organization had been developed and
put into a condition to be transmitted to descendants, until in the
primeval man it had attained its highest development, what was it but
a more sensitive, more various, and complex condition of the substance
of which all nervous tissues are composed? And when these tissues are
decomposed and resolved into their original material elements, where
and what is the mind, whether of man or beast? It is nowhere and
nothing, unless you suppose that the improved and improving action
of the nervous organization at last developed an existence which is
not in itself material or physical, and which may be imperishable and
indestructible, while the material and physical organs by and through
which it acts for a time perish daily in our sight. If this is a
possible, it is a very improbable hypothesis, because the nature of the
human mind points to a very different origin.

I surely do not need to tell you that like produces like. If the mind
of man is now a spiritual essence, it is a wild conjecture to suppose
that it was generated out of the action of a material substance, in
whatever animal, or supposed species of animal, its genesis is imagined
to have begun. We must therefore determine, from all the evidence
within our reach, whether the mind is a spiritual existence. If it is,
it is not difficult to reach a rational conclusion that its Creator
contrived a means of connecting it for a season with the bodily organs,
and made the generative production of each new individual body at the
same time give birth to a new individual mind, whenever a new child is
born into the world. We can not discover the nature of the connection,
or the process by which generative production of a new body becomes
also generative production of a new mind. These are mysteries that
are hidden from us. But the fact of the connection--the simultaneous
production of the new body and the new mind--is a fact that the birth
of every child demonstrates. Whether the union takes place at any
time before birth, or whether it is only at birth that the mind, the
spiritual essence, comes into existence, and so may become capable of
an endless life, we can not know. But that this occurs at some time in
the history of every human being, we are justified in saying that we

I shall now contrast your hypothesis of the origin of the human mind
with another and a very different one; and, in stating it, I shall
borrow nothing from the Mosaic account of the creation of Adam and
Eve. I shall not assert, on the authority of Moses, that God breathed
into Adam a living soul, for that would be to resort to a kind of
evidence which, for the present, I mean to avoid, and which would
bring into consideration the nature of the means by which the Hebrew
historian was informed of the fact which he relates, and which he could
have known in no other way. It would also give rise to a question
of what was meant by "a living soul." But I shall assume that there
is a spiritual and a material world; that a spiritual existence is
one thing and a material existence is another. I shall assume that
there is a spiritual world, because all our commonest experience, our
introspection and consciousness, our observation of what the human mind
can do, its operations and its productions, its capacity to originate
thought and to send it down the course of ages, its power to recognize
and obey a moral law as a divine command, the monuments of every kind
which attest that it is something which is not matter or material
substance, prove to us that the human mind is essentially a spiritual
existence; and that while it acts and must act by and through bodily
organs, so long as it acts in this world, it is a being quite distinct
from all the physical substance and physical organism with which it is
connected for a time. Physiology alone can teach us this much at least,
that mind is not matter; and experience, consciousness, and observation
teach us that while the action of the mind may be suspended for a
time when the nervous organization can not normally act, from disease
or injury, the mind itself is not destroyed, but its action may be
restored with the restoration of the brain to its normal condition.

I am going to assume another thing--the existence of the Creator, the
Supreme Governor of the universe, having under his control the whole
realms of the spiritual and the material world; alike capable of giving
existence to spiritual entities and to material organisms, and capable
of uniting them by any connection and for any purpose that might seem
to him good. I shall assume this, because some of you evolutionists
concede, if I understand rightly, the existence and capacities of the
Supreme Being, since you assume, and rightly, that the whole question
relates to his methods; and you believe that he chose the method of
evolution instead of the method of special creation for all the types
of animal life excepting the aboriginal and created lowest form, out
of which all the others have been evolved. With these two assumptions,
then, the nature of a spiritual existence, and the existence and
capacities of the Creator, I now state to you the opposite hypothesis
of the origin and nature of the human mind.

A pair of human beings, male and female, is created by the hand and
will of the Almighty; and to each is given a physical organism,
and a spiritual, intellectual self, or mind, which is endowed
with consciousness and capable of thought. Why is this a rational
supposition, aside from any evidence of the fact derived from its
assertion by an inspired or a divinely instructed witness? It is so,
because, when this aboriginal pair of human creatures fulfill the law
of their being, by the procreation of other creatures of the same
kind, the offspring must be supposed to possess whatever the parents
possessed of peculiar and characteristic organization. This law of
transmission is stamped upon all the forms of organic life; and we
may well apply it to the first pair of human beings. Its operation
must have begun in them and their offspring. Every law that proceeded
from the will of the Supreme Being began to operate at some time; and
this law, like all others, must have been put in operation by the
Creator at some definite period. He created in the first pair a bodily
organization, and he created in each of them the spiritual entity that
we now call mind, and established its connection with their bodily
organs. He established in them also the power of procreating offspring;
and this included the production of a new individual of the same
species, in whom would be united, by the same mysterious bond, the
same kind of physical organization and the same kind of spiritual or
intellectual existence, which is not matter, and could not have been
generated out of matter alone. The beginning of this connection of body
and mind in the first parents was an occasional and special exercise of
the divine power. It was not a miraculous exercise of power, because
a miracle, in the proper sense, implies some action aside from a
previously established course of things. It was simply a first exercise
of the power in the case of the creation of the first human pair;
that is, it was the establishment in them, specially, of the union of
the body and soul. Its repetition in the offspring, for all time, and
through successive generations, was left to the operation of the laws
of procreation and heredity. The nature and operation of those laws are
wrapped in mystery; but about the fact of their existence, and of the
compound procreation of a new body and a new mind at every new birth,
there can be no doubt whatever.

It seems to me that this hypothesis has in its favor a vast
preponderance of probability, because--

1. The generation of mind or spirit out of matter is inconceivable.

2. The creation of mind by the Almighty is just as conceivable as his
creation of a material organism; and the latter is conceded by all
naturalists who admit that there was a first animal organism; and
even some of the evolutionists hold that the first animal organism
was directly fashioned by the Creator, although all the succeeding
organisms were formed, as they contend, by natural and sexual selection.

3. The nature of mind--of the human mind--is the same in all
individuals of the race. They may differ in mental power, but they
all possess an intellectual principle that is the same in kind. To
the production of mind, or its formation, the process of evolution
was not necessary. Not only was it unnecessary, but in the nature of
things it was not adapted to do what it is supposed to have done in
the production of physical organisms. To suppose that the Creator,
instead of the direct exercise of his power of creation, left it to the
material laws of natural and sexual selection to produce a mind, is
to suppose him to have resorted to a method that was both unnecessary
and indirect, and was furthermore incapable of effecting that kind of
product. In reasoning about the methods of the Creator, it is certainly
irrational to suppose him to have resorted to one that was so ill
adapted to the accomplishment of his object. In the accomplishment
of some physical objects, we may well suppose that they have been
brought about by physical agencies that have operated very slowly
and indirectly; and we can see that this has often been the case in
regard to many material products. But for the production of mind, for
the accomplishment of a spiritual existence, there can be imagined no
secondary agencies, no gradual growth out of antecedent existences or
substances, no evolution out of some other and that other a material
organism. The first mind, the first human soul, must have come direct
from the hand and will of God. The succeeding minds may well have been
left to owe their existence to the laws of procreation, by a process
which we can not understand, but of which we have proof in the birth of
every child that has been born of woman.

KOSMICOS. We now have the two hypotheses of the origin and
nature of the human mind fairly before us; and here I must point out
to you wherein you do injustice to my side of the question. In the
first place, your assumption of one pair of progenitors of the human
race from whom have diverged all the varieties of the race, does not
encounter the evolution process of man's descent as an animal. It
is either an arbitrary assumption, or it is derived from the Mosaic
account of the creation, which, in a scientific point of view, and
aside from the supposed authority of that story, is just as arbitrary
an assumption as if the book of Genesis had never existed. Take,
therefore, Darwin's hypothesis of the zoölogical series: First, a
fish-like animal, of course inhabiting the water; next, the amphibians,
capable of living in the water and on the land; next, the ancient
marsupials; next, the quadrumana and all the higher mammals, among
whom are to be classed the _Simiadæ_ or monkeys; and out of these came
the hairy, tailed quadruped, arboreal in its habits, from which man is
descended. This long line of descent is filled with diversified forms,
intermediate between the several principal forms which are known to us,
and which were successively the progenitors of man. Now, hear Darwin on
the subject of one pair of progenitors:

"But since he [man] attained to the rank of manhood he has diverged
into distinct races, or, as they may be more fitly called, sub-species.
Some of these, such as the negro and European, are so distinct that,
if specimens had been brought to a naturalist without any further
information, they would undoubtedly have been considered by him as
good and true species. Nevertheless, all the races agree in so many
unimportant details of structure and in so many mental peculiarities,
that these can be accounted for only by inheritance from a common
progenitor; and a progenitor thus characterized would probably deserve
to rank as man. It must not be supposed that the divergence of each
race from the other races, and of all from a common stock, can be
traced back to any one pair of progenitors. On the contrary, at every
stage in the process of modification all the individuals which were in
any way better fitted for their conditions of life, though in different
degrees, would have survived in greater numbers than the less well
fitted. The process would have been like that followed by man, when he
does not intentionally select particular individuals, but breeds from
all the superior individuals and neglects the inferior. He thus slowly
but surely modifies his stock, and unconsciously forms a new strain.
So with respect to modifications acquired independently of selection,
and due to variations arising from the nature of the organism and the
action of the surrounding conditions, or from changed habits of life,
no single pair will have been modified much more than the other pairs
inhabiting the same country, for all will have been continually blended
through free intercrossing."[114]

The meaning of this is that if you go back to the period when an
animal, by the slow process of modification which was continually
operating among the preceding organisms, had been raised to the
present state of man, and then follow out the divergencies into the
distinct races of men, those divergencies would not have occurred in
consequence of any one pair having been modified much more than the
other pairs inhabiting the same country, but all the individuals would
have undergone a continually blending process through unrestrained
intercrossing; and those individuals of both sexes, who became in
a superior degree fitted for their conditions of life, would have
survived in greater numbers than the less well fitted, and would have
transmitted to their posterity those peculiarities which tended at last
to produce different races of the human family. So that the notion of a
single pair of the negro variety, or of a single pair of the Caucasian
variety, formed and completed as an independent stock, is not necessary
to account for these varieties.

To apply this, now, to the slow production of man's intellectual
faculties, we must, if we would do justice to Darwin's hypothesis of
the method in which he was developed as an animal, bear in mind that
his mental powers, like his animal structure, have been the necessary
acquirement of new powers and capacities by gradation, through the
perpetual process of modification, and retention and transmission of
the new acquisitions. Darwin, indeed, does not professedly undertake
the genealogy of the human mind; but he appears to hold the opinion
that in future psychology will be based on the gradual acquisition of
each mental power and capacity, as distinguished from their complete
production in any one pair, or in any one being; and he refers to
Herbert Spencer as having already securely laid the foundation for this
new psychology.[115]

I take, therefore, the great English naturalist as the person who has
most satisfactorily explained the origin of man as an animal, and
the great English philosopher as the person who has propounded the
most satisfactory theory of the origin of the human mind. The two
hypotheses run parallel to and support each other. Man, as respects his
mere animal structure, is an organism developed by a slow process of
modification out of preceding organisms. His mental faculties have one
by one grown out of the operation of the same physical agencies that
have formed his animal structure, and they have not been bestowed at
once upon any one pair, or upon any one individual of the race. After
they have all been acquired, as we now know and recognize them, they
have descended to the successive generations of the race.

SOPHEREUS. I have studied Mr. Spencer's "System of
Psychology," but I do not know whether we understand it alike. You
say that he has propounded the most satisfactory theory of the origin
of mind. Assuming that mind was evolved as an aggregate of powers and
capacities, slowly acquired, _pari passu_ with the evolution of the
animal organism, be good enough to tell me whether Mr. Spencer does
or does not conclude that mind is anything more than an aggregate of
powers and capacities of the nervous organization. I am quite aware
of the mode in which he meets the charge of materialism; but waiving
for the present the question of materialism, I should be glad to know,
according to your understanding of his philosophy, what he considers
mind to be.

KOSMICOS. To answer your question requires an analysis of
Spencer's "Principles of Psychology." You have here on your table the
third edition of that work, which received his latest corrections and
additions.[116] If you look at the preface of this edition, you will
see that, as between Realism and Idealism, he enunciates a view which
recognizes an element of truth in each, but rejects the rest. By this
"Transfigured Realism" he aims to conciliate what is true in Realism
with what is true in Idealism; and it is by this conciliation that he
answers the partisans of both systems, who will not sacrifice any part
of their respective doctrines. It is important for you to remember this
in judging of his psychological system. He begins by a description
of the structure and functions of the nervous system, and the nature
of nervous actions. Without repeating in all its minute details the
structure which he describes, it is enough to say that in all animals,
from the lowest to the highest, this peculiar part of the organism
which we call the nervous system is composed of two tissues which
differ considerably from those composing the rest of the organism.
In color they are distinguished from one another as gray and white,
and in their minute structures as vesicular and fibrous. In the gray
tissue, the vesicles or corpuscles contain a soft protein substance,
with granules imbedded in it, consisting of fatty matter. The more
developed of these nerve-corpuscles give off branching processes, and
the terminations of nerve-fibers are distributed among them. The white
tissue is composed of minute tubes containing a medullary substance or
pulp, viscid like oil. Imbedded in this pulp, which fills the tubes,
there lies a delicate fiber or axis-cylinder, which is uniform and
continuous instead of having its continuity broken by fat-granules.
This central thread is the essential nerve; and the sheath of
medullary matter, and its surrounding membranous sheath, are only its
accessories. While, therefore, the matter of nerve-fiber has much in
common with the matter of nerve-vesicle, in the latter the protein
substance contains more water, is mingled with fat-granules, and forms
part of an unstable mass; whereas in the former, the nerve-tube, the
protein substance, is denser, is distinct from the fatty compounds that
surround it, and so presents an arrangement that is relatively stable.

Conceive, then, of this interlaced physical structure extending
throughout the whole organism as a kind of circular mechanism, having
its periphery at the surface of the body and limbs, ramifying among
and into the internal organs, with various nerve-centers distributed
through the interior mechanism, and the one great nerve-center in the
brain. Conceive of this structure, further, as fed continually by the
blood-vessels, which repair its waste of tissue and keep it in proper
tone and activity. Then imagine it as first put in operation in some
animal in whom it has become developed as we now know it in ourselves,
and let that animal stand as the primeval man, who has become, by
inherited transmission of gradual accumulations, possessed of this
consummate development of nervous organization. You can then observe
the method of its action, and can perceive how mind became developed,
and what it is.

What I have now given you is only a general description of the
structure of the nervous mechanism, and in order to understand its
functions, we may take it up, in an individual, at a point of time
when it had not experienced a single movement or change from a state
of rest, but when it was completely fitted to act. Observe, then,
that its action will consist in the origination and accomplishment
of motion; or, in other words, in molecular change of the substance
composing the nerves, which, for illustration only, may be likened to
the conductor through which the molecular disturbance passes which is
popularly, but not scientifically, called the electric fluid. At the
surface of the body and limbs, the external termini of the nerves are
exposed to disturbance by contact with an external object. Along the
highly sensitive and minute conductor, the nerve which has by contact
with an external object at its outer extremity received a slight shock,
there passes through the fluid or semi-fluid substance of the nerve a
wave of disturbance, or a succession of such waves. This disturbance
reaches the brain, the great nerve-center, where it becomes a feeling.
In this way is generated the feeling of contact with an external
object, and this is what is commonly called the sense of touch, which
is simply a feeling produced in the great nerve-center of the brain.
Now, to reverse the process, let us suppose that this feeling, caused
by touching an external object, provokes or excites a desire to remove
that object, or to get rid of the continuance of the feeling, and
to be without the irritation or pain which it is causing. From the
central seat of nervous action, the brain, along another nerve, there
proceeds a wave, or a series of waves, in the fluid or semi-fluid
substance of which the conductor of that nerve is composed, and motion
is communicated to some muscle or set of muscles, which need to be put
in motion in order to break the contact with the external object. In
like manner, all internal organs of the body, the viscera, are supplied
with a system of nerves connected with the great nerve-center. If a
disturbance arises in one of the viscera, some action that is abnormal,
a sensation that is called pain is produced. So, too, in regard to the
normal action of the viscera, kept up by involuntary movements--those
movements originate in and are transmitted from the nerve-center, by
waves in the fluid or semi-fluid substance of which the special nerves
are composed, whose office it is to cause the necessary movements in
the muscular substance, or the tissue, of the particular organ.

In this way began, in the supposed individual, those simpler states of
feeling which pain or irritation produced in the nervous system, and
those other involuntary movements which were essential to the normal
and unconscious action of the viscera. These varying conditions of
the highly sensitive nervous system, which constitute and are rightly
denominated feelings, were constantly repeated; and, so far as they
are capable of becoming a part of consciousness, that consciousness
is a repetition of the same nervous actions many times over. Pass,
then, from the feelings called sensations to the feelings called
emotions, and it will be found that while both are states of nervous
action, the former are peripherally initiated and the latter are
centrally initiated. The meaning of this is that a sensation is an
effect produced at the nerve-center by the transmission, from the
outer terminus of a particular nerve, of the waves in the fluid or
semi-fluid substance of the nerve. The strong forms of feeling called
sensations are peripherally initiated, and the feelings called emotions
are centrally initiated. Now, any feeling of any kind is directly known
by each person in no other place than his own consciousness; and the
question is, Of what is consciousness composed? In order to afford an
answer to this question, Mr. Spencer proceeds to examine the substance
of mind, and then passes to a consideration of the composition of
mind. These are not the same thing; for, if there be no such thing,
properly speaking, as the substance of mind, its composition, or its
nature, must be looked for in another way. The expression "substance
of mind," if used in any way but that in which we use the _x_ of an
algebraic equation, has no meaning. If we undertake to interpret mind
in the terms of matter, as crude materialism does, we are at once
brought to this result, that we know, and can know, nothing of the
ultimate substance of either. We know matter only as forms of certain
units; but the ultimate unit, of which the ultimate homogeneous units
are probably composed, must remain absolutely unknown. In like manner,
if mind consists of homogeneous units of feeling, the ultimate unit,
as a substance, must remain unknown. When, therefore, we think of the
substance of mind, the simplest form under which we can think of it
is nothing but a symbol of something that can never be rendered into
thought, just as the concept we form to ourselves of matter is but the
symbol of some form of power absolutely and forever unknown to us, as
the representation of all objective activities in terms of motion is
only a symbolic representation, and not a knowledge of them. Symbols of
unknown forms of existence, whether in the case of matter, motion, or
mind, are mere representations which do not determine anything about
the ultimate substance of either. "Our only course is constantly to
recognize our symbols as symbols only, and to rest content with that
duality of them which our constitution necessitates. The unknowable as
manifested to us within the limits of consciousness in the shape of
feeling, being no less inscrutable than the unknowable as manifested
beyond the limits of consciousness in other shapes, we approach no
nearer to understanding the last by rendering it into the first."[117]

Discarding, then, the expression "substance of mind," excepting as
a mere symbol, Mr. Spencer passes to the "composition of mind"; and
here we reach his explanation of mind as an evolution traceable
through ascending stages of composition, conformably to the laws of
evolution in general, so that the composition of mind, as something
evolved out of simple elements, does not need or involve a symbolical
representation in the terms of matter.

The method of composition, by which the whole fabric of mind is
constituted, from the formation of its simplest feelings up to the
formation of the complex aggregates of feelings which are its highest
developments, can now be sketched. A sensation is formed by the
consolidation of successive units of feeling; but the feelings called
sensations can not of themselves constitute mind, even when many of
different kinds are present together. When, however, each sensation,
as it occurs, is linked in association with the faint forms of
previous sensations of the same kind, mind is constituted; for, by the
consolidation of successive sensations, there is formed a knowledge
of the particular sensation as a distinct subject of what we call
thought, or the smallest separable portion of thought as distinguished
from mere confused sentiency. Thus, as the primitive units of feeling
are compounded into sensations, by the same method simple sensations,
and the relations among them, are compounded into states of definite
consciousness. The next highest stage of mental composition is a
repetition of the same process. Take a special object, which produces
in us a vivid cluster of related sensations. When these are united with
the faint forms of like clusters that have been before produced by
such objects, we know the object. Knowledge of it is the assimilation
of the combined group of real feelings which it excites, with one or
more preceding ideal groups which were once excited by objects of the
same kind; and, when the series of ideal groups is large, the knowledge
is clear. In the same way, by the connections between each special
cluster of related sensations produced by one object, and the special
clusters generated by other objects, a wider knowledge is obtained.
By assimilating the more or less complex relations exhibited in the
actions of things in space and time, with other such complex relations,
knowledge of the powers and habits of things is constituted. If we
can not so assimilate them, or parts of them, we have no knowledge of
their actions. So it is, without definite limit, through those tracts
of higher consciousness which are formed of clusters of clusters of
feelings held together by extremely involved relations. This law
of the composition of mind is, therefore, the assimilation of real
feelings and groups of real feelings with the ideal feelings or ideal
groups of feelings which objects of the same kind once produced. You
can follow out, without my assistance, the correspondence which Mr.
Spencer exhibits between the views of mental composition and the
general truths respecting nervous structure and nervous functions with
which he began the treatment of mind, which consists largely, and in
one sense entirely, of feelings. The inferior tracts of consciousness
are constituted by feelings; and the feelings are the materials out of
which are constituted the superior tracts of consciousness, and thus
intellect is evolved by structural combination. "Everywhere feeling is
the substance of which, when it is present, intellect is the form. And
where intellect is not present, or but little present, mind consists
of feelings that are unformed or but little formed."[118] Does not
this statement, which in substance is Mr. Spencer's explanation of the
formation of mind, explain to you why he denominates it "transfigured

SOPHEREUS. I have attentively and carefully read Mr. Spencer's
book from which you have made this partial analysis of his view of the
nature of mind, but whether it is realism "transfigured," or whatever
is, I think it must be admitted that its basis is a truly realistic
one; for it comes back at last to just what I suggested to you at the
beginning of this discussion, that mind, according to his view, is
constituted by the action of the nervous system, or, in other words,
that mind consists of the phenomena of movements which take place in a
physical structure. If this is all that can be predicated of mind, it
is not something that can have an independent and continuous existence
after the dissolution of the physical structure called the nervous
system. That structure is one that is analogous in its action to the
other part of the organism by which digestion, or the assimilation
of food, is carried on. We might as well suppose that by the action
of the digestive system there has been constituted a something which
will remain as a digestive function after the organs of digestion
have perished, as to suppose that the action of the nervous system
has constituted a something which will remain mind, a conscious and
independent existence, after the nervous system has been resolved
into its original material elements. Indeed, I do not understand Mr.
Spencer's philosophy as including, providing for, or leading to, any
possible continued existence of the mind after the death of the body.
He seems to exclude it altogether. There is a passage at the end of one
of his chapters which appears to be a summary of his whole philosophic
scheme, and which is one of the dreariest conclusions I have ever met
with. "Once more," he says, "we are brought round to the conclusion
repeatedly reached by other routes, that behind all manifestations,
inner and outer, there is a Power manifested. Here, as before, it has
become clear that while the nature of this Power can not be known,
while we lack the faculty of forming even the dimmest conception of it,
yet its universal presence is the absolute fact without which there can
be no relative facts. Every feeling and thought being but transitory,
an entire life made up of such feelings and thoughts being also but
transitory, nay, the objects amid which life is passed, though less
transitory, being severally in course of losing their individualities
quickly or slowly; we learn that the one thing permanent is the
Unknowable Reality hidden under all these changing shapes."[119]

I will not say that the mournful character of this hopelessness
of human destiny is proof of its unsoundness. I have accustomed
myself to accept results, whatever may be the gloom in which they
involve us, provided they are deductions of sound reasoning; and
our wishes or hopes can not change the constitution of the universe
or become important evidence for or against any view of what that
constitution is. But let me ask, what does this philosopher mean by
the transitory character of an entire life made up of transitory
feelings and thoughts, occupied throughout their continuance with
transitory objects, or objects which are quickly or slowly losing
their individualities? What possible room does he leave for the
development and discipline of an immortal being, supposing that man
is an immortal being, by an entire life passed in feelings, thoughts,
and action about objects which, relatively to the individual, may,
quickly or slowly, pass away from him? Or, what room does he allow
for the effect on such a being of an entire life spent in the pursuit
of objects or the enjoyment of pleasures which develop only his baser
nature and unfit him for anything else? In any scheme of philosophy
which omits to regard this life as a preparatory school for some
other life, it seems to me that something is left out which ought to
be included, and which ought to be included for the very reason that
the evidence which tends to show that mind is not constituted as Mr.
Spencer supposes, but that it is an existence of a special character,
not generated by the action of a physical structure, but deriving its
existence from the direct action of the creating Power, is so strong
that, if we leave this conclusion out of the hypothesis, we shall have
left out the strongest probabilities of the case. It is no answer to
the necessity for including this conclusion to say that there is a
power which we can not know, or an Unknowable Reality hidden under
all changing manifestations, among which are those of mind. A study
of those manifestations leads rightly to some conclusions respecting
the Power which underlies all manifestations. It is necessary,
therefore, to subject Mr. Spencer's philosophy of mind to the further
inquiry, How does he account for the moral sense? How does he explain
that part of consciousness which recognizes moral obligations--the
recognition of moral law and duty? We may easily dispense with the
phrase "substance of the mind," if we wish to avoid a term of matter;
but if mind is constituted by the perception of feelings excited in
the nervous system, what is it that perceives? Is there a something
that is reached by the feelings which constitute sensations in the
great nerve-center, which takes cognizance of them, which combines
them into portions of consciousness, or is consciousness nothing but
a succession of sensations, and if so, what is "thought"? And what
is that portion of thought which takes cognizance of moral duty, and
which shows man to be capable of recognizing and obeying or breaking
a moral law? I have somewhere read a suggestion that the polity which
is said to have been given to the Hebrew people on the Mount of Sinai,
and which is described as ten statutes written on two tablets of stone,
consisted of five laws on one tablet and five on the other; one set
of them expressing the relations of the Hebrews to the Deity, and the
other being the fundamental laws of the social life which the Hebrews
were commanded to lead. This division is not accurate, because the
commandments which express the relations of the Hebrews to the Deity
are four in number, and the commandments which were to constitute
their social law are six. But that there is a line of demarkation
between the two kinds of laws is obvious, and how they were written
on the tablets, or whether they were written at all, is immaterial.
Looking, then, first at the social law, whether there was more or less
of the same ethical character in the codes of other ancient peoples,
or whether the social law which is said to have been delivered to
Moses and by him communicated to his nation stands as an embodiment
of morality unequaled by anything that had preceded it, it is certain
that it found the Hebrew people capable of the idea of law as a divine
command. It is true that the corner-stone of the whole superstructure
is to be found in the fact that the several commands which constituted
this social code--"Honor thy father and thy mother," "Thou shalt do
no murder," "Thou shalt not commit adultery," "Thou shalt not steal,"
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," "Thou shalt
not covet thy neighbor's house," etc.--were addressed to a people to
whose representatives the Almighty is supposed to have revealed himself
amid "thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and
the voice of a trumpet exceeding loud, and all the people that were
in the camp [below] trembled." It is also true that the first of
these awful annunciations was said to have been, "I am the Lord thy
God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of
bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before [or beside] me."[120] So
that the source whence all the following commands proceeded was the
one and only God, who is described as having thus revealed himself in
fire and cloud and earthquake, and thus to have secured instant and
implicit faith in what he spoke. But what he is asserted to have said
was addressed to human minds. This is in one aspect the most important
fact in the whole Hebrew history. It makes no difference whether Moses
performed a piece of jugglery, or whether he actually went within
the fire and the cloud, and actually spoke with God and received his
commands. The indisputable truth remains that the individual minds
of the Hebrew people, whom Moses had led out of Egypt, received and
obeyed, as divine commands, an original and unique moral code, because
they were so constituted that they could embrace and act upon the idea
of law emanating from another than an earthly or a human source. What,
then, was this constitution of the human mind, that could thus receive
and act upon a divine command; and what is it now? It matters not, in
the view in which I ask this question, whether there was any deceit
practiced or not, or whether there is any practiced now in respect to
the authority giving the command. What is to be accounted for is the
capacity of the human mind to embrace and accept the idea of a moral
law, be it that of Moses, or of Christ, or of Mohammed.

KOSMICOS. I am glad that you put this matter of the ten
commandments hypothetically, because otherwise we might have been led
aside into an argument about the authenticity of the narrative. I
recognize, however, the bearing of the question which you have put, and
shall endeavor to answer it. Your question implies that the essential
constitution of the human mind has been the same in all ages; that
it was the same in this race of nomads, who had been, they and their
fathers for ages, serfs of the Egyptian kings, that it is in us.
Perhaps this assumption may be allowed; and, at all events, the real
question is, How did the idea of a moral law originate, and what is
the sense of moral obligation? Like all things else, it is a product
of the process of evolution. I shall not argue this by any elaborate
reasoning, but will proceed to state the grounds on which it rests.
I will first give you what I understand to be Darwin's view of the
origin of the habit of thinking and feeling, which we call the moral
sense. Primeval man must have existed in a state of barbarism. When he
had become developed out of some pre-existing animal, he was a mere
savage, distinguishable from his predecessors only by the possession
of some superior degree of mental power. Savages, like some other
animals, form themselves into tribes or bands. Certain social instincts
arise, out of which spring what are regarded as virtues. Individuals
of the tribe begin to desire the sympathy and approbation of their
fellows. They perceive that certain actions, such as protection
of other and weaker individuals against danger, gain for them the
sympathy and approbation of the tribe. There are thus formed some
ideas of the common advantage to the tribe of certain actions, and
of the common disadvantage of the opposite actions. Man is eminently
a social animal, and this desire for the sympathy and approbation of
his tribe, and this fear of their disapprobation, is so strong that
the individual savage is led to perceive that the common good of the
tribe is the object at which he must aim to conform. The first social
instincts, therefore, are those which perceive the relations between
certain kinds of conduct and the common good of the tribe; and out of
these relations, with the aid of increasing intellectual powers, is
developed the golden rule, "As ye would that men should do to you, do
ye to them likewise," which lies at the foundation of morality. These
social instincts, thus leading at last to the great rule of social
morality, are developed very slowly. They are at first confined to the
benefit of the same tribe, and they have no force in the relations of
that tribe to the members of any other. To a savage it is a highly
meritorious action to save the life of another member of his own tribe,
and if he loses his own life in the effort it is so much the more
meritorious. But he does not extend this idea of doing a good action
to the members of a different tribe, and, whether his own tribe is
or is not at war with the other tribe, he and his own community will
think it no harm if he murders a member of that other tribe. But as
the approach to civilization goes on--as man advances in intellectual
power, and can trace the more remote consequences of his actions, and
as he rejects baneful customs and superstitions, he begins to regard
more and more not only the welfare but the happiness of his fellow-men.
Habit, resulting from beneficial experiences, instruction and example,
renders his sympathies more tender and widely diffused, until at last
he extends them to men of all races, to the imbecile, maimed, and other
useless members of society, and to the inferior animals. Thus the
standard of morality rises higher and higher; but its origin is in the
social instincts, which spring out of the love of approbation and the
fear of disapprobation.[121]

But morality comprehends also the self-regarding virtues, those which
directly affect the individual, and which affect society but remotely
and incidentally. How did the idea of these originate? There is a
very wide difference between the morality of savages, in respect to
the self-regarding virtues, and the morality of civilized nations.
Among the former, the greatest intemperance, utter licentiousness,
and unnatural crimes are very common. But as soon as marriage was
introduced, whether monogamous or polygamous, jealousy led to the
inculcation of female virtue; and this, being honored, spread to the
unmarried females. Chastity, the hatred of indecency, temperance, and
many other self-regarding virtues, originating first in the social
instincts, have come to be highly prized by civilized nations as
affecting, first, the welfare of the community, and, secondly, the
welfare of the individual. This was the origin of the so-called "moral
sense." It rejects the intuitive theory of morality, and bases its
origin on the increasing perception of the advantage of certain conduct
to the community and the individual.[122]

SOPHEREUS. And in this origin of the social and the
self-regarding virtues, which I understand you to say is the theory of
Darwin, is the idea of a divine command to practice certain things, and
to avoid doing certain other things, left out?

KOSMICOS. The idea of a divine command, as the source of
morality, is not necessary to the explanation of the mode in which
the social or the self-regarding virtues were gradually developed.
In the progress from barbarism to civilization, what is called the
moral sense has been slowly developed as an increasing perception of
what is beneficial, and this has become an inherited faculty. We thus
have a sure scientific basis for the moral intuitions which we do not
individually stay to analyze when we are called upon to determine the
morality or the immorality of certain actions. The supposed divine
command is something that is aside from the process by which the idea
of morality or immorality became developed.

SOPHEREUS. And is this also Mr. Spencer's philosophy of the
moral sense?

KOSMICOS. Let me read you what Spencer says: "I believe that
the experience of utility, organized and consolidated through all
past generations of the human race, has been producing corresponding
modifications which, by continued transmission and accumulation, have
become in us certain _faculties_ of moral intuition--certain _emotions_
responding to right and wrong conduct, which have no _apparent_ basis
in the _individual_ experiences of utility."[123] I have emphasized
certain words in this passage in order to make its meaning distinct.
Mr. Spencer's theory is that we have certain _faculties_ of moral
intuition, which have become such by transmission and accumulation;
that the original ideas of right and wrong sprang from perceptions of
utility; and that when to the individual the question of a good or a
bad action in others or himself is now presented, he feels an _emotion_
which responds to right or wrong conduct, and feels it in the _faculty_
which he has inherited from ancestors, without referring it to his
_individual_ experience of the utility or inutility of certain conduct.

Now, in regard to the divine command as the origin of our ideas
of right and wrong, if you turn to Mr. Spencer's "Principles of
Sociology," you will find an immense collection of evidence which shows
the genesis of deities of all kinds. Beginning with the ideas formed
by the primitive men of souls, ghosts, spirits, and demons, the ideas
of another life and of another world, there came about the ideas of
supernatural beings, aided in their development by ancestor-worship,
idol-worship, fetich-worship, animal-worship, plant-worship, and
nature-worship. Hence came the ideas of deities of various kinds, one
class of which is that of the human personality greatly disguised, and
the other is the class which has arisen by simple idealization and
expansion of the human personality. The last class, although always
coexisting with the other, at length becomes predominant, and finally
there is developed the idea of one chief or supreme deity. Having
traced the origin of this idea of a supreme deity, Mr. Spencer puts and
answers this question: "While among all races and all regions, from
the earliest times down to the most recent, the conceptions of deities
have been naturally evolved in the way shown, must we conclude that
a small clan of the Semitic race had given to it, supernaturally, a
conception which, though superficially like the rest, was in substance
absolutely unlike them?"[124] He then proceeds to show that the Hebrew
Jehovah, or God, was a conception that had a kindred genesis with all
the other conceptions of a deity or deities. "Here," he says, "pursuing
the methods of science, and disregarding foregone conclusions, we must
deal with the Hebrew conception in the same manner as with all the
others." Dealing with it by the scientific method, he shows that behind
the supernatural being of the order of the Hebrew God, as behind the
supernatural beings of all other orders, there has in every case been
a human personality. Thus, taking the narrative as it has come down to
us of God's dealing with Abraham, he shows that what Abraham thought,
or is described as thinking by those who preserved the tradition, was
of a terrestrial ruler who could, like any other earthly potentate,
make a covenant with him about land or anything else, or that he was
the maker of all things, and that Abraham believed the earth and the
heavens were produced by one who eats and drinks, and feels weary
after walking. Upon either idea, Abraham's conception of a Deity
remains identical with that of his modern Semitic representative,
and with that of the uncivilized in general. But the ideas of Deity
entertained by cultivated people, instead of being innate, arise only
at a comparatively advanced stage, as results of accumulated knowledge,
greater intellectual grasp, and higher sentiment.[125]

To return now to the supposed divine command as the origin of morality,
it is obvious that the conception of the being who has uttered the
command makes the nature of the command partake of the attributes
ascribed to that being. Accordingly, the grossest superstitions, the
most revolting practices, the most immoral actions, have found their
sanction in what the particular deity who is believed in is supposed
to have inculcated or required. I do not need to enumerate to you the
proofs of this, or to tell you that the Hebrew God is no exception to
it. One illustration of it, however, is worth repeating. Speaking of
the ceremony by which the covenant between God and Abraham is said to
have been established, Mr. Spencer says: "Abraham and each of his male
descendants, and each of his slaves, is circumcised. The mark of the
covenant, observe, is to be borne not only by Abraham and those of
his blood, but also by those of other blood whom he has bought. The
mark is a strange one, and the extension of it is a strange one, if
we assume it to be imposed by the Creator of the universe, as a mark
on a favored man and his descendants; and on this assumption it is no
less strange that the one transgression for which every 'soul shall
be cut off' is, not any crime, but the neglect of this rite. But such
a ceremony insisted on by a living potentate, under penalty of death,
is not strange, for, as we shall hereafter see, circumcision is one of
various mutilations imposed as marks on subject persons by terrestrial

So that the Hebrew God who made the covenant with Abraham was not,
in Abraham's own conception, the First Cause of all things, or a
supernatural being, but he was a powerful human ruler, making an
agreement with a shepherd chief. In all religions, the things required
or commanded by the supposed deified person have been marked by the
characteristics of human rulers; and as a source of morality, or as
a standard of morality, the requirements or commands of the deified
person, however they are supposed to have been communicated, fail to
answer the indispensable condition of a fixed and innate system of
morality, which is that it must have proceeded from the Creator of
the universe, and not from a being who partakes of human passions,
infirmities, and desires, and is merely a deified human potentate.

Pass, now, to Mr. Spencer's "Principles of Morality"; and although but
one volume of this work has been as yet published, we may see that
he is entirely consistent with what he has said in his "Sociology"
and his other writings.[127] He does not leave us in any doubt as to
his theory of morals. It appears, from the preface to his "Data of
Ethics," that he has been compelled by ill-health to deviate from the
plan which he had mapped out for himself, and to publish one volume
of his "Principles of Morality" before completing his "Principles of
Sociology." But while we have reason for his sake and for the sake
of the world to regret this, we can easily understand his system of
morality. He means to rest the rules of right conduct on a scientific
basis, and he shows that this is a pressing need. In his preface, he

 I am the more anxious to indicate in outline, if I can not complete,
 this final proof, because the establishment of rules of right conduct
 on a scientific basis is a pressing need. Now that moral injunctions
 are losing the authority given by their supposed sacred origin, the
 secularization of morals is becoming imperative. Few things can happen
 more disastrous than the decay and death of a regulative system no
 longer fit, before another and fitter regulative system has grown
 up to replace it. Most of those who reject the current creed appear
 to assume that the controlling agency furnished by it may be safely
 thrown aside, and the vacancy left unfilled by any other controlling
 agency. Meanwhile, those who defend the current creed allege that, in
 the absence of the guidance it yields, no guidance can exist; divine
 commandments they think the only possible guides. Thus, between these
 extreme opponents there is a certain community. The one holds that
 the gap left by disappearance of the code of supernatural ethics need
 not be filled by a code of natural ethics; and the other holds that it
 can not be so filled. Both contemplate a vacuum, which the one wishes
 and the other fears. As the change which promises or threatens to
 bring about this state, desired or dreaded, is rapidly progressing,
 those who believe that the vacuum can be filled are called upon to do
 something in pursuance of their belief.

The code of natural ethics which Mr. Spencer propounds, and which is
a product of the process of evolution, may be summarized as follows:
Conduct is an aggregate of actions which are not purposeless, but
which include all acts that are adjusted to ends, from the simplest to
the most complex. The division or aspect of conduct with which ethics
deals, the behavior we call good or bad, is a part of an organic whole;
but, although inextricably bound up with acts which are neither good
nor bad, it is distinguishable as comprehending those acts with which
morality is concerned. The evolution of conduct, from the simplest
and most indifferent actions up to those on which ethical judgments
are passed, is what Mr. Spencer means by the scientific method of
investigating the origin of morality. We must begin with the conduct
of all living creatures, because the complete comprehension of conduct
is not to be obtained by contemplating the conduct of human beings
only. "The conduct of the higher animals as compared with that of
man, and the conduct of the lower animals as compared with that of
the higher, mainly differ in this, that the adjustments of acts to
ends are relatively simple and relatively incomplete. And as in other
cases, so in this case, we must interpret the more developed by the
less developed. Just as, fully to understand the part of conduct which
ethics deals with, we must study human conduct as a whole, so, fully
to understand human conduct as a whole, we must study it as a part of
that larger whole constituted by the conduct of animate beings in

Begin, for example, with an infusorium swimming about at random,
determined in its course not by an object which it perceives and which
is to be pursued or escaped, but apparently by varying stimuli in its
medium, the water. Its acts, unadjusted in any appreciable way to
ends, lead it now into contact with some nutritive substance which it
absorbs, and now into the neighborhood of some creature by which it is
swallowed and digested. Pass on to another aquatic creature, which,
although of a low type, is much higher than the infusorium, such as
a rotifer. With larger size, more developed structures, and greater
power of combining functions, there comes an advance in conduct. It
preserves itself for a longer period by better adjusting its own
actions, so that, it is less dependent on the actions going on around.
Again, compare a low mollusk, such as a floating ascidian, with a high
mollusk, such as a cephalopod, and it is apparent how greater organic
evolution is accompanied by more evolved conduct. And if you pass then
to the vertebrate animals, you see how, along with advance in structure
and functions, there is evolved an advance in conduct, until at length,
when you reach the doings of the highest of mammals, mankind, you not
only find that the adjustments of acts to ends are both more numerous
and better than among the lower mammals, but you find the same thing on
comparing the doings of the higher races of men with those of the lower
races. There is a greater completeness of achievement by civilized
men than by savages, and there is also an achievement of relatively
numerous minor ends subserving major ends.

Recollecting, then, what conduct is--namely, the adjustment of acts to
ends--and observing how this adjustment becomes more and more complete
as the organism becomes more developed, we have to note the order of
the ends to which the acts are adjusted. The first end, the first
stage of evolving conduct, is the further prolongation of life. The
next is that adjustment of acts to ends which furthers an increased
amount of life. Thus far the ends are complete individual life. Then
come those adjustments which have for their final purpose the life of
the species. Then there is a third kind of conduct, which results from
the fact that the multitudinous creatures which fill the earth can not
live wholly apart from one another, but are more or less in presence
of one another, are interfered with by one another. No one species can
so act as to secure the greatest amount of life to its individuals
and the preservation of the species--can make a successful adjustment
of its acts to these ends--without interfering with the corresponding
adjustments by other creatures of their acts to their ends. That
some may live, others must die. Finally, when we contemplate those
adjustments of acts to ends which miss completeness, because they can
not be made by one creature without other creatures being prevented
from making them, we reach the thought of adjustments such that each
creature may make them without preventing them from being made by other
creatures. Let me now quote Mr. Spencer's concrete illustrations of
these abstract statements:

"Recognizing men as the beings whose conduct is most evolved, let
us ask under what conditions their conduct, in all three aspects of
its evolution, reaches its limit. Clearly while the lives led are
entirely predatory, as those of savages, the adjustments of acts
to ends fall short of this highest form of conduct in every way.
Individual life, ill carried on from hour to hour, is prematurely
cut short; the fostering of offspring often fails, and is incomplete
when it does not fail; and in so far as the ends of self-maintenance
and race-maintenance are met, they are met by destruction of other
beings, of different kind, or of like kind. In social groups formed
by compounding and recompounding primitive hordes, conduct remains
imperfectly evolved in proportion as there continue antagonisms between
the groups and antagonisms between members of the same group--two
traits necessarily associated; since the nature which prompts
international aggression prompts aggression of individuals on one
another. Hence, the limit of evolution can be reached by conduct only
in permanently peaceful societies. That perfect adjustment of acts
to ends in maintaining individual life and rearing new individuals,
which is effected by each without hindering others from effecting like
perfect adjustments, is, in its very definition, shown to constitute a
kind of conduct that can be approached only as war decreases and dies

"A gap in this outline must now be filled up. There remains a further
advance not yet even hinted. For beyond so behaving that each achieves
his ends without preventing others from achieving their ends, the
members of a society may give mutual help in the achievement of ends.
And if, either indirectly by industrial co-operation, or directly
by volunteered aid, fellow-citizens can make easier for one another
the adjustments of acts to ends, then their conduct assumes a still
higher phase of evolution; since whatever facilitates the making of
adjustments by each, increases the totality of the adjustments made,
and serves to render the lives of all more complete."

In the outline which I have now given you of the evolution of conduct,
you will perceive the foundation of Spencer's system of ethics. Actions
begin to assume an ethical character--conduct becomes good or bad--when
the acts tend to promote or to prevent the general well-being of the
community. But how is the perception or recognition of this quality
in an action reached? What is the determining reason for considering
an action good or bad? Obviously, conduct is considered by us as good
or bad according as its aggregate results to self, or others, or
both, are pleasurable or painful. Mr. Spencer shows that every other
proposed standard of conduct derives its authority from this standard:
"No school can avoid taking for the ultimate moral aim a desirable
state of feeling called by whatever name--gratification, enjoyment,
happiness. Pleasure somewhere, at some time, to some being or beings,
is an inexpugnable element of the conception. It is as much a necessary
form of moral intuition as space is a necessary form of intellectual

On this fundamental basis, Mr. Spencer rests his system of absolute
ethics and relative ethics. Relative ethics are those by which,
allowing for the friction of an incomplete life and the imperfections
of existing natures, we may ascertain with approximate correctness what
is the relatively right. This is often exceedingly difficult, because
two cases are rarely the same in all their circumstances. But absolute
ethics are the ideal ethical truths, expressing the absolutely right.
Such a system of ideal ethical truths, which must have precedence over
relative ethics, is reached only when there has been, in conformity
with the laws of evolution in general, and in conformity with the laws
of organization in particular, an adaptation of humanity to the social
state, changing it in the direction of an ideal congruity. But, as in
relative ethics, the production of happiness or pleasure is the aim,
however imperfectly accomplished, so in the ideal state the aim is
the same, the difference being that in the latter the accomplishment
of happiness or pleasure and the exclusion or prevention of pain are

SOPHEREUS. And do I understand you that in this system of
ethics the idea of a moral law proceeding from and consisting of the
command of a Supreme Lawgiver is left out?

KOSMICOS. Certainly it is. Did I not just now read to you from
Mr. Spencer's preface his complete rejection of the supposed sacred
origin of moral injunctions, and what he says of the necessity for the
secularization of morals to take the place of that system which is
losing its authority?

SOPHEREUS. And this philosopher is the same writer who
negatives the idea of any creation of organic life, and who also
negatives the idea that the human mind is an existence of a spiritual
nature, owing its existence to a Creator?

KOSMICOS. Undoubtedly; we have gone over all that ground.

SOPHEREUS. And he is the same philosopher who denies the
existence of a Supreme Being, Creator, and Governor of the universe?

KOSMICOS. Perhaps you may call it denial, although what he
maintains is that we know, and can know, nothing on the subject of a
personal God.

SOPHEREUS. Very well. I will reflect upon all this until we
meet again.


 [113] Probably Kosmicos did not mean that man excels all other animals
 in the delicacy and perfection of his nervous organization, for some
 of his senses are inferior to those of some of the other animals, as
 his movements are less swift. Apparently his meaning is that, taken as
 a whole, the nervous organization of man evinces the greatest power of
 variation and the widest range of action.

 [114] Darwin's "Descent of Man," pp. 608, 609.

 [115] Darwin's "Origin of Species," p. 428.

 [116] "The Principles of Psychology," by Herbert Spencer, third
 edition. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1885.

 [117] "Principles of Psychology," i, p. 162.

 [118] "Principles of Psychology," ii, p. 503.

 [119] "Principles of Psychology," ii, p. 503.

 [120] Revised version.

 [121] Darwin, "Descent of Man," Part I, chap. iv.

 [122] "Descent of Man," Part I, chap. iv.

 [123] Quoted in Darwin's "Descent of Man," p. 123.

 [124] "Principles of Sociology," i, p. 433, § 202.

 [125] Ibid., chap. XXV, p. 414 _et seq._

 [126] "Principles of Sociology," i, p. 135.

 [127] "Principles of Morality," vol. i. I. "The Data of Ethics." By
 Herbert Spencer. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1884.

 [128] "The Data of Ethics," pp. 6, 7, by Herbert Spencer. New York: D.
 Appleton & Co., 1884.

 [129] "The Data of Ethics," pp. 45, 46, by Herbert Spencer. New York:
 D. Appleton & Co., 1884.


 Mr. Spencer's philosophy as a whole--His psychology, and his system of
 ethics--The sacred origin of moral injunctions, and the secularization
 of morals.

A certain honesty and directness of mind prevent Sophereus from being
bewildered by the Spencerian philosophy. Before his next meeting with
the scientist, he has reviewed the main features of this philosophy as
developed in Mr. Spencer's published works; and he has taken notice of
the warning which Mr. Spencer has given to his readers in the preface
to his "Data of Ethics," that "there will probably be singled out for
reprobation from this volume, doctrines which, taken by themselves, may
readily be made to seem utterly wrong." There is not much likelihood
that Sophereus will be able, if he is willing, to avail himself of
this "opportunity for misrepresentation" in a discussion with such a
champion of Mr. Spencer's philosophy as the scientist who explains and
defends it, especially as they have the works before them to refer to.
Being thus respectively equipped for the discussion, the conference
between them proceeds:

SOPHEREUS. Before I give you my convictions respecting Mr.
Spencer's philosophy as a whole, I wish to say something about the
passage which you read from the preface to his "Data of Ethics,"
because it is the key to his ethical system. In the first place, to
what does he refer when he speaks of "the current creed"? When I
undertake to investigate a system of morality, the only "creed" that
I care about--the only one that is of any importance--is that which
accepts, as a matter of belief, the existence of the Creator and
Supreme Governor of the universe, from whose infinite will and purposes
have proceeded certain moral as well as physical laws. This, I take
it, is the "creed" of which Mr. Spencer speaks; the one which assigns
moral injunctions to the will of a Supreme Lawgiver as "their supposed
sacred origin." It is to this creed that he opposes his "secularization
of morals," which must take the place of their supposed sacred origin,
because the authority of the latter is rapidly dying out of the world.
It is this "creed" which is rejected by those who "assume that the
controlling agency furnished by it may be safely thrown aside, and the
vacancy left unfilled by any other agency."

Undoubtedly there are and always have been numerous persons who appear
practically to think that the sacred origin of morality can be safely
rejected, and that the vacancy may be left unfilled by any other
restraining agency. The deliberate and willful murderer, the burglar,
the adulterer, and many of the other criminal classes, not only appear
to reject "the current creed," but they would be very glad to have it
assumed that there is no other restraining agency to take its place.
So, too, there are persons who break no moral law, whose lives are
pure, but who, having theoretically persuaded themselves that there is
no sacred origin of moral injunctions, omit to provide, for themselves
or others, any other controlling agency to fill the vacuum. But this
latter class is not very numerous; and if, without meaning any offense
to them, their number is added to that of the criminal classes, to make
up the aggregate of those who reject "the current creed," we have not
a very large body compared with the whole body of persons in civilized
communities who adhere to "the current creed," who live by it, and who
think that others should live by it too, as the ultimate foundation of
those social laws which take cognizance of men's conduct toward one
another. So that I do not quite understand the assertion that "moral
injunctions are losing the authority given by their supposed sacred
origin"; connected as it is with the other assertion that society is
"rapidly progressing" to that vacuum which is to follow the complete
rejection of the one guide without the substitution of another in its
place. I am quite aware that there has been of late years an increasing
amount of what is called infidelity, or unbelief, or atheism. But I am
quite sure that there has not been a general theoretical or practical
rejection of so much of the religious creed of mankind as assigns
to the will of a supreme and supernatural lawgiver certain moral
injunctions. If we confine our view to Christendom alone, it is certain
that the growth, activity, and influence of the various religious
bodies are not materially checked, and that religious beliefs are not
by any means losing their hold upon great multitudes of people. If
we survey the regions where the Mohammedan faith prevails, the same
general result is found, whatever Christians may think of the beliefs
or practices of that vast body of the human race. And, even when we
penetrate among the races which are less civilized, we find very few
races or tribes in which there does not prevail some idea of some kind
of command proceeding from some deity or other, whatever we may think
of the character of that deity or of the nature of the command.

But I presume that Mr. Spencer meant to confine his assertion of the
necessity for a secularization of morals, and his assumption that
their sacred origin is rapidly passing away from men's beliefs, to
the state of society as it exists now in Western civilization; and my
observation of this portion of the world is, that those who reject
what I presume he means by "the current creed" are, first, a class of
theorizers: and, secondly, the criminal classes; and that the aggregate
of the two is not, after all, so formidable that we ought to conclude
that the regulative system of the sacred origin of moral injunctions
is "no longer fit" for any practical purpose. I do not, therefore,
recognize what he considers the supreme practical necessity for "the
secularization of morals" to take the place of a system which is worn

KOSMICOS. You have left out of the case a very important
element. Mr. Spencer antagonizes those who reject the current creed
against those who defend it. The former, while they reject the current
creed, do not recognize the necessity for any other controlling agency.
The latter, while they defend the current creed, maintain that nothing
can take its place as a regulating agency. Between them they create a
vacuum, which one class wishes for and the other fears. This is the
vacuum which he says can be and must be filled by the secularization of
morals. It is a vacuum in philosophical speculation about the origin of
morality, and, when the conclusion is reached, it becomes a practical
and pressing question how it is to be carried out.

SOPHEREUS. Precisely; and, when the conclusion is reached, it
is to be carried out in legislation and government, or else the conduct
of men toward one another in society is not to be regulated by public
authority at all, but is to be left to each man's perception of what
will produce the greatest amount of pleasure and happiness, or the
least amount of pain and misery. Now, it is pretty important to settle
at the outset whether those who defend the current creed are right or
wrong when they say that nothing which will answer the same purpose
can be found to take its place. They constitute one of the classes who
will be responsible for the supposed vacuum; and their share in that
vacuum, their contribution to it, if I may use such an expression,
consists in their assertion that nothing of any value can take the
place of the sacred origin of moral injunctions. The practical test of
whether they are right or wrong is to be found in legislation. Let us
suppose, then, a legislative assembly in which there is a proposal to
change the law of murder, or to do away with it altogether. A member
who does not believe in any sacred origin of the command "Thou shalt do
no murder," moves not only to abolish the death-penalty, but to abolish
all legal definition of the crime, and leave every man to be restrained
by the consciousness that, if he takes the life of another, he will
cause a great deal of pain and misery to the relations and friends of
that person. The mover argues that "the current creed" of morality is
worn out; is "no longer fit," as a regulator; and that the safest and
best regulator is the perception of the beneficial effects of actions
of kindness and good-will, and of the disastrous effects of cruelty and
malice. He is answered by one who defends the current creed, and who
maintains that, as human nature is constituted, the utilitarian system
of morals can not take the place of the sacred origin as the ultimate
foundation of social relations. But the majority of the assembly think
that the mover of the proposition has the best of the argument, and
they proceed to "secularize" morals by passing his bill doing away with
the law of murder altogether. I am not obliged to extend my travels
anywhere, where I do not care to go, and I confess I should not like to
visit that country after it had thus "secularized" morality.

KOSMICOS. Now just be careful to note that this whole science
of conduct--the science of ethics--the foundation of right and wrong,
is a product of evolution. As in the development of organisms the
higher and more elaborate are reached after a great length of time, as
in mechanics knowledge of the empirical sort evolves into mechanical
science by first omitting all qualifying circumstances and generalizing
in absolute ways the fundamental laws of forces, so empirical ethics
evolve into rational ethics by first neglecting all complicating
incidents and formulating the laws of right action apart from the
obscuring effects of special conditions. There are thus reached, after
a great lapse of time, those ideal ethical truths which express the
absolutely right. Mr. Spencer treats of the ideal man among ideal men;
the ideal man existing in the ideal social state. "On the evolution
hypothesis," he says, "the two presuppose one another; and only when
they coexist can there exist that ideal conduct which absolute ethics
has to formulate, and which relative ethics has to take as the standard
by which to estimate divergences from right, or degrees of wrong."[130]
But, again, observe that society is now in a transition state; the
ultimate man has not yet been reached; the evolution of ethics is,
however, going on, retarded as it may be by various frictions arising
from imperfect natures. But there is in progress an adaptation of
humanity to the social state, and the ultimate man will be one in
whom this process has gone so far as to produce a correspondence
between all the promptings of his nature and all the requirements of
his life, as carried on in society; so that there is an ideal code of
conduct formulating the behavior of the completely adapted man in the
completely evolved society.[131]

SOPHEREUS. But I understand that we have already reached, or
are very soon to reach, a condition of things in which the supposed
sacred origin of moral injunctions is now, or very shortly will become,
no guide. We are to fill the vacuum which is caused, or is about to
be caused, by its disappearance, by substituting as the standard of
right and wrong the perceptions which we can have of the effects of
actions upon the sum total of happiness, because this will be the sole
standard in the ideal state of society in which the ideal man will
ultimately find himself. I will not insist on the total depravity of
man's nature, because I never borrow an argument from theologians.
But it has been one of the conclusions that I have drawn from some
study of human nature, that it requires very strong restraints. Not
only must some of the restraints be of the strongest kind, but they
must be simple, positive, and adapted to the varying dispositions and
intelligence of men. There can not well be imagined any restraining
moral force so efficacious as that which is derived from a belief
that the Creator of the universe has ordained some moral laws; has
specialized certain conduct as right and certain conduct as wrong,
without regard to varying circumstances. As the foundation of all that
part of legislation that takes cognizance of the simpler relations of
men to one another--those relations which are always the same--the
sacred origin of moral injunctions is of far greater force than the
perception of the greatest-happiness principle can possibly be. If
a man is tempted to commit murder, is he not far more likely to be
restrained by a law which he knows will punish him without regard to
the misery he would cause to the friends and relatives of the person
whom he is tempted to kill, than he would be if the law were based on
the latter consideration alone? Do away with all legislation which
punishes the simpler crimes first and foremost because they break
the laws of God, and substitute as the restraining agency individual
recognition of the effect of actions upon the sum total of happiness,
and you would soon see that one of two consequences would follow:
either you would have no criminal code at all, or it would be one that
would be governed by the most fluctuating and uncertain standards.
Moreover, how is the transition from the sacred source of the simpler
moral injunctions to the secularization of morals to be effected?
I once heard a wise person say that if a thing is to be done, an
ingenious man ought to be able to show how it is to be done. I suppose
the secularization of morals means the complete renovation of our
ideas of right and wrong, by taking as the sole standard the pleasure
or pain, the happiness or unhappiness, which actions will produce. How
are you going to reach this ideal state? The vacuum is rapidly coming
about. How are you going to take the first step in filling it? Before
the vacuum is complete, you must do something. You have waited until
the evolution of conduct of the purely utilitarian type has made some
great advances; but the ideal state is not yet reached by all men.
You wish to hasten its approach, and you must begin to act. There is
nothing for you to do but to formulate the new moral code and put it in
operation. You must make your laws--if you continue to have laws--so
that murder and lying and theft will not be punished because the
Almighty has prohibited them, but they will be punished simply because
they produce misery. Do you think you would ever see every individual
of such a community brought to an ideal congruity between all the
promptings of his nature and all the requirements of his life, as
carried on in society? That you would have nothing but "the completely
adapted man in the completely evolved society"? I fancy that you would
often have to fall back upon the sacred origin of moral injunctions,
and to punish some conduct because it breaks a law of divine authority.
I may have been too much in the habit of looking at things practically;
but I have not yet discovered that the feeling of obligation, the sense
of duty, what is recognized as moral obligation, having its origin in
some command, and enforced by some kind of compulsion, can be dispensed

KOSMICOS. I must refer you to Mr. Spencer's explanation of the
fact that the sense of duty or moral obligation fades away as the moral
motive emerges from all the political, religious, and social motives,
and frees itself from the consciousness of subordination to some
external agency. He does not shrink from the conclusion because it will
be startling. He tells us that it will be to most very startling to
be informed that "the sense of duty or moral obligation is transitory,
and will diminish as fast as moralization increases." He fortifies his
position thus:

 Startling though it is, this conclusion may be satisfactorily
 defended. Even now progress toward the implied ultimate state is
 traceable. The observation is not infrequent that persistence in
 performing a duty ends in making it a pleasure, and this amounts to
 the admission that, while at first the motive contains an element
 of coercion, at last this element of coercion dies out, and the act
 is performed without any consciousness of being obliged to perform
 it. The contrast between the youth on whom diligence is enjoined,
 and the man of business so absorbed in affairs that he can not be
 induced to relax, shows us how the doing of work, originally under the
 consciousness that it _ought_ to be done, may eventually cease to have
 any such accompanying consciousness. Sometimes, indeed, the relation
 comes to be reversed; and the man of business persists in work from
 pure love of it when told that he ought not. Nor is it thus with
 self-regarding feelings only. That the maintaining and protecting of
 wife by husband often result solely from feelings directly gratified
 by these actions, without any thought of _must_; and that the
 fostering of children by parents is in many cases made an absorbing
 occupation without any coercive feeling of _ought_; are obvious
 truths which show us that even now, with some of the fundamental
 other-regarding duties, the sense of obligation has retreated
 into the background of the mind. And it is in some degree so with
 other-regarding duties of a higher kind. Conscientiousness has in many
 outgrown that stage in which the sense of a compelling power is joined
 with rectitude of action. The truly honest man, here and there to be
 found, is not only without thought of legal, religious, or social
 compulsion, when he discharges an equitable claim on him; but he is
 without thought of self-compulsion. He does the right thing with a
 simple feeling of satisfaction in doing it; and is, indeed, impatient
 if anything prevents him from having the satisfaction of doing it.

 Evidently, then, with complete adaptation to the social state, that
 element in the moral consciousness which is expressed by the word
 obligation will disappear. The higher actions required for the
 harmonious carrying on of life will be as much matters of course
 as are those lower actions which the simple desires prompt. In
 their proper times and places and proportions, the moral sentiments
 will guide men just as spontaneously and adequately as now do the
 sensations. And though, joined with their regulating influence when
 this is called for, will exist latent ideas of the evils which
 non-conformity would bring, these will occupy the mind no more than do
 ideas of the evils of starvation at the time when a healthy appetite
 is being satisfied by a meal.

SOPHEREUS. There is a religion in the world called
Christianity, with which we are tolerably familiar. It comprehends
a system of morality which, when completely observed, develops the
truly good man, the man who does the right thing with a feeling of
satisfaction in doing it, and brings about those higher actions which
are required for the harmonious carrying on of life, as matters of
course, just as surely as the same result can be brought about by the
most ideal secularization of morals that any philosophical theories
can accomplish. Whatever may be the evidences by which the sacred
origin of Christianity is supposed to be established, it is certain
that this religion does not omit, but on the contrary it presupposes
and asserts, as the foundation of its moral code, that the sense of
obligation to which it appeals is the consciousness of obligation to
obey divine commands. It proceeds upon the idea that human nature
stands in need of some coercion; that the sense of obligation is not to
be allowed to retreat into the background of the mind, but that a sense
of the compelling power must be kept joined with rectitude of action,
otherwise there will be a failure of rectitude. It is considered, I
believe, that the adaptation of the Christian morality to the whole
nature of man, by means of the compelling power, the consciousness of
which is not to be transitory, but is to be universal and perpetual, is
very strong proof that this religion came from a being who understood
human nature better than we can understand it. However this may be,
it is, at all events, certain that the scheme of Christian morality
proceeds upon the necessity for a more efficacious regulator of human
conduct than the simple feeling of satisfaction in doing right, or
the feeling of dissatisfaction in doing wrong; and, although the true
Christian is, in completeness of moral character, like Mr. Spencer's
ideal man, and although a society completely Christian would be that
ideal social state in which there would be perfect congruity between
the lives of men and the welfare of that society, yet the Christian
religion, if I understand it rightly, does not assume that there will
be more than an approximation to that universal state of perfection
while the human race remains on earth. The proof of this is to be found
in the fact that this religion does not contemplate a time when divine
command is to cease as the restraining agency on earth; but, on the
contrary, it appears to assume that obedience to the divine will is to
continue in another life to be a perpetual motive, as it has been in
this life. All this may be without such proof as "science" demands,
but it is certain that the scheme of Christian morality is based upon
the idea that the Creator has made obedience to his laws, because they
are his laws, the great regulator of human conduct. If the Creator
had so made men that the consciousness of the effect of conduct on
the happiness or misery of our fellow-men would be sufficient as a
regulator, it is rational to conclude that he would not have imposed
commands which were to be obeyed because they are commands. However
great may be the approximation to a complete adaptation of the social
state, I do not look forward to the disappearance of that element in
the moral consciousness which is expressed by the word obligation,
because obligation, in its ultimate sense, is obedience to a higher
power. Obedience for its own sake, obedience because there is a
command, irrespective of all the reasons for the command, is a law
which is illustrated in very many of the relations of life. A wise
parent will sometimes explain to his child why he commands some things
and prohibits others; but if he means to train that child in the way he
should go, he will sometimes require him to obey for the mere purpose
of teaching him that obedience without question or inquiry is a law of
his nature. A master of a vessel, which is in peril at sea, gives an
order to the sailors. They may or may not understand the reasons for
it. But what sort of sailors would they be if they did not act upon the
consciousness that unquestioning obedience is the law of their relation
to the ship?

In the earliest traditions that we have of the human race, as those
traditions are accepted by the Western nations, we find a pretty
striking and very simple instance of this law of obedience. The first
pair of human beings are placed in a garden where they are at liberty
to eat of the fruit of every tree save one, but of that one their
Creator absolutely forbids them to partake. He assigns to them no
reason for the prohibition, but he lays upon them his absolute command,
on the penalty of death if they are disobedient. One of them begins to
reason about the matter--an allegorical creature or being, called the
serpent, tempting her with certain advantages that she will get from
eating this particular fruit. She yields, disobeys, and persuades her
husband to do the same. The consequences follow, as their Creator told
them they would. The law of obedience which this story illustrates
has been in operation through all the ages, and society can no more
dispense with it than it can dispense with any of the physical laws
that govern the universe.

KOSMICOS. Are you going back to the fables for the sacred
origin of moral injunctions? I thought you had got beyond that.

SOPHEREUS. I use an illustration wherever I find it. I am
perfectly content that you should call the story of Adam and Eve a
fable, but the law of obedience which it illustrates is a tremendous
fact. The incident, fable or no fable, is eminently human, and it is
occurring every day in human experience. It is not strange that the
first Hebrew tradition should have been one that illustrates in so
simple a manner the existence of the law of obedience. In like manner,
it is not strange that the Christian system of ethics should have been
based on the existence of this same law of obedience to commands. This
Christian system of ethics has dispensed with a great many minute
observances which one branch of the Semitic race believed were imposed
upon them as commands by their Creator; but it has not displaced the
law of obedience, or dispensed with certain moral injunctions as divine
commands, for it proceeds upon the great truth that human nature
requires that kind of restraint, and that there are certain actions
which can not be left without it.

KOSMICOS. Mr. Spencer has anticipated you. Your reference to
Christianity is not happy. Having gone through with the explanation of
the evolution process in the development of the highest conception of
morals, and having shown that what now characterizes the exceptionally
highest natures will eventually characterize all, he has something
to say about the reception of his conclusions, to which, as you have
referred to the Christian system of morals, you would do well to attend:

 § 98. That these conclusions will meet with any considerable
 acceptance is improbable. Neither with current ideas nor with current
 sentiments are they sufficiently congruous.

 Such a view will not be agreeable to those who lament the spreading
 disbelief in eternal damnation, nor to those who follow the apostle of
 brute force in thinking that because the rule of the strong hand was
 once good it is good for all time; nor to those whose reverence for
 one who told them to put up the sword is shown by using the sword to
 spread his doctrine among heathens. From the ten thousand priests of
 the religion of love, who are silent when the nation is moved by the
 religion of hate, will come no sign of assent; nor from their bishops
 who, far from urging the extreme precept of the Master they pretend to
 follow, to turn the other cheek when one is smitten, vote for acting
 on the principle--strike lest ye be struck. Nor will any approval be
 felt by legislators who, after praying to be forgiven their trespasses
 as they forgive the trespasses of others, forthwith decide to attack
 those who have not trespassed against them; and who, after a Queen's
 speech has invoked "the blessing of Almighty God" on their councils,
 immediately provide means for committing political burglary.

 But though men who profess Christianity and practice paganism can feel
 no sympathy with such a view, there are some, classed as antagonists
 to the current creed, who may not think it absurd to believe that a
 rationalized version of its ethical principles will eventually be
 acted upon.

SOPHEREUS. "Our withers are unwrung." I am not a believer
in eternal damnation; I am not an apostle of brute force; I am not
in favor of using the sword to spread a religion of love; I am not a
priest or a bishop, nor am I a member of Parliament or of any other
legislative body. I am a simple inquirer, endeavoring to ascertain
the soundness of certain systems of philosophy. If there are men who
profess Christianity and practice paganism, I do not see that this fact
should deter me from estimating the nature of the Christian religion,
as I would endeavor to estimate the character of any other religion.
It is no concern of mine whether men who profess Christianity and
practice paganism can feel any sympathy with Mr. Spencer's views. The
question for me is whether _I_ can feel any sympathy with his views. I
will, therefore, go on to tell you why I do not believe that a merely
"rationalized version" of the ethical principles of Christianity will
take the place of those divine injunctions on which the ethics of
Christianity are primarily based. Observe, now, that I do not enter
upon the proofs of the divine authority or the divine nature of Christ.
I point to nothing but the fact that the Christian ethics presuppose
a divine and superhuman origin of moral injunctions. About the fact
that they presuppose and assume the sacred origin of moral injunctions,
there can be no controversy. We read that the question was put to
Jesus, "What commandment is first of all?" and the answer was, "The
first is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and thou
shalt love thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with
all thy strength. The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as
thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."[132]
The person who made this answer may or may not have been a divinely
commissioned teacher, but, whatever he was, the question that was put
to him was a very searching one, and both question and answer assume
two things: first, that there is a being, man, to whom commands are
addressed; secondly, that there is a being, God, by whom commands are
given. Jesus undertakes to inform those who questioned him, what are
the two commandments than which there are none greater addressed to
human beings; and in this answer he covers the existence of man as
one being and the existence of God as another being. In any scheme of
philosophy which ignores the existence of these two beings--ignores
the existence of man as a being capable of receiving and acting upon a
command, and the existence of a being capable of addressing a command
to man--there must necessarily be a great defect; not because Jesus, a
supposed divinely commissioned teacher, assumed that there are two such
beings, but because without the hypothesis of their existence there can
be no ethical system whatever. The crucial test of the soundness of Mr.
Spencer's philosophy is, therefore, whether he negatives the existence
of man and the existence of God.

Undoubtedly, there is a certain kind of consistency and completeness
in Mr. Spencer's whole philosophy. Beginning with biology, he traces
all organized life back to the original molecules of organizable
matter, and he makes man, in his physical structure, a product of
successive modifications of organisms out of one another, by simple
generation. This ignores the Creator as a being specially fashioning
the human animal, which Mr. Spencer thinks is a conception too grossly
anthropomorphic to stand the slightest scientific scrutiny. He then
takes up what he calls "psychology," and deals with what he considers
the origin and nature of the human mind. He makes consciousness to
consist in tracts of feeling in the nervous organization. He denies
that mind is an entity, a being, perceiving and recognizing ideas
suggested by the impressions produced upon the nervous organization
by external objects. According to his psychological system, there is
no _ego_, no person, no thinking being, behind the sensations and
feelings in the nerve-center, and to whom the nerve-center suggests
ideas. Rejecting the hypothesis of such a being, Mr. Spencer treats
of the composition of mind; and he makes it consist, not in a being,
but in components of feelings produced by the molecular changes of
which nerve-corpuscles are the seats, and the molecular changes
transmitted through fibers. He does not regard the ultimate fabric of
mind as a thing admitting of any inquiry. He says that its proximate
components can be investigated, and that these are feelings and the
relations between feelings. This "method of composition remains the
same throughout the entire composition of mind, from the formation of
its simplest feelings up to the formation of those immense and complex
aggregates of feelings which characterize its highest development."
Here, then, we must stop. We are not to conceive of mind as an
organized entity, or as an organism; or as a something in which certain
powers inhere, and which affords a field for their action. We may talk
of a "thread of consciousness," meaning aggregates of feelings produced
by successive waves of molecular change in the nerve-corpuscles, but we
may not talk of "consciousness" as perception by a conscious subject.
We may talk of feelings, but not of a subject that feels. Mind, then,
is not an existence apart from physical organization. Its phenomena are
products of our corporeal organization. Man is not a person; and, if
he is not, how he is to have a sense of obligation, how there is to be
any intuitional idea of right and wrong, in the sense of a command or
an injunction addressed by one being to another, I do not understand.
Mr. Spencer does not help me to understand this, and obviously he does
not intend to, because he denies it absolutely. His system of ethics
plainly ignores it; and to that I now pass.

He makes conduct consist in the adjustment of actions to ends. Good
conduct is when the actions are adjusted to the ends of producing all
the pleasure and happiness that they can be made to bring about. Bad
conduct is when the actions produce only pain or misery to some one,
or there is not a proper adjustment of them to the end of happiness.
Beginning, as you described it in our last conference, with the lowest
orders of animals, the conduct of man is the same adjustment of actions
to ends that it is in them; the difference being, in the case of man,
that as an animal he has a greater and more varied power of complete
adjustment of his actions to wider and more comprehensive ends than
any other animal. These wider and more comprehensive ends consist in
the full accomplishment of happiness and pleasure to other beings.
This, according to Mr. Spencer, is impliedly admitted by those who
assert the sacred origin of moral injunctions; for, when pressed for
the reason why moral injunctions have been given, all moralists,
he says, admit that the ultimate moral aim is a desirable state of
feeling, gratification, enjoyment, happiness to some being or beings.
That the welfare of society is _one_ of the moral aims which moral
injunctions of the sacred order were designed to accomplish, so far as
special injunctions are believed to have been given, is plain enough.
But that this congruity between the divine commands and the happiness
of others--the useful effect of such commands--comprehends the whole
purpose of such commands, is the ultimate and sole reason for their
being given, so far as they are believed to have been given, may be
disproved without difficulty. For example, an individual may be an
utterly worthless person, a curse to his relatives and friends and to
society, irreclaimably sunk in vice and misery, a mere cumberer of the
ground. To kill him will produce no unhappiness to any one, but will
be a positive relief and benefit. According to "the current creed,"
there stands a sacred injunction, "Thou shalt do NO murder."
This is accepted as an absolute, fixed, eternal canon of the divine
will. You are not to take upon yourself individually to determine, by
any standard of utility applied to a particular case, that you can
rightfully kill a human being. A miser is alone in the world. I can
steal his hoarded gold, and apply it to good objects. There stands
the command, "Thou shalt _not_ steal." For no purpose, for no object
whatever, for no end whatever, shall you commit a theft. "Society," to
borrow a phrase of one of the strongest men of our time, "would go all
to pieces in an hour" if it were to adopt only the utilitarian standard
of morality, and to reject the sacred origin of moral injunctions.[133]
The reception of that sacred origin--the belief in it--implies that
man is a being capable of receiving and obeying a divine command. The
existence of such a being is negatived by Mr. Spencer's psychological
system. That he equally negatives the existence of God as a being
capable of giving, and who has given, moral injunctions to man, is
apparent throughout his whole scheme of philosophy. According to that
philosophy, there is nothing in the universe but an Omnipotent Power,
which underlies all manifestations. To ascribe a personality to that
Power is a relic of the primitive beliefs of barbarians, and it is one
that is rapidly dying out of the conceptions of educated men.

There is, therefore, no room in Mr. Spencer's philosophy for any
moral intuitions, such as are implied in the hypothesis that man was
placed under an obligation to obey his Creator, and made capable
of recognizing that obligation. I can perceive no other ultimate
foundation for a system of ethics. As to the idea that we can make
a system of ethics which is to relegate to individual judgment the
adaptability of actions to produce complete happiness, and to have no
other standard of right and wrong, we might as well at once act upon
the maxim that the end justifies the means, and leave every man to
determine that the end is a good one; and, therefore, the action is

KOSMICOS. How do you justify the death-penalty which is
inflicted by society? Have you any justification for it, excepting the
claim that it is a useful restraint?

SOPHEREUS. When society acts judicially in the punishment of
crime, it inflicts such punishments as experience shows will prevent,
or tend to prevent, others from committing that crime. Its authority
to punish with death or some other penalty is founded, primarily, in
regard to the simpler crimes, such as murder, theft, adultery, false
testimony, etc., on the divine prohibition, which a belief in the
sacred origin of certain special moral injunctions leads it to accept;
and, secondly, on the general welfare of mankind.[134] Eliminate from
the ethical code all belief in the sacred origin of moral injunctions,
and confine the judicial action of society to the merely utilitarian
effect of individual conduct, and you will surrender the whole criminal
code to the doctrine that the individual who does a certain act is to
be punished or not to be punished, according to the effect of his act
on the person or persons who are immediately or remotely affected by
it. It is because of Mr. Spencer's negation of man's intuitive sense of
obligation to obey divine commands, because of his peculiar system of
"psychology," that I can not accept the system to which he gives the
name of "ethics." He ought to have invented a new term for his science
of mind. "Psychology," according to its derivation, and as it is used
in the English language, means discourse or treatise on the human soul,
or the doctrine of man's spiritual nature. If he has no spiritual
nature, no soul, what does this philosopher mean by entitling his work
"The Principles of Psychology"? It seems to me that in this use of a
term which implies something that he labors to show does not exist, he
is not quite consistent, for he certainly does not mean to admit that
man has a soul, in the sense in which the learned world have generally
used the term "psychology." But, not to stickle for verbal criticisms,
I will endeavor to give you my conception of his "scientific" analysis
of the mind, and to contrast it with the other analysis, which seems to
me to be better supported.

KOSMICOS. Take care that you do not misrepresent him.

SOPHEREUS. I shall take the utmost care to represent him
in the only sense in which I can understand him; and, if I do not
represent him accurately, you will correct me. Take, in the first
place, the following passage, in which he defines the only _ego_ that
has any existence:

 That the _ego_ is something more than the passing group of feelings
 and ideas is true or untrue according to the degree of comprehension
 we give to the word. It is true if we include the body and its
 functions; but it is untrue if we include only what is given in

 Physically considered, the _ego_ is the entire organism, including its
 nervous system; and the nature of this _ego_ is predetermined: the
 infant had no more to do with the structure of its brain than with the
 color of its eyes. Further, the _ego_, considered physically, includes
 all the functions carried on by these structures when supplied with
 the requisite materials. These functions have for their net result
 to liberate from the food, etc., certain latent forces. And that
 distribution of these forces shown by the activities of the organism,
 is from moment to moment caused partly by the existing arrangement of
 its parts and partly by the environing conditions.

 The physical structures thus pervaded by the forces thus obtained,
 constitute that substantial _ego_ which lies behind and determines
 those ever-changing states of consciousness we call mind. And
 while this substantial _ego_, unknowable in ultimate nature, is
 phenomenally known to us under its statical form as the organism, it
 is phenomenally known under its dynamical form as the energy diffusing
 itself through the organism, and, among other parts, through the
 nervous system. Given the external stimuli, and the nervous changes
 with their correlative mental states depend partly on the nervous
 structures and partly on the amount of this diffused energy, each of
 which factors is determined by causes not in consciousness but beneath
 consciousness. The aggregate of feelings and ideas constituting the
 mental _I_, have not in themselves the principle of cohesion holding
 them together as a whole; but the _I_ which continually survives as
 the subject of these changing states is that portion of the Unknowable
 Power which is statically conditioned in special nervous structures
 pervaded by a dynamically-conditioned portion of the Unknowable Power
 called energy.[135]

It is now necessary to translate this; and in translating it, it is
necessary to attend to the meaning of words. Let us begin with the
first proposition comprehended in this statement: "That the _ego_ is
something more than the passing group of feelings and ideas, is true
or untrue according to the degree of comprehensiveness we give to the
word. It is true if we include the body and its functions; but it is
untrue if we include only what is given in consciousness." The natural
antithesis would have been to contrast what is included in the _body_
with what is included in the _mind_. But as he does not admit that
the mind is an existence, as there is nothing but a passing group of
feelings and ideas, not a person who perceives feelings and has ideas,
he speaks of _what is given in consciousness_, consciousness being
nothing but that passing group, an ever-changing series, never the
same, and never laid hold of and appropriated by a conscious subject.
We do, indeed, call these ever-changing states of consciousness mind,
but this is a misnomer, if we mean it in the sense of a being. What is
to be considered, therefore, when the analysis seeks to ascertain the
real and only _ego_, is the body and its functions, and the passing
group of feelings and ideas which is given in consciousness.

Let us pass on: The body is the physical structure and its functions.
It is pervaded by the forces which its functions liberate from the
latent condition in which they exist in food and other environment.
This physical structure, thus pervaded by certain forces, is the
substantial _ego_ which lies behind and determines the ever-changing
states of consciousness which we call mind. There is no other _ego_
than the body. It is phenomenally known to us under its _statical_
form as the organism; that is to say, when the body is contemplated
as an organism which is not acting, or as a mere structure. But it
is phenomenally known to us also under its _dynamical_ form, which
is when the energy derived from the pervading forces is diffusing
itself through the organism. Statical,[136] I understand, refers to
a body at rest, or in equilibrium, not acting; dynamical refers to
bodies in motion, or acted on by force, in movement. The human body is
phenomenally known to us in both of these conditions or states. When
it is in the dynamical state, that is, when it is acted on by external
stimuli, there will be nervous changes; these nervous changes have
correlative mental states, which depend partly on the nervous structure
and partly on the amount of the diffused energy which pervades the
organism. But these two factors, the nervous changes and the diffused
energy, are each determined by causes that are not in consciousness,
but beneath consciousness. This I understand to mean that when there
are nervous changes from a state of rest or non-action, produced by
external stimuli, and a certain amount of diffused energy pervades the
organism, there will be correlative mental states, which are determined
by factors that are not in consciousness but beneath consciousness.
Consciousness, therefore, is not a perception by a conscious subject,
or a consciousness of a self experienced by a being, but it is a
passing group of feelings and ideas, which have no cohesion, are never
the same, but are ever-changing successions of impressions produced in
the physical organism.

I come now to the summary and conclusion of the whole matter as
expressed in the last sentence of the paragraph which I have read.
There is a mental I, but it is not a person, an existence, an
independent _ego_. It is constituted of an aggregate of feelings and
ideas, which have not in themselves a principle of cohesion that
holds them together as a whole. They are merely passing groups of
feelings and ideas which are never the same, but which succeed one
another without connection or cohesion. There is an I which continually
survives as the subject of these changing states, but it is that
portion of the Unknowable Power which is statically conditioned in
special nervous structures pervaded by a dynamically conditioned
portion of the Unknowable Power called energy.

So that each individual of the human race is to be contemplated,
not as a dual existence, composed of a body and a mind, united for
a certain period, but as a subject which is continuously undergoing
certain physical changes by the action through it of a portion of the
energy exerted by the Unknowable Power. The Unknowable Power pulsates
through my bodily organism a certain portion of its energy, and that
of which continuous existence can alone be predicated is this portion
of the Unknowable Power which is statically conditioned in my nervous
structure, pervaded by a dynamically conditioned portion of that
Unknown Power.

I trust, now, it will not be said that I misrepresent Mr. Spencer
when I assert that he ignores, denies, and endeavors to disprove
the existence of the mind of man as a spiritual entity, capable of
surviving his body. Have you any fault to find with my paraphrase of
the passage on which I have commented?

KOSMICOS. You have paraphrased that passage fairly enough, but
you ought to attend to the proof which he adduces in support of his
position in the subsequent passage to which he refers you in the one
that you have quoted. Let me read it:

 § 469. And now, before closing the chapter, let me parenthetically
 remark on a striking parallelism between the conception of the
 Object thus built up, and that which we shall find to be the proper
 conception of the Subject. For just in the same way that the
 Object is the unknown permanent _nexus_ which is never itself a
 phenomenon, but is that which holds phenomena together; so is the
 Subject the unknown permanent _nexus_ which is never itself a state
 of consciousness, but which holds states of consciousness together.
 Limiting himself to self-analysis, the Subject can never learn
 anything about this _nexus_, further than that it forms part of the
 _nexus_ to that peculiar vivid aggregate he distinguishes as his
 body. If, however, he makes a vicarious examination, the facts of
 nervous structure and function, as exhibited in other bodies like
 his own, enable him to see how, for each changing cluster of ideas,
 there exists a permanent _nexus_ which, in a sense, corresponds to the
 permanent _nexus_ holding together the changing cluster of appearances
 referable to the external body.

 For, as shown in earlier parts of this work, an idea is the psychical
 side of what on its physical side is an involved set of molecular
 changes propagated through an involved set of nervous plexuses. That
 which makes possible this idea is the pre-existence of these plexuses,
 so organized that a wave of molecular motion diffused through them
 will produce, as its psychical correlative, the components of the
 conception, in due order and degree. This idea lasts while the waves
 of molecular motion last, ceasing when they cease; but that which
 remains is the set of plexuses. These constitute the potentiality of
 the idea, and make possible future ideas like it. Each such set of
 plexuses, perpetually modified in detail by perpetual new actions;
 capable of entering into countless combinations with others, just
 as the objects thought of entered into countless combinations; and
 capable of having its several parts variously excited, just as the
 external object presents its combined attributes in various ways--is
 thus the permanent internal _nexus_ for ideas, answering to the
 permanent external _nexus_ for phenomena. And just as the external
 _nexus_ is that which continues to exist amid transitory appearances,
 so the internal _nexus_ is that which continues to exist amid
 transitory ideas. The ideas have no more a continued existence than
 we have found the impressions to have. They are like the successive
 chords and cadences brought out from a piano, which successively die
 away as other ones are sounded. And it would be as proper to say that
 these passing chords and cadences thereafter exist in the piano, as it
 is proper to say that passing ideas thereafter exist in the brain. In
 the one case, as in the other, the actual existence is the structure
 which, under like conditions, again evolves like combinations.

 It is true that we seem to have somewhere within us these sets of
 faint states answering to sets of vivid states which once occurred.
 It is true that in common life ideas are spoken of as being treasured
 up, forming a store of knowledge; the implied notion being that they
 are duly arranged and, as it were, pigeon-holed for future use. It
 is true that in psychological explanations, ideas are often referred
 to as thus having a continued existence. It is true that our forms
 of expression are such as to make this implication unavoidable; and
 that in many places throughout this work the phrases used apparently
 countenance it; though, I believe, they are always transformable
 into their scientific equivalents, as above expressed. But here, as
 in metaphysical discussions at large, where our express object is
 to make a final analysis, and to disentangle facts from hypotheses,
 it behooves us to recognize the truth that this popular conception,
 habitually adopted into psychological and metaphysical discussions,
 is not simply gratuitous, but absolutely at variance with experience.
 All which introspection shows us is that under certain conditions
 there occurs a state of consciousness more or less like that which
 previously occurred under more or less like conditions. Not only are
 we without proof that during the interval this state of consciousness
 existed under some form; but, so far as observation reaches, it gives
 positive evidence to the contrary. For the new state is never the
 same--is never more than an approximate likeness of that which went
 before. It has not that identity of structure which it would have were
 it a pre-existing thing presenting itself afresh. Nay, more; even
 during its presence its identity of structure is not preserved--it is
 not literally the same for two seconds together. No idea, even of the
 most familiar object, preserves its stability while in consciousness.
 To carry further the foregoing simile, its temporary existence is
 like that of a continuously-sounded chord, of which the components
 severally vary from instant to instant in pitch and loudness. Quite
 apart, however, from any interpretation of ideas as not substantive
 things but psychical changes, corresponding to physical changes
 wrought in a physical structure, it suffices to insist upon the
 obvious truth that the existence in the Subject of any other ideas
 than those which are passing, is pure hypothesis absolutely without
 any evidence whatever.

 And here we come upon yet another phase of that contradiction which
 the anti-realistic conception everywhere presents. For setting out
 from the data embodied in the popular speech, which asserts both the
 continued existence of ideas and the continued existence of objects,
 it accepts the fiction as a fact, and on the strength of it tries to
 show that the fact is a fiction. Continued existence being claimed for
 that which has it not, is thereupon denied to that which has it.[137]

SOPHEREUS. The writings of Mr. Spencer, more than those of
any other person of equal reputation that I have met with, require
close examination in order to test the soundness of his propositions
and assertions. Such a passage as the one which you have now quoted
appears, on a first reading, to be quite plausible. When it is read
carefully two or three times, and analyzed, it is found to be untenable
in its reasoning, and largely made up of dogmatic assumptions. I shall
now give you my reasons for this criticism. In the first place, let us
go through the passage and fix the meanings of words. "Nexus," although
not a term adopted into the English language, means, I presume, bond
or ligament. "Plexus" is a word that we find in English dictionaries
as a scientific term, and it means a union of vessels, nerves, or
fibers, in the form of net-work.[138] Taking along these meanings, we
find that the subject, the only thing of which a subjective existence
can be predicated, is the ligament which holds states of consciousness
together, and this permanent ligament is unknown. It is not itself
a state of consciousness, but it is the bond which holds states of
consciousness together. These states of consciousness are the ideas
which are passing in the subject, which are never the same, which are
not a permanent possession, and therefore there is in the subject no
other existence than the passing ideas of the moment. Ideas, then,
are not substantive things, but psychical changes, corresponding to
physical changes wrought in a physical structure. The proof which is
supposed to make this a tenable hypothesis consists of, first, what
can be learned by self-analysis, or by my introspection of myself;
next by vicarious examination, or by observing the facts of nervous
structure and function exhibited in other bodies like my own. These
examinations enable us to discover, what? Not a conscious person,
learning, appropriating, and holding ideas, but that there exists only,
for each changing cluster of ideas, a permanent _nexus_, corresponding
to the permanent _nexus_ which holds together the changing cluster of
appearances referable to the external body. We next have the assertion
that ideas have no more a continued existence than the impressions
made in the external body. Both are transitory, and in both the only
continued existence is the _nexus_, or ligament which binds together
the changing impressions and the changing clusters of ideas. This Mr.
Spencer illustrates by the successive chords and cadences brought
out from a piano. These have no existence in the piano, which is
nothing but a mechanical structure, giving forth sounds, when they
are struck, which sounds are merely passing chords and cadences; and
he concludes that it would be just as proper to say that the passing
chords and cadences, after they have died away, exist in the piano, as
it is to say that passing ideas, after the nervous impressions have
ceased, exist in the brain. Let us now go back and examine this kind
of psychology in detail. Mr. Spencer speaks of self-analysis, and of
the analysis of other minds and bodies like our own. He uses the terms
self, others, me, mine, him, his. Who or what is this thing which
examines himself or another? Who and what are "you" or "I," who sit
here talking to each other? Are these mere forms of expression, always
transformable into their scientific equivalents? What is the scientific
equivalent for he, his, me, mine, you, yours? Mr. Spencer says that,
under certain conditions, there occurs a state of consciousness more or
less like other states of consciousness that have existed before, but
that the only permanent thing is the _nexus_ which holds these states
of consciousness together. His illustration of the piano fails. If
the piano were a structure that could of its own volition give forth
such sounds as it chose to utter, it might be correct to speak of it
as an existence having a store of sounds which it could make reach our
ears when and as it saw fit. But it does not happen to be an automatic
machine. It is a mere collection of strings, of different sizes and
tensions, which, when struck by an instrument called a hammer, cause
certain vibrations in the air. But a human being is an automatic
organism; one that can at pleasure give utterance to ideas through
the vocal organs, so that they are communicated to you. When I give
utterance to an idea, through my vocal organs, in speaking to you, do
I draw on a stock of permanent ideas, some of which I express, or do
I express nothing but a passing state of consciousness, more or less
like other states of consciousness that have before passed through
my nervous organization? Mr. Spencer asserts that the notion of the
continued existence of ideas is absolutely at variance with experience.
On the contrary, experience proves it every moment of our lives.

For example: Years ago a person related to me a fact very interesting
and important to me, but I have not until now had occasion to make use
of it. I have a perfect recollection of what he told me. It bears no
resemblance to any other fact of which I ever heard. It concerns me
alone. I have a perfect recollection of it. I stored it up for future
use whenever I should need to use it. Is it a self-delusion that I have
stored up and treasured this information? When I recollect and repeat
it, just as it was told me, am I doing nothing but giving expression to
a passing idea, more or less like the original idea? This would be a
rather dangerous doctrine to adopt as the interpretation of experience.
Human testimony respecting things that we have been told, or have seen,
would be a pretty uncertain reliance if the memory had no other power
than to assimilate a passing idea, more or less, to a former state of
consciousness which more or less resembled the present consciousness.
Men deviate from the truth rather frequently, now; but, teach them that
memory is nothing but the assimilation, more or less, of a passing
idea to some other idea that formerly passed through their heads, and
I should be rather afraid of their testimony. I should fear that the
"psychological changes" would be a little too frequent, and that the
story would not have "that identity of structure which it would have
were it a pre-existing thing presenting itself afresh."

What is all the learning of the scholar? Has he treasured up nothing?
Has he nothing in the pigeon-holes of his mind? Has he no mind in which
to store his acquisitions? Is the sole actual existence "the structure
which, under like conditions, again evolves like combinations"? Must
he find himself under like conditions which will again evolve like
combinations of ideas in passing trains of consciousness, before he can
bring forth from the store-house of his mind the pre-existing thing
that lies within it?

KOSMICOS. I must here interject a question in my turn. What is
the proof that ideas have a continued existence? Speaking of the brain
as the nerve-center, in which impressions are produced by molecular
changes transmitted along the nerve-fibers, what proof is there that an
idea which is now passing through the brain continues to exist there,
any more than the passing chord or cadence continues to exist in the

SOPHEREUS. Do you not see that the very power of
discrimination which we possess, whereby we distinguish between
present and former conditions, and present and former combinations,
proves that there is a permanent existing thing in an idea which
presents itself afresh, and with which we compare the passing idea, so
as to determine whether they are the same? If we did not possess this
power, all thinking, all expression of ideas, all memory, all that
part of consciousness which is not made up of mere bodily feelings and
sensations, would be nothing but the repetition of the passing idea;
and all learning, information, knowledge, and experience, would be
utterly useless. If there did not exist something with which to compare
the passing idea of the present moment, we should be always floating
on the surface of the passing idea. There would be no continuity in
our intellectual existence. We should be reduced to the condition of
the piano, and could only give forth such chords and cadences as are
produced by successive blows of the hammer upon the strings of the
instrument. And how could anything originate in ourselves? What is
the faculty which produces ideas that are not only new to ourselves,
not only not suggested by passing ideas, but new to all other human
intellects, and never embraced in their experience until we put
them within their apprehension? What did Dante do when he produced
the "Inferno"? or Milton, when he composed the "Paradise Lost"? or
Shakespeare, when he composed his "Hamlet"? or Goethe, when he produced
his "Faust"? Does the poet, when he gives us ideas that we never
possessed before, originate nothing? If he is a maker, a creator, in
the realm of ideas, are those original ideas, which neither he nor
any one else ever had before, the mere result of like combinations
evolved out of like conditions, when neither the old conditions nor
the combinations have anything to do with the new ideas which he has
produced? Surely, in reference to the great productions of human
genius, we must contemplate the mind as an existence, having the power
to do something more than to produce the transitory ideas that are
passing through the brain from the impressions on it, communicated
through the nervous structure. Surely there is some other structure
than that which can be likened to the piano. Surely there is something
more than a set of plexuses "which constitute the potentiality of an
idea, and make possible future ideas like it"; for there are possible
future ideas which are not like any former ideas, which do not depend
on any set of plexuses, and do not cease to be possible when the
waves of molecular motion cease. These possible future ideas are the
conceptions which the mind originates in itself; which are unlike
anything that has gone before, or that is passing now. So that there
are two kinds of ideas: the kind that has a continued existence, and
that consists in knowledge, and is drawn upon by memory; and the other,
the kind of which continued existence is not to be predicated until it
has been formulated by the faculty of original production, not produced
by an exercise of memory, but produced by original creation.

KOSMICOS. Has not Mr. Spencer allowed for and accounted for
all that you claim as the power of originating new ideas? Does he not
say that "each set of plexuses"--each set of the net-work of ideas--is
"perpetually modified in detail by perpetual new actions"; is "capable
of entering into countless combinations with others, just as the
objects thought of entered into countless combinations; and capable of
having its several parts variously excited, just as the external object
presents its combined attributes in various ways"? Is not this the
whole matter, in regard to what you call the power of originating new

SOPHEREUS. No, it is not. In the first place, I do not believe
that he was here intentionally speaking of any ideas but those which
are suggested by, or involve external objects. But, if he did mean to
include the production of new and original ideas through the countless
combinations into which old ones may be made to enter, his theory does
not fit the case of poetical invention of new ideas, or the invention
of imaginary characters, or lives; for these are creations which are
not mere combinations of old ideas, and the more they depart from
everything suggested by, or resembling, former ideas, the more we are
obliged to recognize as a faculty of the mind the power to originate
and formulate new ideas that did not previously exist.

KOSMICOS. Well, you have criticised Mr. Spencer's mental
philosophy from your point of view. Now let me hear your hypothesis of
the origin and nature of mind, with which you promised to contrast his
psychology, and which you think is better supported.

SOPHEREUS. I think I had better put my views in writing, and
read them to you at our next meeting. You can then have them before
you to examine at your leisure. Let me say in advance, however, that
I shall not rely on any of the metaphysicians, but shall endeavor to
give you my conception of the nature of mind from my own reflections,
and from common experience. I shall make my examination of the nature
of mind precede any suggestion of its probable origin, just as I think
we should examine the structure of any organism before we undertake to
deduce its probable origin.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here, then, closes the debate between these two persons, from whom,
at the end of the next chapter, I shall part with a reluctance which
I hope the reader will share. Not for victory do I allow Sophereus to
explain his analysis of mind, without describing how his scientific
friend receives it.


 [130] "Data of Ethics," chap. xv.

 [131] Ibid.

 [132] Revised version of St. Mark's gospel.

 [133] The late Jeremiah S. Black is the person whose language is here
 quoted, although it was used with reference to something else.

 [134] This does not imply that the punishment inflicted by society
 is to be always the same. It implies only that there is to be some
 punishment, so long as the prohibited act continues to be committed.

 [135] "Principles of Psychology," vol. i, pp. 503, 504, § 220.

 [136] _Statical_: pertaining to bodies at rest or in equilibrium.

 _Dynamical_: pertaining to strength or power.

 _Dynamics_: that part of mechanical philosophy which treats of bodies
 in motion; opposed to _statics_. ("Webster's Dictionary.")

 [137] "Principles of Psychology," vol. ii, p. 484, _et seq._

 [138] "Webster's Dictionary." PLEXUS.


Sophereus discourses on the Nature and Origin of the Human Mind.

SOPHEREUS, in fulfillment of his intention expressed at their
last meeting, reads to the scientist the following


I regard the mind as an organism, capable of anatomical examination, as
the body is, but of course by very different means. In the anatomical
examination of an animal organism we use our eye-sight to acquire
a knowledge of its component parts, its organs, and its structure,
by dissection of a dead or inspection of a living subject. But, in
studying the anatomy of mind, we have a subject that is beyond our
visual perception. It is not, however, beyond our examination. We carry
on that examination by means of the introspection which consciousness
enables us to have of our own minds, and by observing and comparing the
phenomena of mind as manifested in other persons. If these respective
means of investigation enable us to reach the conviction that in each
individual of the human race there is an existence of a spiritual
nature and another existence of a corporeal or physical nature, we
shall have attained this conclusion by observing the difference between
the two organisms. The fact that we can not detect the bond that unites
them while they are united should not lead us to doubt their distinct
existence as organisms of different natures, but made for a temporary
period to act on and with each other.

Before entering further into the subject, I will refer to some of the
terms which we are obliged to use in speaking of the nature of mind as
an organism, when contrasted with the nature of the physical organism.
We speak, for example, and from the want of another term we are obliged
to speak, of the substance of mind. But, while we thus speak of mind
in a term of matter, there is no implication that the subject of which
we speak is of the same nature as that which constitutes the physical
organism; nor is there any danger of the incorporation of materialistic
ideas with our ideas of the fabric of mind. On the contrary, the
very nature of the inquiry is whether that which constitutes mind is
something different from that which constitutes body; and, although in
speaking of both we use the term substance, we mean in the one case
organized matter, and in the other case organized spirit. There is a
very notable instance of a corresponding use of terms in the passage
of one of St. Paul's epistles, where he discourses on the doctrine
of the resurrection. According to my universal custom when I refer
to any of the writings regarded by the Christian world as sacred,
or inspired, I lay aside altogether the idea of a person speaking
by divine or any other authority. I cite the statement of St. Paul,
in its philosophical aspect, as an instance of the use of the term
body applied to each of the distinct organisms. His statement, or
assertion, or assumption--call it what you please--is, "If there is
a natural body, there is also a spiritual body";[139] he uses the
term _body_ in speaking of that which is natural, or of the earth,
earthy, and of that which is spiritual, or heavenly. Without following
him into the nature of the occurrence which he affirms is to take
place in the resurrection, the question is whether he was or was not
philosophically correct, in speaking of two kinds of organisms, one
composed of matter, and liable to corruption and dissolution, and the
other composed of spirit, indestructible and imperishable.

In order to be understood, he was obliged to use the term _body_ in
reference to both of these organisms, just as we are obliged to use the
term _substance_ when we speak of the subject of contemplation as a
physical or as a spiritual organism. Can this distinctness of nature be
predicated of the body and the mind of man before what we call death?

The peculiar occurrence which St. Paul so vigorously and vividly
describes as what is to happen at the resurrection, is a prophecy in
which he mingles with great force philosophical illustrations and the
information which he claims to have received from inspiration; or
things revealed to him by the Almighty through the Holy Spirit. He
expresses himself in terms level to the apprehension of those whom he
is addressing; and in this use of terms he does just what we do when we
speak of a natural body and a spiritual body. He puts the existence of
the natural body hypothetically:

"_If_ there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body."[140]
Paraphrased as the whole passage may be, he says, "You well know that
there is a natural body, and I tell you that there is also a spiritual
body." Laying aside the mode in which the spiritual body is to be
manifested at and after the resurrection, we have to consider whether,
during this life, there is a bodily organism and a mental organism,
distinct in their natures, but united for a time by a bond which is
hidden from our detection.

I have used the term anatomy of the mind, from the same necessity which
compels me to speak of the substance of mind. You will understand
that, when I speak of anatomical examination of the mind, I mean
that analysis of its structure which we can make by the use of the
appropriate means, and which enables us to conceive that it is an
organized structure of a peculiar character.

The grand difficulty with Mr. Spencer's "Psychology" is, that after he
has made what he calls "the proximate components of mind" to consist
of "two broadly contrasted kinds--feelings and the relations between
feelings," which are mere impressions produced on the nerve-center by
molecular changes in the fluid or semi-fluid substance of the nerves,
he has not approached to a solution of the question whether there is or
is not a something to which these feelings and the relations between
them suggest ideas, and which holds ideas continuously for future use.

Thus he makes consciousness to consist in passing groups of feelings
and their relations, and not in a conscious subject. He denies that
there is any _ego_, in the sense in which every person is conscious
of a self, and maintains that the only substantive existence is the
unknown ligament which holds together the ever-changing states of
feelings and impressions produced in the nerve-center. There is a far
better method of investigation. It is to inquire into the fabric of the
mind as an organism, by determining whether mental phenomena justify
us in the conclusion that it is an organism. In this way we may reach
a satisfactory conclusion that the mind is a substantive existence,
possessing a uniform structure, of a character, however, fundamentally
different from the bodily structure; and in this way we may be able to
explain, wholly or in part, how the mind and the body act on and with
each other so long as the connection is maintained.

I am entirely free to acknowledge that, when I speak of the
substance of mind, or speak of it as an organism, I am and must
remain ignorant of the nature of its substance beyond the point where
its self-manifestations cease. But the question is, whether we are
not under an irresistible necessity of adopting as a postulate the
existence of a something which has certain inherent powers, and whether
the mental phenomena, the self-manifestations of those powers, do not
necessarily lead us to the conception and conviction that mind is a
substantive existence. I can not talk or think of consciousness apart
from a conscious subject, or of feelings without a subject that feels.
A thread of consciousness, or a series of feelings, conveys no meaning
to me, apart from a being who has the consciousness and perceives the

One very important question to be considered in all such investigations
is, Whether our experience does not teach us that we are mentally so
constituted that certain conceptions are necessary to us? Our mental
nature is placed under certain laws, as our physical or corporeal
nature is placed under certain other laws. One of these necessary
conceptions, which are imposed on us, as it seems to me, by a law of
our mental constitution, is a conception of the fundamental difference
between matter and spirit. In what way is it forced upon us that there
is a natural world and a spiritual world? The phenomena of matter
and the phenomena of mind are essentially different. In ourselves
they occur in conjunction, and they occur in disjunction. They are
manifested synchronously, and they are manifested separately in point
of time. The normal action of all the functions of the body is not
necessary to the action of the mind. The body may be prostrated by
disease, and the moment of its death may be at hand; yet the mind,
to the last moment of the physical life, may be unclouded, and its
manifestations may be as perfect as they ever were in the full health
and activity of the vital functions of the body. No one who stands at
a death-bed where this phenomenon occurs, and observes how completely
the mind is master of itself; how it holds in consciousness the past
and the present; how it essays to grasp the future for those whom it is
to leave and for itself, can easily escape the conviction that death
is nothing but the dissolution of the bond which has hitherto held
together the two existences that constituted the human being, one of
which is to be dissolved into its elemental and material substances,
and the other of which is to go elsewhere, intact and indestructible.

Let me now refer to what is taking place while I am writing this essay.
I have said that the phenomena of our bodily organism and the phenomena
of our mental organism may occur synchronously in the same individual.
The act of writing an original composition is an instance of this. The
action of certain organs of the body and the action of the mind are
simultaneous. In time, they can not be separated. In themselves, they
are separable and separate. The thought springing up in the mind may be
retained there, or may flow into language and be written by the hand
upon the page. No one can detect in himself any instant of time when
the mental formation of a sentence, or any clause of a sentence, as
he writes, is separable from the physical act of writing. In that not
very common, but still possible, feat of dictating to two amanuenses,
at what appears to be the same time, on two distinct subjects, there
is undoubtedly an appreciable interval, in which the mind passes from
one subject to the other, and then back again, with great rapidity.
But, when one is one's own amanuensis, when the act of thinking and
formulating the thought, and the act of writing it down in words, is
performed by the same person, there is a simultaneous action of that
which originates the thought and clothes it in words, and the act of
the bodily organ which inscribes the words upon paper. How is this
phenomenon to be explained? And to what does it lead? Is there anything
in the whole range of Mr. Spencer's "Psychology" that will interpret
this familiar experience? May it not be interpreted by an anatomical
examination of the mind as an organism?

I do not now refer to cases where a thought is completely formulated
before the pen begins to be moved over the paper, and is then recalled
by an effort of the memory and written down. I am referring to what
I suppose is the habit of many persons in writing, namely, the
origination and formulation of the thought as the hand moves the pen,
a habit of which most practiced writers are perfectly conscious. The
same thing occurs in what is truly called extemporaneous speaking,[142]
when oral discourse is not a mere repetition, _memoriter_, of thoughts
and sentences which had been previously formulated, but, as the
word extemporaneous implies, when the thought and the language flow
from the vocal organs _eo instanti_ with their conception. In these
and the similar cases of improvisation and animated conversation,
in which there is a synchronous action of the mind and the bodily
organs, it would be impossible for us to have that action if mind were
constituted as Mr. Spencer supposes it to be. If there were no mind in
the sense of an organized entity, conceiving a thought and clothing
it in the language needful to give it written or oral expression,
"if the _ego_ were nothing more than the passing group of feelings
and ideas"--if an "idea lasts (only) while the nerves of molecular
motion last, ceasing when they cease"--if that which remains is (only)
the "set of plexuses"--how could we originate any new thought? The
very illustration to which Mr. Spencer resorts, when he likens the
automatic human being to the non-automatic piano, and makes them
analogous in their action, in order to show that passing ideas do not
have a continual existence in the mind, but that the actual existence
is the physical structure which, under like conditions, again evolves
like combinations, reduces us at once to the level of the piano,
and precludes the potentiality of a new and original idea which is
not a combination of former ideas, and is produced under different
conditions. The assertion or argument that each set of plexuses is
capable of entering into countless combinations with others, and so
renders possible future ideas, does not advance us one step to the
solution of what takes place when we conceive a new thought, clothe it
in language, and write it down on paper, or give it oral expression.

In justification of this criticism, let me now refer to that
intellectual process which is called "invention," in its application
to the mechanic arts. I do not mean to suggest or to claim that this
kind of invention is an act which is to be referred to a distinct and
peculiar faculty of certain minds, in the possession of which one
man may differ from another. But I shall endeavor to describe what
takes place when one conceives the intellectual plan of a certain new
combination of mechanical devices, and embodies that plan in a machine
which differs from all other previous machines in its characteristic
method of operation. For convenience, I shall speak of the person who
produces such a machine as the inventor, which is the same as speaking
of him as the maker, as the poet is the maker of a poem. This act of
invention, or the making of some concrete new thing, is an act of
creation. The inventor, then, may be supposed to have learned all
that empirical and all that scientific mechanics could teach him; to
have had any quantity of passing groups of ideas pass through his
consciousness; to be possessed of any number of plexuses capable of
entering into countless combinations with others. These plexuses, or
networks of transitory ideas, consisting of former impressions in the
nerve-center, must, it is said, be recalled under the like conditions
which produced them. But the conditions for the inventor are not the
same. Something is to be produced into which the old ideas do not
enter. There is to be a new arrangement of old mechanical devices;
a new combination is to be made, which will possess a method of
operation and accomplish a result never before seen or obtained.
A new concrete thing, a new machine, is to be created. That the
conception must be formed, that the objective point, to which the whole
intellectual effort is to aim, must be seen, is manifest. A tentative
intellectual process may have to be gone through before the full
conception is reached, just as a tentative experimental process may be
necessary in finding out how the practical embodiment of the conception
is to be reached in building the structure. These processes may go on
simultaneously or separately; but, when they are both completed, when
the new machine stands before us, we see at once that the plan is an
intellectual conception, perfectly original, and the physical structure
is a new arrangement of matter effected by the hand of the inventor
or by the hands of others, which he uses as his instruments in doing
the physical work. I do not know, therefore, how this phenomenon is
to be explained upon the theory that the only _ego_ is the body and
its functions, which lies behind and determines ever-changing states
of consciousness. I know not how else to interpret the phenomenon of
invention, excepting to adopt the postulate that there is a mind, a
substantive existence, which, while its consciousness holds ideas
suggested by former conditions, has the inherent power to originate
ideas that did not form a part of any previous state of consciousness.

I have spoken of mind as an organism and as a substantive existence.
This is a deduction to be drawn from the manifestations of mental
phenomena. In order to guard against an objection that may possibly
be interposed in the way of this method of investigation, I will
anticipate and answer it. It will be said that we can not define or
describe the substance of mind; can not tell whether it is a unit,
in itself, or an aggregate of units; we know and can know nothing
more than its approximate components, and all that we know of these
does not justify us in assuming to speak of the substance of mind. I
have more than once suggested, in our former conferences, that our
inability to define and to describe the substance of any supposed
existence is no proper objection to the hypothesis that there is such
an existence. When we undertake to define matter, or to describe the
substance of that which we call matter, we find that we soon reach a
point where precise definition or description ceases. Yet we do not
for that reason refrain from deducing the existence of matter from the
manifestations of certain phenomena and from our experience with them.
It is perfectly true that we know matter only by the manifestations of
certain physical phenomena; that we can not define the nature of its
substance. All we can do, by the most minute analysis, is to arrive at
the perception of the ultimate particles or units of matter; and the
nature of the substance of which these units are composed is incapable
of any further description. "Matter"[143] is one of the words in the
English language which are used in a great variety of senses, exact and
inexact, literal and figurative. In its philosophical sense, meaning
the substance of which all physical bodies are composed, the efforts of
lexicographers to give a definition, descriptive of the nature of what
is defined, show that definition is, strictly speaking, impossible.
All that can be said is that matter is "substance extended"; or that
which is visible or tangible, as "earth, wood, stone, air, vapor,
water"; or "the substance of which all bodies are composed." But these
efforts at definition express only what is needful to be expressed in
contrasting matter with that other existence which is called "spirit."
This is another word which is used in very different senses, but of
which no more exact definition can be given, when it is used in its
philosophical sense, than can be given of "matter." Lexicographers
have defined "spirit," in one of its meanings, as "the _soul_ of man;
the intelligent, immaterial, and immortal part of human beings"; and in
another of its meanings, more broadly, as "an immaterial, intelligent
substance." In these definitions they have followed the metaphysicians,
and the uses of the word in the English translation of the Bible.
When we turn to the definition of "soul," we find it given as "the
spiritual and immortal substance in man, which distinguishes him from
brutes; that part of man which enables him to think and reason, and
which renders him a subject of moral government." We also have it
defined as "the understanding, the intellectual principle." Undoubtedly
these definitions involve certain assumptions, such as the existence
of a substance called spirit, and the existence of an intellectual
principle, of which "soul," "spirit," and "intellect" are mere names.
But there is no difficulty in the way of our knowing what is meant when
these terms are used. The difficulty of giving a definition without
a circuitous use of terms, explaining the one by the other, and then
explaining the last by the first, does not prevent us from having a
definite conception of the thing spoken of. When we speak of mind,
soul, or intellect, what we think of is the something in ourselves
of which we are conscious, and whose manifestations we observe in
other beings like ourselves; and what we have to do is to examine the
evidence which may bring home to our convictions the existence of this
something that perceives, thinks, acts, originates new ideas; holds
former ideas in consciousness, is connected with and acts upon and
is acted on by bodily organs, and is at the same time more than and
different from those organs.

I have referred to some of the mental phenomena which have the
strongest tendency to prove the existence of the mind as an organized
entity. These are the phenomena which occur in our waking hours,
when the intellectual faculties and the bodily organs are in the full
exercise of their normal functions respectively. There is another class
of mental phenomena which may be said to be abnormal, in this, that
the intellectual faculties and the bodily organs do not preserve the
same relations to each other in all respects that they do when we are
fully awake. These are the phenomena that occur during sleep--a class
of mental phenomena of great consequence to be observed and analyzed in
any study of psychology. They are of an extraordinary variety, complex
in the highest degree, and dependent on numerous causes of mental and
physical disturbance; but it is quite possible to extract from some of
them certain definite conclusions.

Sleep, properly regarded, when it is perfect, is a state of absolute
rest and inactivity of all the organs and functions of the body
save the digestion of food and the circulation of the blood, and of
all the mental faculties. Perfect sleep, sleep in which there is
absolutely no consciousness, is more rare than those states in which
there is more or less consciousness. But it is often an actual state
of both body and mind, and it was evidently designed to renew the
vigor of both, and to prevent the wear and tear of unbroken activity.
Between absolute unconsciousness induced by perfect sleep and the
full consciousness of our waking moments, there are many intermediate
states; and the phenomena of these intermediate states present very
strong proofs of the existence of the mind as a special and spiritual
entity, capable in greater or less degree of acting without the aid
of the physical organs. I do not except even the organ of the brain
from this suspension of action during certain states when the mind
is in more or less of activity; for I am convinced that in some
of the mental phenomena to which I shall advert and which I shall
endeavor to describe, the brain is in a state of perfect sleep, and
that in the production of those phenomena it takes no part. In other
mental phenomena, which occur during sleep, the brain or some part
of it is evidently acted upon by the mind, as in the somnambulistic
condition, when the nerves of motion, responding to the action of the
mind, communicate action to the muscles, and the body walks about and
performs other external acts.

There are other mental phenomena occurring during very profound sleep
of the body and its organs, when the mind does not appear to derive
its action from the brain, or to be dependent on the brain for its
activity; when it is exceedingly active, and when it communicates
action to none of the bodily organs; when, for example, it carries on
long trains of thought, composes sentences, invents conversations,
makes poetry and prose, and performs other intellectual processes.
Distributed into classes, the most important mental phenomena occurring
during sleep are the following:

First, and presenting perhaps the strongest proof of the mind's
independence of all the bodily organs, is that whole class of mental
phenomena in which, during profound sleep of the body, we carry on
conversations, compose original matter in the form of oral or written
discourse, which we seem to ourselves to be producing, and solve
intellectual difficulties which have baffled us when awake, or imagine
that we receive from an unexpected source important information that we
are not conscious of having previously received.

The phenomena of conversations, to which we appear to ourselves to be
listening during sleep, or in which we appear to ourselves to be taking
part, are, when analyzed, most remarkable occurrences, for it is the
mind of the sleeper which originates the whole of what appears to be
said by different persons. These conversations are as vivid, as much
marked by different intellectual and personal characteristics, sudden
and unexpected turns, apt repartee, interchange of ideas between two or
more persons, as are the real conversations which we overhear, or in
which we take part, when we are awake. Yet the whole of what is said,
or appears to us to be said, is the invention of the one mind, which
appears to itself to be listening to or talking with other minds, and
all the while the body is wrapped in profound sleep. This extraordinary
intellectual feat, so familiar to us that it scarcely attracts our
attention unless we undertake to analyze it, is closely akin to the
action of the mind when the body and the mind are neither of them
asleep, and when we invent a conversation between different persons.
But this occurrence is marked by another extraordinary peculiarity:
for it happens, during sleep, to persons who could not, when awake,
invent and write such conversations at will, and who in their waking
hours have very little of the imaginative faculty needed for such
productions. I account for this phenomenon by the hypothesis that when
the mind is free from the necessity of depending on the bodily organs
for its action, as it is during profound sleep of the body, when its
normal relations with the body are completely suspended and it is left
to its independent action, it has a power of separate action. This, I
think, accounts for a kind of mental action which, when compared with
that which occurs in conjunction with the action of the bodily organs,
may be called abnormal. Under the impulse of its own unrestrained and
uncorrected activity, the mind goes through processes of invention,
the products of which are sometimes wild and incoherent, sometimes
exceedingly coherent, sensible, and apt. Let the person to whom this
occurs be thoroughly awakened out of one of these states, and the mind
becomes immediately again subjected to the necessity of acting along
with, and under the conditions of its normal relations to the body.

Akin to this mental feat of inventing conversations, during a sleep of
the body, is the power of composing, during such sleep, oral discourse
of one's own, or the power of composing something which we appear
to ourselves to be writing. I suppose this is an occurrence which
happens to most persons who are much accustomed to writing or to public
speaking. It is often an involuntary action of the mind; that is to
say, it is sometimes accompanied with a distinct consciousness that
it is a process that ought to be arrested because it is a dangerous
one, and yet it can not be arrested before full waking consciousness
returns. On goes the flow of thought and language, apparently with
great success; we seem to be speaking or writing with even more than
our usual power, and all the while in the style that belongs to us;
but, until we are fully restored to the normal relation of the mind
and the body, we can not at will arrest this independent action of
the mind, but must wait until our bodily senses are again in full
activity. I do not suppose that this phenomenon ought to be explained
by the hypothesis that there are certain parts or organs of the brain
which are specially concerned in the work of original composition of
intellectual matter, and that these organs are not affected by the
sleep that is prevailing in other parts of the brain. While it is
doubtless true that there are special systems of nerves which proceed
from or conduct to special parts of the brain, and by which action
is imparted to or received from the other organs of the body, and
while some of these special parts of the brain may be in the state
of absolute inactivity called sleep, and others are not, I know of
no warrant for the hypothesis that the intellectual operations or
processes are dependent upon any particular organ or organs of the
brain, as distinguished from those from and to which proceed special
systems of nerves. If any person, who is much accustomed to that kind
of intellectual activity which consists in original composition of
intellectual matter, will attend to his own consciousness, and probe
it as far as he may, he will not find reason, I apprehend, to conclude
that the power of thought and of clothing thought in language resides
in any special part of the brain. His experience and introspection
will be more likely to lead him to the conclusion that this power,
whether it is exerted when he is asleep or awake bodily, is a power
that inheres in the mind itself regarded as a spiritual existence and
organism, and that the action of the brain, or of any part of it, is
necessary to the exercise of this power only when it is necessary, as
it is in our waking moments, to use some of the bodily organs in order
to give the thought oral or written expression by giving it utterance
through the vocal organs or by writing it down on paper. Certain it
is that we conceive thoughts in more or less of connected sequence,
and clothe them intellectually in language of which we have entire
consciousness while the process is going on, without the action of any
part of the body.

It may be objected to this view that the intellectual products which
we seem to ourselves to be making when we are asleep would, if they
could be repeated by an effort of the memory, word for word, just as
they seem to have occurred, be found to be of the same incoherent,
senseless stuff of which all dreams are made; and that this test would
show that the brain is at such times not absolutely and completely in
the condition which is called sleep, but that it is only partially in
that condition; that it is performing its function feebly, imperfectly,
and not as it performs that function when the whole body is awake. In
reference to this hypothesis, I will repeat an anecdote which I have
somewhere read, which is equally valuable whether it was an imaginary
or a real occurrence.

A gentleman of literary pursuits, who was a very respectable poet, was
subject to this habit of composition during sleep. One night he awoke
his wife and informed her that he had composed in his dream some of
the best and most original verses that he had ever written. He begged
her at once to get a candle, pen, ink, and paper, and let him dictate
to her the new composition that appeared to him so striking. When they
read together the new poem on the next morning, it turned out to be
nonsensically puerile. But occurrences of this kind, if they could be
multiplied, would prove only that we are liable to illusions in sleep,
in regard to the comparative merits of our intellectual products,
which we imagine ourselves to be creating when we are in that state,
as we are in regard to other things. We are under a delusion when we
imagine in our dreams that we encounter and converse with another
person, living or dead. We are perhaps deluding ourselves when in sleep
we compose or seem to compose an original poem. But what is it that
deludes itself, either in respect to the interview with another person,
or in respect to the new composition? Is it the brain, or is it the
mind? Is it a person, or a bodily organ that has the false impression,
in the one case or the other? There must be a something that is subject
to an illusion, before there can be an illusion. If both brain and
mind are in profound sleep, absolute suspension of all action, there
can be no illusion about anything. If the brain is absolutely asleep
and the mind is not, the illusion is in the mind and not in the brain.
That the latter is what often occurs, the experience of the illiterate
and uncultivated makes them aware, as well as the experience of the
lettered scholar and the practiced writer.[144]

Under the same head, I will now refer to those strange but familiar
occurrences which take place when there come to us, in sleep, solutions
of difficulties which we had not overcome by all our efforts while
awake, and which appeared to us utterly dark when we lay down to rest.
These mental phenomena are almost innumerably various. They take place
in regard to all kinds of subjects, to lines of conduct and action, to
everything about which our thoughts are employed; and they are a class
of phenomena within everybody's experience. There is scarcely any one
to whom it has not happened to lie down at night with a mind distressed
and perplexed about some problem that requires a definite solution,
and to rise in the morning, usually after a night of undisturbed
rest, with his mind perfectly clear on the subject, and with just the
solution that did not come to him when he devoted to it all his waking
thoughts. What is the explanation of this phenomenon? If the mind
is an independent entity, a spiritual organism, capable of its own
action without the aid of the body under certain circumstances, this
phenomenon can be explained. If the mind is not a spiritual organism,
capable, under any circumstances, of acting without the aid of the
bodily organs, this phenomenon can not be explained.

The most probable explanation is this: When we are awake, and devote
our thoughts to a particular subject that is attended with great
difficulties, we go over the same ground repeatedly--the mind travels
and toils in the same ruts. Nothing new occurs, because we look at the
subject in the same way every time we think of it. We are liable to be
kept in the same beaten path by the associations between our thoughts
and the bodily states in which we have those thoughts--associations
which are exceedingly powerful. But let these associations be dissolved
as they are during perfect sleep--let the mind be in a condition to act
without being dependent on the brain or any other bodily organ for aid,
or exposed to be hampered by the conditions of the body, and there will
be a mental activity in which ideas will be wrought out that did not
occur to us while we were awake. The memory, too, may recall a fact
which we had learned while awake, and yet we may be unable to recollect
how it came to our knowledge. At such times, the fact is recalled; but
as the mind is acting in a condition which is abnormal when compared
with the waking condition, and is liable to delusions about some
things, we imagine that the fact is revealed to us in some wild and
supernatural way, as by a person who is dead and who has come to us to
communicate it. There is a well-authenticated account of an occurrence
of this kind, given by Sir Walter Scott in one of the notes to his
"Antiquary," and on which he founds an incident related by one of the
personages in his story. The real occurrence was this: A gentleman in
Scotland was involved in a litigation about a claim asserted upon his
landed estate. He had a strong conviction that his father had bargained
and paid for a release of the claim, but he could find no such paper.
Without it he was sure to be defeated in the suit. Distressed by this
prospect, but utterly unable to see any way out of his misfortune, he
lay down to sleep, on the night before he was to go into Edinburgh to
attend the trial of the cause. He dreamed that his father appeared to
him, and told him that the claim had been released, and that the paper
was in the hands of a lawyer in a neighboring town, whose name the
paternal shade mentioned.

Before going into Edinburgh on the next day, the gentleman rode to
the place which his father had indicated, and found the lawyer, of
whose name he had been previously unconscious. This person turned out
to be an old man, who had forgotten the fact that he had transacted
this piece of business for the gentleman's father; but on being
told of the fact that his client had paid his fee in a foreign coin
of a peculiar character--which was one part of the story which the
father's apparition related to the son--he recalled the whole of the
circumstances, searched for the paper, and found it. The gentleman's
estate was saved to him; but he became very superstitious about dreams,
and suffered much from that cause, as was quite natural. Sir Walter's
solution of the whole affair is of course the correct one: "The dream
was only the recapitulation of information which Mr. R---- had really
received from his father while in life, but which at first he merely
recalled as a general impression that the claim was settled. It is not
uncommon for persons to recover, during sleep, the thread of ideas
which they have lost during their waking hours."[145] Sir Walter makes
another observation which is worthy of being repeated--that in dreams
men are not surprised by apparitions. Why are we not? Because the mind
is in a state of abnormal activity, in which everything that occurs to
it seems perfectly natural. The delusion in regard to the mode in which
the very important fact was communicated to Mr. R---- in his dream, was
substituted in the place of the actual communication made to him by
his father during life. The latter he had wholly forgotten, and he had
forgotten the circumstance of payment of the lawyer's fee in a peculiar
coin, which had also been mentioned to him by his father when living.
This remarkable incident, which might doubtless be paralleled by many
similar occurrences, proves one of two things: either that the exercise
of the memory is wholly dependent upon a waking condition of the brain,
or that there may be an abnormal and imperfect act of memory while
the brain is in profound sleep, in the course of which a fact becomes
mixed with a delusion about the mode in which we are told of the fact.
What happened to Mr. R---- was that his mind recalled the fact, but
imagined that he then learned it for the first time from an apparition.
I do not know how such a phenomenon can be explained, excepting by the
hypothesis that the mind is a special existence, which acts during
sleep of the body upon facts that are lodged in the memory, but mixes
them with imaginary and delusive appearances, so that the mode in which
the fact was actually learned is obliterated from the memory, and some
supernatural mode of communication takes its place. On the return of
waking consciousness, the mode in which the fact was actually learned
is still shut out from recollection, and, if the person to whom this
kind of delusion has occurred is of a superstitious turn, he will act
on what he has imagined was told him by the apparition, because he has
no other means of rescuing himself from an evil.

In regard to the mental phenomena which occur without delusions or
apparitions, where the thoughts on a difficult subject become clearer
and more satisfactory to us when we awake from sleep than they ever
were during our waking hours, I suppose the explanation is this: During
profound sleep of the body, including the brain, there is an entire
suspension of every bodily function excepting the digestion of food and
the circulation of the blood. If there is excited in some of the other
organs an action of a peculiar kind, by an excitation of the nerves
connected with those organs, it is proof that the condition of perfect
sleep is not prevailing in all parts of the brain. The state to which I
now refer supposes a complete inactivity of the whole bodily organism
save in the digestive function and the circulation of the blood. In
such a state, the mind, that which thinks and reasons, does not act
upon the brain, and is not acted upon by it. It is capable of thinking
on any subject which has employed its thoughts during the waking hours;
and while, in some cases, it is visited by apparitions and subject
to delusions, it is in other cases engaged in ideas that involve no
delusive appearances. Freed from all the associations of these ideas
with the feelings prevailing in the body when we think of the subject
during our waking hours, we are able to perceive relations of the
subject which have not before occurred to us. When we pass from the
condition of sleep to the full consciousness of our bodily and mental
organism, we are intellectually possessed of these new relations of the
subject, which we have brought with us out of the state in which we
acquired them, and they furnish us with new materials for the solution
of the problem that we had not solved when we lay down to rest. It
is not, I am persuaded, because the mind was at rest during sleep,
and when we become awake is by reason of that rest better able to
grapple with the difficulties of the subject, that we do grapple with
them successfully; for in the case supposed, which is a very common
experience, the thoughts are actually employed on the subject, while
the body and the brain are in the absolute rest and inactivity of all
the organic functions excepting those of digestion and circulation of
the blood. I do not know that it is possible to detect, in a person
sleeping, an increased circulation of the blood to any part of the
brain which may be supposed to be concerned in the act of thinking,
and at the same time to know that thinking is going on, unless such an
observation could be made of a person in the state called somnambulism,
which is not the state of which I am now speaking. But reasoning upon
the phenomenon which I have now described, according to all that we can
learn from our own experience or from observation of others, I reach
the conclusion that the mind, the thinking and reasoning entity, can
and does, in profound sleep of the body and the brain, employ itself
upon a subject that has occupied us when awake, and can perceive new
relations of that subject, which had not before occurred to us, without
the activity of any portion of the nerve-center which is called the
brain. Does this hypothesis assume that our thoughts when asleep are
more valuable than our waking thoughts? It does, to a certain extent
and under certain circumstances, for experience proves that in sleep
we acquire ideas which we did not have before we fell asleep, and which
we bring with us out of that condition.

That I have now given the true explanation of this familiar experience
will appear, I think, from this consideration: There are very few
nights when we do not in sleep have many thoughts. The states of
perfect unconsciousness are comparatively rare. If the brain were never
entirely asleep, if it were always engaged in the physical work of
thinking--whatever that work may be--it would be worn out prematurely.
But if the brain is perfectly at rest, while the mind is actively
employed, the brain undergoes no strain and suffers no exhaustion; and
the mind suffers no strain or exhaustion because it is in its nature
incapable of wear and tear. It is only when the mind acts on the brain
that exhaustion takes place. I speak now of what happens in states of
ordinarily good health.[146]

I shall now refer to some of the very peculiar phenomena of
somnambulism; and in illustration of their various phases I shall
resort to Shakespeare's picture of the sleep-walking of Lady Macbeth,
which, although purely imaginary, is a most accurate exhibition of
nature. Treating it, as we are entitled to treat it, as if it were a
real occurrence at which we ourselves were witnesses, with a knowledge
of her character and history, an analysis of the situation in which she
was placed when the habit of somnambulism came upon her, and of the
mode in which her mind acted upon her body, will enable us to see the
phenomena in their true philosophical aspect. We may suppose ourselves
present, with the doctor and the gentlewoman of her bedchamber, when
she comes forth in her night-dress and with a candle in her hand, and
we witness the impressive scene of a disturbed mind overmastering the
body while the body is asleep. It seems that, after the murder of
Duncan, when she imbrued her own hands with his blood in smearing the
faces of his sleeping grooms, the habit of sleep-walking had come
over her. As we stand by the side of the awe-stricken witnesses, and
hear their whispered conversation, we get the first description of
her actions since the new king, Macbeth, her husband, whom she had
instigated to murder the old king, went into the field. These first
actions of hers, as described by the gentlewoman to the doctor, do not
necessarily exhibit the working of a guilty conscience. They exhibit
a mind oppressed and disturbed by cares of business and of state;
and they are a distinct class of the phenomena of somnambulism. The
gentlewoman tells the doctor that "since his Majesty went into the
field, I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her night-gown upon
her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon it, read
it, afterward seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this while in
a most fast sleep." This is merely a description of what the witness
has seen, and it might occur to any person of strong intellectual
faculties, disturbed by great cares, without the action of a guilty
conscience. It makes the situation real when the doctor recognizes
the fact of this "great perturbation in nature! to receive at once
the benefit of sleep, and do the effects of watching." As they are
whispering together, the doctor trying to make the gentlewoman tell
him what at such times she has heard her say, which the loyal servant
refuses to tell, Lady Macbeth moves forward, with the taper in her hand.

Here we may pause upon the first exhibition of the phenomenon called
sleep-walking, which we get by description only, and analyze the nature
of the action. It is perfectly apparent that what the poet accepted
as true, is the power of the mind to move the body while the body is
asleep, so as to make it perform many acts. Experience makes this
assumption perfectly correct. I presume it will not be questioned that
this phenomenon is described by Shakespeare with entire accuracy,
and it is explicable only upon the hypothesis that the mind has some
control over the body while the body is asleep. Actions as minute and
as much premeditated as those performed by Lady Macbeth "in a most fast
sleep," have been witnessed in persons who were undoubtedly asleep,
and whose eyes were open for some purposes, but, as in her case, their
sense was shut for other purposes.

We now pass to the more awful exhibition of a mind worked upon by a
guilty conscience. Lady Macbeth comes out of her bedroom fast asleep,
but with a light in her hand. The gentlewoman who interprets her
state to the doctor informs him that she has a light by her bedside
continuously; and we thus learn that her nights are so disturbed
that she can not bear darkness. They notice that her eyes are open,
but "their sense is shut." Then begin the terrific manifestations of
the control of a guilty conscience over both mind and body, when the
memory, alive to certain terrible facts, plays fantastic tricks with
itself, and mingles delusions with realities. As she approaches, with
the taper in her hand, she performs an action which the gentlewoman
says she has repeatedly seen her go through, for a quarter of an hour
at a time, endeavoring to rub a spot of blood off from one of her
hands. Her hands have been clean, physically, since the time when she
first washed them on the fatal night; but the delusion that is upon her
is that there is blood on them still. She goes on rubbing them, and her
first exclamation is, "Out, damned spot! out, I say!" Yet it will not
out. That little hand wears what she imagines to be an indelible stain.
After her first exclamation, the memory rushes back to the moment
before the murder. She thinks she hears, perhaps does hear, the clock
strike--"one, two"; and then, as if speaking to her husband, she says,
"Why, then 'tis time to do't." Then there is a pause, and out comes
the reflection, "Hell is murky!" This seems to indicate that darkness,
in which she and her husband are whispering together just before
the murder, is a hell, and so very fit for what is about to be done.
Hell is murky, as this chamber is. Then she remembers her husband's
reluctance, and fancying that she is still talking with him and
bracing him up to the deed, she says: "Fye, my lord, fye! a soldier,
and afeard? What need we _fear_ who knows it, when none can call our
_power_ to account?" Presently she is looking back upon the deed, and
exclaims, "Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much
blood in him!" Then she recurs to herself as if she were another: "The
thane of Fife had a wife; where is _she_ now?" Again she thinks of her
stained hands: "What, will these hands _ne'er_ be clean?" Are they to
wear this horrible stain forever? Instantly she is again at the door
of Duncan's chamber, speaking to her husband: "No more o' that, my
lord, no more o' that: you mar all with this starting!" Then her hands
again, her poor hands; they _smell_ of the blood: "Here's the smell
of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this
little hand! Oh, oh, oh!" Then, after another pause, she is speaking
to her husband, when the deed has been done: "Wash your hands, put on
your night-gown; look not so pale!" In another instant she is thinking
of Banquo's murder, which occurred after Duncan's, and she says to her
husband: "I tell you yet again, Banquo's _buried_; he can not come out
of his _grave_!" Once more she is back at the door of Duncan's chamber,
in the darkness, and the murder has been committed. Speaking to her
husband, she says: "To bed, to bed; there's knocking at the gate. Come,
come, come, come, give me your hand. What's done can not be undone. To
bed, to bed, to bed!" Then she goes quickly toward her chamber and to
bed, believing that Macbeth is with her and that she is holding his

How mixed, how wild, how fantastic, how coherent and incoherent are
these phantoms of the imagination! If she were awake, things would
not thus present themselves to her. Every event in the dreadful story
would stand in its true relations, and, however she might be suffering
the pangs of a guilty conscience, she would not mix up the scenes
through which she had passed, but every fact would stand in its due
order. She would be conscious that there was no blood upon her hands,
and that they did not need the perfumes of Arabia to sweeten them.
She would know that Duncan had been murdered, and would not enact the
murder over again. She would remember that Banquo's murder had not been
distinctly made known to her, and that she had only surmised it, when
at the banquet Macbeth fancied that the ghost of Banquo rose and sat
at the table--an apparition which neither she nor any one else saw.
But, in that strange scene, it flashed across her mind that Banquo was
dead, and to herself she interpreted truly what was passing in her
husband's mind, and instantly explained his conduct to the company as
the recurrence of an old malady to which he was subject.

If we go back to what had actually happened before the banquet, and
then go forward to the condition in which she is seen by the doctor and
her attendant, we shall understand how her mind was working, not upon
a fact that she knew, but upon a fact which she had truly surmised.
In her somnambulistic state, she says to her husband: "_I tell you
yet again_, Banquo's buried; he can not come out of his grave." Had
she said this to him before? According to the course of the story, as
the text of the play gives it to us, she had not. In the second scene
of the third act, where, after Duncan had been murdered and Macbeth
had become king, they are preparing for the banquet, to which Banquo
was expected as one of the guests, Macbeth and his wife are talking
together, and she is trying to get him out of the contemplative and
conscience-stricken mood in which he looks back upon what they have
done. He concludes one of his mixed and melancholy reflections with
these words:

                Duncan is in his grave;
    After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
    Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
    Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing
    Can touch him further!

Then she says to him:

   _Lady Macbeth._ Come on;
  Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;
  Be bright and jovial 'mong your guests to-night.

   _Macbeth._ So shall I, love; and so, I pray, be you;
  Let your remembrance apply to _Banquo_;
  _Present him eminence_,[147] _both with eye and tongue_:
  Unsafe the while, that we
  Must lave our honors in these flattering streams;
  And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
  Disguising what they are.

Just at this moment, therefore, he is not thinking of killing Banquo,
but wishes him to be received with all honor. But, in answer to his
last reflection on the hypocritical part that they must act, she says
to him:

  You must leave this.

Then bursts forth the terrific oppression of his soul:

   _Macb._ Oh, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
  Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, _lives_.
   _Lady M._ _But in them nature's copy's not eterne._[148]
   _Macb._ There's comfort yet; they _are_ assailable;
  Then be thou jocund: ere the bat hath flown
  His cloistered flight; ere, to black Hecate's summons,
  The shard-borne beetle, with his drowsy hums,
  Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done
  A deed of dreadful note!

She affects not to understand him--perhaps does not--and she asks:

  _What's_ to be done?
   _Macb._ Be innocent of the _knowledge_, dearest chuck,
  Till thou applaud the _deed_. Come, seeling night,
  Skarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;
  And, with thy bloody and invisible hand,
  Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond
  Which keeps me pale!--Light thickens; and the crow
  Makes wing to the rooky wood;
  Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
  While night's black agents to their prey do rouse.
  Thou marvel'st at my words: but hold thee still;
  Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill:
  So, prithee, go with me.                     [_Exeunt._

In the next scene, the murderers, previously engaged by Macbeth,
waylay Banquo in the park as he is approaching the castle, and kill
him, his son Fleance and a servant escaping. Then follows the banquet,
Macbeth himself moving about at first, and then he takes a seat at
the table lower down. One of the murderers comes in and whispers to
him what has been done. The stage direction is, "The ghost of Banquo
rises and sits in Macbeth's place." As no one at the table but Macbeth
sees this apparition, it might be inferred that it is the force of
his imagination which presents the spectacle to him, as Lady Macbeth
supposes, when she says to him:

                        O proper stuff!
    This is the very painting of your fear:
    This is the air-drawn dagger, which, you said,
    Led you to Duncan.

But the stage direction must be taken as a literal appearance of the
ghost, so as to make it visible to the audience, while it is invisible
to all at the table excepting Macbeth himself.

If, now, we go forward to the night when Lady Macbeth is walking in her
sleep, and remember what had occurred previous to and at the banquet,
we see how, without any actual previous knowledge that her husband
intended to have Banquo killed, and with only the surmise that he had
been killed, which comes to her at the banquet, she came to say to her
husband, in her dream:

  I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried; he can not come out of his grave.

Here we have a fact lodged in the mind during the waking hours, and
in sleep wrought into a strange mixture with the killing of Duncan,
with which it had in reality no connection, having transpired
afterward. This is very strong proof of the capacity of the mind to
act during sleep without the action of the brain. The mind of the
guilty sleep-walker is filled with horrible memories, which it can not
shut out, but with which it can not deal in their actual order and
true relations, because the sequences of thought, during sleep, are
abnormal. Those whose experience has never involved any such workings
of conscience are perfectly aware of the fact that in dreams ideas
that are separately lodged in the consciousness become entangled with
each other in the most fantastic manner. Lady Macbeth at one moment
even thinks of herself as if she were some one else, and asks, Where
is the woman now who was the wife of the thane of Fife? Every one has
experienced in sleep the same projection of one's self out of one's own
consciousness; so that we seem to be contemplating ourselves as if we
were a different person.

The phenomena that occur during the delirium of fever, where the
normal consciousness is lost for the time being, are in some respects
analogous to and in some respects different from those which occur
during the somnambulistic condition. Delirium occurs when the body
and the brain are not in the condition of sleep; but the senses of
perception convey false impressions to the mind, and the mind itself
has temporarily lost its power of correcting its own action by its
former experience. The nearest friends who are around the bedside
are not recognized by the sufferer; they appear to be strangers,
and the patient talks to them as if both they and he were not their
real selves. It would seem that we can safely infer from the state
of delirium a suspension of the direct and normal connection between
the brain and the mind; that neither of them can act, in relation to
the other, as they both act when there is no such disturbance: but
that this condition, so far from proving or tending to prove that the
mind is not an independent spiritual existence, has a strong tendency
to prove that it is. Insanity, on the other hand, is probably a
derangement of the mental organism akin to derangement of the physical
organism, but not necessarily connected with or induced by the latter,
for the bodily health of the insane is often entirely sound while
the mind is in an entirely unsound and irrational condition. But the
phenomena of insanity are too various and multiform, and too much
dependent on both physical and moral causes, to afford any satisfactory
proofs of the postulate which I propound in this essay. The safest
line of investigation is that which I suggested in the first instance,
namely, to regard the mind as an organism, and to ascertain whether
it is susceptible of anatomical examination in a sense analogous
to anatomical examination of the bodily organism. All that I have
hitherto said is useful by way of preliminary illustration of my main
hypothesis. It has a strong tendency to show that the mind, instead
of consisting, as some philosophers now suppose, of the products of
a material organism, is itself an organized being with a definite
structure and capable of living a life of its own, although at present
dwelling in a corporeal organism which affects it in various ways
while the connection lasts. The theory that all mental phenomena are
products of our corporeal organism is one that appears to derive
great support from examinations of the structure of the brain and of
the whole nervous system. The physical anatomy of man exhibits very
striking illustrations of the influence of corporeal changes upon the
mental state, as the mental changes show corresponding influences upon
the corporeal state. But, then, there are undoubtedly phenomena that
are purely and exclusively mental; and therefore when we undertake to
solve these mental phenomena by the materialistic hypothesis we find a
sense of inadequate causation confronting us so directly that we are
compelled to look for a solution elsewhere. It is certain that things
take place in the inner recesses of our minds, in the production of
which the bodily senses not only render no aid, but in which they
have no part whatever. It is necessary, therefore, to carry our
investigations into a class of mental phenomena in which all physical
causation ceases to afford an adequate guide to a conclusion.

It will not be denied that the products of material organisms can be
proved to consist of matter and of nothing else. Their presence can
be detected by some physical test. For example, if it be true that
all animals have been evolved from protoplasm, the organisms are
simply changes in the form of a certain portion of matter. If, in an
individual organism having a highly developed nervous structure, there
are actions produced by an excitation of the nerves of sensation,
those actions are simply molecular changes in the matter comprising
the sensitive and easily moved substance of the nerve-fibers. However
far and into whatever minutiæ we carry our investigations into
organized matter, we find that its products remain material, and that
they consist only of changes in the material substance of a material
organization. But, when we pass from such material products into
the domain of purely mental phenomena, are we warranted in saying
that, although the latter are not, properly speaking, _products_ of
the material organization, they are _effects_ corresponding to and
dependent upon the excitation of the nerves of sensation? This last
hypothesis must assume one of two things: either that there is a
distinction between those corporeal feelings which do not and those
which do produce mental changes or mental effects, or, if there are
corporeal feelings which produce corresponding mental states and
mental action, there must be a something on which the effects can
be wrought, and this something must be an independent organism. It
is doubtless true that there are many corporeal feelings which are
followed by no very important mental effects, especially during a
sound state of bodily health. But it is equally true that, if there
are corporeal feelings which influence our mental action, there must
be an organism which is capable of being so influenced; and our
experience and consciousness teach us that there is such a difference
between corporeal feelings and mental phenomena that the probability
of a difference in the originating causes becomes very great. We know
that the mind can and does act with great force when bodily suffering
is extreme; that it has an energy of its own which enables it to rise
above all the power of physical pain to restrain or influence it. I
must therefore follow out, as I had originally projected, my anatomical
analysis of the mind as an independent spiritual organism.

In order to arrive at a correct conclusion concerning the structure
of mind, we must first observe that there are four special corporeal
organs by which the capability of the mind to receive impressions
from matter is acted upon. It is through these means that the
properties of matter, or those properties which can make themselves
known to us, become known to us. The senses, as they are usually
called, are sight, hearing, smell, and taste. The external organ of
each of these senses is furnished with a set of nerves, the function
of which is to transmit from that organ a wave of molecular motion
along the fluid or semi-fluid substance inclosed in the nerve-tubes
to the great nerve-center the brain, the central recipient of all
such motions. Such, at least, is the theory, which may be accepted
as a fact. But, then, the question remains, What is the intellectual
perception or mental cognition of the idea suggested by one of these
supposed transmissions of a wave of molecular motion? Is there a
being, a person, a spiritual entity, conceiving the idea or having an
intellectual perception of it? Or is there no such being, and while we
attribute to the office of the nervous system the function of producing
certain feelings or sensations in the brain, do these sensations or
feelings constitute all that there is of consciousness?

It is impossible for me to conceive of consciousness as anything but an
intuitive sense of his own existence, experienced by a being capable of
such an experience, because endowed with such a faculty. It is certain
that when we so regard consciousness we are not deceiving ourselves;
for if any one will consider what would happen to him if he should
lose this faculty of being sensible of his own existence, he will see
that in the event of that loss he could neither distinguish himself
from other persons, nor have any control over his own actions, or any
cognition whatever. For this reason, the theory on which I made some
criticisms in one of our late conversations is the one with which
I contrast my conception of mind. If that theory fails to satisfy
a reflecting person in regard to the nature of consciousness, as
certified to him by his own experience, the hypothesis that the mind is
an extended and organized being, of which a conception can be formed,
and not an unextended and unorganized something of which no conception
can be formed, must be accepted as the alternative.

I explained in our former discussion my understanding of Mr. Spencer's
theory of the only _ego_ that can be scientifically recognized; and,
in order to encounter it by my own hypothesis, I will here restate its
substantial position in a condensed form.

By the _ego_ of which he treats, I understand him to mean all that
we can arrive at by an analysis of what takes place in the body
and its functions, and of "what is given in consciousness." This
phrase--"what is given in consciousness"--reveals to us his purpose to
reduce consciousness from a self-conviction and cognition of one's own
existence to a mere passing group of feelings, which constitute "the
ever-changing states of consciousness" that we "_call_ mind." So that,
when we speak of mind, we mean and can mean nothing more than certain
states of feeling produced in our brains by perpetually changing
impressions. We do not and can not mean that there is a person who
perceives and holds ideas suggested by external objects through the
action of his nervous system. All that we know about any _ego_, any
mental I, is that there is a physical structure, pervaded by certain
physical forces, that produce "consecutive states," which Mr. Spencer
calls "mental _states_"; and the aggregate of the feelings and ideas
which thus constitute the _mental states_ is the only _ego_ of which
any continued existence can be predicated. But even these aggregates of
feelings and ideas have, according to this philosopher, no principle
of cohesion holding them together as a whole; and, therefore, all
that we can assume as having any continuously surviving and durable
existence is the changing _states_ produced by the action through us
of a certain unknowable power, statically conditioned in our nervous
organism, which is pervaded by a dynamically conditioned portion of
that unknowable power which is operating everywhere in nature, and is
called "energy."[149]

So far as this theory is based upon the existence of a physical
organism, whose functions liberate from the food supplied to it certain
forces, which are distributed by the activities of the organism, we may
accept it as a statement of what actually takes place in the form of
physical phenomena. But when we follow the physical phenomena of the
diffused energy into its action upon the brain, by the transmission
of an impulse, we must stop with the effect of that impulse upon a
corporeal organ, or we must go further and find a something which
receives into itself and appropriates to itself the idea the elements
of which the impulse has transmitted. The presence of that something
in ourselves may be illustrated by its absence from a mechanism in
which we know that it does not exist, but which appears superficially
to be animated by an intelligent principle possessing volition. We
stand, for example, before one of those automatic machines which
perform actions that seem to be guided by a living spirit. They are
mere physical organisms, constructed without the principle of life
that inhabits animal organisms, but they are so admirably contrived
for the production of certain limited but complex movements that they
suggest the presence of a spiritual being acting as we ourselves act.
But the least reflection upon what we see makes us aware that there is
nothing before us but a mechanical organism, in which the artisan who
made it has availed himself of certain forces of nature and properties
of matter, whereby he uses a portion of the energy that pervades the
universe. There is nothing within the machine to which this energy
communicates ideas that are to be the subject of its future voluntary
operation. All is comprehended in a fixed mechanical operation of
certain machinery, and, when we have analyzed and understood the
physical phenomena, we can follow them no further, because there is
no translation of the physical energy into mental phenomena. But in
ourselves there is such a translation, and we must follow it into the
mental phenomena. So following it, we find ourselves in the presence
of a something which has a self-conscious individuality, and which, by
a mysterious bond of connection, is so united with a physical organism
that it is capable of receiving, appropriating, and preserving the
ideas which the physical organism was designed to produce in it.

My objection to Mr. Spencer's system of psychology may be summed up in
what I shall now say upon his chief position, which is that "an idea
is the psychical side of what, on its physical side, is an involved
set of molecular changes, propagated through an involved set of
nervous plexuses." Translated into what I take to be his meaning, the
assertion, or hypothesis, is this: An idea is the mental cognition of
an external object, as, for example, a tree. When we are looking at
or thinking of a tree, we have a mental cognition of a tree; and this
idea of a tree is said to be the psychical side of that which on its
physical side has been transmitted to our brain by molecular changes
through our visual nerves. The idea of the tree is the psychical
correlative of a wave of molecular motion diffused through our organs
of vision; and the conception of a tree thus becomes a possible
conception. But why did not the learned philosopher follow the wave
of molecular motion until he found the impression of the object which
the visual organs have transmitted to the brain, or the nerve-center,
translated into a thought by an intelligent being, capable, by its own
organization, of having that thought? Why does he speak of an idea
as the psychical side of what, on its physical side, is one and the
same thing? Obviously, because he meant to ignore the psychical or
mental existence as an independent existence, or as any existence at
all. Now, there is no way in which the psychical side and the physical
side can be bridged over, excepting by the hypothesis that the mind
is an entity of a peculiar nature, different in structure from the
bodily organism, but capable, by the connection between them, of
receiving and transmuting into thought the impressions which the waves
of molecular motion transmit to the brain from the external object.
To say that the set of plexuses, or networks, which hold together
the waves of molecular motion, constitute the potentiality of the
idea and make possible future ideas like it, explains nothing. The
potentiality of the idea, or the possibility of ideas like it, depends
upon the existence of a something which is capable of conceiving
the idea, holding it, and reproducing it to itself, after the waves
of molecular motion cease. I call this a process of translation, or
transmutation, because there is no other convenient term for it. It is
a process analogous to the physical assimilation of food by the organs
of physical digestion, with this difference, however, that the action
of the mental organism in the assimilation of ideas is the action of
a spiritual and intellectual organism upon materials that are brought
within its reach by the means of communication with the external world
afforded by the physical senses and the nervous system. The image of
the tree produced upon the retina of the eye by the lines of light
that proceed from every point of that object is the food which the
mind assimilates and transmutes into the idea of the tree; and this
may remain as a permanent mental perception or cognition, although
the object itself may have been seen but once. If seen many times,
the various aspects in which it has been seen are transmuted into so
many distinct ideas. If many kinds of trees, of different shapes
and dimensions, have been seen, the varieties become a part of our
consciousness in the several degrees of their precise resemblances
and differences which we happen to have observed, when the different
impressions were produced upon the retina. Can there be any doubt that
this is the process by which the infant begins to acquire ideas of
external objects, and that, as adolescence goes on and the powers of
sense expand with the growth and exercise of the physical organs, there
is a corresponding growth and expansion of the mental powers?

This hypothesis of the progress of mental growth, _paris passibus_ with
the growth of the physical organism, brings me to the consideration of
one of those specimens of Mr. Spencer's peculiar logic, in a passage
in which he undertakes to disprove the existence of mind as anything
more than what he calls the psychical side of physical impressions. He
is treating of the impossibility of our "knowing" anything about the
substance of mind; and he propounds this impossibility in the following
logical formula:

 ...To know anything is to distinguish it as such or such--to class
 it as of this or that order. An object is said to be but little
 known when it is alien to objects of which we have had experience;
 and it is said to be well known when there is great community of
 attributes between it and objects of which we have had experience.
 Hence, by implication, an object is completely known when this
 recognized community is complete; and completely unknown when there
 is no recognized community at all. Manifestly, then, the smallest
 conceivable degree of knowledge implies at least two things between
 which some community is recognized. But, if so, how can we know the
 substance of mind? To know the substance of mind is to be conscious
 of some community between it and some other substance. If, with
 the idealist, we say that there exists no other substance, then,
 necessarily, as there is nothing with which the substance of mind can
 be even compared, much less assimilated, it remains unknown; while, if
 we hold with the realist that being is fundamentally divisible into
 that which is present to us as mind, and that which, lying outside of
 it, is not mind, then, as this proposition itself asserts a difference
 and not a likeness, it is equally clear that mind remains unclassable
 and therefore unknowable.

The answer to this supposed insuperable dilemma may be made by
determining what we mean when we speak of knowing a thing. Definition
of knowing is here essential, and the first inquiry we have to make
is whether, in order to know mind, it is necessary to find and
recognize some community between the substance of mind and some other
substance? The statement is, on the one hand, that there exists no
other substance with which the substance of mind can be compared, much
less assimilated, and therefore there is no aid to be derived from
resemblance; or, on the other hand, that, if being is fundamentally
divisible into something which is mind and something which is not
mind, we depend for a knowledge of mind on a difference, and not on a
likeness, and we have no means of knowing that difference. Upon either
proposition, mind remains unclassable and therefore unknowable.

It may be conceded that our knowledge of the properties and forms of
matter consists in recognizing a community or a difference between
things which belong to the same class, so that there is a comparison
between things which are of the same substance. But what is to prevent
us from classifying the substance of mind, when the fundamental idea
of its substance is that it is something which resembles no other
substance, but constitutes a class or description of being that stands
entirely by itself, and in which, for a knowledge of its properties we
distinguish its properties from those of any other substance? The only
difficulty that arises here springs from the fact that we have but one
word--substance--by which to speak of the two existences that we call
mind and matter; just as we can only speak of an organism when we speak
of the natural body and the spiritual body. But this use of the same
term to express things which in our consciousness stand fundamentally
opposed to each other does not prevent us from discriminating between
the means by which we become conscious of the two things, or from
classifying the knowledge which we have of mind as something distinct
from the knowledge which we have of matter.

We must discriminate between the means by which the properties of
matter become known to us and the means by which the properties of
mind become known to us. In both cases there is knowledge, but it is
knowledge of a different kind; it is obtained by different means;
and we must therefore recognize a fundamental difference between
the substance of mind and the substance of matter. It is true that
our knowledge of the properties of matter and our knowledge of the
properties of mind are alike in this, that in both cases it is
knowledge by one and the same person; but the distinction is that, in
the one case, I have knowledge of objects external to myself, and, in
the other case, I have knowledge of myself as the person possessing
knowledge of external objects. The knowledge that we have of ourselves
is what most persons mean by consciousness, and it is what we should
scientifically understand by that term, although consciousness is
often used as synonymous with mental cognition of things external to
ourselves, and as cognition of ourselves also.

I shall now quote from the chapter in which Mr. Spencer makes a special
synthesis of reason, and in which he denies the existence of the
commonly assumed _hiatus_ between reason and instinct, maintaining that
the former is the continuation of the latter, because, as he thinks,
the highest forms of psychical activity arise little by little out of
the lowest and can not be separated from them. The passage which I
shall now analyze is this:

"Here seems to be the fittest place for pointing out how the general
doctrine that has been developed supplies a reconciliation between the
experience-hypothesis as commonly interpreted and the hypothesis which
the transcendentalists oppose to it.

"The universal law, that, other things equal, the cohesion of psychical
states is proportionate to the frequency with which they have followed
one another in experience, supplies an explanation of the so-called
'forms of thought,' as soon as it is supplemented by the law that
habitual psychical successions entail some hereditary tendency to such
successions, which, under persistent conditions, will become cumulative
in generation after generation. We saw that the establishment of those
compound reflex actions called instincts is comprehensible on the
principle that inner relations are, by perpetual repetition, organized
into correspondence with outer relations. We have now to observe that
the establishment of those consolidated, those indissoluble, those
instinctive mental relations constituting our ideas of space and time,
is comprehensible on the same principle.

"For, if, even to external relations that are often experienced
during the life of a single organism, answering internal relations
are established that become next to automatic--if such a combination
of psychical changes as that which guides a savage in hitting a b