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- Darwiniana - 10/52 -


and unmistakable manner the operation of his three great powers, or rather, the three great laws by which the organic power of life acts in the formation of an eye. (See p. 169.) Following the method he has pointed out, we will take a number of animals of the same species, in which the eye is not developed. They may have all the other senses, with the organs of nutrition, circulation, respiration, and locomotion. They all have a brain and nerves, and some of these nerves may be sensitive to light; but have no combination of retina, membranes, humors, etc., by which the distinct image of an object may be formed and conveyed by the optic nerve to the cognizance of the internal perception, or the mind. The animal in this case would be merely sensible of the difference between light and darkness. He would have no power of discriminating form, size, shape, or color, the difference of objects, and to gain from these a knowledge of their being useful or hurtful, friends or enemies. Up to this point there is no appearance of necessity upon the scene. The billiard-balls have not yet struck together, and we will suppose that none of the arguments that may be used to prove, from this organism, thus existing, that it could not have come into form and being without a creator acting to this end with intelligence and design, are opposed by anything that can be found in Darwin's theory; for, so far, Darwin's laws are supposed not to have come into operation. Give the animals, thus organized, food and room, and they may go on, from generation to generation, upon the same organic level. Those individuals that, from natural variation, are born with light-nerves a little more sensitive to light than their parents, will cross or interbreed with those who have the same organs a little less sensitive, and thus the mean standard will be kept up without any advancement. If our billiard-table were sufficiently extensive, i. e., infinite, the balls rolled from the corners would never meet, and the necessity which we have supposed to deflect them would never act.

The moment, however, that the want of space or food commences natural selection begins. Here the balls meet, and all future action is governed by necessity. The best forms, or those nerves most sensitive to light, connected with incipient membranes and humors for corneas and lenses, are picked out and preserved by natural selection, of necessity. All cannot live and propagate, and it is a necessity, obvious to all, that the weaker must perish, if the theory be true. Working on, in this way, through countless generations, the eye is at last

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formed in all its beauty and excellence. It must (always assuming that this theory is true) result from this combined action of natural variation, the struggle for life, and natural selection, with as much certainty as the balls, after collision, must pass to corners of the table different from those to which they were directed, and so far forth as the eye is formed by these laws, acting upward from the nerve merely sensitive to light, we can no more infer design, and from design a designer, than we can infer design in the direction of the billiard-balls after the collision. Both are sufficiently accounted for by blind powers acting under a blind necessity. Take away the struggle for life from the one, and the collision of the balls from the other--and neither of these was designed--and the animal would have gone on without eyes. The balls would have found the corners of the table to which they were first directed.

While, therefore, it seems to me clear that one who can find no proof of the existence of an intelligent Creator except through the evidence of design in the organic world, can find no evidence of such design in the construction of the eye, if it were constructed under the operation of Darwin's laws, I shall not for one moment contend that these laws are incompatible with design and a self-conscious, intelligent Creator. Such design might, indeed, have coexisted with the necessity or natural selection; and so the billiard-players might have ‘designed the collision of their balls; but neither the formation of the eye, nor the path of the balls after collision, furnishes any sufficient proof of such design in either case.

One, indeed, who believes, from revelation or any other cause, in the existence of such a Creator, the fountain and Source of all things in heaven above and in the earth beneath, will see in natural variation, the struggle for life, and natural selection, only the order or mode in which this Creator, in his ‘own perfect wisdom, sees fit to act. Happy is he who can thus see and adore. But how many are there who have no such

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belief from intuition, or faith in revelation; but who have by careful and elaborate search in the physical, and more especially in the organic world, inferred, by induction, the existence of God from what has seemed to them the wonderful adaptation of the different organs and parts of the animal body to its, apparently, designed ends! Imagine a mind of this skeptical character, in all honesty and under its best reason, after finding itself obliged to reject the evidence of revelation, to commence a search after the Creator, in the light of natural theology. He goes through the proof for final cause and design, as given in a summary though clear, plain, and convincing form, in the pages of Paley and the "Bridgewater Treatises." The eye and the hand, those perfect instruments of optical and mechanical contrivance and adaptation, without the least waste or surplusage--these, say Paley and Bell, certainly prove a designing maker as much as the palace or the watch proves an architect or a watchmaker. Let this mind, in this state, cross Darwin's work, and find that, after a sensitive nerve or a rudimentary hoof or claw, no design is to be found. From this point upward the development is the mere necessary result of natural selection; and let him receive this law of natural selection as true, and where does he find himself? Before, he could refer the existence of the eye, for example, only to design, or chance. There was no other alternative. He rejected chance, as impossible.

It must then be a design. But Darwin brings up another power, namely, natural selection, in place of this impossible chance. This not only may, but, according to Darwin, must of necessity produce an eye. It may indeed coexist with design, but it must exist and act and produce its results, even without design. Will such a mind, under such circumstances, infer the existence of the designer--God--when he can, at the same time, satisfactorily account for the thing produced, by the operation of this natural selection? It seems to me, therefore, perfectly evident

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that the substitution of natural selection, by necessity, for design in the formation of the organic world, is a step decidedly atheistical. It is in vain to say that Darwin takes the creation of organic life, in its simplest forms, to have been the work of the Deity. In giving up design in these highest and most complex forms of organization, which have always been relied upon as the crowning proof of the existence of an intelligent Creator, without whose intellectual power they could not have been brought into being, he takes a most decided step to banish a belief in the intelligent action of God from the organic world. The lower organisms will go next.

The atheist will say, Wait a little. Some future Darwin will show how the simple forms came necessarily from inorganic matter. This is but another step by which, according to Laplace, "the discoveries of science throw final causes further back."

A.G.--It is conceded that, if the two players in the supposed case were ignorant of each other's presence, the designs of both were frustrated, and from necessity. Thus far it is not needful to inquire whether this necessary consequence is an unconditional or a conditioned necessity, nor to require a more definite statement of the meaning attached to the word necessity as a supposed third alternative.

But, if the players knew of each other's presence, we could not infer from the result that the design of both or of either was frustrated. One of them may have intended to frustrate the other's design, and to effect his own. Or both may have been equally conversant with the properties of the matter and the relation of the forces concerned (whatever the cause, origin, or nature, of these forces and properties), and the result may have been according to the designs of both.

As you admit that they might or might not have designed the collision of their balls and its consequences the question arises whether there is any way of ascertaining which of the two conceptions we may form about it is the true one. Now, let it be remarked that design can never be demonstrated. Witnessing the act does not make known the design, as we have seen in the case assumed for the basis of the argument. The word of the actor is not proof; and that source of evidence is excluded from the cases in question. The only way left, and the only possible way in cases where testimony is out of the question, is to infer the design from the result, or from arrangements which strike us as adapted or intended to produce a certain result, which affords a presumption of design. The strength of this presumption may be zero, or an even chance, as perhaps it is in the assumed case; but the probability of design will increase with the particularity of the act, the specialty of the arrangement or machinery, and with the number of identical or yet more of similar and analogous instances, until it rises to a moral certainty--i. e., to a conviction which practically we are as unable to resist as we are to deny the cogency of a mathematical demonstration. A single instance, or set of instances, of a comparatively simple arrangement might suffice. For instance, we should not doubt that a pump was designed to raise water by the moving of the handle. Of course, the conviction is the stronger, or at least the sooner arrived at, where we can imitate the arrangement, and ourselves produce the result at will, as we could with a pump, and also with the billiard-balls.

And here I would suggest that your billiard-table, with the case of collision, answers well to a machine. In both a result is produced by indirection--by applying a force out of line of the ultimate direction. And, as I should feel as confident that a man intended to raise water who was working a pumphandle, as if he were bringing it up in pailfuls from below by means of a ladder, so, after due examination of the billiard-table and its appurtenances, I should probably think it likely that the effect of the rebound was expected and intended no less than that of the immediate impulse. And a similar inspection of arrangements and results in Nature would raise at least an equal presumption of design.

You allow that the rebound might have been intended, but you require proof that it was. We agree that a single such instance affords no evidence either way. But how would it be if you saw the men doing the same thing over and over? and if they varied it by other arrangements of the balls or of the blow, and these were followed by analogous results? How if you at length discovered a profitable end of the operation, say the winning of a wager? So in the counterpart case of natural selection: must we not infer intention from the arrangements and the results? But I will take another case of the very same sort, though simpler, and better adapted to illustrate natural selection; because the change of direction--your necessity--acts gradually or successively, instead of abruptly. Suppose I hit a man standing obliquely in my rear, by throwing forward a crooked stick, called a boomerang. How could he know whether the blow was intentional or not? But suppose I had been known to throw boomerangs before; suppose that, on different occasions, I had before wounded persons by the same, or other indirect and apparently aimless actions; and suppose that an object appeared to be gained in the result--that definite ends were attained--would it not at length be inferred that my assault, though indirect, or apparently indirect, was designed?


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