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creation brought forth only one, or 10 or 100,000 species.” To make the “monistic theory of the world.” consistent, one more step was required; it was necessary to state that the origin of organic beings by spontaneous generation, as it could not be proved by strict scientific inquiry, is a necessary postulate. I shall speak of the theory of Descent in my next lecture; after what has been said to-day, we may take the following statements as representing the conclusions of science as to the origin of organic beings:— 1. According to the present order of nature, it is most probable that no single kind of plant or animal originates by spontaneous generation. There are only a few very small animals of very low organizations of which scientific men think that there is no proof that they do not so originate. 2. Natural science is not justified in supposing that spontaneous generation, which does not occur now, ever did occur; or that matter formerly possessed a power of generation which it does not possess now. 3. Natural science is consequently not in a position to give any scientific opinion as to the origin of the first organic beings. 4. Therefore natural science cannot possibly make any objection to the statement in the Bible, that the first plants and animals were created by God. Even if spontaneous generation were possible to the extent which older writers on science and theology believed it to be, still that would not prove that the doctrine of the creation of organic beings was scientifically untenable. Even if plants and animals can originate by themselves from matter, it cannot be
proved that they really did so originate, and were not created by God. And if inorganic matter had organized itself into living beings, that would not be by virtue of an essential indwelling force working according to necessary laws, but according to laws which God had given, and under conditions which had been foreseen and prepared by God.' For this reason former theologians made no objection to the theory of the generatio aequivoca. But it is easy to see that the further development of natural science has more and more decreased the extent to which spontaneous generation was believed, and has shown it to be very problematical even to the small extent in which it is still believed by some ; and for this reason it has approached more nearly to the Biblical doctrine, so that here also we may truly say that the Bible may look forward to the progress of scientific inquiry with hope rather than with anxiety.
* Th. H. Martin, Les Sciences, p. 99.
IT is said in the Hexameron that God created the plants and animals “according to their kind,” that is, not in one kind but in many kinds. This statement means practically that all the various classes of animals and plants which exist, are to be traced back to the creative activity of God. But we must not conclude from the statement that all the different kinds and species enumerated in the handbooks of Botany and Zoology, are said by the Bible to have been created as they are now by God, and that since they were created they have remained essentially unaltered, separate and shut off from one another. The Hebrew word Min, which is translated “kind,”—in the Vulgate it is sometimes given as genus, sometimes as species, has not the exact technical meaning which belongs to “kind” or “species” in natural history; the word might also be translated “genus, sort, variety.” The “trees after their kind” simply mean the different sorts of trees which exist. The Bible therefore does not prevent our supposing that the varieties of plants and animals were originally fewer, and that they have only gradually reached their present number. The different sorts of roses, pinks, and dahlias which grow in our gardens now, and the different sorts of chickens and doves which are to be seen in zoological gardens, or in the court-yards of poultry fanciers, did not exist 100 years ago—this variety owes its existence to human industry. In the same way the forms of plants and animals have been modified by natural conditions, by the differences in the soil, the food, and the climate, etc. The Bible says nothing about the extent of the variation of plants and animals; how many of the different kinds now enumerated in the handbooks of botany and zoology have been formed in the course of ages, and how many kinds God originally created, are purely questions for natural science. The general opinion of scientific men hitherto has been that there exists a certain number of groups of organic beings, although it cannot be accurately determined how many, which are separate from and independent of one another and which have always possessed certain characteristic and distinguishing signs. These groups must therefore have originated singly and separate from one another; according to the Biblical teaching, their ancestors were created by God. These groups are called species, and Linnaeus sums up the ordinary view in the sentence: “Species tot sunt diversae, quot diversas formas ab initio creavit infinitum ens.” “There are as many different species as there were different forms created in the beginning by the Infinite Being.” Linnaeus even thought, as I have mentioned before, that each species had been created in the shape of one pair, and that all individuals of one species had, like men, the same ancestors. I have already shown that
as little in accordance with the Biblical account as it is scientifically conceivable. Neither does the Bible or history tell us, nor can it be discovered with certainty by scientific inquiry, how many species were originally created, and therefore how many species there are. But though it should appear that one group which constitutes one species in the Linnaean system should be divided into two or more species, or that several species of the Linnaean system must be considered as forming one species, yet Linnaeus' main idea would not be affected. Linnaeus combined the species which are most nearly connected together into larger groups which he called genera, and since then it has become customary to connect the names of the genus and species together in the systematic enumerations of plants and animals. The domestic cat, e.g., is Felis domestica, the wild cat, Felis catus, the tiger, Felis tigris, the lion, Felis leo, the panther, Felis pardus, the jaguar, Felis onca. These six beasts of prey are therefore species of one and the same genus, Felis. In botany in the same way seven kinds of pines are called species of the one genus, Pinus; the pine, Pinus abies, the fir, Pinus picea, the larch, pinus laria, etc. Linnaeus includes the genera which are most like each other into the so-called order, Ordines; the orders which most resemble each other in classes. This division has been much modified by later writers, but we need say no more about it here, we are only concerned with the kinds or species. Now men of science are at variance as to the meaning and the extent of the word “species.” In