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is a “necessary postulate of the theory of the world as a whole.” 1
In examining this argument, one might come to another conclusion. It is admitted that the origin of the first organisms by spontaneous generation cannot be proved. They did originate, and if they did not originate by spontaneous generation, we cannot, according to Hæckel's own confession, avoid the conception of an external creator. But if this is the case, there is a rock on which the whole theory is wrecked, and a rock is enough to sink a ship; a link is wanting in the chain, and one link wanting in the middle of a chain will make the whole useless.
Nor is it correct to say, as Hæckel does, that the origin of organisms is the only point in which there would be a question of assuming the supernatural interference of an external Being. I have already observed that the eternity of matter is by no means a scientific truth; it is rather an arbitrary philosophical or unphilosophical assumption ; and whence comes this åváyın which has guided the development of original matter with such strict consistency, and such sure result, that the earth has been produced in its present form? Is this to be ascribed to chance ? And if this is inconceivable to the philosopher, are we not driven to the supposition of an external plan, according to which the development of things has been guided ? And who can have conceived and realized this plan but a spiritual Being superior to the material world ?? Therefore the origin of the first organisms is not the first
· Das Leben in den grössten Meerestiefen, p. 43.
point in the earth's history at which Hæckel's mechanical or “monistic” theory is found wanting. Neither is it the last point, and we shall see later, that even the theory of Descent is not able to explain the origin of the whole animal and vegetable world by “the exclusive dominion of invariable and necessary laws of nature” by the aváykn, which Hæckel appeals to; but rather that even if the theory of Descent might be admitted of plants and animals, the origin of man at least cannot be proved, unless we have recourse to what Hæckel calls the miracle of supernatural Creation.
What I have said is sufficient to show you why Darwin's theory of the development of the whole world of organisms from a few original germs was received with such applause by the scientific men who support Hæckel's “philosophical views.” Pfaff says: “Herein lies the great fascination of this theory, it affords to materialism a possibility of tracing back the origin and existence of all living beings to a casual combination of external physical and chemical processes; Darwin has brought the goal towards which materialism is striving with all its might, so temptingly near.” 1 Only brought near, it is not said to be already reached. For the system, as stated by Darwin himself, still leaves one gap. In his first work, Darwin did not attempt to explain the origin of the first organic being. This called forth the following angry remark from H. G. Bronn, who translated the book into German : “A personal act of creation is still necessary to produce Darwin's first organic being, and if this is necessary at all, it seems immaterial to us whether the first act of * Die neuesten Forschungen, p. 107.
2 P. 516.
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 cequivoca. 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.
1 Th. H. Martin, Les Sciences, p. 99.
THE THEORY OF DESCENT.
It is said in the Hexæmeron that God created the plants and animals "according to their kind,” that is, not in one kind but in many kinds. This statement
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,
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 there fore 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