Evolution And The Fall Of Man -- By: D. W. Simon
BSac 54:213 (Jan 1897) p. 1
Evolution And The Fall Of Man
The chief authority on the theory of evolution, if not its originator, Mr. Herbert Spencer, defines it as follows: “An integration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion; during which the matter passes from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity; and during which the retained motion undergoes a parallel transformation.”1 Among the numerous other definitions that have been proposed, that of Professor Le Conte has found considerable favor: “Continuous progressive change according to certain laws and by means of resident forces.”2
Both of them, however, are open to serious criticism. That of Mr. Herbert Spencer specifies only one of the factors of the process, namely, matter; for surely motion, per se, is rather a state of matter for which an explanation is needed than itself a cause; besides to postulate that matter in motion should change the direction of its own motion, as it must if heterogeneity is to arise, is implicitly either to endow it with self-changeableness, or to introduce an-
BSac 54:213 (Jan 1897) p. 2
other cause of change.3 Besides, further, no mention is made of that which regulates the motion of matter. To attribute both motion and orderliness and aimfulness of motion to matter per se is to deny its fundamental characteristic of inertness.
Professor Le Conte’s conception of evolution, on the other hand, provides us with resident forces producing, and laws regulating the changes, which constitute the progressive process; but it leaves unmentioned that which is the primary subject of the changes, namely matter.
If the ultimate constitutive factors of the cosmos—factors not further reducible—are matter, energy, and method or law, then some such formula as one of the following would more exactly represent the process of evolution, than the two just criticised: Evolution is an ever-varying integration and disintegration of matter brought about by the action of energy progressively though not uniformly differentiating itself under the regulative control of an immanent idea assuming ever greater complexity. Or, Evolution is a ceaseless differentiation and transformation of energy, giving rise to countlessly varied relations of matter, now of coherence, then of incoherence, under the control of an incalculably complex, informing, progressive idea.
These definitions relate to the entire process through which the cosmos, so far as it is open to observation, has passed or ...
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