The Evolutionary Fad -- By: G. Frederick Wright
BSac 57:226 (April 1900) p. 303
The Evolutionary Fad
Darwin’s theory of the origin of species through natural selection was not a theory of general evolution. Indeed, it differed as widely as possible, both in itself and in the arguments supporting it, from the crude theories of evolution which are now running rampant among the popular expounders of all departments of human thought. Darwinism was simply an attempt to show that Nature had not necessarily exhausted herself in producing species any more than man had done in the production of varieties. According to Darwin, species occupy the same relation to genera that varieties do to species. In other words, species were but accentuated varieties.
But, at about the same time that Darwin was establishing his theory of “the origin of species by means of natural selection,” Herbert Spencer was propounding a thoroughgoing theory of evolution of everything. According to him, “Evolution is 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 That is, through the integration of matter and the dissipation of motion, there have appeared such transient phenomena as Abraham, and Moses, and Homer, and Alexander, and Caesar, and Jesus Christ, and the long roll of saints and martyrs; and the mariner’s compass, and the theory of
BSac 57:226 (April 1900) p. 304
gravitation, and geology, and the steam-engine, and the telegraph, and the telephone, and the whole social and political condition at the beginning of the twentieth century. Mr. Huxley’s definition of evolution represents the process as scarcely less thoroughgoing. According to him, “The hypothesis of evolution supposes that in all this vast progression there would be no breach of continuity, no point at which we could say, ‘This is a natural process/ and ‘This is not a natural process’; but that the whole might be compared to that wonderful process of development which may be seen going on every day under our eyes, in virtue of which there arises, out of the semi-fluid, comparatively homogeneous substance which we call an egg, the complicated higher organization of one of the higher animals. That, in a few words, is what is meant by the hypothesis of evolution.” 2
When Huxley was pressed hard, he met the difficulties of his theory without wincing very much. He had to acknowledge that the origin of life was in a mysterious realm beyond the reach of human experiment and observation....
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