|↑ 2 blocks not present in 1859 1860; present in 1861 1866 1869 1872|
| Undoubtedly these same
questions cannot be answered by those who,
under the present state of science,
believe in the creation of
a few aboriginal
some one form of life.
It has been asserted
by several authors that it is as easy to believe in the creation of a hundred
million beings as of one; but Maupertuis' philosophical
axiom "of least action" leads the mind more willingly to admit the smaller number; and certainly we ought not to believe that innumerable beings within each great class have been created with plain, but deceptive, marks of descent from a single parent.
|↑ 7 blocks not present in 1859 1860 1861 1866 1869; present in 1872|
| As a record of a former state of things, I have retained in the foregoing paragraphs, and elsewhere, several sentences which imply that naturalists believe in the separate creation of each species; and I have been much censured for having thus expressed myself.
But undoubtedly this was the general belief when the first edition of the present work appeared.
I formerly spoke to very many naturalists on the subject of evolution, and never once met with any sympathetic agreement.
It is probable that some did then believe in evolution, but they were either silent, or expressed themselves so ambiguously that it was not easy to understand their meaning.
Now things are wholly changed, and almost every naturalist admits the great principle of evolution.
There are, however, some who still think that species have suddenly given birth, through quite unexplained means, to new and totally different forms: but, as I have attempted to show, weighty evidence can be opposed to the admission of great and abrupt modifications.
Under a scientific point of view, and as leading to further investigation, but little advantage is gained by believing that new forms are suddenly developed in an inexplicable manner from old and widely different forms, over the old belief in the creation of species from the dust of the earth.
|→ fall away 1859 1860 1861 1866 1869|
|in favour of community of descent become fewer in number and less 1872|
|→ groups. 1859 1860 1861 1866 1869|
groups. Fossil remains sometimes tend to fill up very wide intervals between existing orders.
|→ an embryonic 1859 1860 1861 1866|
|a very early 1869 1872|
the blindness of preconceived opinion. These authors seem no more startled at a miraculous act of creation than at an ordinary birth. But do they really believe that at innumerable periods in the
history certain elemental atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissues? Do they believe that at each supposed act of creation one individual or many were produced? Were all the infinitely numerous kinds of animals and plants created as eggs or seed, or as full grown? and in the case of mammals, were they created bearing the false marks of nourishment from the
womb? ↑ Although naturalists very properly demand a full explanation of every difficulty from those who believe in the mutability of species, on their own side they ignore the whole subject of the first appearance of species in what they consider reverent silence. ↑
| It may be asked how far I extend the doctrine of the modification of species. The question is difficult to answer, because the more distinct the forms are which we
consider, by so much the arguments
in force. But some arguments of the greatest weight extend very far. All the members of whole classes
connected together by
of affinities, and all can be
on the same principle, in groups
→groups. Fossil remains sometimes tend to fill up very wide intervals between existing orders. Organs in a rudimentary condition plainly show that an early progenitor had the organ in a fully developed
and this in some
implies an enormous amount of modification in the descendants. Throughout whole classes various structures are formed on the same pattern, and at
closely resemble each other. Therefore I cannot doubt that the theory of descent with modification