they themselves thought were special creations, and which are still thus looked at by the majority of naturalists, and which consequently have
|every 1859 1860 1861 1866|
|all the 1869 1872|
of true species,— they admit that these have been produced by variation, but they refuse to extend the same view to other and
|feature 1859 1860 1861 1866|
|features 1869 1872|
slightly different forms. Nevertheless they do not pretend that they can define, or even conjecture, which are the created forms of life, and which are those produced by secondary laws. They admit variation as a
in one case, they arbitrarily reject it in another, without assigning any distinction in the two cases. The day will come when this will be given as a curious illustration of 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
|very 1859 1860 1861 1866|
very 1869 1872
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
|earth's 1859 1860 1861 1866 1872|
|mother's 1859 1860 1861 1866 1872|
|mothers 1869| 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. ↑
|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.