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* • 

Ti, . 











"The true Shekinah is Man." — Chrysostom, 

"If a man is a materialist, we Germans think he is not edu- 
cated, "—/'r^. Tholuck, 

"It is the first duty of a hypothesis to be intelligible." — Prof. 





author of 
"christian certainty," "the modern avernus," etc. 



}lj9 . 

KJM . 

Butler & Tanner, 
The Selwood Printing Works, 
Frome, and London. 



Analytical Outline vii 

The Right of Search i 

Evolution u 

"A Puerile Hypothesis" 33 

"Scientific Levity" 45 

A House of Cards 61 

Sophisms 75 

Protoplasm 99 

The Three Beginnings 149 

vi Contents. 

' IX. 
The Three Barriers 169 


Atoms 187 

Apes 203 


• . • . 


Anima Mundi 251 

Appendix 299 


The Right of Search. 

Agnosticism : and 
Gnosticism : 

Its Pretensions. 
Prof. Clifford— 

His "Ethics of Religion"; 

His new divinity. 
Prof. Tyndall— 

His assumptions ; 

His admissions. 
Their relation to 
Materialistic Atheism : 
Is it true ? 
Is it demonstrable ? 
Is it Scientific ? 



Evolution : 
Theories of : 
Three main varieties : 

The Theistic, 
The Atheistic, 
The Agnostic. 
Their relation to the doctrine of 


viii Analytical Outline of Contents^ 

Development : 

Mr. Darwin's ** view " ; and his Opinion. 

His ** opinion " may be questioned ; and 
His "view" has not been shown to be true. 
Is strongly Theistic, 
Is shown by Professor Mivart to be 

** Not The Origin of Species," and 
"Not antagonistic to Christianity." 
The Theistic Doctrine of Evolution : 

(Its three main Varieties) 
Maintained by Mr. Darwin ; but 
Opposed by Professors Huxley and Tyndall. 
Prof.Tyndall "abandons," once for all "the conception 
of creative acts." 
Prof. Huxley excludes " the intervention of any but what 
are termed secondary causes." 
Evolution : 

As strictly defined. 
As popularly understood. 
The validity of the Facts 

Independent of every Theory as to their Cause. 
The Phenomenal Sequence, 

Not the Ideal Hypothesis, 
A Universal Law. 
The Ideal Hypothesis, which 

"Derives man in his totality from the inter- 
action of organism and environment through 
countless ages past." 


"A Puerile Hypothesis." 

Evolution : 

" Baldest of all philosophies " 
Involves two points. 
I. AscENSivE Development : 
Negatived by 

"The positively ascertained truths of Palaeon- 

Analytical Outline of Contents. ix 

II. The Transmutation of Species. 

" Not Proven " (Prof. Huxley). 
" Of direct and positive testimony " 
"There is no fragment whatever " (Dr. Elam). 
Mr. Darwin's admissions 

" Fatal " to his theory 
Condenmed by Prof. Mivart. 


"Scientific Levity." 

Agnostic Evolution : 

An Unverified Hypothesis 

Based on two subordinate h3rpotheses 

Equally unverified, 
(i) Spontaneous Generation. 
(2) The Transmutation of Species. 
Spontaneous Generation. 

** Does life grow out of dead matter ? " (Prof. Whewell. ) 
** It is a result absolutely inconceivable.'* (Mr. Darwin.) 
** Not supported by any evidence." (Dr. Carpenter.) 
" Scientific Levity." (Humboldt.) 
From Matter to Life : 

The attempts to bridge the chasm 

Have all failed. 
The "nucleated vesicle " 

Is on the wrong side of the gulf. 
The " chemico-electric operation " 

Is a mere "supposition." 
The " Protogenes of Haeckel," and 

Dr. Elam's refutation of Mr. Spencer. 
The "line of demarcation 

between the organic and the inorganic 

Is as wide as ever." 
Chemistry : Its century of triumphs. 

Its one conspicuous Failure. Hence 


X Analytical Outline of Contents. 

Spontaneous Generation is 

"An astounding hypothesis " (Dr. Carpenter) 
"Vitiated by error " (Prof. Tyndall), and 

" Utterly discredited." (Virchow.) 

A House of Cards. 

Agnostic Evolution : Not scientifically true. 

" A flimsy framework of hypotheses." (Dr. Elam.) 
Devoid of " experimental demonstration." (Tyndall.) 

Its Fundamental Proposition : 

Condemned by Scientific Authorities 

"The older and honoured chiefs in Natural Science ;" 

(Darwin. ) 
"A minority of minds of high calibre and culture." 


The New Syllogisms : 

" Probable " ; " provisional " ; ** uncertain." 
" Reason to suppose ; " (Mr. Spencer) 

" I can imagine :" (Prof. Tyndall) 

"It is conceivable." (Mr. Darwin) 


I. Prof. Haeckel's Genealogy : 

Its hypothetical completeness : Dependent on 

Its Continuity — "in nubibus." 

Refuted by Du Bois Reymond. 
His Fundamental Postulates : 

Incapable of Proof. 

Monera ; Gastreada ; Amphioxus. 
Accepted by Mr. Huxley. And yet 

Mr. Huxley admits that 

The doctrine of Evolution involves the assump- 
tion of 

Spontaneous Generation ; while this last has 
" No experimental evidence in its favour.'* 

Supported by "no valid or intelligible reason." 

Analytical Outline of Contents. xi 

II. Biogenesis : 

Harvey, and Francesco Redi. 
Paradoxical position of Mr. Huxley. 

(1) As a Biogenist, he holds that 

** All living matter has sprung from pre-existing 
living matter." 

(2) As an Abiogenist, he thinks that 

Life may ''some day be artificially brought 

(3) He thinks this has never yet been done. But yet 

(4) If he had been living in the remote Past 

He should expect to have seen it done. 

III. Prof. Tyndall's Fallacies 

(i) The " impulse inherent in primeval man." 

(2) " The possible play of molecules in a cool- 

ing planet." 

(3) " Physical theories beyond the pale of ex- 


(4) His imagining the unimaginable. 

(a) The passage from physics to conscious- 

Is " unthinkable." And yet he says 
{p) ** By an intellectual necessity 

I cross the boundary." 

(5) He tells us of 

{fl) ''The chasm between the two classes 

of phenomena." 
{Jf) He declares this chasm to be 

** Intellectually impassable " ; and yet 
(c) He proclaims his belief in 

" The Continuity of Nature." 

(6) The Continuity of an "impassable chasm" 

(a) A chasm ''intellectually impassable"; 

and yet 

(b) ** By an intellectual necessity " 
He crosses it. 

IV. The Homers of Modem Materialism 

Buchner, Oken, Haeckel, Huxley. 
— quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus." 


xii Analytical Outline of Contents. 



Origin of the word. 

The Physiological Cell Theory. 
The several stages which marked the 
Application of the word. 

Dujardin, Von Mohl, Cohn, Remak, Max Schultze. 
Prof. Huxley^s employment of it to denote 
•* The Physical Basis of Life : " 

**The one kind of matter which is common to all 

living beings," and 
Ultimately resolvable into the same chemical con- 
Ulterior Assumptions : 

By which Protoplasm, From being the " basis " 

Becomes the ** Matter of Life." 
That all organisms consist alike of the same "matter 

of life." 
That this " matter of life " is due to Chemistry alone. 
That all the activities of life, — 

Thought, Conscience, Will, 
Arise solely from, — 

* * The arrangement of the mo- 
lecules of ordinary matter." 
Materialism of Mr. Huxley's doctrine. 

In what sense disavowed by him. 
Refuted by Dr. Stirling. 

His admission, that "Most undoubtedly the terms 
of his propositions are distinctly materialistic.*' 
jE.^., "The thoughts to which I am now giving 
utterance, and your thoughts regarding them, 
are but the expression of molecular changes in 
that matter of life which is the source of our 
other vital phenomena." 
Mr. Huxley's doctrine, then, is "distinctly material- 
istic " 

Analytical Outline of Contents, xiii 

Is IT True ? 

** I know of no form of negation sufficiently explicit, 
comprehensive, and emphatic, in which to reply 
to this question." {Dr, Elam) 
I. It is in no sense true that Protoplasm "breaks up," 
as Prof. Huxley says it does. 
II. (CO2), (HjO), and (NH3) cannot, by any combination, 
be brought to represent 

C36H35N4O10, which is the equivalent of protein, 
• or protoplasm. 

III. It is not true that when carbonic acid, water, and 

ammonia disappear, 

An "equivalent weight of the matter of life" 
makes its appearance. 

IV. In the two processes which Mr. Huxley regards as 


(t.^., the formation of water and of protoplasm) 
" There is no resemblance whatever." 
V. The proposition that Life is a product of Protoplasm 

Is demonstrably untrue. 
VI. The proposition that life is a property of Protoplasm 
Is equally untrue. 

(Contrast between **aquosity " and "vitality.") 
VII. Martinus Scriblerus Redivivus. 

The * * development " of meat-jacks. 
VIII. The identity of Protoplasm, "living or dead," 
Assumed by Mr. Huxley. 
Denied by the Germans. 

Involves a whole train of Effects without a Cause. 
IX. The fulcrum on which Mr. Huxley's Protoplasmic 
Materialism rests 
Is a single inference 
From a chemical analogy. 
This analogy has two references, and fails in both 

of them. 
The relation of the organic [protoplasm] to the 

inorganic [water] 
Is not an analogy, but an antithesis. 
The gulf between Death and Life. 

xiv Analytical Outline of Contents, 

X. Tne entire Theory 

Summed up in two Propositions. 
" Protoplasm is the clay of the Potter " 
The bricks are the same (says Mr. Huxley) 

Because the clay is the same. 

Is the clay the same ? 

Can it be identified ? as Mr. Huxley affirms. 
Examination of the alleged three-fold unity, Faculty, 

Form, Substance. 
Instead of ** identity " there is 

** An infinite diversity." 
XI. Protoplasm not convertible 

As alleged by Mr. Huxley. 
Functions, too, are inconvertible, and 

Independent of mere chemical com- 
XII. As of the Bricks, then, so of the Clay : 

It i^ not identical 
It is not convertible 
It includes — 
•* An Infinitude of various Kinds." 

XIII. Mr. Huxley's Variations : 

A complete Revolution of Opinion. 

XIV. His "subtle influences" 

Invoked to supersede ** Vitality." 
The Bases of Physical Life«(?) 
The Physical Basis of Life 
Cf. " The iron basis of the candle," with 
** The basis of the iron candle " ! 
XV. His Refutation by Dr. Beale. 

"I doubt if in the whole range of 
modem science it would be possible 
to find an assertion more at variance 
with facts familiar to physiologists." 
XVI. His former maintenance of 

" Vitality " and ** Inertia." 
XVII. Dogmatism of his assertions : Contrasted with Magni- 
tude of his admissions. 


Analytical Outline of Contents, xv 

XVIII. Dr. £lam*s exposure of his Chemistry. 

** Professor Huxley^s * Chemistry of 
Life ' has no foundation except that 
of deliberate and reiterated assertion." 
XIX. "Exoretuo." 

That such verbal hocus-pocus should be re- 
ceived as science will one day be regarded as 
evidence of the low stale of intelligence in the 
nineteenth century.'* 

The Three Beginnings. 

Evolution not Eternal. 

The "First Beginnings" (Lucretius). 
Importance of the Fact : 

There was ** a first start " 

There was more than one. 

1. I. Matter. 

How ? Where ? "Whence ? did it Begin ? 
Its Nature 
Its Properties 
Its Powers 

From what Source acquired ? 

** In the Beginning? " 
**The Atoms eternally falling." 

Why "falling?" 

In an eternity "not eternal." 
What Force was that which moved them ? 
What Will was that which directed them ? 

2. Force : 

Operating in a given Order : and 
Controlled by ** Definite Laws." 
Order : Force : Law : 

How came they to Begin ? 

3. " Mutual Interaction : 

Of the molecules of the Primitive Nebulosity " 
The sole and exclusive cause of "the whole world ; 
living and not living." 

xvi Analytical Outline of Contents. 

Whenihese assumptions have been granted : 

That the Nebulosity was real 

That it was Primitive 

That its constitutent molecules were not all imaginary 

That the existing world is the result of their interaction 
Then, the first question is more urgent than before : 
** In The Beginning : " What was that 

4. First Cause : 

Equal, not only to the 
Origination of Matter and of Force, but 
Equal also to the 

Origination of Matter thus constituted, and of 
Force thus adjusted ? 

5. Evolution : is thus seen to be the measure of 


"Whatever has been evolved in the Effect 

Was previously involved in the Cause. 

6. Causa Causarum : What was that ? 

In " The First Beginning " ? 

II. Life. 

**0f the causes which have led to the origina- 
tion of living matter, it may be said that we 
know absolutely nothing." (Huxley) 

But, however inscrutable the mode, 

There is no question, nor any room for question 
As to the Fact : 

** Living matter " was ** once originated." 

Life had a Beginning. 

Still more inscrutable is the Mystery which 

The First Emergence of 

III. The Self-Conscious Mind. 

Mr. J. S. Mill on the Existence of Mind. 

Huxley, Tyndall, and Spencer, on "States of 

"Consciousness," says Prof. Huxley, is "un- 

" No one can prove that mind and life are in any 
way related to chemistry and mechanics." 

Analytical Outline of Contents, xvii 

Consciousness and Physics are incommensurable. 
•* Thought BEGAN to be." How ? 
** Intelligence, self-conscious, emerged ^ 

Whence ? 


The Three Barriers. 

Mr. Darwin on 

The adaptation of organs, 
The transmutation of animals, 
The Origin of Instinct, 
The ant, and the honey-bee. 
His Theory of Neuters : 

Fertile parents transmit, 

through fertile progeny, 
A tendency to produce sterility, 

incapable of further production. 
His oversight of 

The evidence of Design. 
His Remarkable Omissions. 
His ingenious substitution of 

The "conceivable " for the actual. 
His habitual avoidance of 

The profounder marvels of Nature, and 
Their only true solvent — 

The ordination of God. 
The Three Barriers of 

Comparative Anatomy. 
I. The Backbone : 

The basis of Strength. 
An impassable Barrier 
Until it can be shewn 

How a butterfly could become a bird, 
Or a snail, a serpent, 
Or a star-fish acquire the skeleton of 
a salmon or a shark. 

xviii Analytical Outline of Contents. 

II. The Breast : 

The type of Tenderness 
Until it can be shewn 

How an animal that never was 
suckled stumbled on the capacity 
oigimng what it never got. 

III. The Brain : 

The measure of Capacity. 

The Human Brain is Pleno-cerebral : 

All other Brains are Manco-cerebral. 

To all Men the pleno-cerebral type is common : 

To Man J as such, it is peculiar. 

The lowest Human Brain has the latent franchise 


Progressive Reason : 
All other Brains have the rigid circumscription of 

Unprogressive Instinct. 
No brute is susceptible of Human Culture ; 
No human infant is not so. 
Between these two the Difference is Immeasurable. 



** The Atoms are the First Beginnings." 
What, then, are these Atoms ? 

** Ultimate homogeneous units :*' 

Lange. Mr. Herbert Spencer. 

** One ultimate form of Matter." 
Dr. Tyndall's rejection of 

Mr. Spencer's dictum. 
Heterogeneity of the Atoms. 

Chemical Phenomena 

Not to be deduced from 

Mechanical conditions. 
Their grouping : Their varieties : 

In shape ; In'lcind. 
Their Motions, Forces, Affinities : 

Inadequate to the problem proposed. 

Analytical Outline of Contents, xix 

The "Atoms** are 

Not the Beginning. 

They have ** all the characteristics of 
Manufactured Articles.*' 

Sir John Herschel. 
" No Theory of Evolution can be formed to account for them." 

Professor Maxwell. Professor Pritchard. 
Sir William Thomson : — 

**The assumption of atoms can explain no pro- 
perty of body which has not previously been 
attributed to the atoms themselves." 


Professor Tyndall*s postulate : — 

That human ancestors were not human. 
Mr. Darwin's: — 

**A series of forms graduating insensibly 
From some ape-like creature 
To man as he now exists." But 
(L ) The series is not a series. 

It has no continuity, and no concatenation, 
(ii.) It does not "graduate insensibly." 

It exhibits "breaks": "wide, sharp, and 

These breaks ** incessantly occur in all parts 

of the series." 
(iii.) The "ape-like creature" is wholly hypo- 
It is absolutely non-existent. 
There is no evidence that it ever was other- 
Professor Huxley's 

Cautious and conditional generalizations 
Adverse to Mr. Darwin's theory. 

XX Analytical Outline of Contents. 

Professor HaeckePs 

** Rogues in buckram." 

Destitute of any single living representative. 

Destitute of fossil evidence of their former existence. 
The Chordonia 

^* Developed themselves" ! 
The admissions of its advocates, are 

Fatal to The Theory. 



Prof. Huxley's dicta on 

** The question of questions for mankind." 
Contrast between Men and Apes : 

As to cerebral structure. 

As to cerebral weight. 

As to ** the great gulf in intellectual power 

between lowest man and highest ape." 

As to **the structural differences 

which separate Man from the Gorilla." 
No intermediate Link 

bridges over the gap between Homo and Troglo- 
Paradoxes : 

" Qua-qu^-versal propositions." 
** The UNMEASURABLE and practically infinite divergence 

Of the Human from the Simian Stirps. " 

Its ** Primary Cause." 
Psychical Distinctions. 
Structural Distinctions. 
Mr. Darwin's Testimony to 

** The great break in the organic chain 

Between man and his nearest allies, which 

Cannot be bridged over 

By any extinct or living species." 
Prof. Mivart's Refutation of this theory. 

Man, the apes, and the half-apes 

Cannot be arranged in a single ascending series. 

Analytical Outline of Contents, xxi 

The Lines of Affinity existing between different Primates 

Construct a network : but not a ladder. 
The Survival of the Fittest. 

But the fittest (according to the Theory) 

Have not survived. 

The half-apes are with us to this day : 

The half-men are nowhere. 
Mr. Wallace^s Demonstration 

That the Origin of Man is to be found only in 

An Act of Special Creation. 
Mr. Mivart's Conclusion : 

That Mr. Darwin "has utterly failed 

In the only part of his work which 
is really important. " 

Anima Mundl 

** A Soul in all things." 

The Inorganic World. 
. Phenomena of Crystallization. 

Prof. Tyndall's Fallacy ; 

Pyramid builders : Architect : Controlling Power. 
Prof. Tyndall's belief that 

** The formation of a plant or an animal 

Is a purely mechanical problem." 
Prof. Huxley's assertion that 

** A mass of living protoplasm 

Is simply a molecular machine. " 
His resort to "subtle influences," 

i.e,^ to Vital Force. 
His assertion that 

"A particle of jelly" guides forces. 

Refuted by Dr. Beale. 
Two Points involved in these assertions : — 

I. The introduction of Life ; 

II. The manifestations of Mind. 

xxii Analytical Outline of Contents. 

I. Vital Action : In contrast with physico-chemical action 
Is peculiar to living beings. 
Haeckel's Testimony : — 

"The phenomena which living things pre- 
sent have no parallel in the mineral 
Du Bois Reymond's : — 

**It is futile to attempt by chemistry to 
bridge the chasm between the living 
and the not-living. " 
No machine can grow. 
No machine can produce machines like itself. 

II. Mind. i. " Horologity" : and the "watch-force " : 
A combination of many forces, and 
Their adjustment to a particular Purpose. 
Its seat is in 

The Intelligence which conceived that com- 
bination ; and in 
The Will which gave it effect. 
This evidence of Design is shewn in Universal 

2. The Shell of the Barnacle. 

3. The Electric Ray. 

"It is impossible to conceive by what steps 
these wondrous organs have been pro- 
duced." (Mr. Darwin.) 

4. The new-bom Kangaroo. 

" Irrefragable evidence of Creative fore- 
sight." (Prof. Owen.) 

5. The Eye : " With all its inimitable con- 

trivances" (Mr. Darwin) (Prof. Pritchard.) 
Nature is full of Plan. 

Yet she plans not. 

Where Science assumes a Use, 

Religion affirms an Author. 
The Question, For what? 
Involves the further question, From whom ? 

Analytical Outline of Contents, xxiii 

Mr. Ruskin, on The Great First Cause 

"Personal" : and "A Supporting Spirit in all 

The Formative Cause. 
The Living Power. 
What is it ? and Whence 1 
"There is no answer." 
Ascensive Life. 
Language : Peculiar to Man : 

"Thinker of God's thoughts after Him." 
What is the Origin of Mind ? 
The genesis of Thought. 

"Thaumaturgic." (Carlyle.) 
" No mere function of The Brain." 
" A World by itself." 
Volition. Whence ? 

A machine not mechanical. 
** An automaton endowed with free will." 

"A rock on which Materialism must inevitably 

split." (Tyndall.) 
Perfectly " unaccountable." (Huxley.) 
" Brain- waves." (Ruskin.) 
Sense of Responsibility. 

"Duty! . . . WHENCE thy original? 
The Majestic Spectacle of The Universe 
Is a spectacle for the eye of Reason. 
Natural Agents working for ends which they them' 

selves cannot perceive. 
But * * Every house is builded by some man " ; 

"He that built all things, is God." 





" He was perfectly satisfied that there was no God at 
present, but he believed there would be one by-and-by ; 
for as the organization of the universe perfected itself, a 
universal mind, he argued, would be the result. This he 
called the system of progressive nature." — Southey, 

" But what I have to tell you positively is, that . . . 
a Spirit does actually exist which teaches the ant her 
path, the bird her building, and men, in an instinctive 
and marvellous way, whatever lovely arts and noble deeds 
are possible to them. Without it you can do no good 
thing. To the grief of it you can do many bad ones. In 
the possession of it is your peace and your power."— 




"God created man"? No such thing! The 
monads developed him. " The heavens declare 
the glory of God"? Far from it: "they de- 
clare only the glory of the astronomer !" " We 
have now no need of the hypothesis of God." 

These utterances, and such as these, startling 
alike to reverence and to faith, are the merest 
common places of modem agnosticism. In- 
stead of being, as once they were regarded, the 
terminus ad quern, the ultimate goal, to which 
unbelief was tending, they have long since been 
left behind as a mere terminus d qtWy a tempo- 
rary station for a new point of departure. The 
scepticism which doubted has given place to the 
dogmatism which denies. " Honest doubt '* has 
been supplanted by the clamour of a positive 
self-assertion. A positivism of which Comte 
knew nothing has usurped the authority, while 
renouncing the functions, of scientific enquiry. 

4 Scientific Sophisms, 

In a word, Agnosticism is no more, and Gnosti- 
cism reigns in its stead. 

Agnosticism made candid confession of its 
ignorance. Gnosticism parades its pretensions 
to knowledge. The former did not know : the 
latter is quite sure. The Divine existence is 
now declared to be not only unnecessary ; it is 
absolutely unreal. God has no existence, even 
hypothetically, except as the creature of the 
human imagination. The hand may well trem- 
ble that writes it, and the ears may tingle that 
hear, yet it; has been both written and said — in 
modes that demand more attention than they 
have hitherto received — ^There is no God ! ex- 
cept such as man has made. "The dim and 
shadowy outlines of the superhuman deity fade 
slowly away from before us ; and as the mist of 
his presence floats aside, we perceive with greater 
and greater clearness the shape of a yet grander 
and nobler figure — of Him who made all gods 
and shall unmake them." ^ 

Who then is He, this " grander and nobler 
figure," this great and only potentate "who 
made all gods and shall unmake them".^ this 
"human" who dethrones "the superhuman 
deity"? It is man himself. "From the dim 

1 Professor Clifford : " The Ethics of Religion,'* in The 
Fortnightly Review^ vol. xxii. New series, p. 52. 

The Right of Search. 5 

dawn of history, and from the inmost depth of 
every soul, the face of our father Man looks out 
upon us with the fire of eternal youth in his 
eyes, and says, ' Before Jehovah was, I am !* " ^ 

And yet, this " Man our father," was once an 
Ape: and, before that, "a jelly-bag." That 
jelly-bag (which " made all gods and shall un- 
make them ") sucking in water and sticking to 
a stone, has advanced to its present august 
condition by " a principle of development " and 
" a process of evolution." It is true indeed 
that the principle is one which nobody has ever 
proved, and the process is one which nobody 
has ever witnessed ; but woe to the unlucky 
wight who dares to doubt their validity, or who 
fails to recognise in " Mr. Charles Darwin, the 
Abraham of scientific men." ^ 

" Most of you," says Professor Tyndall, " have 
been forced to listen to the outcries and de- 
nunciations which rang discordant through the 
land for some years after the publication of 
Mr. Darwin's 'Origin of Species.' Well, the 
world — even the clerical word — has for the 

1 Professor Clifford : " The Ethics of Religion," in The 
Fortnightly Review^ vol. xxii. New series, p. 52. Vide 
infrd : Appendix, Note A. 

« Prof. Tyndall : " Science and Man," in The Fort- 
nightly Review, vol. xxii. New series, p. 615. 

6 Scientific Sophisms. 

most part settled down in the belief that Mr. 
Darwin's book simply reflects the truth of 
Nature : that we who are now ' foremost in the 
files of time * have come to the front through 
almost endless stages of promotion from lower 
to higher forms of life." ^ 

" The most part " : but what of the rest, the 
remaining part ? Let it stand in awe. If it 
cannot be convinced it can be denounced. And 
it IS denounced accordingly. It is more base 
and stupid than — "even the clerical world." 
He who belongs to it is ipso facto stigmatized 
as ignorant and incompetent.^ He is " unstable 
and weak," * " a brawler and a clown." * 

> Prof. Tyndall : " Science and Man," in The Fort- 
nightly Review y vol. xxii. New series, p. 6ii. 

^ The great and venerated name of Von Baer is asso- 
ciated by Haeckel with the idea of "harmless senile 
garrulity." Adolf Bastian is a "Privy Councillor of 
Confusion " ; Du Bois-Raymond is a " rhetorical phrase- 
spinner,'* if not a Professor of Voluntary Ignorance ; 
while Carl Semper is a — a person regardless of truth, 
expressed in a brief word not usually heard among 
gentlemen. " Haeckel," says Dr. £lam, " has probably 
never heard of the insignificant names of Owen, Mivart, 
and Agassiz, or they would doubtless have been remem- 
bered in the catalogue of wretched smatterers who have 
come under his signal disapproval" 

» Prof. TyndalPs "Address delivered at Belfast." 
Longmans, 1874, p. 63. 

* Fortnightly Review ^ vol. xxii. p. 614. 

The Right of Search, 7 

But "methinks the lady doth protest too 
much." Were these denunciations more dis- 
passionate they might seem more disinterested. 
As it is, they are too strenuous to be forcible ; 
too loud to be effective. Nor is this the worst. 
They have another fault more fatal still. They 
are altogether irrelevant. They do not hit, 
they merely miss, the mark. They are beside 
the question. For the question is as to the 
nature and character of the new doctrine. And 
with that question the merits or demerits of 
advocates and assailants are not concerned. 
" Materialistic Atheism," we are told, " is in the 
air.*' So be it : but then this same materialistic 
atheism is either true or it is not. If it is not 
true, let that be shown, and it will fall without 
assailants. If it is true, let that be shown, and 
it will then have no need of advocates. No one 
thinks it necessary to take the field in defence of 
the properties of conic sections ; and the foun- 
dations of the venerable pons asinorum remain 
unmoved and unimpaired from age to age. 
Why then, in propounding that very open 
secret, their latest discovery, should the demi- 
gods of the scientific Olympus forsake their 
philosophic calm for the irritating gusts of 
irascible acerbity ? 

Tantaene animis ccelestibus irae ? 

8 Scientific Sophisms. 

They make their boast of truth. They pro- 
claim aloud their contempt of consequences. 
The boast would have been more becoming if 
it had been less exclusive. Those who make 
it will have a better claim to be heard when 
they have learned, with the modesty of science, 
to moderate the pretensions by which they 
arrogate to themselves a monopoly of the virtue 
which they say is theirs. When they tell us 
that "Mr. Charles Darwin, the Abraham of 
scientific men," is " a scholar as obedient to the 
command of truth as was the patriarch to the 
command of God," ^ we are under no necessity, 
as we certainly have no inclination, to dispute 
the accuracy of the assertion. But when to this 
it is added that to reject Mr. Darwin's hypo- 
thesis, and those of his coadjutors and com- 
mentators, is " to purchase intellectual peace at 
the price of intellectual death," ^ we ask for 
the evidence in support of this assertion. That 
evidence has yet to be produced. Is it pro- 
ducible } It is at all events not forthcoming. 
Until the truth of these hypotheses has been 
established it is not possible, in the name of 
truth, to demand our acceptance of them. And 
until then, as always, our position in relation to 

^ Fortnightly Review^ vol. xxii. p. 615. 
' " The Belfast Address,'' ut sup.y p. 63. 

The Right of Search. 9 

them must be determined, as it is now deter- 
mined, by that paramount consideration, our 
reverence for truth. 

The necessity of meeting this conviction is 
not unfelt by those to whom it is opposed ; and 
their perception of its force is shown by the 
remarkable admission contained in their reply. 
It is the ideal Lucretian himself who is the 
speaker : — 

" It is not to the point to say that the views 
of Lucretius and Bruno, of Darwin and Spencer 
may be wrong. Here I should agree with you, 
deeming it indeed certain that these views will 
undergo modification. But the point is, that 
whether right or wrong, we ask the freedom to 
discuss them."^ "As regards these questions 
science claims unrestricted right of search." * 

Agreed. We desire nothing better. The 
case must be argued before it is decided. And 
it may not be prejudged. What is certain is, 
"that the views of Lucretius and Bruno, of 
Darwin and Spencer may be wrong " : " certain 
that these views will undergo modification." 
Certain therefore that "the world, — even the 
clerical world," — in accepting these wrong views, 
" has for the most part " gone wrong too, and, 

1 "The Belfast Address," ui sup.^ p. 64. 
' Ibid,, p. 63. 

lo Scientific Sophisms. 

sooner or later, not without harm and loss, will 
have to return from the error of its ways. 

Meantime, the inquiry to which we are chal- 
lenged, though not without complex relations, is 
in itself very simple. It is not to be influenced 
by opinion. It is not to be biassed by pre- 
judice. It is not to be decided by authority. 
It is directed to the investigation of facts. It 
must be guided, not by great names, but by 
great principles. It must be kept distinct from 
other, though collateral, inquiries ; and it must 
be patiently pursued to no uncertain issue. 
This Materialistic Atheism, propounded in the 
name of Science : Is it true ? Is it demon- 
strable ? Is it Scientific ? 




" Nature was to this man, what to the Thinker and 
Prophet it for ever is, /r^/^rnatural.'* — Carlyle, 

" A mighty maze ! but not without a plan." — Pope, 

^^ Falstaff, I would your grace would take me with 
you." — King Henry /F., Part i, Act ll. Scene iv. 




It stumbles at starting. Of Evolution as al- 
leged, there are several varieties ; and the theory- 
is at fault among them. A choice must be made, 
and the choice is not easy. Natural Selection, 
if it were not merely the nominal designation 
of an unreal entity, might here render important 
service; but as it is, is useless. And to spon- 
taneous selection the choice is encumbered with 
difficulties. Of these difficulties it is not the 
least that, by the theory, spontaneous selection 
is impossible : spontaneity is non-existent, save 
in imagination. Since this little difficulty is 
not (by the theory) to be surmounted, it must 
be evaded ; and when it has been evaded the 
labour of selection begins. 

The varieties from which the selection must 
be made may be classed in three main divisions ; 
or, in other words, notwithstanding the protests 
of those Darwinians who deny the existence 


14 Scientific Sophisms. 

of species, they may all be referred to three 
species: the theistic, the atheistic, and the 

Evolutionists of the first class admit, while 
those of the second deny, the existence of a 
Divine Creator. By those of the third class, 
that existence, while not by any means admitted, 
is yet not explicitly denied. It is simply 
ignored. They "have no need of the hypothesis 
of God." Foremost among the leaders of this 
latter class are Mr. Spencer and Professors 
Huxley, Tyndall, and Bain. Less cautious or 
more candid are Carl Vogt, Ernst Haeckel, and 
Buchner, as representatives of atheistic develop- 
ment ; while the theistic, its antithesis, is vindi- 
cated by names of no less note than those 
of Sir John Herschel, Sir William Thomson, 
Professors Owen, Dawson, Gray, Dr. Carpenter, 
and, at least in his earlier writings, Mr. Charles 
Darwin himself. 

The existence of these varieties is a fact at 
once significant and instructive. Our present 
concern, however, is not with these, except so 
far as they serve to illustrate or demonstrate 
the nature of the base which they have in 
common. That doctrine of Development which 
they all affirm : what is it } What are its pre- 
tensions.^ Where are its proofs? 

Evolution. 1 5 

Let " the Abraham of scientific men " speak 

" It is interesting," he says,^ " to contemplate 
an entangled bank, clothed with many plants 
of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, 
with various insects flitting about, and with 
worms crawling through the damp earth, and 
to reflect that these elaborately-constructed 
forms so different from each other, and depen- 
dent on each other in so complex a manner, 
have all been produced by laws acting around 
us." "There is grandeur in this view of life, 
with its several powers, having been originally 
breathed into a few forms or into one." 

The grandeur, however, is questionable. It 
may be nothing more than a figment of the 
imagination, a mere matter of taste, or of 
opinion ; but even if it were matter of fact, it is 
not a matter with which we have any concern. 
Our enquiry as to "this view of life" is not, 
Can it be made to look grand } but. Can it be 
shown to be true.? 

At present, this has not been shown. Even 
Mr. Darwin himself does not profess to " know," 
he merely " believes," the truth of the doctrine 
he propounds. " I believe," these are his words, 

* "Origin of Species.". First Edition (Murray : 1859), 
chap. xiv. pp. 489, 490. 

t6 Scientific Sophisms. 

''that animals have descended from at most 
only four or five progenitors, and plants from 
an equal or lesser number. Analogy would 
lead me one step further, namely, to the belief 
that all animals and plants have descended from 
some one prototype. But analogy may be a de- 
ceitful guide. Nevertheless all living things have 
much in common, . . . Therefore I should 
infer from analogy that probably all the organic 
beings which have ever lived on this earth have 
descended from some one primordial form into 
which life was first breathed."^ 

But this "belief," which Mr. Darwin thinks 
"probable," this "inference" derived from 
" analogy," has never been verified. How could 
it be verified, when its most ardent apostles 
assure us that it may, after all, " be wrong," and 
will "certainly" have to "undergo modifica- 
tion ? " ^ But even if it had been verified it is 
not "materialism," it is not "atheism," it is 
not "agnosticism." It is the very reverse of 
all these, for it is a manifesto of absolute 
" theism." 

" In my book on the * Genesis of Species,' " 
says Professor St. George Mivart,* "I had in 

* " Origin of Species." First Edition, chap. xiv. p. 484. 
2 Prof. Tyndall, ut sup., p. 7. 

• "Lessons from Nature." Murray, 1876, p. 429. 

Evolution. 1 7 

view two main objects. My first was to show 
that the Darwinian theory is untenable, and that 
' Natural Selection ' is not the origin of species. 
My second was to demonstrate that nothing 
even in Mr. Darwin's theory (as put forth before 
the publication of his 'Descent of Man/) and, 
d fortiori, nothing in Evolution generally, was 
necessarily antagonistic to Christianity." 

Reserving for further examination the first 
of these propositions, "that the Darwinian 
theory is untenable," it may be observed as to 
the second, that of the theistic doctrine of 
Evolution there are theoretically three main 
varieties : (i) That which limits the supernatural 
action in the origination of species to the crea- 
tion of primordial cells. (2) That which, while 
maintaining the intervention of direct or special 
creation, regards the origination of species as 
being for the most part effected indirectly, i.e., 
through the agency of natural causes. (3) That 
which regards God as immanent in natural law, 
and recognises in all phenomena the result of 
present Divine action. 

In his earlier writings, the theism of Mr. 
Darwin is most explicit. Thus, for example, 
when speaking of certain birds found in Tierra 
del Fuego, he says, "when finding, as in this 
case, any animal which seems to play so insignifi- 


1 8 Scientific Sophisms. 

cant a part in the great scheme of nature, one 
is apt to wonder why a distinct species should 
have been created ; but it should always be 
recollected that in some other country perhaps 
it is an essential member of society, or at some 
former period may have been so." ^ And again : 
In his description of the Passage of Cordillera, 
he says, " I was very much struck with the 
marked difference between the vegetation of 
these eastern valleys and that of the opposite 
side : yet the climate, as well as the kind of 
soil, is nearly identical, and the difference of 
longitude very trifling. The same remark holds 
good with the quadrupeds, and in a lesser degree 
with the birds and insects." "This fact," he 
adds, "is in perfect accordance with the geo- 
logical history of the Andes ; for these moun- 
tains have existed as a great barrier since a 
period so remote that whole races of animals 
must subsequently have perished from the 
face of the earth. Therefore, unless we sup- 
pose the same species to have been created 
in two different countries, we ought not to 
expect any closer similarity between the organic 
beings on opposite sides of the Andes, than 

* " Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of H.M.'s Ships 
Adventure and BeagleP London, 1839. Vol. iii. 

Evolution. 1 9 

on shores separated by a broad strait of the 
sea." 1 

And to take but one other instance : In con- 
cluding his review of the causes of extinction 
of certain animals in Patagonia, he says, — " We 
see that whole series of animals, which have 
been created with peculiar kinds of organi- 
zation, are confined to certain areas ; and we can 
hardly suppose these structures are only adapta- 
tions to peculiarities of climate or country ; for 
otherwise, animals belonging to a distinct type, 
and introduced by man, would not succeed so 
admirably even to the extermination of the 
aborigines. On such grounds it does not seem 
a necessary conclusion, that the extinction of 
species, more than their creation, should exclu- 
sively depend on the nature (altered by physical 
changes) of their country." ^ In these passages 
we have not only the assertion of species as an 
established distinction in animal life, we have 
also the further assertion that these "distinct 
species," " with peculiar kinds of organization," 
are to be attributed to " Creation " as their 
cause, and not "to peculiarities of climate or 

* " Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of H.M/s Ships 
Adventure and Beagled Lon don, 1 839. VoL iii. pp. 399, 400. 
' Ibid,^ p. 212. 

20 Scientific Sophisms. 

But in his later works, the theism thus articu- 
lately pronounced is conspicuous chiefly by its 
absence. At the same time it is not expressly 
excluded. And on this account the agnostic 
and atheistic leaders take him roundly to task, 
notwithstanding his Abrahamic dignity. Thus, 
for instance, Professor Tyndall : — 

"Diminishing gradually the number of pro- 
genitors, Mr. Darwin comes at length to one 
* primordial form ; ' but he does not say, as far 
as I remember, how he supposes this form to 
have been introduced. He quotes with satis- 
faction the words of a celebrated author and 
divine, who had ' gradually learnt to see that it 
is just as noble a conception of the Deity to 
believe He created a few original forms, capable 
of self-development into other and needful 
forms, as to believe that He required a fresh 
act of creation to supply the voids caused by 
the action of His laws.* What Mr. Darwin 
thinks of this view of the introduction of life 
I do not know. But the anthropomorphism, 
which it seemed his object to set aside, is as 
firmly associated with the creation of a few 
forms as with the creation of a multitude. 
We need clearness and thoroughness here. 
Two courses and two only are possible. Either 
let us open our doors freely to the conception 

Evolution. 2 1 

of creative acts, or, abandoning them, let us 
radically change our notions of Matter." ^ 

Professor Tyndall, as is well known, adopts 
the latter of these alternatives, and discerns in 
Matter " the promise and potency of all terres- 
trial life." ^ To do this, however, is, as he him- 
self declares, to "abandon," once for all, *'the 
conception of creative acts." 

Has Mr. Darwin abandoned that conception } 
If he has not, then he lacks "clearness and 
thoroughness " — " father of scientific men " 
though he be. So, at least, says Professor 
Tyndall, and Professor Huxley goes still further. 

Mr. Huxley's utterances on this subject pos- 
sess a special interest from the eulogy pro- 
nounced on him as the accredited " expounder " 
of the Darwinian doctrine. Thus, at Belfast, 
when introducing his summary of " The Origin 
of Species," Professor Tyndall said, — 

" The book was by no means an easy one ; 
and probably not one in every score of those 
who then attacked it had read its pages through, 
or were competent to grasp its significance if 
they had. I do not say this merely to discredit 
them ; for there were in those days some really 

* " Address delivered before the British Association at 
Belfast" Longmans, 1874, pp. 53, 54. 
' Ibid.j p. 55. 

22 Scientific Sophisms. 

eminent scientific men, entirely raised above 
the heat of popular prejudice, willing to accept 
any conclusion that science had to offer, pro- 
vided it was duly backed by fact and argument, 
and who entirely mistook Mr. Darwin's views. 
In fact, the work needed an expounder ; and 
it found one in Mr. Huxley. I know nothing 
more admirable in the way of scientific exposi- 
tion than those early articles of his on the origin 
of species. He swept the curve of discussion 
through the really significant points of the 
subject, enriched his exposition with profound 
original remarks and reflections, often summing 
up in a single pithy sentence an argument 
which a less compact mind would have spread 
over pages." ^ 

Now the pithy sentence with which we are 
here concerned is this : — 

"The improver of natural knowledge abso- 
lutely refuses to acknowledge authority as such. 
For him, scepticism is the highest of duties, 
blind faith the one unpardonable sin. The man 
of science has learned to believe in justification, 
not by faith, but by verification." ^ 

And with this Professor Tyndall agrees: 
"Without verification a theoretic conception is 

* " Address,** ut sup,^ p. 38. 

2 " Lay Sermons." Macmillan, 1871, p. 18. 

Evolution^ 23 

a mere figment of the intellect" TorricelH, 
Pascal, and Newton were distinguished by their 
" welding of rigid logic to verifying fact" " If 
scientific men were not accustomed to demand 
verification . . . their science, instead of 
being, as it is, a fortress of adamant, would be 
a house of clay." " Newton's action in this 
matter is the normal action of the scientific 
mind." ^ " There is no genius so gifted as not 
to need control and verification." » 

What then becomes of "the Abraham of 
scientific men " } In the " Origin of Species " 
Mr. Darwin tells us repeatedly,^ that it would 
be " fatal " to his theory if it should be found 
that there were characters or structures which 
could not be accounted for by *' numerous, 
successive, slight modifications " ; and this can- 
did admission is supplemented in the " Descent 
of Man,"* by another equally candid : — 

* "Fragments of Science.'* Longmans, 1871, pp. 59, 

^ /<Wai, p. III. 

' See especially, (First Edition,) p. 189, where, after 
attempting to explain the origfin of the eye, he says, "If 
it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, 
which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, 
successive, slight modifications, my theory would abso- 
lutely break down. 

* Murray, 1871, vol. ii. p. 387. 

24 Scientific Sophisms. 

" No doubt man, as well as every other 
animal, presents structures which, as far as we 
can judge with our little knowledge, are not 
now of any service to him, nor have been so 
during any former period of his existence, 
either in relation to his general condition of 
life, or of one sex to the other. Such struc- 
tures cannot be accounted for by any form of 
selection, or by the inherited effects of the use 
and disuse of parts." 

Here, then, we have the fullest recognition of 
the validity of objections which are absolutely 
fatal to his whole doctrine. But with this 
recognition, what becomes of "verification ".^ 

Mr. Darwin's doctrine, however, constitutes a 
very small part of that " theoretic conception " 
which, under the name of Evolution, is now 
declared by Professor Huxley to be no longer 
"a matter of speculation and argument," but 
on the contrary, has " become a matter of fact 
and history." "The history of Evolution," he 
adds, " as a matter of fact, is now distinctly 
traceable. We know it has happened, and what 
remains is the subordinate question of how it 
happened." ^ 

It is to be observed, however, that the " Evo- 

* "Address at Buffalo," August 2Sth. Reported in 
The Times of Sept. 14, 1876. 

Evolution. 2 5 

lution " of which Mr. Huxley makes this affirm- 
ation, is something very difTerent from the 
indefinite nondescript which in popular writings 
is often designated by the same term. Not 
unfrequently " evolution " means simply pro- 
gress or advancement. It is even used when 
nothing more than growth is intended. It is 
employed as if it were identical with " natural 
selection," or "transmutation/' or any other 
mode of " development." But with Mr. Huxley, 
evolution is something more than the emer- 
gence of the chick from the egg, or the oak from 
the acorn, or the frog from the tadpole. It is not 
a mere increase of bulk, nor is it restricted to 
any particular process, nor has it any special 
aim. It is a change from simplicity to com- 
plexity ; from incoherence and indefiniteness to 
their opposites. 

Thus, for instance, the nebular hypothesis 
supposes the evolution of the planetary bodies 
from incoherent atoms, which come not merely 
into mutual relation, but which also in that 
process become grouped together in such a way 
that the nascent mass becomes complex, con- 
sists of parts. Again : the homogeneous proto- 
plasm in which all organized beings commence, 
shows, when under favourable conditions, first 
the elements of tissues. These elements are 

26 Scientific Sophisms, 

afterwards grouped into tissues, and the tissues 
are associated into organs. The "indifferent" 
matter is differentiated in various degrees, and 
the animal and vegetable series show many- 
grades of difference. 

Thus the Protamceba never reaches to the 
formation of tissues; the Hydra has tissues, 
but few organs ; and, ascending in the series, the 
sharks, complex as is their organization, exhibit 
a less thorough differentiation of their hard 
parts, which are chiefly cartilaginous, than do 
mammals, in which cartilage is subordinate to 
bone. But the evolution of the more complex 
from the more simple organisms does not neces- 
sarily form a linear series ; probably it never 
does so. Nor does evolution imply change of 
matter as well as of the relations of its parts ; 
fresh matter is not essential to it, since the 
phenomena which it includes are, as matter of 
fact, rearrangements of that which was already 

Such are the principal facts regarding evolu- 
tion ; and from these it is evident that the 
phenomena themselves are absolutely indepen- 
dent of any and of every theory as to their 
cause. Thus understood and thus limited, 
Evolution, — Le,y the phenomenal sequence, not 
the ideal hypothesis — is a law the operation 

Evolution. 2 7 

of which is traceable throughout every depart- 
ment of nature. 

Mr. Herbert Spencer's definition of it is 
equally clear and concise : '* Evolution is a 
change from an indefinite, incoherent homo- 
geneity, to a definite, coherent heterogeneity ; 
through continuous differentiations and integra- 
tions." 1 

Its absolute universality of operation he thus 
expresses : " Whether it be in the development 
of the Earth, in the development of Life upon 
its surface, in the development of Society, of 
Government, of Manufactures, of Commerce, of 
Language, of Literature, Science, Art, this same 
advance from the simple to the complex, 
through successive differentiations, holds uni- 
formly. From the earliest traceable cosmical 
changes down to the latest results of civilization, 
we shall find that the transformation of the 
homogeneous into the heterogeneous, is that in 
which Evolution essentially consists." ^ 

In this last sentence we have not merely 
the " transformation " " in which evolution 
essentially consists ; " we have also the assjump- 

* " First Principles." Williams & Norgate, 1862, p. 
216. A subsequent definition is given below. See 
Appendix, Note B. 

^ /hW,y pp. 148, 149. 

28 Scientific Sophisms. 

tion that " the latest results of civilization *' 
have been evolved, in the way of necessary and 
inevitable consequence, from " the earliest trace- 
able cosmical changes." Human life, with all its 
inexhaustible possibilities, has been evolved from 
life infra-human. The life of the lower animals, 
like that of plants, was in the first instance 
evolved from non-living matter ; as that matter 
itself was evolved from " cosmic vapour." 

Professor Tyndall, as we have seen, tells us 
that " the world — even the clerical world — has 
for the most part settled down in the belief that 
Mr. Darwin's book simply reflects the truth of 
Nature : that we who are now ' foremost in the 
files of time ' have come to the front through 
almost endless stages of promotion from lower 
to higher forms of life." ^ And again :— 

" It is now generally admitted that the man 
of to-day is the child and product of incalcu- 
lable antecedent time. His physical and intel- 
lectual textures have been woven for him during 
his passage through phases of history and forms 
of existence which lead the mind back to an 
abysmal past." ^ " If to any one of us were 
given the privilege of looking back through the 

* " Science and Man." Fortnightly Review^ vol. xxii. 
p. 6ii. 
- Ibid,^ p. 594. 

Evolution. 29 

aeons across which life has crept towards its 
present outcome, his vision would ultimately 
reach a point when the progenitors of this 
assembly could not be called human." ^ " No 
one indeed doubts now that all the higher types 
of life with which the earth teems have been 
developed by the patient process of evolution 
from lower organisms, and in logical consis- 
tency we are bound to trace back the series 
to the simplest forms of protoplasm, which the 
microscope reveals to us as living units. But 
all this is but the outcome of life from life, and 
leaves us without an approach to a solution of 
the mighty question of the origin of life. There 
was a time when the earth was a red-hot melted 
globe, on which no life could exist. In course 
of ages its surface cooled ; but, to quote the 
words of one of our greatest savans, 'when it 
first became fit for life there was no living thing 
upon it' How then are we to conceive the 
origination of organized creatures } " ^ 

Professor Huxley, propounding to the British 
Association^ the tenets of what he called his 

* " Science and Man.'* Fortnightly Review^ voL xxii. 
p. 611. 

2 "The Germ Theory and Spontaneous Generation." 
Contemporary Review^ vol. xxix. pp. 901, 902. 

' In the Presidential Address for 1870. 

30 Scientific Sophisms. 

"philosophic faith" on this subject, has 
answered this question with his characteristic 
clearness of enunciation : — 

"If it were given me to look beyond the 
abyss of geologically recorded time to the still 
more remote period when the earth was passing 
through physical and chemical conditions, which 
it can no more see again than a man can recall 
his infancy, I should expect to be a witness of 
the evolution of living protoplasm from not 
living matter." ^ 

To the same effect, and not less articulately, 
Professor Tyndall : — 

"The problem before us is, at all events, 
capable of definite statement. We have on the 
one hand strong grounds for concluding that 
the earth was once a molten mass. We now 
find it not only swathed by an atmosphere and 
covered by a sea, but also crowded with living 
things. The question is, how were they intro- 
duced ? . . . The conclusion of science, 
which recognises unbroken causal connection 
between the past and the present, would un- 
doubtedly be that the molten earth contained 
within it the elements of life, which grouped 
themselves into their present forms as the planet 
cooled. The difficulty and reluctance encoun- 

* " Critiques and Addresses.** Macmillan, 1 873, p. 239. 

Evolution. 3 1 

tered by this conception, arise solely from the 
fact that the theologic conception obtained a 
prior footing in the human mind. Did the 
latter depend upon reasoning alone, it could 
not hold its ground for an hour against its 
rival. . . . Were not man's origin im- 
plicated, we should accept without a murmur 
the derivation of animal and vegetable life from 
what we call inorganic nature. The conclusion 
of pure intellect points this way and no 
other." 1 

In other words — and to sum up all that has 
been said in one short but authoritative sen- 
tence — " The doctrine of Evolution derives man 
in his totality from the interaction of organism 
and environment through countless ages 
past" 2 

And this it does, whatever may become of 
Darwinism. On this head, as well as on the 
illimitable sphere of its operation, we have the 
final conclusion of Professor Huxley : — 

" But even leaving Mr. Darwin's views aside, 
the whole analogy of natural operations furnishes 
so complete and crushing an argument against 
the intervention of any but what are termed 

^ " Materialism and its Opponents." Fortnightly Re- 
view^ vol. xviii. pp. 596, 597. 
' Prof. Tyndall's " Belfast Address," p. 59. 


3 2 Scientific Sophisms. 

secondary causes in the production of all the 
phenomena of the universe ; that in view of the 
intimate relations between Man and the rest of 
the living world ; and between the forces exerted 
by the latter and all other forces, I can see no 
excuse for doubting that all are co-ordinated 
terms of Nature's great progression, from the 
formless to the formed, — from the inorganic to 
the organic, — from blind force to conscious in- 
tellect and will." * 

^ " Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature.'' Williams 
and Norgate, 1863, p. 108. 




" O vitae philosophia dux ! O virtutis indagatrix, ex- 
pultrixque vitiorum ! . . . ad te confugimus : a te 
opem petimus "— C/V., Tusc, Q^cest^ v. 2. 

*' Philosophy, that leaned on Heaven before, 
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more." 

— The Dunciady Book iv. 643-644. 

" God, in the nature of each being, founds 
Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds." 

— Essay on Man, Ep. iii. 109-1 10, 

" Ah ! it is a sad and terrible thing to see nigh a whole 
generation of men and women professing to be cultivated, 
looking around in a purblind fashion, and finding no God 
in this universe !" — Carlyle, 




This, then, is Evolution: "baldest of all the 
philosophies which have sprung up in our 
world." The evolution which solves the pro- 
blem of human origin by the assumption that 
human nature exists potentially in mere inor- 
ganic matter ; and the assertion that man, with 
all his powers, and all their products, is the 
necessary result, by spontaneous derivation, of 
the interaction of incandescent molecules. 

But is this evolution scientific ? Is it demon- 
strable } Is it true } Before this question its 
assumptions cannot save it, however large ; its 
assertions cannot prove it, however loud. The 
question lies deeper. Has it received the neces- 
sary "verification ?" The "verification" without 
which, however ingenious as a theoretic con- 
ception, it must ever remain " a mere figment of 
the intellect ?"i 

' Prof. Tyndall's " Fragments of Science,** p. 469. 


36 Scientific Sophisms. 

To this question the answer is both unambi- 
guous and conclusive. To present it the more 
clearly, let us take separately the two points 
involved. First, what is the evidence for the 
succession of life from lower to higher forms } 
And second, what is the evidence as to the 
existence of any instance of the conversion or 
transmutation of one species into another } 

Let Professor Huxley answer. For we shall 
find no witness more competent than he ; none 
whose authority in all matters of natural history 
and palaeontology is more indisputable ; none 
more illustrious in his championship of Evolu- 
tion in general, or of Mr. Darwin's views in par- 
ticular. " There is but one hypothesis," he tells 
us, "as to the origin of species of animals in 
general which has any scientific existence — that 
propounded by Mr. Darwin." ^ Testimony from 
that quarter, therefore, cannot fail to have a 
special force. And on the first part of the 
question Professor Huxley writes thus : — 

" What, then, does an impartial survey of the positively 
ascertained truths of palaeontology testify in relation to 
the common doctrines of progressive modification, which 
suppose that modification to have taken place by a neces- 
sary progress from more to less embryonic forms, or from 

* " Man*s Place in Nature," p. 106. 

''A Pmrile Hypothesis^ 37 

more to less generalized types, within the limits of the 
period represented by the fossiliferous rocks ? 

" It negatives those doctrines, for it either shows us no 
evidence of such modification, or demonstrates such mo- 
dification as has occurred to have been very slight ; and 
as to the nature of that modification, it yields no evidence 
whatsoever that the earlier members of any long-continued 
group were more generalized in structure than the later 

" Contrariwise, any admissible hypothesis of progres- 
_-/e modification must be compatible with persistence 
without progression through indefinite periods." * 

In other words, th^ "hypothesis" requires 
some proof of " progressive modification," but it 
receives none. What it does receive is disproof 
only. To its demand for "progression," "the 
fossiliferous rocks " reply by exhibiting only 
"persistence without progression;" and that, 
"through indefinite periods." To its assump- 
tion of "almost endless stages of promotion 
from lower to higher forms of life," « Palaeon- 
tology responds by demonstrating that of these 
"stages" there is "no evidence," and of this 
"promotion " there is " no evidence whatsoever." 

Nor does Professor Huxley stop here. Deal- 
ing with the supposition that such a hypothesis 
as that of progressive modification should "even- 

^ " On Persistent Types of Life : " in " Lay Sermons," 
p. 225. 
« Prof. Tyndall's " Science and Man." 

38 Scientific Sophisms. 

tually be proved to be true," he makes the im- 
portant statement that the only way in which it 
can be demonstrated will be "by observation 
and experiment upon the existing forms of life."^ 
But demonstration of this kind is non-existent. 
Abundantly and incessantly as it has been at- 
tempted, it has never yet been achieved. Tried 
by this test of "observation and experiment 
upon the existing forms of life," neither Organic 
Evolution in general nor Mr. Darwin's " Origin 
of Species " in particular, has any actual place 
in rerum naturd. 

On the second part of the question — that 
of the transmutation of species — Mr. Huxley 
writes :— 

" After much consideration, and with assuredly 
no bias against Mn Darwin's views, it is our 
clear conviction that, as the evidence stands, it 
is not absolutely proven that a group of animals, 
having all the characters exhibited by species 
in nature, has ever been originated by selection, 
whether artificial or natural." ^ And again : — 

" Our acceptance of the Darwinian hypothesis 
must be provisional so long as one link in the 
chain of evidence is wanting ; and so long as all 
the animals and plants certainly produced by 

^ " Lay Sermons," p. 226. 
' Ibid,<i p. 295. 

''A Ptierile Hypothesis'' 39 

selective breeding from a common stock are 
fertile with one another, that link will be 
wanting." ^ 

"On a general survey of the theory," says 
Dr. Elam,^ "nothing strikes us more forcibly 
than the total absence of direct evidence of any 
one of the steps. No one professes to have ever 
seen a variety (producing fertile offspring with 
other varieties) become a species (producing no 
offspring, or no fertile offspring, with the origi- 
nal stock). No one knows of any living or any 
extinct species having given origin to any other, 
at once or gradually. Not one instance is ad- 
duced of any variety having ever arisen which 
did actually give its possessor, individually, any 
advantage in the struggle for life. Not one in- 
stance is recorded of any given variety having 
been actually selected for preservation, whilst its 
allies became extinct. There is an abundance 

* "Man's Place in Nature," p. 107. 

^ " Automatism and Evolution." Contemporary Review^ 
vol. xxix. p. 131. [In gratefully acknowledging my in- 
debtedness to the series of papers of which this is the 
third (for the first and second, see Contemporary Review^ 
voL xxviii. pp. 537 and 725), perhaps I may be per- 
mitted to say that, by their fairness and forcefulness, 
their clearness and conclusiveness, their breadth of range 
and their minuteness of detail. Dr. £lam has laid a large 
circle of readers under lasting obligations.] 

40 Scientific Sophisms. 

of semi-acute reasoning upon what might pos- 
sibly have occurred, under conditions which 
seem never to have been fulfilled ; " but of direct 
and positive testimony, whether derived from 
the experience of mankind or from trie geolo- 
gical record, there is no fragment whaiev^. 

Mr. Darwin himself, as showir-'febove,^ is so 
far from pretending that his theory has re- 
ceived any "verification," as to acknowledge, 
with characteristic candour, that in the existence 
of structures which "cannot be accounted for 
by any form of selection,"^ we have an objection 
which is "fatal" to that theory. And even in 
the case of other objections not thus pronounced 
absolutely "fatal" in form, his admissions are 
such as to show that they are fatal in fact. 
Thus, for instance, the absence of transitional 
forms between different species has abvays been 
recognised as a serious difficulty ; and Mr. Dar- 
win, in the attempt to obviate it, succeeds only 
in showing how very serious it is. These are his 
words : — 

"Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely 
graduated organic chain ; and this, perhaps, is the most 
obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against 

* Ante^ p. 23. 

2 " Descent of Man," vol, ii. p. 387^ 

f ''A Puerile Hypothesis^ 41 

my tleory. . The explanation lies, as I believe, in the 
extreme imperfection of the geological record." * 

But *' the extreme imperfection of the geo- 
logical r#cord" here hypothecated by way of 
" explinatipn," is so far from being a scientific 
fact, t\at it ||^s never imagined even by Mr. 
Darwin himself until he perceived that unless it 
were a$umed, " the testimony of the rocks," — 
not lesaithan that of the " structures " presented 
by " maL as well as every other animal," — would 
be " fata " to his theory. 

" I do nt pretend that I should ever have suspected 
how poor i record of the mutations of life the best pre- 
served geo^gical section presented, had not the difficulty 
of our noti discovering innumerable transitional links 
between thi species which appeared at the commence- 
ment and flke of each formation, pressed so hardly on my 
theory." ^ Ad again : — " He who rejects these views on 
the nature' a the geological record, will rightly reject my 
whole theory^ * 

On Mr. ikrwin's own showing therefore, cadit 
qucestio, '^jjiese views" of his are to be re- 
jected as uncientific, because they are unveri- 

* " Origiiof Species." Murray, 1859, p. 280. 
2 Ibid,^ pio2. 

' />., the |leged " extreme imperfection." 
^ " Originbf Species," p. 342. 

42 Scientific Sophisms. 

fied. They are at best " a mere figment of the 
intellect." And their rejection involves ihe re- 
jection of his "whole theory." . ' 

It is therefore no matter for surprise that a 
competent authority like Mr. St. George Mivart 
should conclude his exhaustive exanination 
with these weighty words : — 

" With regard to the conception as now put 
forward by Mr. Darwin, I cannot trulj* charac- 
terize it but by an epithet which I employ only 
with much reluctance. I weigh my MOrds, and 
have present to my mind the maiy distin- 
guished naturalists who have accepted the 
notion, and yet I cannot hesitate tc call it a 
^puerile hypothesis^ " ^ * 

Mr. Mivart's judgments need no endorsement 
here ; but those who are most con^rsant with 
the highly cultivated critical faculVi the pro- 
found knowledge of natural hist)ry and of 
biological science which in his * Genesis of 
Species," and afterwards, in his " lessons from 
Nature," he has brought to the refutation of 
Mr. Darwin's doctrine of Natual Selection, 
will be the first to adopt and to reiterate this, 

1 " Lessons from Nature, as manifesed in Mind and 
Matter." By St. George Mivart, jp.D., F.R.S., etc. 
London : Murray, 1876. Chap, ix. p. 00, (* This em- 
phasis of italics is Mr. Mivart's.) 

• > 


''A Puerile Hypothesis^ 


his latest verdict. That doctrine lacks even the 
ordinary respectability of "a mere figment of 
the iitellect." It is not merely fictitious, it is 
discreditable : — a ^^ puerile hypothesis^ 













** He had been eight years upon a project for extracting 
sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put into 
vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in 
raw inclement summers. He told me he did not doubt 
in eight years more that he should be able to supply the 
governor's gardens with sunshine at a reasonable rate.** — 
Gulliver's Travels. 

" Mgn somnia vana." — Hcr,^ Ars. Poet, 7. 

" We nobly take the high priori road, 
And reason downward, till we doubt of God." 

— Dunciad^ Book iv. 471-472. 

" Ask of the Leam'd the way ? The Learned are Wind ! " 

— Essay on Man^ Ep. iv. 19. 




Agnostic Evolution, then, is merely an unveri- 
fied hypothesis. And it is basefi on two sub- 
ordinate hypotheses, equally unverified. And 
in relation to it, these last are so essentially 
necessary, so absolutely fundamental, that if 
either of them be invalidated the entire super- 
structure falls to the ground. The Evolution 
here controverted, has no existence whatever, 
has even no theoretical existence, apart from 
these two postulates: (i) "Spontaneous Gene- 
ration " ; and (2) " Trans;nutation of Species." 
Without the first, it would be destitute of its 
starting-point, the " primordial form." Without 
the second, it would still be destitute, on agnos- 
tic principles, of all other forms than one. 

" Transmutation of Species," however, though 
reserved for further examination below, may for 
the present be dismissed, on the high authority 
of Professor Mivart, as a " puerile hypothesis." 

But when, on scientific grounds, we proceed to 


48 Scientific Sophisms. 

enquire as to the amount and character of 
evidence produced or producible, in favour of 
" Spontaneous Generation," we are compelled 
to regard it as a hypothesis still more puerile. 

Speaking of evolution at large, and in com- 
prehensive terms, Professor Whewell justly , 
says, — " The system ought to be described as a 
System of Order in which life grows out of dead 
matter^ the higher out of the lower animals^ and . 
man out of brutes^ * 

To begin then at the beginning. Is "The 
System," in its first postulate, true or false ? Is 
it matter of fact, or merely matter of fiction ? 
Does "life grow out of dead matter.?" 

Let us give the place of honour to "the 
Abraham of scientific men." Mr. Darwin, writ- 
ing to the Athenceunty says — " I hope you will 
permit me to add a few remarks on Heterogeny, 
as the old doctrine of spontaneous generation 
is now called, to those given by Dr. Carpenter, 
who, however, is probably better fitted to dis- 
cuss the question than any other man in Eng- 
land. Your reviewer believes that certain lowly 
organized animals have been generated spon- 
taneously — that is, without pre-existing parents 
— during each geological period in slimy ooze. 
A mass of mud with matter decaying and under- 

* Whewell's "Indications." Second Edition, p. 12. 

^^ Scientific Levity!' 49 

going complex chemical changes is a fine 
Jiiding-place for obscurity of ideas. But let us 
face the problem boldly. He who believes that 
organic beings have been produced during each 
geological period from dead matter, must believe 
that the first being thus arose. There must 
have been a time when inorganic elements alone 
existed in our planet : let any assumptions be 
made, such as that the reeking atmosphere was 
charged with carbonic acid, nitrogenized com- 
pounds, phosphorus, etc. Now is there a fact, 
or a shadow of a fact, supporting the belief 
that these elements, without the presence of any 
organic compounds, and acted on only by known 
forces, could produce a living creature? At 
present, it is to us a result absolutely incon- 
ceivable." ^ 

Dr. Carpenter had previously written thus : — 
" If your reviewer prefers to suppose that new 
types of Foraminifera originate from time to 
time out of the * ooze,* under the influence of 

* polar forces,' he has, of course, a right to his 
opinion ; though by most naturalists such 

* spontaneous generation * of rotalines and num- 
mulites will be regarded as a far more ' astound- 
ing hypothesis' than the one for which it is 
offered as a substitute. But I hold that mine 

^ The Athenaum for 1863, p. 554.^ 


50 Scientific Sophisms. 

IS the more scientific, as being conformable to 
the fact . . . ; whilst his is not supported 
by any evidence that rotalines or nummulites 
ever originate spontaneously, either in * ooze * or 
anywhere else." ^ 

" Spontaneous generation " therefore, so far 
from being a scientific verity, is pronounced 
by the highest authority in England to be an 
"astounding hypothesis," " not supported by 
any evidence " ; while the scientific Abraham 
declares it to be "absolutely inconceivable." 

" What displeases me in Strauss," says Hum- 
boldt, " is the scientific levity which leads him 
to see no difficulty in the organic springing from 
the inorganic, nay, man himself from Chaldean 
mud." ^ 

But how ? The modus operandi : what was 
that ? For answer we must turn first of all to a 
work which has at least the distinction of having 
obtained honourable mention by Prof. Tyndall. 
In the Belfast Address ^ we read of " the cele- 
brated Lamarck, who produced so profound an 
impression on the public mind through the 
vigorous exposition of his views by the author 
of the * Vestiges of Creation/ " Turning then 

* The AthencBum for 1863, p. 461. 

• " Letters to Varnhagen." First Edition, p. 117. 
» P. 37. 

^^ Scientific Levity!^ 51 

to this " vigorous exposition " we find that the 
transition was effected by means of a " nucleated 
vesicle." This "nucleated vesicle," the funda- 
mental form of all organisation, we must regard 
as "the meeting-point between the inorganic 
and the organic — the end of the mineral and 
the beginning of the vegetable and animal king- 
doms, which thence start in different directions, 
but in a general parallelism and analogy." 

Nor is this all. For " this nucleated vesicle is 
itself a type of mature and independent being 
in the infusory animalcules, as well as the start- 
ing-point in the foetal progress of every higher 
individual in creation, both animal and veget- 

What then? Granting all that is here as- 
sumed, we are as far as ever from a solution of 
the problem proposed. That problem is, to 
show the course of " Nature^s great progression," 
as asserted, " from the formless to the formed, 
from the inorganic to the organic." But to be- 
gin with the nucleated vesicle as "the funda- 
mental form of all organisation," is to begin, 
not at the beginning, but at the end. "The 
starting-point" here alleged, is on the wrong 
side the gulf We want to know how it was 
reached. We want to see, not the first thing 
" formed," but the bridge that spans the chasm 

52 Scientific Sophisms. 

for the " great progression " from the formless ; 
not the first thing that lived, but the ** evolu- 
tion " of " life " from " not living matter." 

But to satisfy this demand is, as we have seen, 
impossible, since the " evolution " required is 
not only non-existent, but is pronounced by Mr. 
Darwin himself to be " absolutely inconceivable." 
What then is to be done? Nothing is more 
simple. The demand that cannot be met must 
be evaded ; and we are accordingly asked to 
believe that the nucleated vesicle " is a form of 
being which there is some reason to believe 
electric agency will produce — though not per- 
haps usher into full life — in albumen, one of 
those component materials of animal bodies, 
in whose combination it is believed there is no 
chemical peculiarity forbidding their being any 
day realized in the laboratory. Remembering 
these things," proceeds the writer, " we are drawn 
on to the supposition that the first step in the 
creation of life upon this planet was a chemico- 
electric operation, by- which simple germinal 
vesicles were produced." 

Observe here, not the reasoning, but the un- 
reason. The premiss, ''There is some reason 
to believe." The conclusion, z^ "supposition." 
There is some reason to believe that " electric 
agency will produce" something not alive. 

''Scientific Levity''' 53 

Ergo, " a chemico-electric operation " was " the 
first step in the creation of life ! " 

But had not Prevost and Dumas previously 
announced that " globules could be produced in 
albumen by electricity " ? Quite true : but the 
support which the author's " supposition " was 
supposed to receive from that announcement 
fails at once before the remark that, " if his theory 
had been that the first step in the process of 
creation was the formation of vesicles by the 
wind passing over the ocean, then the fact of 
boys blowing bubbles in soap and water with a 
tobacco pipe, and the fable of Venus being 
born of the froth of the sea would have been aa 
much to his purpose." 

From the author of the " Vestiges " we turn 
to his eulogist. Professor Tyndall : — 

" If you ask me whether there exists the least evidence 
to prove that any form of life can be developed out of 
matter, without demonstrable antecedent life, my reply is 
that evidence considered perfectly conclusive by many 
has been adduced ; and that were some of us who have 
pondered this question to follow a very common example, 
and accept testimony because it falls in with our belief, 
we also should eagerly close with the evidence referred 
to. But there is in the true man of science a wish 
stronger than the wish to have his beliefs upheld ; 
namely, the wish to have them true. And this stronger 
wish causes him to reject the most plausible support if he 
has reason to suspect that it is vitiated by ^error. Those 

54 Scientific Sophisms. 

to whom I refer as having studied this question, believing 
the evidence offered in favour of * spontaneous genera- 
tion ' to be thus vitiated cannot accept it They know 
full well that the chemist now prepares from inorganic 
matter a vast array of substances which were some time 
ago regarded as the sole products of vitality. They are in- 
timately acquainted with the structural power of matter as 
evidenced in the phenomena of crystallization. They can 
justify scientifically their belief in its potency, under the 
proper conditions, to produce organisms. But in reply 
to your question they would frankly admit their inability 
to point to any satisfactory experimental proof that life 
can be developed save from demonstrable antecedent 
life. As already indicated, they draw the line from the 
highest organisms through lower ones down to the lowest, 
and it is the prolongation of this line by the intellect 
beyond the range of the senses that leads them to the 
conclusion which Bruno so boldly enunciated." ^ 

Reserving, for the present, all consideration of 
the other important admissions in this remark- 
able paragraph, it is sufiScient to note here the 
distinctly decisive answer which it furnishes to 
the question before us. " The evidence offered 
in favour of * spontaneous generation*" is "viti- 
ated by error." There is no "satisfactory ex- 
perimental proof," nor even does there exist 
" the least evidence to prove that any form of 
life can be developed out of matter, without 
demonstrable antecedent life." 

With this avowal of Professor Tyndall as 

^ " Belfast Address," pp. 55, 56. 

^^ Scientific Levity T 55 

well as with the preceding passage from the 
"Vestiges," it is instructive to compare the 
carefully constructed sentences — so reticent, so 
politic — of Mr. Herbert Spencer : — 

" The chasm," he tells us, " between the in- 
organic and the organic is being filled up. On 
the one hand, some four or five thousand com- 
pounds, once regarded as exclusively organic, 
have now been produced artificially from inor- 
ganic matter ; and chemists do not doubt their 
ability so to produce the highest forms of 
organic matter. On the other hand, the micro- 
scope has traced down organisms to simpler 
and simpler forms, until in the Protogenes of 
Professor Haeckel, there has been reached *a 
type distinguishable from a fragment of albu- 
men only by its finely granular character." ^ 

On which Dr. Elam pertinently asks, " Does 
not every candid observer know that this said 
' chasm * is not in any way * being filled up ; ' 
and that the chemist could quite as easily con- 
struct a full-grown ostrich, as this despised bit 
of finely granulated albumen } " As for the 
"four or five thousand compounds," as well 
might the goldsmith say that he did not 
"doubt his ability" to make gold out of a 

* " Principles of Psychology " (Stereot3rped Edition), 
voL i. p. 137. 

56 Scientific Sophisms. 

baser metal, because he had already moulded 
it and coloured it in four or five thousand differ- 
ent fashions. It is not in any sense true that 
any substance even distantly resembling or- 
ganizable matter has been formed. The line 
of demarcation between the organic and the 
inorganic is as wide as ever. For what are 
these "organic" matters said to have been 
formed from their elements t They are chiefly 
binary and ternary compounds ; certain acids 
of the compound radical class, some alcohols, 
ethers, and the like. Not one of them bears 
the most remote resemblance to anything that 
can live. Few of them contain nitrogen, and 
these few, chiefly amides^ are only combinations 
of ammonia or ammonium with other binary 
or ternary C9mpounds, and can only by courtesy 
or convention be allowed to be of " organic " 
nature. Neither chemically nor physically are 
they in any way allied to matter possessing the 
capacity of life. " One least particle of albu- 
men, granulated or not granulated, would be 
an answer a thousandfold more crushing to the 
opponents of Evolution than myriads of such 

It is now thirty-five years since the author of 
the "Vestiges," in his "vigorous exposition," 
enunciated the "belief" that "albumen" 

'^ Scientific Levity'^ 57 

might be " any day realized in the laboratory ; " 
and that there was "no chemical peculiarity for- 
bidding" that realization. In those thirty-five 
years scientific chemistry has advanced, with 
colossal strides, at a rate of progress previously 
unknown and unimagined. Its triumphs are 
attested by the number and character of its 
investigations, its improved methods, its en- 
larged nomenclature, its ever-increasing wealth 
of results. Its history during the present cen- 
tury presents a continuous series of remarkable 
discoveries : the number of non-metallic ele- 
ments has been increased by the addition of 
iodine, bromine, and selenium ; that of the 
metals has been nearly doubled ; the carefully 
examined compounds have increased a hundred- 
fold ; "a vast array of substances" has been 
compounded or decompounded ; but, towards 
that border-land which separates the organic 
from the inorganic — if such a border-land there 
be — this triumphant chemistry has not advanced 
one single step. " Chemists,^' we are told, " do 
not doubt their ability " to do that which has 
hitherto mocked all their efforts. Thirty-five 
years ago they were equally untroubled by 
doubt, and equally destitute of achievement. 
They then believed the great desideratum 
might be " any day realized in the laboratory." 

58 Scientific Sophisms. 

And they "do not doubt" it now. But still 
they do not " realize " it. They have not " the 
least evidence " in support of their belief : they 
have still less of "satisfactory experimental 

But who is this "they"? It is not the 
chemist : it is the " philosopher." The chemist 
knows better. He knows that notwithstanding 
an altered classification of " organic " and " in- 
organic," yet between his compounds on the 
one hand, and the construction of organizable 
matter on the other, there still stands the 
impassable barrier which demonstrates that 
the affinities of life and living matter belong 
to a chemistry of which we know nothing, and 
which, to strive to imitate is but to strive in 

The name of Dr. Rudolf Virchow has been 
familiar to scientific Europe for nearly forty 
years, as one honoured amongst the most 
honourable. It was he who, at the Conference 
of the Association of German Naturalists and 
Physicians at Munich, in the autumn of 1877, 
led the reaction in the high places of learning 
against the dogmatism of science. And this 
is what he says on the "scientific levity" of 
" spontaneous generation " : — 

"I gfrant that if any one is determined 


Scientific Levity ^ 59 

to form for himself an idea of how the first 
organic being could have come into exis- 
tence, of itself nothing further is left than to 
go back to spontaneous generation. . . . 
But of this we do not possess any actual 
proof. No one has ever seen a generatio 
cequivoca really effected ; and whoever supposes 
that it has occurred is contradicted by the 
naturalist, and not merely by the theologian. 
. . . If it were capable of proof, it would 
indeed be beautiful ! . . . But whoever 
recalls to mind the lamentable failure of all 
the attempts made very recently to discover 
a decided support for the geiteratio cequivoca in 
the lower forms of transition from the inor- 
ganic to the organic world, will feel it doubly 
serious to demand that this theory, so utterly 
discredited, should be in any way accepted as 
the basis of all our views of life." ^ 

An " astounding hypothesis," " not supported 
by any evidence," ^ " absolutely inconceivable," * 
and " utterly discredited. " * Such is the 
" scientific levity " of Spontaneous Generation. 

^ "The Freedom of Science in the Modern State," 

p. 39. 

^ Dr. Carpenter, ut sup, 

'Mr. Darwin. 

* Dr. Virchow. 




" I have found to my cost, a constant tendency to fill 
up the gaps of knowledge by inaccurate and superficial 
hypotheses^ — Mr, Darwin, 

" The simplicity and completeness of the evolutionist 
theory entirely disappear when we consider the unproved 
assumptions on which it is based, and its failure to con- 
nect with each other some of the most important facts in 
nature : in short, it is not in any true sense a philosophy, 
but merely an arbitrary arrangement of facts in accor- 
dance with a number of unproved hypotheses." — Principal 

" Trained in a less severe school than that of geometry 
and physics, his reasonings are almost always loose and 
inconclusive." — Sir David Brewster, 




" Spontaneous Generation " therefore, not 
less than " Transmutation of Species," is merely 
" a puerile hypothesis." But on these two 
dogmas the theory of agnostic Evolution is 
absolutely dependent By means of the sup- 
port derived from them — if only they them- 
selves could have been made to stand — it might 
have stood ; but with their fall, it also comes 
to the ground. Its relation to them renders its 
fate inevitable. The instability of the super- 
structure -is inseparably concomitant with the 
insecurity of the foundation. 

Nor is this all. Fate is involved in charac- 
ter: and when we proceed to examine the 
character of this theory, we are at no loss to 
discover the cause of its fate. 

If the doctrine of agnostic Evolution were 

scientifically true, it could not fail to command 

the universal assent of scientific men ; whereas 

now, on the contrary, it is notorious that 


64 Scientific Sophisms. 

among the ranks of those most eminent for 
scientific attainment there are not wanting ear- 
nest and enlightened seekers after truth, who 
have not only refused to accept this new doc- 
trine with its " logical consequences," but who 
have based their refusal on this explicit ground, 
that agnostic Evolution is " nothing more than 
a flimsy framework of hypothesis constructed 
upon imaginary or irrelevant facts, with a com- 
plete departure from every established canon of 
scientific investigation." 

In his Review of Professor Haeckel's 
** Natural History of Creation," or, as he would 
prefer to call it, " The History of the Develop- 
ment or Evolution of Nature," Professor Hux- 
ley has expressly formulated **the fundamen- 
tal proposition of Evolution." '* That proposi- 
tion is," he tells us, "that the whole world, 
living and not living, is the result of the 
mutual interaction, according to definite laws, 
of the forces possessed by the molecules of 
which the primitive nebulosity of the universe 
was composed." ^ And he adds, " If this be 
true, it IS no less certain that the existing 
world lay potentially in the cosmic vapour." 

In this, of course, he agrees with Haeckel, by 

^"Critiques and Addresses," Macmillan, 1873 (xii. 
" The Genealogy of Animals "), p. 305. 

A House of Cards. 65 

whom "full justice is done to Kant, as the 
originator of that 'cosmic gas theory/ as the 
Germans somewhat quaintly call it, which is 
commonly ascribed to Laplace." ^ 

Professor Tyndall agrees with both. Having 
discerned in " Matter " *' the promise and potency 
of all terrestial life,"* he lays it down as funda- 
mental that " the doctrine of evolution derives 
man in his totality from the interaction of organ- 
ism and environment through countless ages 
past" ' By that " vision of the mind," which, 
as he tells us, " authoritatively supplements 
the vision of the eye," * he sees " the cosmic 
vapour" as a primitive "nebular haze" (the 
" universal fire-mist " of the " Vestiges "), gradu- 
ally cooling, and contracting as it cooled, into a 
" molten mass," in which " latent and potential " 
were not only " life " before it was alive, and 
" form " before it was formed, " not alone the 
exquisite and wonderful mechanism of the 
human body, but the human mind itself; 
emotion, intellect, will, and all their phenomena 
. . , all our philosophy, all our poetry, all 

* "Critiques and Addresses," Macmillan, 1873 (xii. 
** The Genealogy of Animals "), p. 304. 

^ " Belfast Address," p. 55. 
' Ibid.^ p. 59. 

* Ibid,^ p. 55. 


66 Scientific Sophisms. 

our science, and all our art — Plato, Shakespeare, 
Newton, Raphael " All that has been ; all that 
is ; nay, even all that is imagined only ; was 
once, — to the scientific eye, "in a fine frenzy 
rolling," — "potential in the fires of the sun ;" ^ 
just as those fires themselves had no existence 
(other than '* latent and potential ") until they 
were kindled by the condensation of "the 
cosmic vapour." 

These quotations, and such as these — for they 
might be indefinitely extended — enable us to 
sum up the doctrine of Agnostic Evolution in 
two short propositions : — 

First, " That the earliest organisms were the 
natural product of the interaction of ordinary 
inorganic matter and force." 

Second, " That all the forms of animal and 
vegetable life, including man himself, with all 
his special and distinctive faculties, have been 
slowly, but successively and gradually developed 
from the earliest and simplest organisms." 

But when we proceed to examine the 
scientific pretensions of the theory thus suc- 
cinctly stated, we find, on Professor Tyndall's 
own showing, that they are worthless. Worth- 
less, because unverified, and incapable of veri- 
fication. "The strength of the doctrine of 
* " Scientific Use of the Imagination,'' p. 453. • 

A House of Cards. 67 

evolution consists," he tells us, "not in an 
experimental demonstration (for the subject is 
hardly accessible to this mode of proof), but in 
its general harmony with scientific thought"^ 
"Scientific thought," however, can only mean 
" the aggregate thoughts of scientific men ; " 
and with these thoughts it is most certain that 
this doctrine of Evolution is not in harmony. 
Mr. Darwin, with his usual candour, writes as 
recently as 1871, "Of the older and honoured 
chiefs in natural science, many unfortunately 
are still opposed to Evolution in every form." * 
Since that date it is certain that, on the con- 
tinent at least, the doctrine has been met by 
many distinguished botanists and zoologists with 
growing disfavour. To the same purpose is 
the still more recent admission of Professor 
Tyndall : " Our foes are to some extent they 
of our own household, including not only the 
ignorant and the passions^te, but a minority 
of minds of high calibre and culture, lovers of 
freedom, moreover, who, though its objective 
hull be riddled by logic, still find the ethic life 
of their religion unimpaired." ^ 

But even if this were not the case, it would 

1 " Belfast Address," p. 58. 

' " Descent of Man," p. 2. 

' " Materialism and its Opponents," ut sup,^ p. 597. 

68 Scientific Sophisms. 

still be true, on Professor TyndalFs showing, 
that Evolution as above defined has not been 
" verified " " by observation and experiment ; " 
and that " without verification a theoretic con- 
ception is a mere figment of the intellect." * 
"Those who hold the doctrine of evolution," 
he tells us, " are by no means ignorant of the 
uncertainty of their data, and they only yield 
to it a provisional assent. They regard the ne- 
bular hypothesis as probable, . . . and accept 
as probable the unbroken sequence of develop- 
ment from the nebula to the present time." ^ 

" Probable," " provisional," " uncertain," and 
therefore " unscientific ; " this, on the highest 
authority, is thus admitted to be the actual 
character of " the doctrine of Evolution." But 
of what kind is this probability ? When ex- 
amined, it appears that even the alleged prob- 
ability itself is at best a mere ** supposition," " a 
theoretic conception," a probability hypothet- 
ical only, nothing more. 

For example : Mr. Herbert Spencer tells us 
that "there is reason to suspect that there is 
but one ultimate form of Matter, out of which 
the successively more complex forms of Matter 

1 " Fragments of Science," p. 469. 

* " Scientific Use of the Imagination," p. 456. 

A House of Cards. 69 

are built up."^ When we ask for the reason 
for this assertion, we are merely told that there 
is "reason to suspect" so, and that "by the 
different grouping of units, and by the com- 
bination of the unlike groups each with its 
own kind, and each with other kinds, it is 
supposed that there have been produced the 
kinds of matter we call elementary."* But, 
for anything that appears to the contrary, the 
" reason to suppose " all this, and the subsequent 
supposing of it, exist only in Mr. Spencer's 
own mind, and have their raison (Titre in the 
exigencies of the "constructive philosophy." 
Having however in this way " supposed " what- 
ever he pleased, and having also justified his 
method of procedure by saying that there was 
" reason to suppose " so, he then in the very 
next paragraph, and without adducing any 
proof whatever, proceeds to treat these sup- 
positions as if they were ascertained facts, and 
builds on them as if he took them for solid 
foundations. Thus : — " If then, WE SEE (!) that 
by unlike arrangements of like units, all the 
forms of matter, apparently so diverse in nature 
may be produced," etc. etc.* 

* "Principles of Psychology." Stereotjrped Edition. 
Williams & Norgate, 1870, voL i. p. 155. 
« Ibid. » Ibid. 

76 Scientific Sophisms. 

But this method of evolving science from 
supposition, and conjuring with conjecture for 
certainty, is by no means a monopoly of Mr. 
Herbert Spencer. In one sentence of his Essay 
on "Scientific Materialism," Professor Tyndall 
states that ** we should on philosophic grounds 
expect /^^«rf" certain physical conditions; and 
in the next, he commences an induction, from this 
mere expectation, with the phrase, " The relation 
of physics to consciousness being thus invari- 
able" ! ^ a relation which, if it exists at all,' does 
certainly not exist in any demonstrable form — 
so far is it from " being thus,^' or being in any 
way other than that of " expectation " merely, 
" invariable." 

Similarly, when, in his controversy with Mr. 
Martineau, he claims "consciousness" for the 
fern and the oak, he says, " No man can say 
that the feelings of the animal are not repre- 
sented by a drowsier consciousness in the 
vegetable world. At all events no line has 
ever been drawn between the conscious and the 
unconscious; for the vegetable shades into the 
animal by such fine gradations, that it is 
impossible to say where the one ends and the 
other begins. . , , The evidences as to 

* " Fragments of Science." Sixth Edition. Longmans, 
1879, voL ii. p. 86. 

A House of Cards. 71 

consciousness in the vegetable world depend 
wholly upon our capacity to observe and weigh 
them." ^ What then ? This, evidently : that 
since we are not possessed of any such 
capacity ; and since, without that capacity the 
evidence is non-existent ; it follows that there 
is no evidence whatever "as to consciousness 
in the vegetable world." But if there is a fatal 
lack of evidence there is no lack of imagination ; 
and Dr. TyndalFs imagination, always brilliant, 
is fully equal to the occasion. He supposes 
altered conditions for the observer, and then 
says : " I can imagine not only the vegetable, 
but the mineral world, responsive to the proper 
irritants." * "I can imagine ! " What ? " Con- 
sciousness " in a cabbage, and in a granite cube. 
But on what evidence i None that I can find : 
but plenty that " I can imagine ! " 

In the same category with the suppositions 
of Mr. Spencer and the imagination of Professor 
Tyndall must be placed the conceptions of Mr. 
Darwin. Like them, he has to assume as fun- 
damental, certain propositions which he cannot 
prove. But then if he cannot prove, he " can- 
not doubt," or he "can hardly doubt;" and 
this incapacity for doubt serves as a highly 

' " Materialism and its Opponents," ut sup,, p. 595. 
« Ibid. 

72 Scientific Sophisms. 

convenient substitute for certainty. Thus, 

" I cannot doubt that the theory of descent 
with modification embraces all the members of 
the same class." ^ And again : " I can indeed 
hardly doubt that all vertebrate animals having 
true lungs, have descended, by ordinary genera- 
tion from an ancient prototype, of which we 
know nothing, furnished with a floating appa- 
ratus or swim-bladder." " It is conceivable that 
the now utterly lost branchiae might have been 
gradually worked in by natural selection for 
some quite distinct purpose, in the same 
manner as ... it is probable that organs 
which at a very ancient period served for respir- 
ation, have been actually converted into organs 
of flight."^ 

It would be sufficiently surprising, if we had 
not been so long accustomed to it, to learn that 
the possession of lungs which constitute the 
fitness of the possessors for living, not in water, 
but in air, betrays their aquatic origin.^ But it 
is much more surprising that men illustrious in 
virtue of their scientific eminence should expect 

* " Origin of Species," p. 484. 
' Ibid,^ p. 191. 

' ^Land animals, which in their lungs or modified 
swim-bladders betray their aquatic origin." {Jbid.y p. 196.) 

A House of Cards. 73 

a tissue of conjectures such as this to be ac- 
cepted as if it possessed any scientific authority. 
The branchiae are " now utterly lost ; " that is, 
they are non-existent, except to the " imagina- 
tion," to which "it is conceivable" that they 
might once have been otherwise. That " ancient 
mariner," the primeval ancestor of the human 
race, was "an ancient prototype of which we 
know nothing." And yet, strange to say, we 
do know this : that he was " furnished with a 
floating apparatus or swim-bladder." Some- 
thing ** might have been " made of the missing 
branchiae " for some quite distinct purpose ; " 
for this, although not actual . is at least " con- 
ceivable." Nay, it almost emerges from the 
realm of the ideal when we are to be shown the 
modus operandi^ — " in the same manner as " — as 
what ? As in some other instance of which we 
have tangible proof ? No, not that : but only as 
in some other instance where "it is probable," 
or at least supposable, that "organs which at 
a very ancient period " may or may not have 
existed to serve a given end, would be of great 
service to this theory if only it could be shown, 
first, that they did exist, and then that they 
ceased to exist, by having been " actually con- 
verted " into other organs to serve another and 
a very different end. 

74 Scientific Sophisms. 

Mr. Spencer "supposes;" Dr. Tyndall "im- 
agines;" Mr. Darwin "conceives." Tier on 
tier the towering fabric totters to its fall : no 
stability in the foundation, no continuity in the 
superstructure ; " a flimsy framework of hypo- 
thesis, constructed upon imaginary or irrelevant 
facts, with a complete departure from every 
established canon of scientific investigation." 



" Cujusvis hominis est errare, nuUius, nisi insipientis, 
in errore perseverare." — C/V., Philip, xii. 2, 

" Ethical theism is now master of the situation. The 
attempt to lose sight of the personal God in nature, or to 
subordinate His Transcendence over the universe to any 
power immanent in the universe, and especially the 
tendency to deny the theology of ethics and to insist 
only upon the reign of force, are utterly absurd^ and are 
meeting their just condemnation.'* — Fichte (to Zeller). 




" No stability in the foundation, no continuity 
in the superstructure " ; "a flimsy framework of 
hypothesis, constructed on imaginary facts." If 
any one imagines that this is the language of 
exaggeration or romance, let him turn to the 
twenty-second chapter of Haeckers "Natural 
History of Creation," where he will find a 
complete and circumstantial history of human 
ancestry in twenty-two stages of existence, from 
the unicellular Monera up to the perfect man. 
The theory of man's ape-descent thus constructed 
is perfect — but it is in the air. It lacks but one 
thing to give it relevance : and that one thing is 
reality. Like the "chateaux en Espagne" of 
the penniless Count, it exists only in the in- 
terested imagination of the pretender. 

Du Bois Reymond has incurred the bitter 
and unappeasable wrath of Haeckel by declar- 
ing this genealogical tree {Stammbaum) to be 
as authentic in the eyes of a naturalist, as are 


78 Scientific Sophisms. 

the pedigrees of the Homeric heroes in those of 
an historian. And no wonder ; for, unauthentic 
and unreal as they are, they are indispensable. 
Without them the theory of evolution has no 
pretence to "continuity." But with their aid, 
although the continuity which they confer is still 
in nubibus, the argument is rounded with the 
completeness of a circle. What are the proofs 
of man's descent from the ape? The facts of 
ontogenesis^ and phylogenesis and their corre- 
spondence. Where are these facts enumerated } 
In the twenty-second chapter of Haeckel's 
** Natural History of Creation." What is the 
authority for these facts ? Chiefly this : that 
they are necessitated by the exigencies of the 
theory. But where is the demonstrative evid- 
ence, direct or indirect, that any creatures repre- 
senting these twenty-two imaginary stages ever 
existed ? In the majority of instances there is 
no such evidence ; but they " must have existed," 
otherwise the theory would be imperfect 

For example, the Monera^ according to 
Haeckel, are our earliest "ancestors;" and of 
these it is stated, — as if it were a plain historical 

* Ontogenesis^ the history of individual development. 
Phylogenesis^ the history of genealogical development 
BiogenesiSy the history of life development generally. 

Sophisms. 79 

fact, — that "they originated about the begin- 
ning of the Laurentian period, by archebiosis 
or spontaneous generation," from " so-called in- 
organic compounds of carbon, hydrc^en, oxy- 
gen, and nitrc^en."^ After what has been 
already said of spontaneous generation,^ it is 
almost superfluous to add that this assertion 
about our earliest "ancestors" is not only 
destitute, it is also incapable, of proof. And 
yet the fundamental law {Grundgesetz) of on- 
togenesis absolutely requires it. 

Again. In his Munich Address, Haeckel re- 
peats the trite old tale (" zis if it had not been 
a hundred times blown into the 'infinite azure'") 
that "the Monera, consisting of protoplasm 
only, bridge over the deep chasm between 
organic and inorganic nature, and show us how 
the simplest and oldest organisms must have 
originated from inorganic carbon compounds." * 
Whereas, on the contrary, the simple fact is 
that the Monera bridge over nothing whatever ; 
nor do they show, in any conceivable way, how 
life hcis originated from inorganic compounds. 
Chemically and dynamically the protoplasm of 

^ " Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte,'* p. 578. 
' Vide sup,y p. 50 et seqq., especially p. 59. 
' "Die Heutige Entwickelungslehre im Verhaltnisse 
zur Gesammtwissenschaft," p. 13. 

8o Scientific Sophisms. 

these apparently simple organisms is just as far 
removed from inorganic matter as is the proto- 
plasm of the lion or the eagle. 

Of another important group of "ancestors," 
the GastreadUy we are told that it " mtist have 
existed in the primordial time, and must have 
included amongst its members the direct ances- 
tors of man." No one ever saw a single in- 
dividual of this group ; that is a matter of 
course. It is equally a matter of course that no 
traces are to be found of its existence. But 
the "certain proof "^ of that existence is sup- 
posed to be found in the fact that the Am- 
phioxus, at one period of its development, 
presents a type similar to that of — of what? 
Of the imaginary Gastraea whose existence had 
to be proved ! Our ancestors, the worms, come 
next ; and, like their predecessors, they " mtist 
have existed," because without them we should 
be at a loss how to derive higher worms, and 
the articulata generally. 

Professor Huxley, summarizing and review- 
ing this volume of Haeckel's, is careful to 
express his "entire concurrence with the general 
tenor and spirit of the work," and his "high 
estimate of its value." ^ Of the particular por- 

* " Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte," p. 581. 

^ " Critiques and Addresses." Macmillan, 1873, P« 3i9- 

Sophisms. 8 1 

tion now under review, he says, — " In Professor 
Haeckel's speculation on Phylogeny, or the 
genealogy of animal forms, there is much that 
is profoundly interesting, and his suggestions 
are always supported by sound knowledge and 
great ingenuity. Whether one agrees or dis- 
agrees with him, one feels that he has forced 
the mind into lines of thought in which it is 
more profitable to go wrong than to stand 

"To put his views into a few words, he 
conceives that all forms of life originally 
commenced as Monera, or simple particles of 
protoplasm ; and that these Monera originated 
from not living matter. Some of the Monera 
acquired tendencies towards the Protistic, others 
towards the Vegetal, and others towards the 
Animal modes of life. The last became animal 
Moftera. Some of the animal Monera acquired 
a nucleus, and became amceba-like creatures ; 
and out of certain of these, ciliated infusorium- 
like animals were developed. These became 
modified into two stirpes : A, that of the 
worms ; and B, that of the sponges. The latter 
by progressive modification gave rise to all the 
Ccelenterata ; the former to all other animals. 
But A soon broke up into two principal stirpes, 
of which one, a^ became the root of the Anne* 


82 Scientific Sophisms, 

liduy Echinodermata, and Arthropoda^ while the 
other, b, gave rise to the Polyzoa and Ascidioida^ 
and produced the two remaining stirpes of the 
Vertebrata and the MoUusca."^ 

Many persons will agree with Mr. Huxley so 
far as to admit that Professor Haeckel is not 
destitute either of "sound knowledge," or of 
" great ingenuity," who yet think Mr. Huxley in 
error when he represents his favourite Professor 
as possessing these characteristics in combina- 
tion. As displayed in his "speculations on 
Phylogeny," they appear to be not so much in 
combination as in opposition. Each invades 
the province of the other. Take away the 
"knowledge," and you clear the field for the 
" ingenuity " : but where " sound knowledge " is 
supreme, " great ingenuity " is superfluous. He 
who finds it " more profitable to go wrong than 
to stand still," may indeed display "great 
ingenuity," but the soundness of his "know- 
ledge " is by no means unquestionable. 

Take, for example, this very summary of " his 
views," as here given by Professor Huxley. 
What he does " view " is something not actual 
and real, but ideal only. He does not " prove " ; 
he does not even assign reasons for belief ; but, 

^ "Critiques and Addresses." Macmillan, 1873, PP* 
314, 315. 

Sophisms. 83 

like Mr. Darwin, he merely " conceives " a cer- 
tain ideal origin of life. His Monera^ at first 
"conceivable" only, and then "conceived," 
"acquired tendencies." But how did they 
acquire them.? And how does he know that 
they were acquired } The only answer is, that 
they must have acquired them or they could 
never have possessed them ; and they must 
Jiave possessed them, or they could not "have 
become animal Monera ; and they must have 
become animal Moneray for without them 
the theory breaks down, and the existence of 
the animal world could be accounted for 
only by admitting tlie doctrine of a special 
creation. To meet the exigencies of the 
theory therefore, these "simple particles," so 
inexplicably "originated," and with "ten- 
dencies " so inexplicably " acquired," at last, and 
in some equally inexplicable manner, " became 
animal Monera!^ 

"At last !" By no means : this is but another 
beginning. Each tier of the hypothesis is 
constructed only by a recurrence of the same 
dogmatic assumptions. " Some of the animal 
Monera acquired a nucleus, and became amoeba- 
like creatures." "Great ingenuity.?" Un- 
doubtedly : whatever the theory requires is 
forthcoming on paper. The transformations 

84 Scientific Sophisms. 

are as surprising, as unaccountable, — and as 
unreal, — as those which ingenuity, by means of 
sleight of hand, brings out of a conjuror's hat. 
But it is only conjuring after all ; and " sound 
knowledge " is not imposed upon by sleight of 
hand. These " simple particles " " originated," 
"acquired," "became," "were developed," "be- 
came modified," "gave rise to," and "produced," 
"all forms of life." How? When.? Where? 
No such origination has ever been witnessed. 
No such evolution has ever been observed. 
No such results have ever been produced. But 
the theory requires them ; and consequently, to 
meet the exigencies of the theory, here they are 
— on paper. 

Before dismissing " Professor Haeckel's specu- 
lations on Phylogeny," there is one other point 
that calls for special notice. His fundamental 
postulates are these: "That all forms of life 
originally commenced as Moneray or simple 
particles of protoplasm ; and that these Monera 
originated from not living matter." Yet he 
himself is perfectly aware that these, his funda- 
mental postulates, are not only "not proven," 
but are incapable of proof. "With respect to 
spontaneous generation," says Mr. Huxley,* 
"while admitting that there is no experimental 
* ^ Critiques and Addresses." Macmillan, 1873, ?• 3^ 

Sophisms. 85 

evidence in its favour, Professor Haeckel denies 
the possibility of disproving it, and points out 
that the assumption that it has occurred is a 
necessary part of the doctrine of evolution." 
So be it. A more complete confirmation of 
what has been already said on this subject it 
would be impossible to desire. Evolution now, 
of necessity, rests on "spontaneous generation:" 
while spontaneous generation is at best an 
" assumption " of which its most uncompromis- 
ing advocate admits that " there is no experi- 
mental evidence in its favour." So much the 
worse for "the doctrine of Evolution." 

The position assumed by Mr. Huxley himself 
in reference to this subject is peculiar ; so pecu- 
liar, indeed, that it had better be stated in his 
own words. In his Presidential Address to 
the British Association for the Advancement 
of Science (1870), he discusses the conflicting 
claims of Biogenesis and Abiogenesis^ in one of 
the ablest and most lucid expositions ever given 
of that problem. By the former term he de- 
notes " the hypothesis that living matter always 
arises by the agency of pre-existing living 
matter;" the latter term denotes the contrary 
doctrine — that living matter may be produced 
by matter not living. 

The first distinct enunciation of the hypo- 

86 Scientific Sophisms, 

thesis that all living matter has sprung from 
pre-existing living matter, he traces not to our 
great .countryman, Harvey, but to a contem- 
porary though a junior of Harvey, and trained 
in the same schools, Francesco Redi. And he 
concludes his sketch of the progress of the 
doctrine, and of the successive experiments by 
which its truth has been established, in these 
words : " So much for the history of the progress 
of Redi's great doctrine of Biogenesis, which 
appears to me, with the limitations I have 
expressed, to be victorious along the whole line 
at the present day."^ 

His own adhesion to this " great doctrine of 
Biogenesis " is thus stated : " If in the present 
state of science the alternative is offered us, — 
either germs can stand a greater heat than has 
been supposed, or the molecules of dead matter, 
for no valid or intelligible reason that is as- 
signed, are able to rearrange themselves into 
living bodies, exactly such as can be demon- 
strated to be frequently produced another way, 
— I cannot understand how choice can be, even 
for a moment, doubtful. 

" But though I cannot express this conviction 
of mine too strongly, I must carefully guard 
myself against the supposition that I intend to 
^ " Critiques and Addresses," p. 239. 

Sophisms. 87 

suggest that no such thing as Abiogenesis ever 
has taken place in the past, or ever will take 
place in the future. With organic chemistry, 
molecular physics, and physiology yet in their 
infancy, and every day making prodigious strides, 
I think it would be the height of presumption 
for any man to say that the conditions under 
which matter assumes the properties we call 
' vital * may not some day be artificially brought 
together. All I feel justified in affirming is, 
that I see no reason for believing that the feat 
has been performed yet"^ 

Analysing this declaration we have three 
several propositions. Spontaneous generation 
is a dogma for which "no valid or intelligible 
reason is assigned." As between life derived 
from antecedent life, and life derived from some- 
thing that was not alive, Professor Huxley 
"cannot understand how choice can be, even 
for a moment, doubtful." And "this convic- 
tion " of his he " cannot express too strongly." 
At the same time, however, he is not quite sure 
that the opposite of all this may not be also 
true — of some possible future, or perhaps even 
of some actual past. 

But the climax is yet to come. The declara- 
tion above quoted, — "All I feel justified in af- 
^ " Critiques and Addresses," p. 238. 

88 Scientific Sophisms. 

firming is, that I see no reason for believing that 
the feat has been performed yet," — rests on 
reasons at once valid and intelligible, assignable 
and assigned. Any declaration, therefore, an- 
tagonistic to this, must of necessity be devoid 
of reason. Yet such is precisely the declaration 
which, in the very next paragraph, Professor 
Huxley proceeds to make. "If it were given 
me," he says, "to look beyond the abyss of 
geologically-recorded time ... I should 
expect to be a witness of the evolution of living 
protoplasm from not living matter." ^ He would 
"expect to witness," in that "remote period," the 
performance of a feat which he sees " no reason 
for believing " has ever " been performed yet." 

Professor Tyndall believes that if a planet 
were " carved from the sun, set spinning round 
an axis, and revolving round the sun at a dis- 
tance from him equal to that of our earth," ^ 
one of the " consequences of its refrigeration " 
would be "the development of organic forms." 
If you ask what reason can be assigned for this 
belief, you are asked in turn, "Who will set 
limits to the possible play of molecules in a 
cooling planet .^"^ 

This conclusive question is suggestive of 

^ "Critiques and Addresses," p. 239. 
2 " Fragments of Science." Sixth Edition (1879), vol. ii. 
p. 51. * Ibid, 

Sophisms. 89 

another :— " Who will set limits to the possible 
play of Professor Tyndairs scientific imagina- 
tion ?" Why should a cooling planet be so much 
more likely to produce minute organisms, and to 
develope " organic forms," than a cooling flask ? 
Or, as Dr. Bastian pertinently puts it, " If such 
synthetic processes took place then, why should 
they not take place now ? Why should the 
inherent molecular properties of various kinds of 
matter have undergone so much alteration ? " ^ 

The opening sentences of the Belfast Address 
are vitiated by a fallacy which reappears in 
other places with the regularity of a recurring 
decimal. "An impulse inherent in primeval 
man," says Dr. Tyndall, "turned his thoughts 
and questionings betimes towards the sources 
of natural phenomena. The same impulse, in- 
herited and intensified, is the spur of scientific 
action to-day. Determined by it, by a process 
of abstraction from experience we form physical 
theories which lie beyond the pale of experience, 
but which satisfy the desire of the mind to see 
every natural occurrence resting upon a cause." 

Now, since of this " primeval man " nothing 
whatever is known, on what ground can it be 
affirmed that he possessed the "inherent im- 
pulse " here attributed to him ? All that is 

^ " Beginnings of Life," Pref. p. x. 

90 Scientific Sophisms. 

known of him is that his " progenitors " " could 
be not called human." ^ How came he then by 
this " inherent " impulse — an impulse now " in- 
herited " as the distinctive characteristic of all 
mankind — yet not possessed by his non-human 
ancestors, and therefore not derived from them ? 
Inexplicable however as is this impulse, it is 
as nothing when compared with the theories to 
which it has given rise. The theories have been 
invented to satisfy a desire of the mind : the 
desire " to see every natural occurrence resting 
upon a cause." And to satisfy this desire the 
scientific imagination of to-day forms " physical 
theories which lie beyond the pale of expe- 
rience," and rest — upon nothing. If, as the same 
eminent authority has told us, a "theoretic 
conception" is a mere "intellectual figment," 
until it has been "verified" by V observation 
and experiment," how is it possible that 
" theories which lie beyond the pale of expe- 
rience," should satisfy a mind that desires " to 
see every natural occurrence resting upon a 
cause " ? " Physical theories," to be satisfactory 
to such a mind, must lie within — and not 
beyond — the pale of experience. 
" The porter sits down on the weight which he bore," 

* Professor Tyndall's (Birmingham Address) " Science 
and Man," p. 6ii. 

Sophisms. 9 1 

says Wordsworth. And this he may do with 
perfect safety, even on the parapet of London 
Bridge; for that is within the pale of expe- 
rience. But woe to the unlucky wight who, 
in the attempt to satisfy his desire for rest, 
ventures to sit down on some " abstraction " 
outside the parapet; for that is "beyond the 
pale of experience." 

" Trace the line of life backwards," says our 
Lucretian, "and see it approaching more and 
more to what we call the purely physical con- 
dition. . . . We break a magnet and find 
two poles in each of its fragments. We con- 
tinue the process of breaking ; but, however 
small the parts, each carries with it, though 
enfeebled, the polarity of the whole. And 
when we can break no longer, we prolong the 
intellectual vision to the polar molecules. Are 
we not urged to do something similar in the case 
of life ? . . . Believing as I do in the con- 
tinuity of Nature, I cannot stop abruptly where 
our microscopes cease to be of use. Here the 
vision of the mind authoritatively supplements 
the vision of the eye. By an intellectual neces- 
sity I cross the boundary of the experimental 
evidence, and discern in Matter . . . the 
promise and potency of all terrestrial Life." ^ 

* " Belfast Address," p. 55. 

92 Scientific Sophisms. 

This "potency" of matter, then, when dis- 
cerned at all, is discerned only "beyond the 
pale of experience," "across the boundary of 
experimental evidence." Scientifically, there- 
fore, it is non-existent ; a mere " intellectual 
figment," the product of an imaginary " intel- 
lectual necessity " : an " unverified theoretic 
conception," nothing more ; and this only when 
it has been actually "discerned." But, as 
simple matter of fact, it has never yet been 
actually discerned. Professor Tyndall himself 
has not thus discerned it. What he here calls 
discernment he elsewhere calls the scientific use 
of the Imagination. It is he himself who war- 
rants the affirmation that this alleged " potency 
of all terrestrial Life " has not been discerned 
in Matter at all ; it has only been imagined. 
" Conscious life " is a part, and the principal 
part, of " all terrestrial life." Has the life of a 
fern or an oak this potential " consciousness " ? 
It is Dr. Tyndall who answers, " No man can 
tell." ^ Does pig iron possess this potency of 
conscious cogitation } or does the loftiest granite 
needle of the Alps cheer its eternal solitude 
with the reflection, " CogitOy ergo sum " f There 

^ "Materialism and its Opponents," Fortnightly Re- 
vieWy vol. xviii. p. 595. " Fragments of Science," Intro- 

Sophisms, 93 

is no answer. They make no sign. No such 
promise or potency is exhibited, and it is there- 
fore no wonder that it is not discerned. But 
alter the conditions of discernment, says Dr. 
Tyndall, and then " I can imagine not only the 
vegetable, but the mineral world, responsive to 
the proper irritants." ^ Not, "I have discerned"; 
nor even I can discern ; but only " I can 
imagine ! " 

And here the matter might be left, were it 
not that Dr. Tyndall has himself compelled us 
to ask whether he has not estimated too highly 
his own power of imagination. For how can 
even he imagine that which he himself tells us 
is unimaginable.? The passage from physics 
to consciousness, he tells us,^ ** is unthinkable." 
"You cannot satisfy the human understanding 
in Its demand for logical continuity between 
molecular processes and the phenomena of con- 
sciousness. This is a rock on which materialism 
must inevitably split whenever it pretends to be 
a complete philosophy of life."* Nor would 
the result be altered if even the experiment 
could be made under the altered conditions 

^ "Materialism and its Opponents,'* Fortnightly Re- 
view^ vol. xviii. p. 595. " Fragments of Science,'* Intro- 

2 Ibid, p. 589. » " Belfast Address," p. 33. 

94 Scientific Sophisms. 

which in the passage above cited, it was found 
necessary to hypothecate. "Alter the capa- 
city " of the observer, it was then said, " and 
the evidence would alter too." ^ Yet here, 
only six pages earlier, in the very same paper, 
we are told : " Were our minds and senses so 
expanded, strengthened, and illuminated, as to 
enable us to see and feel the very molecules of 
the brain ; were we capable of following all 
their motions, all their groupings, all their 
electric discharges, if such there be ; and were 
we intimately acquainted with the correspond- 
ing states of thought and feeling, we should 
be as far as ever from the solution of the 
problem, *How are these physical processes 
connected with the facts of consciousness ? ' 
The chasm between the two classes of pheno- 
mena would still remain intellectually im- 
passable." ^ 

Yet notwithstanding all this. Dr. Tyndall 
formally proclaims his "belief" "in the ^^«/m- 
uity of Nature." The " continuity " of an " im- 
passable chasm " ! A chasm " intellectually im- 
passable " ; and yet " by an intellectual neces- 
sity" he crosses it "Two classes of pheno- 
mena," and no possible means of transition 

^ " Materialism and its Opponents,'' p. 595. 
2 Ibid., p. 589. 

Sophisms. 95 

from one to the other. For, in order to " dis- 
cern in matter the promise " of conscious life, 
we must be able, by observation of its merely 
physical movements, to forecast, in a world 
as yet insentient, the future phenomena of 
thought and feeling. Yet this is precisely the 
transition which is pronounced "unthinkable." 
" We do not possess the intellectual organ, 
nor apparently any rudiment of the organ, 
which would enable us to pass, by a process 
of reasoning, from the one to the other. 
They appear together, but we do not know 
whyr ^ 

It is an instructive spectacle. Professor 
Huxley " expecting " to witness, in the remote 
past, the performance of a feat which he sees 
"no reason for believing" has ever yet been 
performed ; and Professor Tyndall, " by an in- 
tellectual necessity " and a " vision of the mind," 
crossing "the chasm" "intellectually impass- 
able" which separates two classes of pheno- 
mena, although he does " not possess the intel- 
lectual organ, nor apparently any rudiment of 
the organ, which would enable him to pass, by 
a process of reasoning, from the one to the 

* " Materialism and its Opponents," p. 589. 

96 Scientific Sophisms. 

Horace was undoubtedly right : — 
" . . . quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus/' * 

But had he hVed in our time, and written of 
the Homers of modern materialism ; had he 
heard their conjectural hypotheses, their con- 
flicting asseverations, their autocratic dogma- 
tism ; — 

" Matter is the origin of all that exists ; all 
natural and mental forces are inherent in it " : ^ 
"All the natural bodies with which we are 
acquainted are equally living: the distinction 
which has been held as existing between the 
living and the dead does not really exist :''^ 
" The eternal is the nothing of nature : " "There 
is no other science than that which treats of 
nothing :" * " Holothuriae engender snails ;" ^ and 
" gazing upon a snail, one believes that he finds 
the prophesying goddess sitting upon the tri- 
pod ; " for " a snail is an exalted symbol of 
mind, slumbering deeply within itself : " * while 

1 " Ars Poet.," 359. 

2 Buchner's " Kraft und Stoff.'' (Collingwood's Transla- 
tion) p. 32. 

' " Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte." By Dr. Ernst 
HaeckeL Sixth Edition, p. 21. 

* " Physiophilosophy ** of Prof. Oken. 
« Buchner's " Kraft und Stoff,'' p. 80. 

• Oken. 

Sophisms. 97 

'* Self-consciousness is a living ellipse : " ^ and 
Man is merely an automaton, though " a con- 
scious automaton ;" an " automaton endowed 
with free will : " ^ — 

Had Horace heard all this, he would have 
had something more to say about this snail-like 
"mind, slumbering deeply;" and would have 
used a much stronger word than " quandoque." 

1 Oken. 

^ Prof. Huxley, in The Fortnightly Review^ November, 

1874, p. 577. 




" I bid you beware that, in accepting these conclusions, 
you are placing your feet on the first rung of a ladder 
which, in most people's estimation, is the reverse of 
Jacob's, and leads to the antipodes of heaven.'' — Prof, 

" A dangerous and degrading speculation." — Sir David 



The word " protoplasm " was invented in the 
year 1846, by the eminent German botanist 
Von Mohl, as a name for one portion of those 
nitrogenous contents of the cells of living 
plants, the close chemical resemblance of which 
to the essential constituents of living animals 
had been in that same year, emphatically 
pointed out by the botanist Payen. But if, 
pushing our investigation beyond the origin of 
the name, we inquire as to the nature of the 
thing, and ask What is Protoplasm ? the answer 
to that question involves a reference to the 
historical progress of the physiological cell 

That theory may be said to have wholly 
grown up since Dr. John Hunter wrote his 
celebrated work " On the Nature of the Blood." 
According to Dr. Hunter, new growths de- 
pended on an exudation of the plasma of the 
blood, in which, by virtue of its own plasticity, 


I02 Scientific Sophisms. 

vessels formed, and conditioned the further pro- 
gress. When, at a later date, the conception of 
a cell had been arrived at, Schleiden, for start- 
ing point, required an intracellular plasma, 
and Schwann, a structureless exudation, in 
which minute granules, if not indeed already 
pre-existent, formed, and by aggregation grew 
into nuclei, round which singly the production 
of a membrane at length enclosed a cell. 
Brown demonstrated a nucleus in the vegetable 
cell ; as Valentin subsequently did in the 
animal one ; Miiller insisted on the analogy be- 
tween animal and vegetable tissue; Schwann's 
labour in completing the theory of the animal 
cell may be regarded as completing the first 
stage of the cell theory : but the raising it to 
the second stage must be attributed to the 
wonderful ability of Virchow. And it is to the 
resolution of this second stage that we owe the 
word Protoplasm. 

In Virchow's view, the body constituted a 
free state of individual subjects, with equal 
rights but unequal capacities. These were the 
cells, which consisted each of an enclosing 
membrane, and an enclosed nucleus with sur- 
rounding intracellular matrix or matter. These 
cells propagated themselves, chiefly by partition 
or division ; and the fundamental principle of 

Protoplasm. 103 

the entire theory was expressed in the dictum, 
" Omnis cellula e cellular 

The first step in resolution of this theory was 
the elimination of the investing membrane. 
Such membrane may and does ultimately form ; 
but in the first instance, for the most part, the 
cell is naked. The second step was the elimin- 
ation, or at least the subordination, of the 
nucleus. The nucleus is now discovered to be 
necessary neither to the division nor to the 
existence of the cell. 

Thus, then, stripped of its membrane, relieved 
of its nucleus, what now remains for the cell ? 
Nothing, but that which was the contained 
matter, the intracellular matrix, and is — Proto- 

The application of the word, however, to the 
element in question, like the history of the 
thing, was marked by several stages. First 
came Dujardin's discovery of sarcode. Then, 
as above mentioned. Von Mohl's introduction 
of the term protoplasm as the name for the 
layer of the vegetable cell that lined the cellu- 
lose, and enclosed the nucleus. Cohn, four 
years later, proclaimed "the protoplasm of the 
botanist, and the contractile substance and 
sarcode of the zoologist" to be, "if not identical, 
yet in a high degree analogous substances." 

I04 Scientific Sophisms. 

Remak first extended the use of the term pro- 
toplasm from the layer which bore that name in 
the vegetable cell to the analogous element in 
the animal cell ; but " it was Max Schultze, in 
particular, who by applying the name to the 
intracellular matrix, or contained matter, when 
divested of membrane, and by identifying this 
substance itself with sarcode, first fairly estab- 
lished protoplasm, name and thing, in its 
present position." 

In England, however, it is Professor Huxley 
who, by his brilliant and well-known Essay on 
this subject in the Fortnightly Review for Feb- 
ruary, 1869, has acquired a prominence, though 
by no means a pre-eminence, all his own. Tak- 
ing for his theme the " Physical Basis of Life," 
and treading in the track of that " host of in- 
vestigators " of whom he tells us that they 
" have accumulated evidence, morphological, 
physiological, and chemical," in favour of that 
*' immense unit6 de composition 616mentaire 
dans tous les corps vivants de la nature," of 
which Payen wrote so clearly nearly thirty-five 
years ago ; he combats " the widely-spread 
conception of life as a something which works 
through matter, but is independent of it"; 
and affirms, on the contrary, " that matter and 
life are inseparably connected, and that there is 

Protoplasm. 105 

one kind of matter which is common to all 
living beings." 

Notwithstanding the wide diversity that pre- 
sents itself to our view in the countless varieties 
of living beings, it yet is true that all vegetable 
and animal tissues without exception, from that 
of the brightly coloured lichen on the rock, to 
that of the painter who admires or of the 
botanist who dissects it, are essentially one in 
composition and in structure. The microscopic 
fungi clustering by millions within the body of a 
single fly, the giant pine of California towering 
to the height of a cathedral spire, the Indian 
fig-tree covering acres with its profound shadow, 
animalcules minute enough to dance in myriads 
on the point of a needle, and the huge leviathan 
of the deep, the flower that a girl wears in her 
hair, and the blood that courses through her 
veins, are, each and all, smaller or larger multi- 
ples or aggregates of one and the same structural 
unit, and all therefore ultimately resolvable 
into the same identical elements. That unit 
is a corpuscle composed of oxygen, hydrogen, 
nitrogen, and carbon. Hydrogen, with oxygen, 
forms water ; carbon, with oxygen, carbonic 
acid ; and hydrogen, with nitrogen, ammonia, 
These three compounds — water, carbonic acid, 
and ammonia, — in like manner, when combined 
form protoplasm. 

io6 Scientific Sophisms, 

In all this, however, there is nothing new but 
the nomenclature. ^ But the case is widely 
altered when Mr. Huxley proceeds to assert 
that amid all the diversities of living things and 
living beings there exists a threefold unity : a 
unity of faculty, a unity of form, and a unity of 
substance. In relation to the first of these, for 
example, faculty, power, activity ; according 
to Mr. Huxley, even human activities must be 
referred to three categories — contractility, ali- 
mentation, and reproduction ; and for the lower 
forms of life, whether animal or vegetable, there 
are no fewer than these same three. The 
granulated, semi-fluid layer which constitutes 
the lining of the woody case of the nettle-sting 
is possessed of contractility. And in this 
possession of contractile substance, other plants 
are as the nettle, and all animals are as plants. 
Protoplasm is common to the whole of them ; 
and this lining in the sting of the nettle is pro- 
toplasm. So that between the powers of the 
lowest plant or animal and those of the highest, 
the difference is one not of kind, but only of 
degree. The colourless blood-corpuscles in 

^ And this nomenclature, though new, is by no means 
improved. It is inexact, indefinite, indiscriminate, and 
therefore necessarily misleading. See below ; especially 
pages 132, 135-142. 

Protoplasm. 107 

man and the other animals are identical with 
the protoplasm of the nettle ; and he, not less 
than they, at first consisted of nothing more 
than an aggregation of such corpuscles. Pro- 
toplasm is their common constituent ; in proto- 
plasm they have their common origin. At last, 
as at first, all that lives, and every part of all 
that lives, is but — nucleated or unnucleated, 
modified or unmodified — protoplasm. 

This series of assertions culminates in a 
dogma still more astounding. Protoplasm, from 
being " the basis," becomes " the matter of life." 
Apart from this matter, life is unknown. The 
" phenomena of life," however vast and varied, 
exhibit neither force nor faculty that is not 
derived from the chemical constituents of its 
material " basis." All the activities of life — 
vegetable, animal, human ; physical, intellec- 
tual, religious — arise solely (we are told) from 
" the arrangement of the molecules of ordinary 
matter." What reason is there, for instance, 
why thought should not be termed a property 
of thinking protoplasm, just as congelation is a 
property <rf>water, or centrifugience of gas ? 
Professor Huxley protests that he is aware of 
no reason. We call, he says, the several pheno- 
mena which are peculiar to water "the pro- 
perties of water, and do not hesitate to believe 

io8 Scientific Sophisms. 

that in some way or other they result from the 
properties of the component elements of water. 
We do not assume that something called 
aquosity entered into and took possession of the 
oxide of hydrogen as soon as it was formed, 
and then guided the aqueous particles to their 
places in the facets of the crystal or among the 
leaflets of the hoar-frost" Why, then, " when 
carbonic acid, water, and ammonia disappear, 
and in their place, under the influence of pre- 
existing protoplasm, an equivalent weight of 
the matter of life makes its appearance," should 
we assume, in the living matter, the existence 
of "a something which has no representative 
or correlative in the unliving matter that gave 
rise to it"? Why imagine that into the newly 
formed hydro-nitrogenised oxide of carbon a 
something called vitality entered and took 
possession? "What better philosophic status 
has vitality than aquosity ?" 

These questions, as will presently appear, 
present no difficulty. They admit of answers 
too complete to leave room for further question. 
The only difficulty is that which presents itself 
when we attempt to determine Professor Hux- 
ley's relation to them. For incredible as it 
must seem to those not acquainted with the 
facts, the propositions above cited are at once 

Protoplasm. 109 

the subject of his affirmation and of his denial. 
Dr. Stirling concludes his refutation of them in 
a sentence to which Professor Huxley has at- 
tempted a reply. The sentence is this: — 

*'*' In short, the whole position of Mr. Huxley, that all 
organisms consist alike of the same life-matter, which 
life-matter is, for its part, due only to chemistry, must be 
* pronounced untenable,' — nor less untenable the material- 
ism he would found on it." ^ 

And this is the reply: — 

" The paragraph contains three distinct assertions con- 
cerning my views, and just the same number of utter mis- 
representations of them." The first [that " all organisms 
consist alike of the same life-matter"] "turns on the 
ambiguity of the word ' same ' " ; the second [that this 
" life-matter is due only to chemistry "] " is in my judg- 
ment absurd, and certainly I have never said anything 
resembling it ; while as to Number 3, one great object 
of my Essay ' was to show that what is called * mate- 
rialism ' has no sound philosophical basis." ' 

^ "As Regards Protoplasm." By James Hutchinson 
Stirling, F.R.C.S., and LL.D. Edinburgh. Longmans, 
1872, p. 58. 

'^ " * One great object of my Essay,' says Mr. Huxley ! 
Yes, truly; but what of the other — great, greater, and 
greatest — object ? * Utter misrepresentation ! ' The only 

utter misrepresentation concerned here is Pshaw ! the 

whole thing is beneath speech." ("As Regards Proto- 
plasm," ut sup., p. 59.) 

' " Yeast," in " Critiques and Addresses." Macmillan, 
i873» P- 90- 

1 1 o Scientific Sophisms, 

In rejoinder, Dr. Stirling cites " Mr. Huxley's 
own phrases" to prove that the alleged am- 
biguity does not exist : " There is such a thing 
as a physical basis or matter of life ; " . . . 
or " the physical basis or matter of life." There 
is " a single physical basis of life," and through 
its unity, " the whole living world " is pervaded 
by **a threefold unity" — "namely a unity of 
power or faculty, a unity of form, and a unity 
of substantial composition." 

On the second point ; that " life-matter " is 
" due only to chemistry," Dr. Stirling is " pleased 
to think that Mr. Huxley has now come to 
consider such an opinion * absurd,' " but repeats 
that "he has always, and everywhere, for all 
that, described his * life-matter as due to 
chemistry,'" and adds, "Here are a few ex- 
amples : " — 

" * If the properties of water may be properly said to 
result from the nature and disposition of its component 
molecules, I can find no intelligible ground for refusing 
to say that the properties of protoplasm result from the 
nature and disposition of its molecules.' 

"Is It possible for words more definitely to 
convey the statement that the properties of 
water and protoplasm are precisely on the same 
level, and that as the former are of molecular 
(physical, chemical) origin, so are the latter.^ 

Protoplasm. 1 1 1 

Again, after having told us that protoplasm is 
carbonic acid, water, and ammonia, 'which cer- 
tainly possess no properties but those of ordinary 
matter,' he proceeds to speak as follows: — 

" * Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen are all life- 
less bodies. Of these, carbon and oxygen unite in certain 
proportions, and under certain conditions, to give rise to 
carbonic acid ; hydrogen and oxygen produce water ; 
nitrogen and hydrogen give rise to ammonia. These new 
compounds, like the elementary bodies of which they are 
composed, are lifeless.' 

"So far then, surely, I am allowed to say 
that these new compounds are dtie to chemistry. 
Observe now what follows: — 

" * But when they ' (the compounds) ' are brought to- 
gether, under certain conditions, they give rise to the 
still more complex body protoplasm, and this protoplasm 
exhibits the phenomena of life. I see no break in this 
series of steps in molecular complication, and I am un- 
able to understand why the language which is applicable 
to any one term of the series may not be used to any of 
the others.' 

" Here, evidently, I am ordered by Mr. Hux- 
ley himself, not to change my language, but 
to characterise these latter results as I charac- 
terised those former ones. If I spoke then of 
ammonia, etc., as due to chemistry, so must 
I now speak of protoplasm, life-matter, as due 
to chemistry — a statement which Mr. Huxley 

1 1 2 Scientific Sophisms. 

not only orders me to make, but makes himself. 
Very curious all this, then. When I do what 
he bids me do, when I say what he says — ^that 
if ammonia, etc., are due to chemistry, proto- 
plasm is also due to chemistry— Mr. Huxley 
turns round and calls out that I am saying an 
'absurdity,' which he, for his part, 'certainly 
never said ! ' But let me make just one other 
quotation : — 

" *• When hydrogen and oxygen are mixed in a certain 
proportion, and an electric spark is passed through them, 
they disappear, and a quantity of water equal in weight 
to the sum of their weights appears in their place.' 

" Now, no one in his senses will dispute that 
this is a question of chemistry, and of nothing 
but chemistry; but it is Mr. Huxley himself 
who asks in immediate and direct reference 
here : — 

" ' Is the case in any way changed when carbonic acid, 
water, and anmionia disappear, and in their place, under 
the influence of pre-existing living protoplasm, an equiva- 
lent weight of the matter of life makes its appearance ?' 

" Surely Mr. Huxley has no object whatever 
here but to place before us the genesis of proto- 
plasm, and surely also this genesis is a purely 
chemical one! The very 'influence of pre- 
existing living protoplasm,' — which pre-existence 

Protoplasm. 1 1 3 

could not itself exist for the benefit of the first 
protoplasm that came into existence, — is asserted 
to be in precisely the same case with reference 
to the one process as that of tl^e electric spark 
with reference to the other. And yet, in the 
teeth of such passages, Mr. Huxley feels himself 
at liberty to say now, 'Statement Number 2 
is, in my judgment, absurd, and certainly I have 
never said anything resembling it^ It is a pity 
to see a man in the position of Mr. Huxley so 
strangely forget himself! " 

On the third head — Mr. Huxley's "mate- 
rialism" — Dr. Stirling's refutation is equally 
conclusive, but at the same time, much too 
elaborate to admit of quotation here. No 
summary could do it justice; it must be read 
in its entirety. In this place, however, it does 
not concern us. It lies outside the sphere of 
our investigation. We are not now inquiring 
what esoteric meaning may be attached by 
Mr. Huxley to the language he has chosen to 
employ; nor even are we inquiring whether 
that language is compatible with any such 
meaning whatever. Our inquiry is much more 
simple. It is limited to the question of fact. 
Is it certain, is it demonstrable, is it scientifically 
true that the facts of the case are as stated by 
Mr. Huxley ? On this very question of " mate- 


114 Scientific Sophisms. 

rialism," for instance, Mr. Huxley asserts that 
"all vital action" is but "the result of the 
molecular forces" of the physical basis; and 
consequently, to use his own words when ad- 
dressing his Edinburgh audience, " the thoughts 
to which I am now giving utterance, and your 
thoughts regarding them, are but the expression 
of molecular changes in that matter of life 
which is the source of our other vital phe- 
nomena." With these words in their recollec- 
tion, few persons would be disposed to differ 
from Mr. Huxley when he says that "most 
undoubtedly the terms of his propositions are 
distinctly materialistic." 

But are they true? 

" I know of no form of negation sufficiently 
explicit, comprehensive, and emphatic in which 
to reply to this question." The doctrines of 
Scientific Materialism, as above stated, in Pro- 
fessor Huxley's own words, are " so utterly at 
variance with the most familiar facts of chemis- 
try that it is marvellous they should have so 
long passed unchallenged." ^ 

I. To enter into detail. It is in no sense true 

* " Unchallenged, that is," adds Dr. Elam, " on purely 
chemical grounds. On other issues, both relevant and 
irrelevant, they have been often objected to." 

Protoplasm. 1 1 5 

that protoplasm "breaks up" (as Professor 
Huxley says it does) ^ into carbonic acid, water, 
and ammonia, any more than it is true that 
iron, when exposed to the action of oxygen, 
" breaks up " into oxide of iron. A compound 
body can break up only into its constituent 
parts ; and these are not the constituent parts 
of protoplasm. "To convert protoplasm into 
these three compounds requires an amount of 
oxygen nearly double the weight of the original 
mass of protoplasm; speaking approximately, 
every 100 lbs. of protoplasm would require 170 
lbs. of oxygen." 

2. " Under certain conditions," says Professor 
Huxley,^ whereas, in point of fact, under no 
possible ^* conditions'^ can carbonic acid, water, 
and ammonia, when brought together, " give rise 
to the still more complex body protoplasm." 
•* Not even on paper can any multiple, or any 
combination whatever of these substances, be 

^ " The matter of life . . . breaks up . , . into car- 
bonic acid, water, and ammonia, which certainly possess 
no properties but those of ordinary matter." (Professor 
Huxley, in The Fortnightly Review^ February, 1869.} 

' " But when they [the " lifeless compounds " carbonic 
acid, water, and ammonia] are brought together, under 
certain conditions, they give rise to the still more com- 
plex body protoplasm, and this protoplasm exhibits the 
phenomena of life." {Ibid,) 

1 1 6 Scientific Sophisms. 

made to represent the composition of proto- 
plasm ; much less can it be effected in practice. 
Carbonic acid (CO2), water (Hg O), and ammonia 
(NHj), cannot by any combination be brought 
to represent d^ H^g N^ Oio, which is the equiva- 
lent of protein or protopleism. 

3. " But the most incredible of all the errors, 
if it be not simply a mystification, is found in 
the comparison between the formation of water 
from its elements and the origination of proto- 
plasm. Hydrogen and oxygen doubtless unite 
to form an equivalent weight of water ; that 
is, an amount of water equalling in weight the 
combined weights of the hydrogen and the 
oxygen ; and Professor Huxley asks, * Is the 
case in any way changed when carbonic acid, 
water, and ammonia disappear, and in their 
place, under the influence of pre-existing proto- 
plasm, an equivalent weight of the matter of 
life makes its appearance ? ' 

" The answer is. Certainly ; the case is 
changed in every possible way in which a 
process, whether chemical or otherwise, can be 
changed. But it must also be premised that 
the fact as stated is not truCy that when these 
three substances disappear, under certain con- 
ditions, an * equivalent weight of the matter of 
life makes its appearance.' Every chemist 

Protoplasm. 1 1 7 

knows what an * equivalent weight ' means ; 
knows also that there can be no weight of 
protoplasm 'equivalent,' chemically speaking, 
to any amount of carbonic acid, water, and 
ammonia, that may or can have disappeared. 
These are simple, well-known, and understood 
chemical facts, and need no discussion. 

4. " But granting for the moment, and for the 
sake of argument, that these bodies disappear, 
and that protoplasm appears, it is manifest — 
almost too manifest to require stating — that there 
is no resemblance whatever in the two processes 
by which the results which Professor Huxley 

considers identical are obtained. In the for- 


mation of water, the whole of its constituent 
parts combine to form an equal weight of the 
compound ; the case is entirely otherwise with 
regard to protoplasm, for here the so-called 
elements do not combine at all. On the con- 
trary, they are uncombined or decomposed, by 
a process and by affinities most eissuredly un- 
known in our laboratories. The carbonic acid 
and the ammonia are certainly decomposed, and 
whilst the carbon and nitrogen are assimilated, 
and add to the bulk of the plant, part of the 
oxygen is eliminated by the leaves, and part is 
destined to the performance of various functions 
in the economy." 

ii8 Scientific Sophisms. 

And yet it is in this complex programme of 
decomposition, selection, fixation, and rejection, 
that we are asked to see nothing more than a 
process analogous to the formation of water 
from its elements ; and Professor Huxley can 
see " no break." How wide must a chasm be 
before it is visible to an Evolutionist ? 

5. "Under certain conditions" only, and not 
otherwise, do the "lifeless compounds" afore- 
said " give rise to the still more complex body 
protoplasm, and this protoplasm exhibits the 
phenomena of life." What are these conditions ? 
The answer is that " when carbonic acid, water, 
and ammonia disappear, and in their place," "an 
equivalent weight of the matter of life makes its 
appearance," this appearance and disappearance 
are due to " the influence of pre-existing proto- 

From this it has been hastily, but most un- 
warrantably, assumed that vitality is a result of 
some particular arrangement of the molecular 
particles, the chemical constituents of proto- 
plasm. In other words, that life is a product 
of protoplasm. But this proposition is demon- 
strably untrue. 

Protoplasm, as known to us, is non-existent 
except as produced " under the influence of pre- 
existing protoplasm." Water, ammonia, and 

Protoplasm. 119 

carbonic acid cannot combine to form proto- 
plasm unless a principle of life preside over 
the operation. Unless under those auspices, the 
combination never takes place. At present, 
whenever assuming its presidential functions, 
this principle of life appears invariably to be 
embodied in pre-existing protoplasm ; but no 
one denies that there was a time when the fact 
was otherwise. Time was — as geology leaves 
no room for doubt — when our globe consisted 
wholly of inorganic matter, and possessed not 
one single vegetable or animal inhabitant. In 
that time it was not only possible for life, with- 
out being previously embodied, to mould and 
vivify inert matter, but the possible was the 
actual too. For if matter, inorganic and inani- 
mate, had not been organized and animated by 
unembodied life, it would have remained inor- 
ganic and inanimate to this day. Those who 
would escape this conclusion have only one 
possible alternative. They must suppose that 
death gave birth to life. That matter, absolutely 
inert and lifeless, did spontaneously exert itself 
with all the marvellous energy indispensable for 
its conversion into living matter. That in mak- 
ing this exertion it wielded powers of which 
it was not possessed ; powers which, under 
the conditions of the case, it could not have 

120 Scientific Sophisms. 

acquired, except by exercising them before it 
had acquired them. That, absolutely inert as it 
was, it yet made this impossible exertion ; and, 
lifeless as it was, it created life. 

To reject incredible absurdities like these is 
to admit that originally protoplasm must have 
been produced by life not previously embodied ; 
but to admit this and yet to suppose that when, 
as now, embodied life is observed to give birth 
to new embodiments, the operative force be- 
longs not to the life itself, but to its protoplas- 
mic embodiment, is " much the same as to sup- 
pose that when a tailor, dressed in clothes of 
his own making, makes a second suit of clothes, 
this latter is the product not of the tailor him- 
self, but of the clothes he is wearing." ^ Life 
therefore is not a product of protoplasm. 

6. Nor is it a property of protoplasm. 

By the property of an object is meant, in 
scientific speech, not merely something belong- 
ing to the object, but also that it is a thing 
without which the object could not subsist 
Thus, fluidity, solidity, and vaporisation are 
"properties" of water, because matter which 
did not liquefy, congeal, and evaporate at 

* " Old-fashioned Ethics, and Common-sense Meta- 
physics.** By William Thomas Thornton. Macmillan, 
1873, chap. iv. p. 167. (" Huxleyism.") 


Protoplasm. 121 

difierent temperatures would not be water. It 
is the exhibition of these phenomena, in con- 
junction with certain others, that constitutes the 
" aquosity " or wateriness of water. But in no 
such sense, nor in any sense whatever, is life or 
"vitality" essential to that species of matter 
which Mr. Huxley calls "matter of life," or 
protoplasm. Take from water its aquosity, 
and water ceases to be water; but you may 
take away vitality from protoplasm, and yet, 
according to Mr. Huxley's own affirmation,^ 
leave protoplasm as much protoplasm as be- 
fore. Whatever therefore may be the relation 
which vitality bears to protoplasm, it is a re- 
lation totally different from that which aquo- 
sity bears to water. When therefore Professor 
Huxley asks : " What better philosophic status 
has vitality than aquosity } " we answer : — Pro- 
toplasm can do perfectly well without "vital- 
ity;" but water cannot for a moment dispense 
with " aquosity." " Protoplasm, whether living 
or lifeless, is equally itself; but unaqueous 
water is unmitigated gibberish." * Since then, 
as Mr. Huxley affirms, protoplasm even when 

^ ^^ Living or deadi^ says Mr. Huxley : " If the pheno- 
mena exhibited by water are its properties, so are those 
presented by protoplasm, living or dead, its properties." 

' Thornton's " Old-fashioned Ethics,** ut sup.y p. 165. 

122 Scientific Sophisms. 

deprived of its vitality is still protoplasm, it 
is axiomatically evident that vitality is not in- 
dispensable to protoplasm, and is therefore not 
a " property " of protoplasm. 

7. But this question of Mr. Huxley's is fur- 
ther noticeable on account of the connection in 
which it is found ; a connection highly signifi- 
cant in relation to its author's disclaimer of 
" materialism." In varying phrase, but always 
to the same effect, in three short consecutive 
sentences he thrice reiterates the question : — 

" What justification is there then for the assumption of 
the existence in the living matter of a something which 
has no representative or correlative in the not-living mat- 
ter that gave rise to it ? What better philosophic status 
has vitality than aquosity? And why should vitality 
hope for a better fate than the other itys which have dis- 
appeared since Martinus Scriblerus accounted for the 
operation of the meat-jack by its inherent meat-roasting 
quality, and scorned the materialism of those who ex- 
plained the turning of the spit by a certain mechanism 
worked by the draught of the chimney ? " * 

" This," replies Dr. Elam, " is very amusing 
— no one can be more so than Professor Huxley ; 
— a little perception of facts and analogies 
would make it perfect The answer is obvious, 
if answer is required. All these are machines 

* Fortnightly Review ^ February, 1869, p. 140. 

Protoplasm. 123 

which man has made, and can again make by 
the use of well-known forces and material 
which he can combine at will ; it is not there- 
fore necessary to hypothecate any other force 
or principle. When man can make any, even 
the simplest organism, out of inorganic matter, 
then shall we be compelled to acknowledge 
that chemical and other forces are sufficient, 
and that the hypothesis of a vital principle 
has had its day and may cease to be. To 
Professor Huxley's illustration I will respond 
seriously when he has demonstrated to me 
that meat-jacks have been developed from 
the beginning of time only and exclusively 
under the immediate contact and influence of 
pre-existing meat-jacks. Until then the analogy 
is scarcely close enough to need refutation or 
discussion." ^ 

8. Mr. Huxley, as above cited, refuses to 
recognise the distinction between dead proto- 
plasm and that which lives. Other authorities 
however, and especially the Germans who have 
led the way in this investigation, say expressly 
that whether the same elements are to be 
referred to the protoplasmic cells equally after 
death as before it is a matter entirely unknown. 
While this is so it is evident that Mr. Huxley's 

* Contemporary Review^ September, 1876, p. 558 etseq. 

124 Scientific Sophisms. 

chemical analysis of dead protoplasm cannot 
be regarded as decisive for that which is not 
dead. And yet, throughout his whole argument, 
he builds on this same chemical analysis as 
if it were decisive. Thus he speaks of mutton 
as "once the living protoplasm," now the 
" same matter altered by death " and cookery, 
but yet as not being by these alterations ren- 
dered " incompetent to resume its old functions 
as matter of life." ^ He speaks of its being 
subjected to *^ subtle influences^' which "will 
convert the dead protoplasm into the living 
protoplasm" — which will "raise the complex 
substance of dead protoplasm to the higher 
power, as one may say, of living protoplasm." * 
In all this, as throughout, when he speaks of 
dead matter of life and living matter of life, 
not only is there no hint of any difference in 
chemical constitution, or in "arrangement of 
molecules," between the dead and the living, 
but when, in anticipation of such difference, 
he alludes to it at all, it is only to pronounce 
it " frivolous." ^ 

So be it. Let the identity of protoplasm, 
"living or dead," as assumed by Mr. Huxley, 

^ Fortnightly Review^ February, 1869, p. 137. 
' Ibid,^ p. 138. 
* Ibid,^ p. 135. 

Protoplasm. 125 

be — at least for the moment, and for the 
sake of the argument — conceded. What then ? 
The properties of protoplasm, as we have seen, 
are altogether dependent upon the arrangement 
of its constituent atoms. But protoplasm in 
one of these conditions (i,e,y dead) manifests 
passive properties only ; while, in the opposite 
condition, — without any change, ue,^ any known 
or knowable change, in its chemical properties 
or molecular arrangement, — we find it exer- 
cising a vast variety of active properties, as- 
similation, contraction, reproduction ; not to 
mention thought, feeling, and will. Here then 
we have an effect, or rather a whole train of 
effects most marvellous, — without a causey a 
conclusion that the most enthusiastic Evolu- 
tionist would hesitate to pronounce in " general 
harmony with scientific thought." ^ From this 
impossible, and yet inevitable conclusion there 
is no possible escape except (i) by hypo- 
thecating a change, mechanical or chemical, of 
which, by Professor Huxley's own confession, 
we can have no possible knowledge, ^ and on 
which therefore " we have no right to speculate ;*' 

1 " Belfast, Address," ut sup,, p. 58 : " The strength of 
the doctrine of evolution consists ... in its general 
harmony with scientific thought." 

2 Fortnightly Review, 

126 Scientific Sophisms. 

or (2) by confessing that the " subtle influences " 
invoked by Mr. Huxley to eke out the defi- 
ciencies of protoplasmic chemistry are nothing 
else than — under another name — that very 
same vital force or vital principle in which it 
is now so unfashionable and so unscientific 
to believe.^ 

9. In truth, however, the fulcrum on which 
Mr, Huxley's protoplasmic materialism rests 
is a single inference from a chemical analogy. 
But analogy, which is never identity, though 
often mistaken for it, is apt to betray. The 
difference which it covers may be essential, 
while the likeness it reveals may be inessential 
— as far as the conclusion is concerned. The 
analogy to which Mr. Huxley trusts has two 
references : one to chemical composition, and 
one to a certain stimulus that determines it. 
In both of these the analogy fails : in both it 
can only seem to succeed by discounting the 
elements of difference that still subsist. 

It cannot be denied that protoplasm is a 
chemical substance. It cannot be denied that 
protoplasm is a physical substance. Both 
physically and chemically, water (as a compound 
of hydrogen, and oxygen) and protoplasm (as 

* Dr. Elam's "Automatism and Evolution" {ut sup,\'g, 

Protoplasm. 127 

a compound of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, 
and nitrogen) are clearly analogous. So far 
as it is on chemical and physical structure 
that the possession of distinctive properties 
in any case depends, both bodies may be said 
to be on a par. So far the analogy must be 
allowed to hold ; so far, but no farther. " One 
step farther, and we see not only that 
protoplasm has, like water, a chemical and 
physical structure ; but that, unlike water, it 
has also an organised or organic structure. 
Now this, on the part of protoplasm, is a 
possession in excess ; and with relation to that 
excess there can be no grounds for analogy." 
When therefore Mr. Huxley says, " If the 
phenomena exhibited by water are its properties, 
so are those presented by protoplasm, living 
or dead, its properties," the answer is, '* Living 
or dead.^" organic or inorganic? That alter- 
native is simply slipped in and passed ; but it 
is in that alternative that the whole matter 
lies. Chemically, dead protoplasm is to Mr. 
Huxley quite as good as living protoplasm. 
It is this dead protoplasm which he finds so 
delectable in the shape of bread, lobster, 
mutton. But then it is to be remembered that 
it is only these — as being inorganic — that can 
be placed on the same level as water; while 

128 Scientific Sophisms. 

living protoplasm is not only unlike water, but 
it is unlike dead protoplasm. Living and dead 
protoplasm are identical only as far as chemistry 
is concerned (if indeed so far as that) ; it is 
therefore evident, consequently, that difference 
between the two cannot depend on that in 
which they are identical ; ue,^ cannot depend 
on the chemistry. 

Life, then, is something else than the result 
of chemical or physical structure, aiia it is in 
another sphere than those of physics or che- 
mistry that its explanation must be found. It 
is thus that, lifted high enough, the light of the 
analogy between water and protoplasm is seen 
to go out. Water, like its constituent elements, 
has only chemical and physical qualities ; 
like them, it is still inorganic. But not so in 
protoplasm, where, together with retention of 
the chemical and physical likeness, there is the 
addition of the unlikeness of life, of organization, 
and of ideas. But this addition is a world in 
itself: a new and higher world, the world of 
a self-realizing thought, the world of an entelechy. 
The relation of the organic to the inorganic — 
of protoplasm dead to protoplasm alive — is 
not an analogy, but an antithesis : The anti- 
thesis of antitheses. In it, in fact, we are in 
presence of the one impassable gulf — '*that 

Protoplasm. 129 

gulf which Mr, Huxley's protoplasm is as 
powerless to efface as any other material ex- 
pedient that has ever been suggested since the 
eyes of men first looked into it — the mighty 
gulf between death and life." ^ 

10. " Protoplasm is the clay of the potter, 
which, bake it and paint it as he will, remains clay, 
separated by artifice, and not by nature, from 
the commonest brick or sun-dried clod." On 
this it has been justly observed that " Mr. Huxley 
puts emphatically his whole soul into this sen- 
tence, and evidently believes it to be, if we may 
use the word, a clincher^ But the answer is 
easy. The assertion that all bricks, being made 
of clay, are the same thing, is one that involves 
its own limitation. Yes, undoubtedly, we answer, 
if they are made of the same clay. The bricks 
are identical if the clay is identical ; but, on 
the other hand, by as much as the clay differs 
will the bricks diflfer. And, similarly, all 
organisms can be identified only if their com- 
posing protoplasm can be identified. But when, 
from indefinite generalizations, we descend to 
definite particulars, this identification is found 
to be impossible. 

Mr. Huxley's entire theory may be summed 

* Dr. Stirling : "As Regards Protoplasm," p. 41. 


130 Scientific Sophisms. 

up in two propositions : — First, " That all animal 
and vegetable organisms are essentially alike 
in power, in form, and in substance ; " Second, 
" That all vital and even intellectual functions 
are the properties of the molecular disposition 
and changes of the material basis (protoplasm) 
of .which the various animals and vegetables 
consist." In both propositions the agent of 
proof is this same alleged material basis of life, 
or protoplasm. To establish the first, Mr. Hux- 
ley endeavours to identify all organisms (animal 
and vegetable) in protoplasm. To establish 
the second, by means of inference from a simple 
chemical analogy he assigns vitality, and even 
intellect, to the molecular constituents of the 
protoplasm, in connection with which they are 

The second of these propositions has already 
been examined and refuted. It has been shown ^ 
that life is not a property of protoplasm ; that 
it IS not a product of protoplasm ; and that 
vitality and protoplasm are not inseparable. 
Be protoplasm what it may, vital and intel- 
lectual functions are not the products of its 
molecular constitution. 

It is the first of these two propositions which 
now remains to be examined. Is protoplasm, 
' In paragraphs 5, 6, 8, and 9, pp. 120-129. 

Protopldsm. 131 

as alleged by Mr. Huxley, an actual life-matter, 
everywhere identical in itself, and one which 
consequently everywhere involves the identity 
of all the various organs and organisms which 
it is assumed to compose? The bricks, says 
Mr. Huxley, are the same because the clay is 
the same. But is the clay the same } Can it 
be identified, as Mr. Huxley alleges, by a three- 
fold unity of faculty, of form, of substance ? 

To begin then with this simplest question, 
that of substance. Are all samples of proto- 
plasm identical, first, in their chemical composi- 
tion, and, second, under the action of the various 
re-agents ? This cannot be affirmed. And it is 
against the affirmation of this that "we point 
to the fact of much chemical difference obtaining 
among the tissues, not only in the proporiions 
of their fundamental elements, but also in the 
addition (and proportion as well) of such others 
as chlorine, sulphur, phosphorus, potass, soda, 
lime, magnesia, iron, etc. Vast differences 
vitally must be legitimately assumed for tissues 
that are so different chemically."^ 

As to the alleged unities of form and power 
in protoplasm, according to Strieker,^ "Proto- 

^ Dr. Stirling : ** As Regards Protoplasm," p. 29. 
' Whom Professor Huxley calls, " My valued friend Pro- 
fessor Strieker." (" Yeasty^ in " Critiques and Addresses," 

132 Scientific Sophisms. 

plasm varies almost infinitely in consistence, 
in shape, in structure, and in function. 

" In consistence, it is sometimes so fluid as to be capa- 
ble of forming in drops; sometimes semi-fluid and 
gelatinous ; sometimes of considerable resistance. In 
shape — for to Strieker the cells are now protoplasm — we 
have club-shaped protoplasm, globe-shaped protoplasm, 
cup-shaped protoplasm, bottle-shaped protoplasm, spindle- 
shaped protoplasm, branched, threaded, ciliated proto- 
plasm, circle-headed protoplasm, flat, conical, cylindrical, 
longitudinal, prismatic, polyhedral, and palisade-like 
protoplasm. In structure, again, it is sometimes uniform 
and sometimes reticulated into interspaces that contain 

"In function, lastly, some protoplasm is vagrant, and of 
unknown use. Some again produces pepsine, and some 
fat. Some at least contain pigment. Then there is 
nerve-protoplasm, brain-protoplasm, bone-protoplasm, 
muscle-protoplasm, and protoplasm of all the other tissues, 
no one of which but produces its own kind, and is uninter- 
changeable with the rest. Lastly, on this head, we have 
to point to the overwhelming fact that there is the in- 
finitely different protoplasm of the various infinitely dif- 
ferent plants and animals, in each of which its own proto- 
plasm, as in the case of the various tissues, but produces 
its own kind, and is uninterchangeable with that of the 
rest." 1 

The evidence in refutation of Mr. Huxley's 
first proposition is thus seen to be overwhelm- 

p. 89.) Strieker: with whom, says Dr. Stirling, "for the 
production of his * Handbuch,' there is associated every 
great histological name in Germany." (Pref., p. 3.) 
* "As Regards Protoplasm," pp. 30, 31. 

Protoplasm. 133 

ing. In view of the nature of microscopic 
science ; in view of the results hitherto obtained 
as regards nucleus, membrane, and entire cell ; 
even in view of the supporters of protoplasm 
itself; Mr. Huxley's assertion of a physical 
matter of life is untenable.^ But even if that 
" matter of life " were granted, the reasons in- 
numerable, and even irrefragable, would still 
remain to compel us — as now they do actually 
compel us — to acknowledge in it, not indeed the 
" identity " now claimed, but rather " an infinite 
diversity " in power, in form, and in substance. 
No wonder that the bricks are not the same : 
with this "infinite diversity" in the clay. 

II. Nor is this fundamental diversity in any 
way altered or diminished by the convertibility 
of which Mr. Huxley speaks. On the contrary, 
that convertibility, as alleged by Mr. Huxley, 

* The position here maintained — in opposition to 
Mr. Huxley — is supported by an important dictum of 
Professor Tyndall : — " When the contents of a cell are de- 
scribed as perfectly homogeneous, as absolutely structure- 
less, because the microscope fails to distinguish any 
structure, then I think the microscope begins to play a 
mischievous part. A little consideration will make it 
plain to all of you that the microscope can have no voice 
in the real question of germ structure." — Fragments oj 
Science : First Edition, p. 155. 

134 Scientific Sophisms. 

establishes the antecedent diversity. If the 
diversity were non-existent, there would be no 
room for the alleged process of convertibility. 
And yet, as used by him, this same convertibility 
is employed to stamp protoplasm (and with it 
life and intellect) into an indifferent identity. 
In order that there may be " no break " between 
the lowest functions and the highest — betweei> 
the functions of the fungus and the functions 
of man — he has "endeavoured to prove," he 
tells us, that the protoplasm of the lowest 
organisms is "essentially identical with, and 
most readily converted into that of any animal." ^ 
And on this alleged reciprocal convertibility of 
protoplasm he founds an inference of identity, 
as well as of the further conclusion that the 
functions of the highest, not less than of the 
lowest animals, are but the molecular manifesta- 
tions of the protoplasm which is common to all. 
" Is this alleged reciprocal convertibility true, 
then ? Is it true that every organism can digest 
every other organism, and that thus a relation 
of identity is established between that which 
digests and whatever is digested? 

" These questions place Mr. Huxley's general enterprise, 
perhaps, in the most glaring light yet ; for it is very evident 

1 "Lay Sermons," p. 138. 

Protoplasm. 135 

that there is an end of the argument if all foods and all 
feeders are essentially identical both with themselves and 
with each other. The facts of the case, however, I be- 
lieve to be too well known to require a single word here 
on my part. It is not long since Mr. Huxley himself 
pointed out the great difference between the foods of 
plants and the foods of animals ; and the reader may be 
safely left to think for himself of ruminantia and car- 
nivorUy of soft bills and hard bills^ of molluscs and men. 
Mr. Huxley talks feelingly of the possibility of himself 
feeding the lobster quite as much as of the lobster feeding 
him ; but such pathos is not always applicable : it is not 
likely that a sponge would be to the stomach of Mr. 
Huxley any more than Mr. Huxley would be to the 
stomach of a sponge. 

" But a more important point is this, that the 
functions themselves remain quite apart from 
the alleged convertibility. We caa neither 
acquire the functions of what we eat, nor impart 
our functions to what eats us. We shall not 
come to fly by feeding on vultures, nor they 
to speak by feeding on us. No possible manure 
of human brains will enable a corn-field to 
reason. But if functions are inconvertible^ the 
convertibility of protoplasm is idle. In this 
inconvertibility, indeed, functions will be seen 
to be independent of mere chemical composition. 
And that is the truth : for function there is 
more required than either chemistry or physics."^ 

^ Dr. Stirling ; " As Regards Protoplasm," p. 50. 

136 Scientific Sophisms, 

12. As of the bricks, then, so of the clay: it 
is not identical, and it is not convertible. But 
Evolution dies hard, and Mr. Huxley in the 
last resort falls back upon protoplasm " variously 
modified'' But where are we to begin, not to 
have modified protoplasm ? Mr. Huxley begins 
with the sting of the nettle, but even there the 
protoplasm is already modified ; and we have 
the authority of Rindfleisch for asserting that 
"in every different tissue we must look for 
a different initial term of the productive 

Besides : there are in protoplasm generic or 
specific differences ; differences not merely of 
degree, but of kind. Some of these are indicated 
by Mr. Huxley himself, when he tells us that 
plants alone are capable of assimilating inorganic 
matter ; while animals assimilate organic matter 
only. Others must be admitted " for the over- 
whelming reason that an infinitude of various 
kinds exist in it, each of which is self-productive 
and uninterchangeable with the rest.*' Brain- 
protoplasm is not bone-protoplasm, nor the 
protoplasm of the fungus the protoplasm of 
man. " If the cornea of the eye and the enamel 
of the teeth are alike but modified protoplasm, 
we must be pardoned for thinking more of the 
adjective than of the substantive. Our wonder 

Protoplasm. 137 

is how, for one idea, protoplasm could become 
one thing here, and, for another idea, another 
so different thing there. We are more curious 
about the modification than the protoplasm. 
In the difference, rather than in the identity, 
it is indeed that the wonder lies. 

" Here are several thousand pieces of proto- 
plasm ; analysis can detect no difference in 
them. They are to us, let us say, as they are 
to Mr. Huxley, identical in power, in form, and 
in substance ; and yet on all these several thou- 
sand little bits of apparently indistinguishable 
matter an element of difference so pervading 
and so persistent has been impressed, that of 
them all, not one is interchangeable with 
another ! Each seed feeds its own kind. The 
protoplasm of the gnat will no more grow into 
the fly than it will grow into an elephant. 
Protoplasm is protoplasm ; yes, but man's 
protoplasm is man's protoplasm, and the mush- 
room*s the mushroom's."^ The difference is 
one of kind, not of degree ; and that difference 
the word " modification," though it may indeed 
sometimes conceal, will never be able to 

13. In closing this brief review of Mr. Huxley's 
^ " As Regards Protoplasm," p. 58. 

138 Scientific Sophisms. 

doctrine, it will be found not unimportant to 
notice some particulars which characterise Mr. 
Huxley's own position in relation to it. Fore- 
most among these is the nomenclature which 
Mr, Huxley has chosen to employ. 

The protoplasmic pellicle, "the formative 
protoplasmic layer " in vegetable cells, was re- 
garded by Von Mohl as a structure of special 
importance, distinct from the cell-contents, and 
was named by him, in 1844, "the primordial 
utricle." This primordial utricle has since been 
called protoplasm by Professor Huxley, although 
some years previously he had restricted the term 
protoplasm to the matter within the primordial 
utricle^ which matter he at that time regarded 
as nothing more than an " accidental anatomical 
modification " of the endoplast, and of little 
importance.^ "The nucleus, and with it the 
protoplasm, Mr. Huxley thought, exerted no 
peculiar office^ and possessed no metabolic power. 
But Mr. Huxley has changed his views without 
one word of explanation concerning the facts 
which led him to modify them, or even an ac- 
knowledgment that he had changed them. Mr. 
Huxley now considers ' protoplasm ' of the first 
importance. . . . His 'endoplast ' and *peri- 

^ "The Cell Theory:" Medical Chirurgical Review^ 
October, 1853. 

Protoplasm. 139 

plastic substance' of 1853 together constitute 
his * protoplasm ' of 1869/' ^ 

14. "In order to convince people that the 
actions of living beings are not due to any 
mysterious vitality or vital force or power, but 
are in fact physical and chemical in their nature, 
Professor Huxley gives to matter which is alive^ 
to matter which is dead, and to matter which is 
completely cJtanged by the process of roasting or 
boiling, the very same name. 'Mutton con- 
tained protoplasm of the same nature as was 
found in every living thing/ ' As he spoke, he 
was wasting his stock of protoplasm, but he 
had the power of making it up again by draw- 
ing upon the protoplasm of some other animal — 
say a sheep. (Laughter.)* The matter of sheep 
and mutton and man and lobster and egg is 
the same, and, according to Huxley, one may 
be transubstantiated into the other. But how } 
By ' subtle influences,' and * under sundry cir- 
cumstances,' answers this authority. And all 
these things alive, or dead, or dead and roasted, 
he tells us are made of protoplasm, and he 
affirms this protoplasm is the physical basis of 

^ " Protoplasm ; or Matter and Life." By Lionel S. 
Beale, M.B., F.R.S. Third Edition. London : Churchill, 
1874, pp. 90, 91. 

140 Scientific Sophisms. 

life, or the basis of physical life} But is it not 
hard that the discoverer of ^subtle influences^ 
should laugh at the fiction of ' vitality ' ! By 
calling things which differ from one another in 
many qualities by the same name, Huxley seems 
to think he can annihilate distinctions, enforce 
identity, and sweep away the difficulties which 
have impeded the progress of previous philo- 
sophers in their search after unity. Plants and 
worms and men are all protoplasm, and proto- 
plasm is albuminous matter, and albuminous 
matter consists of four elements, and these 
four elements possess certain properties, by 
which properties all differences between plants 
and worms and men are to be accounted for. 
Although Huxley would probably admit that a 
worm was not a man, he would tell us that by 
* subtle influences ' and ' under sundry circum- 
stances,' the one thing might be easily con- 
verted into the other, and not by such non- 
sensical fictions as ' vitality,' which can neither 
be weighed, measured,, nor conceived. But, in 

* [Note by Dr. Beale :] The heading of his lecture as 
published in The Scotsman for November 9, 1868, is " The 
Bases of Physical Life," while his communication in The 
Fortnightly y February i, 1869, referred to by him as this 
same lecture, is entitled " The Physical Basis of Life." 
The iron basis of the candle, and the basis of the iron 
candle, are expressions evidently interchangeable. 

Protoplasm. 141 

science, it is not fair to indulge in word-tricks 
and equivocal illustrations, nor is it justifiable 
to make use of misleading similes." ^ 

15. "I think Professor Huxley, is the first 
observer who has spoken of the cell in its 
entirety as a mass of protoplasm, and the only 
one who has ever asserted that any tissue in 
nature is composed throughout of matter which 
can properly be regarded as one in kind. This 
view is quite irreconcilable with many facts, 
some of which have been alluded to by Mr. 
Huxley himself. I doubt if in the whole range 
of modern science it would be possible to find 
an assertion more at variance with facts familiar 
to physiologists than the statement that * beast 
and fowl, reptile and fish, mollusc, worm, and 
polype,' are composed of * masses of protoplasm 
with a nucleus,' unless it be that still more 
extravagant assertion that what is ordinarily 
termed a cell or elementary part is a mass of 
protoplasm ; for can anything be more unlike the 
semi-fluid, active, moving matter of amoeba pro- 
toplasm, than the hard, dry, passive, external 
part of a cuticular cell or of an elementary 
part of bone Y' 2 

^ Dr. Beale's " Protoplasm,*' ut sup., pp. 95, 96. 
2 Ibid., pp. 97, 98. 

142 Scientific Sophisms. 

" Huxley makes no difference between dead and living 
and roasted matter, and he confuses together the living 
thing, the stuff upon which it feeds, and the things formed 
by it, or which result from its death. A muscle is pro- 
toplasm ; nerve is protoplasm ; a limb is protoplasm ; 
the whole body is protoplasm, and of course bone, hair, 
shell, etc., are as much *the physical basis of life' as 
albuminous matter and roast mutton. But surely it would 
be less incorrect to speak of such ' protoplasms ' as the 
physical basis of death or the physical basis of roast than 
to call dead and roasted matter the physical basis of lift. 
. . . Huxley says lobster-protoplasm may be converted 
into human protoplasm, and the latter again turned into 
living lobster. But the statement is incorrect, because 
in the process of assimilation what was once * protoplasm ' 
is entirely disintegrated, and is not converted into the 
new tissue in the form of protoplasm at all ; and I must 
remark that sheep cannot be transubstantiated into man, 
even by * subtle influences,' nor can dead protoplasm be 
converted into living protoplasm, or a dead sheep into a 
living man. And what is gained by calling the matter 
of dead roast mutton and that of a living growing sheep 
by the same name ? If the last is the physical basis of 
Hfe^ one does not see how the first can be so too, unless 
roast mutton and living sheep are identical." ^ 

Plain-speaking, this of Dr. Beale's ; but its 
irresistible force is found in the well-earned 
celebrity of its author — "the foremost micro- 
scopist of the English-speaking world." ^ 

* Dr. Beale's " Protoplasm," ut sup,^ pp. 100, loi. 

2 " Beale's protoplasmic theory now takes the place of 
the cell theory. General opinion is now in accord, as 
respects the facts, with Dr. Beale's statements on the 

Protoplasm. 1 43 

16. " It IS significant that Huxley himself, 
some sixteen years ago, drew a distinction be- 
tween living and non-living matter, which he 
now, without any explanation, utterly ignores. 
He remarked that the stone, the gas, the crystal, 
had an inertia^ and tended to remain as they 
were unless some external influence affected 
them ; but that living things were characterised 
by the very opposite tendencies. He referred 
also to 'the faculty of pursuing their own 
course * and the 'inherent law of change in living 
beings.' In 1853, the same authority actually 
found fault with those who attempted to reduce 
life to 'mere attractions and repulsions,' and 
'considered physiology simply as a complex 
branch of mere physics.' He also remarked 
that ' vitality is a property inherent in certain 
kinds of matter.* " ^ Now, however, as we have 
seen, there is but one kind of matter, " variously 
modified ; " and " vitality " has no better status 
than " aquosity ! " 

17. Nor is it less "significant" to note Mr. 
Huxley's various, though incidental admissions, 
and to contrast them with the dogmatism of his 

nucleus in i860." (Dr. John Drysdale : "Protoplasmic 
Theory of Life.*' London, 1874.) 
^ Dr. Beale : ut sup,^ p. loi. 

144 Scientific Sophisms. 

mere assertions. We look for certainty and find 
only probability : e,g,y — " It is more than probable 
that when the vegetable world is thoroughly 
explored we shall find all plants in possession 
of the same powers." The premises then have 
still to be collected ; and yet the conclusion has 
been confidently proclaimed. Compare this 
" more than probable " vaticination concerning 
vegetables with the positive assertion "that 
the powers of ALL the different forms of living 
things were substantially one^ that their forms 
were substantially one^ and, finally, that their 
composition was also substantially ^«^." ^ Again, 
he says, " So far as the conditions of the mani- 
festations of the phenomena of contractility have 
yet been studied." Now this "so far" is not 
" yet " by any means " very far." But what is 
meant by "the manifestations of the phe- 
nomena".^ The manifestations are the phe- 
nomena! and they completely refute Mr. 
Huxley's latest theory. Again, we hear that 
it is "the rule rather than the exception," or 
that " weighty authorities have suggested'' that 
such and such things " probably occur,"' or, while 
contemplating the nettle-sting, that such ^'pos- 
sible complexity " in other cases " dawns upon 
one." On other occasions he admits that 
^ Scotsman^ November 9, 1868. 

Protoplasm. 145 

" perhaps it would not yet be safe to say that 
all forms," etc. Nay, not only does he directly 
say that '*it is by no means his intention to 
suggest that there is no difference between the 
lowest plant and the highest, or between plants 
and animals," but he directly proves what he 
says, for he demonstrates in plants and animals 
an essential difference of power. Plants can 
assimilate inorganic matters, animals can 
notf etc. 

18. " Mr. Huxley's ideas as to the composition 
of protoplasm have already been noticed, and it 
has been shown that they are clearly opposed 
to the known facts of science. Here a simple 
alternative presents itself ; either Mr. Huxley is 


familiar with the .elementary facts of organic 
chemistry, in which case he would be aware of 
the impossibility gf such a composition ; or he 
is not so, on which supposition it was at least 
indiscreet to found an important practical 
doctrine like that of human automatism on a 
purely fknciful chemical theory. Which alter- 
native is to be adopted may perhaps receive 
some Illustration from a parallel passage in 
the essay *On the Formation of Coal,'^ 

^ " Critiques and Addresses," pp. 109, no. 


146 Scientific Sophisms. 

where, referring to the burning of coal, it is 
said : — 

" ' Heat comes out of it, light comes out of it, and if 
we could gather together all that goes up the chimney, 
and all that remains in the grate of a thoroughly-burnt 
coal-fire, we should find ourselves in possession of a 
quantity of carbonic acid, water, ammonia, and mineral 
matters, exactly equal in weight to the coal ! ' 

" It requires but the most elementary ac- 
quaintance with the subject to recognise that 
the 'quantity' of these products would be at 
least twice, probably thrice, as great as the 
original weight of the coal. A due considera- 
tion and comparison of these facts will enable 
the reader to estimate at its true value the 
science from which such stupendous consequences 
are so confidently deduced."^ 

19. " How such doctrines came to be received 
can only be accounted for in Professor Huxley*s 
own words when treating on some other an- 
tagonistic 'teaching,' which he says was only 
* tolerable on account of the ignorance of those 
by whom it was accepted.* Referring to some 
anatomical question, he says further that *it 
would, in fact, be unworthy of serious refutation, 

^ Dr. Elam : "Automatism and Evolution;" Contempo- 
rary Review, October, 1876, pp. 729, 730. 

Protoplasm. 147 

except for the general and natural belief that 
deliberate and reiterated assertions must have 
some foundation,' ^ It is by this time tolerably 
clear that Professor Huxley's * Chemistry of 
Life' has no foundation except that of 'deli- 
berate and reiterated assertion/ " ^ 

But " if such be the case with the chemistry, 
what is to be said for the argument founded 
upon it, or attached to it — if, indeed, argument 
it can be called ? " It has now been tried, 
and found wanting, in every particular. It is 
condemned by its own admissions. It is con- 
demned by the magnitude of its assumptions. 
It is condemned by its antagonism to notorious 
facts, and its violation of established principles. 
And the sentence which has followed condem- 
nation is not less just than severe : — 

"I cannot more appropriately conclude this 
notice of the doctrine of * The Physical Basis of 
Life,' than with an extract from the author's 
own anthology of criticism, where,^ speaking of 
the theory of creation, he says : — 

That such verbal hocus-pocus should be received as 

(( ( 

* " Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature," p. 85. 

^ Dr. Elam: Contemporary Review^ September, 1876, 

p. 555. 
^ Professor Huxley's " Lay Sermons," p. 285. 

148 Scientific Sophisms. 

science will one day be regarded as evidence of the low 
state of intelligence in the nineteenth century, just as we 
amuse ourselves with the phraseology about nature's 
abhorrence of a vacuun^ wherewith Torricelli's compatriots 
were satisfied to explain the rise of water in a pump.' " ' 

* Dr. Elam : Contemporary Review, October, 1876 : p. 




" God is law, say the wise ; O Soul, and let us rejoice, 
For if He thunder by law the thunder is yet His voice. 
Speak to Him thou for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit 

can meet — 
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands 

and feet.** — Tennyson, 

" Science is only the one half : Faith is the other."— 




" Give me matter," said Kant, " and I will ex- 
plain the formation of a world ; but give me 
matter only, and I cannot explain the formation 
of a caterpillar." This dictum is widely different 
from that of Professor Tyndall, who discerns in 
matter alone "the promise and potency of all 
terrestrial life." To the same effect is his 
eulogium on the Italian philosopher, Giordano 
Bruno, of whom he tells us ^ that " he came to 
the conclusion that Nature in her productions 
does not imitate the technic of man. Her pro- 
cess IS one of unravelling and unfolding. The 
infinity of forms under which matter appears 
were not imposed upon it by an external 
artificer ; by its own intrinsic force and virtue 
it brings these forms forth. Matter is not the 
mere naked, empty capacity which philosophers 
have pictured her to be, but the universal 

1 " Belfast Address," pp. 19, 20. 


152 Scientific Sophisms. 

mother who brings forth all things as the fruit 
of her own womb." 

In this opinion, Bruno and his eulogist are 
at one. In his controversy with Mr. Martineau, 
a year after the delivery of the Belfast Ad- 
dress, Dr. Tyndall credits " pure matter with 
the astonishing building power displayed in 
crystals and trees." ^ He " figures " to himself 
the embryological growth of the babe, and its 
" appearance in due time, a living miracle, with 
all its organs and all their implications." He 
dilates, justly and forcibly, on the wonders of 
eye and ear: the eye "with its lens, and its 
humours, and its miraculous retina behind;" 
the ear " with its tympanum, cochlea, and Corti's 
organ — an instrument of three thousand strings, 
built adjacent to the brain, and employed by 
it to sift, separate, and interpret, antecedent to 
all consciousness, the sonorous tremors of the ex- 
ternal world. All this has been accomplished," 
he tells us, "not only without man*s con- 
trivance, but without his knowledge, the secret 
of his own organization having been withheld 
from him since his birth in the immeasurable 
past, until the other day." And then he adds, 
"Matter I define as that mysteripus thing by 

1 « 

Materialism and its Opponents," p. 594. 

The Three Beginnings. 153 

which all this is accomplished."^ No wonder 
then that Bruno should be lauded for his 
" closer " approximation " to our present line of 
thought." 2 

But this expression — "our present line of 
thought " — is suggestive, and throws us back on 
a previous passage in the Address, in which we 
are told that " to construct the universe in idea 
it was necessary to have some notion of its 
constituent parts — of what Lucretius subse- 
quently called the * First Beginnings.* " * 

The "First Beginnings!" What has "our 
present line of thought " to say on these } We 
shall do well to question it. 

And, to begin at the beginning, we shall do 
well to note — not merely the order, but — the fact 
here admitted. There was — no matter when — 
an actual Beginning : a first start ; distinct, 
definite. Antecedently, there was a prior time, 
when this first start had not been made. The 
process of Evolution, a " process of unravelling 
and unfolding," is a process which then had not 
begun. It is therefore not eternal. It had a 
beginning. But who began it ? 

^ " Materialism and its Opponents," p. 598. 
' " Belfast Address," p. 19. 
3 Ibid,^ p. 2. 

154 Scientific Sophisms, 

You postulate "Matter." But in so doing 
you are hypothecating a substance which before 
the " First Beginning " had not begun to be. 
How did it originate } Unable to answer that 
question, you make another assumption. You 
postulate "eternity" for that "matter" of whose 
origin you can give no account. But this ac- 
cumulation of postulates will not help you. 
What is this matter which — impelled by the 
exigencies of Agnostic Evolution — ^you assume 
to have been self-originated } Make its essence 
what you will — extension, with Descartes; or 
palpableness, with Fechner — Matter is always, 
and is manifestly, the local lodgment, the objec- 
tive manifestation, of Power. "The withered 
leaf is not dead and lost, there are Forces in it 
and around it, though working in inverse order ; 
else how could it rotV'^ Matter, Force, Motion, 
are not unknown to Science ; but of matter self- 
originated and self-sustained, of matter self- 
existent and therefore eternal ; of self-originated 
force, or self-originated motion ; of all these 
throughout the realm of the inorganic world, 
Science knows nothing. 

When therefore we have granted "the eternity 
of matter," the theory of Evolution is as far as 

^ Carlyle : " Sartor Resartus," book i. chap. xi. p. 43. 

The Three Beginnings, 155 

ever from being able to make a "beginning." 
That theory requires not merely matter, but 
matter in motion. Not merely matter in mass, 
but matter in its constituent atoms. Matter so 
minutely subdivided as to be immeasurably 
beyond the sphere of visibility ; and yet matter 
not within the sphere of infinite divisibi- 
lity. " The atoms " are " the first beginnings." ^ 
But speculation is at fault as to the mode in 
which, or the power by which, they "first began." 
In his panegyric on Lucretius, Professor Tyndall 
draws special attention to his " strong scientific 
imagination ; " ^ and tells us that " his vaguely 
grand conception of the atoms falling eternally 
through space suggested the nebular hypothesis 
to Kant, its first propounded" ^ The "eternity" 
of these falling atoms, however, must not be 
confounded with the antecedent " eternity " of 
their origination. Like the " eternity " of the 
rhetorical preacher,* it has its own statute of 
limitations. . It came to an end. While it 
lasted there might have been seen, " far beyond 
the limits of our visible world" (by aid of a 

1 " Belfast Address,'' p. 8. 

2 Ibid.^ p. 9. 

3 Ibid,^ p. 10. 

* Eternity : " An* infinite candle ; lighted — at both 

156 Scientific Sophisms. 

"strong scientific imagination"), "atoms in- 
numerable," "falling silently through im- 
measurable intervals of time and space." ^ 

" Falling eternally through space : " " falling 
silently through immeasurable intervals : " but 
this eternal silence was broken by "great 
shocks of sound," "the mechanical shock of 
the atoms ; " ^ and this eternal falling came to 
an end when " the interaction of the atoms " ^ 
came to a beginning. How came that be- 
ginning.? Nothing more simple. At first, 
the atoms, silently falling, fell in parallel 
lines. After that they began to deflect from 
the perpendicular. Not all of them ; nor all 
in the same direction : but only so many, 
and in so many directions as were necessary 
to produce " the mechanical shock," and " the 
interaction." But falling is motion, and matter 
is inert, and atoms in motion are atoms in 
which inertness has been overcome by a force 
external to themselves, and falling atoms are 
atoms gravitating towards a centre. What 
centre ? and how originated ? Why should 
atoms in motion have moved originally all 
in one direction } or why should they have 
ceased to do so } What, and whence, is that 

1 " Belfast Address," p. 10. « Ibid,^ p. 8. 

The Three Beginnings. 157 

Force which first moved them, — which moved 
them in parallel lines, — which deflected them 
from the perpendicular, — as assumed by the 
hypothesis ? 

"It is certain," according to "the doctrine 
of Evolution," "that the existing world lay, 
potentially, in the cosmic vapour." But where 
it lay before the cosmic vapour existed, de- 
ponent saith not. "The fundamental pro- 
position of Evolution " is, as we have seen, 
" that the whole world, living and not living, is 
the result of the mutual interaction, according 
to definite laws, of the forces possessed by the 
molecules of which the primitive nebulosity of 
the universe was composed." ^ Fundamental, 
however, as Professor Huxley declares it to be, 
it is very far indeed from " The First Begin- 

This " nebulosity was composed " of certain 
" molecules." But nebulosity is a state or con- 
dition ; not a substance. Like the rigidity of 
an iron bar, or the malleability of gold-leaf, 
or the ductility of copper wire, "nebulosity" 
is a word not of matter, but of mode. It 
denotes a property, or it specifies a condition ; 
but it does not distinguish, still less does it 

^ Professor Huxley : " Critiques and Addresses," p. 305. 

158 Scientific Sophisms. 

define, a substance. It is characteristic of 
unintelligible hypotheses, not less than of 
"cosmic gas." In this instance, however, let 
it pass. We will not say that it was " caused," 
— that word might lead us back in the search 
for a vera causa to a "first beginning," — 
but only that it was "composed." We will 
not even inquire who "composed" it. And 
yet, if it were permitted us to inquire at all, 
we might perhaps be excused for asking, 
How do you know that this nebulosity was 
" primitive ".^ or that its constituent " molecules " 
were "possessed" of forces? or that these 
forces were controlled by " definite laws " .^ or 
that the relation between them was that of 
" mutual interaction " } or " that the whole 
world, living and not living," — the molecules 
themselves included, — " is the result " solely 
and exclusively of the " mutual interaction " 
which you have imagined } 

What a tissue of conjectures is here! And 
yet all this is assumed as " certain," and is 
postulated as " the fundamental proposition of 

But now, suppose it certain : what then } 
It leaves us as far as ever from a knowledge 
of "the first beginnings." It tells us of 
" forces " controlled by " definite laws." But if 

The Three Beginnings, 159 

it tells us truly, then the law is the controlling 
Power, and has a priority over the powers 
controlled. Then " the forces possessed by the 
molecules" were at best subordinate and se- 
condary: the "definite laws" alone were 
primary and supreme. But laws never make 
themselves. Who made these ? and who made 
them thus distinctly " definite " } 

But even their definiteness is not greater 
than their complexity. And this complexity 
— immeasurably beyond our power of explora- 
tion — is everywhere adjusted to the attainment 
of a common end. Who originated a com- 
plexity so intricate, yet so illimitable ? Who 
established this unvarying adjustment of it — in 
the very "first beginning"? For we are now 
asked to imagine space filled with a frictionless 
fluid ; to suppose that some portions of this 
fluid did somewhere, somehow, by some means, 
at some time or other, become " rotational ; " 
and that having by rotation gained rigidity, 
they can now, by the latest triumphs of hydro- 
dynamics, be "proved" to be indivisible and 
indestructible. Let it be granted. Granted 
that light, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, are 
molecular movements mutually transmutable ; 
that arrested molar movement displays itself 
as molecular movement ; that the pressure of 

i6o Scientific Sophisms. 

a gas IS due to the varying motion of its 
molecules impinging on the walls of the vessel 
that contains it; that the rigidity, or space- 
occupying power of matter, is due to the 
formation of vortices in a frictionless ether, and 
that each vortex-atom is thenceforth inde- 
structible ; when the reality of the conceptions 
thus assumed has been granted, then by exactly 
so much has the absolute necessity been in- 
creased of assigning — at "the first beginning" 
— a First Cause, equal not only to the origina- 
tion of Matter and of Force, but equal to the 
origination of matter thus constituted, and of 
force thus adjusted. 

Evolution is thus seen to be the measure 
of Involution. Whatever has been evolved 
in the Effect was previously involved in the 
Cause. To deny this is to affirm that the effect 
may transcend the cause. If therefore — though 
in utter contempt of scientific verity — we were 
to resolve all chemical forces into forces me- 
chanical, all life into chemistry, and the infinite 
diversity of living beings into mere variety in 
the play of molecular forces, ultimately resolving 
itself into a motion or motions of the universal 
ether, we should simply have increased by 
so much our previous estimate of the Power 
which — at the "first beginning" — was able 

The Three Beginnings. i6i 

thus "potentially" to endow "the cosmic 

Matter, Force, Order, Law, Diversity in 
Unity, Concord in Complexity: they are all 
known to us, but not one of them is known 
as self-originated. Distinct in character, defi- 
nite in operation, invariable in result : who made 
them so t You trace " the whole world, living 
and not living," to certain " properties " of Mat- 
ter, acted upon by certain capacities of Force, 
operating in an invariable Order, under the reign 
of Law. You do well. Pursue your induction 
to " The First Beginnings." Whence came those 
" properties " of matter } those capacities of 
force } Order could not regulate them before 
Matter received them. Could Matter create 
them } Through all the " immeasurable inter- 
vals of time and space," Matter has never 
created one single atom. Causa causarum: 
what was that } Whatever it was, you will not 
be able to ignore it, except by refusing to go 
back to " The First Beginning." 

That " first " beginning was followed by a 
second. Immovably based on the deep founda- 
tions of the inorganic world, there rises every- 
where, elaborate and multifarious, the myste- 
rious superstructure of organization and Life. 


1 62 Scientific Sophisms. 

No conclusion of modern science is more 
widely received or more confidently maintained 
than that which teaches that in the early history 
of our planet life was unknown. Not only was 
it not actual : it was not possible. Life *-hen 
was not. But now life is. Life, then, had a 
beginning. What was that beginning t And 
whence } 

" If," says Professor Huxley,^ " the hypo- 
thesis of Evolution be true, living matter must 
have arisen from not-living matter, for, by the 
hypothesis, the condition of the globe was at one 
time such that living matter could not have 
existed on it, life being entirely incompatible 
with the gaseous state." And he adds that, 
even if we adopt Sir William Thomson's theory, 
that life on this planet may have been derived 
from life on some other, the difficulty of 
accounting for its origination is as great as 
ever. For the nebular theory, which is a part 
of the hypothesis of Evolution, asserts that all 
the worlds were once in " the gaseous state." 

"But," he continues, "living matter once 
originated, there is no necessity for another 
origination, since the hypothesis postulates the 
unlimited, though perhaps not indefinite, 
modifiability of such matter." Waiving, for 
* Encydopadia Britannica^ Article "Biology." 

The Three Beginnings. 103 

the present, the "unlimited modifiability " 
thus postulated, it is important to observe 
the profound significance of the admission here 
made. " Living matter once originated : " yes, 
but how ? To that crucial question, the answer, 
on the same high authority, is given in these 
words : " Of the causes which have led to the 
origination of living matter, it may be said that 
we know absolutely nothing." "The present 
state of knowledge furnishes us with no link 
between the living and the not-living."^ But 
however inscrutable the mode, there is no ques- 
tion — nor any room for question — as to the fact. 
" Living matter " was " once originated^ Life 
had a Beginning. 

Impenetrable, however, as is the veil which 
hides from our observation the origin of Life, 
still more inscrutable is the mystery which 
shrouds the first emergence of the self-conscious 

Mr. John Stuart Mill admits the existence of 
the mind in the form of a " thread of conscious- 
ness," " aware of itself as past and future," and 
possessing a conviction of the simultaneous 
existence of other "threads of consciousness" 
and of numerous permanent possibilities of 
* Encyclopcedia Britannica^ Article " Biology." 

164 Scientific Sophisms. 

sensation.^ And Professor Huxley asks, "Is 
our knowledge of anything we know or fee) 
more or less than a knowledge of states of 
consciousness ? " " And," he adds, " our whole 
life IS made up of such states." ^ And again, 
in the same connection, he tells us of that 
" highest degree of certainty which is given by 
immediate consciousness." • 

But what then is this consciousness } and 
whence? Professor Huxley's language on the 
subject is particularly confident, although at 
present it is merely prophetic. " I hold," he 
says, "with the materialist, that the human body, 
like all living bodies, is a machine, all the opera- 
tions of which will sooner or later be ex- 
plained upon physical principles." And again : 
" I believe that we shall arrive at a mechanical 
equivalent of consciousness, just as we have 
arrived at a mechanical equivalent of heat."^ 
But the vaticinatory character of these opinions 
is their least remarkable feature. Professor 
Huxley "holds" that all living things are 
machines, and "believes" that "thought is as 
much a function of matter as motion is ; " 
but, as Dr. Beale observes, "of evidence in 

^ Mill upon Hamilton, p. 212. 

2 " Lay Sermons : " Descartes, p. 359. 

* Macmillaris Magaziney voL xxii. p. 78. 

The Three Beginnings. 165 

support of these beliefs there is none that will 
bear investigation, none that would convince 
any reasonable being." " Such opinions and 
beliefs on the mechanics of life and thought 
are certainly very striking, but it is remarkable 
that no one who entertains them has considered 
it necessary to adduce facts or arguments in 
their support The mechanical theory of life 
and consciousness rests upon authority whose 
utterances are dogmatic and not dependent upon 
reason, fact, observation, and experiment." ^ 

Widely different is the language of Mr. 
Herbert Spencer, and of Professor Tyndall, 
in which we are assured that "our states of 
consciousness are mere symbols of an outside 
entity which produces them and determines the 
order of their succession, but the real nature of 
which we can never know." ^ It must not be 
concealed however that, after all. Professor 
Tyndall does not differ from Professor Huxley 
more widely than Professor Huxley differs from 
himself. It is not always that he indulges in 
prophetic imaginings of " a mechanical equiva- 
lent of consciousness." When, as above quoted, 
he tells us of what he "holds" "with the 
materialist," we have only to turn to his " Phy- 

1 " Protoplasm ; or Matter and Life." 1874. P. 119. 

2 " Belfast Address," p. 57. 

1 66 Scientific Sophisms. 

siology " to find materials for the utter refuta- 
tion of materialism. 

" We class," he says, " sensations along with 
emotions^ and volitions y and thoughts ^ under the 
common head of states of consciousness. But 
what consciousness is, we know not ; and how 
it is that anything so remarkable as a state 
of consciousness comes about as the result of 
irritating nervous tissue is just as unaccount- 
able as the appearance of the Djin when Alad- 
din rubbed his lamp in the story." ^ 

*' Some," says Dr. Beale, " have taught that 
mind transcends life, and life transcends che- 
mistry, just as chemical affinity transcends me- 
chanics. But no one has proved, and no one 
can prove, that mind and life are in any way 
related to chemistry and mechanics." ^ Even it 
the step from mechanics to chemistry had been 
admitted as ascertained and proved, it would 
still remain true that the step from chemistry 
to life is a mere unsupported assumption; an 
assumption " without the slightest reason." 

"How any material impressions should awake 
thought ; but, still more, how, in independence of 
all impressions, thought should be all the while 
there, alive and active, a world by itself — that 

1 P. 193. 

' " Protoplasm," p. 299. 

The Three Beginnings, 167 

is the mystery." And that mystery no scalpel, 
no microscope, will ever explain. " Mechanical 
balances the most delicate, chemical tests the 
most sensitive, are all powerless there. And 
why } Simply because consciousness and they 
are incommensurable : of another nature, of 
another world from the first, sundered from 
each other by the whole diameter of being." 

But whence came this "other world," this 
new " incommensurable " 1 and whence the 
"great gulf," the impassable chasm, which 
marks the new beginning } Mens agitat 
molem ; but that implies for Mens a special 
nature, a special relation, and a special origin. 
What was that origin } and whence } 

Whatever its source, whatever its nature, 
the one broad patent fact remains alike in- 
dubitable and incontestable : — there was a de- 
finite epoch in which the human mind first 
came into being. Thought began to be. In- 
telligence, self-conscious, emerged — though not 
from the world of matter — to be enthroned in 
the World of Mind. Whence came it } Who 
will tell us.? For to Agnostic Evolution a 
phenomenon so portentous is absolutely fatal. 
Scientific Materialism can give no account of 
it. It is perfectly "UNACCOUNTABLE." 

And yet it is true ! 



" The whole world is the flux of matter over the wires 
of Tkovght."— Emerson. 

" Every part of the universe is an argument against 
atheism as a theory thereof." — Theodore Parker, 

" Abstract secondary causation *does not exist, and a 
physical search after essential causes is vain. * Causa- 
tion is the Will, Creation the Act^ of GodJ " — Grovels 
** Correlation of Physical Forces P 

" Law rules throughout existence ; a law which is not 
intelligent but intelligence ... it disdains words 
and passes understanding ; it dissolves persons ; it 
vivifies nature ; yet solicits the pure in heart to draw on 
all its omnipotence."— -ffw^rj^w. 




" So long as you have that fire of the heart 
within you, and know the reality of it," says 
Mr. Ruskin, "you need be under no alarm as 
to the possibility of its chemical or mechanical 
analysis. The philosophers are very humorous 
in .their ecstasy of hope about it ; but the real 
interest of their discoveries in this direction is 
very small to human-kind."^ And the same 
may be said of the discoveries themselves. 
Their actual amount, not less than their real 
interest, is " very small." So small indeed, that 
" their ecstasy about it " — though merely an 
" ecstasy of hope " — is a " very humorous " spec- 
tacle. He who doubts this has not read Mr. 

" It requires a long succession of ages to 
adapt an organism to some new and peculiar 
form of life, as, for instance, to fly through the 

I « 

The Queen of the Air." London, 1869, p. 70. 


172 Scientific Sophisms. 

air." ^ " We do not see the transitional grade 
through which the wings of birds have passed ; 
but what special difficulty is there in believing 
that it might profit the modified descendants of 
the penguin, first to become enabled to flap 
along the surface of the sea, like the logger- 
headed duck, and ultimately to rise from its 
surface and glide through the air ? " ^ " The 
tail of the giraffe looks like an artificially con- 
structed fly-flapper; and it seems at first in- 
credible that this should have been adapted for 
its present purpose by successive slight modifi- 
cations, each better and better, for so trifling 
an object as driving away flies ; yet we should 
pause before being too positive even in this 
case, for ... a well-developed tail having 
been formed in an aquatic animal, it might sub- 
sequently come to be worked in for all sorts of 
purposes — as a fly-flapper, an organ of prehen- 
sion, or as aid in turning, as with the dog." ^ 

In this way, the tail of a horse may have 
been derived from that of a shark, the tail of a 
cow from the skate, and the giraffe owe his fly- 
flapper to a remote progenitor, the sturgeon. 
Or, if there be any who think that to affirm this 

» " Origin of Species,'* First Edition, p. 328. 

2 Ibid,^ p. 329. 

3 Ibid^ p. 215. 

The Three Barriers. 173 

is to affirm too much, Mr. Darwin may still ask 
(as above) " What special difficulty there is in 
believing'' it? Especially "since it certainly is 
not true that new organs appear suddenly in 
any class." ^ 

The counterpart of this strange story is still 
more worthy of a place in the record of the 
"Thousand and One Nights." For not only 
have so many terrestrial creatures been derived 
from an " aquatic origin"^ by that marvellous 
metaphor called Natural Selection, but, on the 
other hand, there are not wanting some land- 
animals that, renouncing their original nature, 
have become aquatic. Surprising as it may be 
to learn that a giraffe was once a fish, it is not 
less surprising to be told that a whale was once 
a bear. And yet, " In North America, the black 
bear was seen by Hearne swimming for hours 
with widely-open mouth, thus catching, like a 
whale, insects in the water. / see no difficulty 
in a race of bears being rendered by Natural 
Selection more and more aquatic in their struc- 
ture and habits, with larger and larger mouths, 
till a creature was produced as monstrous as a 
whale." * With this difference, however : that, 

* " Origin of Species," First Edition, p. 214. 

2 Ibid,^ p. 215. 

^ In the third and subsequent editions, the latter part 

174 Scientific Sophisms. 

when the ursine whale began his career he had 
his tail to make — an operation exactly the 
reverse of that in the previous story. The land 
animals, having been fishes, derived their tails 
from the waters ; but in this latter case a land 
animal goes into the water to live like a fish and 
procure a tail. Humorous? Not at all. Per- 
fectly serious. Consider the authority of Mr. 
Huxley, and remember that "the hypothesis 
postulates the unlimited modifiability of matter." 
Nor is it matter alone which, in the hands of 
" Natural Selection " presents the marvellous 
transformations due to unlimited modifiability. 
"Under changed conditions of life," says Mr. 
Darwin, " it is at least possible that slight modi- 
fications of instinct might be profitable to a 
species; and if it can be shown that instincts 
do vary ever so little, then I can see no difficulty 
in Natural Selection preserving and continually 
accumulating variations of instinct to any extent 
that was profitable. It is thus, / believe^ that all 
the most complex and wonderful instincts have 
originated." ^ 

of this passage is omitted, for no apparent reason. No 
hint is given that Mr. Darwin now sees any difficulty 
where he saw none before, and the statement as now left 
still contains the suggested transformation ; a suggestion 
strengthened by the connection in which it is found. 
^ " Origin of Species," p. 229. 

The Three Barriers. 175 

This is too much for M. Flourens. " Surely," 
says that accomplished naturalist, *'we cannot 
take this as meant to be serious. Natural Se- 
lection choosing an instinct ! 

* ... La po^sie a ses licences, mais 
Celle-ci passe un peu les homes que j'y mets.' " ' 

Mr. Darwin, however, is serious enough, and 
maintains in all good faith, that peculiar in- 
stincts are in all cases the result not of original 
endowment, but of subsequent acquisition ; " by 
the slow and gradual accumulation of numerous 
slight, yet profitable variations." ^ Individual 
life, as well as the life of the community, whether 
in ants or bees, was once a totally different thing 
from what we now behold ; then beavers did not 
build, and neither the stork nor the swallow 
knew their appointed seasons. 

In treating of the ants and the honey-bee, 
Mr. Darwin attempts to account for that striking 
peculiarity — the groundwork of much of their 
polity — the existence of neuters. 

" Thus, / believe^^ he says, " it has been with social 
insects ; a slight modification of structure or instinct, 

* "Examen du Livre de M. Darwin sur L'Origine 
des Esp^ces." Par P. Flourens. (Paris, 1864.) P. 55. 
Vide infrd: Appendix, Note C. 

2 " Origin of Species," p. 230. 

176 Scientific Sophisms. 

correlated with the sterile condition of certain members 
of the community, has been advantageous to the com- 
munity ; consequently the fertile males and females of 
the same community flourished, and transmitted to their 
fertile offspring a tendency to produce sterile members, 
having the same modification. And I believe this process 
has been repeated, until that prodigious amount of dif- 
ference between the fertile and sterile females of the same 
species has been produced, which we see in many social 
insects." * 

But the very existence of " the community " 
(in the case of the honey-bees, for example) 
depends upon the specific arrangements of the 
present polity and constitution. Alter these 
arrangements, and the polity is at an end ; " the 
community " exists no longer. If, therefore, at 
any time, all the females were fertile, as this 
explanation implies that they once were, then 
" the community " did not exist ; and its opera- 
tions, however "slight," in "modification of 
structure, or instinct,** at a time when it was 
non-existent, are unimaginable, except in 

If only they were imaginable, the " scientific 
imagination" would not lack exercise. We 
should in that case have to imagine that when 
the fertile females were transforming — not them- 
selves but — ^their posterity into sterile members 

* " Origin of Species," p. 260. 

The Three Barriers. 177 

for the benefit of society, there was one remark- 
able exception. One female there was who, by 
a long preconcerted scheme, though by a most 
occult and undiscoverable process, was all the 
while prodigiously increasing her fertility in 
order to become the sole Mother and Queen of 
the whole hive I We should have to imagine 
fertile animals agreeing to produce, and actually 
producing, sterile offspring ! ** The fertile males 
and females flourished ; and transmitted to 
their fertile offspring a tendency to produce 
sterile members ! " Fertile parents transmit, 
through fertile progeny, a tendency to produce 
sterility incapable of further production ! " Hu- 
morous " ? Not at all. The theory requires it, 
and therefore, quite seriously, Mr. Darwin " be- 
lieves it." 

By one of his earliest and acutest critics it 
was justly observed, that " If we except a pass- 
ing cavil at the imperfect knowledge of optics 
displayed in the mechanism of the eye, Mr. 
Darwin can scarcely be said to have touched 
the evidence for design deduced from the feli- 
cities of fabric and deep-lying adjustments, so 
profusely exemplified throughout the animal 
kingdom. He tells us indeed how the pigeon's 
feather may be varied, but not how the pigeon 
came to be feather-clad at all. He leaves us 


178 Scientific Sophisms. 

quite in the dark also as to the mode in which 
natural selection sets to work in the multiplying 
of air-sacs, or in the boring of bones, to increase 
the facilities for flotation and flight. But he 
devotes a large portion of a chapter on Instinct, 
otherwise extremely graceful and interesting, 
to a hypothetical exposition of the processes 
by which the common hive-bee, Apis mellificaj 
might have distanced her less skilful kindred 
Melipona and Bombus ; and how the wonderful 
phenomena of sexual suppression and vicarious 
labour might have arisen among the social in- 
stincts of the bee and ant tribes generally. No 
one, since Touchstone's time, has set such store 
on the virtues, or so taxed the capacities, of an 
If. A certain abstract theorem conceded, if 
Bombus or Melipona could be brought to put 
that theorem in practice, one huge stumbling- 
block would be removed from Mr. Darwin's 
speculative path. But this is the hitch. It is 
as much out of the question for Bombus or 
Melipona, not being a man, to see with Mr. 
Darwin's eyes, as it would be for Mr. Darwin, 
not being a bee, to work with Melipona s tools. 
Slight deflexions of habit, artificially provoked, 
in the more highly endowed insect, do not 
furnish the smallest presumption of the genesis 
of new endowments in its inferior sisterhood 

The Three Barriers. 179 

* It may easily be supposed^ in these researches, 
is but a sorry substitute for, *It has actually 
been observed^ The true tokens of consummate 
geometrical prescience can never be simulated 
by tentative effort. Had Mr. Darwin lived two 
thousand years ago, his ceral experiments might 
have furnished a target for the shafts of Aristo- 
phanes;^ but, indifferent alike to savant and 
satirist, Melipona was then building her cells 
no better, and Mellifica no worse. Those ex- 
planations of the mystery of cell-making which 
really explain nothing are, however, moderation 
itself to the inimitable though unconscious 
legerdemain which converts an unanswerable and 
unblunted objection to our author's favourite 
solvent, drawn from the phenomena of insect 
sterility and caste, into the occasion of a pane- 
gyric on its power. It is his business to prove 
that natural selection has done certain wonderful 
things : See, he virtually says, what wonderful 
things, far beyond my own expectation, natural 
selection can do? A more flagrant intrusion 
of unpruned fancy into a domain sacred to the 
severities of observation can scarcely be con- 

" The social insects, like those lower in the 

^ "Clouds," 147-153. 

2 " Origin of Species,'' p. 242. 

i8o Scientific Sophisms. 

scale, must have started, on Mr. Darwin's view, 
as ordinary male and female, with a common 
share of individual labour ; on a par, in this 
respect, with a flock of geese, or a herd of cattle, 
or a community of mankind. Now let any 
breeder of cattle consider through what agencies 
a variety could be attained of which only one 
birth in five should be a bull or a cow, the other 
four being natural neuters, devoted subjects of 
their perfect sister, but sworn foes of her spouse. 
It is an aptitude precisely analogous to this 
that has produced, we are asked to believe, the 
economy of the bee-hive. Or let any trans- 
atlantic admirer of the 'domestic institution' 
of Formica rufescens, turn over in his mind the 
means by which every third man-child born on 
his estate should be ten times the size of the 
rest of the family;^ or each alternate female 
be fitted for a nurse while forbidden to be a 

^ Mr. Darwin, in noting the fact that " the neuters of 
several ants differ, not only from the fertile females and 
males, but from each other, sometimes to an almost in- 
credible degree," says, " The difference between them is 
the same as if we were to see a set of workmen building 
a house, of whom many were five feet high, and many 
sixteen feet high — but we must further suppose that the 
larger workmen had heads four times as big as those of 
the smaller men, and jaws nearly five times as big." — 
" Origin of Species," pp. 260, 261. 

The Three Barriers. i8i 

mother ; and he would have the measure of the 
intrinsic likelihood of the Darwinian doctrine, 
in its bearing on that insect and its confede- 
rates. It were idle to enlarge. There are 
worthier lessons to be gleaned from the world 
of instinct than such as affroat all legitimate 
analogy, and gratuitously dissociate the marvels 
of nature from their only true solvent, the 
ordination of God." 

Turning now from the disordered dreams of 
unpruned fancy to the severities of observation ; 
from ingenious suppositions of what might have 
been, to the actual certainties that are ; we find 
all Comparative Anatomy tending towards the 
recognition and extrication of three supreme 
values, in the grouping of animals, and the 
graduation of life, past as well as present : — 
the Backbone, the Breast, and the Brain. 
And the key to the significance of animal life 
and its prerogatives, thus grouped and graduated, 
is not, and cannot be, Selective Development, 
but is, and must be. Elective Design. 

" The first leet, in the ascending order, takes 
note of all animals, as Vertebrates or Sub- 
vertebrates : for every individual organism en- 
dowed with a backbone, there are countless 
millions without it. Hence this first or exterior 

1 82 , Scientific Sophisms. 

leet leaves a master-group, palpably supreme 
in framework and ground-plan over three other 
groups — the Articulate, the Convolute, and the 
Radiate — between which and the master-group 
the Barrier of Backbone stands impassable ; 
at least till it is explained how a butterfly could 
become a bird, or a snail a serpent, or a star- 
fish acquire the skeleton of the salmon or the 
shark. It is like the going forth of a Divine 
decree : * One shall be taken, and three shall be 

"The second leet. Sub-vertebrates out of 
view, takes account of Vertebrates themselves 
as Mammals or Sub-mammals. Among the 
elect it makes an inner election. Besides the 
Backbone it exacts the Breast; shedding off", 
as before, three well-marked groups subordinate 
to the master-group of Mammals or Sucklers. 
These breastless tribes are Birds, Reptiles, and 
Fishes; holding high, low, and medium rank 
among themselves, not so much on the principle 
of skeleton, or its specialized offshoots, as on 
that of characters which are correlated to the 
development of care for their young. , . . 
Still the Mammal, by its endowment of the 
fostering bosom, stands elect, aloft, and apart — 
Bird, Reptile, Fish, far beneath in the scale ; 

The Three Barriers. 183 

and till it is shown how an animal that never 
got suck stumbled on the capacity of giving 
what was never given it, the BREAST will 
stand, against all dreams of development, com- 
panion-barrier to the Backbone. Again is 
heard the elective edict : ' One shall be taken, 
and three shall be left/ 

*' Third, last, innermost leet : note has to be 
taken among the Mammalia themselves, from 
the Marsupials to Man, of the presence or 
absence of one testing character, and that the 
chief — the Perfect Brain. This is found in one 
creature, occupying, as it were, the inner ring 
and core of the concentric circles of vitality, and 
in one alone. In the lowest variety of man it 
is present — present in the Negro or the Bush- 
man as in the civilized European ; and absent 
in all below man — absent in the ape or the 
elephant as truly as in the kangaroo or the 
duckmole. To all men the pleno-cerebral type 
is common : to man^ as such, it ispeadiar. And 
till we hear of some Simian tribe which 
speculates on its own origin, or discusses its 
own place in the scale of being, we shall be 
safe in opposing the Human Brain, with 
its sign in language, culture, capacity of pro- 
gress, as barrier the third to Mr. Darwin's 

184 Scientific Sophisms. 

scheme." ^ " And thus, as in the former leets, 
are the triple tribe of under-brains walled off 
from the Brain of Man.^ A third time there 
falls a voice from the Excellent Glory: 'One 
shall be taken, and three shall be left* " 

Below the fish, how powerless comparatively, 
all creatures are ! The primates of sulD-verte- 
brate nature are the ant and the bee. Most 
mollusks are anchored to one spot for life, and 
the bulkiest of crustaceans, shorn of other 
locomotion, could only crawl in shallow waters 
among his rocks and sands. The advent of 
the backbone is the advent of animal power : 
the type of an all-pervading and resistless 
energy. The wing of the eagle, the jaw of 

^ " The Three Barriers : Notes on Mr. Darwin's * Origin 
of Species.'" Blackwood & Sons. Pp. 88, et seqq. To 
the highly-gifted author of this brilliant little book— a 
book as admirable in method as unanswerable in effect — 
I gratefully record niy obligations. 

2 " By a purely inductive process, the sub-human mam- 
malia have been carefully distributed into the wave- 
brained, the smooth-brained, and the loose-brained, re- 
presented respectively by the ape, the beaver, and the 
kangaroo ; with a result, so far as the two departments 
of science are comparable, like that of the application of 
Kepler's laws to the planetary motions : the subjects of 
the classification fall, for the first time, into their true 
places — a mob of animals becomes a regular army." 

The Three Barriers. 185 

the crocodile, the spring of the tiger, the teeth 
of the shark, the terrible coil of the boa-con- 
strictor ; the backbone is the basis of them 

Below the mammal, again, how loveless^ by- 
comparison, is the world of life ! There are 
no sub-mammalian mothers; animals below 
that line are parents or producers only. The 
crossing of that line is a great work of Deity. 
God creates a new thing in the earth when He 
hangs the nursling on the mother's breast, and 
bids the two be as one. Together with the 
prerogative of the nurturing bosom there start 
up everywhere, on land and sea, the most 
touching examples of brute devotion and of 
passionate maternity. 

Deep calleth unto deep, and the cry is still 
Excelsior I Nature is a hierarchy of which the 
head is man. Mind, language, worship, civili- 
zation ; the will to determine, the tongue to 
speak, the hand to do ; these — in their bound- 
less purport — are all lacking until the Creator 
plants upon the scene the solitary owner of the 
Perfect Brain. Named in one word, all these 
are wisdom; and Man, "thinker of God*s 
thoughts after Him," is, among uncounted 
myriads of lower existences, on this earth, 
Only Wise. Of this superiority, the human 

1 86 . Scientific Sophisms. 

brain is the badge. The attempts that have 
been made to minimize, and even to efface its 
significance, will be noticed in the sequel ; 
but the force and effect of that significance are 
not to be invalidated and cannot be impaired 
by disputations in detail. The one broad cha- 
racteristic fact remains beyond dispute : all 
healthy human brains are structurally perfect ; 
but the highest brute brains are structurally 
imperfect. The human brain is pleno-cerebral ; 
all other brains are manco-cerebral. The 
human brain, in its least cultivated manifes- 
tations, retains the latent franchise of progres- 
sive reason ; all other brains exhibit the rigid 
circumscription of unprogressive instinct. No 
brute is susceptible of human culture ; while, 
on the other hand, of that culture there is no 
human infant that is not susceptible. Between 
these two, the difference thus seen is nothing 
less than a difference absolutely immeasurable. 




" Bodies are thoughts precipitated into space." — Novalis. 

" The universe is a thought^ as well as a thing. . . . 
The thought includes the origination of the forces and 
their law, as well as the combination and use of them. 
. . . It follows then, that the universe is controlled by 
a single thought, or the thought of an individual thinker." 
— President Porter, 

" Molecular law is the profoundest expression of the 
Divine Will." — Professor Dana, 

** To us also, through every star, through every blade 
of grass, is not a God made visible, if we will open our 
minds and eyes ?" — Carlyle, 



But these magnificent achievements — the 
Vertebral Column, the Fostering Bosom, the 
Perfect Brain — ^with their inexplicable origin, 
their profound significance, their limitless re- 
sults, have been accomplished by the cosmical 
atoms alone. Outside those atoms, or beyond 
them, there is not now, nor has there been at 
any time, any existence whatever. No sub- 
stance, no essence, no entity, no force, no 
motion. " Matter is the origin of all that 
exists ; all natural and mental forces are in- 
herent in it."^ "The existing world lay po- 
tentially in the cosmic vapour."* For "the 
fundamental proposition of evolution " is, as we 
have seen, "that the whole world, living and 
not living, is the result of the mutual inter- 
action, according to definite laws, of the forces 
possessed by the molecules of which the 
primitive nebulosity of the universe was com- 

* Buchner, ut stip,, p. 96. 
2 Prof. Huxley, ut sup,, p. 64. 

I go ScUntific Sophis^ns, 

posed." ^ In a word — and that, the word of 
Lucretius, adopted and adorned in the Belfast 
Address — " The Atoms are the first beginnings." 
What then are these ultimate inorganic atoms 
on which (according to the hypothesis of Devel- 
opment) everything depends ? The idea ex- 
pressed by the word itself is simply the idea 
of " matter " in minimis, arising only from an 
arrest by a supposed physical limit, of a geo- 
metrical divisibility possible without end. But 
" things which cannot be cut " might be all 
alike ; or they might be variously different, 
inter se ; and, on setting out in this inquiry it 
is necessary to know on which of these two 
assumptions we are to proceed. If the ma- 
terialist is to be credited with any logical ex- 
actness, it is the former assumption alone that 
is admissible. When he asks for no 7nore than 
matter for his purpose of constructing a uni- 
verse, his demand is restricted to the essentials 
of mattery the characters which enter into its 
definition. It is from these alone that he 
pledges himself to deduce all the accessory 
characters which appear in one place though 
not in another, and which discriminate the 
several provinces of nature. It is in perfect 

^ Prof. Huxley, ut suprd,, p. 64. Vide infrd, Appendix, 
Note J. 

Atoms. 191 

accordance with this, that the " atomists," says 
Lange, " attributed to matter only the simplest 
of the various properties of things — those, 
namely, which are indispensable for the pre- 
sentation of a something in space and time, and 
their aim was to evolve from these alone the 
whole assemblage of phenomena." "They it 
was," he adds, **who gave the first perfectly 
clear notion of what we are to understand by 
matter as the basis of all phenomena. With 
the positing of this notion, materialism stood 
complete, as the first perfectly clear and con- 
sequent theory of all phenomena." * 

If further corroboration of this statement 
were needed, it might be adduced from Mr. 
Herbert Spencer's definition of Evolution, 
already quoted :* — " Evolution is a change from 
an indefinite incoherent homogeneity, to a de- 
finite coherent heterogeneity, through continuous 
differentiations and integrations." And again : 
— " From the earliest traceable cosmical changes 
down to the latest results of civilization we shall 
find that the transformation of the homogeneous 
into the heterogeneous is that in which evolu- 
tion essentially consists." In perfect consis- 
tency with these statements Mr. Spencer further 

^ " Geschichte des Materialismus," i. pp. 8, 9. 
2 Vide suprdy p. 27. 

192 Scientific Sophisms, 

contends that the properties of the different 
elements (/.^., the chemical elements, hydrogen, 
carbon, etc.) " result from differences of arrange- 
ment, arising from the compounding and re- 
compounding of ultimate homogeneous units^^ 
So that, to sum up all in one word, there is 
but, as he further tells us, "one ultimate form 
of matter, out of which the successively more 
complex forms of matter are built up."* 

These statements are not lacking, either in 
clearness or consistency. Their only fault is 
that they are not correct. The " one ultimate 
form of matter" is not forthcoming. The 
" homogeneous extended solids " are not homo- 
geneous. We are not to be surprised if we 
should see sixty-two out of the sixty-three 
"elements" fall to pieces analytically before 
our eyes. If we would speak positively of the 
simplicity of phosphorus or carbon, we are 
warned that "there are no recognised ele- 
mentary substances, if the expression means 
substances known to be elementary. What 
chemists for convenience call elementary sub- 
stances, are merely substances which they have 
thus far failed to decompose." 

But let the contrary supposition be admitted. 

* Contemp, Rev»y June, 1872. 

" " Principles of Psychology," vol. i. p. 155. 

Atoms. 193 

Let it be supposed that the alleged homogeneity 
were as real as now it is imaginary. Let the 
appeal be allowed which all logical atomists 
make to the case of isomeric bodies, and espe- 
cially to that of allotropic varieties. Let such 
varieties of appearance as those presented by 
carbon^ and phosphorus^ be attributed, not to 
any qualitative cause, but to a different group- 
ing of the atoms ; the morphological differences, 
if adequately obtained, will still contribute no 
explanation of the observed variations of at- 
tribute. Vary in imagination, as you please, 
the adjustments of their homologous sides, so 
as to build molecules of several types, the 
question will still remain unanswered, — *' What 
is there in the arrangement ^ * ^ to occasion 
* activity * in phosphorus, while the arrangement 
b a c produces * inertness ?* " Where the pro- 
ducts differ only in geometrical properties, and 
consequently in optical, the explanation may 
be admissible, the form and the laying of the 
bricks determining the outline and the density 
of the structure. But by no device can the 
deduction be extended from the physical to the 

^ Charcoal, black-lead, and diamond. 

'In the yellow, semi-transparent, inflammable form ; 
and again as an opaque, dark red substance, combustible 
only at a much higher temperature. 


194 Scientific Sophisms. 

chemical properties : to these last heterogeneity 
is essential. To deduce chemical phenomena 
from mechanical conditions, if it be not an 
impossible conception, may possibly be a " fig- 
ment of the intellect," but it is a figment with- 
out any pretence to " verification." 

" Even in the last resort, if we succeed in getting all 
our atoms alike, we do not rid ourselves of an unex- 
plained heterogeneity ; it is simply transferred from their 
nature as units to their rules of combination. Whether 
the qualitative difference between hydrogen and each of 
the other elements is conditional upon a distinction of 
kind in the atoms, or on definite varieties in their mode 
of numerical or geometrical union, these conditions are 
not provided for by the mere existence of homogeneous 
atoms ; and nothing that you can do with these atoms, 
within the limits of their definition, will get the required 
heterogeneity out of them. Make them up into molecules 
by what grouping or architecture you will ; still the 
difference between hydrogen and iron is not that be- 
tween one and three, or any other number ; or between 
shaped solids built off in one direction and similar ones 
built off in another, which may turn out like a right and a 
left glove. If hydrogen were the sole * primordial,' and 
were transmutable, by select shuffling of its atoms, into 
every one of its present sixty-two associates, both the 
tendency to these special combinations, and the effects 
of them would be as little deducible from the homogene- 
ous datum as, on the received view, are the chemical 
phenomena from mechanical conditions. I still think, 
therefore, that if you assume atoms at all, you may as 
well take the whole sixty-three sorts in a lot. And this 
startling multiplication of the original monistic assump- 

Atoms. 195 

tion, I understand Professor Tyndall to admit as indis- 
pensable." * 

This witness is true. The " original monistic 
assumption " is now discarded by Professor Tyn- 
dall^ and Professor Bain as emphatically as by 
Mr. Martineau himself. The " ultimate homo- 
geneous units " of Mr. Spencer are now found to 
be utterly inadequate to the task required of 
them. They must be in motion ; they must be of 
various shapes ; they must be of as many kinds 
as there are chemical elements ; for how could 
we possibly get water if there were only hydro- 
gen elements to work with } And when, by 
means of this very considerable enlargement of 
the original datum we have got water, what is 
that further enlargement by which we should be 
able so to manipulate our ever-increasing re- 
sources as to educe, for example, consciousness ? 
Let some Power so ordain, and some Wisdom 
so contrive, that all the atoms are affected by 
gravitation and polarity ; let there be, as 
Fechner insists that there is, a difference 
among molecules; let there be the inorganic^ 
which can change only their place, like the 

^ The Rev. James Martineau : Modem Materialism 
{Contemp, Rev.y vol. xxvii. p. 338). 
2 For Prof. Bain's dictay see " Mind and Body ** ; pp. 


196 Scientific Sophisms. 

particles in an undulation; and the organic, 
which can change their order , as in a globule that 
turns itself inside out. What then? When you 
have to pass from mere sentiency to thought 
and will, your Theory of Development is as 
impotent as ever until you have obtained — ^what 
only a further hypothesis can give — a handful 
of Leibnitz's monads to serve as souls in little. 

'* But surely you must observe that this 
'matter' of yours alters its style with every 
change of service; starting as a beggar, with 
scarce a rag of ' property ' to cover its bones, 
it turns up as a prince when large undertakings 
are wanted . . . It is easy travelling through 
the stages of such a hypothesis ; you deposit 
at your bank a round sum ere you start, and 
drawing on it piecemeal at every pause, com- 
plete your grand tour without a debt" ^ 

If now, from fictitious fancies such as these, 
we turn to the actual facts, we shall find that 
the whole argument sums itself up in a single 
remark of Sir William Thomson : " The as- 
sumption of atoms can explain no property of 
body which has not previously been attributed 
to the atoms themselves." 

^ Martineau : '* Religion as Affected by Modem Ma- 

Atoms. 197 

The "atom" of the modern mathematical 
physics has, accordingly, given up its preten- 
sion to stand as an absolute beginning, and 
now serves only as a necessary rest for ex- 
hausted analysis, before setting forth on the 
return journey of deduction. " A simple ele- 
mentary atom," says Professor Balfour Stewart, 
" is probably in a state of ceaseless activity and 
change of form, but it is, nevertheless, always 
the same."^ "The molecule," (here identical 
with "atom," as the author is speaking of a 
simple substance, as hydrogen), " though indes- 
tructible, is not a hard rigid body," says Pro- 
fessor Clerk Maxwell, "but is capable of 
internal movements, and when these are ex- 
cited it emits rays, the wave-length of which 
is a measure of the time of vibration of the 
molecule."^ But "change of form" and "in- 
ternal movements" are impossible without 
shifting parts, and altered relations ; and where 
then is the final simplicity of the atom ? It 
is no longer a pure unit, but a numerical whole. 
And as part can separate from part, not only 
in thought but in the phenomena, how is it an 
" atom " at all ? " What is there, beyond an 
arbitrary dictum, to prevent a part which 

* " The Conservation of Energy," p. 7. 

* "A Discourse on Molecules,** p. 12. 

198 Scientific Sophisms. 

changes its relation to its fellows from chang- 
ing its relation to the whole — removing to the 
outside ? Such a body, though serving as an 
element in chemistry, is mechanically com- 
pound, and has a constitution of its own, 
which raises as many questions as it answers, 
and wholly unfits it for offering to the human 
mind a point of ultimate rest. It has accord- 
ingly been strictly kept to a penultimate 
position in the conception of philosophical 
physicists like Gassendi, Herschel, and Clerk 
Maxwell, and of masters in the logic of science, 
like Lotze and Stanley Jevons." 

Nor is it to be overlooked that the sixty-three 
kinds of atoms are not at liberty to be neutral 
to one another, or to run an indeterminate round 
of experiments in association, within the limits 
of possible permutation. "Each is already 
provided with its select list of admissible com- 
panions ; and the terms of its partnership with 
every one of these are strictly prescribed ; so 
that not one can modify, by the most trivial 
fraction, the capital it has to bring. Vainly, 
for instance, does the hydrogen atom, with its 
low figure and light weight make overtures to 
the more considerable oxygen element; the 
only reply will be, either none of you or two 
of you. And so on throughout the list." It is 

Atoms. 1 99 

in view of this property of admitting certain 
definite possibilities, while yet they are so 
limited as to fence off and exclude all competing 
possibilities, that Sir John Herschel felt himself 
compelled to describe the atoms as possessing 
" all the characteristics of manufactured articles^ 

This verdict amuses Dr. Tyndall ; nothing 
more. " He twice ^ dismisses it with a super- 
cilious laugh; for which perhaps, as for the 
atoms it concerns, there may be some suppressed 
^ ratio sufficiens.^ But the problem thus plea- 
santly touched is not one of those which solventur 
risu ; and, till some better grounded answer can 
be given to it, that on which the large and 
balanced thought of Herschel and the masterly 
penetration of Clerk Maxwell have alike settled 
with content, may claim at least a provisional 
respect." * 

To conclude. The conception of an infinitude 
of discrete atoms, when pushed to its hypo- 
thetical extreme, brings them no nearer to unity 
than homogeneity^ — ^an attribute which itself 
implies that they are separate and comparable 
members of a genus. And what is the result of 
comparing them ? 

* Belfast Address, p. 26 ; and Fortnightly Review^ 
Nov., 1875, ?• 598. 
' Martineau : Contemporary Review^ vol. xxvii. p. 345. 




200 Scientific Sophisms. 

They " are conformed," we are assured, " to 
a constant type with a precision which is. not 
to be found in the sensible properties of the 
bodies which they constitute. In the first place, 
the mass of each individual," " and all its other 
properties, are absolutely unalterable. In the 
second place, the properties of all" "of the 
same kind are absolutely identical."^ Here 
then, to adopt the weighty words of Mr. Mar- 
tineau, "we have an infinite assemblage of 
phenomena of Resemblance. But further, these 
atoms, besides the internal vibration of each, are 
agitated by movements carrying them in all 
directions, now along free paths, and now into 
collisions.* Here therefore, we have phenomena 
of Difference in endless variety. And so it 
comes to this : that our unitary datum breaks 
up into a genus of innumerable contents, and 
its individuals are affected both with ideally 
perfect correspondences and with numerous con- 
trasts of movement. What intellect can pause 
and compose itself to rest in this vast and 
restless crowd of assumptions } Who can restrain 
the ulterior question, — WHENCE then these 
myriad types of the same letter imprinted on 

^ Prof. Maxwell's " Discourse on Molecules," p. ii. 
2 " Theory of Heat" By J. Clerk Maxwell, M.A., 
LL.D., F.R.SS. London and Edinburgh. Pp. 310, 311. 

Atoms. 20 1 

the earth, the sun, the stars, as if the very mould 
used here had been lent to Sirius, and passed 
on through the constellations ? " 

For answer to this "ulterior question," we 
shall find none more conclusive, none more 
authoritative, than that of Professor Maxwell : — 

" No theory of evolution can be formed to 
account for the similarity of the molecules 
throughout all time, and throughout the whole 
region of the stellar universe, for evolution 
necessarily implies continuous change, and the 
molecule is incapable of growth or decay, of 
generation or destruction." 

Again he says : " None of the processes of 
Nature, since the time when Nature began, have 
produced the slightest difference in the proper- 
ties of any molecule. On the other hand, the 
exact equality of each molecule to all others of 
the same kind precludes the idea of its being 
eternal and self-existent. We have reached 
the utmost limit of our thinking faculties when 
we have admitted that because matter cannot 
be eternal and self-existent it must have been 

"These molecules," he adds, "continue this 
day as they were created, perfect in number, 
and measure, and weight ; and from the inef- 
faceable characters impressed on them we may 

202 Scientific Sophisms, 

learn that those aspirations after truth in state- 
ment, and justice in action, which we reckon 
among our noblest attributes as men, are ours 
because they are the essential constituents of 
the image of Him, who in the beginning created 
not only the heaven and the earth, but the 
materials of which heaven and earth consist" ^ 

A fit pendant to this noble utterance is fur- 
nished in the words of Professor Pritchard, who, 
quoting this passage, adds, — 

"And this is the true outcome of the deepest^ 
the most exacts and the most recent science of our 
age A grander utterance has not come from 
the mind of a philosopher since the days when 
Newton concluded his Principia by his immor- 
tal scholium on the majestic Personality of the 
Creator and Lord of the Universe." * 

' " Discourse on Molecules." 

' Address at the Brighton Congress, October, 1874. 



" Quince, Bless thee, Bottom ! bless thee ! thou art 
translated.** — A Midsummer Nigkfs Dream^ Act iii., 
Scene i. 

" King. How do you, pretty lady ? 

Ophelia, Well, God 'ield you ! They say the owl was 
a baker's daughter. Alack 1 we know what we are, but 
know not what we may be." — Hamlet^ Act iv. Scene v. 



" If," says Prof. Tyndall, addressing his Bir- 
mingham audience, " If to any one of us 
were given the privilege of looking back 
through the seons across which life has 
crept towards its present outcome, his vision 
would ultimately reach a point when the pro- 
genitors of this assembly could not be called 
human. From that humble society, through 
the interaction of its members and the storing 
up of their best qualities, a better one em- 
erged ; from this again a better still ; until 
at length, by the integration of infinitesimals 
through ages of amelioration, we came to be 
what we are to-day." ^ 

If we ask for some warrant of evidence 
in support of this series of assertions founded 
on assumption, Mr. Darwin replies that "On 
the principle of Natural Selection with di- 

* "Science and Man:" Fortnightly Revie^v, 1877, p. 


2o6 Scientific Sophisms. 

vergence of character, it does not seem 
incredible, that from some such low and in- 
termediate form as the lower algae, both 
animals and plants may have been developed ; 
and if we admit this, we must admit that 
all organic beings which have ever lived on 
this earth may have descended from some 
one primordial form."^ 

In other words, and to speak more pre- 
cisely, '* Born of Electricity and Albumen, the 
simple monad is the first living atom; the 
microscopic animalcules, the snail, the worm, 
the reptile, the fish, the bird, and the quad- 
ruped, all spring from its invisible loins. 
The human similitude at last appears in the 
character of the monkey; the monkey rises 
into the baboon ; the baboon is exalted to the 
ourang outang; and the chimpanzee, with a 
more human toe and shorter arms, gives birth 
to Man."» 

What Sir David Brewster has here done 
for the Fauna on this principle of Develop- 
ment, Hugh Miller has in like manner done 
for the Flora, when he tells us that according 
to this theory "dulse and hen-ware became, 
through a very wonderful metamorphosis, 

* " Origin of Species :" p. 519. 

3 " North British Review," 1845, p. 483. 

Apes. 207 

cabbage and spinach ; that kelp-weed and 
tangle burgeoned into oaks and willows ; 
and that slack, rope-weed, and green-raw, 
shot up into mangel-wurzel, rye-grass and 
clover," ^ 

And all this — in Mr. Darwin's opinion — 
" does not seem incredible." There must have 
been — we have his word for it — "a series of 
forms graduating insensibly from some ape- 
like creature to man as he now exists." * 

How to derive the " ape-like creature " 
himself } By a similar process : — " a series 
of forms graduating insensibly" from a tad- 
pole to a monkey. The Ape is the imme- 
diate, but the Ascidian is the remote pro- 
genitor of the genus Homo, And these 
Ascidians, which " resemble tadpoles in shape, 
and swim by means of a vibratile tail, which 
they shake off when they quit the larva 
state and assume the sessile condition," " have 
been recently placed, by some naturalists, 
among the Vermes or worms." 

As to the ape-like creature, — 

" Man is descended from a hairy quadruped, 
furnished with a tail and pointed ears, prob- 
ably arboreal in its habits, and an inhabitant 

* " Footprints of the Creator,'* p. 226. 
2 " Descent of Man ; " vol. i. p. 235. 

2o8 Scientific Sophisms. 

of the old world.** ^ And again : — ^^ The early 
progenitors of man were no doubt well covered 
with hair, both sexes having beards ; their 
ears were pointed and capable of movement ; 
and their bodies were provided with a tail, 
having the proper muscles. . . . The 
males were provided with great canine teeth, 
which served them as formidable weapons.** * 

Then as to the Ape's descent from his 
Ascidian ancestor : — 

"The most ancient progenitors in the 
Kingdom of the Vertebrata at which we are 
able to obtain an obscure glance, apparently 
consisted of a group of marine animals, re- 
sembling the larvae of existing Ascidians. 
These animals probably gave rise to a group 
of fishes, as lowly organized as the Lancelet ; 
and from these the Ganoids and other fishes 
like the Lepidosiren, must have been devel- 
oped. From such fish a very small advance 
would carry us on to the amphibians. . . . 
Birds and reptiles were once intimately con- 
nected together, and the Monotremata now, 
in a slight degree, connect mammals with 
reptiles. But no one can at present say by 
what line of descent the three higher and 

* " Descent of Man,** vol. ii. p. 389. 
' Ibid,^ vol. i. pp. 206, 207. 

Apes. 209 

related classes, namely, mammals, birds, and 
reptiles, were derived from either of the two 
lower vertebrate classes, namely amphibians 
and fishes. In the class of mammals the steps 
are not difficult to conceive which led from the 
ancient Monotremata to the ancient Marsu- 
pials ; and from these to the early progenitors 
of the placental animals. We may thus ascend 
to the Lemuridae; and the interval is not 
wide from these to the Simiadae. The Simi- 
adae then branched off into two great stems, 
the New World and the Old World monkeys ; 
and from the latter, at a remote period, man, 
the wonder and glory of the universe, pro- 
ceeded. ... If a single link in this chain 
had never existed, man would not have been 
what he now is. Unless we wilfully close 
our eyes, we may, with our present know^ 
ledge, approximately recognize our parentage, 
nor need we feel ashamed of it."^ 

"If a single link in this chain had never 
existed " ! Why, even as Mr. Darwin has 
imagined it, it is not a chain at all. There 
is no continuity of concatenation. Even its 
very first link has to be imagined. And 
even when it has been imagined it is found 
to consist — not really, not demonstrably, but 

1 " Descent of Man," voL i. pp. 212, 213. 


2IO Scie7itific Sophisms. 

only — "apparently" "of a group of marine 
animals." Of this group we have no other 
view than a mere "glance," — "an obscure 
glance." But this first link, even when on the 
strength of an obscure glance it has been 
pronounced "apparent," is still not even 
*' apparently " connected with any other. The 
connection required by the hypothesis — very 
far indeed from being " apparent " — is " prob- 
able " only. " These animals probably gave 
rise to a group of fishes," "and from these 
the Ganoids and other fishes must have been 
developed." But why , " must have been ? " 
there is no sort of necessity except that which 
is due to the exigencies of the theory. " From 
such fish a very small advance would carry 
us on to the amphibians." Possibly : but this 
v^ry small advance is not to be had. Mr. 
Darwin's argument is made by himself to 
depend on the strength of his "chain"; and 
the strength of his chain is precisely that of 
its weakest link. But before all questions of 
strength there must be the prior fact of ex- 
istence. Chains are made not by an aggrega- 
tion of detached links, but by their continuity 
of concatenation. "A very small advance," — 
possibly : but to advance at all without the 
aid of the missing link^ is to abandon the 

Apes. 2 1 1 

pretence of a chain. Yet this is precisely 
Mr. Darwin's chosen mode of progression. 

" In the class of mammals," he tells us, " the 
steps are not difficult to conceive which led 
from the ancient Monotremata to the ancient 
Marsupials ; and from these to the early progeni- 
tors of the placental animals." In this theory 
of Ascensive Development " the steps " are every 
thing. But where are they ? Their discovery is 
hopeless, their demonstration is impossible ; no 
matter : they " are not difficult to conceive " ! 

"We may thus ascend to the Lemuridae." 
" Thus " : by steps which cannot be found ; 
steps on which no one ever stood ; but still, 
steps which Mr. Darwin finds it " not difficult 
to conceive." And then : " from these to the 
Simiadae" "the interval is not wide." So be 
it : but however it be, it is nothing to the 
purpose. That •which is to the purpose is not 
the width, but the fact of " the interval." And 
this fact of " the interval " is attested by Mr. 
Darwin himself. And with this " interval " be- 
fore him, and these aerial " steps," and these 
appearances which are "apparent" only to 
"an obscure glance," Mr. Darwin can so far 
overlook the obvious and actual, in his zeal 
for the ideal and imaginary, as to say — " If 
a single link in this chain had never existed ! " 

212 Scientific Sophisms. 

Even this is not the worst For, he adds 
'' Unless we wilfully close our eyes, we may, 
with our present knowledge, approximately 
recognize our parentage." " Our present know- 
ledge " ! Why, that is merely our present want 
of knowledge ; for it is he himself who tells 
us that " no one can at present say by what 
line of descent the mammals," i.e,^ ourselves 
"were derived." 

In the hands of Prof. Huxley, the specious 
plausibilities of Mr. Darwin commonly assume 
the form of dogmatic affirmations; but in re- 
lation to this matter of the Descent of Man 
from the Ape, the cautious and conditional 
generalisations of Mr. Huxley furnish fresh 
proof, if fresh proof be needed, of the thoroughly 
conjectural character of Mr. Darwin's theory. 

" If," says the learned Professor, " If Man 
be separated by no greater structural barrier 
from the brutes than they are from one an- 
other — THEN it SEEMS to foUow that IF any 
process of physical causation can be discovered 
by which the genera and families of ordinary 
animals have been produced, that process of 
causation is amply sufficient to account for 
the origin of Man. In other words, IF it 
could be shown that the Marmosets, for ex- 
ample, have arisen by gradual modification of 

Apes. 213 

the ordinary Platyrhini, or that both Marmosets 
and Platyrhini are modified ramifications of a 
primitive stock — THEN, there would be no 
rational ground for doubting that man MIGHT 
have originated, in the one case, by the gra- 
dual modification of a man-like ape ; or, in 
the other case, as a ramification of the same 
primitive stock as those apes." ^ 

Widely different from Mr, Darwin's " chain," 
with every " single link " in its place, this re- 
iterated relation of " If" and "then " ; with its 
conditional sequence of what, after all, only 
"seems to follow"; and its ultimate conclusion 
that " Man might have originated," either in a 
given mode, or in some other mode not given. 

Mr. Huxley adds, ** I adopt Mr. Darwin's 
hypothesis therefore, subject to the production 
of proof that physiological species MAY be pro- 
duced by selective breeding." ^ But this desid- 
erated "proof" is precisely that very thing con- 
cerning which both Mr. Huxley and Mr. Darwin 
are agreed that it is not producible. Flourens, 
and Cuvier, Buffbn, and De Candolle, Miiller, 
and John Hunter, Lyell, and Lawrence, Agas- 
siz, and Pouchet, though they know nothing of 

^ Huxley's " Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature." 
Williams & Norgate : 1863. Pp. 105, 106. 
2 Ibid,^ p. 108. 

214 Scientific Sophisms. 

the transmutations hypothecated by Mr. Dar- 
win, yet they do know the "insurmountable 
barrier" that "Nature " has erected against the 
change of species.^ They know that the Lin- 
naean maxim — Species naturce opus — rests on 
foundations too broad and deep to be shaken by 
casual excess of statement, or semblance of per- 
plexity. While mere varieties, as superficial 
excursions from type are technically termed, are 
never mutually infertile, animals of different 
species are physiologically contrasted with such 
varieties by reciprocal repugnance or punitive 
sterility. The mastiff and the terrier freely 
inter-breed ; not so the horse and the ass : the 
mongrel dog is a parent; the hybrid mule is 
not. And the hybrid individual perishes, — at 
genus immortale manet. For it is a funda- 
mental axiom that animals incapable of common 
off-spring cannot liave sprung from common 

On this head therefore, the evidence against 
Mr. Darwin's theory of the Origin of Species is 
overwhelming ; and no one knows this better 
than Mr. Huxley himself. When therefore he 
tells us that he adopts Mr. Darwin's hypothesis, 
" subject to the production of proof that physio- 
logical species may be produced by selective 

1 Vide Appendix, Note C. 

Apes. 215 

breeding," we are to understand by this that he 
does not adopt it at all. For, as he is careful to 
add, " Our acceptance of the Darwinian hypo-; 
thesis must be provisional so long as one link in 
the chain of evidence is wanting ; and so long 
as all the animals and plants certainly produced, 
by selective breeding from a common stock 
are fertile with one another, that link will be 
wanting." ^ 

So long then as Nature remains what it is, 
" that link," — Mr. Huxley himself being witness, 
— will still be " wanting." And yet Mr. Darwin 
can say — " If a single link in this chain had, 
never existed"! According to Mr, Darwin, 
Man is what he is, because he has been inextric- 
ably linked with the lower animals — with the 
" ascidian," with the " primordial form " by a 
chain of which no " single link " is wanting. Ac- 
cording to Mr. Huxley, Man is what he is, not- 
withstanding the chasms in Mr. Darwin's imag- 
inary chain : chasms which Mr. Darwin cannot 
cross except by ** steps " imaginary and aerial, 
which it is " not difficult to conceive " ; but still 
"steps" which have no corresponding "links" in 
the world of physiology and fact ; steps which 
cannot be taken at all — not even in imagination 
— without reversing the Constitution and Course 
^ " Man's Place in Nature,'' p. 107^ 

2i6 Scientific Sophisms. 

of Nature. For Nature knows nothing of "a 
group of animals having all the characters ex- 
hibited by species " having " ever been origin- 
ated by selection, whether artificial or natural,"^ 

But although such groups are utterly unknown 
to Nature they are absolutely necessary to the 
theory of Ascensive Development. Since there- 
fore they cannot be found, they must be 
" conceived " ; and to conceive them is, in Mr. 
Darwin's opinion, "not difficult": {**Facilis 
descensus'* !) and Prof. Haeckel has conceived 
them accordingly. Again and again he tells 
us that Moneray worms, and fishes, were "our 
ancestors." We are reminded that when we 
speak of " poor worms," or " miserable worms," 
we should remember that "WITHOUT ANY 
DOUBT a long series of extinct worms were our 
direct ancestors." ^ He recognizes twenty-two 
distinct stages in our evolution ; eight of which 
belong to the invertebrate, and fourteen to the 
vertebrate sub-kingdom. 

Not however until he reaches the Sixth of 
these imaginary stages does he arrive at the 
earliest worms, the Arc/ielmintheSy now repre- 
sented by the Turbellaria. In order to arrive 
at these "earliest worms," he hypothecates as 

^ " Lay Sermons," p. 295. 
2 " Anthropogenic," p. 399. 

Apes. 2 1 7 

number Five, the Gastrcea (Urdarmthiere) a 
class of animals purely imaginary. They are 
placed here because required as ancestors for 
the GastrulUy itself an imaginary order, derived 
from embryological exigencies. 

No. 8 is another imaginary type, called by 
Haeckel Chordonia, because they "developed 
themselves from the Annelidce, by the formation 
of a spinal marrow and a cliorda dorsalis " ! ^ It 
is well known that between the Invertebrata 
and the Vertebrata there is no transition form. 
It is also known (by Mr. Darwin) that, by 
means of the Ascidians, we are supposed to 
**have at last gained a clue to the source whence 
the Vertebrata have been derived." * But as to 
that " group of marine animals resembling the 
larvae of existing Ascidians," which were our 
"most ancient progenitors in the kingdom of 
the Vertebrata " : * — who they were, or what, 
or whence, is known to no one but Professor 
Haeckel! True, even he does not profess to 
have any producible evidence that such animals 
ever existed ; they are destitute of any single 
living representative ; there is no fossil evidence 
of their former existence ; their sole raison d'itre 

^ " Natiirliche Schopfungsgeschichte," p. 583. 
2 " Descent of Man," vol. i. p. 205. 
» Ibid. 

2i8 Scientific Sophisms. 

is, that they are required by the hypothesis. 
In Haeckers Stammbaum here they are accord- 
ingly — as veritable as Falstaff's men in buckram 
— with no extinct or living representatives, but 
being, for all that, " undoubtedly " the progen- 
itors of all the Vertebrata, through the Ascid- 
ians. Not that they were always so, however. 
Far from it But — anticipating the advice of 
Mrs. Louisa Chick — they knew how much de- 
pended on them, and they " made an effort." ^ 
It succeeded beyond all expectation. They 
" developed THEMSELVES " ! How ? By the 
simplest possible process, in the easiest possible 
manner. Nothing more than — " the formation 
of a spinal marrow and a chorda dorsalis " ! 

(14), The Sozura^ is an order of Amphibia 
interpolated "because required as a necessary 
transition stage between the true Amphibia," 
(13,) and (15) The Protamniotay or general 
stem of the mammalia, reptiles, and birds. 
" What the Protamniota were like," says Prof. 
Huxley, "I do not suppose any one is in a 
position to say." ^ And yet we are told that 

* " It's necessary for you to make an effort, and per- 
haps a very great and painful effort which you are not 
disposed to make ; but this is a world of effort you know, 
Fanny, and we must never yield, when so much depends 
upon us. Come ! Try ! " — Dombey &* Sony ch. i. 

* " Critiques and Addresses," p. 318. 

Apes. 219 

" the Protamniota split up into two stems, one 
that of the Mammalia^ the other common to 
Reptilia and Aves'*^ And they are " proved " 
to have existed ( — although no one knows what 
they were like — ) because they were the neces- 
sary precursors of 

(16), The Pro-mammalia, the earliest pro- 
genitors of all the Mammalia. And these were 
followed by (17,) Marsupialia, or Kangaroos, 
" But," says Prof. Huxley, " the existing Opos- 
sums and Kangarops are certainly extremely 
modified and remote from their ancestors the 
* Prodidelphia* of which we have not, at pre- 
sent, the slightest knowledge. The mode of 
origin of the Monodelphia from these is a very 
difficult problem, for the most part left open 
by Professor Haeckel." ^ Observe : Of these 
Prodidelphia "we have not, at present, the 
slightest knowledge." And yet this knowledge 
we " certainly " have : First, that they are the 
" ancestors " of " the existing Opossums and 
Kangaroos " ; and Second, that these Opossums 
and Kangaroos " are certainly extremely modi- 
fied and remote from their ancestors the Prodi- 
delphiar No wonder that " the mode of origin 
of the Monodelphia from these is a very difficult 

1 " Critiques and Addresses," p. 317. 

2 Ibid,, p. 318. 

220 Scientific Sophisms. 

problem." No wonder either that though " the 
phylum of the Vertebrata is the most interest- 
ing of all, and is admirably discussed by Prof. 
Haeckel," ^ still it certainly does include " a few 
points which seem," even to Prof. Huxley, " to 
be open to discussion." ^ 

And now we have reached the beginning of 
the end. For (i8) are the ProsimicBy or half- 
apes, as the indris and loris. And from these, 
through (19,) the Menocerca^ or tailed apes, we 
reach, at last, (20,) the AnthropoideSy or man-like 
apes, represented by the modern orang, gibbon, 
gorilla, and chimpanzee. Not amongst these 
however are we to look for " the direct ances- 
tors of man, but amongst the tcnknown extinct 
apes of the Miocene." The Pithecanthropi (21), 
or dumb ape-men, come next ; an unknown 
race — the nearest modern representatives of 
which are cretins and idiots. ^ They must have 
existed, in order to furnish means of transition 
to the final stage (thus far !) /.^., (22) the 
HontineSy or true men, who " developed them- 
selves " from their imaginary fathers of the pre- 
ceding class, " by a gradual conversion of brute 
bowlings into articulate speech." 

^ "Critiques and Addresses," p. 317. 

2 Ibid. 

' " Natiirliche Schopfungsgeschichte," p. 592, 

Apes. 221 

Thus then, at last, we reach the goal : — 
" There was an Ape." ^ There " must have beenl* 
or there could not have been a man.* The 
exigency is urgent, and the affirmation easy. It 
is only when we proceed to particulars that 
difficulties present themselves. Where was this 
Ape ? And when ? And what ? No man can 

Haeckel emphatically protests against the 
notion that the modern anthropoid apes can be 
regarded as our direct progenitors. " Our ape- 
like ancestors," he says, " are long since extinct 
Perchance their fossil remains may some time 
be found in the tertiary deposits of Southern 
Asia or Africa. They must nevertheless be 
ranked amongst the tailless catarhine anthro- 
poid apes."* 

Mr. Darwin includes Europe in the field which 
has been so vainly searched for this missing 
link. " It is probable," he tells us, " that Africa 
was formerly inhabited by extinct apes, closely 
allied to the gorilla and chimpanzee; and as 
these two species are now man's nearest allies, 
it is somewhat more probable that our early 
progenitors lived on the African continent than 

1 Vide Appendix, Note D. 

3 Ibidy Note E. 

* " Natiirliche Schopfungsgeschiehte," p. 577. 

222 Scientific Sophisms. 

elsewhere. But it is useless to speculate on this 
subject, for an ape nearly as large as a man 
. . . existed in Europe during the Upper 
Miocene period ; and since so remote a period 
the earth has certainly undergone many great 
revolutions, and there has been ample time for 
migration on the largest scale." ^ Man's pro- 
genitors therefore, like this ape, may have been 
Europeans, yet Europe, no less than Africa or 
Asia, has hitherto utterly failed to furnish any 
fossil remains, either of the immediate, or of the 
remote, progenitors of man. 

"The fossil remains of man hitherto dis- 
covered,** says Prof. Huxley, " do not seem to 
me to take us appreciably nearer to that lower 
pithecoid form, by the modification of which 
he has, probably, become what he is. . . . 
Where then must we look for primeval man ? 
Was the oldest Homo sapiens pliocene, or 
miocene, or yet more ancient } In still older 
strata do the fossilized bones of an. ape more 
anthropoid, or a man more pithecoid than any 
yet known await the researches of some un- 
born palaeontologist ? Time will show.'* 

So be it : dies declarabit But, meantime this 
doctrine of man*s derivation from an unknown 
ape, in an undiscovered continent, rests — by the 
I " Descent of Man," vol. I p. 199. 

Apes. 223 

admissions of its advocates — not on knowledge, 
but on the want of knowledge. Absolutely 
powerless to derive man from the ape, it is not 
less powerless to derive the cardinal ape from 
the primordial form. And yet it is in the name 
of Science that we are presented with this 
paraded pedantry of Nescience, and are asked 
to believe that " In the dim obscurity of the 
Past, we can SEE " ^ the unreal nonentities, the 
airy nothings, required by the " theoretic con- 
ception," as they " must have " existed — " once 
upon a time " ! * 

1 " Descent of Man," vol. ii. p. 389. 

2 Vide Appendix, Note F. 




"In every epoch of the world, the great event, parent 
of all others, is it not the arrival of a Thinker in the 
world !" — Carlyle. 

" Mens cujusque, is est quisque." — Cic^ Somn, Scip,^ 8. 

" We are the miracle of miracles, — the great inscrutable 
mystery of God. We cannot understand it, we know not 
how to speak of it ; but we may feel and know, if we 
like, that it is verily so." — Carlyle, 




" The question of questions for mankind," says 
Prof. Huxley, " the problem which underlies all 
others, and is more deeply interesting than any 
other — is the ascertainment of the place which 
Man occupies in nature, and of his relations to 
the universe of things."^ For the most part 
indeed, men are unreflecting as well as unin- 
quiring ; " But in every age, one or two restless 
spirits, blessed with that constructive genius 
which can only build on a seeure foundation," * 
have adopted sound principles, and proceeded 
by sure methods, such as those which have now 
led the Professor to perceive that " though the 
quaint forms of Centaurs and Satyrs have an 
existence only in the realms of art, creatures 
approaching man more nearly than they in 
essential structure, and yet as thoroughly 
brutal as the goat's or horse's half of the 

1 " Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature," p. 57. 
« Ibid. 


228 Scientific Sophisms. 

mythical compound, are now not only known 
but notorious." ^ 

Of these "creatures approaching man in 
essential structure," yet "thoroughly brutal," 
the gorilla was once supposed to be the chief. 
But the day of De Chaillu is over ; " because, in 
my opinion, so long as his narrative remains in 
its present state of unexplained and apparently 
inexplicable confusion, it has no claim to 
original authority respecting any subject what- 
soever. It may be truth, but it is not 
evidence." ' 

The comforting opinion that we had, as men, 
a cerebral distinction, is also now (alas !) no 
more. For we are now assured by Prof. 
Huxley, in direct contradiction to the reiterated 
declarations of Prof. Owen, that "so far from 
the posterior lobe, the posterior cornu, and the 
hippocampus minor being structures peculiar to 
and characteristic of man, as they have been 
over and over again asserted to be, even after 
the publication of the clearest demonstration of 
the reverse, it is precisely these structures which 
are the most marked cerebral characters com- 
mon to man with the apes. They are amongst 
the most distinctly Simian peculiarities which 

* " Man's Place in Nature," p. r. 
' Ibid,^ p. 54. 

Men. 229 

the human organism exhibits." Thus, then, it 
appears that while Owen and Huxley differ, 
apes and men do not. It is an unfortunate 
circumstance that the more we are developed 
from apes, the more we differ from each other. 

But are we then " developed from apes " after 
all ? Is this so certain ? This " question of 
questions for mankind " — how shall we answer it? 
Shall we accept the dictum of Prof. Huxley, and 
say that *' man is in substance and in structure 
one with the brutes " ? Or shall we pronounce 
that dictum a mere "theoretic conception," 
" unverified by observation and experiment " ? 
In either case, what are the facts ? 

1. And first, as to cerebral structure, 

" It is clear," says Prof. Huxley, " that man 
differs less from the chimpanzee or the orang 
than these do even from the monkeys ; and that 
the difference between the brains of the chim- 
panzee and of man is almost insignificant, when 
compared with that between the chimpanzee 
brain and that of a lemur." 

2. As to cerebral weighty however, on the 
other hand, "It must not be overlooked that 
there is a very striking difference in absolute 
mass and weight between the lowest human 
brain and that of the highest ape, a difference 
which is all the more remarkable when we recol- 

230 Scientific Sophisms. 

lect that a full-grown Gorilla is probably pretty 
nearly twice as heavy as a Bosjesman, or as 
many an European woman." "It may be 
doubted," adds the Professor, "whether a 
healthy human adult brain ever weighed less 
than 31 or 32 ounces, or that the heaviest 
Gorilla brain has exceeded 20 ounces." ^ 

3. " This is a very noteworthy circumstance, 
and doubtless will one day help to furnish an 
explanation of the gfreat gulf which intervenes 
between the lowest man and the highest ape in 
intellectual power, but it has little systematic 
value" [Why.?] "for the simple reason that 
. . . Regarded systematically, the cerebral 
differences of man and apes are not of more 
than generic value, his Family distinction resting 
chiefly on his dentition, his pelvis, and his lower 
limbs." « 

4. On this latter topic, however, Mr. Huxley 
had previously said, " The pelvis, or bony girdle 
of the hips, of man is a strikingly human part of 
his organization." * Adding, " But now let us 
turn to a nobler and more characteristic organ — 
that by which the human frame seems to be, 
and indeed is, so strangely distinguished from 

* " Man's Place in Nature," p. 102. 
» Ibid.^ p. 103. 

• Ibid*<i p. ^(>, 

Men. 231 

all others — I mean the skull." And then, after 
giving the cubical capacity of the smallest 
human cranium, and of "the most capacious 
Gorilla skull yet measured," he says, "Let us 
assume, for simplicity's sake, that the lowest 
man's skull has twice the capacity of that of the 
highest Gorilla." ^ 

5. The sum of the statements already quoted, 
then, is this : — The " Family distinction " of the 
genus Homo is to be found not in his higher, but 
in his lower, qualities ; "resting chiefly," not on 
the size of his skull, nor on the weight of his 
brain, but " on his dentition, his pelvis, and his 
lower limbs." And yet, notwithstanding this, 

6. "That by which the human frame is so 
strongly distinguished from all others" is not 
the baser structure, but the nobler substance ; 
not his lower limbs, but "a nobler and more 
characteristic organ . . . the skull." 

7. Prof. Huxley need not think it strange if, 
in despair of reconciling the conflicting members 
of this duplex thesis — that Man's " family dis- 
tinction " is not cranial, and yet that by which 
he IS "so strongly distinguished from all others" 
is cranial ; that " the great gulf in intellectual 
power which intervenes between the lowest man 
and the highest ape " is of little moment, and 

' " Man's Place in Nature," p. '^^. 

232 Scientific Sophisms. 

yet that the organ which indicates that gulf is 
his " nobler and more characteristic organ ; — 
some readers should relegate it to that category 
in which he himself has placed a dictum of 
Prof. Owen's, characterizing it as a **qu4-qu4- 
versal proposition . . . which may be read 
backwards, forwards, or sideways, with exactly 
the same amount of signification." ^ 

8. But " qu4-qu4 versal " as it is, it does not 
stand alone. For after we have learned that 
even when regarded on the lowest grounds, " the 
pelvis, or bony girdle of the hips, of man is a 
strikingly human part of his organization," and 
that his Brain is strikingly human in a much 
higher degree, since it is his Brain, and not his 
pelvis, which is "to furnish an explanation of 
the great gulf which intervenes between the 
lowest man and the highest ape in intellectual 
power ; " we are told — as if to neutralize this 
concurrent testimony from "structure" and 
from "substance," — that "the difference in 
weight of brain between the highest and lowest 
man is far greater, both relatively and abso- 
lutely, than that between the lowest man and 
the highest ape." And, in a word, " whatever 
system of organs be studied, the comparison of 
their modifications in the ape series leads to one 
* Man's Place in Nature," p. 106. 

Men. 233 

and the same result — that the structural differ- 
ences which separate man from the gorilla and 
the chimpanzee, are not so great as those which 
separate the gorilla from the lower apes." 

9. Even this latest dictum, if it had been 
allowed to stand alone, would have been so far 
definite as to redeem it from the character of 
** qud-qud-versal." But it is not thus allowed. 
No sooner has it been submissively accepted ; 
no sooner have we brought ourselves with due 
docility to admit that " the structural differences 
between man and even the highest apes are 
small and insignificant," than Prof. Huxley 
protests he has been misunderstood. " Let me 
take this opportunity then," says he, " of dis- 
tinctly asserting, on the contrary, that they 
are great and significant ; that every bone of a 
Gorilla bears marks by which it might be dis- 
tinguished from the corresponding bone of a 
man ; and that in the present creation, at any 
rate, no intermediate link bridges over the gap 
between Homo and Troglodytes" ^ 

ID. This would be conclusive, if only it were 
final. But it is not final. It is neutralized in 
the next sentence but one : — " Remember, if you 
will, that there is no existing link between man 
and the gorilla ; but do not forget that there is a 
* " Man's Place in Nature," p. 104. 



234 Scientific Sophisms. 

no less sharp line of demarcation, a no less com- 
plete absence of any transitional form, between 
the gorilla and the orang, or the orang and the 
gibbon. I say not less sharp, though it is some- 
what narrower." ^ 

1 1. Can anything be plainer ? Prof. Huxley 
anticipates the result "On all sides I shall, 
hear the cry — ' We are men and women, not a 
mere better sort of apes, a little longer in the legs 
more compact in the foot, and bigger in brain 
than your brutal chimpanzees and gorillas. 
The power of knowledge, the conscience of good 
and evil, the pitiful tenderness of human affec- 
tions, raise us out of all real fellowship with the 
brutes, however closely they may seem to ap- 
proximate us.' " And what is his answer to the 
objurgation he thus anticipates } 

Here it is: — " I have endeavoured to show that 
no absolute structural line of demarcation, wider 
than that between the animals which im- 
mediately succeed us in the scale, can be drawn 
between the animal world and ourselves, and I 
may add the expression of my belief that the 
attempt to draw a psychical distinction is 
equally futile, and that even the highest faculties 
of feeling and of intellect begin to germinate in 
lower forms of life." * 

* ". Man's Place in Nature." ' Ibid,^ p. 109. 

Men. 235 

12. Add to this the further declaration that 
" our reverence for the ability of manhood will 
hot be lessened by the knowledge that man is, in 
substance and in structure, one with the brutes."^ 
And then contrast with both the words that 
follow. First, there is no physical distinction : 
"no absolute structural line of demarcation.*' 
Second, there is no psychical distinction : for 
" the attempt to draw a psychical distinction is 
equally futile." And third, " even the highest 
faculties of feeling and of intellect begin to 
germinate in lower forms of life." And yet, the 
very next sentence is in these words : — 

13. "At the same time no one is more 
strongly convinced than I am of the vastness of 
the gulf between civilized man and the brutes : 
or is more certain that whether from them or 
not, he is assuredly not ^them."* 

To harmonize discordant and conflicting as- 
sertions like these would be not merely to re- 
concile the irreconcilable ; it would be to show 
that opposites are identical. Yet until that is 
done, what else can we say of them but that 
which their author has already said so wittily 
of his opponents ? They are merely " qud-qud- 
versal propositions . . . which may be 

* "Man's Place in Nature,'* p. 112. 
' Ibid,y p. 1 la 

236 Scientific Sophisms. 

read backwards, forwards, or sideways, with 
exactly the same amount of signification." 

14. We revert then to our first enquiry: 
What are the facts? Prof. Huxley's facts are 
opposed to his conclusions. When he has 
admitted that between the lowest man and the 
highest ape there is a general, a particular, and a 
wide distinction ; a distinction which has left its 
marks on " every bone " ; he then proceeds to 
lay great stress on the fact that, between one 
family of man and another the difference is 
greater than between the lowest man and the 
highest ape." ^ But when he has done this, he 
proceeds in each case to show that there is a 
far greater difference between this same" ape, 

^nd the apes of some other remaining class. 
But these two statements furnish the import- 
ant corollary that "there is the same, or an 
analogous kind of distinction between one 
family of man and another, and between one 
family of ape and another." The idea thus 
suggested is subversive of his theory : viz., 
that the families of men are sprung from one 
type, and the families of apes from another; 
in other words, there is a generic as well as a 
specific difference between men and apes." 

15. Prof Huxley apart, it is allowed on all 

^ " Man's Place in Nature," p. 78. 

Men. 237 

hands that socially, morally, religiously, and 
historically, men and apes are generically dis- 
tinct. But this distinction as matter of fact 
either involves a generic distinction between 
the physiological structure of men and apes, or 
it does not. If it does, then Mr. Huxley's 
theory is disproved by the fact ; and man is 
not " in substance and in structure one with the 
brutes." If it does not, then " the cause of this 
distinction must be looked for elsewhere, and 
science will have to admit that in man there is 
an immaterial element which physiology cannot 
grasp," an element adequate to his elevation 
at a height so immeasurably above the rest of 
the animal world. 

16. Nor is it to be forgotten that, even by 
Prof. Huxley himself, this elevation of man 
above the ape is regarded comparatively as 
being not merely "immeasurable," but "prac- 
tically infinite." " Believing as I do, with 
Cuvier," he says, " that the possession of articu- 
late speech is the grand distinctive character 
of man," ..." the primary cause of the 
UNMEASURABLE and practically infinite diver- 
gence of the Human from the Simian Stirps." ^ 

By universal consent then, nothing is more 

* " Man's Place in Nature," p. 103 «. 
^ Ibid,.^ p. 103 n. 

238 Scientific Sophisms. 

certain than that Man is chiefly characterized 
by those psychical distinctions which in such 
treatises as that of Prof. Huxley's now cited, are 
either left entirely out of view, or dismissed in 
a passing sentence. " Conscience, remorse, am- 
bition, sense of responsibility, improvableness 
of reason, immense advances in knowledge, 
self-cultivation, aesthetical sensibilities — ^these 
and other qualities of the Homo sapiens^ not 
to speak of religious sentiments, broadly and 
plainly distinguish man from all the Simians 
and Troglodytes. Grant, for a moment, (what 
is manifestly inconsistent with the previous 
statement, that 'the structural difierences be- 
tween man and the highest apes are great and 
signiflcant ') that man is one in substance and 
structure with these creatures ; grant even that 
their instincts simulate our reason in some 
remarkable instances ; and when all is granted, 
the vast and varied difierences just intimated 
remain as towering distinctions. To these is 
added that gift of articulate speech which, 
though mechanically organized, imparts su- 
preme value to them all ; which makes man a 
communicative being ; which gives to a lecturer, 
such as Professor Huxley, that power to in- 
struct, amuse and illustrate, by which he is raised 
immeasurably above the cleverest ape that 

Men. 239 

ever climbed a tree, or built a nest, or buried 
his dead companion under the dried leaves of 
an African forest." ^ 

17. As to the alleged ancestry of Man from 
the brutes, this, then, is certain : " that whether 
from them or not, he is assuredly not of them." 

But is he *^from them"? He who answers 
this question in the affirmative affirms what he 
cannot even pretend to prove. The evidence* 
such as it is, in every particular, and in the most 
positive terms, endorses the direct negative of 
the proposition which on any theory of Ascen- 
sive Development it is found necessary to main- 
tain. It is Mr. Darwin himself who tells us of 
" the great break in the organic chain between 
man and his nearest allies, which cannot be 
bridged over by any extinct or living species." * 
"The fossil remains of man hitherto discovered," 
says Professor Huxley, " do not seem to take us 
appreciably nearer to that lower pithecoid form" 
from which it is conjectured — but only con- 
jectured — that he sprang. It is nothing less 
than the utter destitution of evidence in support 
of the unverified "theoretic conception" that 
constrains even Professor Huxley to ask, "Where 
then must we look for primaeval man ? " 

^ TheAthencBum^ No. 1844, p. 288. 
• " The Descent of Man," voL i. p. 200. 

240 Scientific Sophisms. 

18. "In the first place, it is manifest that 
man, the apes, and the half-apes cannot be 
arranged in a 3ingle ascending series, of which 
man is the term and culmination. 

** We may indeed, by selecting one organ or 
one set of parts, and confining our attention 
to it, arrange the different forms in a more or 
less simple manner. But if all the organs be 
taken into account, the cross relations and inter- 
dependencies become in the highest degree com- 
plex and difficult to unravel." ^ This indeed is 
generally admitted, but still the theory pro- 
pounded by Mr. Darwin, and widely accepted, 
is that "the resemblances between man and 
apes are such that man fnay be conceived to 
have descended from some ancient members of 
the broad-breastboned group of apes," and of 
all existing apes, the gorilla is regarded as 
standing towards him in closer relationship 
than any other. 

But what evidence of common origin is 
afforded by community of structure? "The 
human structural characters are shared by so 
many and such diverse forms, that it is impos- 
sible to arrange even groups of genera in a 
single ascending series from the aye-aye to man 

1 "Lessons from Nature," p. 174. By Pro£ Mivart 
(Murray, 1876.) 

Men. 241 

(to say nothing of so arranging the several 
single genera), if all the structural resemblances 
are taken into account. 

" If the number of wrist-bones be deemed 
a special mark of affinity between the gorilla, 
chimpanzee, and man, why are we not to con- 
sider it also a special mark of affinity between 
the indris and man ? That it should be so con- 
sidered, however, would be deemed an absurdity 
by every evolutionist. 

" If the proportions of the arms speak in 
favour of the chimpanzee, why do not the 
proportions of the legs serve to promote the 
rank of the gibbons ? 

" If the obUquely-ridged teeth of Simia and 
Troglodytes point to community of origin, how 
can we deny a similar community of origin, as 
thus estimated, to the howling monkeys and 
galagos ? 

"The liver of the gibbons proclaims them 
almost human ; that of the gorilla declares him 
comparatively brutal. 

" The ear-lobule of the gorilla makes him our 
cousin ; but his tongue is eloquent in his own 

" The slender loris from amidst the half-apes, 
can put in many a claim to be our shadow 
refracted, as it were, through a lemurine prism. 


242 Scientific Sophisms, 

" The lower American apes meet us with what 
seems 'the front of Jove himself/ compared 
with the gigantic, but low-browed denizens of 
tropical Western Africa. 

" In fact, in the words of the illustrious Dutch 
naturalists, Messrs. Schroeder, Van der Kolk, 
and Vrolik, the lines of affinity existing between 
different Primates construct rather a network 
than a ladder. 

" It is indeed a tangled web, the meshes of 
which no naturalist has as yet unravelled by 
the aid of natural selection. Nay, more, these 
complex affinities form such a net for the use of 
the teleological retiarius as it would be difficult 
for his Lucretian antagonist to evade, even with 
the countless turns and doublings of Darwinian 
evolutions." ^ 

And yet we are told by Professor Tyndall * 
that the naturalist whose mind is " most deeply 
stored with the choicest materials of the tele- 
ologist," rejects teleology. Does he then effect 
his escape from the reticulations of the complex 
affinities now specified ? By no means. But 
he refers the spontaneous and independent 
appearance of these similar structures to 
" atavism," and " reversion ; " to the appearance 

* Professor Mivart, «/ sup., pp. 174, 175. 
2 « Belfast Address." 

Men. 243 

that is, in modern descendants, of ancient and 
sometimes long-lost structural characters, which 
are supposed to have formerly existed in 
ancestors more or less remote, and wholly 

But if this were true : " if man and the orang 
are diverging descendants of a creature with 
certain cerebral characters, then that remote 
ancestor must also have had the wrist of the 
chimpanzee, the voice of a long-armed ape, the 
blade-bone of the gorilla, the chin of the siam- 
ang, the skull-dome of an American ape, the 
ischium of a slender loris, the whiskers and 
beard of a saki, the liver and stomach of the 
gibbons, and the number of other characters 
in which the various several forms of higher 
or lower Primates respectively approximate to 

" But to assert this is as much as to say that 
low down in the scale of Primates was an an- 
cestral form so like man that it might well be 
called an homunculus ; and we have the virtual 
pre-existence of man's body supposed, in. order 
to account for the actual first appearance of 
that body as we know it : — a supposition mani- 
festly absurd if put forward as an explanation." ^ 

19. Nor is it an insignificant circumstance, 
> ** Lessons from Nature," p. 176. 


244 Scientific Sophisms. 

as indicating the wholly hypothetical character 
of the ape ancestry thus assigned to man, that 
neither on the earth nor under the earth is any 
trace of such an ancestry discoverable. The 
number is not small of those who prefer to 
search the record of the rocks for " Vestiges " 
of Creation rather than for Footprints of the 
Creator ; but no vestige of man's ascent from 
the ape is yet producible. In default therefore 
of evidence adducible from that which is, we 
are liberally supplied with asseverations as to 
that which might, or " must have been." 

There must, for example, have been " a series 
of forms graduating insensibly from some ape- 
like creature to man as he now exists." ^ Now 
of the series thus alleged, every single member 
was ex hypothesi superior to the lower forms 
from which he sprang. And Mr. Darwin's 
doctrine affirms "the survival of the fittesL** 
But while the half-apes are with us to this day 
the half-men are nowhere. The ape-mothers 
that found themselves, in the last term of the 
series, strangely producing men, have perished ; 
while the monkeys, unequal to the production 
even of apes, have survived. According to the 
hypothesis the fittest should survive ; according 
to the facts the fittest have perished. 

1 ** Descent of Man," vol. i. p. 235. 

Men, 245 

But this is not all. Besides this imaginary 
"series of forms," the theory requires further 
a process of " graduating insensibly." And of 
this process there is not only no proof, but the 
evidence, such as it is, points in the direction 
of disproof. It is Mr. Darwin himself who says, 
" Breaks incessantly occur in all parts of the 
series, some being wide, sharp, and defined, 
others less so in various degrees ; as between 
the orang and its nearest allies — between the 
Tarsius and the other Lemuridae." The " intel- 
lectual figment " is in evil case when it postu- 
lates a process of graduation so gradual as to 
be imperceptible, yet so abrupt as to exhibit 
*' breaks " which '* incessantly occur in all parts 
of the series," not excluding even "breaks" 
which are "wide, sharp, and defined." And 
yet, across these " breaks," Mr. Darwin's theory, 
by Mr. Darwin's ingenuity, is made to swing its 
ponderous bulk with an adroit dexterity that 
might have been envied, in the depths of his 
African forest, by the ancestral Gorilla him- 
self : — 

"All these breaks depend merely on the 

number of related forms that have become 

extinct." ^ Could anything be more simple } 

The " breaks " are there indeed : but they are 

> " Descent of Man," vol. i. pp. 200, 201. 

246 Scientific Sophisms. 

there only in the absence of the " related forms " 
"graduating insensibly." You have only to 
imagine the " forms " and the " breaks " will 

And yet, of these same " forms " it is all the 
while most certain that they cannot be de- 
scribed ; they are not known to have existed ; 
they are not known to have been "related 
they are not known to " have become extinct. 
Nor are the "breaks" more real. They are 
breaks only on the assumption of the hypo- 
thesis : not otherwise. And the second as- 
sumption has no power to confer validity on 
the first. 

20. From this tissue of assumptions we revert 
to the facts. No less a writer than Mr. Wallace, 
** the independent originator and by far the best 
expounder of the theory of Natural Selection," 
differs toto coelo from Mr. Darwin on the question 
of the Origin of Man. For the creation of man, 
as he is, Mr. Wallace postulates the necessity 
of the intervention of an external Will. He 
observes that even the lowest types of savages 
are in possession of capacities far beyond any 
use to which they can apply them in their 
present condition, and therefore they could not 
have been evolved from the mere necessities 

Men. 247 

of their environment. These capacities have 
respect to future possibilities of culture. But 
prolepsis, anticipation, involves intention and 
a will. 

He contends further,^ — that even as to his 
body, Man is a clear and palpable and positive 
exception to the theory of Evolution. To 
produce the human frame required, he says, 
the intervention of some special agency. He 
adverts to the peculiar disposition of the hair 
on man, especially that nakedness of the back 
which is common to all races of men, and to 
the peculiar construction of the hand and foot. 
" The hand of man," he tells us, " contains latent 
capacities and powers which are unused by 
savages, and must have been even less used by 
palaeolithic man and his still ruder predecessors. 
It has all the appearance of an organ prepared 
for the use of civilized man, and one which 
was required to render civilization possible." 

Again : speaking of the " wonderful power, 
range, flexibility, and sweetness of the musical 
sounds producible by the human larynx," he 
adds, " the habits of savages give no indication 
of how this faculty could have been developed." 
. . . " The singing of savages is a more 
or less monotonous howling, and the females 
> " Natural Selection," pp. 332-360. 

248 Scientific Sophisms. 

seldom sing at all." " It seems as if the organ 
had been prepared in anticipation of the future 
progress of man, since it contains latent capa- 
cities which are useless to him in his earlier 
condition/' ^ 

Mr. Wallace is in perfect agreement also with 
christian theism in the value he attaches to 
man's "capacity to form ideal conceptions of 
space and time, of eternity and infinity — the 
capacity for intense artistic feelings of pleasure, 
in form, colour, and composition — and those 
abstract notions of form and number which 
render geometry possible," as well as with 
respect to the non-bestial origin of moral per- 
ception." ^ 

And beyond all this, he considers Man as not 
only placed " apart, as the head and culminating 
point of the grand series of organic nature, but 
as in some degree a new and distinct order of 
being." . • . "When the first rude spear 
was formed to assist in the chase; when fire 
was first used to cook his food ; when the first 

* On this subject, indeed, even Mr. Darwin himself 
admits that " neither the enjoyment nor the capacity of 
producing musical notes are faculties of the least direct 
use to man in reference to his ordinary habits of life ; 
they must be ranked amongst the most mysterious with 
which he is endowed." — Descent of Man ^ vol. ii. p. 333. 

^ "Natural Selection," pp. 351, 352. 

Men. 249 

seed was sown or shoot planted, a grand revo- 
lution was effected in nature, a revolution which 
in all the previous ages of the earth's history- 
has had no parallel, for a being had arisen who 
was no longer necessarily subject to change with 
the changing universe, a being who was in some 
degree superior to nature, inasmuch as he knew 
how to control and regulate her action, and 
could keep himself in harmony with her, not by 
a change in body, but by an advance in mind." 

Against facts like these, of what avail are 
Mr. Darwin's ingenious speculations } The 
answer may be given in the words of Professor 
Mivart. It is the same high authority that 
pronounced Mr. Darwin's " Origin of Species " 
to be "a puerile hypothesis," and its distinc- 
tive characteristic, "a conception utterly irra- 
tional; "^ who now adds, 

"Thus, then, in our judgment the author of 
the 'Descent of Man' has UTTERLY failed 
in the only part of his work which is really 
important : . . . and if Mr. Darwin's failure 
should lead to an increase of philosophic culture 
on the part of physicists, we may therein find 
some consolation for the injurious effects which 
his work is likely to produce on too many of 
our half-educated classes." ^ 

> " Lessons from Nature," p. 300. ^ Ibid,^ p. 184. 

250 Scientific Sophisms. 

Nor is this all. Man is something more than 
an intellectual animal. He is a free moral 
agent : and, as such, — and with the infinite 
future which that freedom opens out before him 
— he differs from all the rest of the visible 
universe by " a distinction so profound that no 
one of those which separate other visible beings 
is comparable with it. The gulf which lies 
between his being as a whole, and that of the 
highest brute, marks off vastly more than a 
mere kingdom of material beings, and man, so 
considered, differs far more from an elephant 
or a gorilla than do these from the dust of the 
earth on which they tread." ^ 

* " Lessons from Nature," p. 184. 




" En apercevant par la pens^e des rapports in finis dans 
toutes les choses, je soupgonne un Ouvrier infiniment 
habile." — Voltaire (Lettre ct Diderot), 

" One hand has surely worked through the universe." — 
Mr, Darwin, 

" The essence of our being, the mystery in us that calls 
itself * 1/ — ah, what words have we for such things ? — is 
a breath of Heaven ; the Highest Being reveals Himself 
in man. This body, these faculties, this life of ours, is 
it not all as a vesture for that Unnamed ?"— Carlyle, 

" The immeasurable fount 
Ebullient with creative Deity !" — Coleridge, 




" There lives and works 
A Soul in all things : and that Soul is God." 

— Cowper. 

This witness is true : and its truth is not im- 
paired by the ignorant positiveness of Agnosti- 
cism, or by the positive ignorance of Atheism. 
As to Atheism, indeed, the verdict already pro- 
nounced, after a most minute and searching 
investigation, is found to be unalterable: — 
"Every part of the universe is an argument 
against atheism as a theory thereof."^ Ag- 
nosticism, despite its pretensions to Knowledge, 
as its very name imports, is a mere confession 
of Ignorance. And even that ignorance, con- 
fronted by the facts of the universe, ceases to 
be possible when its votaries are willing to cease 
to be *' willingly ignorant." 

Is there, or is there not, "a Soul in all 

* Theodore Parker ; Theism^ Atheism, and the Popular 
Theology, p. lo. 



254 Scientific Sophisms. 

things?" Theism affirms. Atheism denies. 
Agnosticism ignores, the existence of any such 
Soul. To put an end to controversy the appeal 
is made to facts. Is the affirmation of Theism 
unsustained by evidence? Is the negation of 
Atheism consistent with the admissions which 
Atheism itself has been compelled to make? 
Is the ignorance of Agnosticism compatible 
with the knowledge to which Agnosticism 
makes such arrogant pretensions ? 

I. "In all things." Let us begin at the be- 
ginning. It is in the phenomena of crystalliza- 
tion that Professor Tyndall finds the foundation 
of all higher phenomena — life, growth, repro- 
duction, intelligence, will He believes "that 
the formation of a crystal, a plant, or an animal, 
is a purely mechanical problem, which differs 
from the problems of ordinary mechanics in the 
smallness of the masses and the complexity 
of the process involved." ^ 

Take now the least complex of the three 
instances of constructive power here mentioned, 
— that of crystallization. " The human mind," 
says the Professor, " is as little disposed to look 
unquestioning at these pyramidal salt crystals 

* " Fragments of Science,'' p. 119. 

Amma Munat, 255 

as to look at the pyramids of Egypt without 
enquiring whence they came. 

" How then are those salt pyramids built up ? Guided 
by analogy, you may, if you like, suppose that, swarming 
among the constituent molecules of the salt, there is an 
invisible population, controlled and coerced by some 
invisible master, and placing the atomic blocks in their 
position. This however is not the scientific idea, nor do 
I think your good sense would accept it as a likely one. 
The scientific idea is, that the molecules act upon each 
other without the intervention of slave labour ; that they 
attract each other and repel each other at certain definite 
points or poles, and in certain definite directions, and 
that the pyramidal form is the result of this play of at- 
traction and repulsion. While then the blocks of Egypt 
were laid down by a power external to themselves, these 
molecular blocks of salt are self-posited, being fixed in 
their places by the forces with which they act upon each 
other." » 

On this very pertinent analogy it is to be 
remarked that Professor Tyndall has specified 
only the points on which it holds good ; and 
here his opponents are in perfect accord with 
himself. The only point in respect of which 
they differ from him is that which he has 
omitted to notice ; and in that point the ana- 
logy entirely fails. 

When, for the slave-labour employed in the 
construction of the pyramids, we have sub- 

1 a 

Fragments of Science," pp. 114, 115. 

256 Scientific Sophisms. 

stituted the mutual attractions and repulsions 
which determine the position of the minute 
blocks employed in the construction of a crystal, 
we have dealt with only one element of the 
problem. That slave-labour was employed not 
otherwise than as the consequent of antecedent 
design. The huge blocks of granite or of 
limestone were not deposited in their relative 
positions except as those positions had been 
antecedently determined "by some invisible 
master ; " — the architect who planned ; the 
monarch who ordained and controlled. And 
when we have said that the infinitesimally 
minute molecular blocks in a crystal of salt 
or of sugar are " self-posited," we have indeed 
dispensed with the necessity of external physical 
force necessary to simple super-position ; but 
we have made no advance whatever towards a 
substitute for that Intellectual Force which is 
(at least) equally necessary in order to sym- 
metrical super-position. We have dispensed 
with "the intervention of slave-labour." We 
have not dispensed with the intervention of the 
Will by which that labour was employed, or 
the Intelligence by which it was directed, or the 
Power by which it was controlled. We have 
dismissed the slaves only. The "Invisible 
Master " still remains behind. 

Anima Mundu 257 

2. With regard to the pyramids of Egypt all 
are agreed. Who planned them ? 

" Was Cheops or Cephrenes architect 

Of either Pyramid that bears his name ? '' 

By what agencies were they erected? With 
what object were they designed ? These ques- 
tions Professor Tyndall regards — and rightly 
regards — as at once instinctive and inevitable. 
But when these same questions are put with 
regard to the "pyramidal salt crystals," whose 
exquisite finish transcends all architectural 
composition, the only answer is, that the ques- 
tions are all at once and altogether out of 

And yet it is Professor Tyndall who tells us 
that the very same constitution of mind which 
compels us to question the pyramids compels 
us also to question the crystals. Only, the 
three questions which were inevitable in the 
former case must, in the latter, be reduced to 
one. "Who planned?" and "With what ob- 
ject?" are questions inseparable from intelli- 
gence in the one case. But in the other, we are 
told that these are questions with which intelli- 
gence has nothing to do. " The scientific idea " 
is limited exclusively to the one remaining 
question — the question least interesting and 


258 Scientific Sophisms. 

least important of the three — What forces, and 
what laws operated in their construction ? 

That the final form of the pyramid expresses 
the thought of the " invisible master," whether 
Cheops or Cephrenes, is, on all hands, admitted. 
How then can it be denied — as it is denied — 
that the crystal expresses the thought of any 
intelligence whatever ? 

3. But, in the crystal, "the molecular blocks 
are ^^^posited." And, in like manner, the 
valves of a steam-engine are said to be ^^self- 
adjusting." But the self-adjustment of the 
valves, like the self-positing of the molecules, 
must ultimately be referred to Mind. Except 
as the result of the operations of a designing 
mind, there are no valves " self-adjusting," and 
no molecular blocks "self-posited." 

Are we asked to dispense with Mind, because 
"the agencies by which the crystals are built, 
are incomparably superior to the agencies em- 
ployed in the building of the pyramids " ? To 
take this ground is to assume that the more 
exquisite the agency employed, the less mani- 
fest, or the less certain, are the evidences of 
the operation of mind : — an assumption directly 
contrary to the fact 

4. The human mind, as Professor Tyndall 
himself describes it, refuses to rest satisfied with 

Anima Mundu 259 

a reference to " the play of atoms and molecules 
under the operation of laws." The obvious 
question instinctively recurs : — How come these 
atoms and molecules to act with preconcerted 
harmony, and " like disciplined squadrons under 
a governing eye, arranging themselves into bat- 
talions, gathering round distinct centres, and 
forming themselves into solid masses,"^ move 
with unerring precision towards a predetermined 
goal? This is the question which, not in 
consequence of its experience but in virtue of 
its constitution, the human mind is compelled 
to ask. To answer it by referring to laws self- 
constituted, or atoms self-posited, or molecules 
self-adjusted, is to leave untouched the very 
thing to be accounted for. What the mind 
demands a reason for is, the exquisite adjust- 
ment here alleged : " and this reason is not 
rendered by referring the inquirer to the opera- 
tion of laws ; for, apart from and outside of 
matter, there are no such entities in existence 
as the laws of matter. The laAvs of matter are 
simply the mode, in which matter in virtue of 
its constitution, acts. Oxygen unites chemically 
with hydrogen, in certain proportions, under 
certain conditions, simply because of the quali- 
ties or attributes wherewith these two gases are 
^ " Fragments of Science," p. 448. 

26o Scientific Sophisms. 

invested. // is not the law which determines 
the combinationy but the qualities which deter^ 
mine the law. These elements act as they act, 
simply because they are what they are." ^ How 
then came they to be what they are.? These 
"myriad types of the same letter"; these un- 
hewn blocks from an unknown quarry; more 
indestructible than adamant ; the substratum 
of all the phenomena of the universe ; and yet, 
amid the wreck of all things else, this infinitude 
of discrete atoms alone is found incapable of 
change or of decay. Who preserves to them 
their absolute identity, notwithstanding their 
infinite variety.? Who endowed them with 
their inalienable properties? Who impressed 
upon them the ineffaceable characters which 
they are found to bear.? At what mint were 
they struck, on what anvil were they forged, 
in what loom were they woven, so as to possess 
"all the characteristics of manufactured articles"? 
5. Whatever then may be said about "the 
formation of" "a plant, or an animal," it is 
certain that the formation of an Atom — and 
consequently of a crystal — is precisely the op- 
posite of that alleged by Professor Tyndall : — it 
is not "a purely mechanical problem." "Manu- 

1 " Atomism." By Prof. Watts. Belfast : Mullan, 
1874, p. 15. 

Anima Mundi. 261 

factured articles" may, or may not, be pro- 
duced by machines ; but machines are a product 
of Mind. And where there is no Mind, there 
are no " manufactured articles." 

6. Between the curiosities of crystallography 
and the mysteries of life there yawns a gulf 
measurable only by the whole diameter of 
being. It is even Haeckel himself who admits 
that " The phenomena which living things pre- 
sent have no parallel in the mineral world." ^ 
And yet Professor Tyndall puts the properties 
of minerals, of mammoths, and of men, into one 
and the same category ; tells us that however 
strikingly they may be differentiated by specific 
characters, yet, in every case, this difference is 
one not of kind, but merely of degree ; and that 
" the formation " of a man, or an oak, equally 
with that of a snowflake, is nothing more than 
"a purely mechanical problem, which differs 
from the problems of ordinary mechanics" 
— not by the introduction of a new element, 
not by the mysterious origination of vital or 
mental force, — but only by "the smallness of 
the masses and the complexity of the process 

Now this assertion is not only unsupported by 
evidence : the evidence completely disproves it. 
* " History of Creation," vol. i. p. 681. 

262 Scientific Sophisms. 

The points involved in it are two : — First, the 
introduction of Life. Second, the manifesta- 
tions of Mind. As to the former of these. 
Professor Huxley himself declares that — 

7. " The present state of knowledge furnishes 
us with no link between the living and the not- 
living."^ Professor Haeckel admits that there 
is nothing in chemistry that can produce life. 
That chemistry cannot bridge the colossal 
chasm between the living and the not-living. 
That it cannot explain how inorganic is trans- 
muted into organic matter. That "most na- 
turalists, even at the present day, are inclined 
to give up the attempt at natural explanation 
*of the origin of life,' and to take refuge in 
the miracle of inconceivable creation." ^ In the 
words of one of them, " We have given up the 
idea that we can make things grow." Or, to 
take but one instance more, — the final sentence 
of Du Bois Reymond, — " It is futile to attempt 
by chemistry to bridge the chasm between the 
living and the not-living." 

8. Futile as is the attempt however, Professor 
Huxley has shown himself equal to it. In his 
most deliberate utterance he tells us that — 

' Encycl. Brit., Art. " Biology." 

^ " History of Creation,'* vol. i. p. 327. 

Anima Mundi. 263 

" A mass of living protoplasm is simply a molecular 
machine of great complexity, the total results of the 
working of which, or its vital phenomena, depend, on the 
one hand, on its construction, and on the other, upon the 
energy supplied to it ; and to speak of * vitality ' as any- 
thing but the name of a series of operations, is as if one 
should talk of the horologity of a clock." * 

This oracular deliverance is worthy of the 
most careful consideration, not less from its own 
merits than from the celebrity of its author. 
From it we learn that a " living " thing is " a 
machine ; " " simply " a machine. " The results 
of the working of" this machine — Milton's 
" Paradise Lost," for example ; or Shakspere's 
Plays ; Galileo and Kepler, Newton and Pciscal, 
Socrates and Savonarola, Stephenson and 
Edison, Turner and Ruskin, — " the total 
results" — are due to two sources. The first 
of these is " its construction ; " the second, is 
" the energy supplied to it." 

Since, however, to our instructor not less than 
to ourselves, the " construction " of " a mass of 
living protoplasm " is an unfathomable secret, 
of which, notwithstanding his high attainments, 
even he is profoundly ignorant ; and since " the 
energy supplied to it" remains now, as ever, 
an absolutely unknown quantity ; it might 

^ Prof. Huxley, Encyc. Brit., Art. " Biology," 1875. 

264 Scientific Sophisms. 

perhaps have been more candid, as it would 
certainly have been less misleading, if it had 
been said at once, and without ambiguous 
circumlocution, that "its vital phenomena 
depend" on something of which nothing is 

It is Prof. Huxley himself who tells us that 
the " lifeless compounds " carbonic acid, water, 
and ammonia, cannot combine — cannot, by any 
wit of man, be combined — so as to *' give rise 
to the still more complex body, protoplasm," 
unless a principle of life presides over the opera- 
tion. Unless under those auspices the com- 
bination never takes place. But when we ask. 
What is that principle of life ? What is that 
presiding Power } We are told that there is no 
such thing ; that " vitality " has no more real 
existence than " horologity ; " and that we 
might as well speak of a " steam-engine prin- 
ciple," a "watch-principle," or a "railroad- 
principle," as of a "vital principle,^' or vital 

And yet, not even the scathing sarcasm of 
which Prof. Huxley is a master, can avail to 
conceal the fact that the analogies thus sug- 
gested fail in every particular. The power of a 
steam-engine is in no degree dependent on its 
connection with some antecedent steam-engine. 

Anima Mundi. 265 

The perfection of a watch is not derived by 
contact from some other watch. But the per- 
fection of vital movement, and the power of 
vital force are derived by contact, are depend- 
ent on connection with other, and pre-existing 
living bodies. Mr. Huxley tells us of something 
which he finds it convenient to call by the name 
of "subtle influences." And these "subtle 
influences," he says, " will convert the dead pro- 
toplasm into the living protoplasm;" will "raise 
the complex substance of dead protoplasm to 
the higher power, as one may say, of living 
protoplasm."* What are these "subtle in- 
fluences } " What else are they but vital 
force } 

It is easy to talk of a living body as " a mole- 
cular machine," and to attribute " vital pheno- 
mena " to its " construction." But what of The 
Constructor? It is easy to talk of "lifeless 
compounds " as the " constituents " of a living 
body. But then these lifeless compounds are 
"constituents" that do not constitute. They 
do not even constitute " The Physical Basis of 
Life." Still less do they constitute the energy 
of Life itself. " Let the matter be disguised or 
slurred over as it may, the fact remains that we 
are utterly unable to imitate vital affinity so far 
* Fortnightly Review for 1869, p. 138. 

266 Scientific Sophisms. 

as to make a bit of material ready for its use, 
or even to make any definite substance that 
would have similar chemical relations." ^ 

Let it however be supposed, that Prof. Hux- 
ley's vaticination has been realized. Let it 
be assumed that some day *'by the advance 
of molecular physics " the learned Professor will 
be able to show us how it is that the properties 
peculiar to water have resulted from the pro- 
perties peculiar to the gases whose junction 
constitutes water; and similarly, how the 
characteristic properties of protoplasm have 
sprung from properties in the water, ammonia, 
and carbonic acid that have united to form 
protoplasm ; even then, knowing all this, we 
should be as far as ever from the more recon- 
dite knowledge up to which it is expected to 
lead. For this knowledge leaves us as ignorant 
as before concerning that ** supplied energy" of 
Life, without which no protoplasm is ever 
formed. " To extract the genesis of life from 
any data that completest acquaintance with the 
stages and processes of protoplasmic growth 
can furnish, is a truly hopeless problem. Given 
the plan of a house, with samples of its brick 
and mortar, to find the name and nationality 
of the householder, would be child's play in 
^ Dr. Elam, "Automatism and Evolution." 

Anima Mundi. 267 

comparison. Life, as we have seen,^ is not the 
offspring of protoplasm, but something which 
has been superinduced upon, and may be separ- 
ated from the protoplasm that serves as its 
material basis. It is therefore distinct from the 
matter which it animates, and, being thus im- 
material, cannot possibly become better known 
by any analysis of matter." ^ 

9. " In every living thing there are physico- 
chemical actions^ which also occur out of the 
body, and vital actions. These last, however, 
are peculiar to living beings^ and cannot be 
imitated. In galvanic batteries, and in other 
arrangements made by man, we may have phy- 
sico-chemical actions, but never anything at all 
like vital actions^ The physicist "seems to 
think that pabulum goes into a living thing and 
becomes changed chemically, just as it may be 
changed in his laboratory, and the results of 
this change are work, and certain compounds 
which are got rid of. In all this, the living 
matter which is absolutely essential in every 
one of these changes — without which not one of 
them could occur, or even be conceived as occur- 
ring in thought, is persistently ignored." " But 
although the new schools hold it absurd to 

* Vide ante^^i^. 119, 120. 

- Thornton, " Old Fashioned Ethics," pp. 168 et seq. 

268 Scientific Sophisms. 

suppose that any peculiar power acting from 
within or from without can influence the 
changes in matter, or direct its forces, they 
see no impropriety in attributing to matter 
itself, and to force, guiding, and directing, 
and forming agencies." They transfer to 
the non-living those active, controlling, and 
directing powers which have hitherto been re- 
garded as the attributes of life alone. Accord- 
ing to them, it is not "will," or "mind," or 
even " vital force " — it is merely " the inorganic 
molecule " — that arranges, governs, guides, con- 

Thus, for example. Prof. Huxley has affirmed 
that a "particle of jelly "^/^j forces. To his 
mind, he tells us, it is a fact of the profoundest 
significance that "this particle of jelly is capable 
of guiding physical forces in such a manner 
as to give rise to those exquisite and almost 
mathematically arranged structures," etc. ^ It 
is not easy to see, however, why the idea of 
physical forces being guided by a particle of 
jelly should be accepted as a fact of "profound 
significance," while the idea of " vitality " acting 
upon the particles of this jelly, and guiding 
them and their forces, should be denounced as 
a fiction, absurd, ridiculous, frivolous, fanciful. 
^ Introduction to the Classification of Animals. 

Aninta Mundi. 269 

Besides : that physical forces guide matter, is a 
doctrine neither new nor strange ; but here we 
have the doctrine that matter guides physical 
forces — a doctrine not less strange than new. 
" But is it not more probable that neither matter 
nor force is capable of guiding or directing force 
or matter ? Matter may be said to rule and 
guide itself, but it can hardly be ruled and 
guided by itself. It might, however, be ruled 
and guided by something else. 

"Concerning the dictum about jelly guiding 
physical forces, I shall, therefore, venture to 
remark — i. That living matter is not jelly ; 
2. That neither jelly nor matter is capable of 
guiding or directing forces of any kind ; and 3. 
That the capacity of jelly to guide forces, which 
Prof. Huxley says is a fact of the profoundest 
significance to him, is not a fact at all, but 
merely an assertion." ^ 

10. " If a machine that moved itself could, of 
itself, divide into new machines, and each take 
up particles of brass and iron and steel, or 
other substances entering into its construction, 
and deposit these in the proper places, so that 
the several wheels and other elementary parts 
of the mechanism should grow evenly and 
regularly, and continue to work while all these 
> Dr. Beale's " Protoplasm," pp. 74, 75, ^^y 8k 

270 Scientific Sophisms. 

changes were proceeding, — such a machine, it 
is true, would in some particulars be like a 
living organism.'* But how stands the fact ? 
" If any apparatus we could contrive developed 
all possible modes of force — motion, heat, light, 
electricity, magnetism, chemical action, and any 
number of others yet to be discovered — that 
apparatus would still present ^w approach what- 
ever to any organism known. Of course such 
a thing might be calUd an organism, just as a 
watch, or a steam-engine, or water, or anything 
else, may be called a creature, — a worm or any 
other living thing called a machine. But every 
living machine seems to grow of itself, builds 
itself up, and multiplies, while every non-living 
machine that has yet been discovered is made. 
It neither grows^ nor can it produce machines 
like itself r " Will mechanics account for the 
movements of an amoeba ? Where is the being 
that grows by mechanics, and where is the 
mechanical apparatus that can be said to grow } 
Has mechanics taught us the difference between 
a living seed and the same seed when it has 
ceased to live.^" ^ 

1 1. To revert, for a moment, from " vitality ** 
to " horologity." When Mr. Lewes — a writer 
distinguished for his opposition to what he 
^ Dr. Beale, " Protoplasm," pp. 47, 486. 

Anima Mundu 271 

calls Theological explanations in Science — tells 
us that we may just as well speak of a watch 
as the abode of a "watch-force," as speak 
of the organization of an animal as the abode 
of a "vital Force," ^ he is guilty of an over- 
sight common to all those who share his views. 
It is quite true that the Forces by which a 
watch moves are natural Forces. But it is the 
relation of interdependence in which these 
Forces are placed to each other, or, in other 
words, the adjustment of them to a particu- 
lar Purpose, which constitutes the "watch- 
force;" and the seat of this Force — ^which is 
in fact no one Force but a combination of 
many Forces — is in the Intelligence which 
conceived that combination^ and in the Will 
which gave it effect, 

" The mechanisms devised by Man are in this respect 
only an image of the more perfect mechanism of Nature, 
in which the same principle of Adjustment is always the 
highest result which Science can ascertain or recognise. 
There is this difference, indeed, — ^that in regard to our 
works we see that our knowledge of natural laws is very 
imperfect, and our control over them is very feeble ; 
whereas in the machinery of Nature there is evidence of 
complete knowledge and of absolute control. The uni- 
versal rule is, that everything is brought about by way of 
Natural Consequence. But another rule is, that aU natural 

* Lewes's " Philosophy of Aristotle," p. 37. 

272 Scientific Sophisms. 

consequences meet and fit into each other in endless 
circles of Harmony and of Purpose. And this can only 
be explained by the fact that what we call Natural Con- 
sequence is always the conjoint effect of an infinite num- 
ber of elementary Forces, whose action and reaction are 
under direction of the Will which we see obeyed, and of 
the Purposes which we see actually attained/' * 

12. The relation which an organic structure 
bears to its purpose in Nature is not less capable 
of certain recognition than the same relation 
between a machine and its purpose in human 
art. '* It is absurd to maintain, for example, 
that the purpose of the cellular arrangement of 
material in combining lightness with strength, 
is a purpose legitimately cognisable by Science 
in the Menai Bridge, but is not as legitimately 
cognisable when it is seen in Nature, actually 
serving the same use. The little Barnacles 
which crust the rocks at low tide, and which 
to live there at all must be able to resist the 
surf, have the building of their shells con- 
structed strictly with reference to this necessity. 
It is a structure all hollowed and chambered on 
the plan which engineers have so lately dis- 
covered as an arrangement of material by which 
the power of resisting strain or pressure is mul- 
tiplied in an extraordinary degree. That shell 

» The Duke of Argyll's " Reign of Law " (Sixth 
Edition^, pp. 124 et seq. 

Anima Mundi. 273 

is as pure a bit of mechanics as the bridge ; 
both being structures in which the same ar- 
rangement is adapted to the same end." ^ 

" Small, but a work divine ; 
Frail, but of force to withstand, 
Year upon year, the shock 
Of cataract seas that snap 
The three-decker's oaken spine." ^ 

This is but one instance out of a number that 
no man can count. 

The Electric Ray, or Torpedo, has been pro- 
vided with a Battery which, while it closely 
resembles, yet in the beauty and compactness 
of its structure, it greatly exceeds the Batteries 
by which Man has now learned to make the 
laws of Electricity subservient to his will. In 
this Battery there are no less than 940 hexa- 
gonal columns, like those of a bees' comb, and 
each of these is subdivided by a series of 
horizontal plates, which appear to be analogous 
to the plates of the Voltaic Pile. The whole is 
supplied with an enormous amount of nervous 
matter, four great branches of which are as large 
as the animal's spinal cord, and these spread 
out in a multitude of thread-like filaments round 
the prismatic columns, and finally pass into all 

* " The Reign of Law," pp. 99, 100. 
2 " Maud." 

2 74 Scientific Sophisms. 

the cells. ^ " ^ complete knowledge of all the 
mysteries which have been gradually unfolded 
from the days of Galvani to those of Faraday^ 
and of many others which are still inscrutable to 
us^ is exhibited in this structure'* 

Well may Mr. Darwin say, " It is impossible 
to conceive by what steps these wondrous 
organs have been produced."^ "We see the 
Purpose — that a special apparatus should be 
prepared, and we see that it is effected by 
the production of the machine required : but 
we have not the remotest notion of the means 
employed. Yet we can see so much as this, 
that here again, other laws, belonging altogether 
to another department of Nature — laws of 
organic growth — are made subservient to a very 
definite and very peculiar Purpose." The laws 
appealed to in the accomplishment of this pur- 
pose are at once numerous and highly compli- 
cated. They are so because the conditions to 
be satisfied refer not merely to the generation 
of Electric force in the animal to which it is 
given, but to its effect on the nervous system of 
the animals against which it is to be employed, 
and also to the conducting medium in which 

^ Prof. Owen's "Lectures on Comparative Anatomy," 
vol. ii. (Fishes). 
^ " Origin of Species." First Edition, p. 192. 

Anima Mundi. 275 

both are moving. But the fact that these con- 
ditions exist, and must be satisfied, is not the 
ultimate fact, it is not even the main fact which 
Science apprehends in such phenomena as these. 
That which is most observable and most certain, 
is the manner in which these conditions are 
met. But this, in other words, is simply the 
subordination of many laws to a difficult and 
curious Purpose; a Purpose none the less 
obvious, and a subordination not the less re- 
markable, because effected through the instru- 
mentality of mechanical contrivance. 

" The new-bom Kangaroo," says Professor Owen, " is 
an inch in length, naked, blind, with very rudimental limbs 
and tail : in one which I examined the morning after the 
birth, I could discern no act of sucking : it hung, like a 
germ, from the end of the long nipple, and seemed unable 
to draw sustenance therefrom by its own efforts. The 
mother accordingly is provided with a peculiar adapta- 
tion of a muscle (cremaster) to the mammary gland, by 
which she can inject the milk from the nipple into the 
mouth of the pendulous embryo. Were the larynx of the 
little creature like that of the parent, the milk might, 
probably would, enter the windpipe and cause suffocation : 
but the foetal larynx is cone-shaped, with the opening at 
the apex, which projects, as in the whale-tribe, into the 
back aperture of the nostrils, where it is closely embraced 
by the muscles of the ' soft palate.' The air-passage is 
thus completely separated from the fauces, and the in- 
jected milk passes in a divided stream, on either side the 
base of the larynx, into the oesophagus. These correlated 

276 Scientific Sophisms. 

modifications of maternal and foetal structures, designed 
with especial reference to the peculiar conditions of both 
mother and offspring, afford, as it seems to me, irrefra- 
gable evidence of Creative foresight, ^^ ^ 

"The parts of this apparatus cannot have produced 
one another ; one part is in the mother, another part in 
the young one ; without their harmony they could not be 
effective ; but nothing except design can operate to make 
them harmonious. They are intended to work together ; 
and we cannot resist the conviction of this intention 
when the facts first come before us." ^ 

13. "A prospect-glass or a forceps is an 
instrument; they have each a final cause; that 
IS, they were each made and adjusted for a 
certain use. The use of the prospect-glass is to 
assist the eye ; the use of the forceps is to assist 
the hand. The prospect-glass was made the 
better to see ; the forceps, the better to grasp. 
The use did not make these instruments ; they 
were each made for the use — which use was 
foreseen and premeditated in the mind of the 
maker of them. We say of each of them 
without a shadow of hesitation : If THIS HAD 


HAVE BEEN A THING. Now, is the Eye or the 
Hand an instrument adjusted to a certain use, 
and thus revealing an antecedent purpose in 

* Philosophical Transactions y 1834, Reade Lecture ^ p^ 

* PhiL Inductive Sciences^ vol. i. p. 625. 

Anima Mundi. 277 

the Creative Mind, or is it not? Can we ac- 
count for either except by saying that it was 
thought out before it was wrought out ; that it 
was a concept in mind ere it could possibly 
appear as a configuration in matter ; that before 
it became a fact in nature it must needs have 
been a tJiought in Godf"^ 

14. Can we say that although the prospect- 
glass is the product of mind, yet no mind pre- 
sided over the structure of the eye ? According 
to Mr. Darwin, we can and ought. And yet 
Mr. Darwin begins by admitting it to be 
apparently "in the highest degree absurd to 
suppose that tlie eye, with all its INIMITABLE 
contrivances for adjusting the focus to different 
distances, for admitting different amounts of 
light, and for the correction of spherical and 
chromatic aberration, could have been formed 
by natural selection." He then proceeds to 
indicate some " probable " stages in the process 
by which, as he believes, the eye was formed — 
a process of natural selection, and of that 
alone. His first postulate is, a nerve specially 
endowed with sensibility to light. The optic 
nerve thus — not formed, but — fancied merely, 
surrounded by pigment cells, and covered by 
translucent skin, will, in millions ofiages, select 
^ " The Three Barriers,'* pp. 61 ei seq. 

278 Scientific Sophisms. 

itself into an eye. Let it be granted : — " in the 
highest degree absurd " though it be. But the 
primary postulate — how does Mr. Darwin get 
that ? " How a nerve comes to be sensitive to 
light," he says, " hardly concerns us more than 
how life itself originated." Perhaps not: but 
both questions are studiously evaded when we 
are left to infer that the nerve made itself, 
and that life caused itself to live; or, in 
other words, that both are examples of what 
Mr. Darwin strangely calls ^^ variation causing 

Take now the several steps of the process as 
pursued by Natural Selection according to Mr. 
Darwin ; and let but the power competent to 
do the things which he assumes are done, be 
credited with sense enough to be aware of its 
competence, and it may then be regarded as not 
unlikely to have done some of them on purpose. 
Whereupon, the genesis of the eye ceases to be 
a mystery. " All the appearances of contrivance 
that have resulted from the operation find their 
obvious and complete explanation in the as- 
sumption of a contriver, and all such hazy films 
as that of variability producing variation cease 
to be capable of serving as excuses for wilful 
blindness. 'And why should not the power in 
question be so credited } Here is Mr. Darwin's 

Anima Mundi. 279 

solitary reason why. He doubts whether the 
inference implied may not be 'presumptuous.' 
He apprehends that we have no 'right to 
assume that the Creator works by intellectual 
powers like those of a man.* Truly, of all 
suggested modes of marking respect for creative 
power, that of assuming it to have worked un- 
intelHgently is the most original."^ 

" From what I know, through my own speci- 
ality, both geometry and experiment, of the 
structure of lenses and the human eye, I do not 
believe that any amount of evolution, extending 
through any amount of time consistent with 
the requirements of our astronomical knowledge, 
could have issued in the production of that 
most beautiful and complicated instrument, the 
human eye. There are too many curved sur- 
faces, too many distances, too many densities 
of the media, each essential to the other, too 
great a facility of ruin by slight disarrangement, 
to admit of anything short of the intervention 
of an intelligent Will at some stage of the 
evolutionary process. The most perfect, and at 
the same time the most difficult optical con- 
trivance known is the powerful achromatic 
object glass of a microscope; its structure is 
the long-unhoped-for result of the ingenuity of 
* Thornton : " Old- Fashioned Ethics," pp. 238, 239. 

28o Scientific Sophisms. 

many powerful minds ; yet in complexity and in 
perfection it falls infinitely below the structure 
of the eye. Disarrange any one of the curva- 
tures of the many surfaces, or distances, or 
densities of the latter ; or worse, disarrange its 
incomprehensible self-adaptive power, the like 
of which is possessed by the handiwork of 
nothing human, and all the opticians in the 
world could not tell you what is the correlative 
alteration necessary to repair it, and still less to 
improve it, as natural selection is presumed to 

15. The case is too strong to be explained 
away. Nature is full of plan, and yet she plans 
not : she is only plastic to a plan. That plan 
carries with it its own unanswerable attestation 
to all healthy understandings. It has its warp 
indeed, as well as its woof The exquisite 
variety of creative adjustments reposes on a 
basis of fundamental order: exhaustless speci- 
alities of adaptation are engrafted on a pervasive 
unity of type. Morphology, rightly viewed, is 
not the negation, but one grand phase of the 
revelation of plan. Teleology is the other. " It 
has been by following the lamp of Final Cause, 
and obeying her beckoning hand, that the 

* Professor Pritchard's Address at the Brighton Con- 
gress (1874). 

Anima Mundi, 281 

masters of anatomical and physiological science, 
from Galen to Cuvier, and from Harvey to 
Owen, have been guided to their splendid dis- 
coveries." But the irrepressible question. For 
what ? is naturally followed by the further ques- 
tion, From Whom ? The measure of the confi- 
dence with which Science assumes a use is the 
measure of the confidence with which Religion 
affirms <3:« Author. "He that planted the ear, 
shall He not hear ? Or He that made the eye, 
shall He not see?" This argument has been 
esteemed unanswerable, not only by the most 
masculine reasoners among Christian divines, 
Barrow and Paley, Chalmers and Whewell : " it 
has carried conviction, from the time of Socrates 
to that of Cuvier, to the foremost minds of the 
human race, and found almost its sole antago- 
nists among spinners of cobwebs and dreamers 
of dreams. . . . The prints of Divine fore- 
thought, and the convictions they engender, are 
scattered over the face of universal nature, and 
ploughed into the very subsoil of the human 

16. To conclude. Modern Materialism then, 
as expounded by its ablest advocates, whether 
under the guise of Positive Agnosticism, or that 
of Scientific Atheism, has no key to unlock the 

282 Scientific Sophisms, 

mysteries of Being. Propounded as a theory of 
the Universe, it has no commencement and no 
continuity. There are " First Beginnings " of 
which it has no knowledge. There are Barriers 
which it cannot pass, and chasms which it can- 
not cross, and deeps which it cannot fathom, 
and mysteries which it cannot even pretend to 
explain. That extension which we call space ; 
that duration which we call time ; that sub^ 
stance which we call matter ; whence came 
they ? " There shall be no Alps " — ? They 
shall be explained away.^ Matter shall be 
defined in terms of Mind t Space and Time 
shall be declared non-entities — non-existent 
outside the faculties of the Being percipient } ^ 

But then whence came this Being .^ and 
whence came his faculty " percipient " ? Matter, 
too, however defined, is possessed of certain 
properties, and constituted in definite propor- 
tions, and specified in distinct categories — car- 
bon, gold, iodine, etc., — ^whence came all these ? 
Then too, besides material properties, there are 
material forces. Heat is a mode of motion ; 
and motion is a result of force; and force 
operates according to law. But who ordained 
the Law ? and who upholds it ? Who estab- 
lished " the sequence of events as observed by 

* See Appendix, Note G. 

Anima Mundi. 283 

us " ? Who originated Motion ? Where is the 
primal Force ? 

" We will assume that science has done its 
utmost; and that every chemical or animal 
force is demonstrably resolvable into heat or 
motion, reciprocally changing into each other. 
I would myself like better, in order of thought, 
to consider motion as a mode of heat than heat 
as a mode of motion : still, granting that we 
have got thus far, we have yet to ask, What is 
heat ? or what motion ? What is this * primo 
mobile,' this transitional power, in which all 
things live, and move, and have their being ? 
It is by definition something different from 
matter, and we may call it as we choose — * first 
cause,' or * first light,' or ' first heat ' ; but we 
can show no scientific proof of its not being 
personal, and coinciding with the ordinary con- 
ception of a supporting spirit in all things." ^ 

"The Lord of all. Himself through all diffused. 
Sustains, and is the life of all that lives. 
Nature is but a name for an effect. 
Whose cause is God." 

With Him is the breath of Life. With Him is 
the secret of Power. This is what men of 
science " are finding more and more, below their 

1 "The Queen of the Air :" by John Ruskin, LL.D. 
(1869), p. 74. 

284 Scientific Sophisms. 

facts, below all phenomena which the scalpel 
and the microscope can show; a something 
nameless, invisible, imponderable, yet seemingly 
omnipresent and omnipotent, retreating before 
them deeper and deeper, the deeper they 
delve ; that which the old schoolmen called 
' forma formativa,' the mystery of that unknown 
and truly miraculous element in nature which 
is always escaping them, though they cannot 
escape it ; that of which it was written of old, 
'Whither shall I go from Thy presence, or 
whither shall I flee from Thy Spirit ? ' " ^ 

17. Proof? See it in the great gulf between 
the organic and the inorganic, the living and 
the not-living, a grain of sand and a grain of 
corn. See it in the inscrutable phenomena of 
growth. See it in the immutable order which 
dominates the countless varieties of the vegeta- 
ble world. Amid all those varieties, with their 
corresponding powers, it does not matter in the 
least by what concurrences of circumstance or 
necessity they may gradually have been de- 
veloped : the concurrence of circumstance is 
itself the supreme and inexplicable fact. " We 
always come at last to a formative cause, which 
directs the circumstance and mode of meeting 
^ Canon Kingsley. Lecture at Sion College. 

Anima Mundi. 285 

it. If you ask an ordinary botanist the reason 
of the form of a leaf, he will tell you it is a 
' developed tubercle/ and that its ultimate form 
'is owing to the directions of its vascular 
threads.' But what directs its vascular threads? 
'They are seeking for something they want/ 
he will probably answer. What made them 
want that ? What made them seek for it thus } 
Seek for it, in five fibres or in three } Seek for 
it, in serration, or in sweeping curves } Seek 
for it in servile tendrils, or impetuous spray ? 
Seek for it in woollen wrinkles rough with 
stings, or in glossy surfaces, green with pure 
strength, and winterless delight } " It is Mr. 
Ruskin who asks these questions : and it is 
Mr. Ruskin who adds, " There is no answer." ^ 

Then too this leaf, whatever its form, is alive. 
It points, not more to a Formative Cause than 
to a Living Power. Polarity of atoms, mole- 
cular movements, chemical affinities, may be 
adduced to explain, even while in fact they con- 
ceal, the phenomena of structure and configura- 
tion in the inorganic world. But when the 
chemical affinities are brought under the in- 
fluence of the air, and of solar heat, the forma- 
tive force enters an entirely different phase. 
" It does not now merely crystallize indefinite 
* " Queen of the Air," p. 104. 

286 Scientific Sophisms. 

masses, but it gives to limited portions of matter 
the power of gathering, selectively, other ele- 
ments proper to them, and binding these 
elements into their own peculiar and adopted 
form." But this "power of gathering select- 
ively," the power that catches out of chaos 
charcoal, water, lime, or what not, and fastens 
them down into a given form, the power that is 
continually creating its own shells of definite 
shape out of the wreck round it, — What is it ? 
and Whence ? " There is no answer." 

Next comes the gap which separates vegeta- 
ble from animal life. "These are necessarily 
the converse of each other, the one deoxidizes 
and accumulates, the other oxidizes and ex- 
pends. Only in reproduction or decay does the 
plant simulate the action of the animal, and the 
animal never, in its simplest forms, assumes the 
functions of the plant. Those obscure cases in 
the humbler spheres of animal and vegetable life 
which have been supposed to show a union of 
the two kingdoms, disappear on investigation." 
This is the testimony of Principal Dawson, 
who adds, " This gap can, I believe, be filled up 
only by an appeal to our ignorance." ^ 

1 " Story of the Earth and Man." By J. W. Dawson, 
LL.D., F.R.S., F.G.S., etc. Hodder and Stoughton, 1873, 
p. 326. [See p. 298, to which this Reference belongs.] 

Anima Mundi. 287 

Of the chasms which separate species, the 
same author writes, — " It was this gap, and this 
only, which Darwin undertook to fill up by his 
great work on the origin of species, but not- 
withstanding the immense amount of material 
thus expended, it yawns as wide as ever, since 
it must be admitted that no case has been 
ascertained in which an individual of one species 
has transgressed the limits between it and other 
species." ^ 

Transcending all the rest is the gulf that 
separates the brute from man. It is Professor 
Huxley himself who tells us that the "diver- 
gence of the Human from the Simian Stirps " is 
" immeasurable and practically infinite." Who 
made it so? Huxley believes, with Cuvier, 
that " the possession of articulate speech is the 
grand distinctive character of man." But 
whence did he derive an endowment so unique 
and so invaluable ? " Men have wordSy which 
are projected ideas ; brutes have only sounds ^ 
which are projected sensations. Brutes voci- 
ferate: men speak. The physical organiza- 
tion is wedded to the mental capacity — a mouth, 
and wisdom. Neither, apart, would effloresce 
into Language : both must conspire and com- 
bine. So the one mind which has thoughts to 

* See Appendix, Note H. 

288 Scientific Sophisms. 

be interpreted is furnished in the human tongue 
with an all-accomplished interpreter." But 
whence came this "one mind which has 
thoughts to be interpreted " ? 

What is the origin of Mind ? What is the 
genesis of Thought ? 

1 8. For Thought is no mere "function of the 
brain " ; nor is it " medullary matter that 
thinks." " The function of the lung is not un- 
intelligible ; it can be followed throughout, and 
understood throughout Though the peculiar- 
ity of vitality mingles there, it can still, in a 
certain aspect, be called a physical function, and 
its result is of an identical nature. If, and 
so far as, the function is physical, the result is 
physical. So with the stomach : function and 
result are there in the same category of being. 
The liver is so far a physical organ that it can 
be seen, it can be touched, it can be handled ; 
but is it otherwise with the bile, which is the 
result of its function } Can it too, not be seen, 
and touched, and handled ? Is it not essentially 
of the same nature t Is it not physical, in the 
same way and to the same extent as the liver 
is physical } But look now to the brain, and 
the so-called product of its function. Do we 
any longer find the same identity of the terms } 
No ; the terms there are veritable extremes — 

Anima Mundi. 289 

extremes wider than the poles apart — extremes 
sundered by the whole diameter of being. The 
result here, then, is not like the result of any 
other function. // is wholly unique ; something 
quite new, fresh, and original ; something un- 
precedented, something unparalleled, absolutely 
single and singular, absolutely sui generis. The 
result here in fact, is the very antithesis, the 
very counterpart of the organ which is sup- 
posed to function it. 

" An organ, after all, consists of parts ; but 
thought has no parts, thought is one. Matter 
has one set of qualities ; Mind, another ; and 
these sets are wholly incommensurable, wholly 
incommunicable. A feeling is not square, a 
thought is not oval. . . . No function of 
the body, and no function of any machine out 
of the body, presents any parallel to the nature 
of thought." 1 

Before this problem of the genesis of 
Thought, Materialism is dumb. And yet this 
same Thought (" without precedent," " without 
parallel,") has changed the face of the world. 
"From the moment when the first skin was used 
as a covering, when the first rude spear was 
formed to assist in the chase, the first seed sown 

1 Dr. Stirling's " Materialism in relation to the Study 
of Medicine," p. 8. 


290 Scientific Sophisms 

or root planted, a grand revolution was efiected 
in nature, a revolutum which in all the preuiaus 
ages of the world* s history had had no parallel^ for 
a being had arisen who was no longer necessarily 
subject to change with the changing universe, — 
a being who was in some degree superior to 
nature, inasmuch as he knew how to control and 
r^^late her action, and could keep himself in 
harmony with her, not by a change in body, 
but by an advance in mind. 

"Here then we see the true grandeur and 
dignity of man. On this view of his special 
attributes, we may admit that even those who 
claim for him a position and an order, a class, or 
a sub-kingdom by himself, have some reason on 
their side. He is, indeed, a being apart, since 
he is not influenced by the great laws which ir- 
resistibly modify all other oi^^anic beings. . . . 
Man has not only escaped 'natural selection' 
himself, but he is actually able to take away 
some of that power from nature which, before 
his appearance, she universally exercised." ^ 

Conclusive as is this testimony in itself, it is 
doubly so on account of the quarter from which 
it comes. From a very different quarter comes 

* Mr. Wallace, in the Anthropological Review^ May, 

Anima Mundi. 291 

the characteristic, but concurrent testimony of 
Thomas Carlyle : — 

" Capabilities there were in me " (says Teufelsdrockh) 
" to give battle, in some small degree, against the great 
Empire of Darkness : does not the very Ditcher and Delver, 
with his spade, extinguish many a thistle and puddle ; and 
so leave a little Order, where he found the opposite? Nay, 
your very Daymoth has capabilities in this kind ; and 
ever organizes something (into its own Body, if no other- 
wise), which was before Inorganic ; and of mute dead air 
makes living music, though only of the faintest, by hum- 

"How much more, one whose capabilities are spiritual ; 
who has learned, or begun learning, the grand thauma" 
turgic art of Thought! Thaumaturgic I name it ; for 
hitherto all Miracles have been wrought thereby, and 
henceforth innumerable will be wrought ; whereof we, 
even in these days, witness some. Of the Poets' and 
Prophets' inspired Message, and how it makes and un- 
makes whole worlds^ I shall forbear mention : but cannot 
the dullest hear Steam-engines clanking around him ? " ^ 

What then, is the origin, and who is the 
originator of " that subtle force which we term 
Mind " ? 

19. Man, as defined by Professor Huxley,^ is "a 
conscious automaton," "endowed with free-will"; 
and in his Essay on "The Physical Basis of 
Life " he confesses that " our volition counts for 

^ " Sartor Resartus/' chap. iv. 

^ Fortnightly Review^ November, 1874, p. 577. 

292 Scientific Sophisms. 

something as a condition of the course of events "/ 
and that this " can be verified experimentally as 
often as we like to try." ^ This machine which 
is not mechanical ; this automaton with a will 
of its own ; this creature whose actions are at 
once automatic and autonomic ; this " automa- 
ton endowed with free-will," is a novel inven- 
tion quite worthy of Mr. Huxley's ingenuity. 
But whence did it derive the faculties with 
which he says it is endowed t 

It is ''conscious," he tells us. And its 
" volition counts for something." What then is 
Volition ? and whence ? And what is Con- 
sciousness } 

"Can you satisfy the human understanding 
in its demand for logical continuity between 
molecular processes and the phenomena of 
consciousness ? " It is Professor Tyndall who 
asks this question, and his answer to it is 
this : — 

" This is a rock on which materialism must 
inevitably split whenever it pretends to be a 
complete philosophy of life." * 

And with the candid and elegant Lucretian, 
Professor Huxley — notwithstanding his material- 
istic declaration of faith in molecular machinery 

* " Lay Sermons," p. 145. 
' Belfast Address. 

Anima Mundu 293 

— agrees. " What consciousness is," he says, " we 
know not ; and how it is that anything so 
remarkable as a state of consciousness comes 
about as the result of irritating nervous tissue, 
is just as unaccountable as the appearance of 
the Djin when Aladdin rubbed his lamp in the 
story." 1 

" Afferent nerves lie here, and carry to ; 
efferent nerves lie there, and carry from ; but in 
none of them — neither in fibre of nerve nor 
in fibre of brain, will you find any hint of 
consciousness. How any material impressions 
should awake thought ; but, still more, how, in 
independence of all impressions, thought should 
be all the while there, alive and active, A world 
BY ITSELF — that is the mystery. And that no 
scalpel, no microscope, will ever explain. 
Mechanical balances the most delicate, chemical 
tests the most sensitive, are all powerless there. 
And why } Simply because consciousness and 
they are incommensurable, of another nature, of 
another world from the first, sundered from 
each other, as I have said, by the whole 
diameter of being." ^ 

" It is quite true that the tympanum of the 
ear vibrates under sound, and that the surface of 

* Huxle/s " Physiology," p. 193. 

2 Stirling's " Materialism " ut sup,, p. 7. 

294 Scientific Sophisms. 

the water in a ditch vfbrates too ; but the ditch 
hears nothing for all that ; and my hearing is 
still to me as blessed a mystery as ever, and the 
interval between the ditch and me, quite as 
great If the trembling sound in my ears was 
once of the marriage-bell which began my 
happiness, and is now of the passing-bell which 
ends it, the difference between those two sounds 
to me cannot be counted by the number of 
concussions. There have been some curious 
speculations lately as to the conveyance of 
mental consciousness by * brain-waves/ What 
does it matter how it is conveyed ? The 
consciousness itself is not a wave. It may be 
accompanied here or there by any quantity of 
quivers and shakes, up or down, of anything 
you can find in the universe that is shakeable — 
what is that to me ? My friend is dead, and my 
— according to modern views — vibratory sorrow 
is not one whit less, or less mysterious, to me, 
than my old quiet one." ^ 

Whence came then this emergence of Per- 
sonal Consciousness among the world of living 
creatures ? From what source have we derived 
that sense of individual personality which con- 
stitutes "an altogether new and original fact, 
one which cannot be conceived as developed or 

^ Ruskin : * Athena," p. 7a 

Anima Mundi. 295 

developable out of any pre-existing phenomena 
or conditions " ? That consciousness of an I 
Myself, of Personality, which asserts an anti- 
thesis between the Man, and all that the Man 
makes his own — whence came it, if not from that 
Eternal Consciousness, that Divine Personality 
Who, when He made us, made us in His Own 
image ? 

20. Science, in the modern doctrine of the 
Conservation of Energy, and the Convertibility of 
Forces, insists, with increasing emphasis, that all 
kinds of Force are but forms or manifestations 
of some one Central Force issuing from some one 
Fountain-head of Power. Sir John Herschel 
has not hesitated to say, that " it is but reason- 
able to regard the Force of Gravitation as the 
direct or indirect result of a Consciousness or a 
Will existing somewhere." ^ But if for the 
phenomena of the material world you must 
have an external Will, how much more for those 
which characterize the World of Mind! "A 
will that hangs by the Central Will " is in- 
telligible : but, refuse to recognise that Central 
Will, and then how can you account for that 
" lord paramount," the Human Will ? 

" Two things," said Immanuel Kant, " are 
awful to me : the starry firmament, and the 

* " Outlines of Astronomy." Fifth Edition, p. 291. 

296 Scientific Sophisms. 

sense of Responsibility in Man." And again : 
" Duty ! wondrous thought, that workest neither 
by fond insinuation, flattery, nor by any 
threat, but merely by holding up thy naked 
'law in the soul,* and so extorting for thyself 
always reverence, if not always obedience; 
before whom all appetites are dumb, however 
secretly they rebel ; WHENCE THY ORIGINAL ? *' 

Enough. Nature is a hierarchy, and the 
head is Man. " Mind, language, civilization, 
worship — the will to determine, the tongue to 
speak, the hand to do — these, in their boundless 
purport, are all awanting till the Creator plants 
upon the scene the solitary owner of the Perfect 
Brain. Named in one word, all these are 
wisdom ; and Man, ' thinker of God's thoughts 
after Him,' is, among uncounted myriads of 
lower existences, on this earth the Only 
Wise." 1 

" This universe is not an accidental cavity, in 
which an accidental dust has been accidentally 
swept into heaps for the accidental evolution 
of the majestic spectacle of organic and in- 
organic life. That majestic spectacle is a 
spectacle as plainly for the eye of reason as any 

1 " The Three Barriers," p. 96. 


Anthta Mundi. 297 

diagram of mathematic. That majestic spec- 
tacle could have been constructed, was con- 
structed, only in reason, for reason, and by 
reason. From beyond Orion and the Pleiades, 
across the green hem of earth, up to the im- 
perial personality of man, all, the furthest, the 
deadest, the dustiest, is for fusion in the invisible 
point of the single Ego — which alone glorifies it, 
ForXhQ subject, and on the model of the subject, 
all is made.'* ^ 

" But the stone doth not deliberate whether 
it shall descend, nor the wheat take counsel 
whether or not it shall grow. Even men do 
not advise how their hearts shall beat, though 
without that pulse they cannot live. What then 
can be more clear than that those natural agents 
which work constantly, for those ends which they 
themselves cannot perceive^ must be directed by 
some high and over-ruling wisdom, and who is 
that but the great Artificer who works in all of 
them .^ . . . For, as ' every house is builded 
by some man,' and the earth bears no such 
creature of itself; stones do not grow into a wall, 
or first hew and square, then unite and fasten 
themselves together ; trees sprout not cross 
like dry and sapless beams, nor spars and tiles 

* " As Regards Protoplasm," p. 37. 

298 Scientific Sophisms, 

arrange themselves into a roof ; as these are the 
supplies of art, and testimonies to the under- 
standing of man, the great artificer on earth, so 
is the world itself but a house, the habitation 
and the handiwork of an Infinite Intelligence, 
and * He who built all things is God! " ^ 

a 17 hol^a eh tov<; al&va<; r&v aldvcDV, afirjv. 

' Pearson : " On the Creed," Art. I. Vide infrcty Ap- 
pendix, Note K. 





NOTE A. Page 5. 


Life and the universe show spontaneity : 
Down with ridiculous notions of Deity ! 
Churches and creeds are all lost in the mists : 
Truth must be sought with the Positivists. 

If you are pious (mild form of insanity), 
Bow down and worship the mass of Humanity. 
Other religions are buried in mists, 
We 're our own Gods, say the Positivists. 


These Positivists are very positive. 


And very negative too. I can't agree 

With folk who fancy they're their own creators. 

" The British Birds. By the Ghost of Aristophanes," 
(Mortimer Collins), 1872. P. 47, et seq, 


302 Appendix, 

NOTE B. Page 27. 

In the Third Edition of his " First Principles" (Stereo- 
typed), Mr. Spencer, concluding his observations on this 
topic, says, — " From the remotest past which Science 
can fathom, up to the novelties of yesterday, an essential 
trait of Evolution has been the transformation of the 
homogeneous into the heterogeneous." And his last 
word on the subject is this : — 

" As we now understand it. Evolution is definable as 
a change from an incoherent homogeneity to a coherent 
heterogeneity, accompanying the dissipation of motion 
and integration of matter." — Pp. 359, 360. 

NOTE C. Pages 175 and 214. 

Lawrence, who quotes in confirmation the words of 
Cuvier, thus concludes his disquisition on the subject : — 
** We may conclude, then, from a general review of the 
preceding facts, that nature has provided, by the insur- 
mountable BARRIER of instinctive aversion, of sterility 
in the hybrid offspring, and in the allotment of species 
to different parts of the earth, against any corruption 
or change of species in wild animals. We must therefore 
admit, for all the species which we know at present, as 
sufficiently distinct and constant, a distinct origin and 
common ddX^J* ^Lectures on Physiology, First Edition. 
P. 261. 

Cuvier had previously said,—" La nature a soin d'em- 
p^cher ^alteration des esp^ces, qui pourroit r^sulter de 
leur melange, par Faversion mutuelle qu'elle leur a donn^e : 
il faut toutes les ruses, toute la contrainte de Thomme 
pour faire contracter ces unions, m6me aux esp^ces qui se 
ressemblent le plus . . . aussi ne voyons nous pas 
dans nos bois d'individus intermediaires entre le li^vre 

Appendix. 303 

et le lapin, entrel le cerf et le daim, entre la marte et la 
fouine ? " — Discours Preliminaire, P. 76, (See also P. 71). 
And subsequently, M. Flourens, — " II y a deux carac- 
t^res qui font juger de Pesp^ce : la forme, comma dit 
M. Darwin, ou la ressemblance, et le fdconditi, Mais il 
y a longtemps que j'ai fait voir que la ressemblance, la 
forme, n'est qu'un caract^re accessoire : le seul caractlre 
essentiei est la f^condite. . . . Uesp^ce est d'une 
fdconditi continue, et toutes les vari^t^s sont entre elles 
d'une ficonditi continue, ce qui prouve qu'elles ne sont 
pas sorties de Tesp^ce, qu'elles restent esp^ce qu'elle ne 
sont que Tesp^ce, qui s'est diversement nuanc^e. Au 
contraire, les esp^ces sont distinctes entre elles, far la 
raison decisive, qu'il n'y a entre elles qu'une ficofiditi 
bornSe, J'ai d^jk dit cela, mais je ne saurais trop le 
redire." — " Examen du Livre de M. Darwin, Sur POri- 
S^ne,** etc. Pp. 34-36. 

NOTE D. Page 221. 

" There was an Ape in the days that were earlier ; 
Centuries passed, and his hair became curlier ; 
Centuries more gave a thumb to his wrist — 
Then he was Man, and a Positivist." 

(" The British Birds," ut sup., p. 48.) 

NOTE E. Page 221. 

"11. Now these are the generations of the hjgher 
vertebrata. In the cosmic period the Unknowable evo- 
luted the bipedal mammalia. 

12. And every man of the earth while he was yet a 
monkey, and the horse while he was a hipparion, and the 
hipparion before he was an oredon. 

13. Out of the ascidian came the amphibian and begat 

304 Appendix, 

the pentadactyle ; and the pentadactyle by inheritance 
and selection produced the hylobate, from which are the 
simiadae in all their tribes. 

14. And out of the simiadae the lemur prevailed above 
his fellows, and produced the platyrhine monkey. 

15. And the platyrhine begat the catarrhine, and the 
catarrhine monkey begat the anthropoid ape, and the ape 
begat the longimanous orang, and the orang begat the 
chimpanzee, and the chimpanzee evoluted the what-is-it 

16. And the what-is-it went into the land of Nod and 
took him a wife of the longimanous gibbons. 

17. And in process of the cosmic period were bom 
unto them and their children the anthropomorphic prim- 
ordial types. 

18. The homunculus, the prognathus, the troglodyte, 
the autochthon, the terragen : — ^these are the generations 
of primeval man.'* — The New Cosmogony, 

NOTE F. Page 223. 

" * Will you have why and wherefore, and the fact 
Made plain as pikestaff?' modem Science asks. 
* That mass man sprung from was a jelly-lump 
Once on a time ; he kept an after course 
Through fish and insect, reptile, bird and beast. 
Till he attained to be an ape at last 
Or last but one.' "" 

" Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau : Saviour of Society.** 
By Robert Browning. Smith, Elder & Co., 1871. P. 68. 

NOTE G. Page 282. 

" Except by neglecting to distinguish between sight and 
hearing, the effects, and light and sound, their respective 

Appendix. 305 

causes, it would surely have been impossible for Professor 
Huxley to come to the strange conclusion that if all living 
beings were blind and deaf, * darkness and silence would 
everywhere reign.' Had he not himself previously ex- 
plained that light and sound are peculiar motions com-^ 
municated to the vibrating particles of an universally 
diffused ether, which motions, on reaching the eye or 
ear, produce impressions which, after various modifica- 
tions, result eventually in seeing or hearing ? How these 
motions are communicated to the ether matters not. 
Only it is indispensable to note that they are not com- 
municated by the percipient owner of the eye or ear, so 
that the fact of there being no percipient present cannot 
possibly furnish any reason why the motions should not 
go on all the same. 

" But as long as they did go on there would necessarily 
be light and sound ; for the motions are themselves light 
and sound. If, on returning to his study in which, an 
hour before, he had left a candle burning and a clock 
ticking. Professor Huxley should perceive from the ap- 
pearance of candle and clock that they had gone on 
burning and ticking during his absence, would he doubt 
that they had likewise gone on producing the motions 
constituting and termed light and sound, notwithstanding 
that no eyes or ears had been present to see or hear? 
But if he did not doubt this, how could he any more 
doubt that, although all sentient creatures suddenly be- 
came eyeless and earless, the sun might go on shining, 
and the wind roaring, and the sea bellowing as before ?'' 
— Thornton^ s ^* Huxleyism,^* 

NOTE H. Page 287. 

It is important to observe that not a few of those who 
strenuously maintain a doctrine of Evolution, (though not 
Mr. Darwin's doctrine,) not a few even of Mr. Darwin's 


3o6 Appendix. 

most ardent admirers, maintain at the same time and not 
less strenuously, that the facts in relation to that theory 
are altogether inexplicable, apart from the recognition of 
an Intelligent Designer, a presiding Mind, a Universal 
Power, creative, formative, sustaining. 

Thus, for instance, Mr. Thornton, while eulogizing what 
he calls "the soundness of all the main and really essential 
principles of Darwinism," exposes with just severity the 
incompetence and inadequacy of the theories adopted — 
and necessarily adopted — ^by those teleologists who reject 

When Mr. Darwin attempts to account for Instinct by 
hypothecating the accumulation of slight variations from 
a primordial type — "variations produced by the same un- 
known causes as those which produce slight deviations of 
bodily structure" — Mr. I'homton replies : " But here I am 
once more compelled to join issue with him. Of the 
causes which he styles unknown, I maintain that we know 
at least thus much— either they are themselves intelligent 
forces, or they are forces acting under intelligent direction ; 
and in support of this proposition I need not perhaps do 
more than show from Mr. Darwin's example what infinitely 
harder things must be accepted by those who decline to 
accept this." 

Having done this most elaborately, and conceded the 
long list of "admissions" for which " not a little liberality 
is required," he thus concludes : — 

'• Let us, however, liberally waive this and all similar objections, 
and assume a community of hive bees to have been, in the utterly 
unaccountable manner indicated by the term spontaneous variation, 
developed from a meliponish stock. Unfortunately, all our liberality 
will be found to have been thrown away without perceptibly simpli- 
fying the problem to be solved. For whatever be among meliponse 
the distribution of the generative capacities, among hive bees, at any 
rate, all workers are sterile neuters^ which never have any offspring 
to whom to bequeath their cell-making skill, while the queen-bee and 
drones^ which alone can become parents, have no such skill to be- 

Appendix, 307 

queath. Clearly, the formula of 'descent with modification by 
natural selection,' is, in its literal sense, utterly inapplicable here. In 
whatever manner the cell-making faculty might have been acquired 
by the first homogeneous swarm of hive bees, it must inevitably have 
terminated with the generation with which it commenced, if trans- 
mission by direct descent had been necessary for its continuance. 
The only resource open to Mr. Darwin is to suppose not merely 
(what is indeed, obviously the fact) that queen-bee after queen-bee, 
besides generating each in turn a progeny of workers endowed with 
instincts which their parents did not possess and could not therefore 
impart, generated also princess-bees destined in due season to gene- 
rate a working progeny similarly endowed with instincts underived 
from their parents ; but to suppose, further, that all this has hap- 
pened in the total absence of aim, object, intention, or design. 

" Now that all this should have so happened, although not abso- 
lutely inconceivable ; nor, therefore, absolutely impossible, is surely 
too incredible to be believed except in despair of some other hypo- 
thesis a trifle less preposterous. It is surely not worth while to set 
the doctrine of probabilities so completely at naught, for the sake of 


UNEXPLAINED, referring them all to causes not simply unknown 
but unconjecturable. 

"What excuse then have philosophers, of all people, for doing 
this in preference to the simple expedient of supposing that, although 
the parturient bee, queen or other, cannot intend that any of her 
progeny should be more bounteously endowed than herself, * there 
is AN INDEPENDENT INTELLIGENCE that does 50 intend f " — '• Re- 
cent Phases of Scientific Atheism." 

NOTE J. Page 190. 

The Fine Old Atom Molecule. 

Air.—" T/te Fine Old English GentlemanJ^ 

{To be sung at cdl gatherings of advanced Sciolists and 


We'll sing you a grand new song, evolved from a 'cute 

young pate, 
Of a fine old Atom- Molecule of prehistoric date, 

3o8 Appendix. 

In size infinitesimal, in potencies though great, 

And self-formed for developing at a prodigious rate — 

Like a fine old Atom-Molecule, 

Of the young World's proto-prime ! 

In it slept all the forces in our cosmos that run rife. 
To stir Creation's giants or its microscopic life ; 
Harmonious in discord, and cooperant in strife. 
To this small cell committed, the World lived with his 
In this fine old Atom- Molecule, 
Of the young World's proto-prime ! 

In this autoplastic archetype of Protean protein lay 

All the humans Space has room for, or for whom Time 

makes a day. 
From the Sage whose words of wisdom Prince or Parlia- 
ment obey. 
To the Parrots who but prattle, and the Asses who but 
bray — 

So full was this Atom- Molecule, 
Of the young World's proto-prime ! 

All brute-life, from Lamb to Lion, from the Serpent to 
the Dove, 

All that pains the sense or pleases, all the heart can 
loathe or love. 

All instincts that drag downwards, all desires that up- 
wards move. 

Were caged, a " happy family," cheek-by-jowl and hand- 

In this fine old Atom- Molecule, 
Of the young World's proto-prime ! 

In it Order grew from Chaos, Light out of Darkness 

Design sprang up by Accident, Law's rule from Hazard 


Appendix. 309 

The Soul-less Soul evolving — against, not after, kind — 
As the Life-less Life developed, and the Mind-less ripened 

In this fine old Atom- Molecule, 

Of the young World's proto-prime ! 

Then bow down. Mind, to Matter ; from brain-fibre. Will, 

withdraw ; 
Fall Man's heart to cell Ascidian, sink Man's hand to 

Monkey's paw ; 
And bend the knee to Protoplast in philosophic awe — 
Both Creator and Created, at once work and source of 
And our Lord be the Atom- Molecule, 
Of the young World's proto-prime ! 


NOTE K. Page 298. 

While these latter sheets are passing through the press, 
there appears in The Worlds the paragraph here sub- 
joined ; a paragraph interesting and important under any 
circumstances, but under existing circumstances, doubly 

" Frank Buckland died on the 19th ultimo [/>., Dec. 
1880], working to the last. Two days before (on the 
17th), he finished the preface to his latest book, the 
Natural History of British Fishes, From early sheets 
of that preface, I make the following extract, in which 
the dying man — evidently, from the context, not then 
knowing himself dying — makes a declaration of belief 
which is wholly antagonistic to the theories of Darwin 
and his school : — 

" * I have another object in writing this book ; it is to 
endeavour to show the truth of the good old doctrines of 
the Bridgewater Treatises, which have so ably demon- 

3 1 o Appendix. 

strated the ^ power ^ wisdom^ and goodness of God^ as 
manifested in the Creation!^ Of late years the doctrines 
of so-called " Evolution'* and " Development/' have seem- 
ingly gained ground amongst those interested in natural 
history ; but I have too much faith in the good sense 
and natural acumen of my fellow countrymen to think 
that these tenets will be very long-lived. To put 
matters very straight, I steadfastly believe that the Great 
Creator, as indeed we are directly told, made all things 
perfect and "very good'* from the beginning; perfect 
and very good every created thing is now found to be, 
and will so continue to the end of time.' " 


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