operations must have come from a causal power. "Ex nihilo nihil fit" is a maxim going back farther than I am able to tell. The form given it by the great atheistic poet Lucretius is:
De nihilo, neque quod, genitu est ad nihil revocari."
Persius puts it:
De nihilo nihil, in nihilum nil posse reverti."
Take either of these forms, or any form, and it insists that we seek a cause of the new kind of operation. It cannot discover that there was anything in that heated, vaporous matter to produce life and sensation, when they appeared millions of years after the world had begun to be formed. I will not decide dogmatically whether the causal action was natural or supernatural. Perhaps we are here come to a place where the distinction between natural and supernatural is lost in the dim distance. The cause may have acted according to a law. But in that case I must hold it to be a divine law. Even in the supposition that it has been brought about by a conjuncture of circumstances, unknown for the indefinite period before, it must have been a providential juncture foreseen, nay, ordained by God.
Life appears ten thousand ages or more after the earth began to form. Whence this life? Prof. Huxley seems to find it in some protoplasm or gelatinous substance. Was this one of the original elements of the nebulous matter? If so, how did it come through that terribly heated temperature? If it did not exist till after the temperature had cooled, how did it come in? Prof. Huxley has been the most determined opponent in our day of the spontaneous generation of life, and is thereby left without a means of generating the life of plants and animals. Darwin feels himself obliged, in order to account for the phenomenon, to suppose that there were four or five germs created by God. Tyndall thinks that Darwin has at this point fallen into a weakness. But, meanwhile, Tyndall has no means whatever of accounting for the appearance of life. Mr. Darwin further calls in a pangenesis—which is just another name for the vital force of the older naturalists—in order to account for the generation of new animals. But he does not tell us, and evidently cannot tell us, whence this pangenesis, which cannot come from development, of which it is the source, and not the product. Herbert Spencer prefers to bring in physiological units.
Whence comes sensation? There was a moment when sensation pleasurable or painful was felt for the first time in the universe. Was this at the beginning? If so, one wonders how the sentient substance came through the heat, where, so far as we can judge, it must have been suffering intolerable anguish without the power of relieving itself by self-destruction.