Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/222

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tion; and they are still more distinctly opposed to any view which should lead to the belief that the modification in different types of animal or vegetable life goes on equally and evenly. The facts, as I have placed them before you, would obviously contradict directly any such form of the hypothesis of evolution as laid down in these two postulates.

Now, the service that has been rendered by Mr. Darwin in the doctrine of evolution in general is this: that he has shown that there are two great factors in the process of evolution: one of them is the tendency to vary, the existence of which may be proved by observation in all living forms; the other is the influence of surrounding conditions upon what I may call the parent form and the variations which are thus evolved from it. The cause of the production of variations is a matter not at all properly understood at present. Whether it depends upon some intricate machinery—if I may use the phrase—of the animal form itself, or whether it arises through the influence of conditions upon that form, is not certain, and the question may for the present be left open. But the important point is the tendency to the production of variations; then, whether the variations which are produced shall survive and supplant the parent, or whether the parent form shall survive and supplant the variations, is a matter which depends entirely on surrounding conditions. If the surrounding conditions are such that the parent form is more competent to deal with them and flourish in them than the derived forms, then, in the struggle for existence, the parent form will maintain itself and the derived forms will be exterminated. But if, on the contrary, the conditions are such as to be better for the derived than for the parent form, the parent form will be extirpated and the derived form will take its place.

In the first case, there will be no progression, no advance of type, through any imaginable series of ages; in the second place, there will be modification and change of form. Thus the existence of these persistent types of life is no obstacle in the way of the theory of evolution at all. Take the case of the scorpions to which I have just referred. No doubt, since the Carboniferous epoch conditions have existed such as existed when the scorpions of that epoch flourished, in which they find themselves better off, more competent to deal with the difficulties in their way than any kind of variation from the scorpion type; and for that reason the scorpion has persisted, and has not been supplanted by any other form. And there is no reason in the nature of things why, as long as this world exists, if there be conditions more favorable to scorpions than any variation which may arise from them, these forms of life should not persist.

Therefore, this objection is no objection at all. The facts of this character—and they are numerous—belong to that class of evidence which I have called indifferent. That is to say, they may afford no