Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/123

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111
EDITOR'S TABLE.

ular mind into the phraseology and methods of this speculation." Nor is there a single article in the whole volume that gives any explanation of either the phraseology or the methods of the doctrine of Evolution. A few references to it there have been, as in the addresses of Dr. Carpenter and Prof. Gray, before eminent scientific bodies, and as occurs in the able article of Prof. Clifford in the present number; but these references are incidental and unavoidable: they result from the prominence of the question in the scientific world, and its consequent recognition in current scientific literature. And yet it pleases the editor of Scribner's to tell his readers that under an uncontrolled personal bias our pages are so fired with this mischievous doctrine that the name of the Monthly ought to be changed to prevent its evil influence.

It now remains to consider the more serious imputation, that our pages have been perverted to the diffusion of spurious science. According to the editor of Scribner's, the doctrine of evolution is not a result of true science—not an induction from facts, but a "high-flown," "a priori" "speculation." And here, again, we have to note that this writer is not very particular to make his thought harmonize with the things he is talking about. His statement is as wrong as he could get it—just 180° from the truth; and, if the ignorance he evinces be any measure of the general ignorance, we cannot too quickly begin the neglected work of "educating the popular mind" into the rudiments of the subject. We purpose now to show that the Hypothesis of Evolution is not an a priori speculation, but a true scientific induction; and not only so, but it is the antagonist and successor of a priori speculations which had been in vogue for many centuries before the inductive method arose.

What is the fundamental conception of the doctrine of Evolution? It is "that the universe and all that it contains did not come into existence in the condition that we now know it, nor in any thing like that condition." It implies that the heavens as they appear above us, the earth as it exists beneath us, the hosts of living creatures that occupy it, and humanity as we now know it, "are merely the final terms in an immense series of changes, which have been brought about in the course of immeasurable time." It affirms vast changes in past periods; that these changes have been according to a method, and that this method has been of the nature of an unfolding. The essential changes of evolution have been comprehensively formulated as from the simple to the complex, from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, from the general to the special. Is this an a priori speculation, that is, an idea formed before observation and experience of the facts to which it applies; or is it a scientific induction, that is, an idea formed after the facts are known, and based upon them?

As regards the stellar and planetary universe, its origin from an all-diffused nebulous mist was taught by Kant a century ago. This view was subsequently elaborated by Laplace the mathematician, and Herschel the astronomer, into the Nebular Hypothesis, which was the outcome of the whole body of known astronomical facts. This hypothesis affirmed the progressive condensation and differentiation of the nebulous mass through successive stages to more and more concrete and specialized groups, systems, and orbs. That the solar system was gradually formed in the way the nebular hypothesis implies, and that its facts can be explained by that hypothesis and no other, is now the general belief of astronomers. Consisting of more than one hundred and fifty bodies, revolving and circulating according to one grand method, it has been pointed out