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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. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a wbale.P. 165.
We should like to know how much credulity is necessary to enable one to adopt such stories as proofs of a scientific theory. Lamark's most absurd fictions never called for more. But the capacity of the theory is not fully developed until he comes to apply it to the production of special organs of great perfection. Even he himself is staggered when asked to explain the development of the eye by natural selection. He says:
To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting dif. ferent amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.P. 167.
Yet he screws up his courage to face the difficulty. Here is the whole process :
If we must compare the eye to an optical instrument, we ought, in imagination, to take a thick layer of transparent tissue, with a nerve sensitive to light beneath, and then suppose every part of this layer to be continually changing slowly in density, so as to separate into layers of different densities and thicknesses, placed at different distances from each other, and with the surfaces of each layer slowly changing in form. Further, we must suppose that there is a power always intently watching each slight accidental alteration in the transparent layers, and carefully selecting each alteration which, under varied circumstances, may in any way or in any degree tend to produce a distincter image. We must suppose each new state of the instrument to be multiplied by the million, and each to be preserved till a better be produced, and then the old ones to be destroyed. In living bodies variation will cause the slight alterations, generation will multiply them almost infinitely, natural selection will pick out with unerring skill each improvement. Let this process go on for millions on millions of years, and during each year on millions of individuals of many kinds, and may we not believe that a living optical instrument might thus be formed as superior to one of glass as the works of the Creator are to those of man ?-P. 169.
Let any one who has been able to bring his mind to adopt this explanation try how much harder it would be to believe the doctrine of special creation. Surely the transmutationists, above all others, ought to have charity for those who are still weak enough to hold to the belief in the doctrine of final causes.
These must serve as specimens of the direct arguments by which our author would establish his theory. But his genius for special pleading does not fully display itself until he comes to explain away the facts which oppose his hypothesis. Even when he admits the objection to be a serious and damaging one, he gradually brings himself to the belief that the difficulty may not be so serious after all; and finally ends by convincing himself, if not others, that instead of being squarely against him, as they have all along been supposed, the facts are really on his side. A good sample of this kind of reasoning is his chapter on the geological record. Most of our readers will probably recollect how utterly this same development hypothesis was demolished by the geologists when the author of the Vestiges of Creation was rash enough to appeal to the testimony of the rocks to establish it. It was then clearly shown, and every succeeding discovery has but added confirmation to the fact, that instead of the successive formations containing the regular graduated series of organisms, from the lowest and simplest cell up to man, the highest and most perfect of created forms, which this theory demands, the chain is broken and fragmentary, the first and many of the intermediate links being entirely wanting. In the very lowest fossiliferous strata we find representatives of all four of the different branches of the animal kingdom, showing a degree of divergence which, according to Darwin, it must have required countless generations to produce. Nor do we find a gradual increase of the number of individuals of a species as we proceed from the bottom to the top of a formation, nor a gradual dying out; but each new species is represented, on its first appearance, by as many individuals as at any period of its history. Species appear suddenly, and as suddenly disappear, to be succeeded in the next formation by forms entirely distinct from any that existed before. Such is the most undoubted testimony of the rocks, which even Mr. Darwin is compelled to admit. He says: “Geology assuredly
ist have sual increase bottom
does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain ; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.” (P. 246.) He would account for the absence of the first link of the chain on the supposition that in consequence of the delicacy of their organization all traces of the forms existing before the Silurian period were obliterated by metamorphic or other influences. But it is fair to presume that these destructive agencies, whatever they were, must have subsided gradually, and left some traces, however imperfect, of the immediate progenitors of such well-preserved animals as are found in the lowest fossiliferous strata, if any such progenitors ever existed. To account for the absence of the intermediate links, he contends that the “geological forinations in any region are almost invariably intermittent," and separated by long intervals of time. This he explains on the theory that “all the ancient formations which are rich in fossils have been formed during subsidence," and the fossils thus preserved; while “the littoral and sub-littoral deposits are continually worn away as soon as they are brought up, by the slow and gradual rising of the land, within the grinding action of the coast waves." (P. 254.) We cannot resist the temptation to give entire Agassiz's reply to this ingenious argument:
He would have us believe that geological deposits took place during the periods of subsidence, when it can be proved that the whole continent of North America is formed of beds which were deposited during a series of successive upheavals. I qnote North America in preference to any other part of the world because the evidence is so complete here that it can only be overlooked by those who may mistake subsidence for the general shrinkage of the earth's surface in consequence of the cooling of its mass. In this part of the globe fossils are as common along the successive shores of the rising deposits of the Silurian system as anywhere along our beaches; and each of these successive shores extends from the Atlantic states to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The evidence goes even further. Each of these successive sets of beds of the Silurian system contains peculiar fossils, neither found in the beds above nor in the beds below, and between them there are no intermediate forms."-Am. Jour. Soi., vol. XXX, p. 146.
His wonderful theory of the gradual perfection of the organs of vision by natural selection through countless ages is also
somewhat robbed of its fair proportions by the evidence which geology furnishes of the existence of such complex and perfect eyes as those of trilobites among the very oldest fossils.
These are but a few of the facts which the geological record, imperfect as it is, presents in opposition to this theory; and Mr. Darwin, with all his ingenuity and special pleading, has not been able to weaken their force or pervert their meaning. We contend that they are absolutely fatal to it, and must be disproved before it can even be admitted as a possible hypothesis, much less a probable one. His chapters on Geographical Distribution, Classification, Embryology, etc., in spite of their interest, we must pass over entirely. The arguments we have given bear upon the most essential points, and they must serve as specimens of the whole.
We have discussed this as a scientific question only, to be decided upon its merits without reference to its theological bearings. It will be time enough to consider it from this latter point of view when it appears likely to become established as a true scientific theory, of which there seems now to be but little need of apprehension. In conclusion we must say that, with all the ingenuity displayed by Mr. Darwin in the discussion of the many curious facts his industry has collected, and whatever may be the benefit to science from the new impulse given to investigation by his book, he has, in our opinion, entirely failed to re-establish on a scientific basis the often rejected theory of the transmutation of species. We are satisfied that, as an explanation of the origin of species, “natural selection” will prove a delusion, and that science will soon consign it to its appropriate place in the museum of curious and fanciful speculations.
March 16, 1861.
ART. V.—THE CULDEES. THE name “Culdees” has been given to a body of Christians who resided chiefly in Scotland, Ireland, and some of the adjacent isles. There has been a difference of opinion in regard to the origin of the name, some deriving it from the Latin Cultores Dei, worshipers of God, and others from the Irish Ceile De, meaning servants of God. In either case the name was honorable to those who bore it, denoting their high and peculiar religious character.
The Culdees originated with Columba, an Irish missionary, who came into Scotland to preach the Gospel to the northern Picts, about the year 563. Ireland was at this time distinguished for its zeal and progress in the Christian faith. Its clergy were among the most learned and efficient in the world. The country was an asylum for the oppressed and persecuted of other lands, and its Churches increased and prospered greatly. Ireland was at this period called proverbially insula sanctorum, an island of saints. An influence went forth from it to enlighten and to bless other lands, of which the mission of Columba to Scotland was but an instance.
It is not easy to determine precisely at what period Christianity was first planted in the British Isles. Both Eusebius and Theodoret mention the Britons as among those nations to whom the Gospel was preached by the apostles; and Clemens Romanus, a companion of Paul, informs us that he pursued his missionary labors “to the utmost boundaries of the West." But whether he actually visited Britain is more than can be determined with absolute certainty.
Among the thousands of Romans who passed over into what is now England, in the reign of Claudius and his successors, there were undoubtedly many professed Christians, who, of course, would labor for the spread of the Gospel. We know, at least, that before the close of the second century Christianity had not only entered Britain, but had made much progress there. Tertullian tells us that it had reached not only those parts of the country which were subject to the Romans, but beyond them—“the regions of the Britons inaccessible to the Romans, but subject to Christ.”
thousandseign of Cland Christi We knotia