A General View Of Evolution
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Evolution a Name for a Process.
The term "Evolution" has come to have certain, and uncertain, meanings and implications to various classes of individuals according to their intelligence. Therefore, it seems necessary to state in the very beginning that the process and method of nature might be called by any other name, or left unnamed, without thereby affecting the facts.
Let it be understood then that the term "Evolution" is used to convey a conception of the actual process and method of nature by and through which unorganized mat-ter, organized matter and living beings have come to be what, they now are.
Any "Reading of Evolution" is an entirely additional and different production. Each "Reading" is an interpretation made by a human mind. Each and every "Reading" or interpretation is a proper subject for criticism, correction or rejection by other human minds. Furthermore, the subject is too vital in importance for any portion of it either to be accepted or rejected without ample examination and independent thought and research.
Thus it is evident that while there is an actual and unchangeable process of nature, all readings and interpretations of that process are on a different plane as regards their truth or falsity.
Now it is in perfect order for any reader to ask, But what right has the author to identify so fully and completely the "Theory of Evolution" with nature's actual process; how do we know that nature's process is evolutionary?
The answer to this question is: There has never been but one other theory of the origin of worlds, of species, or of man. That other theory is the one of special creation of everything about as man now observes it. It does not seem too much to say that this latter theory has been modified more or less with all modern observers. Evolution is now generally considered as the method of creation.
But however true, or far from truth, this latter paragraph may be, the question of "creation" or "origins" is only one part of the subject matter of "Evolution." Through general adoption much of nature's process and method which we now see in action every day is called "Evolution"; as for example, ordinary natural growth, the actual formation of an organism from a germ or -rudiment, the evolution of an animal from the ovum, or of a plant from a seed, the evolution of a blossom from a bud, or of a fruit from the flower, the evolution of the butterfly from the caterpillar, the unfoldment of the mentality of a child, the development of character, etc., etc.
However, it is essential that the distinction between "Evolution" and "Darwinism" be clearly made and observed. The Century Dictionary defines this difference clearly, as follows :
"Darwinism is in general the theory that all forms of living organisms, including man, have been derived by descent (with modification or variation) from a few primitive forms of life, or from one, during the struggle for existence of individual organisms, which results (through natural selection) in the survival of those least exposed (by reason of their organization or situation) to destruction. It is not to be confounded with the general views of the development or evolution of the visible order of nature which have been entertained by philosophers from the ea? liest times."
Furthermore, "Darwinism" is not synonymous with the theory of descent, or organic evolution, and there are many evolutionists who do not accept "Darwinism." This is made clear in a recent and very valuable work entitled Darwinism ToDay, by Vernon L. Kellogg, in which "Natural Selection" as an explanation of descent is found to be inadequate while the theory of descent is maintained. However, Professor Kellogg overstates the adequacy of the theory of descent in one paragraph on page 19:
"The evidence for descent is of satisfying but purely logical character; the descent hypothesis explains completely all the phenomena of homology, of paleontological succession, of ontogeny, and of geographical distribution; that is, it explains all the observed facts touching the appearance in time and place on this earth of organisms and the facts of their likenesses and unlikenesses to each other, and this no other *theory does."
If the above statement were entirely correct, this New Reading of Evolution would not have been written.