Law Of Continuity
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
We will now turn from criticism to constructive work. Using all the efforts of observers, scientists and philosophers as far as possible, we will make a new examination of old and new facts as far as we are able to discern them.
Evolution is considered to be the method of creation and development, and we will adopt that theory as a working hypothesis. We are driven to this through an individual desire to evolve, to grow, to develop, to realize our own possibilities, to fulfil nature's prophecy in our inherent potentialities. In our endeavors to this end, we must use the means which nature has provided, and therefore it is necessary to study Life in its various phases.
As far as literary form is concerned, the following statements are didactic, that is "fitted or intended for instruction." But it is not intended to be dogmatic in any in-stance.
Evolution is sometimes spoken of as the Law of Continuity. This continuity is traced through plant and animal life forms of various degrees of organization and complexity. The chemical elements composing the forms are comparatively few. Patterns and mechanisms of structure are similar in different species. New principles are added. Some old ones are omitted entirely. Others are partially eliminated, as indicated by vestigial structures which have little or no utility but which correspond to useful parts existing in some lower animal.
But, while the chemical materials, the cellular structure and the mechanical devices are the same or similar, there is no absolute proof that any one species ever produced an-other and different species. In fact, from all we know of species at the present time, no scientist ever pretends to discover any power resident in any existing species to pro-duce another. Lower organizations have no power within themselves to produce higher organizations. Here "Darwinism" loses connection with the Law of Continuity. Nature's actual process and visible accomplishments far exceed the limits of the offered explanation.
Similarity of structure has been urged as a proof of the descent of the physical body of man from that of some ape now extinct. Take this argument by itself. Does similarity of structure prove the same thing in ships or printing presses or typewriters ? Because the same materials are used and there is a similarity of structure, do we ever conclude that one typewriter produced another? No. The evolution of the typewriter proves that intelligence has used the same materials and some of the same mechanical principles with improvements, additions or subtractions.
There are three similar elements in all phases of organic evolution; namely :
1. The same Physical Materials.
2. The same and similar Patterns.
3. One Law, or Method, of Operation.
But the Darwinian Hypothesis is chiefly remarkable for the singular omission of neither recognizing nor positing any causative or energizing power which could have made the process effective. The "theory" is concerned with "descent" but it does not give any hint of intelligent, adequate Causes for descent.
There is a law of continuous development. This Law is defined by Herbert Spencer as "a change from an in-definite incoherent homogeneity to a definite coherent heterogeneity through continuous differentiations and integrations." This defines the method of evolution but throws no light whatever on causes. The factors listed in Table A indicate causes for the modification of species and the elimination of the unfit, but do not give any hint of an adequate cause for the origin of species, nor for the number and variety of species.
Matter is either "dead," or it has inherent "life" which becomes manifest under changed conditions. If matter is "dead," a Life Element outside of itself correlates with it and integrates and organizes plant and animal forms. If matter is "alive," the simplest single cell is a product of at least a tendency if not a purpose. In itself, it is a design. Where is the designer ? Where is the supply of intelligence directing the integration, growth and functioning?
A grade above unicellular protists are found social-cell communities and then tissue-forming plants and animals. Where is the adequate cause for the constantly increasing complexity of organization? The process is one thing, the cause is quite another. To account for the process in any adequate degree, some cause must be located. Laws, or methods of operation by which this cause operates, have been defined after watching the process. Still the designer and the operator have not been discovered.
Various types of plant and animal life are now distinctly differentiated. What caused the differentiation? Here are many variations in design. Where is the designer and the operator ? Laws of modification have been discovered but not any true and adequate cause of either the origin or the variation of species. No one seriously thinks that any intelligence or power inherent in one species ever planned or produced another. The "Laws of Selection" throw no light on the intelligent cause or causes.
Apes can reproduce apes. Apes cannot produce man. Man can retrograde a long way, but he can never cross the gulf between man and ape. Through accident or disease, all semblance of intelligence may be lost. In some cases, man may become a mere animal form to all appearances; but in no case does he exchange for the intelligence, the desires, or the capacities of apes.
Therefore, the Law of Continuity is not found in a succession of mechanical causes. In fact, there is no power resident in the organization of any one species to produce another and different species. Mechanical, material and physical causes are not sufficient to explain the phenomena of plant, animal and human life.
'While this book will be kept clear of superstition and dogmatic assertion, if possible, nevertheless, the attempt will be made to formulate clearly the fact that all the universe within our ken is permeated with realities beyond our ken. We see, we understand a little, we do not comprehend fully. There is a Creative Power manifest in species which is not inherent in, nor within the control of, any individual of that species.
The satisfactory proof of this is found in the incontrovertible fact that the highest product of creation, man, has no power to explain his own origin or to produce the simplest life form below him. He can stimulate or retard nature's processes of reproduction, but he can produce no single specimen without them.
(Just why any individual should imagine that he has discovered a complete science and formulated an adequate philosophy is not clear. Evidently egotism is characteristic of ignorance.)
The simplest single cell and the highest organization are alike in this, the explanation of their own existence is beyond their intelligence. They do not know how they came into being nor how they continue to exist. Whether the Intelligence and the Power are resident in them, or exterior to them, makes no difference, so far as this fact is concerned; neither knows how it was brought into being. No plant, animal or human life can consciously plan and produce another.
However, the Law of Continuity is clearly seen in the manifest succession of results of its operation. Additional laws and factors have been discovered, named and formulated. More secondary causes are known. They will be considered in regular order.
The Law of Continuity, as seen in results, clearly reveals the operation of a superhuman power, though not necessarily supernatural. The latter depends upon the definition of nature. As far as this book attempts to consider it, the Creative Power is not supernatural though it is superhuman.
Through all the operations of nature we see the evolving of an apparent purpose which will be considered in due ourse. We perceive a Universal Intelligence manifesting itself in successive, cosmical operations and in various life forms of increasing capacities and powers.
Evolution is considered as the manifestation of cosmical energy above and beyond human control or understanding. However, this should not be taken as a restatement of Tyndall's conclusion as given in the Belfast Address, as follows: "The whole process of evolution is the manifestation of a power absolutely inscrutable to the intellect of man." Neither is it in entire agreement with the conclusion of Herbert Spencer : "The power which the universe manifests to us is absolutely inscrutable."
We do not know the exact nature of many forces, such as light, heat, electricity, magnetism, motion, life, etc., yet we do not say that they are absolutely inscrutable. It is al-most if not quite a paradox to say that the power which the whole universe manifests is absolutely inscrutable. It is, to physical sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, but none of the other forces mentioned is discernible to all of these senses. We consider that we know them to some ex-tent through the nature of their manifestations to some of our faculties. Thus "the power which the whole universe manifests" is detected through faculties, capacities and powers other than the physical senses. The physical senses are useful to this discernment, but the chief reliance is placed upon the capacities and powers of thought and reason.
The results are surprising when a thorough and consistent attempt is made to formulate what may be known of the Universal Energy and Intelligence through manifestations on all planes, and especially through the results attainable through human endeavor and the right use of nature's endowment of capacities and powers. Some of these results will be noted in another publication, it is hoped.
For this Reading of the Facts of Evolution, we formulate or hypothesize the concept of a seemingly Infinite Power and Intelligence manifested to some extent in the universe as a whole, and especially in the process and results of life upon the earth. "God" is the name commonly used and there is no objection to the name, except many of the previous low and vulgar misinterpretations. Any word is acceptable which conveys any measure of the truth to any mind. There are other serviceable terms such as "Great First Cause," "Cosmical Energy," "Supreme Intelligence," "Universal Intelligence," etc.
Emanations from this Cosmical Energy and Universal Intelligence are temporarily displayed and stored in every organism. The highest organism, man, can cooperate in nature's method of development and intelligently continue "The Great Work." Thus the Law of Continuity is fulfilled and always through some degree of intelligence, not by "blind causes." There is no breach in the continuity of intelligent natural causes and processes. The increasing intelligence, capacities and powers of humanity are manifesting more of nature's purpose and individualizing more of Universal Intelligence. This is a natural evolutionary process with which any one may cooperate who wills it.