New Readings Of The Process Of Evolution
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT OF FACTS.
The existing species of plant and animal life have not been transformed in any essential or distinguishing characteristics during historic time nor as far back as we can discern the records in fossil remains and the imprints on the rocks. For example, there has been an evolution of the horse, and it is possible to trace its unbroken geologic pedigree from the orohippus and the eohippus. The size lias steadily increased and there have been other progressive modifications from an animal not larger than a fox, with several separate toes on each foot. But, while we can trace many varieties of horses, nevertheless, a horse has always been a horse, and has descended from a horse, as far as we know.
There is no absolute proof of any species having descended from another and different species. No new species has appeared on the earth since the advent of the human race, as far as we know. There have been other species which are now extinct. The existing forms of life are very different from those which existed under previous geologic and climatic conditions. The varieties of each species are innumerable, and it has always been impossible for naturalists to agree whether many of the intermediate forms should be classified as distinct species or as varieties of species.
It is indisputable that "Natural Selection" has been one cause of modifying the habits and appearance of species and individuals. Nevertheless, it is held that "Natural Selection" has not been the direct cause of origins nor of those modifications which are the greatest and the most important. Other factorswhich seem of much greater importance will be located, named and described. (See Table B.)
Adequate causes for the origin of species, for varieties of species, and for individual variations, cannot be located in the intelligence, the capacities and the powers of any species existing at present. This seems to be fully established ; in fact, no one ever suspects any existing species of having any intention, conceiving the design or purpose, or possessing the necessary power, to produce a species different from itself. Therefore we do not suppose for an instant that any preexisting extinct species ever possessed any intelligence, capacity or power superior to that which species possess at the present time.
If the adequate cause cannot be located in any species, including man, nor in "Natural Selection," nor in any other physical agency, it is necessary to go further back in our research for the immediate causes of origins and variations.
"Natural Selection" and "The Struggle for Existence"
are parts of the process, undoubtedly. But the cause back of the process is better described by the term "The Constructive Principle of Nature." This latter term is not altogether synonymous with the other term, "The Evolutionary Principle," because Evolution is generally under-stood to include another process, which is well described by the term "The Destructive Principle of Nature." Let it be understood, therefore, that the evolutionary process includes the action of both the Constructive Principle and the Destructive Principle.
The Constructive Principle is that law or process under whose action matter is integrated, an organism is built up, an education is gained, a moral character is formed. The Destructive Principle is that law or process under whose action an integration is dissipated, an organism is disorganized, mentality is weakened, or a moral character is demoralized. The universal evolutionary process depends upon the continual power and action of both these principles and processes.
The Constructive Principle operates through the imparting or embodying of Life Elements, in progressive ratio. The Destructive Principle operates through the withdrawal of these Life Elements. It is considered that Life Elements were the immediate causes of origins of species, and that the same Life Elements are now the immediate causes of the reproduction and variation of all individuals of the existing species.
These Life Elements are named according to the nature of their manifestations in various forms. No attempt is made here to decide whether or not they are hut various powers of one Universal Life. However, they seem to be governed by a Universal Intelligence which is unified in promoting an harmonious evolutionary process.
This New Reading has its limitations clearly defined. It does not attempt the solution of the problem of the origin of life. It does not assist in deciding whether there were or were not "first parents." It does not attempt to decide whether the physical forms of all species have been gradually evolved through ordinary generation from a few species, though it presents reasons why this seems impossible. In the clear recognition of the gulf of time as well as the gulf of comprehension which exists between us and all "origins," it is impossible to be dogmatic concerning any explanation which may be offered for consideration.
The New Reading consists in locating, naming and describing the Life Elements which are prior to all origins and variations of physical forms of plant and animal life. The explanation here offered of Life Elements simply names the forces which are resident in the germ-cells of plant and animal life, and which cause the integration of material elements for their own physical bodies. Life Elements are intelligent, judging by the results of their operation and the utility, beauty and variation of their designs. However, it seems necessary to formulate the concept of a Universal Intelligence which is evident in all the manifestations which we call "Nature."
With these preliminary remarks, the New Reading is now summarized in the following paragraph :
SUMMARY OF THE NEW READING.
All forms of living organisms, including man, have been originated through effort and struggle of Life Elements within the radius of their respective limitations. This effort and struggle have been continued by the same Elements after becoming physically expressed or embodied. The struggle for advantage and self-preservation has necessitated the using and consuming of other lives. The strongest, shrewdest, or fittest, according to the various conditions of their environment, have conquered and survived. As a rule, the life forms which have been consumed have been useful in their places and degrees, and perhaps invaluable in sustaining other lives. In this struggle many species have been eliminated. The tendency is toward progress through an interminable series of efforts, struggles and attainments, with many examples of apparent lapses and failures. All life forms have a possibility of usefulness in some degree, even if only by furnishing object lessons to man. Greater intelligence and higher ethical considerations become more apparent and necessary as the real nature of man is perceived and comprehended. Nature is favorable to sustaining an abundance of life, and the conditions seem to be secured for constant progress at an accelerated rate. Man's intelligent cooperation is the most important factor in this progress. There seems to be a Universal Intelligence manifest in all of nature's laws, methods and processes.
The Old Readings looked for the power and located it in the mechanical processes for perpetuating and improving species. The New Reading looks for the intelligence as well as the power, and thus finds in every case that mechanical causes will not explain the existence or the life of any organism. A machine does not explain the nature of an inventor, but it does demonstrate the fact of his existence. In the very same way, a living mechanism, which does not possess either the intelligence or the power to create itself, demonstrates the existence of a superior creative power and intelligence, though unlocated.
The New Reading will proceed in succeeding pages, first by criticism of current theories, and then by direct exposition. It does not deny the theory of descent, though it is considered just as reasonable to "guess" that the enduring species have always existed, subject to a perpetual evolutionary process. However that may be, neither the origin nor the descent of species can be adequately explained with-out the recognition of the immediate active forces. Searching for such adequate explanations leads to the postulating of Life Elements as secondary causes, and finally to an attempt to locate a primary cause and intelligence. Not finding the creative power or the creative intelligence in any individual member of any species, we are led from the recognition of a "Creative Consciousness" to the concept of there being manifest in all nature and phenomena a "Universal Intelligence."
It is hoped that this process is not subject to the criticism made of Descartes that he won back all his original concepts with a suspicious readiness, though starting from the basis of doubt. It is believed that these concepts are made necessary by scientific data.