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thoroughly scientific theory. Our century, moreover, has added to those evidences of the nebular theory which Laplace derived from the analogies of movement in the solar system, the evidence furnished by the spectroscope, which finds in the nebulae matter in some such condition as that from which the solar system is supposed to have been evolved. But by far the most important contribution of this century to the intellectual life of man is the share which it has had in developing the idea of the unity of nature. The greatest step prior to this century in the development of that idea (and probably the most important single discovery in the whole history of science) was Newton's discovery of universal gravitation two hundred years ago; but the investigations of our century have revealed, with a fulness not dreamed of before, a threefold unity in nature—a unity of substance, a unity of force, and a unity of process. Spectrum analysis has taught us somewhat of the chemical constitution, not only of the sun, but also of the distant stars and nebulae; and has thus revealed a substantial identity of chemical constitution throughout the universe. Profoundly interesting, from this point of view, is the recent discovery, in uraninite and some other minerals, of the element helium, previously known only by its line in the spectrum of the sun. Profoundly interesting will be, if confirmed by further researches, the still more recent alleged discovery of terrestrial coronium. The doctrine of the conservation of energy formulates a unity of force in all physical processes. In this case, as in others, prophetic glimpses of the truth came to gifted minds in earlier times. Lord Bacon declared heat to be a species of motion. And Huyghens, in the Seventeenth century, distinctly formulated the theory of light as an undulation, though the mighty influence of Newton maintained the emission theory in general acceptance for a century and a half. When Lavoisier exploded the phlogiston theory, and laid the foundation of modern chemical philosophy, it was seen that, in every chemical change, there is a complete equation of matter. But there was in the phlogiston theory a distorted representation of a truth which the chemical theory of Lavoisier and his successors ignored. They could give no account of the light and heat and electricity so generally associated with chemical transformations. These “imponderable agents,” as they were called, believed to be material, yet so tenuous as to be destitute of weight, haunted like ghosts the workshop of the artisan and the laboratory of the scientist, wonderfully important in their effects, but utterly unintelligible in their nature. It was almost exactly at the beginning of our century that the researches of Rumford discovered the first words of the spell by which these ghosts were destined to be laid. When Rumford declared, in his interpretation of his experiments, “Anything which any insulated body or system of bodies can continue to furnish without limitation, cannot possibly be a material substance,” the fate of the supposed imponderable fluid caloric was sealed; but it was not till near the middle of our century that Joule completed the work of Rumford by the determination of the mechanical equivalent of heat. About the same time, Foucault's measurement of the velocity of light in air and in water afforded conclusive proof of the undulatory theory of light. In these great discoveries was laid the strong foundation for the magnificent generalization of the conservation of energy—a generalization which the sagacious intuition of Mayer and Carpenter and Le Conte at once extended beyond the realm of inorganic nature to the more subtile processes of vegetable and animal life. In this connection, I may be permitted to refer to the work of some of my colleagues, with the Atwater-Rosa calorimeter, which has given more complete experimental proof than had previously been given of the conservation of energy in the human body. But by far the greatest of the intellectual achievements of our age has been the development of the idea of the unity of process pervading the whole history of nature. The word which sums up in itself the expression of the most characteristic and fruitful intellectual life of our age is the word evolution. The latter half of our century has been so dominated by that idea in all its thinking, that it may well be named the Age of Evolution. We may give as the date of the beginning of the new epoch the year 1858; and the Wittenberg theses of the intellectual reformation of our time were the twin papers of Darwin and Wallace, wherein was promulgated the theory of natural selection. And yet, of course, the idea of evolution was not new, when these papers were presented to the Linnaean Society. Consciously or unconsciously, the aim of science at all times must have been to bring events that seemed isolated into a continuous development. To exclude the idea of evolution from any class of phenomena, is to exclude that class of phenomena from the realm of science. In the former half of our century, evolutionary conceptions of the history of inorganic nature had become pretty well established. The nebular hypothesis was obviously a theory of planetary evolution. The Lyellian geology, which took the place of the catastrophism of the last century, was the conception of evolution applied to the physical history of the earth. Nor had there been wanting anticipations of evolution within the realm of biology. The author of that sublime Hebrew psalm of creation preserved to us as the first chapter of Genesis, was in his way a good deal of an evolutionist. “Let the earth bring forth,”—“let the waters bring forth,”—are words that point to a process of growth rather than to a process of manufacture in the origination of living beings. In crude and vague forms, the idea of evolution was held by some of the Greek philosophers. Just at the beginning of our century Lamarck developed the idea of evolution into something like a scientific theory. Yet it is no less true that the epoch of evolution in human thought began with Darwin. Manifold suggestions there were of genetic relationships between different organisms, whether organic forms were studied by the systematist or the embryologist, the geographer or the paleontologist; but each and all found the path to any credible theory of organic evolution blocked by the stubborn fact that variations in species appeared everywhere to be limited in degree, and to oscillate about a central average type, instead of becoming cumulative from generation to generation. In the Darwinian principle of natural selection, for the first time, was suggested a force, whose existence in nature could not be doubted, and whose tendency, conservative in stable environment, progressive in changing
environment, would account at once for the permanence of species through long ages, and for epochs of relatively rapid change. However Darwin's work may be discredited by the exaggerations of Weismannism, however it may be minified by Neo-Lamarckians, it is the theory of natural selection which has so nearly removed the barrier in the path of evolution, impassable before, as to lead, first the scientific world, and later the world of thought in general, to a substantially unanimous belief in the derivative origin of species. Certain it is that no discovery since Newton's discovery of universal gravitation has produced so profound an effect upon the intellectual life of mankind. The tombs of Newton and Darwin lie close together in England's Valhalla, and together their names must stand as the two great epoch-making names in the history of science.
Darwin's discovery relates primarily to the origin of species by descent with modification from preexisting species. It throws no direct light upon the question of the origin of life. But analogy is a guide that we may reasonably follow in our thinking, provided only we bear in mind that she is a treacherous guide and sometimes leads astray. Conclusions that rest only on analogy must be held tentatively and not dogmatically. Yet it would be an unreasonable excess of caution that would refuse to recognize the direction in which analogy points. When we trace a continuous evolution from the nebula to the dawn of life, and again a continuous evolution from the dawn of life to the varied flora and fauna of to-day, crowned with glory by the appearance of man himself, we can hardly fail to accept the suggestion that the transition from the lifeless to the living was itself a process of evolution. Though the supposed instances of spontaneous generation all resolve themselves into errors of experimentation, though the power of chemical synthesis, in spite of the vast progress it has made, stops far short of the complexity of protoplasm, though we must confess ourselves unable to imagine any hypothesis for the origin of that complex apparatus which the microscope is revealing to us in the infinitesimal laboratory of the cell, are we not compelled to believe that the law of continuity has not been broken, and that a probable theory of the method of natural transition from the lifeless to the living may yet be within reach of human discovery? Still further. Are we content to believe that evolution began with the nebula? Are we satisfied to assume our chemical atoms as an ultimate and inexplicable fact? Herschel and Maxwell, indeed, have reasoned, from the supposed absolute likeness of atoms of any particular element, that they bear “the stamp of a manufactured article,” and must therefore be supposed to have been specially created at some definite epoch of beginning. But, when we are speaking of things of which we know so little as we know of atoms, there is logically a boundless difference between saying that we know no difference between the atoms of hydrogen, and saying that we know there is no disference. Is it not legitimate for us to recognize here again the direction in which analogy points, and to ask whether those fundamental units of physical nature, the atoms themselves, may not be products of evolution? Thus analogy suggests to us the question, whether there is any beginning of the series of evolutionary changes which we see stretching backward into the remote past; whether the nebulae from which systems have been evolved were not themselves evolved; whether existing forms of matter were not evolved from other forms that we know not; whether creative Power and creative Intelligence have not been eternally immanent in an eternal universe. I cannot help thinking that theology may fitly welcome such a suggestion, as relieving it from the incongruous notion of a benevolent Deity spending an eternity in solitude and idleness. The contemplation of his own attributes might seem a fitting employment for a Hindoo Brahm. It hardly fits the character of the Heavenly Father, of whom we are told that He “worketh hitherto.” In the last suggestion I have ventured outside the realm of science. But most men are not so constituted that they can carry their scientific and their philosophical and religious beliefs in compartments separated by thought-proof bulkheads. Scientific and philosophic and religious thought, in the individual and in the race, must act and react upon each other. It was, therefore, inevitable that our century of scientific progress should disturb the religious beliefs of men. When conceptions of the cosmos