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to the action of forces which are demonstrably selfadjusting. Moreover, when he had sufficiently extended his inquiries, he would find, that every evil effect which he would imagine must be the result of non-adjustment does somewhere or other occur, only it is not always evil. Looking on a fertile valley, he would perhaps say—“If the channel of this river were not well adjusted, if for a few miles it sloped the wrong way, the water could not escape, and all this luxuriant valley, full of human beings, would become a waste of waters.” Well, there are hundreds of such cases. Every lake is a valley “wasted by water,” and in some cases (as the Dead Sea) it is a positive evil, a blot upon the harmony and adaptation of the surface of the earth. Again, he might say—“If rain did not fall here, but the clouds passed over us to some other regions, this verdant and highly cultivated plain would become a desert.” And there are such deserts over a large part of the earth, which abundant rains would convert into pleasant dwelling-places for man. Or he might observe some great navigable river, and reflect how easily rocks, or a steeper channel in places, might render it useless to man;–and a little inquiry would show him hundreds of rivers in every part of the world, which are thus rendered useless for navigation. Exactly the same thing occurs in organic nature. We see some one wonderful case of adjustment, some unusual development of an organ, but we pass over the hundreds of cases in which that adjustment and development do not occur. No doubt when one adjustment is absent another takes its place, because no organism can continue to exist that is not adjusted to its environment; and unceasing variation with unlimited powers of multiplication, in most cases, furnish the means of self-adjustment. The world is so constituted, that by the action of general laws there is produced the greatest possible variety of surface and of climate; and by the action of laws equally general, the greatest possible variety of organisms have been produced, adapted to the varied conditions of every part of the earth. The objector would probably himself admit, that the varied surface of the earth—the plains and valleys, the hills and mountains, the deserts and volcanoes, the winds and currents, the seas and lakes and rivers, and the various climates of the earth—are all the results of general laws acting and re-acting during countless ages; and that the Creator does not appear to guide and control the action of these laws —here determining the height of a mountain, there altering the channel of a river—here making the rains more abundant, there changing the direction of a current. He would probably admit that the forces of inorganic nature are self-adjusting, and that the result necessarily fluctuates about a given mean condition (which is itself slowly changing), while within certain limits the greatest possible amount of variety is produced. If then a “contriving mind” is not necessary at every step of the process of change eternally going on in the inorganic world, why are we required to believe in the continual action of such a mind in the region of organic nature ? True, the laws at work are more complex, the adjustments more delicate, the appearance of special adaptation more remarkable; but why should we measure the creative mind by our own 2 Why should we suppose the machine too complicated, to have been designed by the Creator so complete that it would necessarily work out harmonious results? The theory of “continual interference” is a limitation of the Creator's power. It assumes that he could not work by pure law in the organic, as he has done in the inorganic world; it assumes that he could not foresee the consequences of the laws of matter and mind combined—that results would continually arise which are contrary to what is best, and that he has to change what would otherwise be the course of nature, in order to produce that beauty, and variety, and harmony, which even we, with our limited intellects, can conceive to be the result of self-adjustment in a universe governed by unvarying law. If we could not conceive the world of nature to be self-adjusting and capable of endless development, it would even then be an unworthy idea of a Creator, to impute the incapacity of our minds to him; but when many human minds can conceive, and can even trace out in detail some of the adaptations in nature as the necessary results of unvarying law, it seems strange that, in the interests of religion, any one should seek to prove that the System of Nature, instead of being above, is far below our highest conceptions of it. I, for one, cannot believe that the world would come to chaos if left to Law alone. I cannot believe that there is in it no inherent power of developing beauty or variety, and that the direct action of the Deity is required to produce each spot or streak on every insect, each detail of structure in every one of the millions of organisms that live or have lived upon the earth. For it is impossible to draw a line. If any modifications of structure could be the result of law, why not all? If some self-adaptations could arise, why not others? If any varieties of colour, why not all the varieties we see? No attempt is made to explain this, except by reference to the fact that “purpose” and “contrivance ’’ are everywhere visible, and by the illogical deduction that they could only have arisen from the direct action of some mind, because the direct action of our minds produces similar “contrivances"; but it is forgotten that adaptation, however produced, must have the appearance of design. The channel of a river looks as if made for the river, although it is made by it; the fine layers and beds in a deposit of sand, often look as if they had been sorted, and sifted, and levelled, designedly; the sides and angles of a crystal exactly resemble similar forms designed by man; but we do not therefore conclude that these effects have, in each individual case, required the directing action of a creative mind, or see any difficulty in their being produced by natural Law. Beauty in Nature.
Let us, however, leave this general argument for a while, and turn to another special case, which has been appealed to as conclusive against Mr. Darwin’s views. “Beauty" is, to some persons, as great a stumbling-block as “contrivance.” They cannot conceive a system of the Universe, so perfect, as necessarily to develop every form of Beauty, but suppose that when anything specially beautiful occurs, it is a step beyond what that system could have produced, something which the Creator has added for his own delectation.
Speaking of the Humming Birds, the Duke of Argyll says: “In the first place, it is to be observed of the whole group, that there is no connection which can be traced or conceived, between the splendour of the humming birds and any function essential to their life. If there were any such connection, that splendour could not be confined, as it almost exclusively is, to only one sex. The female birds are, of course, not placed at any disadvantage in the struggle for existence by their more sombre colouring.” And after describing the various ornaments of these birds, he says: “Mere ornament and variety of form, and these for their own sake, is the only principle or rule with reference to which Creative Power seems to have worked in these wonderful and beautiful birds. . . A crest of topaz is no better in the struggle for existence than a crest of sapphire. A frill ending in