Excerpt from A Discourse
Now the doctrine of Evolution starts with a primordial molecular arrangement of which all the phenomena of the universe are the consequences. This Paley admitted. But the sequence of the phenomena is now put under the control of another principle, tha... t of Continuity. This means that the succession of antecedents and consequents shall at no point be broken, that in tracing consequents to their antecedents backwards in time we shall nowhere pass from material to immaterial, from that which is under relations to that which is free from relations, from the Conditioned to the Unconditioned. Those who limit thought by this principle assert it as the duty of science to postpone as far as possible any interference with the orderly succession of phenomena which, invoking a spiritual agency, shall partake of a miracle. But the point is at last reached when experience fails us, when we cannot devise a material antecedent to the remote consequent with which the Cosmos began. We must then admit an insoluble mystery, or appeal to unknown laws of matter, which, being unknown, might as well be spoken of as spiritual. Tyndall felt the difficulty and -took a strange way of evading it - Believing as I do in the Continuity of Matter, I cannot stop abruptly where our microscopes cease to be of use. Here the vision of the mind supplements the vision of the eye. By an intellectual necessity I cross the boundary of the experi mental evidence and discern in that Matter which we in our ignorance of its latent powers and notwithstanding our professed reverence for its Creator have hitherto covered with opprobrium, the promise and potence of all terrestrial life. Thisutterance, which is distinctly theistic, is marred by the mental confusion it betrays, for he goes on Considered funda mentally, it is by the operation of an insoluble mystery that life on earth is evolved, species differentiated and mind unfolded from their prepotent elements in the immeasurable past. Need it be remarked that if there is an intellectual necessity there can be no mystery, no operative mystery (whatever that may be), the same thing cannot be at once inscrutable and obviously true.
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