Principles of Natural Theology / by George Hayward Joyce, S.J.

Chapter IV. Proofs of God's Existence (ii. Physical Arguments).

  1. The Teleological Argument.
  2. The Argument from Life.

1. The teleological argument. In the two arguments treated in the present chapter we start, not from the primary attributes proper to all finite being as such, but from the order of nature as manifested in the universe. We shew that the world in which we live possesses certain characteristics, which compel us to admit that it is the work of God. As proofs, therefore, they fall into a different category from those which we have been considering in the foregoing chapter. They are termed, not metaphysical, but physical arguments for God's existence.{1}

The proof from final causes may be thus summarized: -- The adaptation of means to ends is an evident sign of an intelligent cause. Now nature offers us on every side instances of the adaptation of means to ends. Hence it follows that nature is the work of an intelligent cause. But this can be none other than God.

Before entering on the proof of these statements a word must be said on the signification of the term 'means.' A cause is only termed a means to a particular result, when its action has been determined in view of that result as an end. lf an effect follows from the operation of a cause in such a manner that there is no need to suppose a direct reference of the cause to its production, we do not regard the latter as a means. Thus, if a high wind results in the fall of some trees, we do not speak of it as a means to the fall of these trees. On the other hand, works of human industry are as a rule means. The bit in the horse's mouth is a means to its control: the railway-engine is a means to the propulsion of rolling-stock.

We affirm, then, that the adaptation of means to ends is an evident sign of an intelligent cause. The statement hardly calls for formal proof. Means, as we have said, are such in virtue of being determined in view of the end. They are directed to it: and apart from their relation to it, it would not be an end. Now only an intelligence has power to apprehend the relation of one thing to another -- to understand the proportion of a means to its end -- the 'reason why' of this means. It follows that only an intelligent cause can set one thing in relation to another as its end -- can employ it as a means. Wherever, therefore, we find the adaptation of means to an end, there we have evidence of a directing intelligence. The point on which we are insisting, viz., that only an intelligent cause can employ a thing as a means, is illustrated in the familiar definition of man as a 'tool-using' animal. The employment of instruments supposes intelligence. Since man alone among the animals possesses intelligence, he alone knows how to fashion and make use of tools. He is animal instrumentificum because he is animal rationale.

The same result may be reached in another way. If the means are really determined by the end, it is certain that this latter must have some sort of being. A nonentity could not exert a determining influence on the physical causes. If the house about to be built actually determines the cutting of the timber and the shaping of the stones which are to form it, that house in some manner actually exists. But ex hypothesi it does not yet exist in the real order. Hence, in so far as it determines the means, its being must lie in the ideal order. Now nature does in fact display countless instances of the adaptation of means to ends. It follows, therefore, that the cause of nature is a being endowed with knowledge.

It is evident that a pantheism, such as that of Hegel, which holds that there is but one Absolute Substance, of which all finite things are manifestations, but which only attains full self-consciousness in the human spirit, must of necessity reject our conclusion. It has no place for a prior efficient cause to whose intelligence the adaptation of means to ends in the realm of nature is due. In view of the influence which Hegel's system exerts at the present day, something must be said of his treatment of this subject. He held strongly that finality was present throughout the whole world process, but was emphatic in denying that there is any need to refer it to a separate efficient cause. The finality of the world, he urges, is immanent. It may be best understood from what we see take place in a living organism. There the idea is present from the beginning, governing the whole process of development, until it attains its full realization. The goal is not reached through means which are external to the organism; but all its parts are reciprocally ends and means to each other: and all in combination work for the final end in view. So it is in the universe. The universe passes on to its own realization. Cause, means and end are not separate things as in the works of human industry. The end realizes itself.

This explanation of the finality in nature will not bear the test of a critical examination. There are no grounds whatever for saying that immanent finality dispenses with the action of an intelligent efficient cause. It is, of course, true that in this case the principle of development exists within the substance, determining all its parts in such wise that they contribute to each other's perfection and cooperate to the ultimate result. But how is this determination to be explained? It is clearly false to say that the end as actually realized is operative throughout the process. The process takes place in time: and, until it is past and gone, the end as actually realized has no existence. What does not exist certainly cannot operate. It would be as reasonable to say that the ultimate form of a statue was operative in bringing itself into being, as to hold that the acorn becomes the oak through the causality of the as yet unrealized tree. Yet it is not to be denied that the final result does in some manner determine the contributory agents to its own production. There is no possible way in which it can do this, except in so far as it has a prior ideal existence in an intelligent efficient cause. It seems indeed to be imagined that an immanent activity is in some way exclusive of a distinct efficient cause: that this latter is only to be supposed when we are dealing with means directed to an external end. This is a mere assumption. Man, it is true, cannot give life to his productions, and endow them with the power of self-development. But no impossibility is involved in the idea of such efficiency.

The Hegelian theory involves another fallacy, which it will be sufficient merely to mention, as we shall have occasion to deal with it later. It treats of the world as though it were an organism, endowed with a life of its own, and actuated by a principle of internal evolution. This is a thoroughly misleading conception. The universe is built up out of many substances. Undoubtedly it possesses a unity of its own. But this is not the unity of a single substance: it is a unity of order, all the diverse substances being so related to each as to form an organized whole.

We may now pass on to the consideration of the other premiss of our argument, and ask: Does nature really afford us instances of the adaptation of means to ends? The fact, indeed, might seem hardly to need proof, so abundant appear the examples of design in things around us. What, it may be asked, can be more manifest than that the ear is fashioned to hear, the eye to see, and the hand to work? Yet it is maintained by many that we are mistaken in attributing any finality whatever to nature. The natural order, it is contended, is sufficiently explained by efficient causality alone. The physical agents of which the universe is formed have operated each after its kind, and in so doing have realized certain results. But this action was not guided by a set aim: it was not determined in view of the attainment of a particular end. Man, indeed, acts in this way, for man is conscious. He proposes an end to himself, and directs his action towards its realization. But we have no reason to attach this conception to the works of nature: the analogy between human industry and the action of physical causes is illegitimate; and instances adduced in proof of finality have again and again turned out illusory. Wheat does not grow that man may have bread; but man makes and eats bread because there is such a thing as wheat. The bird does not possess wings in order that it may fly. It flies because physical causes have given it wings.

It will be observed that there is a marked difference between these two examples. In the one case we are concerned with external finality: in the other with internal -- the actual operation of the organ in question. It is plain that in nature internal finality is far clearer than external. It is frequently rash to assume, because a substance is useful for a particular external purpose, that it exists for that end. We cannot affirm that the papyrus plant exists that man might be provided with paper: though probably this belief prevailed in ancient Egypt. But where internal finality is concerned there is not the same difficulty. Our argument will therefore rest primarily on internal finality. Of external finality we shall say something afterwards.

Our first proof that there are in truth ends in nature is drawn from the undeniable fact that our intellect recognizes, and cannot avoid recognizing, finality in nature's operations. Finality, we contend, is one of those features of reality which form the proper object of the intellect. It falls within the scope of that faculty to apprehend it. And if, after due consideration, it judges a given effect to be the final cause of certain antecedent phenomena, it is not mistaken. We said in chap. ii. that the object of the intellect is being and those notions which are immediately connected with being: and amongst these we included the notion of finality. Just as, where the requisite conditions are present, the mind pronounces infallibly of a given antecedent that it is an efficient cause, so it can affirm of a given consequent that it is a final cause. The mind apprehends what the thing is and why it is -- elements of reality which are outside the scope of sense. It judges of the efficient cause, the formal cause, the material cause, and the final cause. In the example which we gave in chap. ii. we dealt with an artificial product -- a clock. Just as the mind can grasp the purpose of a clock, so it can grasp the purpose of a bird's wing. Indeed, the finality of the latter is much more evident than the former. A clock's finality is external: and though there is an accurate proportion between the movement of the hands and the daily motion of the sun, the machine might conceivably have been intended for another end. But to fly is the actualization of the natural potentiality of the wing. And where this is the case, we judge unhesitatingly that the wing exists in order to fly. We may take another example. In the class of mammalia the female is endowed with certain glands, which at the period of parturition, and only then, secrete milk. This substance is that which of all others is the best adapted for the nourishment of the newly-born offspring. The intellect recognizes, without the possibility of doubting, that nature has provided the mother with milk in order to nourish her young. It cannot, save by doing violence to its own clear perception, adopt the alternative hypothesis, and hold that the mother feeds her young on milk, because it so happens that certain physical causes, acting without reference to her condition, have provided her with this liquid.

In saying that, given adequate data, the mind's judgment regarding final causation is infallible, we do not, of course, assert that we never err in these matters. We frequently judge on insufficient grounds, and see finality where there is none, precisely as we sometimes form a mistaken estimate about efficient causality. Yet although we occasionally misinterpret the data before us, it remains true that there are many cases where the evidence is such that a mistake is impossible. Our other cognitive faculties are equally liable to errors from this source. Our first estimate in regard to colour or shape or sound often turns out to be inaccurate. Yet we know that, under due conditions, the witness of the senses regarding their appropriate object is beyond all question. And precisely the same holds good of the mind's judgment concerning these aspects of being which are its special province.

Our principal argument, however, must, of course, be taken from the actual facts of nature, and the conclusions which these impose upon us. We urge, then, that the function of an organ is a single perfection. The unity of the act of flight, of the acts of vision and of hearing, is irreducible. It is not a unity of composition, but absolutely simple. It is unum per se, not unum per accidens. The organ, it is true, is a highly complex thing: its constituent elements are very numerous. Those who reject final causation contend that these constituent parts, acting separately and independently, result in a combined effect; but such an explanation is philosophically impossible. There must, of necessity, be in them a veritable principle of unity: otherwise they could not be the seat of a single activity. A plurality of causes acting independently may be imagined to unite by chance to produce a composite result. But only in virtue of an objective principle of unity can diverse agents energize as a single cause productive of a perfection which is not complex but simple. What, then, is this principle of unity? The only answer is that it is a principle consisting in a relation to the end to be realized. Only in virtue of such relatedness could the manifold elements of the organ issue in an activity which is one: the office of the relation being to determine the separate agents to the production of this end. In other words the agents are determined in view of their final cause.

This becomes still more manifest, if we consider what is involved in the rejection of our conclusion. In that case, the multiple physical agents operating each according to its own specific nature, and without any determination towards the ultimate result, select out of the million alternative courses open to them precisely that particular combination which is requisite for the activity in question. Now order is a perfection, and like every perfection, demands a cause. From chaos nothing but chaos can emerge. It is wholly impossible that without the intervention of an adequate cause it can issue in cosmos. The wing of a bird will afford an instance in point. We need not enter into the details of its anatomy. Even given the requisite formation of the anterior members, which enables them to act as wings, the problem of aerial flight is still far from being solved. The surface of the members must be greatly extended, yet without adding materially to their weight: and the body must be provided with a covering, which shall keep it at a nearly equal temperature, while not impeding flight. If, then, final causation be a figment, and nothing be at work save physical causation, how amazing is the solution which nature affords. The hair which, clothes other animals is here replaced by feathers -- a covering which is extremely light and at the same time is an effective protection against cold: while the greater feathers are of such proportions that they give to the wings the extension which they require. Nor is this all. Were feathers liable to become saturated with rain, flight would be only possible under very restricted conditions. But we find, in fact, that the bird is provided with a special gland secretive of an oily substance, with which it covers its wings, and which has the property of rendering them altogether impermeable to water.{2} We may well here cite some words which M. Janet employs in regard to another of the illustrations which he gives:

"How is it conceivable that so many diverse causes acting without an end, should coincide so well in their common action with that end? Remember, we have the right to say here, as men of science do in similar circumstances, that all takes place as if the cause of these phenomena had foreseen the effect which they behoved to produce: would it not be strange if a blind cause should act precisely in the manner in which one not blind would do? Consequently unless it be proved that such facts have not been foreseen, the presumption is that they have been. It lies with those that deny it to furnish the contrary proof: Neganti incumbit probatio."{3}

The finality of organ in relation to function is a finality of action. There is another kind of finality, viz., that which appears in the symmetrical order -- the plan -- of a thing. Organic nature falls into four great divisions according to the four types of symmetry upon which living things are constituted. We have 1) the radiated type, as in radiata, which shews us homogeneous parts grouped round a common centre: 2) the branched type, which is exhibited in plants and in polyps: 3) the serial type, a symmetry of successive parts from head to tail: 4) the bilateral type, which appears in the higher animals and man.{4} The limits of space prevent us from developing the argument which may be drawn from the marvels of harmonious arrangement which these types afford, and which are inexplicable save as the work of an ordering intelligence. But under this head must be reckoned aesthetic finality, and of this subject we propose to say something.

Beauty is present everywhere in nature. Whether we look at the sky above us, or at the earth below, or at the wide expanse of waters, all manifest it. They display it in all their parts and under all their aspects. It is seen in the smallest flower, no less than in the forest as a whole: in the icebound regions of the pole, and in the sandy deserts, as in the glories of the tropics. A recent writer on this subject says with truth:

"To produce a good colour scheme is not easy, as everyone knows who has tried to do it. Yet Nature surmounts this difficulty daily. The colour schemes of Nature are not all of equal beauty. But even the worst are good, and stand in strong contrast, as objects of study and imitation, with some of the products of human manufacture and art. Each year the Royal Academy, in spite of the exercise of much selective skill, exhibits many schemes of colour, which are worse than any which a critical observer can find in Nature in a life-time."{5}

Nor is it colour alone that is in question. The forms of nature possess the same quality. The outlines of the different kinds of trees, the configuration of their leaves, the varied curves of their branches, are as perfect in their way as is the colouring of the flowers. Of the innumerable species of animals, which people earth and air and sea, there is hardly one which does not arouse our wondering admiration, some by their grace, some, like the lion and the elephant, by their grandeur. Moreover, the sense of hearing, no less than that of sight, acknowledges the perfection of nature's handiwork. The song of the birds, the music of the waters, the sound of the breeze among the trees, attract and delight us. We recognize beauty as the authentic note of nature in all its works.

The argument is, perhaps, most forcible if it is based on the beauty displayed by individual substances rather than on that of nature in its wider aspects. We say, then, that in nature each individual thing is endowed with a high degree of aesthetic perfection: exceptions -- of which we shall speak later -- being so rare, that we can here afford to neglect them. In regard alike of colour, form and sound, they display a harmony determined by aesthetic principles, and surpassing by far the highest achievements of human art. This beauty, we urge, can only have arisen by design. To attribute it to chance is a plain contradiction of the principle of sufficient reason. Every perfection demands a cause. As we have already said, order does not arise from disorder. Here we are in presence of a perfection so striking as to challenge the consideration of every thoughtful mind. Here is an art which never fails of its aim: which sets itself millions of tasks, and reaps a success in every one. There can be but one conclusion, that nature is the work of a Master-Artist to whom this perfection was an end to be attained. In other words, the beauty of nature affords a manifest instance of final causation.

Our conclusion may be enforced by another consideration. Though beauty is universally present in nature, its distribution is not uniform, as though it were determined by some general law. From time to time it acquires a special intensity. Cases occur in which ornament and variety appear to have been introduced for their own sake, and apart from any other reason than their aesthetic value. A conspicuous instance in point is afforded by the humming-birds of America. Of these the Duke of Argyll writes:

"Different parts of the plumage have been selected in different genera as the principal subject of ornament. In some it is the feathers of the crown worked into different forms of crest; in some it is the feathers of the throat, forming gorgets and beards of many shapes and hues ; in some it is a development of the neck plumes, elongated into frills and tippets of extraordinary form and beauty. In a great number the feathers of the tail are the special subjects of decoration, and this in every variety of plan and principle of ornament. . . . It is impossible to bring such varieties into relation with any physical law known to us."{6}

Facts such as these seem to force the reasoning mind to admit that the beauty of the world is the work of a Designer who Himself delights in the gift which He bestows with such lavish generosity.

The argument from final causes has not been allowed to pass unchallenged: and due consideration must be given to the objections urged against it. It has been frequently asserted that the ultimate ground of our conclusion lies in an analogy between man's own works and the works of nature: and that the use of analogy in this case cannot be justified. Such is the contention of Hume: of Kant in the Critique of Judgment: and of those thinkers who have drawn their inspiration from Hegel. It is urged that analogical reasoning is always wanting in conclusiveness: and that when employed to argue from the special mode of human activity to the action of physical nature, it is wholly arbitrary. To this it may be replied that those who raise this objection have misunderstood the character of the argument. Our proof is not based on analogy. We contend that the facts of nature are wholly inexplicable apart from finality. We have seen that again and again a multiplicity of physical agents possesses a unity of action which is only intelligible if attributed to their relation to an end. Efficient causes capable of a million chaotic combinations adopt that one combination in which they cooperate harmoniously to bring about a result of essential importance to the subject in which they are found. In many cases they are so unified that the act to whose production they are contributory is absolutely simple of its kind. Moreover, on all sides of us we observe that things are so fashioned as to conform in an admirable manner to aesthetic principles and to delight us with their beauty. It is impossible that these things could be, unless the action of the physical causes were guided in view of the end: and guidance in view of the end supposes a conscious intelligent cause, who knows the end and directs the physical agents to its realization. The reasoning here employed is not the loose method of analogy, but a rigid deduction from principles indisputably true.

It is, of course, the case that in judging of particular phenomena we often argue by analogy. We cannot do otherwise. When, e.g., we see the hair or fur which covers an animal, we conclude that the purpose of the covering is to protect it from the cold. The analogy with human needs is so close that we feel no hesitation in judging to this effect. We followed this method when just now we appealed to the variety of ornament displayed by the humming-birds as affording proof that the Cause to whom they are due is One who delights in beauty. Yet though such analogical reasoning is perfectly legitimate, it may be abused. There is no doubt that misleading analogies have often been drawn, and been made the basis of false and even extravagant conclusions. But the point on which we desire to insist is that analogy is not the ground of our conviction that nature is throughout teleological.

The theory of Natural Selection set forth by Darwin disputed the finality of Nature on new grounds. And so widespread was the acceptance of his views, that the denial of finality was for a time a commonplace of scientific thought. He maintained that every instance of adaptation to purpose could be adequately accounted for without introducing the notion of conscious design: that the various contrivances which had hitherto been attributed to purposive intelligence owed their existence to the fact that they gave to their possessors an advantage in the struggle for existence. The offspring alike of plants and animals is subject, he urged, to fortuitous variation from the normal type: and those individuals which in virtue of some such difference were more fit for the battle of life than their fellows, would naturally survive and would tend to transmit their advantageous variation to their progeny. The next generation would see a further development of the gain thus secured. And in this way, by gradual and successive advances, might reasonably be explained the origin of all those organs -- the eye, the ear, the heart, etc. -- which had been hitherto regarded as standing proofs of the creative skill of God. The theory of Natural Selection, he contended, accounts for the production of nature's works by fhe sole operation of physical causes without the need of any recourse to finality. It is a vera causa{7}: and given sufficient time, is adequate to the results achieved. The influence exerted by these views was, as we have said, enormous. The majority of scientists, even though they might not accept Darwin's theory in its entirety, followed him in the rejection of final causes. Professor Romanes probably does not overstate the case when (writing in the eighties of the last century) he speaks of the "gradual, successive and now all but total abolition of final causes from the thoughts of scientific men."{8}

Yet the explanation of nature's contrivances here offered is wholly inadequate. The causes alleged are incapable of producing the results attributed to them. For according to this theory, nature s causes operate blindly: there is not in them any inherent determination guiding them in one direction rather than another. They vary in all directions: and every variation, whether favourable or unfavourable, is absolutely fortuitous -- a matter of pure chance. This being so, it is, we maintain, a sheer impossibility that the ordered harmonies of the actual world should ever have come to pass. Darwinians would have us believe that these are favourable variations which have been perpetuated through the struggle for existence. But we deny that they could ever have arisen. In order that a thing may be perpetuated it must first be: and fortuitous variation could never have brought such effects into being. As we have already contended, order cannot result from disorder, nor unity from multiplicity. The imperfect cannot spontaneously produce the perfect. Diderot maintained that if a case of type were emptied out a sufficient number of times, the letters might at last so fall as to give the text of the Iliad or the Henriade. We know that such an idea is preposterous. The type might be poured out through all eternity, and no such result would ensue. And the reason for the impossibility lies in the principle just enunciated, that where there is order, that order must have a sufficient reason.

The proof here given is valid in regard of order in all its aspects, and is not peculiar to that which involves finality. But the impossibility of which we have spoken is nowhere more conspicuously exemplified than in those instances of organization, in which numerous parts cooperate in a function in such wise that not merely must each part do its own work, but must so do it as to further the action of all the others. The human eye affords the classical example. The organization of the retina alone is so exquisitely elaborate that it baffles our powers of comprehension: and the retina is but one out of many distinct parts, each made up of others more minute, which combine to produce the act of vision by a reciprocal adjustment of extraordinary complexity. It has been often said that millions of combinations were requisite to the production of the organ. It is manifest that the indeterminate variations of the several parts -- variations having no relation to the other parts -- could never have resulted in a state of things in which the operation of every constituent factor is proportioned with infinite nicety to the operation of every other -- the proportion being essentially related to the exercise of an unrealized function.

The explanation of adaptations by Natural Selection is open to objection on another score, which claims mention here. For the validity of the theory it would be necessary that in the gradual development of an organ, each successive stage should confer on its possessor some advantage in the struggle for existence. This advantage is assigned as the sole and sufficient reason for its preservation. Now it has often been pointed out that in the development of a new organ the initial stages would be of no service whatever, but only the completed result. If wings, for example, were gradually evolved, the earlier variations destined ultimately to become an apparatus for flying would have been an encumbrance rather than a gain. Granting, then, that the evidence at our disposal points to the evolution of one species from another, some influence other than Natural Selection must be postulated to account for the new type. And reason declares that that influence can only have been the operation of final causality.

Natural Selection is equally at fault in providing an explanation for the beauty of the universe. It is, of course, impossible that the physical agents of the universe should through absolute chance have produced results, which, while infinite in variety, conform in all cases to aesthetic standards. Darwin has no resource but to deny the objective value of aesthetic principles. "The sense of beauty," he says, "obviously depends on the nature of the mind, irrespective of any real quality in the admired object: . . . the idea of what is beautiful is not innate or unalterable."{9} And he appeals for proof to the fact that the men of different races admire a different standard of beauty in their women. The conclusion, we feel, is manifestly false. We are certain with an assurance which admits of no doubt, that the principles of beauty in colour, in form, and in sound, are as objectively real as the principles of mathematics. We may not be able to enunciate them in the same compendious manner. They may elude our analysis by reason of their complexity. But we cannot question their reality. When we admire a beautiful object, it is not merely that our sensibility is gratified: we recognize in it the specific quality of aesthetic excellence. Indeed, were beauty a mere matter of subjective feeling, no education would be needed to cultivate an accurate taste. Yet we know well that to possess a true appreciation of the beautiful, much training is required. In this, as in every other branch of knowledge, prolonged labour is requisite before we can judge aright. Nor is the argument from the different standards of female beauty of any weight. There are various types of physical beauty. The men of a particular race will be appreciative of one type, rather than of others. But it does not follow that the others have not their peculiar excellence.{10} It is, however, claimed for Natural Selection that it affords an adequate account of the bright colours of flowers, the brilliant plumage and musical song of birds, and of the beauty and grace visible in so many of the tribes of animals. The conspicuous colours of the flowers has served, it is said, to draw to them the insects which effect their fertilization: and it is by this means that they have been developed. The plumage and song of the birds and the singular perfection in form or colouring of many other animals are due to sexual attraction. During the long ages the females have consistently preferred males endowed with these qualities. Such an explanation is palpably insufficient. In flowers it is not the bright colouring alone which is in question, but the perfect harmony of each separate colour-scheme. It will not be contended that the insects were appreciative of this. Besides, beauty is by no means the prerogative of plants fertilized by insects. It is no less present, though frequently in a more humble form, in those whose propagation is otherwise effected. So, too, the results attributed to the sexual attraction of animals are quite disproportionate to the alleged cause. It can hardly be seriously maintained that female birds possessed an accuracy of musical taste uncommon even in civilized man. Yet this must be admitted, if the song of the male bird really has the origin ascribed to it. And what is true of song holds good likewise of beauty of form and colour. Is it credible that beast and bird and fish, and even reptiles and butterflies possess an appreciation of aesthetic excellence which man endowed with reason can only emulate after long and careful training. No explanation, in fact, is possible of nature's inexhaustible loveliness, save that it is the purposed work of One whose wisdom conceived it, and whose power was capable of executing His designs.

There are, it is true, a few animals which form an exception to the general rule. Some of the bats, and certain tribes of fishes, repel us by positive ugliness. These are sometimes held to constitute an objection to the argument. Yet they will not appear as such, if only attention is paid to their proportion to the whole. Beauty possesses so overwhelming a preponderance in the world that the argument retains its full force even in the presence of these singular exceptions. The only conclusion to which we can come is that they have their place in the scheme taken as whole. It may well be that the contrast which they afford is intended to bring home to us what otherwise we might have failed to realize, that beauty is no necessary element in material things, but an added perfection with which they have been enriched.

Moreover, in our judgments regarding the grace or the deformity of creatures, we must view them in the setting which Nature herself has provided, not in artificial conditions which we have selected. When this is borne in mind, we see that the exceptions to which we have adverted, are apparent rather than real. It is not in the intention of Nature, if we may so say, that either the bats or the fishes which so excite our repulsion should be inspected in the broad light of day. She veils the former with darkness, and to the latter has given the deep water as their home. In that environment they, too, are not without a grace of their own. Professor J. A. Thomson invokes this principle most appropriately on behalf of another animal, which at first sight might seem to have little claim to beauty of any kind:

"If we are to appraise rightly we must see the creature in its native haunts -- in the environment to which it is adapted, which is in a sense its external heritage, which it has in some cases sought out. The hippopotamus at the zoo may fail to excite aesthetic emotion; but that this is our misfortune not Behemoth's fault is evident from the book of Job. We have to see him as the author of that poem saw him, with his ruddy hide in the shade of the lotuses, in the covert of the reeds and the f ens." (System of Animate Nature I., 267.)

A somewhat similar explanation will cover the case of some of the animals most serviceable to human needs. Their present condition is not that which nature gave them: it has been imposed upon them by man. If they lack beauty, this is because man has interfered with nature, and in doing so has marred her work.

Our attention has hitherto been confined to instances of internal finality, viz., the finality in which the end is some perfection of the same subject which furnishes the means. These instances have afforded us a clear and conclusive proof that the world has been organized by an intelligent Cause. We are now in a position to consider the part played by external finality, in which the means and the end are distinct and separate substances. We have only to consider the constitution of things to recognize the existence of such finality. Every living being displays internal finality, and is, in its measure, a true end. But living substances are not self-sufficient. They are sustained by substances external to themselves, which they employ as means: and in so doing they are putting these things to an entirely natural use. "How could internal finality be maintained," most rightly remarks Janet, "without admitting at the same time an external finality which is its counterpart? How could it be said that nature has made the herbivora to eat grass, without admitting that the same nature has made the grass to be eaten by the herbivora? "{11}

A. due consideration of the world reveals that the component substances exercise a wonderful interplay of reciprocal activity in virtue of which they become means and ends in relation to each other. Air and water are the media in which organized life is sustained: and each of these two media exercises a necessary function in regard to the other. The two great kingdoms into which living substances are divided -- animal and vegetable -- respectively give back to the air the chemical constituents consumed by the other. The vast insect world fulfils an essential office by destroying putrefying matter, and thus prevents a state of things from arising in which all life would be poisoned. The theme might be developed to any extent. It is harder to obtain full certainty in regard of external finality than of internal, for the simple reason that it is not, like internal finality, apparent in the very constitution of a substance. But it is by means of external finality that the parts of the world are linked together in an interdependence so intimate that the unity of the whole, though but a unity of order, bears a veritable analogy to the substantial unity of a single organism.

Yet these substances, which thus serve each other as means, differ widely in worth. Living Organisms rank above inanimate matter. We rightly view inanimate matter as being for the use of living things, not living things as existing for what is inanimate. Again, among living substances, animals are more truly ends than trees or plants. In virtue of their sensibility, they exist for themselves in a measure impossible for things which possess only a vegetable life. Man, in fine, as endowed with reason and will, stands on a higher plane than any. He justly holds all other things to be mere means in his regard, and claims the right to dispose of them for his good. He is, it is true, a part of nature, but he is none the less the end of nature. Those only fail to realize this who make space and duration their measure of value. The Cause Who made the world, made it for man.{12} When this truth has once been grasped, we obtain, a new view of external finality. Wherever in the universe a thing operates in some striking manner for man's advantage, we are justified in concluding that it was so constituted for man's sake. Many theistic writers have scanned nature under this aspect, and have enumerated a vast number of facts pointing to the purposive care of the Author of nature on man's behalf. To take but two examples out of very many, they hate instanced how necessary to man is the provision in virtue of which the earth revolves upon its axis, instead of continually presenting the same hemisphere to the sun, as does the moon to the earth: and how immense is the benefit resulting to us from the inclination of the earth's axis to the plane of the ecliptic, without which we should have enjoyed no change of seasons, while those temperate regions which are now the best adapted for human life, would have been covered with perpetual ice. To those who regard man's part in the universe as insignificant, to instance these facts as examples of finality will seem in the last degree fanciful. But if it can, as we contend, be proved that man is the end of the universe, and that the earth was made with man in view, such conclusions are legitimate. We may not possess apodictic certainty that such was the intention with which nature was thus organized. But the theist who holds it to be extremely probable that this is a true case of finality, does not lack solid grounds for his opinion.

Our argument has shewn that nature is the work of an intelligent Cause. But a Cause possessed of intelligence must be immaterial and personal, and hence distinct from the world itself. We have, therefore, demonstrated the existence of a Personal Being endowed with intellect and will, the Author of nature. This Personal Cause is therefore the Lord and Master of man, with a claim on him for his service and homage. Since the time of Kant, it has been customary to maintain that the proof only carries us to an architect of nature, not to God. We defer the full treatment of Kant's objections till we reach the chapter devoted to the consideration of his criticisms. We shall there shew that, save as regards this particular point, the difficulties which he raises against this argument are devoid of validity. It is, however, certainly the case that our proof does not directly establish that the Author of nature is the supreme, self-existent Being. Yet the value of the argument is not really affected. In the first place, no one who grants our conclusion will have any doubt that he has proved the existence of God. He will recognize that He Whose wisdom and power fashioned the order of nature, can be none other than the self-existent God. We shall search in vain for a thinker who admits such an ordering Intelligence, and yet remains in doubt whether there be a God or not. And, secondly, should anyone choose to entertain the extravagant hypothesis of a subordinate agency, the immediate cause of nature, it may legitimately be contended that our argument does not necessarily rest in this agent: that it has regard to the first source of all order: and that this first source of order can only be the self-existent Being. If the immediate agent be not unconditioned, it is manifest that the order which he institutes must itself be derivative: that the finality of nature points to a yet remoter source whence order takes its rise: and that this source is the Absolute, in other words, God Himself.

It has been contended by some that to suppose God to carry out His purposes by the use of means is implicitly to deny His omnipotence.{13} Finite creatures, it is urged, attain their ends by means. What they cannot achieve directly they can often accomplish by a right use of the materials at their disposal. But to represent God as thus acting is sheer anthropomorphism: and, more, is incompatible with the essential attributes of the Deity. The objection is so purely sophistical that it is difficult to realize how a competent thinker can propose it. We do not represent God as dependent on the means which He employs. It surely is not incompatible with His omnipotence that He should have willed that oaks should spring from acorns, and birds emerge from the egg. He could, had He chosen, have created each oak-tree and each bird separately. He preferred to form a nature in which creatures should exercise a veritable causality, so that each created cause should be a true means to the realization of its effect. No theist ever suggested that God so ordered nature, because lIe could not attain His ends otherwise than through the employment of created instruments. That He should effect His designs through causes which are proportioned to them, and which He has instituted for this purpose, so far from implying impotence, is a singular manifestation of His wisdom and His power.

2. The argument from life. The existence of life on the earth affords us yet another proof of our thesis. There was a time when there was no life upon this planet. Geology tells us of a period, when the rocks which form the surface of the earth were molten, so that no living thing could have endured upon it. The fossil remains of organisms first appear in the strata which were deposited when more temperate conditions prevailed. In the igneous rocks, as we should expect, no trace of living forms is found. How, then, did life appear? It cannot have arisen through any natural development of the forces inherent in matter. The living thing is, it is true, formed of material constituents. Yet the activities characteristic of life-activities which are displayed -- even by the unicellular organism only visible under the microscope -- are fundamentally different from those of inorganic matter. There is no question here of classes, whose perfections, though differing to a degree which places one far higher than the other in the scale of being, are nevertheless perfections of the same order. We are in the presence of mutually exclusive contraries. The living thing possesses a series of attributes, which sever it from the inorganic by a chasm across which there is no bridge. Hence, to account for life we are compelled to admit that a power outside and above nature intervened to produce upon the earth this strange new factor, which while employing inorganic elements, turns them to such new ends. Moreover, a consideration of the living forms themselves throws a certain light upon the nature of that power. For since amongst them are found some, in whom life, passing beyond the order of the merely physical, carries with it the gifts of intelligence and personality, it follows that the Cause which placed it upon earth must likewise be intelligent and personal.

Before we speak of the special activities of life, we must first call attention to the fact that the individual living substance, though often highly composite in its formation, is a true unit. Whatever the multiplicity of its parts or the complexity of its structure, it is one thing. Its activities all subserve the good of the whole and not that of the particular part which may produce them. And, as we have already had occasion to urge, that which acts as one is one: the action of a thing is the expression of its substantial nature. There is nothing like this in inorganic matter. If gravitation or some other motive force were to bring together a diversity of elements, they would never form a single individual thing. The result might be juxtaposition, or it might be chemical combination. But under no circumstances could it be a natural unit -- -a thing complete in itself, distinct from all other beings, exerting its activities in such a manner that all the parts should operate for the good of the whole. It is no answer to this to point out that a machine acts as a unity. A machine is not the product of inorganic nature: it is the work of human intelligence. Man, the highest of all the living beings on this earth can so dispose inorganic matter that it effects his purposes after a fashion somewhat analogous to that in which an organism effects its own. Moreover, it is easy to shew how immeasurable is the difference between the living organism and a mere machine. Of the various processes which distinguish life from non-living matter it will be sufficient for our purpose to call attention to two -- assimilation and regeneration.

The living substance has the power to lay hold of its appropriate nutriment, to dissolve it, and to incorporate it into itself. In this way it builds up its tissues and gathers fresh stores of energy for the exercise of its active powers, at the same time casting away those elements which are useless or deleterious to it. It thus attains its natural perfection and realizes its proper end by a process which is initiated and carried out by itself. Inorganic nature exhibits nothing of this kind. In the case of a chemical combination two substances, if placed in suitable circumstances, will unite to form a third. But no one ever heard of an inorganic substance which set on foot a series of operations tending to the attainment of its connatural perfection. Some writers, it is true, have claimed that the phenomenon of crystallization affords a kind of parallelism with the process of assimilation. But the comparison serves only to emphasize the fundamental difference between the operations of the organic and the inorganic. A crystal is formed by the cohesion of material of the same kind. If it increases, it does so by receiving a fresh layer of similar particles. A minute crystal placed in a solution of the same chemical character will gather round it a fresh deposit of crystals, and may thus be said to grow. But where assimilation takes place, how different is the manner of growth! The matter assimilated is not of the same kind as that to which it is added. The living substance dissolves non-living matter and converts it into itself. Nor is the increment received by the deposit of a new layer. There is a veritable process of incorporation, the fresh matter being taken up into the living cells themselves. Moreover, organic growth displays the wonderful phenomena of differentiation. As the body assimilates food and grows, the cells developed are not all of one kind: they differ widely in the different organs. The cells of bone, muscle, skin, etc., etc., are utterly unlike each other. Yet one and all have been formed from an original unicellular ovum through the process of assimilation. On this subject Sir B. Windle writes as follows:

"Let us grant that the cell -- the single cell -- is a machine, for the purpose of argument. Let us even suppose that such a machine should be capable of producing, of its own mere motion, other machines like unto itself. That is a sufficiently large assumption, since no machine has ever yet been made or thought of, which does anything even faintly foreshadowing what is here imagined. Nor has any chemical compound the power of reduplicating itself by means of its own inherent forces. Supposing even that these things were believable, they are nothing to what happens in the formation of the body of an animal. For here the original cell -- or machine as some would have it -- does far more than merely reproduce itself: it makes scores and hundreds of new and quite different machines. We might perhaps imagine a lathe which could beget other lathes, but here is a lathe which begets sewing-machines, organs, quick-firing guns, dredges, railway engines, and a whole host of other complicated assemblages of machinery."{14}

In view of facts such as these it is manifest how vast is the gulf between the living thing and that inorganic matter, which, as we have said, is essentially incapable of originating any process tending to its own perfection. To affirm, as did Huxley, that the activities of life could one and all, had we but requisite knowledge, be expressed in terms of matter and motion, is surely to fly in the face of evident facts.

The other characteristic of life, of which we shall take notice, is regeneration. By this living substances are capable of repairing injuries which they have suffered, and in certain cases of replacing organs which they have lost. We see this process in operation in the healing of wounds. If an abrasion tears away a certain amount of skin and flesh, nature soon replaces what we have lost. This is but an illustration on a small scale of a power which manifests itself in far more remarkable ways in the lower animals. Thus, if the hydra or the little fresh-water worm called the naïs is cut in two, each portion turns into a complete member of the species, even the production of a new head not being beyond nature's capacity in these cases. The crayfish, if deprived of its claw, will replace the lost member. Even some of the vertebrates will reconstruct a missing limb. If the salamander loses a leg, it will grow another. It will achieve a similar feat, if its upper or lower jaw should be cut off. More astonishing still are the results obtained by Driesch in his investigations in embryology. He shewed that in certain cases, when the original ovum consists of two cells, these may be separated, and each cell will develop into a complete animal. In the case of the ampibioxus he proved that even at the eight-cell stage the cells might be shaken apart, and that each fragment of the broken embryo would regenerate itself into a perfectamphioxus. "For certain purposes," writes Professor J. A. Thomson, "it is not amiss to think of the organism as an engine; but it is a self-stoking, self-repairing, self-preservative, self-adjusting, self-reproducing engine."{15}

It would carry us beyond our limits to touch on the other distinctive characteristics of life, such as respiration, irritability and reproduction. It must suffice to say that they are no less incompatible with the essential properties of non-living matter than those which we have been considering.

Fifty years ago it was confidently asserted by a vigorous school of rationalist scientists, of which Huxley was the most notable representative, that it was an assured fact that life could develop from the inorganic. Few competent scientists, however hostile to religion, would now care to adopt such a position. Men of science are more and more inclined to insist on the principle Omne vivum ex vivo. Two causes have chiefly contributed to this altered attitude. First, the fuller knowledge now acquired as to the nature and activities of the cell: and secondly, the famous series of experiments carried out by Pasteur, which afforded so convincing an explanation of all the apparent cases of spontaneous generation. The verdict of scientific investigation at present is well summed up for us by the author whom we have just quoted. He writes:

"In such matters we must keep, first of all to what has been actually achieved, and we submit (a) that there has not yet been given any physico-chemical description of any total vital operation, such as the secretion of digestive juice or the filtering of blood by the kidney; (b) that the progress of physiology seems at present to make vital functions appear less, not more, reducible than they seemed half a century ago; (c) that we are not within sight of a physico-chemical interpretation of the most distinctively vital processes such as anabolism and growth; and (d) that even if we had a complete record of all the transformations of matter and energy that go on within the living body in its every-day functions we should not be answering the biological question. As biologists we wish to describe the activity of the creature as a whole: What is the 'go' of it, how does it keep a-going? And while the analysis of particular items in the activity clears the ground and is important for special purposes, e.g., in medicine, it certainly does not give us a biological description." {16}

Whence, then, did life come? As we said above, there is no reasonable answer to this question save to admit that at some definite point in past lime it was placed upon the planet by the operation of an extra-mundane cause. So inevitable is this conclusion that Helmholtz, being unwilling to admit divine interference, suggested that the germs of life were conveyed to our earth by a meteoric stone.{17} The suggestion can only be regarded as extravagant. In the first place life, as we know it, demands definite conditions as to temperature: and there is no reason to believe that these are found elsewhere than on the earth. Secondly, even if we adopt the unlikely hypothesis that such life existed, and, what is more unlikely still, that after the cataclysmic destruction of the world in which it was found, some germs survived and were preserved on one of the fragments set adrift in space, these must needs have perished in those wide regions where there is no atmosphere. They would there have dried up and been extinguished. There is, in fact, no other possible explanation of the origin of life upon the globe than the direct action of a cause adequate to its production. That cause, as we have said, must have been living, intelligent, personal. But this can only have been God.

{1} The teleological argument may be presented in a form which brings it fully into line with the proofs given in chap. iii. It is possible to establish that, wherever there is efficient causality, there must also be final causality: that omne agens agit propter finem. If this principle be assured, then an argument from finality may be derived from any substance which is subject to change (cf. Garrigou-Lagrange op. cit., § 27, § 40). There is, however, no question that the manifest examples of finality which nature affords, appeal to most minds with greater persuasive force than the more abstract method here indicated, but which for that reason we do not employ.

{2} Paul Janet.Final Causes (Eng. trans.), p. 88.

{3} Op. cit. p.78.

{4} Op cit. p.211.

{5} C. J. Shebbeare, The Challenge of the Universe (London, 1918), c. vi., Beauty, p. iii.

{6} Reign of Law (1867), pp. 244 sqq.

{7} Life and Letters, vol. III., p. 25.

{8} Thoughts on Religion, edited by C. Gore (1895), p. 44.

{9} Origin of Species, c. vi., p. 160 (edit. 6).

{10} C. J. Shebbeare, The Challenge of the Universe, p. 123. "True beauty in a Negress is not to be looked for in her approximation to the type of the beautiful European, but in a characteristic beauty of her own, which only the minority

{11} Op. cit. p. 193.

{12} On man as the end for which all else in creation exists, see below, c. xvii., § 1.

{13} McTaggart, Some Dogmas of Religion, § 164.

{14} What is Life? by Sir B. C. A. Windle, F.R.S., etc., etc. (Edinburgh. 1908), p. 62.

{15} System ol Animate Nature, I., p. 157.

{16} Prof. J. A. Thomson, Is there One Science of Nature in the Hilbert Journal, Vol.X. (1901), pp. 113, 119.

{17}The hypothesis, it is manifest, in no way explains the origin of life. It merely sets its beginning one stage further back. It leaves the argument for God's existence unaffected. Thus Lord Kelvin, who himself somewhat favoured the theory, writes: "Even if some of the living things in the earth did originate in that way so far as the earth is concerned, the origin of the species elsewhere in the universe cannot have come about through the functions of dead matter: and to our merely scientific judgment the origin of life anywhere in the universe seems absolutely to imply creative power." Life by S. P. Thompson, p.1103.

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