Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

There is hardly, perhaps, a year passes, that does not, in the works of nature, bring some operation, or some mode of operation, to light, which was before undiscovered, probably unsuspected. Instances of the second kind, namely, where the part appears to be totally useless, I believe to be extremely rare: com-" pared with the number of those, of which the' use is evident, they are beneath any assignable' proportion: and, perhaps, have never been submitted to a trial and examination sufficiently accurate, long enough continued, or often enough repeated. No accounts which I have seen are fatisfactory. The mutilated animal may live and grow fat, as was the case of the dog deprived of its spleen, yet may be desective in some other of its functions; which whether they can all, or in what degree of vigour and persection, be performed, or how long preserved, without the extirpated organ,does not seem to be ascertained by experiment.. But to this case, even were it fully made out, may be applied the consideration which we suggested concerning the watch, viz. that these superfluous parts do not negative the reasoning which we instituted concerning those . . u.. .j :. parts

parts which are useful, and of which we know the use. The indication of contrivance, with respect to them, remains as it was before.

III. One atheistic way cf replying to our observations upon the works of nature, and to the proofs of a Deity which we think that we perceive in them, is to tell us, that all which we see must necessarily have had some form, and that it might as well be its present form as any other. Let us now apply this answer to the eye, as we did before to the watch. Something or other must have occupied that place in the animal's head; must have filled up, we will fay, that socket: we will fay also, that it must have been of that sort of substance which we call animal substance, as flesh, bone, membrane, cartilage, &c.: but that it should have been an eye, knowing as we do what an eye comprehends, viz. that it should have consisted, first, of a series of transparent, lenses (very different, by the bye, even in their substance, from the opaque materials of which the rest of the body is, in general at least, composed; and with which the whole of its surface, this single portion of it excepted, is covered): secondly, of a black cloth or canvass (the only membrane of the body which is

F black) black) spread out behind these lenses, so as to receive the image formed by pencils of light transmitted through them; and placed at the precise geometrical distance at which, and at which alone, a distinct image could be formed, namely, at the concourse of the refracted rays: thirdly, of a large nerve communicating between this membrane and the brain; without which the action of light upon the membrane, however modified by the organ, would be lost to the purposes of senfation. That this fortunate conformation of parts should have been the lot, not of one individual out of many thoufand individuals, like the great prize in a lottery, or like some singularity in nature, but the happy chance of a whole species; nor of one species out of many thoufand species, with which we are acquainted, but of by far the greatest number of all that exists ; and that under varieties, not casual or capricious, but bearing marks of being suited to their respective exigences ; that all this should have taken place, merely because something must have occupied those points in every animal's forehead; or, that all this should be thought to be accounted for, by the short answer, "that whatever was there must have

had had some form or other," is too absurd to be made more so by any argumentation* We are not contented with this answer, we find no satisfaction in it, by way of accounting for appearances of organization far short of those of the eye, such as we observe in fossil shells, petrified bones, or other substances which bear the vestiges of animal or vegetable recrements, but which, either in respect of utility, or of the situation in which they are discovered, may seem accidental enough. It is no way of accounting even for these things, to fay that the stone, for instance, which is shewn to us, (supposing the question to be concerning a petrlfication,) must have contained some internal conformation or other. Nor does it mend the answer to add, with respect to the singularity of the conformation, that, after the event, it is no longer to be computed what the chances were against it. This is always to be computed, when the question is whether all useful or imitative conformation be the product of chance or not. I desire no greater cerfaShty in reasoning, than that by which chance is excluded from the present disposition of the natural"world. Univerfal experience is against at does chance ever do for us? In the F a human human body, for instance, chance, i, e. the operation of causes without design, may produce a wen, a' wart, a mole, a pimple, but never an eye. Amongst inanimate substances,, a clod, a pebble, a liquid drop, might be; but never was a watch, a telescope, an organised body of any kind, answering a valuable "purpose by a complicated mechanism, the effect of chance. In no assignable instance hath such a thing existed without intention somewhere, J * .

IV. There is another answer which has the fame effect as the resolving of things into • chance; which answer would persuade us to believe, that the eye, the animal to which it belongs, every other animal, every plant, indeed every organized body which we see, are only so many out of the possible varieties and combinations of being, which the lapse of infinite ages has brought into existence : that the present world is the relict of that variety; millions of other bodily forms and other species having perished, being by the desects'Of their constitution incapable of preservation, tfr of continuance by generation. Now there ifr no foundation whatever for this conjecture in any thing which we observe in the works of Jha6l! ture:

« VorigeDoorgaan »