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possibie variety of being hath, at one time or other, found its way into existence, (by what cause or in what manner is not said,) and that those which were badly formed, perished; but how or why those which survived should be cast, as we see that plants and animals are cast, into regular classes, the hypothesis does not explain; or rather, the hypothesis is inconsistent with this phenomenon. The hypothesis, indeed, is hardly deserving of the consideration which we have given to it. What should we think of a man who, because we had never ourselves seen watches, telescopes, stocking mills, steam engines, &c. made, knew not how they were made, or could prove by testimony when they were made, or by whom, would have us believe that these machines, instead of deriving their curious structures from the thought and design of their inventors and contrivers, in truth derive them from no other origin than this, viz. that a mass of metals and other materials having run when melted into all possible figures, and combined themselves in all possible forms and shapes, and proportions, these things which we see, are what were left from the accident, as best worth preserving; and, as such, are become the remaining stock of a magazine, which, at one time or other, has, by this means, contained every mechanism, useful and useless, convenient and inconvenient, into which such like materials could be thrown? I cannot distinguish the hypothesis as applied to the works of nature, from this solution, which no one would accept, as applied to a collection of machines. V. To the marks of contrivance discoverable in animal bodies, and to the argument deduced from them, in proof of design, and of a designing Creator, this turn is sometimes attempted to be given, viz. that the parts were not intended for the use, but that the use arose out of the parts. This distinction is intelligible. A cabinet maker rubs his mahogany with fish skin; yet it would be too much to assert that the skin of the dogfish was made rough and granulated on purpose for the polishing of wood, and the use of cabinetmakers. Therefore the distinction is intelligible. But I think that there is very little place for it in the works of nature. When roundly and generally affirmed of them, as it hath sometimes been, it amounts to such another stretch of assertion, as it would be to say, that all the implements of the cabinet-maker’s workshop, as well as the fish skin, were substances accidentally configurated, which he had picked up, and converted to his use; that his adzes, saws, places and gimlets, were not made, as we suppose, to hew
cux, umooth, shape out, or bore wood with; but that, these things being made, no matter with what design, or whether with any, the cabinet-maker perceived that they were applicable to his purpose, and turned them to account. But, again. So far as this solution is attempted to be applied to those parts of animals, the action of which does not depend upon the will of the animal, it is fraught with still more evident absurdity. Is it possible to believe that the eye was formed without any regard to vision; that it was the animal itself which found out, that, though formed with no such intention, it would serve to see with; and that the use of the eye, as an organ of sight, resulted from this discovery, and the animal's application of it? The same question may be asked of the ear; the same of all the senses. None of the senses fundamentally depend upon the election of the animal; consequently, neither upon his sagacity, nor his experience. It is the impression which objects make upon them, that constitutes their use. Under that impression, he is passive. He may bring objects to the sense, or within its reach; he may select these objects: but over the impression itself he has no power, or very little; and that properly is the sense. Secondly, There are many parts of animal bodies which seem to depend upon the will of the animal in a greater degree than the senses do, and yet, with respect to which, this solution is equally unsatisfactory. If we apply the solution to the human body, for instance, it forms itself into questions, upon which no reasonable mind can doubt; such as, whether the teeth were made expressly for the mastication of food, the feet for walk.g, the hands for holding; or whether, these things being as they are, being in fact in the animal’s possession, his own ingenuity taught him that they were convertible to these purposes, though no such purposes were contemplated in their formation. All that there is of the appearance of reason in this way of considering the subject is, that, in some cases, the organization seems to determine the habits of the animal, and its choice, to a particular mode of life; which, in a certain sense, may be called “the use arising out of the part.” Now to all the instances, in which there is any place for this suggestion, it may be replied, that the organization determines the animal to habits beneficial and salutary to itself; and that this effect would not be seen so regularly to follow, if the several organizations did not bear a concerted and contrived relation to the substance by which the animal was surrounded. They would, otherD*
wise, be capacities without objects; powers without employment. The web foot determines, you say, the duck to swim: but what would that avail, if there were no water to swim in 2 The strong hooked bill, and sharp talons, of one species of bird, determine it to prey upon animals, the soft straight oill, and weak claws, of another species, determine it to pick up seeds: but neither determination could take effect in providing for the sustenance of the birds, if animal bodies and vegetable seeds did not lie within their reach. The peculiar conformation of the bill, and tongue, and claws of the woodpecker, [Pl. XXVII. fig. 1, 2, 3] determines that bird to search for his food amongst the insects lodged behind the bark, or in the wood, of decayed trees: but what would this profit him, if there were no trees, no decayed trees, no insects lodged under their bark, or in their trunk? The proboscis with which the bee is furnished, determines him to seek for honey: but what would that signify, if flowers supplied none? Faculties thrown down upon animals at random, and without reference to the objects amidst which they are placed, would not produce to them the services and benefits which we see; and if there be that reference, then there is intention. Lastly, the solution fails entirely when applied to plants. The parts of plants answer their uses, without any concurnce from the will or choice of the plant. VI. Others have chosen to refer everything to a princi[. of order in nature. A principle of order is the word: ut what is meant by a principle of order, as different from an intelligent Creator, has not been explained either by definition or example; and, without such explanation, it should seem to be a mere substitution of words for rea
sons, names for causes. Order itself is only the adaptation
of means to an end: a principle of order, therefore, can only signify the mind and intention which so adapts them. Or, were it capable of being explained in any other sense, is there any experience, any analogy to sustain it? Was a watch ever produced by a principle of order? and why might not a watch be so produced as well as an eye? Furthermore, a principle of order, acting blindly and without choice, is negatived by the observation, that order is not universal; which it would be, if it issued from a constant and necessary principle; nor indiscriminate, which it would be, if it issued from an unintelligent principle. Where order is wanted, there we find it; where order is not wanted, i. e. where if it prevailed, it would be useless, there we do not find it. In the structure of the eye, (for we adhere to our example,) in the figure and position of it, several parts, the most exact order is maintained. In the forms of rocks and mountains, in the lines which bound the coasts of continents and islands, in the shape of bays and promontories, no order whatever is perceived, because it would have been superfluous. No useful purpose would have arisen from moulding rocks and mountains into regular solids, bound. ing the channel of the ocean by geometrical curves, or from the map of the world resembling a table of diagrams in Euclid's Elements, or Simpson's Conic Sections. VII. Lastly, the confidence which we place in our observations upon the works of nature, in the marks which we discover of contrivance, choice, and design, and in our reasoning upon the proofs afforded us, ought not to be shaken, as it is sometimes attempted to be done, by bringing forward to our view our own ignorance, or rather the general imperfection of our knowledge of nature. Nor, in many cases, ought this consideration to affect us, even when it respects some parts of the subject immediately under our notice. True fortitude of understanding consists in not suffering what we know to be disturbed by what we do not know. If we perceive a useful end, and means adapted to that end, we perceive enough for our conclusion. If these things be clear, no matter what is obscure. The argument is finished. For instance; if the utility of vision to the animal which enjoys it, and the adaptation of the eye to this office, be evident and certain, (and I can mention nothing which is more so,) ought it to prejudice the inference which we draw from these premises, that we cannot explan the use of the spleen? Nay, more; if there be parts of the eye, viz. the cornea, the crystalline, the retina, in their substance, figure, and position, manifestly suited to the formation of an image by the refraction of rays of light, at least, as manifestly as the glasses and tubes of a dioptric telescope are suited to that purpose; it concerns not the proof which these afford of design, and of a designer, that there may perhaps be other parts, certain muscles, for instance, or nerves in the same eye, of the agency or effect of which we can give no account; any more than we should be inclined to doubt, or ought to doubt, about the construction of a telescope, viz. for what purpose it was constructed, or whether it were constructed at all, because there belonged to it certain screws and pins, the use or action cf which we did not comprehend. I take it to be a general way of infusing doubts and scruples into the mind
to recur to its own ignorance, its own imbecility: to tell us that upon these subjects we know little; that little imperfectly; or rather, that we know nothing properly about the matter. These suggestions so fall in with our consciousnesses, as sometimes to produce a general distrust of our faculties and our conclusions. But this is an unfounded jealousy. The uncertainty of one thing, does not necessarily affect the certainty of another thing. Our ignorance of many points need not suspend our assurance of a few. Before we yield, in any particular instance, to the skepticism which this sort of insinuation would induce, we ought accurately to ascertain, whether our ignorance or doubt concern those precise points upon which our conclusion I ests. Other points are nothing. Our ignorance of other points may be of no consequence to these, though they be points, in various respects, of great importance. A just reasoner removes from his consideration, not only what he knows, but what he does not know, touching matters not strictly connected with his argument, i. e. not forming the very steps of his deduction; beyond these, his knowledge and his ignorance are alike relative.
* WERE there no example in the world of contrivance expept that of the eye, it would be alone sufficient to support the conclusion which we draw from it, as to the necessity of an intelligent Creator. It could never be got rid of; because it could not be accounted for by any other supposition, which did not contradict all the principles we posA sess of knowledge: the principles, according to which things : do, as often as they can be brought to the test of experience, turn out to be true or false. Its coats and humours. constructed as the lenses of a telescope are constructed, for the refraction of rays of light to a point, which forms the proper office of the organ: the provision in its muscles for turning its pupil to the object, similar to that which is given to the telescope by screws, and upon which power of direction in the eye, the exercise of its office as an optical instrument depends; the farther provision for its defence, fo, its constant lubricity and moisture, which we see in its socket ard its lids, in its gland for the secretion