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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, namely, 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 dog-fish 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 work-shop, as well as hís fish-skin, were substances accidentally configurated, which he liad picked up, and converted to his use ; that his adzes, saws, planes, and gimlets, were not made, as we suppose, to her cut, smooth, 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 ques. tion may be asked of the ear; the same of all the
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 walking, 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 organisation 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 organisation 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 organisations did not bear a concerted and contrived relation to the substance by which the animal was surrounded. They would, otherwise, 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? The strong, hooked bill, and sharp talons, of one species of bird, determine it to prey upon animals; the soft, straight bill, 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 determines that bird to search for his food amongst the insects lodged behind the bark, or in the wood, of decayed trees: but what should 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 concurrence from the will or choice of the plant.
VI. Others have chosen to refer every thing to a principle of order in nature. A principle of order is the word: but what is meant by a principle of order, as different from an intelligent Creator, has not been explained either by definition or example: and, with
out such explana'ion, it should seem to be a mere substitution of words for reasons, names for causes. Order itself is only the ada; lation 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?
Farthermore, 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 its 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, bounding 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 ought it to prejudice the inference which we draw from these premises, that we cannot explain 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 of 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 uport these subjects we know little ; that little imperfectly ;