Friday, February 23, 2018

What was evolution like originally? looking at Ernst Haeckel's "History of creation Vol. 1" chapter 13

As more evidence supports creationism our contemporary evolutinists have been putting up " smoke screens and bait-n-switch definitions of evolution in hopes of skating by the fact that evolution was already debunked.  However as we look back in the past we see the forefathers of evolution like the german evolutionary forefather ernst haekyl singing a different tune.
Here is the 13th chapter in full and uninterrupted.

The History of Creation, Vol. I (of 2), by Ernst Haeckel



History of the Development of the Earth.—Kant’s Theory of the Development of the Universe, or the Cosmological Gas Theory.—Development of Suns, Planets, and Moons.—First Origin of Water.—Comparison of Organisms and Anorgana.—Organic and Inorganic Substances.—Degrees of Density, or Conditions of Aggregation.—Albuminous Combinations of Carbon.—Organic and Inorganic Forms.—Crystals and Formless Organisms without Organs.—Stereometrical Fundamental Forms of Crystals and of Organisms.—Organic and Inorganic Forces.—Vital Force.—Growth and Adaptation in Crystals and in Organisms.—Formative Tendencies of Crystals.—Unity of Organic and Inorganic Nature.—Spontaneous Generation, or Archigony.—Autogony and Plasmogony.—Origin of Monera by Spontaneous Generation.—Origin of Cells from Monera.—The Cell Theory.—The Plastid Theory.—Plastids, or Structural Units.—Cytods and Cells.—Four Different Kinds of Plastids.
In our considerations hitherto we have endeavoured to answer the question, “By what causes have new species of animals and plants arisen out of existing species?” We have answered this question according to Darwin’s theory, that natural selection in the struggle for existence—that is, the interaction of the laws of Inheritance and Adaptation—is completely sufficient for producing mechanically the317 endless variety of the different animals and plants, which have the appearance of being organized according to a plan for a definite purpose. Meanwhile the question must have already repeatedly presented itself to the reader, how did the first organisms, or that one original and primæval organism arise, from which we derive all the others?

This question Lamarck(2) answered by the hypothesis of spontaneous generation, or archigony. But Darwin passes over and avoids this subject, as he expressly remarks that he has “nothing to do with the origin of the soul, nor with that of life itself.” At the conclusion of his work he expresses himself more distinctly in the following words:—“I imagine that probably all organic beings which ever lived on this earth descended from some primitive form, which was first called into life by the Creator.” Moreover, Darwin, for the consolation of those who see in the Theory of Descent the destruction of the whole “moral order of the universe,” appeals to the celebrated author and divine who wrote to him, that “he has gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that he created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that he required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of his laws.”
Those to whom the belief in a supernatural creation is an emotional necessity may rest satisfied with this conception. They may reconcile that belief with the Theory of Descent; for in the creation of a single original organism possessing the capability to develop all others out of itself by inheritance and adaptation, they can really find much more cause318 for admiring the power and wisdom of the Creator than in the independent creation of different species.
If, taking this point of view, we were to explain the origin of the first terrestrial organisms, from which all the others are descended, as due to the action of a personal Creator acting according to a definite plan, we should of course have to renounce all scientific knowledge of the process, and pass from the domain of true science to the completely distinct domain of poetical faith. By assuming a supernatural act of creation we should be taking a leap into the inconceivable. Before we decide upon this latter step, and thereby renounce all pretension to a scientific knowledge of the process, we are at all events in duty bound to endeavour to examine it in the light of a mechanical hypothesis. We must at least examine whether this process is really so wonderful, and whether we cannot form a tenable conception of a completely non-miraculous origin of the first primary organism. We might then be able entirely to reject miracle in creation.
It will be necessary for this purpose, first of all, to go back further into the past, and to examine the history of the creation of the earth. Going back still further, we shall find it necessary to consider the history of the creation of the whole universe in its most general outlines. All my readers undoubtedly know that from the structure of the earth, as it is at present known to us, the notion has been derived, and as yet has not been refuted, that its interior is in a fiery fluid condition, and that the firm crust, composed of different strata, on the surface of which organisms are living, forms only a very thin pellicle or shell round the fiery fluid centre. We have319 arrived at this idea by different confirmatory experiments and reasonings. In the first place, the observation that the temperature of the earth’s crust continually increases towards the centre is in favour of this supposition. The deeper we descend, the greater the warmth of the ground, and in such proportion, that with every 100 feet the temperature increases about one degree. At a depth of six miles, therefore, a heat of 1500° would be attained, sufficient to keep most of the firm substances of our earth’s crust in a molten, fiery, fluid state. This depth, however, is only the 286th part of the whole diameter of the earth (1717 miles). We further know that springs which rise out of a considerable depth possess a very high temperature, and sometimes even throw water up to the surface in a boiling state. Lastly, very important proofs are furnished by volcanic phenomena, the eruption of fiery fluid masses of stone bursting through certain parts of the earth’s crust. All these phenomena lead us with great certainty to the important assumption that the firm crust of the earth forms only quite a small fraction, not nearly the one-thousandth part of the whole diameter of the terrestrial globe, and that the rest is still for the most part in a molten or fiery fluid state.
Now if, starting with this assumption, we reflect on the ancient history of the development of the globe, we are logically carried back a step further, namely, to the assumption that at an earlier date the whole earth was a fiery fluid body, and that the formation of a thin, stiffened crust on the surface was only a later process. Only gradually, by radiating its intrinsic heat into the cold space of the universe, has the surface of the glowing ball become condensed into320 a thin crust. That the temperature of the earth in remote times was much higher than it is now, is proved by many phenomena. Among other things, this is rendered probable by the equal distribution of organisms in remote times of the earth’s history. While at present, as is well known, the different populations of animals and plants correspond to the different zones of the earth and their appropriate temperature, in earlier times this was distinctly not the case.

We see from the distribution of fossils in the remoter ages, that it was only at a very late date, in fact, at a comparatively recent period of the organic history of the earth (at the beginning of the so-called cænolithic or tertiary period), that a separation of zones and of the corresponding organic populations occurred. During the immensely long primary and secondary periods, tropical plants, which require a very high degree of temperature, lived not only in the present torrid zone, under the equator, but also in the present temperate and frigid zones. Many other phenomena also demonstrate a gradual decrease of the temperature of the globe as a whole, and especially a late and gradual cooling of the earth’s crust about the poles. Bronn, in his excellent “Investigations of the Laws of Development of the Organic World,” has collected numerous geological and palæontological proofs of this fact.
These phenomena and the mathematico-astronomical knowledge of the structure of the universe justify the theory that, inconceivable ages ago, long before the first existence of organisms, the whole earth was a fiery fluid globe. Now, this theory corresponds with the grand theory of the origin of the universe, and especially of our planetary system, which,321 on the ground of mathematical and astronomical facts, was put forward in 1755 by our critical philosopher Kant,(22) and was later more thoroughly established by the celebrated mathematicians, Laplace and Herschel. This cosmogeny, or theory of the development of the universe, is now almost universally acknowledged; it has not been replaced by a better one, and mathematicians, astronomers, and geologists have continually, by various arguments, strengthened its position.
Kant’s cosmogeny maintains that the whole universe, inconceivable ages ago, consisted of a gaseous chaos. All the substances which are found at present separated on the earth, and other bodies of the universe, in different conditions of density—in the solid, semi-fluid, liquid, and elastic fluid or gaseous states of aggregation—originally constituted together one single homogeneous mass, equally filling up the space of the universe, which, in consequence of an extremely high degree of temperature, was in an exceedingly thin gaseous or nebulous state. The millions of bodies in the universe which at present form the different solar systems did not then exist. They originated only in consequence of a universal rotatory movement, or rotation, during which a number of masses acquired greater density than the remaining gaseous mass, and then acted upon the latter as central points of attraction. Thus arose a separation of the chaotic primary nebula, or gaseous universe, into a number of rotating nebulous spheres, which became more and more condensed. Our solar system was such a gigantic gaseous or nebulous ball, all the particles of which revolved round a common central point, the solar nucleus. The nebulous ball itself, like all the rest, in consequence322 of its rotatory movement, assumed a spheroidal or a flattened globular form.
While the centripetal force attracted the rotating particles nearer and nearer to the firm central point of the nebulous ball, and thus condensed the latter more and more, the centrifugal force, on the other hand, always tended to separate the peripheral particles further and further from it, and to hurl them off. On the equatorial sides of the ball, which was flattened at both poles, this centrifugal force was strongest, and as soon as, by increase of density, it attained predominance over the centripetal force, a circular nebulous ring separated itself from the rotating ball. This nebulous ring marked the course of future planets. The nebulous mass of the ring gradually condensed, and became a planet, which revolved round its own axis, and at the same time rotated round the central body. In precisely the same manner, from the equator of the planetary mass, as soon as the centrifugal force gained predominance over the centripetal force, new nebulous rings were ejected, which moved round the planets as the latter moved round the sun. These nebulous rings, too, became condensed into rotating balls. Thus arose the moons, only one of which moves round our earth, whilst four move round Jupiter, and six round Uranus. The ring of Saturn still shows us a moon in its early stage of development. As by increasing refrigeration these simple processes of condensation and expulsion repeated themselves over and over again, there arose the different solar systems, the planets rotating round their central suns, and the satellites or moons moving round their planets.

The original gaseous condition of the rotating bodies of323 the universe gradually changed, by increasing refrigeration and condensation, into the fiery fluid or molten state of aggregation. By the process of condensation, a great quantity of heat was emitted, and the rotating suns, planets, and moons, soon changed into glowing balls of fire, like gigantic drops of melted metal, which emitted light and heat. By loss of heat, the melted mass on the surface of the fiery fluid ball became further condensed, and thus arose a thin, firm crust, which enclosed a fiery fluid nucleus. In all essential respects our mother earth probably did not differ from the other bodies of the universe.
In view of the object of these pages, it will not be of especial interest to follow in detail the history of the natural creation of the universe, with its different solar and planetary systems, and to establish it mathematically by the different astronomical and geological proofs. The outlines of it, which I have just mentioned, must be sufficient here, and for further details I refer to Kant’s 5 “General History of Nature and Theory of the Heavens.”(22) I will only add that this wonderful theory, which might be called the cosmological gas theory, harmonizes with all the general series of phenomena at present known to us, and stands in no irreconcilable contradiction to any one of them. Moreover, it is purely mechanical or monistic, makes use exclusively of the inherent forces of eternal matter, and entirely excludes every supernatural process, every prearranged and conscious action of a personal Creator. Kant’s Cosmological Gas Theory consequently occupies a similar supreme position in Anorganology, especially in Geology, and forms the crown of our knowledge in that department, in the same 324way as Lamarck’s Theory of Descent does in Biology, and especially in Anthropology. Both rest exclusively upon mechanical or unconscious causes (causæ efficientes), in no case upon prearranged or conscious causes (causæ finales). (Compare above, p. 100-106.) Both therefore fulfil all the demands of a scientific theory, and consequently will remain generally acknowledged until they are replaced by better ones.
I will, however, not deny that Kant’s grand cosmogeny has some weak points, which prevent our placing the same unconditional confidence in it as in Lamarck’s Theory of Descent. The notion of an original gaseous chaos filling the whole universe presents great difficulties of various kinds. A great and unsolved difficulty lies in the fact that the Cosmological Gas Theory furnishes no starting-point at all in explanation of the first impulse which caused the rotary motion in the gas-filled universe. In seeking for such an impulse, we are involuntarily led to the mistaken questioning about a “first beginning.” We can as little imagine a first beginning of the eternal phenomena of the motion of the universe as of its final end.
The universe is unlimited and immeasurable in both space and time. It is eternal, and it is infinite. Nor can we imagine a beginning or end to the uninterrupted and eternal motion in which all particles of the universe are always engaged. The great laws of the conservation of force(38) and the conservation of matter, the foundations of our whole conception of nature, admit of no other supposition. The universe, as far as it is cognisable to human capability, appears as a connected chain of material phenomena of motion, necessitating a continual change of325 forms. Every form, as the temporary result of a multiplicity of phenomena of motion, is as such perishable, and of limited duration. But, in the continual change of forms, matter and the motion inseparable from it remain eternal and indestructible.
Now, although Kant’s Cosmological Gas Theory is not able to explain the development of motion in the whole universe in a satisfactory manner, beyond that gaseous state of chaos, and although many other weighty considerations may be brought forward against it, especially by chemistry and geology, yet we must on the whole acknowledge its great merit, inasmuch as it explains in an excellent manner, by due consideration of development, the whole structure of all that is accessible to our observation, that is, the anatomy of the solar systems, and especially of our planetary system. It may be that this development was altogether different from what Kant supposes, and our earth may have arisen by the aggregation of numberless small meteorides, scattered in space, or in any other manner, but hitherto no one has as yet been able to establish any other theory of development, or to offer one in the place of Kant’s cosmogeny.
After this general glance at the monistic cosmogeny, or the non-miraculous history of the development of the universe, let us now return to a minute fraction of it, to our mother earth, which we left as a ball flattened at both poles and in a fiery fluid state, its surface having condensed by becoming cooled into a very thin firm crust. The crust, on first cooling, must have covered the whole surface of the terrestrial sphere as a continuous smooth and thin shell. But soon it must have become uneven and hummocky; for,326 since during the continued cooling, the fiery fluid nucleus became more and more condensed and contracted, and consequently the diameter of the earth diminished, the thin cold crust, which could not closely follow the softer nuclear mass, must have fallen in, in many places. An empty space would have arisen between the two, had not the pressure of the outer atmosphere forced down the fragile crust towards the interior, breaking it in so doing. Other unevennesses probably arose from the fact that, in different parts, the cooled crust during the process of refrigeration contracted also itself, and thus became fissured with cracks and rents. The fiery fluid nucleus flowed up to the external surface through these cracks, and again became cooled and stiff. Thus, even at an early period there arose many elevations and depressions, which were the first foundations of mountains and valleys.

After the temperature of the cooled terrestrial ball had fallen to a certain degree, a very important new process was effected, namely, the first origin of water. Water had until then existed only in the form of steam in the atmosphere surrounding the globe. The water could evidently not condense into a state of fluid drops until the temperature of the atmosphere had considerably decreased. Now, then, there began a further transformation of the earth’s crust by the force of water. It continually fell in the form of rain, and in that form washed down the elevations of the earth’s crust, filling the depressions with the mud carried along, and, by depositing it in layers, it caused the extremely important neptunic transformations of the earth’s crust, which have continued since then uninterruptedly, and which in our next chapter we shall examine a little more closely.327
It was not till the earth’s crust had so far cooled that the water had condensed into a fluid form, it was not till the hitherto dry crust of the earth had for the first time become covered with liquid water, that the origin of the first organisms could take place. For all animals and all plants—in fact, all organisms—consist in great measure of fluid water, which combines in a peculiar manner with other substances, and brings them into a semi-fluid state of aggregation. We can therefore, from these general outlines of the inorganic history of the earth’s crust, deduce the important fact, that at a certain definite time life had its beginning on earth, and that terrestrial organisms did not exist from eternity, but at a certain period came into existence for the first time.
Now, how are we to conceive of this origin of the first organisms? This is the point at which most naturalists, even at the present day, are inclined to give up the attempt at natural explanation, and take refuge in the miracle of an inconceivable creation. In doing so, as has already been remarked, they quit the domain of scientific knowledge, and renounce all further insight into the eternal laws which have determined nature’s history. But before despondingly taking such a step, and before we despair of the possibility of any knowledge of this important process, we may at least make an attempt to understand it. Let us see if in reality the origin of a first organism out of inorganic matter, the origin of a living body out of lifeless matter, is so utterly inconceivable and beyond all experience. In one word, let us examine the question of spontaneous generation, or archigony. In so doing, it is above all things necessary to form a clear idea of the principal properties of the two chief328 groups of natural bodies, the so-called inanimate or inorganic, and the animate or organic bodies, and then establish what is common to, and what are the differences between, the two groups. It is desirable to go somewhat carefully into the comparison of organisms and anorgana, since it is commonly very much neglected, although it is necessary for a right understanding of nature from the monistic point of view. It will be most advantageous here to look separately at the three fundamental properties of every natural body; these are matter, form, and force. Let us begin with matter. (Gen. Morph. iii.)
By chemistry we have succeeded in analysing all bodies known to us into a small number of elements or simple substances, which cannot be further divided, for example, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, and the different metals: potassium, sodium, iron, gold, etc. At present we know about seventy such elements or simple substances. The majority of them are unimportant and rare; the minority only are widely distributed, and compose not only most of the anorgana, but also all organisms. If we compare those elements which constitute the body of organisms with those which are met with in anorgana, we have first to note the highly important fact that in animal and vegetable bodies no element occurs but what can be found outside of them in inanimate nature. There are no special organic elements or simple organic substances.
The chemical and physical differences existing between organisms and anorgana, consequently, do not lie in their material foundation; they do not arise from the different nature of the elements composing them, but from the different manner in which the latter are united by chemical329 combination. This different manner of combination gives rise to certain physical peculiarities, especially in density of substance, which at first sight seems to constitute a deep chasm between the two groups of bodies. Inorganic or inanimate natural bodies, such as crystals and the amorphous rocks, are in a state of density which we call the firm or solid state, and which we oppose to the liquid state of water and to the gaseous state of air. It is familiar to every one that these three different degrees of density, or states of aggregation of anorgana, are by no means peculiar to the different elements, but are the results of a certain degree of temperature. Every inorganic solid body, by increase of temperature, can be reduced to the liquid or melted state, and, by further heat, to the gaseous or elastic state. In the same way most gaseous bodies, by a proper decrease of temperature can first be converted into a liquid state, and further, into a solid state of density.
In opposition to these three states of density of anorgana, the living body of all organisms—animals as well as plants—is in an altogether peculiar fourth state of aggregation. It is neither solid like stone, nor liquid like water, but presents rather a medium between these two states, which may therefore be designated as the firm-fluid or swollen state of aggregation (viscid). In all living bodies, without exception, there is a certain quantity of water combined in a peculiar way with solid matter, and owing to this characteristic combination of water with solid matter we have that soft state of aggregation, neither solid nor liquid, which is of great importance in the mechanical explanation of the phenomena of life. Its cause lies essentially in the physical and chemical properties of a simple, indivisible,330 elementary substance, namely, carbon (Gen. Morph. i. 122-130).
Of all elements, carbon is to us by far the most important and interesting, because this simple substance plays the largest part in all animal and vegetable bodies known to us. It is that element which, by its peculiar tendency to form complicated combinations with the other elements, produces the greatest variety of chemical compounds, and among them the forms and living substance of animal and vegetable bodies. Carbon is especially distinguished by the fact that it can unite with the other elements in infinitely manifold relations of number and weight. By the combination of carbon with three other elements, with oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen (to which generally sulphur, and frequently, also, phosphorus is added), there arise those exceedingly important compounds which we have become acquainted with as the first and most indispensable substratum of all vital phenomena, the albuminous combinations, or albuminous bodies (protean matter).
We have before this (p. 185) become acquainted with the simplest of all species of organisms in the Monera, whose entire bodies when completely developed consist of nothing but a semi-fluid albuminous lump; they are organisms which are of the utmost importance for the theory of the first origin of life. But most other organisms, also, at a certain period of their existence—at least, in the first period of their life—in the shape of egg-cells or germ-cells, are essentially nothing but simple little lumps of such albuminous formative matter, known as plasma, or protoplasma. They then differ from the Monera only by the fact that in the interior of the albuminous corpuscle the cell-kernel, or nucleus, has331 separated itself from the surrounding cell-substance (protoplasma). As we have already pointed out, the cells, with their simple attributes, are so many citizens, who by co-operation and differentiation build up the body of even the most perfect organism; this being, as it were, a cell republic (p. 301). The fully developed form and the vital phenomena of such an organism are determined solely by the activities of these small albuminous corpuscles.

It may be considered as one of the greatest triumphs of recent biology, especially of the theory of tissues, that we are now able to trace the wonder of the phenomena of life to these substances, and that we can demonstrate the infinitely manifold and complicated physical and chemical properties of the albuminous bodies to be the real cause of organic or vital phenomena. All the different forms of organisms are simply and directly the result of the combination of the different forms of cells. The infinitely manifold varieties of form, size, and combination of the cells have arisen only gradually by the division of labour, and by the gradual adaptation of the simple homogeneous lumps of plasma, which originally were the only constituents of the cell-mass. From this it follows of necessity that the fundamental phenomena of life—nutrition and generation—in their highest manifestations, as well as in their simplest expressions, must also be traced to the material nature of that albuminous formative substance. The other vital activities are gradually evolved from these two. Thus, then, the general explanation of life is now no more difficult to us than the explanation of the physical properties of inorganic bodies. All vital phenomena and formative processes of organisms are as directly dependent upon the332 chemical composition and the physical forces of organic matter as the vital phenomena of inorganic crystals—that is, the process of their growth and their specific formation—are the direct results of their chemical composition and of their physical condition. The ultimate causes, it is true, remain in both cases concealed from us. When gold and copper crystallize in a cubical, bismuth and antimony in a hexagonal, iodine and sulphur in a rhombic form of crystal, the occurrence is in reality neither more nor less mysterious to us than is every elementary process of organic formation, every self-formation of the organic cell. In this respect we can no longer draw a fundamental distinction between organisms and anorgana, a distinction of which, formerly, naturalists were generally convinced.
Let us secondly examine the agreements and differences which are presented to us in the formation of organic and inorganic natural bodies (Gen. Morph. i. 130). Formerly the simple structure of the latter and the composite structure of the former were looked upon as the principal distinction. The body of all organisms was supposed to consist of dissimilar or heterogeneous parts, of instruments or organs which worked together for the purposes of life. On the other hand, the most perfect anorgana, that is to say, crystals, were supposed to consist entirely of continuous or homogeneous matter. This distinction appears very essential. But it loses all importance through the fact that in late years we have become acquainted with the exceedingly remarkable and important Monera.(15) (Compare above, p. 185.) The whole body of these most simple of all organisms—a semi-fluid, formless, and simple lump of albumen—consists, in fact, of only a single chemical combination, 333 and is as perfectly simple in its structure as any crystal, which consists of a single inorganic combination, for example, of a metallic salt or of a silicate of the earths and alkalies.
As naturalists believed in differences in the inner structure or composition, so they supposed themselves able to find complete differences in the external forms of organisms and anorgana, especially in the mathematically determinable crystalline forms of the latter. Certainly crystallization is pre-eminently a quality of the so-called anorgana. Crystals are limited by plane surfaces, which meet in straight lines and at certain measurable angles. Animal and vegetable forms, on the contrary, seem at first sight to admit of no such geometrical determination. They are for the most part limited by curved surfaces and crooked lines, which meet at variable angles. But in recent times we have become acquainted, among Radiolaria(23) and among many other Protista, with a large number of lower organisms, whose body, in the same way as crystals, may be traced to a mathematically determinable fundamental form, and whose form in its whole, as well as in its parts, is bounded by definite geometrically determinable planes and angles. In my general doctrine of Fundamental Forms, or Promorphology, I have given detailed proofs of this, and at the same time established a general system of forms, the ideal stereometrical type-forms, which explain the real forms of inorganic crystals, as well as of organic individuals (Gen. Morph. i. 375-574). Moreover, there are also perfectly amorphous organisms, like the Monera, Amœba, etc., which change their forms every moment, and in which we are as little able to point out a definite fundamental form as in334 the case of the shapeless or amorphous anorgana, such as non-crystallized stones, deposits, etc. We are consequently unable to find any essential difference in the external forms or the inner structure of anorgana and organisms.
Thirdly, let us turn to the forces or the phenomena of motion of these two different groups of bodies (Gen. Morph. i. 140). Here we meet with the greatest difficulties. The vital phenomena, known as a rule only in the highly developed organisms, in the more perfect animals and plants, seem there so mysterious, so wonderful, so peculiar, that most persons are decidedly of opinion that in inorganic nature there occurs nothing at all similar, or in the least degree comparable to them. Organisms are for this very reason called animate, and the anorgana, inanimate natural bodies. Hence, even so late as the commencement of the present century, the science which investigates the phenomena of life, namely physiology, retained the erroneous idea that the physical and chemical properties of matter were not sufficient for explaining these phenomena. In our own day, especially during the last ten years, this idea may be regarded as having been completely refuted. In physiology, at least, it has now no place. It now never occurs to a physiologist to consider any of the vital phenomena as the result of a mysterious vital force, of an active power working for a definite purpose, standing outside of matter, and, so to speak, taking only the physico-chemical forces into its service. Modern physiology has arrived at the strictly monistic conviction that all of the vital phenomena, and, above all, the two fundamental phenomena of nutrition and propagation are purely physico-chemical processes, and directly dependent335 on the material nature of the organism, just as all the physical and chemical qualities of every crystal are determined solely by its material composition. Now, as the elementary substance which determines the peculiar material composition of organisms is carbon, we must ultimately reduce all vital phenomena, and, above all, the two fundamental phenomena of nutrition and propagation to the properties of the carbon. The peculiar-chemico-physical properties, and especially the semi-fluid state of aggregation, and the easy decomposibility of the exceedingly composite albuminous combinations of carbon, are the mechanical causes of those peculiar phenomena of motion which distinguish organisms from anorgana, and which in a narrow sense are usually called “life.”
In order to understand this “carbon theory,” which I have established in detail in the second book of my General Morphology, it is necessary, above all things, closely to examine those phenomena of motion which are common to both groups of natural bodies. First among them is the process of growth. If we cause any inorganic solution of salt slowly to evaporate, crystals are formed in it, which slowly increase in size during the continued evaporation of the water. This process of growth arises from the fact that new particles continually pass over from the fluid state of aggregation into the solid, and, according to certain laws, deposit themselves upon the firm kernel of the crystal already formed. From such an apposition of particles arise the mathematically definite crystalline shapes. In like manner the growth of organisms takes place by the accession of new particles. The only difference is that in the growth of organisms, in consequence of their semi-fluid state of336 aggregation, the newly-added particles penetrate into the interior of the organism (inter-susception), whereas anorgana receive homogeneous matter from without only by apposition or an addition of new particles to the surface. This important difference of growth by inter-susception and by apposition is obviously only the necessary and direct result of the different conditions of density or state of aggregation in organisms and anorgana.

Unfortunately I cannot here follow in detail the various exceedingly interesting parallels and analogies which occur between the formation of the most perfect anorgana, the crystals, and the formation of the simplest organisms, the Monera and their next kindred forms. For this I must refer to a minute comparison of organisms and anorgana, which I have carried out in the fifth chapter of my General Morphology (Gen. Morph. i. 111-160). I have there shown in detail that there exist no complete differences between organic and inorganic natural bodies, neither in respect to form and structure, nor in respect to matter and force; and that the actually existing differences are dependent upon the peculiar nature of the carbon; and that there exists no insurmountable chasm between organic and inorganic nature. We can perceive this most important fact very clearly if we examine and compare the origin of the forms in crystals and in the simplest organic individuals. In the formation of crystal individuals, two different counteracting formative tendencies come into operation. The inner constructive force, or the inner formative tendency, which corresponds to the Heredity of organisms, in the case of the crystal is the direct result of its material constitution or of its chemical composition. The form of the crystal, so far as337 it is determined by this inner original formative tendency, is the result of the specific and definite way in which the smallest particles of the crystallizing matter unite together in different directions according to law. That independent inner formative force, which is directly inherent in the matter itself, is directly counteracted by a second formative force. The external constructive force, or the external formative tendency, may be called Adaptation in crystals as well as in organisms. Every crystal individual during its formation, like every organic individual, must submit and adapt itself to the surrounding influences and conditions of existence of the outer world. In fact, the form and size of every crystal is dependent upon its whole surroundings, for example, upon the vessel in which the crystallization takes place, upon the temperature and the pressure of the air under which the crystal is formed, upon the presence or absence of heterogeneous bodies, etc. Consequently, the form of every single crystal, like the form of every single organism, is the result of the interaction of two opposing factors—the inner formative tendency, which is determined by the chemical constitution of the matter itself, and of the external formative tendency, which is dependent upon the influence of surrounding matter. Both these constructive forces interact similarly also in the organism, and, just as in the crystal, are of a purely mechanical nature and directly inherent in the substance of the body. If we designate the growth and the formation of organisms as a process of life, we may with equal reason apply the same term to the developing crystal. The teleological conception of nature, which looks upon organisms as machines of creation arranged for a definite purpose, must logically acknowledge the same also338 in regard to the forms of crystals. The differences which exist between the simplest organic individuals and inorganic crystals are determined by the solid state of aggregation of the latter, and by the semi-fluid state of the former. Beyond that the causes producing form are exactly the same in both. This conviction forces itself upon us most clearly, if we compare the exceedingly remarkable phenomena of growth, adaptation, and the “correlation of parts” of developing crystals with the corresponding phenomena of the origin of the simplest organic individuals (Monera and cells). The analogy between the two is so great that, in reality, no accurate boundary can be drawn. In my General Morphology I have quoted in support of this a number of striking facts (Gen. Morph. i. 146, 156, 158.)
If we vividly picture to ourselves this “unity of organic and inorganic nature” this essential agreement of organisms and anorgana in matter, form, and force, and if we bear in mind that we are not able to establish any one fundamental distinction between these two groups of bodies (as was formerly generally assumed), then the question of spontaneous generation will lose a great deal of the difficulty which at first seems to surround it. Then the development of the first organism out of inorganic matter will appear a much more easily conceivable and intelligible process than has hitherto been the case, whilst an artificial absolute barrier between organic or animate, and inorganic or inanimate nature was maintained.
In the question of spontaneous generation, or archigony, which we can now answer more definitely, it must be borne in mind that by this conception we understand generally the non-parental generation of an organic individual, the339 origin of an organism independent of a parental or producing organism. It is in this sense that on a former occasion (p. 183) I mentioned spontaneous generation (archigony) as opposed to parental generation or propagation (tocogony). In the latter case the organic individual arises by a greater or less portion of an already existing organism separating itself and growing independently. (Gen. Morph. ii. 32.)
In spontaneous generation, which is often also called original generation (generatio spontanea, æquivoca, primaria etc.), we must first distinguish two essentially different kinds, namely, autogeny and plasmogeny. By autogeny we understand the origin of a most simple organic individual in an inorganic formative fluid, that is, in a fluid which contains the fundamental substances for the composition of the organism dissolved in simple and loose combinations (for example, carbonic acid, ammonia, binary salts, etc.). On the other hand, we call spontaneous generation plasmogeny when the organism arises in an organic formative fluid, that is, in a fluid which contains those requisite fundamental substances dissolved in the form of complicated and fluid combinations of carbon (for example, albumen, fat, hydrate of carbon, etc.). (Gen. Morph. i. 174, ii. 33.)
Neither the process of autogeny, nor that of plasmogeny, has yet been directly observed with perfect certainty. In early, and also in more recent times, numerous and interesting experiments have been made as to the possibility or reality of spontaneous generation. Almost all these experiments refer not to autogeny, but to plasmogeny, to the origin of an organism out of already formed organic matter.340 It is evident, however, that this latter process is only of subordinate interest for our history of creation. It is much more important for us to solve the question, “Is there such a thing as autogeny? Is it possible that an organism can arise, not out of pre-existing organic, but out of purely inorganic, matter?” Hence we can quietly lay aside all the numerous experiments which refer only to plasmogeny, which have been carried on very zealously during the last ten years, and which for the most part have had a negative result. For even supposing that the reality of plasmogeny were strictly proved, still autogeny would not be explained by it.

The experiments on autogeny have likewise as yet furnished no certain and positive result. Yet we must at the outset most distinctly protest against the notion that these experiments have proved the impossibility of spontaneous generation in general. Most naturalists who have endeavoured to decide this question experimentally, and who, after having employed all possible precautionary measures, under well-ascertained conditions, have seen no organisms come into being, have straightway made the assertion, on the ground of these negative results: “That it is altogether impossible for organisms to come into existence by themselves without parental generation.” This hasty and inconsiderate assertion they have supported by the negative results of their experiments, which, after all, could prove nothing except that, under these or those highly artificial circumstances created by the experimenters themselves, no organism was developed. From these experiments, which have been for the most part made under the most unnatural conditions, and in a highly artificial341 manner, we can by no means draw the conclusion that spontaneous generation in general is impossible. The impossibility of such a process can, in fact, never be proved. For how can we know that in remote primæval times there did not exist conditions quite different from those at present obtaining, and which may have rendered spontaneous generation possible? Indeed, we can even positively and with full assurance maintain that the general conditions of life in primæval times must have been entirely different from those of the present time. Think only of the fact that the enormous masses of carbon which we now find deposited in the primary coal mountains were first reduced to a solid form by the action of vegetable life, and are the compressed and condensed remains of innumerable vegetable substances, which have accumulated in the course of many millions of years. But at the time when, after the origin of water in a liquid state on the cooled crust of the earth, organisms were first formed by spontaneous generation, those immeasurable quantities of carbon existed in a totally different form, probably for the most part dispersed in the atmosphere in the shape of carbonic acid. The whole composition of the atmosphere was therefore extremely different from the present. Further, as may be inferred upon chemical, physical, and geological grounds, the density and the electrical conditions of the atmosphere were quite different. In like manner the chemical and physical nature of the primæval ocean, which then continuously covered the whole surface of the earth as an uninterrupted watery sheet, was quite peculiar. The temperature, the density, the amount of salt, etc., must have been very different from those of the present ocean. In342 any case, therefore, even if we do not know anything more about it, there remains to us the supposition, which can at least not be disputed, that at that time, under conditions quite different from those of to-day, a spontaneous generation, which now is perhaps no longer possible, may have taken place.
But it is necessary to add here that, by the recent progress of chemistry and physiology, the mysterious and miraculous character which at first seems to belong to this much disputed and yet inevitable process of spontaneous generation, has been to a great extent, or almost entirely, destroyed. Not fifty years ago, all chemists maintained that we were unable to produce artificially in our laboratories any complicated combination of carbon, or so-called “organic combination.” The mystic “vital force” alone was supposed to be able to produce these combinations. When, therefore, in 1828, Wöhler, in Göttingen, for the first time refuted this dogma, and exhibited pure “organic” urea, obtained in an artificial manner from a purely inorganic body (cyanate of ammonium), it caused the greatest surprise and astonishment. In more recent times, by the progress of synthetic chemistry, we have succeeded in producing in our laboratories a great variety of similar “organic” combinations of carbon, by purely artificial means—for example alcohol, acetic acid, formic acid. Indeed, many exceedingly complicated combinations of carbon are now artificially produced, so that there is every likelihood, sooner or later, of our producing artificially the most complicated, and at the same time the most important of all, namely, the albuminous combinations, or plasma-bodies. By the consideration of this probability, the deep chasm which was343 formerly and generally believed to exist between organic and inorganic bodies is almost or entirely removed, and the way is paved for the conception of spontaneous generation.
Of still greater, nay, the very greatest importance to the hypothesis of spontaneous generation are, finally, the exceedingly remarkable Monera, those creatures which we have already so frequently mentioned, and which are not only the simplest of all observed organisms, but even the simplest of all imaginable organisms. I have already described these wonderful “organisms without organs,” when examining the simplest phenomena of propagation and inheritance. We already know seven different genera of these Monera, some of which live in fresh water, others in the sea (compare above, p. 184; also Plate I. and its explanation in the Appendix). In a perfectly developed and freely motile state, they one and all present us with nothing but a simple little lump of an albuminous combination of carbon. The individual genera and species differ only a little in the manner of propagation and development, and in the way of taking nourishment. Through the discovery of these organisms, which are of the utmost importance, the supposition of a spontaneous generation loses most of its difficulties. For as all trace of organization—all distinction of heterogeneous parts—is still wanting in them, and as all the vital phenomena are performed by one and the same homogeneous and formless matter, we can easily imagine their origin by spontaneous generation. If this happens through plasmogeny, and if plasma capable of life already exists, it then only needs to individualize itself in the same way as the mother liquor of crystals individualizes itself in crystallization. If, on the other hand, the spontaneous generation344 of the Monera takes place by true autogeny, then it is further requisite that that plasma capable of life, that primæval mucus, should be formed out of simpler combinations of carbon. As we are now able artificially to produce, in our laboratories, combinations of carbon similar to this in the complexity of their constitution, there is absolutely no reason for supposing that there are not conditions in free nature also, in which such combinations could take place. Formerly, when the doctrine of spontaneous generation was advocated, it failed at once to obtain adherents on account of the composite structure of the simplest organisms then known. It is only since we have discovered the exceedingly important Monera, only since we have become acquainted in them with organisms not in any way built up of distinct organs, but which consist solely of a single chemical combination, and yet grow, nourish, and propagate themselves, that this great difficulty has been removed, and the hypothesis of spontaneous generation has gained a degree of probability which entitles it to fill up the gap existing between Kant’s cosmogony and Lamarck’s Theory of Descent. Even among the Monera at present known there is a species which probably, even now, always comes into existence by spontaneous generation. This is the wonderful Bathybius Hæckelii, discovered and described by Huxley. As I have already mentioned (p. 184), this Moneron is found in the greatest depths of the sea, at a depth of between 12,000 and 24,000 feet, where it covers the ground partly as retiform threads and plaits of plasma, partly in the form of larger or smaller irregular lumps of the same material.6

Only such homogeneous organisms as are yet not differentiated, and are similar to inorganic crystals in being homogeneously composed of one single substance, could arise by spontaneous generation, and could become the primæval parents of all other organisms. In their further development we have pointed out that the most important process is the formation of a kernel or nucleus in the simple little lump of albumen. We can conceive this to take place in a purely physical manner, by the condensation of the innermost central part of the albumen. The more solid central mass, which at first gradually shaded off into the peripheral plasma, becomes sharply separated from it, and thus forms an independent, round, albuminous corpuscle, the kernel; and by this process the Moneron becomes a cell. Now, it must have become evident from our previous chapters, that the further development of all other organisms out of such a cell presents no difficulty, for every animal and every plant, in the beginning of its individual life, is a simple cell. Man, as well as every other animal, is at first nothing but a simple egg-cell, a single lump of mucus, containing a kernel (p. 297, Fig. 5).
In the same way as the kernel of the organic cell arose in the interior or central mass of the originally homogeneous lump of plasma, by separation, so, too, the first cell-membrane was formed on its surface. This simple, but most important process, as has already been remarked, can likewise be explained in a purely physical manner, either as a chemical deposit, or as a physical condensation in the uppermost stratum of the mass, or as a secretion. One of the first processes of adaptation effected by the Moneron originating by spontaneous generation must have been the condensation346 of an external crust, which as a protecting covering shut in the softer interior from the hostile influences of the outer world. As soon as, by condensation of the homogeneous Moneron, a cell-kernel arose in the interior and a membrane arose on the surface, all the fundamental parts of the unit were furnished, out of which, by infinitely manifold repetition and combination, as attested by actual observation, the body of higher organisms is constructed.
As has already been mentioned, our whole understanding of an organism rests upon the cell theory established thirty years ago by Schleiden and Schwann. According to it, every organism is either a simple cell or a cell-community, a republic of closely connected cells. All the forms and vital phenomena of every organism are the collective result of the forms and vital phenomena of all the single cells of which it is composed. By the recent progress of the cell theory it has become necessary to give the elementary organisms, that is, the “organic” individuals of the first order, which are usually designated as cells, the more general and more suitable name of form-units, or plastids. Among these form-units we distinguish two main groups, namely, the cytods and the genuine cells. The cytods are, like the Monera, pieces of plasma without a kernel (p. 186, Fig. 1). Cells, on the other hand, are pieces of plasma containing a kernel or nucleus (p. 188, Fig. 2). Each of these two main groups of plastids is again divided into two subordinate groups, according as they possess or do not possess an external covering (skin, shell, or membrane). We may accordingly distinguish the following four grades or species of plastids, namely: 1. Simple cytods (p. 186, Fig. 1 A); 2. Encased cytods; 3. Simple cells (p. 188,347 Fig. 2 B); 4. Encased cells (p. 188, Fig. 2 A). (Gen. Morph. i. 269-289.)

Concerning the relation of these four forms of plastids to spontaneous generation, the following is the most probable:—1. The simple cytods (Gymnocytoda), naked particles of plasma without kernel, like the still living Monera, are the only plastids which directly come into existence by spontaneous generation. 2. The enclosed cytods (Lepocytoda), particles of plasma without kernel, which are surrounded by a covering (membrane or shell), arose out of the simple cytods either by the condensation of the outer layers of plasma or by the secretion of a covering. 3. The simple cells (Gymnocyta), or naked cells, particles of plasma with kernel, but without covering, arose out of the simple cytods by the condensation of the innermost particles of plasma into a kernel, or nucleus, by differentiation of a central kernel and peripheral cell-substance. 4. The enclosed cells (Lepocyta), or testaceous cells, particles of plasma with kernel and an outer covering (membrane or shell), arose either out of the enclosed cytods by the formation of a kernel, or out of the simple cells by the formation of a membrane. All the other forms of form-units, or plastids, met with, besides these, have only subsequently arisen out of these four fundamental forms by natural selection, by descent with adaptation, by differentiation and transformation.
By this theory of plastids, by deducing all the different forms of plastids, and hence, also, all organisms composed of them, from the Monera, we obtain a simple and natural connection in the whole series of the development of nature. The origin of the first Monera by spontaneous generation348 appears to us as a simple and necessary event in the process of the development of the earth. We admit that this process, as long as it is not directly observed or repeated by experiment, remains a pure hypothesis. But I must again say that this hypothesis is indispensable for the consistent completion of the non-miraculous history of creation, that it has absolutely nothing forced or miraculous about it, and that certainly it can never be positively refuted. It must be taken into consideration that the process of spontaneous generation, even if it still took place daily and hourly, would in any case be exceedingly difficult to observe and establish with absolute certainty as such. With regard to the Monera, we find ourselves placed before the following alternative: either they are actually directly derived from pre-existing, or “created,” most ancient Monera, and in this case they would have had to propagate themselves unchanged for many millions of years, and to have maintained their original form of simple particles of plasma; or, the present Monera have originated much later in the course of the organic history of the earth, by repeated acts of spontaneous generation, and in this case spontaneous generation may take place now as well as then. The latter supposition has evidently much more probability on its side than the former.
If we do not accept the hypothesis of spontaneous generation, then at this one point of the history of development we must have recourse to the miracle of a supernatural creation. The Creator must have created the first organism, or a few first organisms, from which all others are derived, and as such he must have created the simplest Monera, or primæval cytods, and given them the capability349 of developing further in a mechanical way. I leave it to each one of my readers to choose between this idea and the hypothesis of spontaneous generation. To me the idea that the Creator should have in this one point arbitrarily interfered with the regular process of development of matter, which in all other cases proceeds entirely without his interposition, seems to be just as unsatisfactory to a believing mind as to a scientific intellect. If, on the other hand, we assume the hypothesis of spontaneous generation for the origin of the first organisms, which in consequence of reasons mentioned above, and especially in consequence of the discovery of the Monera, has lost its former difficulty, then we arrive at the establishment of an uninterrupted natural connection between the development of the earth and the organisms produced on it, and, in this last remaining lurking-place of obscurity, we can proclaim the unity of all Nature, and the unity of her laws of Development (Gen. Morph. i. 164)"

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