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If wish to climb the Matterhorn many paths lead up the lower slopes, and a stumble here may cost you only a sprain. And I suppose that several paths lead to the base of the cone. But thence to the summit there is but one path, and a misstep means death. Pardon these quotations and illustrations. They are my only means of at all adequately presenting to you a scientific man's conception of the meaning of the struggle for life. The laws of evolution are written in blood and bear the death penalty. For
"Life is not as idle ore,
There would seem therefore to be going on a process of natural selection. Natural selection seems to select more unsparingly and the struggle for life-or even existence-to grow fiercer as we advance from lower forms to higher in the animal kingdom.
But the theory which we have agreed to accept teaches us that these survivors are those which or who have conformed to their environment and that they have survived because of their conformity. And what do we mean by environment? And does not man modify his environment? Certainly he changes by irrigation a desert into a garden. He carries water against its tendency to the hill-top. But he has learned to do this only by studying the laws which govern the motions of fluids and rigorously obeying them. must carry his water in strong pipes and take it from
some higher point, or must use heat or some means to furnish the force to drive it to the higher point. He cannot change a single iota of the law, and gains control of the elements only by obedience to their laws. Electricity is man's best servant as long as he respects its laws, but it kills him who disobeys them. But does not man make his own surroundings in social life? He merely enters upon a new mode of life; and if this new mode be in conformity with the eternal forces and laws of environment man prospers in this new mode of life and conforms still more closely.
There is, indeed, but one environment, but the lower animal comes in contact with, and is affected by, but a small portion of its elements. Form and color were in the world before the animal had developed an eye, but up to this time these could have but little effect on animal life. Light vibrations were present in ether long before the animal by responding to them made them any part of its own true environment. There is vastly more in environment than man has yet discovered, and he will discover these elements only by obedience to their laws.
Environment includes ultimately all the forces and v elements which go to make up our world or universe. It is an exceedingly general term. I might say that under the environment of certain wheels, springs, and spindles, which we call a Jacquard loom, silk threads become a ribbon worthy of a queen. Is Nature and environment only a huge divine loom to weave man and something higher yet? One great difference is evident. Under normal conditions the silk must become a ribbon. But protoplasm can fail to conform and become waste. Environment is a very hard
word to define, and our views concerning it may differ.
One thing, however, seems to me clear and evident. If each successive stage in the ascending series is selected or survives on account of its conformity to environment there must be some element or power, something or somewhat in environment specially corresponding in some way to, or suited to drawing out, the characteristic of this ascending stage on account of which it survives. The forces and elements of environment make and work against those at each stage who wander from the right path, and for those who follow it. And thus natural selection arises as the total result of the combined working of all these forces. They all unite in one resultant working along a certain line, and natural selection is the effect of this resultant. In the stage represented by hydra the forces of environment combine in a resultant which works for digestion and reproduction and the best development of their organs. But as the animal changes he comes into a new relation or occupies a new position in respect to these forces. New elements in the old environment are beginning to press upon him. And the resultant changes accordingly. He may be compared to a steamer at sea which raises a sail. The wind has been blowing for hours, but the sail gives it a new hold on the ship. Steam and wind now combine in a new A resultant of forces. From worms upward environment manifests itself through natural selection as a power working for muscular force and brute strength or activity.
But soon natural selection ceases to select on the ground of brute force. After a time environment
proves to be a power making for shrewdness. And when the mammal has appeared the resultant of the forces of environment impels more and more toward unselfishness, and when man has appeared environment proves to be a "power, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness." But what shall we say of an environment which unmasks itself at last as a power making for intelligence, unselfishness, and righteousness? Someone may answer it is a host of chemical and physical forces bringing about very high ends. That is very true, but is it the whole truth? The thinking man must ask, How did it come about, and why is it that all these forces work together for such high moral and intelligent ends?
We face, therefore, the question, Can an environment which proves finally and ultimately to be a power not ourselves making for righteousness and unselfishness be purely material and mechanical? Or must there be in or behind it something spiritual? Shall we best call environment, in its highest manifestation, "it" or "him?"
The old argument of Socrates, as on the last day of his life he sits discoursing with his friends, still holds good. He is discussing the same old question, whether there is anything more than force, material, mechanism in the world. He says that one might assign as "the cause why I am sitting here that my body is composed of bones and muscles; that the bones are solid and separate, and that the muscles can be contracted and extended, and are all inclosed in the flesh and skin; and that the bones, being jointed, can be drawn by the muscles, and so I can move my legs as you see; and that this is the reason why I am sitting here. But by
the dog, these bones and muscles would long ago have carried me to Megara or Bocetia, moved by my opinion of what was best, if I had not thought it more right and honorable to submit to the sentence pronounced by the state than to run away from it. To call such things causes is absurd. For there is a great difference between the cause and that without which the cause would not produce its effect."
If there is no intelligence or love of truth in the cause, how can there be anything higher in the effect? And if Socrates had been only bone and muscle, he ought to have run away.
Our problem stands somewhat as follows: We have given protoplasm, a strange substance of marvellous capacities, which we call functions, and possessing a power of developing into beings of ever higher grades of organization. Environment proves to be a combination of forces working for the higher development of functions in a certain orderly sequence. And every lower function in the ascending line demands the development of the next higher. Digestion demands muscle, and muscle nerve, and nerve brain. We shall soon see that mammalian structure had to culminate in the family, and the family demands unselfishness and obedience. Environment therefore proves from the beginning to have been unceasingly working for the highest end; never, even temporarily, merely for the lower. For we have seen that environment works most unsparingly against those who, having taken certain of the steps in the ascending path, fail to continue therein.
But in order to attain this highest end for which it has always been working, an immense number of sub