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The Old Riddle and the Newest Answer   By: (1840-1912)

The Old Riddle and the Newest Answer by John Gerard

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THE OLD RIDDLE AND THE NEWEST ANSWER

The Lord St. Alban would say to some philosophers "Gentlemen, nature is a labyrinth, in which the very haste you move with, will make you lose your way." BACON, Apophthegms .

THE OLD RIDDLE AND THE NEWEST ANSWER

BY JOHN GERARD, S.J., F.L.S.

FOURTH EDITION

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. 39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON, NEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA

1907

ROEHAMPTON:

PRINTED BY JOHN GRIFFIN.

PREFACE

The enemies of Science are not the philistines alone if any still remain who would muzzle or stifle her. More numerous and dangerous are those professedly of her own household who ascribe to her pretensions of which she herself knows nothing, and strive to make her responsible for a philosophy entirely beyond her scope. With this object efforts are assiduously made to popularize the idea that nothing in heaven or earth is beyond her ken, and that she has rendered all such beliefs impossible as alone can satisfy the deeper cravings of humanity. At the same time the very brilliance of her achievements is apt to dazzle our eyes, blinding them to the extremely narrow limits of the field in which she can operate, and making us rush to the conclusion that she has solved the riddle which from the beginning of time Nature has offered to every thinking mind, or at least that what her search light cannot illumine must for ever remain unknowable.

How far such assumptions are rational, it is the object of the present enquiry to examine by means of the evidence furnished by Science herself in her own regard.

I have to thank Mr. W. E. Darwin for permission to use the illustration of feathers of the Argus Pheasant from his illustrious father's Descent of Man , and for the loan of blocks for the purpose. Through the courtesy of Messrs. Macmillan I am allowed to copy a portion of the plate in the late Professor Huxley's Lectures on Evolution , illustrating his pedigree of the Horse. If I forbear to mention others who have kindly supplied me with information, it is only lest it might be supposed that they are anywise responsible for the use I have made of it. The design on the cover of the present volume I owe to my friend Mr. Paul Woodroffe.

J. G.

March 10, 1904.

PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

In this edition, which has been thoroughly revised throughout, a few corrections have had to be made, especially in the Index, and in one or two instances alterations or additions have appeared advisable for the sake of clearness or accuracy of expression. Nothing has, however, as yet been brought to the author's notice which affects any substantial point in what he has written.

July 28, 1904.

PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION

This edition has again been thoroughly revised, and some new matter appended which bears on various points raised in the original volume, especially the establishment of the important group of the Cycado filices , as affecting the succession of plant life on the earth, and recent evidence concerning the pedigree of the horse.

December 21, 1906.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I PAGES

TO BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING

Certainty that there was a Beginning of the World What was there before? The Great Problem, to be answered by Reason and Science 1 3

CHAPTER II

REASON AND SCIENCE

Principles of Reasoning Scope and method of Science 4 7

CHAPTER III

EVOLUTION

Term variously used for a Process and a Principle. We commence with the latter 8 9

CHAPTER IV

"THE LAW OF EVOLUTION"

Evolution as a Philosophy Main features of the system 10 14

CHAPTER V

WHAT IS A "LAW OF NATURE"?

Erroneous use of the term frequent: its scientific use 15 19

CHAPTER VI

"THE LAW OF SUBSTANCE"

A combination of two other "Laws," viz... Continue reading book >>




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