Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The Story of Evolution   By: (1867-1955)

Book cover

First Page:

THE STORY OF EVOLUTION

By Joseph McCabe

1912

PREFACE

An ingenious student of science once entertained his generation with a theory of how one might behold again all the stirring chapters that make up the story of the earth. The living scene of our time is lit by the light of the sun, and for every few rays that enter the human eye, and convey the image of it to the human mind, great floods of the reflected light pour out, swiftly and indefinitely, into space. Imagine, then, a man moving out into space more rapidly than light, his face turned toward the earth. Flashing through the void at, let us say, a million miles a second, he would (if we can overlook the dispersion of the rays of light) overtake in succession the light that fell on the French Revolution, the Reformation, the Norman Conquest, and the faces of the ancient empires. He would read, in reverse order, the living history of man and whatever lay before the coming of man.

Few thought, as they smiled over this fairy tale of science, that some such panoramic survey of the story of the earth, and even of the heavens, might one day be made in a leisure hour by ordinary mortals; that in the soil on which they trod were surer records of the past than in its doubtful literary remains, and in the deeper rocks were records that dimly lit a vast abyss of time of which they never dreamed. It is the supreme achievement of modern science to have discovered and deciphered these records. The picture of the past which they afford is, on the whole, an outline sketch. Here and there the details, the colour, the light and shade, may be added; but the greater part of the canvas is left to the more skilful hand of a future generation, and even the broad lines are at times uncertain. Yet each age would know how far its scientific men have advanced in constructing that picture of the growth of the heavens and the earth, and the aim of the present volume is to give, in clear and plain language, as full an account of the story as the present condition of our knowledge and the limits of the volume will allow. The author has been for many years interested in the evolution of things, or the way in which suns and atoms, fishes and flowers, hills and elephants, even man and his institutions, came to be what they are. Lecturing and writing on one or other phase of the subject have, moreover, taught him a language which the inexpert seem to understand, although he is not content merely to give a superficial description of the past inhabitants of the earth.

The particular features which, it is hoped, may give the book a distinctive place in the large literature of evolution are, first, that it includes the many evolutionary discoveries of the last few years, gathers its material from the score of sciences which confine themselves to separate aspects of the universe, and blends all these facts and discoveries in a more or less continuous chronicle of the life of the heavens and the earth. Then the author has endeavoured to show, not merely how, but why, scene succeeds scene in the chronicle of the earth, and life slowly climbs from level to level. He has taken nature in the past as we find it to day: an interconnected whole, in which the changes of land and sea, of heat and cold, of swamp and hill, are faithfully reflected in the forms of its living population. And, finally, he has written for those who are not students of science, or whose knowledge may be confined to one branch of science, and used a plain speech which assumes no previous knowledge on the reader's part.

For the rest, it will be found that no strained effort is made to trace pedigrees of animals and plants when the material is scanty; that, if on account of some especial interest disputable or conjectural speculations are admitted, they are frankly described as such; and that the more important differences of opinion which actually divide astronomers, geologists, biologists, and anthropologists are carefully taken into account and briefly explained... Continue reading book >>




eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book



Popular Genres
More Genres
Languages
Paid Books