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Observations placeholder

Agassiz, Louis – Essay on Classification – Even accepting evolution exists, there is no explanation for new species creation



Type of Spiritual Experience


So even accepting evolution, it does not explain the existence of, for example, the first bacteria.

A description of the experience


In whatever connection, .. the first appearance of organized beings upon earth is viewed, whether it is assumed that they originated within the most limited areas, or over the widest range of their present natural geographical distribution, animals and plants being everywhere diversified to the most extraordinary extent, it is plain that the physical influences under which they subsist cannot logically be considered as the cause of that diversity.

 In this, as in every other respect, when considering the relations of animals and plants to the conditions under which they live, or to one another, we are inevitably led to look beyond the material facts of the case for an explanation of their existence.

Those who have taken another view of this subject, have mistaken the action and reaction which exist everywhere between organized beings, and the physical influences under which they live for a causal or genetic connection, and carried their mistake so far as to assert that these manifold influences could really extend to the production of these beings; not considering how inadequate such a cause would be, and that even the action of physical agents upon organized beings presupposes the very existence of those beings.

The simple fact that there has been a period in the history of our earth, now well known to geologists when none of these organized beings as yet existed, and when, nevertheless, the material constitution of our globe, and the physical forces acting upon it, were essentially the same as they are now, shows that these influences are insufficient to call into existence any living being.

That there exist definite relations between animals as well as plants and the mediums in which they live, no one at all familiar with the phenomena of the organic world can doubt; that these mediums and all physical agents at work in nature have a certain influence upon organized beings is equally plain. But before any such action can take place and be felt, organized beings must exist.

The problem before us involves, therefore, two questions, the influence of physical agents upon animals and plants already in existence, and the origin of these beings.

Granting the influence of these agents upon organized beings to the fullest extent to which it may be traced , there remains still the question of their origin upon which neither argument nor observation has yet thrown any light.

But according to some, they originated spontaneously by the immediate agency of physical forces and have become successively more and more diversified by changes produced gradually upon them, by these same forces. Others believe that there exist laws in nature which were established by the Deity in the beginning, to the action of which the origin of organized beings may be ascribed; while according to others, they owe their existence to the immediate intervention of an intelligent Creator.

It is the object of the following paragraphs to show that there are neither agents nor laws in nature known to physicists under the influence and by the action of which these beings could have originated; that, on the contrary, the very nature of these beings and their relations to one another and to the world in which they live exhibit thought and can therefore be referred only to the immediate action of a thinking being, even though the manner in which they were called into existence remains for the present a mystery.

The source of the experience

Agassiz, Louis

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Believing in the spiritual world