Naturalism is the Necessary Alternativenew research out of the University of Florida indicating the slender-snouted crocodile actually comprises two different species. After all, it was that “long succession of different species of crocodiles” which, Darwin’s bulldog argued, would not have been created:
How is the existence of this long succession of different species of crocodiles to be accounted for?
Only two suppositions seem to be open to us—Either each species of crocodile has been specially created, or it has arisen out of some pre-existing form by the operation of natural causes.
Choose your hypothesis; I have chosen mine. I can find no warranty for believing in the distinct creation of a score of successive species of crocodiles in the course of countless ages of time. Science gives no countenance to such a wild fancy; nor can even the perverse ingenuity of a commentator pretend to discover this sense, in the simple words in which the writer of Genesis records the proceedings of the fifth and sixth days of the Creation.
On the other hand, I see no good reason for doubting that necessary alternative, that all these varied species have been evolved from pre-existing crocodilian forms, by the operation of causes as completely a part of the common order of nature as those which have effected the changes of the inorganic world.
Few will venture to affirm that the reasoning which applies to crocodiles loses its force among other animals, or among plants. If one series of species has come into existence by the operation of natural causes, it seems folly to deny that all may have arisen in the same way. [Thomas Huxley, “On a Piece of Chalk,” Lectures and Lay Sermons, (London: J. M. Dent & Sons) 20-1]
There you have it. Evolution’s contrastive thinking in a nutshell. The origins question may be difficult, but one thing we do know is the Creator would never have done it this way. Such “wild fancy” can easily be discounted and with that, evolution becomes the “necessary alternative.” Better to have blind natural laws do the creating than a capricious Creator.
And in classic Darwinian slippery-slope fashion, if with crocodiles, then surely with animals in general. And if with animals, then surely with plants as well. And if with animals and plants, then with all life.
In this passage Huxley expresses our religious belief. Special creation simply must be false and therefore evolution must be true. Given our metaphysical position, there is no choice. Evolution is a fact, regardless of the science.
Religion drives science, and it matters.
h/t: The man