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MAN AND HIS ANCESTOR

_A STUDY IN EVOLUTION_

BY

CHARLES MORRIS

AUTHOR OF "CIVILIZATION: AN HISTORICAL REVIEW
OF ITS ELEMENTS," "THE ARYAN RACE," ETC.

New York

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

LONDON: MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD.

1900

_All rights reserved_




COPYRIGHT, 1900,
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.




PREFACE


It would be difficult to find any intelligent person in this age of the
world who has not some theory or opinion in regard to the origin of man,
and perhaps almost as difficult to find any such person who can give a
good and sufficient reason for the faith that is in him. This is
especially the case with those who look upon man as a product of
evolution, a natural outgrowth from the world of lower life, since here
simple faith or ancient authority is not sufficient, as in the creation
hypothesis, but scientific evidence and logical argument are necessary.
It is to enable this class of readers to test the quality and
sufficiency of their belief that this book has been prepared.

The question of the evolutionary origin of man has been by no means
neglected by recent authors, yet it has been dealt with chiefly as a
side issue in works of a more extended purpose, and largely in technical
language, simple to the scientist, but difficult to the general reader.
The only work that makes this subject its leading theme, Darwin's
"Descent of Man," adds to it a still longer treatise on "Sexual
Selection," so that the subject of man's evolutionary origin cannot be
said to have been yet dealt with for itself alone. Darwin's work,
moreover, is now nearly thirty years old, and to this extent antiquated,
while at best it cannot be considered as well suited for general
reading.

These considerations have given rise to the present work, in which an
effort has been made to present the subject of man's origin in a popular
manner, to dwell on the various significant facts that have been
discovered since Darwin's time, and to offer certain lines of evidence
never before presented in this connection, and which seem to add much
strength to the general argument.

The subject is one of such widespread interest as to make it probable
that a plain and brief presentation of it will be acceptable, both to
enable those who are evolutionists in principle to learn on what grounds
their acceptance of this phase of evolution stands, and to aid those who
are at sea on the whole subject of man's origin to reach some fixed
conclusion. For these purposes this little book has been set afloat,
with the hope that it may carry some doubters to solid land and teach
some believers the fundamental elements of their faith.




CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE

I. EVOLUTION VERSUS CREATION 1

II. VESTIGES OF MAN'S ANCESTRY 5

III. RELICS OF ANCIENT MAN 21

IV. FROM QUADRUPED TO BIPED 39

V. THE FREEDOM OF THE ARMS 54

VI. THE DEVELOPMENT OF INTELLIGENCE 68

VII. THE ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE 100

VIII. HOW THE CHASM WAS BRIDGED 111

IX. THE FIRST STAGE OF HUMAN EVOLUTION 130

X. THE CONFLICT WITH NATURE 158

XI. WARFARE AND CIVILIZATION 195

XII. THE EVOLUTION OF MORALITY 206

XIII. MAN'S RELATION TO THE SPIRITUAL 225




MAN AND HIS ANCESTOR

I

EVOLUTION VERSUS CREATION


In any consideration of the origin of man we are necessarily restricted
to two views: one, that he is the outcome of a development from the
lower animals; the other, that he came into existence through direct
creation. No third mode of origin can be conceived, and we may safely
confine ourselves to a review of these two claims. They are the
opposites of each other in every particular. The creation doctrine is as
old almost as thinking man; the evolutionary doctrine belongs in effect
to our own generation. The former is not open to evidence; the latter
depends solely upon evidence. The former is based on authority; the
latter on investigation. The doctrine of direct creation can merely be
asserted, it cannot be argued; the statement once made, there is nothing
more to be said; it is an _ipse dixit_ pure and simple. The doctrine of
evolution, on the contrary, founded as it must be on ascertained facts,
is fully open to argument, and depends for its acceptance on the
strength and validity of the evidence in its favor.

If the doctrine of the direct creation of man had been originally
presented in our own day, proof of the assertion would have been at once
demanded, and the only evidence admissible would have been that of
witnesses of the act of creation. There could, of course, have been no
human witnesses, as there would have been no preceding human beings, and
witnesses not human have, in the present day, no standing in our courts.
As the case stands, however, the doctrine arose in an age when man did
not trouble himself about evidence, but was content to accept his
opinions on authority; and this, strangely enough, is held by many to be
a strong point in its favor, it gaining, in their minds, authenticity
from antiquity. It is claimed, indeed, to be sustained by divine
authority, but this is a claim that has no warrant in the words of the
statement itself, and one to which no form of words could give warrant.
To establish it, direct and incontestable evidence from the creative
power itself would be necessary, and it need scarcely be said that no
such evidence exists. It is not easy, indeed, to conceive what form such
evidence could take. It would certainly need to be something far more
convincing than a statement in a book.

It might have been better for civilized mankind if the opening pages of
Genesis had never been written, since they have played a potent part in
checking the development of thought. As the case now stands, the
cosmological doctrines they contain can no longer claim even a shadow of
divine authority, since they have been distinctly traced back to a human
origin. It has been recently discovered that they are simply a
restatement of the Babylonian cosmology, as given in a literary
production ages older than the Bible, an epic poem of very remote date.
They are, doubtless, an outgrowth of the cosmological ideas of early
man, and those who accept them must do so on the basis of belief in
their probability; it is no longer permissible to claim for them the
warrant of divine origin.

Modern science stringently demands facts in support of any assertion,
the word "faith" having no place in its lexicon. Facts are absolutely
and necessarily wanting in support of the creation doctrine, and the
only argument its advocates can advance is one that deals in negatives,
and demands its acceptance on the ground that the opposite doctrine has
not been proved. Such an argument is valueless. Disproof of one
statement is never proof of another. Its effect is simply to leave both
unproved, and neither, therefore, in condition for acceptance. In the
present case the weight of disproof is small. The facts in support of
the evolution hypothesis are multitudinous, and many of them of great
cogency; the facts against it are few, and none of them absolute. It is
simply argued that some questions remain unsolved, and that there are
facts which seem inconsistent with the Darwinian theory of development,
and which no supplementary hypotheses have explained. But no advocates
of evolution hold that the Darwinian theory is final. Evolution is a
growing doctrine. It has been expanding ever since it was first
promulgated. Various seeming difficulties have been explained away, and
it is quite possible that all may disappear as investigation widens. No
such arguments add any weight to the opposite view, which has not and
never could have any standing in science, since it is impossible to
adduce any facts to sustain it. We shall therefore dismiss it from
further consideration, and proceed to state certain general facts in
favor of the evolutionary hypothesis of the origin of man.




II

VESTIGES OF MAN'S ANCESTRY


When, some centuries ago, men began to find fossil remains of animals in
the rocks, a severe shock was given to the prevailing doctrine of the
recent creation of the earth. The adherents of the old theology made
strenuous efforts to explain away this unwelcome circumstance. The
shells found had been dropped by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem;
they were mineral simulations of shells; they had been created by the
Deity and placed where found; they were anything but what they appeared
to be, the existing evidences of a long ancient period of animal life
reaching back very far beyond the assumed date of creation.

It need scarcely be said that these explanations, especially the one
that God had created fossil forms to deceive man, for some
incomprehensible purpose, could not long be maintained. Some of them
were inconsistent with the facts, others with common sense, and in due
time it was everywhere admitted that the earth is of remote duration and
has been inhabited by animals and plants for untold ages. Its structure
revealed its history; its annals were found to be written in the rocks;
its anatomy was full of the evidences of its origin.

When, not many years ago, men began to find the fossil remains of
ancient structures in the body of man himself, theology was brought face
to face with a problem as difficult to explain, from its special point
of view, as that of the fossils in the rocks. As the latter had
threatened and finally disproved the doctrine of the special creation of
the earth, so the former assailed the doctrine of the special creation
of man, and annihilated it in the minds of many eminent scientists.



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