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Circumstantial Evidence
by [?]

Dr. Taylor further on makes a display of this inability to appreciate the logical value of scientific facts by asking: “Where is the evidence, scientific or other, that there was evolution? We see these fossils (those of the horse). Huxley says they are as they are because the higher evolved itself out of the lower; we say they are as they are because God created them in series.” To recur to the former illustration, it is as if the Indian should show Dr. Taylor the marks on which he relied in his induction, and the doctor should calmly reply: “I see the marks; you say they were made by a man’s foot in walking; I, who have never given any attention to the subject, and have never been in the woods before, say they were made by the rain.” The fact is that if there were any weight whatever in this kind of talk–if no equality of knowledge were necessary between two disputants–it would enable an ignorant field-hand to sweep away in one sentence the whole science of geology and palaeontology, and even astronomy, and to dispose of every conclusion on any subject drawn from a skilled and experienced balancing of probabilities, or nice mathematical calculation, by simply saying that he was not satisfied with the proofs.

Dr. Taylor’s reasons for believing that the appearance of fossil horses with a diminishing number of toes is caused by the creation at separate periods of a four-, a three-, a two-, and a one-toed horse are, he says, “personal, philosophical, historical,” and he opposes them with the utmost apparent sincerity to Huxley’s assertion that “there can be no scientific evidence” of such creation. The “personal reason” for believing in successive creations of sets of horses with a varying number of toes can, of course, only be the reason so often urged in ball-room disputation–that “I feel it must be so;” the “philosophic reason” can only be the one with which those who have frequented the society of metaphysicians are very familiar, namely, a deduction from some eminent speculator’s opinion about the nature of the Supreme Being, the conclusion being apparently that if the Creator wished to diminish the number of a horse’s toes, it would not do for him to let one drop into disuse and so gradually disappear, but he would have to make a new horse, on a new design. What Dr. Taylor means by the “historical reason” we can only conjecture from his saying that it is of the same order as his historical reason for believing “that the Bible is the Word of God.” The historical reason for this, we presume, is that there are various literary and traditional proofs that the Old Testament was held to be the Word of God by the Jewish nation at a very early period, and was by them transmitted as such to the modern Christian world, and that many of the prophecies contained in it have received partial or a complete fulfilment. But how by a process of this kind, partly literary and partly conjectural, and attended by great difficulties at every step, he would reach a fact of prehistoric times of so much gravity as creation in series, we think it would puzzle Dr. Taylor to explain. Indeed, the mere production in a controversy of this nature of these vague fancies, half pious, half poetical, conjured up in most cases as a help to mental peace, by a leading minister in the character of a logician, is a very remarkable proof of the extent of those defects in clerical education to which we recently called attention.