I know some people who never have any difficulties to speak of. The moment I understood your premisses, I felt sure you had a real foundation to hold on.
Next it was found that it was physiologically and structurally the same in the plant, that it was the living part of the plant, that which manifested the life and did the work in vegetable as well as in animal organisms.
The former conviction that these two kingdoms were wholly different in structure, in function, and in kind of life, was not seriously disturbed by the difficulties which the naturalist encountered when he undertook to define them.
We have spoken of beings so low in the scale that the individuals throughout their whole existence are not sufficiently specialized to be distinctively plant or animal: yet these are definite life in simpler shape.
I proceed with the proper subject of this discourse; namely, the further changes in scientific belief, which have occurred within my own recollection, even since the time when I first aspired to authorship, now forty- five years ago.
Is it philosophical, is it quite allowable, to assume without evidence from fossil plants that the family or any of the genera was once larger and wide spread? and occupied a continuous area?
It remains to consider what attitude thoughtful men and Christian believers should take respecting them, and how they stand related to beliefs of another order.
We may take it to be the accepted idea that the Mosaic books were not handed down to us for our instruction in scientific knowledge, and that it is our duty to ground our scientific beliefs upon observation and inference, unmixed with considerations of a different order.
Your candor is worth everything to your cause. It is refreshing to find a person with a new theory who frankly confesses that he finds difficulties, insurmountable, at least for the present.
There is a class, moreover, by whom all these scientific theories, and more are held as ascertained facts, and as the basis of philosophical inferences which strike at the root of theistic beliefs.
Why is it not just as likely that there were as many small general nearly at first as now, and as great a disproportion in the number of their species?
I accept extinction as best explaining disjoined species. I see that the same cause must have reduced many species of great range to small, and that it may have reduced large genera to so small, and of families.