The Evolution Debate, 1813-1870

By Charles Darwin; Alfred Russel Wallace et al. | Go to book overview

III.

MIMICRY, AND OTHER PROTECTIVE RESEMBLANCES AMONG ANIMALS.

THERE is no more convincing proof of the truth of a comprehensive theory, than its power of absorbing and finding a place for new facts, and its capability of interpreting phænomena which had been previously looked upon as unaccountable anomalies. It is thus that the law of universal gravitation and the undulatory theory of light have become established and universally accepted by men of science. Fact after fact has been brought forward as being apparently inconsistent with them, and one after another these very facts have been shown to be the consequences of the laws they were at first supposed to disprove. A false theory will never stand this test. Advancing knowledge brings to light whole groups of facts which it cannot deal with, and its advocates steadily decrease in numbers, notwithstanding the ability and scientific skill with which it may have been supported. The great name of Edward Forbes did not prevent his theory of “Polarity in the distribution of Organic beings in Time” from dying a natural death; but the most striking illustration of the behaviour of a false theory is to be found in the “Circular and Quinarian System” of classification

-45-

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