What I found surprising is that Romanes used the very same arguments that we use here in arguing for evolution AND arguing against special creation. For example, he asks why God would put animals into a nested hierarchy.
quote:Now, this tree-like arrangement of specific organisms in nature is an arrangement for which Mr. Darwin is not responsible. I mean that the framing of this natural classification has been the work of naturalists for centuries past; and although they did not know what they were doing, it is now evidence to evolutionists that they were tracing the lines of genetic relationship. . .
Now, since the days of Linnaeus this principle has been carefully followed, and it is by its aid that the tree-like system of classification has been established. No one, even long before Darwin's days, ever dreamed of doubting that this system is in reality, what it always has been in name, a natural system. What, then, is the inference we are to draw from it? An evolutionist answers, that it is just such a system as this theory of descent would lead him to expect as a natural system. For this tree-like system is as clear an expression as anything could be of the fact that all species are bound together by the ties of genetic relationship. If all species were separately created, it is almost incredible that we should everywhere observe this progressive shading off of characters common to larger groups, into more and more specialized characters distinctive only of smaller and smaller groups. At any rate, to say the least, the law of parsimony forbids us to ascribe such effects to a supernatural cause, acting in so whimsical a manner, when the effects are precisely what we should expect to follow from the action of a highly probable natural cause.
There are many places in the article where Romanes speaks directly to the debate between evolution and special creation, and those arguments are nearly the same as those used today. Again, this article is from 1882 and it contains the very same challenges we are giving creationists today, and they still can't address those challenges. Interesting indeed.
From a historical standpoint, it is worth asking how scientists viewed the theory of evolution in the 19th century. From what Romanes wrote, it appeared that the theory of evolution was considered to be settled science.
quote:. . . “I refuse to run the risk of insulting any sane man by supposing that he seriously holds such a notion” as that of special creation. These words, I submit, are not in the least too strong; for if any man can study the many and important lines of evidence all converging on the central truth that evolution has been the law of organic nature, and still fail to perceive the certainty of that truth, then I say that that man—either on account of his prejudices, or from his inability to estimate the value of evidence—must properly be regarded as a weak-minded man. Or, to state the case in another way, if such a man were to say to me,--Notwithstanding all your lines of evidence, I still believe in special design manifested in creation; I should reply,--And in this I fully agree with you; for if, notwithstanding these numerous and important lines of evidence, the theory which they substantiate is false, then to my mind we have the best conceivable evidence of very special design having been manifested in creation—the special design, namely, to deceive mankind by an elaborate, detailed, and systematic fraud. For, if the theory of special creation is true, I hold that as no one fact can be adduced in its favor, whilst so vast a body of facts can be adduced against it, the only possible explanation of so extraordinary a circumstance is that of a mendacious intelligence of superhuman power carefully disposing all the observable facts of his creation in such a way as to compel his rational creatures, by the best and most impartial use of their rational faculties, to conclude that the theory of evolution is as certainly true as the theory of special creation is conspicuously false.
This is just another way of saying that if creationism is true then it would take a deceiver God to do it, exactly what we have been saying for a long time. Romanes thought it impossible for an impartial and rational person to not conclude that evolution is true. That was the level of evidence that existed in 1882, and it has only been added to since.