Emergent Evolution


Lloyd Morgan, Conwy (1922 / 1927). Emergent Evolution. The Gifford Lectures. London: Williams and Norga. S.171f.

What bearing, if any, has any hypothesis of the status of images on the dependence of all things — images included — on God? I have little to say; and that little scarcely more than a repetition of what has already been said. If images be survivals, or revivals, of that which has been in some way given in prior experience, they must be considered sub specie temporis. But if God subsist sub specie aeternitatis — if here the universal present tense be alone applicable — can we properly speak in this connection, of the origin of images under past conditions, or of their value for the guidance of future action? At the level of reflective thought in us, a plan of action precedes execution in action. Cognitive regard of the intellectual order, and volition, as in modern phrase conative, are implied. Does any such implication hold in what we may anthropomorphically speak of as the eternal wisdom of God? Spinoza thought not, and therefore denied that in HIM there is intellect or volition. To many good people this seems to be outrageous, and to savour of what they may deem the disguised atheism of Spinoza. But before they pronounce a damnatory verdict they should carefully weigh all that may be said for the defence. No one who is a defendant in this cause is likely to deny that intellect and volition are manifestations or expressions dependent on God, or that their instances exist in time, i.e. that they imply temporal terms in the relations of before and after. The question at issue is whether (as we may put it), under the doctrine of ultimate dependence on God, the plan of emergent evolution preceded the progressive advance of events, admittedly incomplete and developing within a space-time frame of ideal construction but referable to our world. Difficult as may be the concept embalmed in the phrase sub specie aeternitatis there should surely be nothing to offend the most delicate susceptibilities in contending that the question whether the plan precedes the execution has really no locus standi. If, by the word „eternal“ we mean timeless, for God the plan and execution just is one and indivisible.