This is the second essay from Science and Hebrew Tradition
not to recount all the events of its history.
That which I just now called the fundamental problem of palaeontology, the question which has to be settled before any other can be profitably discussed, is this, What is the nature of fossils? Are they, as the healthy common sense of the ancient Greeks appears to have led them to assume without hesitation, the remains of animals and plants? Or are they, as was so generally maintained in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, mere figured stones, portions of mineral matter which have assumed the forms of leaves and shells and bones, just as those portions of mineral matter which we call crystals take on the form of regular geometrical solids? Or, again, are they, as others thought, the products of the germs of animals and of the seeds of plants which have lost their way, as it were, in the bowels of the earth, and have achieved only an imperfect and abortive development? It is easy to sneer at our ancestors for being disposed to reject the fi