We have, in summary, an illusory appearance of transmutation in the history of life. If we could watch the complete history of a species from the creation, we would see a series of improvements in design correlated with physical revolutions of the globe,5 and a final perfection at the last judgment. And yet, this entire history is nothing more than the successive display of preformed structures hidden by encapsulation at the creation. Only in this way could a preformationist postulate the appearance of development that a principle of perfectability demanded. Why, after all, should the succession of encapsulated generations in the ovaries of a primal Eve all bear the same form. We might open the Russian doll in this primal ovary and find only ten dolls of identical form; inside the tenth we might discover a vastly superior creature, and after ten similar boxes another being of still more perfect design. In Bonnet's system, the illusory transmutation of each lineage occurs in two stages: first, a succession of forms encapsulated in programmed sequence within the ovaries of its first representative; finally, the emergence of perfected germs of restitution at the end of time.6 Bonnet's constant analog for this "phylogeny" is ontogeny. There is an illusory appearance of development in ontogeny; the stages advance from simplicity to complexity. Yet all is preformed from the start. The limbs of the chick lie hidden in the embryo's worm-like sheath; the perfect body of our immortal soul waits patiently for the second coming.

     I have developed Bonnet's "enchanting picture" (as Cuvier called it) at some length because it illustrates so well the extraordinary influence of the parallel between ontogeny and the history of life. If any system were to be immune to this influence, preformationism would surely be the most likely candidate; for it would seem that Haller, Bonnet, and their followers denied both ontogeny and phylogeny. Yet there was one possible way to construct a parallel—based upon a dual illusion to be sure—and Bonnet not only found it, he based a theory of universal history and divine resurrection upon it.

Appendix: The Revolution in "Evolution"

     Bonnet is often credited with the first use of "evolution" as a biological term (Osborn, 1929; Carneiro, 1972). Yet Haller coined it in 1744 as a name for preformationism:

But the theory of evolution proposed by Swammerdam and Malpighi prevails almost everywhere [Sed evolutionem theoria fere ubique obtinet a Swammerdamio et Malphighio proposita] . . . Most of these men teach that there is in fact included in the egg a germ or perfect little human machine . . . And not a few of them say that all human bodies were created fully formed and folded up in