Imágenes de páginas

decay may be delayed by the storing up of energy in the invisible universe, it cannot be permanently arrested. Ultimately we must believe that every part of the whole universe will be equally supplied with energy, and in consequence all abrupt living motion will come to an end.

Reply.-Perhaps the best reply to this objection is to

say that the laws of energy are rather generalisations derived from our experience than scientific principles, like that which we call the Principle of Continuity. There would be no permanent confusion of thought introduced if these laws should be found not to hold, or to hold in a different way,

in the unseen universe. Nor can we regard the law of the Dissipation as equally fundamental with that of the Conservation of Energy. What is to prove it in the unseen? We have shown (Art. 112) how ClerkMaxwell's demons (though essentially finite intelligences) could be made to restore energy even in the present universe without spending work. Much more may of course be expected in a universe free from gross matter.

213. Objection Eleventh (Quasi-Scientific.)—You speak of energy being transferred to the unseen, so as to store up for each individual a record of his every thought. You have not shown, as you were bound to do, how such transferred energy could be definitely localised in the unseen.

Reply.-The obligation is entirely the other way. It is you who are bound to show that such localisation is impossible. You quasi-scientific men assert that science disproves all such things. We have shown that Continuity demands an infinite series of develop


ments. These may be either living or dead. But scientific analogy shows that they bear all the marks of intelligent developments. How can there be any doubt or difficulty about our choice under these circumstances ? Obviously we cannot accept dead and yet intelligent developments. And although our evidence from analogy may not amount to proof, it is very strong. Yet you objectors virtually assert that you can show its impossibility. Do so, if you can. Give us any proof of the impossibility of an organ connecting us with the unseen universe, or any analogy even apparently against it, and we shall be glad to receive and consider it. We have no doubt that you will thus help us to strengthen our case. You forget that it is you who are the dogmatists— you who assert that these things are incompatible with scientific knowledge, but who, strangely, do not bring forward any proofs of the truth of your assertions.

But in the present case, it so happens that, even with ordinary matter, an infinitely extended medium could be constructed (as Clerk-Maxwell has shown), such that all rays diverging from any point of it whatever shall be brought accurately to a focus at another definite point; every point of space having thus its definite conjugate.

214. Having replied to these objections, let us now endeavour to realise our present position. It is briefly as follows :—What we have done is to show that a future state is possible, and to demolish any so-called scientific objection that might be raised against it. The evidence in favour of the doctrine is not derived from us. It comes to us from two


sources : in the first place, from the statements made concerning Christ; and, in the second place, from that intense longing for immortality which civilised man has invariably possessed. The case stands thus : certain evidence from these two sources in favour of our doctrine has been adduced, but scientific objections have been raised against the possibility of the doctrine itself, and these we have attempted to overcome. But while we may suppose

the scientific objections to the doctrine itself surmounted, there yet remains an equally strong scientific objection to that portion of the evidence in favour of the doctrine which is derived from the Christian records. “Granting,' it may be said to us, “that immortality is possible, what reason have we, beyond certain vague yearnings, for believing it likely ? No doubt, if Christ rose from the dead, the probability in favour of it would be very strong; but we have an objection to the assumed fact of the resurrection of Christ no less formidable than that which you have overcome with regard to the doctrine of immortality itself.'

215. We must now proceed to examine the validity of this objection, and in so doing we find it convenient to approach the problem of the universe not from the side of the future but from that of the past.

We have already (Art. 85) defined the principle of Continuity, in virtue of which we believe ourselves entitled to discuss every event which occurs in the universe, without one single exception, and to deduce from it, if we can, the condition of things that preceded the event—this being also in the universe. We have likewise given reasons for believing that the visible universe must have had a beginning in time,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

and it may be desirable to recapitulate these here. In the first place, it is generally allowed by men of science that atoms form the stuff or substance out of which the visible universe is built. Why, then, it is asked by the materialists, cannot we suppose these atoms to be infinite in number, in which case, as far as energy is concerned, we may very well suppose this universe to last from eternity to eternity; and if in addition we may conceive these eternally existing atoms to be in some sense alive, have we not here a hypothesis which will explain the continuous life of the universe as well as its continous energy?

Let us in the meantime reply to the first statement in the hypothesis, reserving that part of it which concerns life for a future occasion (Art. 240).

Our objection to regarding the visible universe as having endured from eternity is threefold. In the first place, this hypothesis, to be tenable, assumes the infinity of the visible universe. This, however, is a pure assumption. We may not be able to prove the contrary, but we perceive no reason why the visible universe should be regarded as infinite. No doubt, if scientific principle imperatively demanded the eternity of the present visible universe, we should be compelled to acknowledge its infinity as a consequence; but we shall see presently that scientific principle leads quite in the opposite direction. So that the weakness of the hypothesis in question is, that while it is contrary to scientific principle it likewise assumes the infinity of the visible universe, which is a pure assumption.

Our second objection is that, in virtue of the principle of Continuity, we are compelled to believe in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the infinite depth of nature, and hold that, just as we must imagine space and duration to be infinite, so must we imagine the structural complexity of the universe to be infinite also. To our minds it appears no less false to pronounce eternal that aggregation we call the atom, than it would be to pronounce eternal (Art. 85) that aggregation we call the sun. All this follows from the principle of Continuity, in virtue of which we make scientific progress in the knowledge of things, and which leads us, whatever state of things we contemplate, to look for its antecedent in some previous state of things also in the Universe.

Our third objection is that which we have stated in Art. 163. It arises from the belief that the dissipation of the energy of the visible universe proceeds pari passu with the aggregation of mass, and therefore that since the large masses of the visible universe are of finite size, we are sure that the process cannot have been going on for ever, or, in other words, the visible universe must have had its origin in time.

216. Let us therefore apply to that stupendous event, the production of the visible universe, not irreverently, but in hopeful trust, the principle of Continuity, and ask ourselves the question, What state of things also in the universe, what conceivable antecedent can have given rise to this unparalleled phenomenon-an antecedent, we need hardly say, which must have operated from the invisible universe? It is a great and awful phenomenon, but we must not shrink before size ; we must not be terrified by the magnitude of the event out of reliance upon our principles of discussion.

Now, if we regard the appearance of the visible

« AnteriorContinuar »