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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 pre-· ceded 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,
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
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
universe, and approach it as we would any other phenomenon, we have only two alternatives before us. Creation is not one of these, inasmuch as we are carried by such an act out of the universe altogether. We are, therefore, driven to look to some kind of development as the cause of the appearance of the visible universe. This development may either have been through the living or through the dead; either it was the result of a natural operation of the invisible universe, or it was brought about by means of intelligence residing in that universe and working through its laws. To determine which of these two alternatives is the more admissible, we must bear in mind the nature of the production, and argue about it just as we should argue about anything else.
217. Now, this production was, as far as we can judge, a sporadic or abrupt act, and the substance produced, that is to say the atoms which form the material substratum of the present universe, bear (as Herschel and Clerk-Maxwell have well said) from their uniformity of constitution all the marks of being manufactured articles.
Whether we regard the various elementary atoms as separate productions, or (according to Prout and Lockyer) view them as produced by the coming together of some smaller kind of primordial atom-in either case, and even specially so in the latter case, we think that they look like manufactured articles. Indeed, we have already shown (Art. 164) that development without life, that is to say dead development, does not tend to produce uniformity of structure in the products which it gives rise to.
218. Thus the argument is in favour of the produc
tion of the visible universe by means of an intelligent agency residing in the invisible universe.
But again let us realise the position in which we are placed by the principle of Continuity-we are led by it not only to regard the invisible universe as having existed before the present one, but the same principle drives us to acknowledge its existence in some form as a universe from all eternity. Now we can readily conceive a universe containing conditioned intelligent beings to have existed before the present; nay, to have existed for a time greater than any assignable time, which is the only way in which our thoughts can approach the eternal. But is it equally easy to conceive a dead universe to have existed in the same way during immeasurable ages? Is a dead universe a fully conditioned universe? For, regarding the laws of the universe as those laws according to which the intelligences of the universe are conditioned by the Governor thereof, can we conceive a dead universe to exist permanently without some being to be conditioned? Is not this something without meaning, an unreality—a make-believe? And if it be said that under these circumstances the conception in any form of immeasurable ages of time is unreal, we may reply by granting it, and asserting that in such a case we are driven not merely from the fully conditioned to the partially conditioned, but even to the unconditioned; in other words, the hypothesis of a permanently dead universe would hardly appear to satisfy the principle of Continuity, which prefers to proceed from one form of the fully conditioned to another. Nor is the difficulty removed by the hypothesis that the matter of the unseen uni