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verse was always in some simple sense alive, and that the motions of its various elements were always accompanied with a very simple species of consciousness, much more simple and rudimentary than any life that we know of here. For to this it may be replied, how is it possible to conceive that life has remained in this rudimentary form through a past eternity, and only developed into intelligence since the production of the visible universe?
219. For the benefit of our readers we shall now endeavour to review as clearly as we can the point at which we have arrived, and the steps which have brought us to it.
It will be remembered that in our definition (Art. 54) we agreed to look upon the Creator-the Absolute One, as conditioning the universe, confining the term universe to that which is conditioned. Thus we conceive a stone to be in the universe, we conceive a man to be in the universe, and to work in it, but we conceive Absolute Deity to be above the universe rather than to work in it in any way analogous to that in which a man works in it. Would there not be a confusion of thought if we regarded the same Person as conditioning and yet conditioned? Now, what the principle of Continuity demands is an endless development of the conditioned. We claim it as the heritage of intelligence that there shall be an endless vista, reaching from eternity to eternity, in each link of which we shall be led only from one form of the conditioned to another, never from the conditioned to the unconditioned or absolute, which would be to us no better than an impenetrable intellectual barrier.
It has also been seen that in this
endless chain of conditioned existence we cannot be satisfied with a make-believe universe, or one consisting only of dead matter, but prefer a living intelligent universe, in other words, one fully conditioned. Finally, our argument has led us to regard the production of the visible universe as brought about by an intelligent agency residing in the unseen.
220. We have arrived at this result from general principles, and without any definite theory as to the modus operandi of the intelligent developing agency which resides in the unseen universe. When we keep to well-ascertained principles we are on solid ground, but when we speculate on the method by which the development is accomplished we enter a very different region, where the chances are greatly against our particular hypothesis representing the truth. Nevertheless, for the sake of bringing our ideas in a concrete form before the reader, and for this purpose only, we will now adopt a definite hypothesis.1 Let us begin by supposing an intelligent agent in the present visible universe, that is to say a man-to be developing vortex rings-smoke-rings, let us imagine. Now, these smoke-rings are found to act upon one another, just as if they were things or existences; nevertheless their existence is ephemeral, they last only a few seconds. But let us imagine them to constitute the grossest possible form of material existence. Now, each smoke-ring has in it a multitude of smaller particles of air and smoke, each of these
1 It is surely unnecessary to inform our readers that we adopt this hypothesis, not because we imagine it to have any inherent probability, but simply as a concrete mode of bringing development before the understanding.
particles being the molecules of which the present visible universe is composed. These molecules are of a vastly more refined and delicate organisation than the large smoke-ring; they have lasted many millions of years, and will perhaps last many millions more. Nevertheless, let us imagine that they had a beginning, and that they will also come to an end similar to that of the smoke-ring. In fact, just as the smoke-ring was developed out of ordinary molecules, so let us imagine ordinary molecules to be developed as vortex rings out of something much finer and more subtle than themselves, which we have agreed to call the invisible universe. But we may pursue the same train of thought still further back, and imagine the entities which constitute the invisible universe immediately preceding ours to be in themselves ephemeral, although not nearly to the same extent as the atoms of our universe, and to have been formed in their turn as vortex rings out of some still subtler and more enduring substance. In fine, there is no end to such a process, but we are led on from rank to rank of the order imagined by Dr. Thomas Young, or by Professor Jevons, when he says that the smallest particle of solid substance may consist of a vast number of systems united in regular order, each bounded by the other, communicating with it in some manner yet wholly incomprehensible.' Our meaning will be made clear by the following diagram.
Here (0) denotes the evanescent smoke-ring, (1) the visible universe, (2) the invisible universe immediately anterior to the present, (3) that of the next order, and so on.
Again, (0) is developed out of (1); (1) is developed out of (2); (2) out of (3); (3) out of (4), and so on. Further, (1) both precedes and follows (0) in point of duration, while (2) bears a similar relation to (1), (3) to (2), and so on.
Again, the material substance of (o) is a phenomenon of that of (1), that of (1) a phenomenon of
(2) (3) (4)
that of (2), and so on. Go back as far as we choose, we are only led from one phenomenon to another; so that, as far as their essential nature is concerned, all are equally phenomenal, and the mind cannot repose in any order as its ultimate haven of thought, but is driven inexorably forward to look for some thing different.
We see too, that, as far as energy is concerned, that of (1) is greater than that of (0), inasmuch as (1) develops (0), that of (2) greater than that of (1), inasmuch as (2) develops (1), and so on. Therefore, if we go infinitely far back, we shall be led to a universe possessing infinite energy, and of which the intelligent developing agency possesses infinite energy.
It will also be seen that, inasmuch as all these various orders exist together at the present moment, the energy of their sum must be infinite, and this energy will never come to an end. In other words, the Great Whole is infinite in energy, and will last from eternity to eternity.
[If merely to prevent, in future, the possibility of a mistake which has already been made by some of our critics, including even Professor Clifford, it may be well to sketch here very briefly another and quite different concrete illustration of our idea.
Just as points are the terminations of lines, lines the boundaries of surfaces, and surfaces the boundaries of portions of space of three dimensions :—so we may suppose our (essentially three-dimensional, matter to be the mere skin or boundary of an Unseen whose matter has four dimensions. And, just as there is a peculiar molecular difference between the surfacefilm and the rest of a mass of liquid-wherever such a surface-film exists, even in the smallest air-bubble -so the matter of our present universe may be regarded as produced by mere rents or cracks in that of the Unseen. But this may itself consist of fourdimension boundaries of the five-dimensional matter of a higher Unseen, and so on. We might even try