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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
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.