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qualities inherent in particles or atoms, is inconceivable and absurd. Much of the language used relative to matter, in the generalizations of science, is figurative. Of this character are the terms force, power, agencies, action, &c. It is absurd to speak of one particle of matter as literally acting on another. These terms, properly speaking, are characteristic only of will, of mind. With reference to the cause of the changes in matter, the simple child of nature,

“The poor Indian, whose untutor'd mind

Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind,"

is far wiser than he who

“ Steps forth the spruce philosopher, and tells

Of homogeneal and discordant springs
And principles ; of causes, how they work
By necessary laws their sure effects;
Of action and reaction."

It is certainly incumbent on those who ascribe material phenomena to inherent power, or properties of matter, either to demonstrate their existence, or to show the plausibility of their supposed operation. But neither has been done. The effects witnessed are referred to the operation of what are called the laws of nature, because some cause must be assigned; but the mode of that operation is confessedly shrouded in deepest mystery. The fall of a stone is ascribed to the attraction of the earth. Let us for a moment examine this. Suppose a stone suspended in the air: it is itself inert, having no more tendency to approach the earth than to recede from it. Beyond the fact that these bodies meet, what shadow of proof is there that any force is exerted by the one on the other? If the earth draws the stone to itself, by what cords, what means, or in what conceivable mode is this done? If a stone were brought from a distant planet, and placed within our atmosphere, how would the earth become aware of its presence? Is it conceivable that the peculiar power necessary to cause its fall was exerted ere it came within the vicinity of the earth? If so, on what, or for what purpose, was it exerted ? and what connected this force with this new mass ?

Many other facts in nature may be mentioned, the explanation of which cannot be found in the alleged properties and laws of matter. By means of a lever a man can raise a weight which, with his hands simply, he cannot move; a force equivalent to a weight of ten pounds on the long arm of a lever ten feet in length, will move ninety pounds on the short arm one foot in length, and nine pounds on the long arm will exactly balance the larger weight. In what law or property shall the cause of these facts be found? If it be referred to gravity, its force exerted on the two bodies evidently can only be the same it would be, were they placed in any other circumstances at the same distance from the centre of the earth. In what consists the difference between a body in motion and the same body at rest? A pebble may be thrown from the hand with a force that will carry it several yards; a train of cars will continue in rapid motion, which a very great force would be required suddenly to stop, long after the steam, which is supposed to originate that motion, has ceased to act on them, and frightful accidents often result from their momentum. We ask, what and whence this force? In these cases, and also in those of the lever, the effects are said to result from acquired velocity. Velocity is defined by philosophers to be rate of motion, and motion as change of place; hence the cause, literally interpreted, is, acquired rate of change of place. Is there anything more than the fact to be explained, contained in this statement?

The flowing of rivers is ascribed to gravity, which draws all bodies toward the centre of the earth; but the mouth of the Mississippi is several miles higher, that is, farther from the centre of the earth, than its source; hence, contrary to the law of gravity, it runs up hill. As an explanation of this, and other similar instances where streams run nearly south, it is said that the centrifugal force of the earth counteracts gravity. Centrifugal force is defined to be,

the effort of bodies, when moving in curves, to proceed directly forward in a straight line."* It is a result of the first law of motion, which asserts that all moving bodies have a tendency to move in straight lines. But shall we deem that sound philosophy which assigns as the cause of so important facts a mere law, an effort or tendency of inert matter?

As a specimen of a different class of facts in the operations of nature, we select germination. Soon after a seed has been placed in appropriate soil a change ensues, evidently resulting from design and intelligence. Shoots come forth, a part of them extend downwards and form roots; others, extending upwards, are developed into all the parts of the future plant. Will any modification of attraction or any property of matter be assigned as the cause why some of the shoots grow downwards, and others extend upwards? Before the seed was cast into the soil, was the power necessary to form the tree in exercise? If not, is it conceivable that the earth perceived its presence, and put forth the intelligence and power necessary to mingle the diverse elements in due proportion, that constitute the trunk, juices, leaves, and fruit?

* Olmsted's Rudiments of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, p. 34.

In the formation of compound bodies the elements unite in definite proportions, which cannot be changed. Thus, water is formed of one part hydrogen and one proportional of oxygen, whose atomic number is 8, making the representative number of water 9. Protochloride of mercury is composed of one part of chlorine 36, and one part of mercury 200, making its representative number 236. Perchloride of mercury is composed of two proportionals of chlorine 72, and one of mercury 200, making its number 272. No substances can be formed from these elements in any other than these proportions, or multiples of them. What property of matter, understanding when the requisite quantities are in contact, causes these combinations, which no power under other circumstances can effect?

We hold that it is inconceivable that ages ago a mere property implying no intelligence, no choice, was given matter, which now begins to operate in the production of a given plant or animal. There is nothing in the mere contact of elements to produce action, this being only one of the circumstances in which it takes place. Every action implies intelligence, and also choice, a direct volition, immediately preceding it. All the changes in nature must be referred to the will of some intelligent agent. Who is this agent?

" Has matter more than motion ? bas it thought,
Judgment, and genius? is it deeply learn'd
In mathematics? has it framed such laws,
Which but to guess, a Newton made immortal ?-
If so, how each sage atom laughs at me,
Who think a clod inferior to a man:
If art to form, and counsel to direct,
And that which greater far than human skill,
Resides not in each block,-a godhead reigns !"

Not only does he reign, but continually exerts his power in changing, combining, and dissolving the inert substances that constitute his material universe. If we exclude the immediate agency of God from the works of nature, we must suppose each atom of matter endowed with a voluntary intelligent spirit; the action of masses exhibiting the union of the power of particles, while the phenomena of repulsion manifest instances of disagreement. On this theory, the sun chooses to attract the earth, and the earth, by its own act, yields to his influence; and a tree standing exposed on a plain, perceiving its danger of being overturned by the tempest, extends its roots farther and deeper than it would were it standing in a grove. This theory would hardly be an improvement on one of the early conjectures of Kepler, that the earth was an animal finding its way through the heavens by instinct.

If we are not prepared to admit that matter in all its forms is animated by an intelligent, voluntary spirit, we must admit the direct agency of God in natural phenomena, and consider the laws of nature and its course but as the manifestation of his


uniformly made in given circumstances. The properties and laws of matter have gained a hold of men's imagination as if they were secret powers; something which, besides expressing the fact of the changes in the material world, involves the idea of an influence compelling or producing these changes. But there is no propriety in using the term physical cause, if we mean more than simple antecedence. Nichol says:

“The physical or immediate cause of any event is merely that other event without which, as a precedent, the other never occurs. We say that one event causes or brings about another, not because aught is visible—any peculiar virtue-in the first event, which necessitates the second; but because it is so arranged in the economy of the known universe, that when the first happens the second always follows it. And if we find events so ordered, that in a long series of changes they succeed each other in a certain recognizable plan, we term that observed plan the law of these events. The name or word Law does not thus involve the idea of any controlling power; it is the mere result of an observed succession, the mode by which we thread together in our minds the different events which befall; and if the slightest element involving control is properly connected with it, it can only be in reference to the relation of such succession to spiritual or mental phenomena, and ultimately as it represents that IDEA in the Almighty Mind, according to which the order in question was arranged. .... Regarding LAW, not as causative, but expressive, -as the simple indication of mighty arrangements,-a gleam into the finite mind from that of the Creator,—surely the farthest stretch of vision which man can ever achieve is only a further disclosure of Almighty glory and excellency.”Nichol on the Solar System, pp. 141, 146.


In the views we have expressed we do not deny that God may make use of means to accomplish his purposes, provided no power be ascribed to these means. Man uses machinery—a lever to move a weight—but we do not consider the power as in the machinery or the lever. As in this instance the machinery does not render unnecessary the agency of man, so do not secondary causes exclude the agency of God. But of the existence of secondary causes, in most of the operations of nature, we see no proof and no necessity for them.

The author of the “ Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation” seems to have pushed the theory, that ascribes all material phenomena to the laws and properties of matter, to its legitimate results. His book has met with little favour from any who admit the existence and agency of Deity; yet he only develops to a greater extent the principles and theory of Professor Chace, and others of the same school. They suppose God created the earth by an immediate exertion of his power, and gave it the properties that have produced all the changes it has undergone; that he also created the first of each species of plants and animals, and endowed them with the power of generating the series that has succeeded them. The author of the “ Vestiges" goes further. By his iron chain of law we are dragged still further backward in search of the direct agency of God. He does not admit it as exerted when "man became a living soul;" not when every beast of the field, and fowl of the air, and everything that creepeth upon the earth appeared ; not when the waters received their inhabitants; not when the all-prolific animalcules came into being. All these sprang from mere earth, without the intervention of direct creative power. We are carried back to the great abyss of "fire-mist," of "star-dust,” to contemplate the universe in a nebular state, resolved into inconceivably thin air, and are told that then the whole work of creation was done; matter then received properties and laws, from the natural and necessary action of which every change that has since taken place, every form and grade of animate existence, even man himself, body and soul, resulted. He does not design to exclude God from nature, but declares his purpose is to show,—“That the whole revelation of the works of God presented to our senses and reason, is a system based in what we are compelled, for want of a better term, to call LAW; by which, however, is not meant a system independent or exclusive of Deity, but one which only proposes a certain mode of his working." He explains that by a law, must be understood "something independent of the Deity;" and that no one may suppose that he favours in any form the idea of specific creation, he states expressly that his object is to show:

" That animals were indebted for their gradations of advance to a law generally impressed by the Deity upon matter; and that their external peculiarities are owing immediately to the agency of those very conditions to which they are supposed to have been adapted.” “ Life is everywhere ONE. The inferior animals are only less advanced types of that form of being, perfected in ourselves.”—Explanations of the Vestiges, pp. 2, 94, 95, 130, 131.

Law reduced the star-dust to this round solid earth, separated the water from the land, clothed the barren hills and valleys with the humblest forms of vegetation, and then in the seas made the first stock of rudimentary animals. The lowest kinds of plants and animals, acquiring at each step in an ascending scale, through the long lapse of ages, an improved organization, evolved at length the highest grades. Flowers and lofty trees are the progeny of humble

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