Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/218

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206
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

combination of characters could not be found in two different objects; and, consequently, in a chance-world every combination involving either the positive or negative of every character would belong to just one thing. Thus, if there were but five simple characters in such a world,[1] we might denote them by A, B, C, D, E, and their negatives by a, b, c, d, e; and then, as there would be 25 or 32 different combinations of these characters, completely determinate in reference to each of them, that world would have just 32 objects in it, their characters being as in the following table:

Table I.

ABCDE AbCDE aBCDE abCDE
ABCDe AbCDe aBCDe abCDe
ABCdE AbCdE aBCDE abCdE
ABCde AbCde aBCde abCde
ABcDE AbcDE aBcDE abcDE
ABcDe ABcDe aBcDe abcDe
ABcdE AbcdE aBcdE abcdE
ABcde Abcde aBcde abcde
 

For example, if the five primary characters were hard, sweet, fragrant, green, bright, there would be one object which reunited all these qualities, one which was hard, sweet, fragrant, and green, but not bright; one which was hard, sweet, fragrant, and bright, but not green; one which was hard, sweet, and fragrant, but neither green nor bright; and so on through all the combinations.

This is what a thoroughly chance-world would be like, and certainly nothing could be imagined more systematic. When a quantity of letters are poured out of a bag, the appearance of disorder is due to the circumstance that the phenomena are only partly fortuitous. The laws of space are supposed, in that case, to be rigidly preserved, and there is also a certain amount of regularity in the formation of the letters, The result is that some elements are orderly and some are disorderly, which is precisely what we observe in the actual world. Tillotson, in the passage of which a part has been quoted, goes on to ask, "How long might 20,000 blind men, which should be sent out from the several remote parts of England, wander up and down before they would all meet upon Salisbury Plains, and fall into rank and file in the exact order of an army? And yet this is much more easy to be imagined than how the innumerable blind parts of matter should rendezvous themselves into a world." This is very true, but in the actual world the blind men are, as far as we can see, not drawn up in any particular order at all. And, in short, while a certain amount of order exists in the world, it would seem that the world is not so orderly as it

  1. There being 5 simple characters, with their negatives, they could be compounded in various ways so as to make 241 characters in all, without counting the characters existence and non-existence, which make up 243 or 35.