Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/554
538 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY,
rapidly exi)antls by constantly feeling his body over and over, as if in exploration of unknown territory. Later he acquires the faculties of hearing and seeing, and likewise of tasting and smell- ing. Now, these senses, five in number, are they which train the intellect. They are all very imperfect. Sight : but the greater part of the solar spedrimi is invisible — that is to say, more rays which come to us from the sun are invisible than those which our eye can see. Hearing: but there are sounds so low and sounds so high that they are inaudible. Taste and smell : very imperfect. Touch : but there are millions of particles of dust to the square inch of the hand which we can not feel. Yet, even with these imperfect means of education, many men have reached the con- clusion satisfactory to themselves that they are clever ; but the wisest man knows nothing in comparison with perfect wisdom.
The Avhole of the known universe consists of matter in mo- tion. All sensation, everything we know of the outside world, comes to us through motion. The motion sets up a movement in the nerve ending, on the skin, on the retina of the eye, or wherever the proper ending capable of receiving the particular motion may be situated. This motion is carried from the nerve ending along the nerve to the special central organ of the brain where it is interpreted. Light, sound, touch, taste, and smell are the only forms of motion we are capable of appreciating, because for each of these forms of motion we have a special apparatus which can receive, transmit, and interpret. There are other forms of motion which we can not appreciate — magnetism, for example — and this simply because we have no nervous mechanism which responds to that kind of motion. In like manner there can exist around us forces in infinite variety of which we have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever.
Now, is it not conceivable that, in the spirit after its severance from the flesh, our present imperfect senses may l)ecome perfect, and the influence of other now unthought-of sensations become possible ? What the new sensations and the new life will be are unknown, unknowable. A man is born blind. He attains through touch, hearing, and the minor senses a certain amount of knowledge of the outside world, but his ideas of what really is must of necessity be absolutely and entirely different from our own. The operation for cataract is performed ; the man can see, and is shown a familiar object — a book for example ; but he can not say what it is ; he must touch it first. His ideas of things undergo an immediate and radical change. So it will bo at death with our ideas of heaven. The blind spirit, released from the influence of the flesh, passes into perfect understanding of infinite knowledge.
To my mind, the material view of life should have no terrors to believers in religion.