Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/722

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

hieroglyphics and found arts and history already venerable before the date when commentators admitted that Adam was created. It has learned how vast beds of chalk and limestone, miles in thickness, have been manufactured by microscopic creatures; how from a fiery cloud the globe gathered to a molten ball, and on the molten ball formed the crust that now suspends us above the still furnace-heated interior. Learning little by little all this, science has been compelled to put the date of the cosmic beginning back into an antiquity that, in comparison with the Mosaic work, seems an eternity.

And in thus prolonging the age of man and the world, science has altered our conception of the method by which the universe came into existence. It can no longer be looked upon as created out of nothing, at one grand tour de force; but as a process of organization, a process continuous and alike in every atom. In the glowing, gaseous nebula, in the curdled, nucleated fire-mist of the embryonic star, in the more consolidated, but still molten, heaving mass of our sun, in the ring-girt Saturn, the still steam-enveloped Jupiter, the sunny summer-time of our own planet, are discerned by the modern physicist the various stages through which every planetary system passes. From the heterogeneous to the homogeneous, from the diffused to the compacted, from the unorganized to the organized, from the lifeless to the living, this is the eternal rhythm of the cosmic evolution.

The cosmic evolution! Yes, this is the further and mightier change which science has made in our conceptions of the world's government. In the current belief of Christendom even 200 years ago, this earth was a world of decay and supernatural intervention, ever to be dreaded. Powers of darkness were struggling with the powers of light in ceaseless efforts for the mastery. Close underneath the earth's surface were the fiery pit and the gloomy realms of purgatory. Through caverns and secret ways mischievous devil and perturbed spirit passed up and down. The graveyards were haunted by ghosts. A comet foreboded disaster to nations, and an earthquake was the overture to the judgment-day.

By a compact with Satan a sorcerer could blight the harvest, or lay low whomsoever he wished with fatal disease. Ordinary phenomena, of course, were supposed to take place as the result of the natural arrangements instituted at the creation, but whatever was at all out of the usual order was looked upon as a special intervention, either of saint or magician, imp or angel, Satan or God, according to its respective evil or goodness, littleness or greatness.

All this science has ejected from the belief of enlightened men. Instead of a fall of the human race, and increasing ruin in the world, science has shown the gradual upclimbing of the race from cave-dwellings and garments of skin to the luxuries and enlightenments of our present civilization. Men of science have been over the whole earth and scrutinized the whole heavens, exploring every dark corner