Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/104

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Much the same might be said of the chemical, the electric, and magnetic properties of matter. If they were among the original powers, there is proof of design in their adaptation to one another and to the matter of the universe. If they were not, then we have traces of a new power being introduced, and for this we must look for a cause. We are not able to say how many the properties possessed by the original matter; whether they were few or many. But in either case there is evidence of contrivance in their harmonious action and results. We see that there is an end proposed in the music that comes from a violin, and this whether it is brought forth from one string, as was done by Paganini, or from four strings, as is done by the ordinary performer. So in the orderly and beneficent action of Nature there is proof of adaptation, whether we suppose the original properties to be few or to be numerous.

Though preservation is in a sense a continued creation, yet preservation differs from creation. In looking back on the history of the world, it is often difficult to tell as to a certain work to which of these two kinds of divine acts it belongs. We may not be sure, for example, as to a new form of plant or animal, whether it is a creation or simply a development according to law; and I am not sure that religion gains by our taking one side or another. We cannot, we have seen, determine for certain what were the powers of Nature that were working from the very beginning. But it is clear and sure that powers have appeared in Nature from time to time which did not operate at first nor for long ages; nay, if geology speaks truly, nor for millions of years. There may be two suppositions in regard to these powers. The one is, that they were all along in the original matter; that the star-dust had in it potentially not only gravitation and chemical affinity, but life, sensation, consciousness, intelligence, moral discernment, love. It is hard to believe that there was all this in that dull, heated, nebulous matter from which our world sprang. It is acknowledged that this mass must have existed for a long time—for hundreds of thousands, probably for millions of years—before life, and for a far longer time before intelligence, appeared. Whence did these new powers come? If they were in the original matter, how did it come that they were so long dormant, how that they at last appeared, it might be shown, at the appropriate time when surroundings were prepared for them? Science can say nothing on this subject, and may never be able to say anything. It is passing altogether beyond its province, passing from inductive proof into speculation, when it pretends to know anything one way or other. Philosophy feels itself staggered when it would solve the problem. It does say, indeed, that this new operation must have had a cause. It is one of the certain laws of intelligence, one of the universal laws of experience, that everything that begins to be must have a cause. This law of causation takes several forms; but every form will insist that these new