« 上一頁繼續 »
on stating, even thus concisely, the scientific importance of molecular motions, this article would become ill-adapted to the pages of this Magazine, and the narrow limits of our available space would not contain those reflections for the sake of which we write. We limit ourselves therefore to the mere statement of conclusions.
Dr. Joule calculates that the molecules of hydrogen travel at a velocity of 1859 metres (above 2000 yards) per second. If the molecules travelled all in the same direction they would produce a wind whose force would exceed that of the wind from a cannon's mouth. But they travel in different directions, and meeting us on every side, we are able to support ourselves. Moreover, they clash continually, and have their direction changed; their actual progress is therefore slow, though their pace is great. The actual length of path of the molecules of a gas is, roughly speaking, about one-tenth of a wave-length of light. Their collisions amount to thousands of millions per second. A cubical vessel whose side measures one centimetre (two-fifths of an inch) will contain, at the ordinary pressure, nineteen million million millions of molecules of any gas.
Now, compare in one or two particulars the molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. The molecule of hydrogen weighs about 7-100,000,000, 000,000,000,000ths of one grain, that of oxygen weighs exactly sixteen times as much. Ascertaining the velocity of the former, we find that that of oxygen is one-fourth as great. The length of the mean path of the former is to that of the latter as 965 is to 560.
These statements will suffice to illustrate the statement that throughout the universe each molecule bears the stamp of a metric system, so simple, so perfect, so beneficent in its results, as to compel our agreement with Professor Clerk-Maxwell, when he declares the molecules to have all the marks of manufactured articles; of articles, we add, manufactured evidently by a Being of fathomless wisdom, of infinite goodness, and of power whose resources are unrestricted. No wonder that Professor Tyndall should say, "In his manufactured articles, Professor Maxwell finds the basis of an induction which enables him to scale philosophic heights considered inaccessible by Kant, and to take the logical step from the atoms to their Maker."
There is only one more fact we have space for; the molecule, though indivisible, or conceived to be so, is not necessarily simple. Thus it is not a rigid body, it is the scene of perfectly characteristic internal motions, and by these it produces those effects which enable us by the use of the spectroscope to distinguish and identify the
several elements. Sodium has in every molecule two distinct motions, one slightly more frequent than the other, and these cause the double yellow band of sodium, or when they show themselves by absorption, they produce the double velvet-like band in the solar spectrum known as D. We wonder at such minute and frequent motions in a mere atom, and our wonder becomes adoration when we find that an iron molecule is a manufactured article, the scene of perpetual motions, so varied as to produce distinctive bands by hundreds, no one of which belongs to the spectrum of any other element. These internal molecular motions, moreover, are always present. Hydrogen just released from water, hydrogen pervading the solar atmosphere and forming the storm-tossed chromosphere, and hydrogen brought by meteorites from star-depths, and liberated in the laboratory from its iron fetters; in a word, hydrogen always has the same properties and the same internal molecular constitution. Each molecule has been made subject to the same conditions, and has been made by no process which we can call natural.
Some reader, perhaps, will fear for our orthodoxy, and ask, Does not Swedenborg tell us that the belief in monads or atoms rests on a fallacy of the senses? (A. C. 5084.) The reply to this is simple and complete. The opinion of the untaught and of many ancient philo-` sophers, that the sun moves daily around this earth is another of the "fallacies of sense" condemned in the same paragraph. But for all that, the phenomenon is familiarly spoken of, and now is by most men rightly understood. So when we are told that it is an error, that there are simple substances, and these are monads and atoms, the error is in the word simple. As Swedenborg points out in D. P. 6, "It is acknowledged by many that there is only one substance, which is also the first from which all things are; but it is not known what that substance is. It is thought to be so simple that nothing can be simpler, and that it can be compared to a point which has no dimensions, and that from an infinite number of such points the forms of dimension exist. This, however, is a fallacy, originating from the idea of space," etc. This condemned opinion is not the one we state. The molecular philosophy does not look back to the first substance, but merely to the first known substances, and finds them "the more full and complete" in proportion to their being "simpler and purer," and that "in a certain image," after a certain analogy and correspondence, "the Divine is in every one" of these first known created things. In his treatise on the Infinite, Swedenborg accepts the belief
in atoms as a real and tenable ground of discussion with the philosophic sceptic (p. 21). Let it be granted, he says (and we take the liberty slightly to condense the passage), that all things in the visible and invisible worlds are derived from the least natural primitives, and issued therefrom by a natural, geometrical, physical, or any other necessity. What is the consequence? Plainly this: that in these primitives lay the peculiar nature and power to produce all things, thus, by natural necessity. . . . In whatever numbers, of whatever characters, they (the natural primitives or atoms) may be conceived to exist, either philosophically or rationally, still it will follow that a power, aptitude, and faculty, of producing all things, as ultimately they were produced, lay in them.
Without dwelling on the magnificent argument for the being and perfections of God, which might be built up on this SwedenborgMaxwell-Tyndall basis, we cite the last-namel student of creation in the following words: "The confession that I feel bound to make is, that I prolong the vision backward across the boundary of the experimental evidence, and discern in that matter, which we in our ignorance, and notwithstanding our professed reverence for its Creator, have hitherto covered with opprobrium, the promise and potency of every form of life."
In concluding this note, we beg our readers, while they admire the wonders of wisdom and power which, originating in Divine goodness, are present and manifest in the molecules, to consider for one moment this other aspect of the matter. Let us imagine in any bounded space myriads of moving bodies in such proximity as to be clashing against each other myriads of times per minute, how certain such motion would be to come to an end, to change, that is, to some other mode of motion, and to vanish so far as the mechanical movement is concerned. Yet such motions exist among the molecules of all matter in all its forms, and relatively to the human intellect they are everlasting. This fact means not only that God was the Creator of the universe, but that He is ceaselessly creating it. Preservation is continued creation, subsistence is perpetual existence. It is because the Father and God of the worlds worketh hitherto, that all things continue, and that atoms and men have the power and are under the obligation of working.
ON MODERN SCEPTICISM AND ITS ANTIDOTE. Ir cannot be denied that the present state of the community with regard to religion is truly anomalous. Among the laity there prevails what they are pleased to call freedom of thought, by which it appears is meant liberty to cast aside all the old beliefs cherished by our forefathers as superstitions unworthy of a more advanced age and a more enlightened generation. Nothing that cannot be proved-nothing that does not follow with the force and certainty of scientific induction from known and recognised facts-is now thought worthy the attention of the intelligent and educated man. And these known and recognised facts, moreover, must be material facts-facts, that is, which relate to the behaviour of matter under the influence of cosmical forces; and even these forces must be recognised forces-forces in whose existence we are permitted by the dictum of the man of science to believe. Thus is mankind in the present generation trammelled by a science which has contracted itself into the merest materialism, which is ever narrowing its own basis by the rejection, one after another, as incapable of proof, of all the truths in which we have been instructed for generations; until at last we are taught by our scientific leaders that we are ourselves but mere shadows-that the very existence of material things around is doubtful and uncertain -that nothing is certain except that we do not see things as they are— that the existence of a God is incapable of proof-that the notion of a Divine government for human welfare must be dismissed—that we have no assurance of a life after death-and that the whole domain of the supernatural is removed from the region of belief to that of simple hope.
These are the dry bones which are offered us by a school of thinkers in exchange for the glorious prospects and animating beliefs which such men would take from us, assuring us, however, that, "the reason once secured in its rights, the imagination may be permitted to follow its own end, and do its best to make life pleasant and lovely."
And while such is the state of opinion among a large section of the laity, we regret to observe that certain of those who have taken upon themselves the office of ministers of religion do not let that fact prevent them from holding views in some respects common or akin to those just referred to. I do not accuse any member of the clerical body with denial of God or of a future state; for although some have promulgated such equivocal statements as to lay themselves open to
the gravest doubt, it is not credible that the avowed servants of God should deny Him and their mission. But have we not too many instances of close argument whose object is not the establishment of spiritual doctrines, but the reverse? Have we not cases where the foundations of Christian belief have been sapped, not supported, by those who from their profession might have been supposed to have been anxious to uphold the doctrines which the spiritually-minded man holds dear? Have we not heard of ministers of religion, not classed as Unitarians, who throw doubt upon the Divine character of our Saviour? who in greater or less part deny the authority of the Bible? who withhold their assent from the possibility of miracles? Are we not aware of rulers of the Church who have gone out of their way to demonstrate, as they vainly think, that certain portions of the Biblical record are unworthy of credit as read literally, and at the same time are unwilling to admit the validity of any other method of interpretation? Do we not know of others, applauded for their intellect, liberality, and breadth of view, who hold but slightly to doctrines happily yet dear to many, and which, if truths, cannot thus be slighted with impunity? Alas! it is too true; and although we would condemn no man, nor judge any beyond his distinctly expressed opinions, we would only commend to all such to bethink themselves whether, having taken upon them the ministry of the sanctuary, they can doubt the importance of the example they set to their flocks, or believe that their Master will hold them guiltless for such divided service.
We have recently had before us the spectacle of a distinguished leader in the scientific world on the one hand claiming exactness for the inductive sciences alone, denying mere authority, and refusing the character of certainty to anything which cannot be brought to the test of the processes and methods held to be necessary in scientific research-we have seen, I say, such a professor trenching upon ground to which he is an utter stranger, and using his position in a great scientific corporation for the purpose of giving expression to views, not only not shared in by a large proportion of his audience, but such as must depend for their acceptance upon his authoritative utterance alone. And although such materialistic views have been disclaimed by their author as involving the denial of a Divine Being, they have nevertheless been so regarded by numerous hearers and readers, both at home and abroad. Such a contradiction, not at once recognised as such by the world at large, is calculated by its audacity