Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/702

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however incredible, however little flattering to our intellectual pretensions. The contending claims of naturalism and supernaturalism, the fate of the most momentous question touching the guidance of our life, turn actually, in the field of science, upon the paltry issue of the synthesis of ternary carbon compounds, whether this be chemically or whether it be superchemically effected. COO is undisputably an inorganic compound. CHO is undisputably an organic compound. This designates accurately the actual depth of the gulf existing between organic and inorganic Nature.

The chief vital manifestation of protoplasm, its contractility, can no longer startle us, for we know exactly how it is produced by well known chemical and physical means. The combination of C, H, N, O, constituting protoplasm, is nothing but a very complicated chemical compound. CHO is a less complicated compound. COO is a still less complicated compound.

We do not in the least know how COO originates. We know a little better how CHO originates. And, perhaps, it will presently appear that we know still better how the combination of C, H, N, O, constituting protoplasm, originates. The advantage of intelligibility lies all on the side of organic Nature. It is astounding fro contemplate in what a degree this may actually prove to be the case.

We owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to quantitative science. In our panic-stricken minds it has established the certainty of serene order everywhere. Through the never-failing verification of inflexible laws it attests the necessary connection and absolute interdependence of all accessible changes in Nature. Thus it has liberated us from a thralldom infinitely more pitiful than any form of common slavery—the thralldom of our own vicious and cruel superstitions. In many ways it has enriched our lives a thousand-fold, and we may, in future, expect from it an ever-increasing harvest of similar benefits.

It appears to me as if I could discern with some degree of distinctiveness—just beginning to loom in the distant twilight of consciousness an entirely new era of knowledge; an era governed by the science of organization, by means of which more concentrative appreciation the synthesis of reality will receive a deeper explanation, and all facts of Nature appear in an organic light, in a qualitative interdependence, evolution being then understood as creative evolution, and not as mere transformation of modes of motion and atomical redistribution of matter. I have conjured up into the medium of shadowy words this most vague fancy of an organic epoch in science, because I firmly believe that we are already in possession of a clew to the means and ways by which the development of the living substance has been and is still being achieved; while, on the contrary, we possess no clew whatever to the means and ways which have led to the development of the now existing inorganic substances from the supposed primordial substratum.

We watch a moner for hours, for days. There it is, ever continuing