Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/509

This page has been validated.
493
CORRESPONDENCE.

inserting a special reference to it in the stereotype-plate, I here append his letter, that the reader may not be misled by my comments. Paying due respect to Mr. Gladstone's wish to avoid controversy, I will say no more here than seems needful to excuse myself for having misconstrued his words. "Evolution," as I understand it, and "creation," as usually understood, are mutually exclusive: if there has been that special formation and adjustment commonly meant by creation, there has not been evolution; if there has been evolution, there has not been special creation. Similarly, unchangeable laws, as conceived by a man of science, negative the current conception of divine government, which implies interferences or special providences: if the laws are unchangeable, they are never traversed by divine volitions suspending them: if God alters the predetermined course of things from time to time, the laws are not unchangeable. I assumed that Mr. Gladstone used the terms in these mutually-exclusive senses; but my assumption appears to have been a wrong one. This is manifest to me on reading what he instances as parallel antitheses; seeing that the terms of his parallel antitheses are not mutually exclusive. That which excludes "liberty," and is excluded by it, is despotism; and that which excludes "law and order," and is excluded by them, is anarchy. Were these mutually-exclusive conceptions used, Mr. Gladstone's parallel would be transformed thus:

"Upon the ground of what is termed liberty, there has been rebellion against despotism: and (likewise) in the name of law and order, anarchy has been striven against."

As this is the parallel Mr. Gladstone would have drawn had the words of his statement been used in the senses I supposed, it is clear that I misconceived the meanings he gave to them; and I must, therefore, ask the reader to be on his guard against a kindred misconception.

I have not, however, thought it needful to change the description given of Mr. Gladstone's position, or to suppress the comments made upon it; because the substantial truth of this description is shown by the other passage quoted, the manifest meaning of which he does not disclaim. By characterizing Science as having "gone to war with Providence"—by displaying an unhesitating belief that great men are providentially raised up at the needful times, and by speaking with alarm and reprobation of the belief that their rise is due solely to natural causes, Mr. Gladstone does, I think, give me adequate warrant for taking his view as typical of the anti-scientific view in general—at any rate, in so far as the Social Science is concerned. Though this view may not be incongruous with the conception he entertains of Science, yet it is certainly incongruous with the conception entertained by scientific men; who daily add to the evidence, already overwhelming, that the Power manifested to us throughout the Universe, from the movements of stars to the unfolding of individual men and the formation of public opinions, is a Power which, amid infinite multiformities and complexities, works in ways that are absolutely uniform.

 

 

NOTE ON THE PHYSICAL CONSTITUTION OF MATTER.

To the Editor of the Popular Science Monthly:

I have read, with much interest, the elaborate articles, by Judge Stallo, on "The Primary Concepts of Modern Physical Science," hoping, from the scholarly manner in which the author discusses the subject, that he would conduct us to some more acceptable conclusion than has hitherto been arrived at. I was disappointed, however, to find him surmounting the difficulties of the subject by assuming that the "typical and primary state of matter is a gas," which "is not a group of absolute solids, but is elastic to the core."

I do not propose to review nor criticise these learned articles of Judge Stallo, though there are various portions that I think quite vulnerable to criticism; but I must confess that the idea of an unparticled elastic body is to me an utter impossibility.

The subject presents very grave difficulties under any view of the case. For, if we assume the existence of an ultimate solid particle, universal force cannot be conserved, because the interference of solid particles must destroy motion, and therefore force. Hence, in that view of the case, we must have a continual destruction,