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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/646

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

for ill; that his chief duty lies in resignation to fate. Directly opposed to this is the spirit of modern science, which considers it man's duty to go to work and manufacture fate. What right, it would ask, have we to assume that the forces of Nature are difficult of control until all the laws which govern them are investigated? Numberless instances in the history of science prove that his powerlessness is a mere bugbear of man's own imagining. It may be so in all cases. If man will only put forth a reasonable amount of effort, it may not be so difficult to comply with the command, "Subdue the earth."

Still, the old superstitions cling tenaciously to the best of men. A child sickens and dies, and we say, "It is the will of God, so let it be." What right has man to lay this flattering unction to his lazy soul? The scientific spirit would say: "It is the ignorance of man. It is his duty to learn enough about this disease to prevent or cure it." In taking this position science simply accepts the universal principle that ignorance of law does not exempt from penalty, and hence would study the law under which the calamity occurred and, by obedience, escape the penalty in future.

To conclude in a sentence the result of a chain of reasoning too long to even outline in detail, all the suffering and physical evil in living Nature finds ample justification for its existence if, serving as a spur to man, it arouses him to use his intelligence and put forth every energy available to alleviate the misery of the world and improve its condition. In other words. Nature is wisely ordered to give man plenty to do, and to do this work is one of his highest duties. How he is to accomplish it, depends upon the means he finds at hand, which prove themselves useful to his purposes.

In passing to a consideration of the utility of scientific experimentation, it must be remembered that we are not discussing the question with infanticides, murderers, or would-be suicides. It can be considered only with those who believe that, after moral excellence, human life and happiness and freedom from disease are the most useful things in the world.

 


 
A spelæological society has been formed in France, at the instance of M. E. Martel, for the study of everything relating to caves, including artificial ones. At the end of December, 1895, it had one hundred and seventy-five members. It publishes a quarterly bulletin, Spelunca, and Memoirs, of which three numbers have been issued. It has endowment members, who contribute not less than four hundred francs; titular members, who pay fifteen francs a year; life members, who make a single contribution of two hundred francs, and corresponding members, who pay five francs a year. The general secretary is M. Martel, rue Ménars 8, Paris.