Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/151

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
147
IN SEARCH OF TRUTH

to man. The whole truth never can be. Ultimate truth was never in any man's possession. The unknown surrounds on all sides all knowledge in man's possession. The beginning, the end and the ramifications are beyond his reach. He was not present when the foundations of the universe were laid. He may not be present when they are destroyed. But scientific knowledge, though limited, is practical and positive so far as it goes. It rests on experiment and observation alone. Every step in observation, experiment or induction has been tested by thousands of bright minds. He is already a master in science who can suggest even one new experiment. There is nothing occult or uncanny in scientific methods. The e magic wand 'which creates new species of horses or cattle lies in the hand of any stock-breeder. The magic key of the electrician by which the foam of the cataract becomes the light of the city may be held by any municipal council. To take the illustrations given above, 'there is such a thing as a squash,' because the assumption that the squash exists constitutes a safe basis for action. On that hypothesis you can plant squashes or raise squashes or make them into pies. The brightness of the brandy-colored world we can not trust. It requires no scientific instruments of precision to record the failure of the man who guides his life on a basis of impressions made by drugs or stimulants.

"The transit of Venus is no product of fancy. To the astronomer the coming of the planet between the earth and the sun is as certain a thing as the coming of the earth into its own shadow at night. The one incident is more common than the other, but not more mysterious. And to go to that part of the earth which is turned toward the sun at the moment of transit is the simple common sense thing to do if one wishes to see the transit. The island, the abandoned hut and the cooking utensils were only incidents to the astronomer. To the natives these were the only realities and the purposes of sciences were to them unknown or absurd. To the man of common sense the digging for treasure under the direction of clairvoyants seems ridiculous. The operation does not become more wise when we see it through the eye of science. Tested by instruments of precision, 'clairvoyance' becomes a myth and such truth as its phenomena contains is explainable in simple ways.

"The spectroscope grows more real and more potent as we study its methods and results. The divining rod is only successful through ignorance or fraud. The process of weighing planets is open to all who will continue their studies till they understand it. The test of knowing is doing. The oceanic cable in the service of all who have concerns in another continent. It hides no mystery save the one eternal mystery of matter and force. The phenomena of telepathy have fled before every attempt at experiment. The study of the 'X-rays' is as far from occultism or spiritism as the manufacture of brass