Physics And Evolution
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The changes in form, in density of materials, and in configuration of surface, which the earth has undergone, indicate physical powers which are incomprehensible as well as immeasurable. The powers under the dominion of natural law, which made this world and others immensely larger, are indeed mighty forces.
Think of the bulk of our earth and try to realize that it is but as a speck of dust compared to the greatest stars ! We speak of the Law of Gravitation, but those who know all that is known of this Law realize most keenly how little it explains the cause of the orderly movements of the stars for centuries beyond all computation. We are compelled to recognize an Infinity of Power governed by Intelligence.
The interior forces which upheaved great ranges of mountains as the earth's crust cooled, exerted powers entirely beyond estimation. The effort of forcing such masses through miles of crust is an exhibition of power which is worthy of contemplation. These were physical powers and they were governed by natural law, yet neither "law" nor "nature" is within the mental grasp of the most mature mind.
Astronomers are familiar with stars which are blazing suns many times larger than our own, whose light can only reach us after thousands of years of travel at the rate of about 186,000 miles per second. Yet this light has the physical power of making photographs which indicate the constituent substances of those far-off worlds.
The Intelligence which apparently pervades the universe has accomplished some results through physical forces, namely, the activities of air, water, fire, heat, light, gravitation, attraction, magnetism, electricity, etc. It is sup-posed that through and by these forces the earth has been evolved and rendered habitable. However, their power to improve conditions seems to be limited to the results already accomplished, except as human intelligence can further use them.
The winds, the currents and the tides, while not idle, have no apparent use, no ultimate purpose, in themselves. But man's intelligence makes them serve his purpose and he converts these seemingly unintelligent movements into higher powers. Water and fire are antagonistic, and yet the power, derived through their right relation in the form of steam and applied to machinery, has changed the fate of men and nations. The scientific use of nature's forces has apparently only just begun, in comparison with the evidences of what may legitimately be expected. Intelligence has solved many problems and will certainly solve many more.
The evolution of the application and use of physical properties and forces is part of the history of the evolution of the race. Civilization depends upon the ability to secure a sufficient food supply. Civilization depends upon machinery and inventions, upon manufactures and commerce. And, after the necessaries and comforts of life have been secured, a higher civilization is dependent upon more rapid production which will afford leisure and opportunities for education and culture. Therefore, the scientific control of nature's physical forces is the basis for the evolution of man in his worthy human life.
If the welfare of humanity is dependent upon machinery and commerce and these are dependent upon the scientific control of nature's physical forces, then the problem of the use or misuse of forces involves all of Civilization, Christianity, Ethics, Religion, and the progress and future of mankind. It is not excessive to say that the fate of Civilization, Christianity, Ethics and Religion depends upon the constructive results which are achieved for the race.
If the results are only added powers for a small and selfish owning class, there can be no adequate universal Civilization, Christianity, Ethics or Religion. All these are being tested to see if they are able to control the forces for the welfare of humanity. The proper object of all industry and commerce is not to roll up enormous fortunes for a few, but to fill the largest number of homes with comforts and to make the humblest laborers happy. All this must be accomplished in conformity with scientific Ethics. Subsequent consideration of this theme will be given.
To consider the majority of mankind as mere producers, as employed laborers, is thinking of slaves. The worth, the dignity, and the ethical development of man are the proper subjects for consideration as the final results of the proper use of nature's forces.
When the machinery of production and distribution of the world's supplies shall be completed, when human toil shall be reduced to a minimum expenditure of life force, when opportunities for higher education and culture shall have been secured for all, then, and not till then, will the majority of the human race be free in any real sense.
Before this happy consummation can be realized, the evolution of all the sciences, and the education and regeneration of the race must proceed with constant acceleration. We may witness the process if we but open our eyes.
The proper use of physical forces, mental forces, social forces, ethical forces, acquired powers, knowledge of all kinds, determines the ratio and quality of progress. The education and regeneration of all mankind are processes and results upon which depends the redemption of these forces from selfish domination. Only when the lowest physical forces are used in conformity with the highest ethical considerations, will they accomplish all they might in the evolution of man.