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first, it is sufficient to state that we only know "consciousness' as an attribute of organised existence; and for the vitality' of matter, it is seen in the changing seasons--in the lassitude of winter, and the vigour of spring, the power of summer, and the re-action of winter. These form the 'vitality' of matter.
You have entered into the astronomical argument, for what purpose 1 cannot tell, without you appear again to have confounded the eternity of FORMS of matter with the eternity of matter itself. Your quotation from Whewell 1 perfectly agree with, as modern science has demonstrated the existence of a 'resisting medium' to the planets, and 1 think it is clear that the planets composing the solar system will (in course of time) be precipitated upon the sun, an event, however, which it will take millions of years to consummate, and prior to which must happen the decrease of our years and days by the less distance the planets will have to traverse round the sun.
1f 1 mistake not, history proves this position. Mackintosh says, * The ancient Chinese astronomers divided the circumference of the circle into 3651 parts, instead of 360, the division adopted among the western nations. By this division the sun moved through one degree daily, so that their solar year was about twelve minutes more in length than that of the present time.
The Indians also valued the year at a greater length than that which is known to be the true one at present. The following is a synoptical view of the ancient Indian tables, showing the length of the sidereal year, as estimated by the Hindoo astronomers of that time :
Days, Hours. Min. Sec.
36 In respect to the Chaldean astronomers, it is mentioned by Porphyry that Calisthenes transmitted to Aristotle a series of observations made at Babylon during a period of 1903 years preceding the capture of that city by Alexander the Great, which carries back the Chaldean astronomy to at least 2234 years B. C.; so that if the Chaldeans were not acquainted with the true length of the solar year, it cannot be said they were not diligent observers, for here are a set of observations extending over 2000 years.'
1 might mention how Hipparchus discovered that from the time of the ancient Egyptians the length of the year had decreased four minutes; or of the difference of time which led to the forming of the Julian, and subsequently the Gregorian calendar. Sufficient is, however, advanced to make us both agree on the electrical theory of the universe, and prove that even if the PLANETs are destroyed BEFORE eternity, it will not militate against the claims of atheism, because it will only be a destruction of FORMS and not of MATTER itself. So here, in this astronomical argument, there is no evidence to prove the noneternity of matter, and, consequently, there is no evidence of a beginning of matter.' in dismissing those arguments on the eternity of matter, let me observe, that 1 think they must, from their intrinsic worth, unencumbered with either verbosity or sophistry, win their way into the minds of the unprejudiced --for the difficulties which the opposite opinions plunge us into are sufficient to decide the question in the favour of the atheist. Sound philosophy' requires us to think and REASON on the existence of everything we see around us ; and in the belief of the eternity and self-existence of matter every doubt is at once vanquished-every speculation is conveyed in a right channel. The Christian cannot say that matter was not in existence at a certain epoch; and, to support
*Electric Theory, p. 265.
his position, he is bound not only to say at what date matter was non-existent, but at what date it came into existence, and by what means it was produced. From the very nature of the questions they are unanswerable, and must for ever remain involved in the same obscurity. Do the Scriptures say that matter is but 6000 years of age ?—then geology tells him that it is three millions of years since the Mississippi first shot her silver streams into the Atlantic; and how shall we reconcile the two ? Nay! difficulties throng the path of the Christian ; he is unable to answer the simplest questions of the atheist, and attempts to cramp down the buoyant energies of nature to the age of an American tree. The atheist is free from the difficulties of the Christian; he sees the universe in all its beauty and deformity, and searches, not for its commencement, but for the order of its seasons. He seeks no cause separate from itself to account for its existence; and although life to him may be full of sorrow, or it may
be sparkling with joy, yet the knowledge which atheism inspires makes him content in his poverty, or delirious in happiness; he neither repines at his misfortunes nor boasts of his success, for they both proceed necessarily from their causes, and could have been no other than they were. And this happy content of mind, evinced in a state of atheism, ought to weigh in the Phyrronian balances of doubt which partial enquirers might be lost in—for assuredly the eternity of matter is a grander conception of truth than the assumed eternity of another Being, whose existence is merely a hypothesis. I take leave, then, of this subject. You tell me my definition of design is far from a happy one;' and you fur
when you can show me matter designing, I shall abandon the analogical argument.' I, sir, will accept the 'analogical argument' when you can positively show me' mind designing ;-as neither · matter' normind' can be demonstrated as designing' in your manner of expressing the subject; for we cannot see the causes working --we can but see the results as they appear ; therefore, when you can conveniently introduce me to a mind in full . designing' operation, where I can see the accurate designs draw out without any materials, then I will become a convert to your doctrine-otherwise I can only accept the word "design' as a mental operation connected with human organisation.
You ask me, 'When did nature ever bring forth spontaneously an ear of corn, a plant, or a human being ? I am not able to answer any of this trio of queries; but I can inform you that living creatures have been produced from electricity, and if it would not make my letter too long, I would quote numerous instances of the process and results of such operations.
Speaking of God's intelligence, you say, 'it is an attribute not of matter but of mind.' I ask, how can an effect be an effect of an effect, or how can an
attribute' be an 'attribute' of an 'attribute?'—for assuredly the mind but occupies this position in relation to matter. But more of this when I treat on the Immortality of the Soul.'
You inform me my 'argument for the omnipotence of matter is suicidal,' 'that, because man and matter must have power, God cannot be omnipotent' You say, 'I admit that man has power, and yet most inconsistently argue for the omnipotence of matter.' Allow re, sir, to throw the suicide upon the theist and not upon the atheist-for you admit that matter and man do possess
POWER,' forgetting that if God was omnipotent, he would possess ALL POWER, which our experience proclaims a fallacy; so then the omnipotence must be · divided betwixt man and matter. I argue for the omnipotence of matter only upon the observances of the power of matter, and man being a FORM of matter's manifestations.
You find fault with my quotation from Shelley, telling me that 'power may be an attribute of being, without being self-existing.' Here you appear to mis
take our argument, which is not human power, but universal power, as found in nature, which, I am afraid, you will not find existing by deputy. When you do, I relinquish Shelley's arguinent.
You admit that there must be one self-existent CAUSE in the universe, but persist in calling it God. If it is matter, then we agree; if it is not, then it is a nonentity. You speak of matter being an effect, -an assumption impossible to defend, for ITS CAUSE is yet undemonstrated.
Carefully have I examined your arguments against my positions, and not one of them yet is logically overthrown. Atheism is still triumphant, and will yet inake her opinions a power which shall never end until the claims of Christianity be proved nothing but the weakness of superstition--the pride of a bygone age.
W. H. J.
REPLY TO LETTER IV.
TO MR. W. H. JOHNSON.
Paley's noted argument can well defend itself, till it is assailed by 'heavier metal than you have brought against it. Holyoake's attempt at reductio ad absurdum, which you have feebly copied, rests on the unfounded assumption that in God himself, there are proofs of design.
Your lengthened observations on the cardinal point of atheism, may, to some minds, mystify, but do not meet my objections to the eternity of matter. There is a difference between logic and length.
1. You seek to prove the eternity of matter from its indestructibility. But you have not proved, and you cannot prove its indestructibility, till you are omniscient. When you deny that there is any power in the universe able to destroy matter, you beg the question. But even if you had proved the indestructibility of matter, that would be no evidence of its eternity. The facts of history as facts are indestructible, yet they are not eternal. Your conclusion, therefore, is false. It is you, not I, who require to prove not only that Sebastopol will be besieged to all eternity, but that it has been besieged from all eternity. It can never cease to be a fact that Sebastopol has been besieged by the allied forces, but that fact began to be. Everybody admits that a fact is indestructible; all that I require to prove is, that Šebastopol began to be besieged; and this, nobody in his senses will deny.
2. You admit the non-eternity of the globe in its present chape. You even contend for a long series of progressive developments. Matter, then, is subject to change; but that which is subject to change is not self-existent, and therefore, not eternal. You seem quite insensible of the fact, that your long quotation from Dr. Nichol, proves my position. If it is possible to fix the age of the great masses of the mountains, then they have not been eternal. If they had stood for ever, the loss of one particle in a million of years would have proved quite sufficient to reduce them. What are three millions of years, or three millions of ages to the mighty cycles of eternity? I am prepared to defend the Mosaic Cosmogomy at the proper time; and when you are called upon for proof that it represents the creation of the universe as taking place only 6000 years ago, it will be found that you are as feeble in proof as you are valiant in assertion. Meanwhile, remember, that the real question at issue is not whether the world has existed 6000 years, or 6000,000,000 of years, but whether it has existed from all eternity. It is encumbent on you to show that neither its substance nor its forms have had any beginning.
3. You equally fail to meet my next argument. The question is not when the human race began to be, but whether it has been eternal. To prove that it has not been eternal, I point to the thinly-populated condition of the earth. This you attempt to meet by pointing out some of the checks to population. But I want to know, if, notwithstanding those checks, as far as we have reliable statistics, population has not steadily and greatly increased? Who does not know that the Anglo-Saxon, the Celtic, the Sclavonic, the Russian, and other races have made rapid increase notwithstanding all the ravages of war, of pestilence, and of famine, during the past two centuries; and that since more accurate censuses of popnlation have been made the increase has been so rapid, that some Malthusian political economists have feared that the time will soon come, when there will be more mouths than there is meat to fill? Men do not deny that the human race increases; but you question whether it increases at at a rapid rate, or what you call an “extensive ratio.' But allowing the rate of increase to be ever so small, an eternity would have crowded the earth with inhabitants. If, on the other hand, you hold that the law of population has been that of decrease, then are you impaled on the other horn of the dilemma, that under the operation of such a law from all eternity, the race must have become extinct. And where are the records in the 'great stone-book,' of the existence of human beings for ever? But under the very vague and ambiguous expression, 'I do not confound the eternity of matter with the eternity of organisms', I suppose you to mean that while you believe in the eternity of matter, you do not believe in the eternity of its organised forms. You hold that matter is eternal, but that man began to be. Now if he began to be, whether six thousand, or six thousand million years ago, he must have had a Creator, and that Creator could not be matter, for matter has no will, nor have we the shadow of evidence that matter has ever created anything. You hold that mind is only an attribute of organised matter, consequently there cannot be knowledge without organisation. But you hold the non-eternity of organisation ; therefore, there must have been a time when there was no knowledge, nothing known, no knower in the universe. That is, you would have existence without conscious. ness; but without consciousness you have no means of proving the existence of anything; thus you involve yourself in the absurdity of the supposition of an existence without a being either to perceive or to prove it. No one can hold your dognta without reversing the laws of human knowledge, and denying the fundamental facts of human thought. Your historical facts I do not stay to question, although if I demanded proof of the statement that Xerxes raised an army of five millions of men, you might find yourself in some perplexity; but I wish you to observe that in admitting that the race had a beginning, you give up the question. Remember that what you have to disprove at present is not the chronology of Moses, but the non-eternity of man.
4. You do not see that the lack of any memorial of the world's eternity warrants the conclusion that it began to be; but it strikes me that our readers will see it readily enough. You say, 'We know nothing about credible universal history since the invention of printing.' It is difficult to perceive what you mean by such language. Do you not mean its opposite, that anything we know about universal history that is credible, is since the invention of printing ? If so, why do you talk to me about Babylon, Persia, Carthage, Rome, and Scythia ; about Xerxes and Cæsar; about Huns and Goths, and seek to cull from the pages
of their history facts inimical to my position? You say writing was discovered 4000 years ago. But how do you know, if not from history? You cannot be allowed at one time to deny the evidence of history, and at another to appeal to it for proof. Even though the Alexandrian Library has been destroyed, we have some sources of information in reference to the past still left to us. But your statements prove the truth of my proposition. Had the
world existed from all eternity, it is inconceivable that writing and printing would not have been earlier in use among men. These are irrefragable proofs of the comparatively recent origin of our race. You explain that we have no record of the cities, men, thoughts, wars, revolutions, and conquests of the past for want of a historian's
pen. But how did it happen that a historian's pen was wanting if the race had existed for ever? You are the first to inform me of monuments in Central America equalling those of ancient Greece, but if there were, these are not monuments of eternity. You tell me that an empire without a written language is lost for ever, but if the race had been eternal it is inconceivable that it could have been without a written language till about 4000 years ago.
You do not contend that the world in its present state has existed for ever, but that the matter composing the world is eternal, and subject to ceaseless change.' We know that it is subject to ceaseless change, and that in thousands of instances it is changed irresistibly from without ; therefore, it cannot be eternal.
You assert 'the impossibility of knowing when progression commenced.' It is enough for my argument to know that it did commence. For if it did commence, it is not, of course, eternal; and the human family must have begun to be. If inany of the arts and sciences have been gained, and lost, and regained,' this is another proof that little progress had been made in the art of preserving and handing them down to posterity. The facts you state are all against you, for if Phideas, Appelles, Herodotus, and Homer arrived at such perfection in their respective arts in one age, what would not have been accomplished if the race had existed for ever? When I said that history and tradition point to the recent origin of the race, I did not say that no nations claim an indefinite antiquity : the question is, have they a solitary fact by which to make good that claim. As to the Hindoo epoch, it is as little worth as your belief that the race has existed for 4000,000,000 of years. You ‘hold that the Hindoo and Jewish Bibles are alike authentic and credible.' A little modesty' should teach you to give us fewer beliefs and more arguments. The credulity of secularists' has become proverbial; and it seems you are no exception. You can believe what Plato says about the Island of Atlantis' and what Berosus told Calisthenes, with scarcely a particle of proof; but you cannot receive the facts of the Gospel history, though supported by a world of evidence.
I am here warned that I must close for want of space, and I must leave further reply to my next. I am thus threatened with being silenced, not by argument, but by verbosity, redundance, and irrelevance.
NOTES OF THE WEEK.
Lord Robert Grosvenor's Sunday Trading Bill for London, has produced great excitement there. For three Sabbaths there have been great demonstrations against it in Hyde Park. Some portions of the press seemed not unwilling to excite the people, and they have succeeded. On the 1st of July, the police were in great force in Hyde Park. The people as on the previous Sabbath, assailed those who were driving in their carriages with the cries, 'Go to Church. The excitement increasing, the police interfered, and, it appears in some instances, treated the people with unnecessary violence and considerable ferocity. On the following Monday, in the House of Commons, Lord Robert announced his intention of abandoning