MAN: WHENCE AND WHITHER?
The fables of the creation of nature and man by various fantastic and ridiculous means, which have, for thousands of years, found favour with the unthinking multitudes inhabiting the earth, and which even now are, one or other, firmly believed by the large majority of both the Eastern and Western populations, must, ere long, gradually give way to the truer and grander theory of Evolution, resulting from the study of the natural sciences. Priests, monks, and other interested people, backed up by the enormous wealth which has accumulated to the various religious creeds during the past centuries of darkness, ignorance, and gross credulity, will, no doubt, oppose all their tremendous forces against the new philosophy, thus, for a while, delaying the inevitable result. But this condition of things cannot last long. Education is doing, and will continue to do, its work, until, at length, falsehood and slavery will give place to truth and liberty.
In order to discover the origin of man, it is necessary to carry the mind back to a very remote period, and observe the mode of development of our planetary system; for, according to the theory of Evolution, there were no starting points for particular forms in nature, the whole universe consisting of one continuous unfolding of phenomena.
The modern theory of the mode of development of our earth, as also of all other planets and suns, is the one known as the “Nebular Hypothesis,” which is the prelude to the great theory of Evolution, and which teaches us that the earth, the sun, the moon, the planets, and all the heavenly host are the effects or results of the condensation of a nebulous vapour, which took place many millions of years ago, after having been diffused for an incalculable period of time throughout the illimitable expanse of space. The cause of this nebulous vapour, or attenuated matter, is unknown to us, and will probably ever remain enshrouded in the profound mystery which at present envelopes it. Beyond this limit all is mere speculation or hypothesis; and the Agnostic philosopher and the man of science, humbly acknowledging their complete inability to solve this mighty problem of ultimate causation, are content to leave further speculation in this direction to metaphysicians and poets.
During many long ages this process of condensation of the nebulous vapour steadily continued, being controlled by the laws of gravitation and transformation, until, at length, a number of rotating spherical nebular masses were formed, in a state of high heat from the shock of their recently-united atoms, which spheres gradually cooled by radiation, consequently contracting and becoming possessed of a more rapid rotary motion, giving off from their equatorial regions large rings of vapour, which, in their turn, condensed and, under the influence of the same two laws, formed separate spheres for themselves. This is the mode by which our planetary system was formed, as taught by Laplace and accepted by the scientists of to-day.
The earth, then, in common with other planets, may be said to have passed from the condition of a gaseous to a highly-heated fluid mass, and to have gradually become plastic, and moulded by revolution on its own axis to its present shape—i.e., an oblate spheroid, or globe, flatter at the poles than at the equator, with a polar diameter about twenty-six miles shorter than the equatorial diameter. This is the shape that all plastic bodies which rotate on their axes must assume, as we are clearly taught by mathematics.
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