The Goal of Life, by Hiram Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
There are many difficulties in the way of the universal acceptance of evolution as an established fact, as an obvious law of nature; and, at the foundation of these difficulties, is the Christian belief, which underlies our civilization.
The Christian world has believed it to be a literal fact that in six days God created the world and everything in it, and then ceased from the work of creation. Recently, however, there has been such an accumulation of evidence disproving this statement that the majority of thinkers are rejecting the old form of belief, and it is now generally accepted that, in place of six days, we must understand six periods of timecycles. This is in accord with the words of the Christ who, when he was rebuked for working on the Sabbath day, replied, "My Father worketh even until now, and I work." (John v. 17.)
If God had not ceased from his work at the time of Christ, we have no reason to think that he has ceased at the present time. On the contrary, we see progression all around us, in every department
of life. If a nation ceases to progressrenew its life and constantly unfold higher characteristicsit soon perishes and passes away, and the individual is subject to the same law. We have but to look back fifty years to see the marked progress, not only in science, art, and mechanics, but in the actual brain-power and organic quality of the people.
Another difficulty in the way of accepting the theory of evolution is, that the work of archaeologists has revealed indications of a high state of civilization which antedates history. It has been urgedand we think reasonablythat there are evidences of an early civilization more advanced than our own. We should remember that there are a few isolated cases in which even the American Indian has obtained knowledge of certain things that we do not possess, and certainly more should be expected of old nations that had reached a comparatively high state of civilization.
It has been said, and it is a historic fact, that "the star of empire westward takes its course." We have before us to-day the great, old nation of China, embodying the civilization of a remote period. Next, in order of time and place, come India, Egypt and the countries east of the MediterraneanPalestinewhere our Lord gave the revelation of the Christian religion. This religion has traveled westward over the continent of Europe
until it has reached the Atlantic coast, and has crossed to America, where its light shines from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the dawn of which is beginning to break over China and India.
Again, civilization in its nature is cumulative; like the winding of a thread upon a ball, as in a sense, it overlaps itself, it buries beneath the surface the old, only that it may establish the new upon ever higher ground.
When we look for an immediate cause for the successive rise and decadence of nations and their civilization, we find that each nation, having reached in its turn a comparatively high state of development, probably as high as it was capable of reaching, was overcome and destroyed by nations less advanced than itself. For history makes the fact clear that, as man ascends in the scale of development he sees the folly of war, combat, and struggle. He tires of struggling and arranges an order of peace, and thus soon loses the ability to protect himself, when the lower races come in and. destroy him.
We also find that the civilization of a nation has been led out always by some special principle. In the case of the Greeks it was the love of beauty and the perfection of physical manhood. We may say that art was the center of their civilization.
With the Romans it was conquest and love of power, which degenerated into self-indulgence and oppression, until finally they lost their power and fell.
The center around which the civilization of Egypt gathered, was magic, the laws of nature, the psychic forces in the human family.
Thus, could we possess the history in detail of every nation that has risen and fallen, we should find that, like vegetable life, each possessed its own specific quality. Each grew and matured a special quality of mind which, like the husk of the grain of wheat, enveloped some great truth, and when maturity came and its work was accomplished, the nation passed away as a form of vegetable life that had borne its ripe fruitage.
However, we find that the civilization of the present age has reached a point where science and mechanics have obliterated space and, in a sense, time. The whole world, the ancient and the modern, is rapidly being spread before the public gaze, and our race of to-day is eagerly gathering all the grains of wheat, the great central truths that have matured in the mind of civilizations from earliest times throughout its successive stages to the present. Libraries, so ancient that history has no record of the people that made them, are now being unearthed. Nations, so far removed in the dim twilight of the past that we have no means of knowing the time of their existence, are now presenting the very details of their domestic life to our scrutiny. All these things demonstrate the fact that the race has now reached a state of development where it feels the need of, and consequently
is about to gather, the ripe fruitage of all ages.
The race is delving into the quarries of the present and of the past, that, from the work of the hewers of all nations and all times, it may construct a temple of knowledge transcending Solomon's in all its glory, transcending anything that has ever existed upon the planet.
While the accumulating of knowledge has been going on so rapidly during the last century, the mind of the scientist has been intently fixed upon material manifestation. He has searched wisely and diligently for causation in every physical direction, until he has reached the last residuum of matter, a mere "point of force," and he can go no further until he recognizes the source and nature of this force.
As there are small cycles of national development and race development, so there are great cycles of world developmentplanetary cycles. If we had a history of the Grand Cycle preceding the present one"the elder world" (ii. Esdras vii. 13), to which there are numerous incidental references in our Bible and of which the sacred books of the East speak so positively, then we should find that, while its people reached a high state of maturity and spirituality, they were a race-round lower than the present humanity.
EVOLUTION OF THE PLANET
Modern scientists run back in the history of the earth to the time supposed to have existed when
the planet was nebulous matter floating in space, and there they must stop; for, in following theories relative to the formation of the earth, many of them ignore the idea of a God, a Creator, and say that everything is the outcome of natural law. In the very presence of a disaster like the great earthquake in San Francisco, even the clergy unite in saying that God had nothing to do with it, that it was simply a natural phenomenon. This is as much as to say that God has nothing to do with the affairs of nations or of men, that natural law and the phenomena of nature are all there is. They do not think sufficiently to ask what is meant by natural law.
It is true that everything follows a certain sequencecause and effect run through everything that we know. But let us trace back a little further. Let us turn the telescope upon space. Way yonder we see a nebulous mass, bright and luminous as a flaming sun, but, as we carefully observe it, we find that we can look through it at some great sun in the far distance, as if the nebula were but a thin veil over the face of the star; thus proving beyond question that this nebulous matter is what has been denominated "luminous gas."
Many theories have been advanced concerning this luminous substance, and many have concluded that it is gas heated to great intensity. At the same time they tell us that it is floating in a medium a hundred, if not a thousand times colder than the
temperature at the north pole. But no one has attempted to tell us why this luminous gas interpenetrated by and floating in such cold can remain heated to the intensity claimed. They may philosophize and try to explain how it is possible for intense heat to be retained when interpenetrated and surrounded by intense cold, but the fact remains that nothing that is known to man makes it possible for a cloud of gas to remain heated for one second in a medium so contrary to heatto say nothing of the untold years that it is supposed to have remained in this state.
In order to account for its luminosity under such conditions, we must look for something beyond the experience of every-day life. The recent discovery of radium, however, evinces the fact that it is possible for an element of nature to remain in a luminous state, and actually heated to a certain. degree, which even the cold of liquid air cannot extinguish. Is this new-found element on the borderline between Spirit and the natural world? If we interrogate the Bible, we find there numerous accounts of visitations from the spirit-world, sometimes in a flame of fire, as God appeared to Moses in a burning bush, and the bush was not consumed. At other times, the person of the visitant was said to be as shining as the light, or as bright as the sun. When a Holy One from the spirit-world enters a man's presence, though it be in the darkness of the night, in the darkest room, the darkness is at
once dissipated and all is bright and luminous. The luminous brightness is not seen merely with the spiritual eye but with the natural eye as well. We read that God is Spirit and dwells in the light that no man can approach. Again, the assertion is emphatic that by the word of God the worlds were made, and surely we cannot believe that God created something from nothing, therefore God created from himself. And this nebulous matter of which worlds are formed is the substance of spirit, a substance which is the emanation of a thought of Divinity.
We think, form conclusions, and when the conclusions are reached we express them in words and acts. When we say that we express them, we mean that there goes out from us the thought-form. In like manner, when, in connection with the other creative words, the Elohim said, "Let us make man," the thought was formed in the mind and sent out into space. The substance of his own great nature appeared luminous and brightas the body of an angelwhich scientists call "cosmic gas." As this cosmic gas was a thought of Divinity, its mind-power became what is known as the laws of nature, and, in the aeons of time, formed our earth, and has carried forward evolutionary development of individual organisms, step by step, to the present time.
Here we are met by two apparent discrepancies:
First, that Spirit is invisible to man. Second, that planets are born from their parent suns.
Both of these objections resolve themselves into one, and in reply it may be said that, if God created the world and what is in it from himself, and if God is Spirit, then all that is must be a condition of Spirit. Man, the product of that Creative Mind, is able to recognize through the five senses that only which is upon a plane similar to his own. Therefore, as the Spirit appears to us in the creation of worlds, it first manifests itself as light, and also as heat, because of the intensity of its vibration. Thus it is in this form that the word of God appears in the very beginnings of material substance.
In regard to the second objectionthat God cannot be the creator of worlds if they are born from their parent sunsit may be further suggested that, if God is the Producer of all things, the Life and Substance of all substance, the Soul of all souls, then wherever God works there is form and function. Worlds and suns are in form, and their inhabitants that have become the embodiment of Spirit, the Elohim, are his function. God works in man and woman in the creation of offspring, and should we deny that he is working in the creation of worlds through their parent suns?
JOINT EVOLUTION OF PLANET AND RACE
The purpose in the creation of the planet, as announced in the account of Genesis, was to make
man in his image and like God. If, therefore, this was the purpose in the thoughtthe word, which became the creative law in all naturethen it is obvious that all things must move together toward the accomplishing of the one definite object. Even the old philosopher, Plato, saw the image of the thought of Divinity, as a man stretched in the heavens. And to-day it is a demonstrated fact that the tendency of all creation, of all growth and development, is toward man.
This being so, we see man, the most perfect manifestation of creative law, a conscious, thinking, voluntary existence. The religionist says that man is a special creation. Science says that man is the product of the creative laws of the earth. Both are right, for although we read in the revelation that God said "Let us make man," and that he made man, yet this was in connection with, and a part of, the creative words from which the worlds were made. (See Genesis i.)
Man is a special creation because he is the special purpose and the result of all creative law. The apostle said, "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only so, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Romans viii. 22, 23). Yes, truly, the whole creation travaileth, and this travail of nature is to
bring forth man. The spirit of life in the grass to-day will be the man that will walk the planet in the far-off to-morrow. But the fact is not changedman was created by the thought of God, and so was the world, and the two are conjoined as one.
There is within man an instinctive recognition of his Source and destiny. The tendencies of his unbiased nature are toward God and his likeness. It has been closely observed and well said that, from his incipient stages of development, man has been a religious being. A race of savages scarcely has been found so low in development that they have not had some form of religious worship or recognition of God, the Source of their being.
At the present time, however, as a result of his selfishness, self-gratification and intellectual egotism, man has so completely turned his back upon God and divine law that he has begun to repel the very fountain from which he derives his life. The effects of this discordant condition of man and his repellent attitude toward the Source of his life are obvious. He, being the ultimate of planetary law, is in position to dominate all nature, for the declared purpose was "Let them have dominion over all the earth." From a physical standpoint, the dominion of man over the earth is even now being recognized, but the materialistic tendencies of the race have prevented a recognition of the fact that the passions, emotions, desires, together with the
loves and hates of the people, are a controlling principle producing its effect throughout creative manifestation.
Man is the mind-center of the planet and his body is one with the earth elements, joined to them by the mental currents that formed all things, therefore, as the bodies of the race have become diseased through perversion, disease and disturbance have entered also into the very life-currents of the earth. And we may reasonably expect volcanic eruptions; earthquakes, producing great destruction; fires, becoming fiends, refusing to be quenched by ordinary methods; storms and cyclones. We may expect the earth to manifest the same conditions that our own bodies manifest when suffering from different phases of what we call disease; and if this should continue the very condition of the planet will cause deathdissolution.
If the perversion of man's nature diseases and destroys the planet, the reverse must be also true; that is, divine order and harmony manifested in the individual are a saving power to the earth. Our Lord recognized this law when he said to his followers, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men." (Mat. v. 13.)
We are told in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, sent to John on Patmos, that there are to be
[paragraph continues] 144,000 of the first ripe fruit of the earth, who are to be gathered and brought into perfect oneness and harmony with God, and to be made priests and kings unto God and reign on the earth. As the Spirit said to Obadiah, "And saviors shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be Yahveh's.
History, Science, and Revelation point down to a timethe present time, or the near futurewhen, notwithstanding the fact that man has forgotten God, notwithstanding the diseased state of the planet, the upheavals and the destruction of life and property, which will almost depopulate the earth, there will be a saving power in a people. And this people, by the power of unity with the mind of God, the Producer of all things, will hold the earth as a vital-center, preserve its life, heal it of all disease, rejuvenate it, and repopulate it with a higher race of men. As Jesus was the great healer of all manner of disease, so this body of 144,000 will become the great healers, not only of the interior natures of the people, but of their physical bodies, and of the spirit of the life of the planet.
From the foregoing presentation of the ultimate toward which the life of the planet tendsthat is, to bring into manifestation a Godlike manhood which is to dominate the earthit becomes evident that a slow growth and unfoldment, evolution, has been the process of nature from the beginning of
the world to the present time. If this were not true the following and many similar questions which arise in the mind of the reasonable thinker would remain unanswerable; namely:
If there is a God, why does he permit so much anxiety, labor, and sorrow to exist in the world? If there is to be a future existence, a paradise of joy and peace, why the necessity of these thousands of generations being doomed to sorrow and death? Why did not God in the beginning make man perfect, and place him in that paradise; and endow him with wisdom, knowledge and understanding, so that he could not fall and plunge the race into misery for all these centuries? Why was not this kingdom of righteousness, spoken of in the Revelation of Jesus Christcommonly called The Apocalyptic Visionultimated in the beginning?
The only answer to such questions is that knowledge in its very nature is experience. Every father and mother knows, that before their sons are fitted to go out to meet the world, they must have knowledge gained from experience. The Christ announced that knowledge of the truth was to be the savior (John viii. 32); and knowledge can come into existence and form, only through multifarious experiences in many lives.
The present exposition of the object and processes of evolution has been as condensed as possiblemerely suggestive of the several lines of thought and investigation connected therewith. But, we
think, it is sufficient to make clear the fact that the very spirit of the life of the planet has in it a purpose, an object, and all manifestation of life, all activity, has moved steadily toward the ultimating of that purpose; namely, to bring into existence a. Godlike humanityEmanuel, God with us, God manifest in the fleshangel men, sons of God.
When we say "angel men" or "sons of God" the words are practically meaningless from the world's present understanding of God and his angels. It is therefore necessary to take a general view of the scientific knowledge of the universe and of the revelation given to men of God and his angels, so that the reader will bear with me if I seem to diverge from the general thought of this work and to examine into the material universe, its cause, its scope and immensity, its origin and quality, into the nature of God, the soul of the universe, his manifestation in organic form, as well as the object of our existence and the ultimate toward which we with all nature are being led.