The Goal of Life, by Hiram Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him?"
Some little conception, inadequate as it must be, of the wonders of the Universal Spirit, the One God, the Mind and Spirit that rules all things, can be best obtained by making an effort, at least, to think of "The Immensity of the Universe." By this means we may expand our ideals to something like a true conception of the Creator. In doing this let us begin with the known and build from that to the unknown.
We suggest, therefore, that you draw a circle 4 feet, 8 inches in diameter to represent the circumference of the sun. Then using the same scale, place the planets contiguous to each other on the diameter of the circle in the order of their relative sizes. As correctly as can be measured with a carpenter's rule, their diameters are as follows: Mercury, three-sixteenths of an inch, Mars, one-fourth of an inch, Venus, seven-sixteenths of an inch, Earth,
one-half of an inch, Uranus, two and one-sixteenth inches, Neptune, two and one-fourth inches, Saturn, four and five-eighth inches, and Jupiter, five and one-half inches. You may approximate the size of the sun, when you perceive that all the planets, placed side by side on its radius, extend but little over half the distance from the circumference of the sun to its center.
You will observe that Jupiter, the giant of our, solar system, contains thirteen hundred times the volume of our earth. We also find Jupiter with a diameter about one-tenth of the sun's diameter. Further comparison shows the sun with a volume 1,300,000 times that of our earth. Yet we think our earth a very large place, do we not?
Leaving the confines of the solar system, we now enter for our comparisons a vaster fieldthe stellar domain. From a recent article in the Scientific American we copy the following: "Epsilon Aurigae is supposed to be a double star, the smaller of the two is about 350, 000, 000 miles in diameter and the larger one about 850, 000, 000 miles, or about 400 and 1,000 times the sun's diameter." With the scale used in our comparison of the solar system, let us compare Epsilon with the sun. The sun's diameter being 4 feet 8 inches, Epsilon's diameter is 4,600 feet. If we imagine a circle of this size on the ground and lay our little chart upon in, we shall gain but a faint idea of the size of our earth compared with the size of the magnificent sun Epsilon.
In order to comprehend relative size more fully we shall make another comparison: On a large circle representing Epsilon, let a marble one-half an inch in diameter represent the earth. Now, imagine a man on the marble whose size is in the same proportion to the marble as a man is to the earth. Then, on a ball with the same diameter as the circle representing Epsilon, imagine a man whose size is in the same proportion to the ball as a man is to the earth.
Or, again, if a man on the planet Epsilon, whose size is in the same proportion to Epsilon as man is to the earth, should see our large(?) planet he would doubtless need a microscope to discover man upon it.
We make one more comparison. If the Garden of Eden had been on the equator of Epsilon, and Adam on being driven out from Eden, had begun a journey on a fast express train around Epsilonmaking the schedule time, usually made between New York and San Francisco, about 3,000 miles in 4 daysand had traveled until now, 6,000 years, it would be nearly 4,000 years before he would reach his starting point; or, in other words, it would take nearly 10,000 years to encircle Epsilon, whereas our globe could be encompassed at the same rate of speed in 33 days.
Sirius, the brightest of the fixed stars, is estimated to be 2,688 times as large as the sun, and recently it was discovered to have a satellite whose
bulk is said to be seven times as great as that of our sun.
Again we quote from the Scientific American:
"The head of Taurus is brilliantly lighted by the V-shaped figure called Hyades, whose brightest star of the first magnitude is the celebrated Aldebaran. This star is red and of a deeper hue than Betelgeuse. In actual luminosity it about equals Sirius, but being much farther away appears less brilliant to us. It may be remarked that Rigel [or Beta Orionis], according to Newcomb's estimate, is immensely greater than Sirius and possibly exceeds the sun in light ten thousand times. But its distance is too great to be measured with our present means."
The comparing of these great suns to Earth sinks our earth to the insignificance of a grain of sand. Yet, have we reason to believe that these bodies are the largest among the untold millions of worlds floating in space? We can form no conception of the size of these remote stars, and still less can we form a conception of the space which they occupy, because the space must be in proportion to the bodies occupying it, and because the distances are so much greater than anything with which we have to deal on earth.
In our flight across the vast void, the solar system is left behind as an island in space, and we find that we have traveled 250,000 times the radius of the earth's orbit before we have reached the nearest
fixed star, and from it no telescope yet invented could reveal a single one of the planets of our solar system. Stellar distances are so great that even astronomers find it impossible to handle the immense numbers, and consequently use the "light-year" as a unit of measurement, which is the distance that light travels in a year, or about 63,000 times the distance of the earth from the sun.
From terrestrial experiences we have no conception of our distance from the sun, and can form but a faint idea by comparison. Charles A. Young, Professor of astronomy in Princeton University, says that an explosion on the sun would be heard by us about fourteen years after it actually occurred.
For years investigations have been made to discover whether our sun with its system of worlds is not circling around another grander center. Some astronomers imagine that they find evidences indicating that our system is moving in a circular orbit around the star Alcyon of the Pleiades. Others tell us that the solar system is flying through space at the rate of about eleven miles per second toward the constellation Hercules, as the stars comprising that constellation appear to be spreading out, as if we were approaching them.
Again, an examination of the heavens shows the suns grouped together in galaxies, and there are evidences that these are in motion, but the distances are so immense that it is impossible for finite man
to obtain positive knowledge of the order of their motion.
"To a mind which had the power of abstracting itself from time and space, the earth, the planets, the suns, the stars would seem to be falling like drops of rain from the boundless sky, in every imaginable direction, like rain-drops whirled to and fro in the grasp of some cyclonic tempest and attracted, not by some solid base, but by the attractive force of each other and of them all; each one of these cosmic drops, each of these worlds, these suns, is hurried along at such a rate of speed that the flight of a cannon-ball is mere repose in comparison."
But may not this flying, falling in all directions appear similar to a great number of wheels with arms extended and revolving in the same direction? To one standing at a distance, the arms would appear to be flying "in every imaginable direction"while some were going east, others would be going west, while some were going up, others would be going downin apparent confusion, yet at the same time revolving around their centers in perfect order. Such is the order of the solar system with its planets and their satellites and we may reasonably believe that that is the order of the whole universe. That there is an order there can be no doubt, because, if these great bodies flying through space were not governed by law, they would soon be destroyed.
In the whole celestial sphere, the number of stars bright enough to be seen with the naked eye is only from 6,000 to 7,000, whereas, the number visible in the great Lick telescope is probably 100,000,000, and Professor Young makes the remark that it shows stars so faint that it would take more than 30,000 to make a star equal to the faintest that can be seen with the naked eye.
As to the number of these suns and systems, no astronomer can form a conception, for there are millions of suns with their systems within the reach of a powerful telescope. We are told that there are places in the Milky Way where the stars are so numerous that within the field of the telescope they appear so close together and so small that it is impossible to count them; and if within the field of the telescope the number is so great that they cannot be counted, what can we reasonably suppose to be the number comprising our universe?
But if our mind palls in considering the immensity of the universe, yet, we must rally our forces, and, as the angel said to Daniel, "Be strong, yea, be strong," for we have been casting a survey over our own territory onlycomparatively, our own door-yard.
We turn the most powerful telescope into space beyond the limit of what is known as our universe, and under its powerful eye, little specks of nebulæ form themselves into universes, remote from ours probably by millions of light-years.
In order to aid the mind in its marvelous flight through endless space, we append here from Flammarion's "Wonders of Science" a few illustrations of the appearance of these far-off universes, which are called nebulæ.
Here is our universe with suns and systems of worlds so remote that it would take tens of thousands of years for a ray of light travelling at the rate of 186,414 miles per second, to reach the earth. Yet it is only one sphere floating in limitless space, and beyond it there are other universes with numberless worlds, and beyond these, others, and so on without limit to space or to numbers of systems of worlds, or of universes. If there is no limit to space, then there is no conceiving the numbers of universes filling space; and here we must stop because of the inability of mind to grasp infinity. *
THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE
Pause to think a moment. What has been your
ideal of God, the Creator of all these universes and systems of worlds? Is not the thought that has filled the minds of men for ages, that of a God in the form of a man, larger possibly than themselves, seated upon a throne somewhere in the universe, capable of creating and ruling these immense worlds, entirely inadequate? Can the Creator be less than his creation?
All astronomers and philosophers unite in saying
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Double and Multiple Nebulæ.
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Nebula in the Lion
that all things in nature are ruled by law, or God; as the poet Pope has said,
How great, how incomprehensible, even from the point of view of the physical universe, is our God! From the physical point of view, man upon this little globe becomes, as it were, almost annihilateda mere animalcule on a grain of sand. Yet we know that man is part of the great whole, part of that all-pervading Spirit.
God is Spirit and God is Love, and that Spirit of Love is flooding all these systems of worlds with his light and his love; loving and preserving all his diminutive children: and Yahveh, the Will of the universe, is our God. "In him we live and move and have our being." With every breath
we draw we inhale that divine-lifethe fire of God's own supreme nature. As we move through space, the eternal substance of Divinity passes through us as if we were but shadows, and it is only by the regenerate life that we can refine and intensify the currents of our life sufficiently to touch and to know something of the outermost degrees of Divinity.
If, in addition to what we have just said concerning worlds and universes, we accept the probability that universes with their peopled worlds have been in existence from all eternity and are destined to continue to all eternity, and that these people are progressing, just as man is progressing at the present time on our planet, growing in mind, becoming more and more refined and attenuated and spiritualized, what manner of men must exist within the limits of these universes at the present time?
With our meager capacity for thought, if we should imagine for a moment that our sun was once a world like ours, born from a parent and inhabited with a people that have been in the process of evolutionary development all these hundreds of billions of years, would we be capable of grasping the greatness, the grandeur, and the glory of such beings? Would not one of these beings on our sun transcend even our highest imagination of God?
Think of men who have lived and grown and are
still living, growing and maturing on the parent-sun of our sun; again, upon its parent, and so on to infinity, and yet, all these are sons of God! With this thought in mind, can you for one moment think of this Almighty God, this wondrous God of the whole universe, and of all universes, as having been once confined, limited, within the personality of a single man?even the man. Jesus with all his divinity, his grandeur, glory and power! Reason recoils from such a thought. * He was the son of God: yes, in a higher and a holier sense than the church has understood; He said, "I came out from God." Have we not all come out from God? Is God not the Life, the Fountain, from which all life is organized? Is not God the Potentiality that causes the manifestation of law in the universe and in all universes? We ask these questions and allow the reader to answer them.
Again, we ask the learned of our day who attribute all this manifestation to unthinking-force moving in line with "natural law:" Can you conceive
the Cause of all these wondrous systems of worlds, the Producer of all the inhabitants of all these numberless universes to be without intelligence? If so, whence came the intelligence, small as it is, that you yourself possess? If you believe yourself to possess intelligence and deprive your Source of the same conscious intelligence, are you not unreasonable?Certainly you are. You would bring something out of nothing. Yes, the intelligence that you possess is but the merest shadow, the merest point of mind, and its source a thinking, knowing, loving intelligence, nourishing all those millions of systems of worlds and universes and their inhabitants, and organizing centers which are mind-organs to carry forward the work of creating man in his image and likeness.
And after all the research and with all the accumulation of facts regarding the heavens, since the remote time of Job to our own wonderful, present century, we are still able only to exclaim with him, "Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? the thunder of his power who can understand?"
79:* While Prof. Young in his "General Astronomy" speaks disparagingly of the hypothesis of other universes beyond ours, yet at the same time he says that our universe is disc-shaped. The very fact that he gives our universe a form necessarily gives it a limit, for, if we could imagine a shape in the waters of the ocean, we would see at once that in doing so we would draw limits to separate a portion of water from all the rest. So in all thought of form, limitation is at once expressed, and we cannot believe that so eminent a man as Prof. Young, or that any of our eminent astronomers can believe that this universe limited by 10,000 to 20,000 light-years of space, can be all there is in the infinitude of space. It would be like the ancients who, we are told, believed that our world was the only world in the universe. It would be only a little broader p. 80 thought to believe that our universe is the only universe there is in space. Of course, Prof. Young may and probably does limit himself to that which he is able to see through the telescope, beyond which he knows nothing absolutely. But we cannot but suggest, because of reason, that while we do not believe in the nebular hypothesisthat the Solar System was formed out of one mass of nebula (gas or star dust), yet that there is that which appears like nebula) through the most powerful telescope there is no doubt. But what would a thousand or a million suns like our sun appear like were they collected in a galaxy and separated in the distance of space by a few hundred thousand light-years? Would they not appear like a nebula? for our sun is a small one and we have no reason to say it is the smallest. There may be numerous suns no larger than our earth floating out yonder in space; in short, there may be a universe floating in space composed of suns no larger than Mercury or the planetoids, which would appear through the most powerful telescope as mere star-dust or nebula. So that it is evident that there is no certainty from what is seen through the telescope of the existence of such an element as nebula in space, notwithstanding the spectroscope indicates masses of gas, but our sun emits masses of gas. Therefore, notwithstanding the contradictions by eminent astronomers, we believe that the evidence remains sufficient for thee statement that these nebula) that are seen in space through the telescope are probably other universes remote from our universe and there may be numbers of systems smaller even than our universe that would appear as nebula).
83:* The Christian believer will at once ask: Are we not told in Col. ii. 9, that "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily"? Yes, we believe that is true, and in a coming chapter on "The Elohim" this thought is more fully explained. But we shall say here that the Godhead to whom the Apostle referred is identical with the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom Christ often spoke and to whom he called at the time of his crucifixion, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Eloi is the singular form of the word Elohim, and one of the Elohim, who are the God of the Solar System, was personified, manifested in and through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This will be made perfectly clear in the following chapters.