The Secret of the Universe, by Nathan R. Wood, , at sacred-texts.com
Change and changelessness in the universeWhat is the law of progress and fixity?Evolution not a universal law of progressThe Law of Changeless Change, or the Universal Law of ProgressThe Law of Progress practically appliedLaboratory proofs of the Law of Progress.
It is certain that the universe is one of continuous change. No observer can hesitate to admit what is so evident to all. Development never ceases its endless round of operations.
It is equally certain that the universe is one of marvelous fixity. Forever changing, it is forever the same.
Its constant change and its unending changelessness impress the mind with equal astonishment. Its universal whirl of change bewilders us. Its age-long changelessness mocks us or encourages us, as the case may be. Thinking has always vibrated between changelessness and change, between fixity and progress, as the law of the universe. Entire schools of thought have been based on one or the other view. The vibration from one to the other is a matter of emphasis. Everyone of candid mind must recognize both facts.
For many centuries, until the last century, the great fact of change, of flux, as the ancients called it, has not had its fair share of emphasis. The world has been regarded too much as a fixed and frozen framework. This however is not quite as true of past centuries as we sometimes like to think. The nineteenth century did not invent the fact of change in the world. Great thinkers have always proclaimed the principle. Kant,
[paragraph continues] Laplace and others have pointed out the law of continuous change in all things. It is a law which all must recognize. It is change from lower to higher, or from higher to lower, from simple to complex, or from complex to simple, in one endless interplay of things.
We know of course that the emphasis of yet more modern days has been upon the law of change. A passion for the idea of progress has possessed many minds, not simply a desire for progress, but an eagerness to detect progress everywhere.
Both progress and fixity are true. No one can rightly doubt either. All practical science is based upon the certainty of change and the equal certainty of changelessness. The contents of the test tube are a wild whirl of forces. And they will be at exactly a certain level, to a hundredth of an inch, and with exactly such and such results, though all society be dissolved and kingdoms rise and fall. The star is an immeasurable gathering of powers so vast, of movements so incredible in speed, of temperatures so unbelievable, and of upheavals so appalling, that the mind cannot grasp them. And the star will be at a certain place at a certain day and hour and instant, to a hair's breadth.
61 Both change and fixity are true. How shall we relate change and changelessness? How shall we combine development with the conservation of energy? What is the universal reconciliation of these two? What is the universal law of progress combined with fixity?
Herbert Spencer said that evolution was this universal law. He applied it to all things. But it is not a universal law in the sense which we are giving to
that term. We need not discuss it as a process in species in animal and plant life upon the earth. That is a question of scientific data and of technical discussion. But Spencer lifted it out of science into universal application. He wanted to make it a law of universal progress.
But evolution, whatever its truth in species may be, is not a universal law, because it has no place in the universal things, the basic things, the fundamentals, of the universe. It is a conclusion from data which never can be complete or universal, which have to do only with species, and which do not apply to basic things. A universal law should lie deep in the being of space and matter and time, and evolutionary process has no place in these. No thinker would hold that space or motion or time or atoms or electrons were evolved by Darwinian or Spencerian formula.
Nor can evolution apply to the universe as a totality. It cannot be a law of the universe as a whole. For dissipation of motion is the basis of evolution. And dissipation of motion from the universe as a whole is incompatible with the fact of the conservation of energy in the universe as a whole.
Further, evolution does not mean universal progress. No one really holds it as such a law. Spencer did not. He said "Evolution" and "Dissolution." Those were his two factors. Progress and the opposite. Many scientists to-day say that "curve" is the law of evolution as they know it in their own fields. Things progress upward,and downward again. Many scientists now teach "Devolution." That is progress downward. Men of science do not attempt to make evolution an invariable law of universal progress.
It is not an invariable law of universal progress in human life. For no one would say that progress is universal in human life. Individuals, as we all know, do not all make progress. Nations rise, but other nations fall. Civilizations grow, but civilizations decay. Arts grow, and decline. There is steady increase in knowledge, but this is because knowledge is accumulation, not growth. Many nations have progressed, but not all. Vanished Aztecs, perished Incas, the degenerate remnants of ancient African civilizations,Asia, Africa and the Americas are strewn with immense evidences that progress is not universal in human life and society.
Evolution then does not mean universal progress. And further, it is not a universal law and cannot be a universal law, a law of the universal being of things, because it does not allow for the universal fact of changelessness. That fact of changelessness has been recognized from the beginning of thought as of equal weight with the fact of change. Evolution as a rule of change or progress means complete discarding of the old and the outworn, a vanishing of types left behind, an advance which obliterates all those factors which have been outgrown. It is not a universal law in a universe in which changelessness is as marked as change.
Above all, evolution is not a universal law, because it does not apply to God. He did not and does not evolve. Evolution cannot be a universal law, a law of the universe, when it does not apply at all to God. It cannot be universal to a theist. Spencer could not be a theist. It is not surprising that he felt himself obliged to eliminate God from the universe. It is not surprising on the other hand that others have made a grotesque
attempt to apply evolution to God. Spencer's evolution, which could not apply to God, made the universe entirely different from its ground! But anything which is an absolutely universal law should be found also in God, who is the cause and ground of the universe.
Evolution, then, is not always progress, it is sometimes downward. It does not apply to the universe as a totality. Evolution is by no means universal in human society. Evolution does not allow for the great fact of changelessness. Evolution does not apply to God.
It is true however that there is change and growth. That fact, deep in everyone's experience of things about us, is what led many to accept Spencer's attempt to lift a process of species to the level of a universal law of progress. Is it necessary that we should discover a universal law of progress in the physical and spiritual world? I do not think that it is. The secret of progress for the soul is God. We can know Him. But the question remains. Is there a universal process of change and progress? One which applies to all things? One which is self-evident in the basic things of the universe? One which agrees with the fact of fixity in the universe? One which includes God?
Yes. By going direct to the self-evident universal facts of the physical and spiritual world, we do find a universal law of progress, deep in the very being of all things.
It is the law of progress from source to embodiment, and from embodiment to contact or influence, from nature to person and person to personality, from energy to motion and from motion to phenomena, from future to present and present to past, from space to matter and matter to time. It is a law of continuous change and progress in the very nature of being and the very process of existence.
This is a universal law. It applies to all things. It includes all physical things, since they are of matter or motion and of time. It includes all personal or spiritual being.
This is a law which we can apply to the universe as a totality. For its continuous process does not at all require dissipation of energy from the universe.
This is a law applying to all human life, since it is the very, nature and process of human existence.
This is a law of the absolutely basic things of the universe. It is self-evident, not a matter of the gathering of partial data.
This is a law which includes God. It is the being of the Triune God. It is the reflection and the working, in His universe, of the Triune creative and ever-present God.
This is a universal and self-evident law of progress and change which does not do away with the fixity of the universe, nor affect the eternal changelessness of God. Eternal progress from Father to Son, and from Son to Spirit, does not mean leaving behind Fatherhood or Sonship in that progress. Perpetual progress from nature to its embodiment in the person, and from person to its influence in personality, does not mean a cessation of nature or of person. Continuous development
from energy to its embodiment in motion, and from motion to its contact or influence in phenomena, does not mean an abandonment of energy or of motion. Constant procession of future into present and of present into past does not mean that in that process all future and present thereby immediately cease to be. It is a law of continual change with all the elements continually and endlessly existent. It is changeless change, in which endless development is a characteristic of endless fixity, and endless fixity contains within itself endless change.
This is the law of changeless change. It is change without dissipation of energy. It is a continuous change which discards no factors in its progress. It is self-evident. It does not depend upon partial data. It is the process of all the basic things of the universe. It is true of the whole universe of space, of matter and of time. It is true of man. It includes God.
This law of change and progress is one which can be applied consciously and practically to human conditions. It is a law which can be used to achieve definite ends. We cannot do so with the mere fact of change in the universe. It is not definite enough. We surely cannot so use evolution, since evolution is not always progress and does not always work upward, but often works downward, is not controllable, and does not always operate with men and nations. But we can apply the Divine process. We can apply the universal law of progress which in human life moves from nature to person, and from person to personality. We can apply it to human conditions and social questions.
This is Christianity's method of social progress.
First change the nature. Change the nature by regeneration.
Then by that regeneration change the person, his habits, speech, points of view, loves and hates, likes and dislikes.
Then from the change in the nature, through the change in the person, change the personality, the self as related to others, the contact, the influence, the environment.
This universal process of existence, this law of progress in the universe and in human existence, is the true method by which to achieve human progress. It is a universal, fundamental method. It is absolutely scientific. It is a method which can be used by anybody, a practical method. It is in harmony with God's way of working in the whole universe. It is accomplished by the simple fundamental method of letting the Triune God and His triune process into a person's life. It is very easily done, by old or young, by the intellectual man or woman or by the African savage. The person accepts the Son, the embodiment of the Trinity. He becomes a follower of Jesus. He opens the door to Him. The Triune God comes in. The nature becomes that of a child of the Father. As many as received Him, the Son, to them gave He the right to become children of God, who were born, not of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The person becomes united with the Son, in a redeemed, risen, Christlike life. Then the Holy Spirit transforms, beautifies, glorifies the personality, and the influence upon others, and the whole environment. It is very simply done, as far
as our part is concerned. It is the same in all lands and all cases.
By that method the new and wonderful Christian society arose in the midst of a frightful Greco-Roman civilization. The humanizing influence of Greece and the organizing influence of Rome had done their best. Art had surrounded the people. There ere no cities of such beauty to-day. A remarkable intellectual atmosphere was thrown around people. An extraordinary genius for government and order gathered the known world into the Roman organization. But society, amid all this humanizing and organizing environment, had grown steadily worse, and became one vast cesspool. The attempt to begin with environment had failed. Christianity came, and began in the Divine order, the method of God's universe. It began with men's nature, and changed that. As an inevitable result, by the universal law, the person became changed. His habits, his likes, his speech, grew different, and became like his changed nature. Then his changed personality was felt. It influenced his home, his friends, his community, the Roman Empire. This was the influence of Christianity, the influence of changed persons, with a changed nature, who had become children of God. It was and is a simple, universal method, allowing for a wide variety of personal experience. In some people acceptance of the Son is emotional. In some it is demonstrative. In some it is quiet. In some it is matter-of-fact. In some it is simply following that Person, Jesus, the Son. In some it is embracing Him under the passionate need of forgiveness. In some it is the throwing away of old doubts and the open confession
of Him. In some it is the determination to live a life with His power in it. It is as broad as the human race. It is God's way and process. It is the work of the Triune God applied to social progress.
The entire failure of evolution as a law applying to human progress, and the fact that this Divine process is the effective one, are shown by laboratory experiments on a vast scale.
The first one is China. There are certain tests of a trustworthy experiment. One is universality. The experiment must include enough cases to make sure that it is not a sporadic instance. One test is repetition. The experiment must cover time enough to show again that it is not an accident. One test is isolation. Other factors must be shut away from the experiment. China meets all three of these tests. One-third of the entire human race. Four hundred million people now. There indeed is universality. An unbroken, full and careful record of her history, civilization and life for four thousand years. There is repetition. Completely isolated during these four thousand years, not by the Chinese wall, but by a higher, more permanent wall of custom, from contact and intercourse with other peoples and civilizations. China fulfills all the requirements of a vast and accurate experiment.
What is the outcome?
In four thousand years of unbroken history China evolved or progressed not at all, in government, in politics, in business, in science, in art, in literature, in morals, in religion. China has progressed more under
the influence of the new, Divine method of Christianity in three generations, a hundred times more, than she had in four thousand years.
When you were a boy or girl in school you used to prove your examples in arithmetic by reversing the process. You can do that in this case.
The reverse proof is Germany. A very large, a very strong, a very self-contained nation. Sixty years ago Germany stood on the heights of civilization. A great, God-fearing, home-loving, law-obeying, intellectual nation. The nation of Luther, of Kant, of Bach, Beethoven and Wagner. But a generation ago a group of leaders, some of them scholars, some of them military men, some of them philosophers, set themselves to eliminate the second Person of the Trinity from Germany. They partially succeeded. They largely eliminated Him as Deity from the Bible, from many churches, from commerce, from education, especially from the universities, from politics, from the army. They eliminated the Divine factor and process. And in a generation Germany, with Him so eliminated, fell from the heights of civilization to that level in which she now stands. There indeed is the reverse test! Germany's is not the only case, but it is most striking. And Germany's unknown but true leaders to-day, in their desire to have their beloved Germany recover her soul, her conscience and her vision, and her place in the world, know that the only way to bring it to pass is God's process. German men and women must open their hearts to the lost Son of God. They must become children of the Father. They must get a new Spirit, and a new influence upon each other and upon the world. May the Triune God grant it!
That was Christianity's mighty and Divine method with slavery. It did not preach against slavery, in an attempt to begin with results. It changed the nature and the lives of slaves and masters, and made them brothers in Christ, and children of the Father together, and possessed by the same Spirit. And Christianity, by that Divine process, has destroyed slavery.
That was Christianity's method with womanhood. Woman was a slave, a plaything, without a soul, as she is in India and Africa to-day. Christianity quietly made her the equal in Christ, as a child of the Father,
w as a temple of the Spirit, the full equal of man. And wherever Christianity went with this Divine method, womanhood has come to its own.
Civilization faces collapse, many say, perhaps rightly.
The only way to stop collapse is the Divine law of progress.
If someone objects, "Your triune progress will not operate without God to work it," we answer, "We are not trying to find a way to make the universe or human nature operate without God. We are trying to find a process which works."
The true workman, the true thinker in action, is the one who will take the method of the universe and apply it to his own work,and, if he needs to begin so, to his own life. He is one who will let the omnipotence of the Three in One come into his life and into his work. He is one who consciously lives in the triune kingdom of the Triune God.