Youth's Magazine, 3rd ser. 10 (1837), 385–87.
Geology, Theology of Nature, Time, Controversy, Museums, Fieldwork, Wonder, Astronomy, Piety, Progress, Natural Economy, Design, Feeling, Gravity, Chemistry, Electricity
In summation of the series, writes under the numbered heading: 'Geology enlarges our conceptions of the plans of the Deity'. Considers that 'a belief in periods of time immensely long, during which geological changes have been developing, is the fundamental idea that enlarges our conceptions of the plans of Jehovah'. Argues that the immensity of geological time is one point on which all geologists agree, despite their disagreements on other subjects. Observes that this might be doubted by those studying geology 'in the cabinet', but not by those studying 'the strata in the mountains'. Reflects on the vast enlargement this demands in 'our views of the plans of the Deity', and speculates that the history of the earth may only be one part in a larger system. (385) Considers it as inappropriate to be alarmed by this enlarged view of time as by the enlarged view of space ensuing from modern astronomy. Questions why any would be 'unwilling to have their souls enlarged and refreshed by the mighty plans of the Deity, which these now kindred sciences develop'. Considers that the 'progressive improvement which the state of the globe seems to have undergone in past ages, and is now undergoing, presents the plans of the Deity to our contemplation in an interesting light'. Argues that there has been a progressive increase in the numbers and complexity of creatures, and that in each epoch there has been 'the same admirable adaptation of the different parts and processes of nature' as at present. Argues that the divine plan has always exhibited the same 'real good' behind every 'apparent evil'. Observes that 'we cannot but regard the tremendous revolutions which the earth appears to have undergone with painful emotions, and as evidence either of penal inflictions, or of a defect of contrivance on the part of the Creator'. However, 'every revolution of this kind is improvement', and 'its object was to fit the world for more numerous and perfect beings'. (386) Reflects that only two of the 'controlling principles' of the universe have been discovered to date: the 'great Mechanical Power' of Newton and the 'chemical power'. 'A third, perhaps, the Electrical Power, may yet be disclosed by some future Newton'. A footnote suggests that 'the results at present attributed to gravitation will probably soon be generally referred to electricity'. Argues that chemistry is responsible for the 'perpetual change' in nature. Observes that change is often associated with 'painful emotions' and is 'usually regarded as a defect or penal inflection, rather than a wise and universal law of nature'. Accepts that 'the diseases and dissolution to which man is subject' must be viewed in this light, but concludes that geology and astronomy show that 'perpetual change of form and condition is a universal law of nature', affecting the inorganic as well as the organic creation. (387)
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Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 3.0, hriOnline Publications <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]