Natural Theology: Theory Of Heat -- By: Edward W. Morley

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 024:96 (Oct 1867)
Article: Natural Theology: Theory Of Heat
Author: Edward W. Morley

Natural Theology: Theory Of Heat

Edward W. Morley

Part I.—Theory Of Heat In Its Relation To Water

The welfare of man is more closely dependent on the agency and laws of heat than on any other physical force. It concerns his most constant and imperative necessities. Houses and clothing are needful mainly because they protect us from cold. Food is required to produce the vital heat which is the condition of comfort and the source of motion, while it is itself produced by the heat of the sun. All the phenomena of climate and of the weather are controlled by the laws of heat. Every motion on the earth (except that of aerolites and the tides), and every dynamic power which man can create or direct, is ultimately the work of heat.1

As this agent relates to the more simple and tangible wants of man, we may expect that its laws will give very plain indications of the character of their Author. As it affects the material conditions of man at so many points, we should look for very copious evidence. This is true to such an extent that this Article will be confined to a single subdivision of the subject; namely, some proofs of the knowledge and goodness of God derived from the laws of heat as related to water.

1. The boiling-point of water affords proofs of the wisdom and goodness of God.

There is no physical necessity that this should occur at two hundred and twelve degrees of the Fahrenheit scale. As far as we know it might have been made the same with the boiling-points of oil of turpentine, alcohol, or ether. We shall see the benevolence of the present adjustment by noticing some of the consequences which would follow if any change were made.

The amount of vapor given off at ordinary temperatures by any liquid depends on the temperature at which it boils. If the boiling-point of water were the same as that of alcohol, the vapor given off by the ocean would be two and a half times as much as at present. Such an excess of aqueous vapor would produce continual rains and inundations, and would make the air too damp for animal, and too cloudy for vegetable, life. If water boiled at the same temperature as ether, the vapor rising from the ocean would be more than twenty-five times as much as at present.2 In such a state of things no man could see the sun on account of the clouds; the rain would be so excessive as to tear up the soil and wash away plants; inundations would be constant, and navigation would be impossible in the inland torrents which would take the place of our rivers. In winter the snow of one day might bury the houses.

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