The Relation Of God To His Universe -- By: S. W. Howland

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 044:176 (Oct 1887)
Article: The Relation Of God To His Universe
Author: S. W. Howland


The Relation Of God To His Universe

Rev. S. W. Howland

Men have speculated on the ultimate constitution of matter certainly as far back as the time of Democritus. The motive has been not idle curiosity alone, nor the desire to pry into the mysterious, nor even the wish to increase knowledge, but rather the fact that this speculation involves the highest hopes and dearest interests of mankind, as the authors of “The Unseen Universe “have attempted to show. All now concede that matter consists of a concourse of atoms; but what these atoms are is somewhat in dispute. Sir William Thomson supposes them to result from a vortex movement in a very tenuous fluid. This view, as Professor Tait points out, involves the necessity of supposing an ultimate fluid in which these vortex movements occur, which must itself be accounted for. We know tenuous fluids, such as air and even lighter gases, but these are constituted of atoms,—must not this be true of the ultimate fluid also, and if so, what have we gained by the hypothesis? It reminds us of the old Hindu theory that the earth rests on the back of an elephant which stands on a tortoise, but what that stands on they do not presume to say. The actions of vortex movements in a perfect fluid have recently been discussed mathematically with great ability; but the difficulty above mentioned has not been touched. The theory, however, fits so many facts that we must believe it to be on the road to the truth. If now we suppose that atoms are bundles of forces, we shall escape all the difficulties, and find that our theory fits all the facts. If we analyze our idea of matter we find nothing there but forces. Matter

is space-filling substance, endowed with inertia, gravity, color, etc. Substance (sub-stans) is that which stands under phenomena as their sustaining cause or source. Phenomena (or the things that appear) are admittedly due to the action of force. That which is space-filling resists all exertion of force tending to come into its place. But this resistance is itself an exertion of force. Inertia is the resistance by a substance of all force tending to move it aside. This again is force. Gravity is the mutual pressure of substances toward each other. This, too, is force. Color is a causing or a reflecting of certain vibrations,—only another manifestation of force. In whatever way we approach matter we meet only force variously manifested.

To account for these manifestations, let us imagine a being acting from a point as a centre, and exerting force to a certain definite distance in every direction, and with sufficient energy to resist such forces as may come against it. This action or exertion of force would constitute a space-filling atom. Such a being ...

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