THEOSOPHY, Vol. 18, No. 10, August, 1930
(Pages 442-446; Size: 16K)
(Number 24 of a 103-part series)



The nebulae exist; yet the nebular theory is wrong. A nebula exists in a state of entire elemental dissociation. It is gaseous and -- something else besides, which can hardly be connected with gases, as known to physical science; and it is self-luminous. But that is all. The sixty-two "coincidences" enumerated by Professor Stephen Alexander ... may all be explained by esoteric science; though, as this is not an astronomical work, the refutations are not attempted at present. ... Another of the fallacies from the Occult stand-point, which are embodied in the modern theory as it now stands, is the hypothesis that the planets were all detached from the Sun; that they are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh; whereas, the Sun and planets are only co-uterine brothers, having had the same nebular origin, only in a different mode from that postulated by modern astronomy. (Secret Doctrine, 1888, I, 588-9).

While few will be found to deny "the magnificent audacity of this hypothesis" (Laplace's Nebular), it is impossible not to recognise the insurmountable difficulties with which it is attended. (S.D. I, 592-3).

"Therefore, do they (the Adepts) say, that the great men of science of the West, knowing ... next to nothing either about cometary matter, centrifugal and centripetal forces, the nature of the nebulae, or the physical constitution of the Sun, the Stars, or even the Moon, are imprudent to speak as confidently as they do about the 'central mass of the Sun' whirling out into space planets, comets, and what not ..." (S.D. I, 593).

MADAME Blavatsky opposed the Nebular Hypothesis vigorously and at great length, at a time when it was enthroned in the astronomical mind as upon granite. Why did she do this -- why court "unnecessary" opposition and contempt from the science of the day? Well, for one thing it appears probable that from her point of view the truth of a thing is sufficient reason for upholding it, and vice versa; a consideration which escaped many scientific-minded Theosophists of her day as it does some of today. But primarily, we think, because the Hypothesis was one of the first great attempts to reduce the living working of the Universe to cold and lifeless mechanics, and so long as accepted stood impassably in the way of Theosophic cosmogony, which is first of all organic.

Laplace's hypothesis -- then and for a long time afterward accepted as law and fact -- postulated the condensation of a nebula from star-dust, the fire-mist; its subsequent condensation and solidification, successive casting off of rings of material which consolidated into planets, and finally the picture of the solar system as it is; and it brought forth an imposing mass of quite logical mathematical and cosmogonical data. Nevertheless it bristled with such errors as Madame Blavatsky exposed, and which were not altogether unperceived by some scientists of the day. In spite of that, its symmetrical -- and materialistic -- appeal was such that, according to Dr. F. R. Moulton(1) it is only during the last four or five years that astronomers have shown a disposition to regard it as untenable. (It is still taught in some schools). Dr. Moulton remarks that in 1900 he and Prof. Chamberlain "brought out fundamental inconsistencies in the theory and abandoned it." He has some drastic criticisms of the manner in which the entire question has been handled. In 1899, he says, Lord Kelvin, "with a dogmatism that the entire history of philosophy and of science and a realization of our own ignorance should have warned us against," laid down a lifetime for the earth of 25,000,000 years, based on the Helmholtzian contraction theory against which H.P.B. had written pages in the Secret Doctrine and elsewhere. He was promptly attacked by Prof. Chamberlain, who laid down almost exactly the objections advanced by H.P.B., in many respects, based upon his own discoveries and clear deductions; yet, says Dr. Moulton, "for more than twenty years following 1899 the whole scientific world continued serene in its inherited ideas respecting sources of energy and the time-scale of geologic and cosmic processes." Now, since 1920, the tide has set to the adoption of an entirely new scale, and that, he remarks, without the discovery of any essentially new facts or new formulae, the true conclusions from the old only just now becoming mental property. The fact that Madame Blavatsky had those "true conclusions" over thirty years before, was not due to her drawing them from scientific data, but because they were embedded as history in the vast Occult Science which she represented. The material-minded will be unable to comprehend how the events of billions of years can belong to the category of history rather than of hypotheses -- but there are the stark facts, make what one will of them.

Dr. Moulton calls attention to some surprising turns in the history of the Nebular Hypothesis and of those which are succeeding it; with these we are not much concerned, except that insofar as they are in the nature of scientific squabbles over credit, they cast some light on the lack of true impersonality which has, next to materialism, stood in the way of true scientific progress. One curious incident is noteworthy: Dr. Eddington (one of the foremost men of true science, by the way) writing in Nature, January 6, 1923, remarks that "there must have been a time when the sun's heat was from twenty to fifty times more intense than it is now." In the Smithsonian reprint of the same year a footnote adds that due to the emergence of "new facts," "we can now say fairly definitely that the sun's heat has not altered appreciably during the last ten thousand million years." Dr. Moulton acrimoniously indicates that he doesn't know of any "new facts" during that time except that Prof. Eddington had changed his mind. Dr. Moulton further calls the hypothesis of the "creation" and "final death" of the Universe a "philosophic juvenility," remarking that many minds have a horror of an unending past or future; which indeed would explain many odd tactics of scientific men.

The failings of the nebular hypothesis are given in some detail by Prof. John Hodgdon Bradley(2). He remarks that there are two new hypotheses, the best which can be offered at present, but both of which may in future be proved false; Dr. Moulton is not quite so conservative. Dr. H. L. Fairchild(3) points out that the geological evidence shows a succession of cold climates throughout the earth's history, whereas the Laplace hypothesis required the globe to be originally in a molten condition. Sir James Jeans computes the age of the sun as between seven and eight millions of millions of years; quite out of the question under the rapid cooling called for by the Laplace idea.(4)

The Nebular Hypothesis, in whose behalf Theosophy was once so contemptuously attacked, may be now set down as scientifically dead and buried. What, then is to succeed it? The two new theories (one too many for accuracy) are the planetesimal and the tidal -- over the credit for which so much bitter scientific controversy is raging. The former assumes that masses of matter were torn out of the sun by the passage of some other large body, forming the nuclei of planets which were afterwards built up by successive aggregations, meteoric matter, etc. The latter theory is the same, except that it regards the nuclei as having been torn out by tidal action at a time when the sun was much larger.

Now these are both faced with rather formidable difficulties, dealt with in some detail by various writers. Moreover, there is already in the offing an insurmountable obstacle which is sure one day to overthrow them entirely as to their embryology: observation of star motions will determine mathematically just about how many stars could have suffered the same sort of accident. If, then, future astronomical discoveries should develop a number of "solar systems" far in excess of that allowable under these theories, they must be abandoned. Theosophy teaches a great preponderance of such systems among the stars.

From a certain point, however, the planetesimal theory is right; it postulates the growth of a globe by accretions, like a human body, and as taught by Theosophy. Moreover, to back it up, the Theosophical doctrine of the repleteness of space with the necessary materials is now scientifically established. Dr. Eddington states that space contains matter everywhere; sometimes as a bright cloud, sometimes as an opaque one.(5) A Master's letter, written to A. P. Sinnett in the '80's, states that there is a continent of meteoric dust at the upper limit of the earth's atmosphere, gathered in the course of the progress of the solar system through space. Dr. Harlow Shapley, of the Harvard Observatory,(6) holds that the collecting power of large stars brings them millions of tons of matter per day, and even that the sun must accumulate thus much matter, which afterwards serves as a source of radiated energy. Now, curiously enough, the sun, as taught by Theosophy does collect spacial energy in its course, though not just of that kind. Is this scientific intuition? Solar energy is now one of the great puzzles; no real scientist any longer pretends to dogmatize about it, though Dr. Frank Dyson remarked in a lecture that it must come from the atoms inside the sun.(7) But if so, it must be from the breaking up of atoms; and such a breaking up would be an energy-absorbing process, as physicists now recognize.

In truth, as only Theosophy can demonstrate, the problem of the genesis of planetary nuclei, and of the energy which sustains the life upon them, is really the same. Bodies are born, not in the womb of the sun, but the womb of space; the energic nuclei of the smallest as of the largest bodies, "many of which are borne to and fro in space" are eternal and self-existent. That of the earth is simply in a different state of development and activity than that of the sun, for instance. When the time comes for a planet to die, it becomes a "relaxed conglomerate" and slowly breaks up or has its matter osmosed to another center, as the moon is now losing its substance to the earth. Its energies -- including the spiritual and psychic, and possessing among their subtle bonds the magnetic Karmic lines of the individual living Egos, of all the now unmanifest life of the system, escape; freed for the time being from the bonds of that sort of matter, it passes through a cometary stage, is finally captured by the body destined to be its future sun and life-giver, and from thence, almost in agreement with the "planetesimal" theory, grows physically and otherwise, and evolves its whole gigantic physical life-system; and even as its visible body augments, so its invisible energies come into full function on their own planes -- a new "planetary chain" of "globes." And many are the Karmic rises and falls of such a body through its successive reincarnations for good or for ill!

Behold Migmar(8), as in his crimson veils his "Eye" sweeps over slumbering Earth. Behold the fiery aura of the "Hand" of Lhagpa(9) extended in protecting love over the heads of his ascetics. Both are now servants to Nyima(10) left in his absence silent watchers in the night. Yet both in Kalpas past were bright Nyimas, and may in future "Days" again become two Suns. Such are the falls and rises of the Karmic Law in nature. (The Voice of the Silence.)

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


Many, many times service to another is given as a duty. It is in fact a privilege -- and only when so performed does service carry with it the qualifying beneficence which makes it a blessing to both server and served. The spirit in which even the smallest service is performed is the real in it; for even were an apparently great favor conferred by some act -- perhaps entailing serious sacrifice -- if the spirit were perfunctory, or something unwilling, or ungracious, or "dogged-dutied", the result permanently benefits neither doer nor recipient. The Soul-nature cannot flow clearly through personality-stained channels. Only when personal motives are pure can the crystal waters of the spiritual life gush forth unstained and uncolored, to the service of "our other selves." Then all concerned partake of the ambrosia of the sacrifice.

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(1) Science, Dec. 7, 1928.
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(2) Scientific Monthly, Feb., 1929.
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(3) Science, Dec. 21, 1928.
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(4) The Week's Science, Nov. 12, 1928.
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(5) New York Evening Post, May 11, 1929.
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(6) Science, Aug. 3, 1928.
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(7) Daily Telegraph, Nov. 5, 1928.
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(8) Mars.
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(9) Mercury.
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(10) The Sun. Nyima, the Sun in Tibetan Astrology. Migmar or Mars is symbolized by an "Eye", and Lhagpa or Mercury by a "Hand".
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