THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 6, April, 1931
(Pages 266-270; Size: 16K)
(Number 29 of a 103-part series)

SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE

XXVIII

(Part I)

IMMATURITY judges fate ever by the immediate experience; it sees itself in vision rising evenly to puissant adultship, and never thinks beyond, never views the falling teeth and weakening sinews of old age, which are the coin with which it must buy its majority.

There is a strong affinity in the emotional nature of man for the hope of an unvarying progress to a definite and final end of triumphant bliss; for the idea of a climbing which is always upward, yet by some magic never entrains weariness and exhaustion of muscle.

With the possible exception of Buddhism, this is the dream which has lent power to all the religions, and has in particular dominated Western and Christian thought. It has so dominated that thought, that so-called "liberated" science has from the first been a slave to it; as note the idea of a "one-way" Universe, the nebular hypothesis, the "ape-ancestry" theories, in particular; and even yet, ill-informed men repeat that Reincarnation and other cyclic doctrines "belong to a school of thought which is passing away." But it is the old school which is passing away, and in a few years will be forgotten, slain by that which is vastly older coming to its own again, a living demonstration of the Law.

Except for the speculations of Crookes, buried and forgotten to-day, the science of H. P. Blavatsky's day never went further into the genesis of things than the acceptance of La Place's Nebular Hypothesis; a theory whose only value was that it "rendered God a useless hypothesis." The theory held that evolution began as a concretion of universally diffused matter into clouds (nebulae); these clouds gradually concentrated, densified, became hot by the friction of condensation, achieved rotation by the asymmetrical accretion of matter, and at last, as the cores became smaller, the outer matter separated in the form of rings; the rings broke up to form smaller bodies, and at last there was a large, central hot body surrounded by cooling globes -- a solar system.

The hypothesis, like other dreams of science, rested upon an array of mathematical calculations; and it had the attraction, like its "animal ancestor" relative, of apparent simplicity. But its universal acceptance did not daunt H. P. Blavatsky.

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... (Secret Doctrine, 1888, I, 588).
And on Page 593 she gives ten strictly scientific objections to the theory; some of them have since slain it. She moreover pointed out (S.D. I, 596) evidence going far to show that the nebulae observable were more likely to be exploded or collided stars; noting the phenomenon of novae in particular.

Now, Dr. Max Wolff, of Heidelberg University,(1) announces the nova of Acquilae to have been the explosion or expansion of a star; and the same doctrine receives sanction in other quarters.(2)

The present fate of the Nebular Hypothesis is summed up by Prof. William Berryman Scott.(3)

For over a hundred years, the Nebular Hypothesis of the great French astronomer, La Place, was accepted by astronomers and geologists with practical unanimity, as explaining the origin and history of the solar system. Now that hypothesis has no standing with astronomers and among the geologists of England and America, the ancient hypothesis is completely abandoned, for it has been conclusively shown that La Place's conceptions are mechanically impossible. Nevertheless, many if not most of the German geologists still adhere to the scheme of La Place, chiefly because they are not convinced of the truth of the hypotheses which have been propounded to take the place of the discredited nebular theory.
Incidentally Prof. Scott remarks:
That life has existed on the earth without interruption for a billion years or so is now a familiar fact, and when it is remembered within what narrow limits of temperature terrestrial life is possible, the constancy of solar radiation throughout that unimaginable lapse of time is all but incredible. Thirty years ago Lord Kelvin's calculations of the age of the sun were very generally accepted and, according to these, the sun could not be more than 20,000,000 years old. The discoveries in the field of radio-activity have indefinitely extended the time involved in the history of the solar system.
Madame Blavatsky dared orthodoxy on the same point in the following terms:
...the idea of the amount of "transformable energy" in our little system coming to an end is based purely on the fallacious conception of a "white-hot, incandescent Sun" perpetually radiating away his heat without compensation into Space. To this we reply that nature runs down and disappears from the objective plane, only to re-emerge after a time of rest out of the subjective and to reascend once more. (S.D. I, 149).

"There is heat internal and heat external in every atom," say the manuscript Commentaries ... "the breath of the Father (or Spirit) and the breath (or heat) of the Mother (matter);" and they give explanations which show that the modern theory of the extinction of the solar fires by loss of heat through radiation, is erroneous. (S.D. I, 84).

In this article we shall show the almost complete acceptance of this doctrine by the science of 1928, just 40 years after the publication of The Secret Doctrine.

Strangely enough, science, in approaching its present solution of the riddle, had to step bodily from the realm of the infinitely great to that of the infinitely small; it found the real nature of the cyclic evolution of things through investigation -- not of the stars, but of the atom. And as it has turned out, so long as the theory of an indivisible atom was held, no advance toward understanding the origin of matter could have been made. The whole turning point of investigation came with the strange events of 1896-97; the "accidental" discoveries of Becquerel and Roentgen, which H.P.B. thus predicted:

The exact extent, depth, breadth, and length of the mysteries of Nature are to be found only in Eastern esoteric sciences. So vast and so profound are these that hardly a few, a very few of the highest Initiates -- those whose very existence is known but to a small number of Adepts -- are capable of assimilating the knowledge. Yet it is all there, and one by one facts and processes in Nature's workshops are permitted to find their way into the exact Sciences, while mysterious help is given to rare individuals in unravelling its arcana. It is at the close of great Cycles, in connection with racial development, that such events generally take place. We are at the very close of the cycle of 5,000 years of the present Aryan Kaliyuga; and between this time and 1897 there will be a large rent made in the Veil of Nature, and materialistic science will receive a death-blow. (S.D. I, 611-12).
About 1925, the "one-way" theory definitely began to break down. Dr. Gilbert Newton Lewis, Dean of the College of Chemistry at the University of California, published a new theory of light, announcing that "since action and reaction are equal and opposite and since past and future are alike, there is no one-way drift of the universe, considering it as a whole."(4) It is notable that Prof. Lewis found many scientists in opposition; and it is equally noticeable that his theory of light called for virtual contact between the eyeball and the object of vision.

Meantime, Dr. Robert A. Millikan had discovered the "cosmic ray," with which the press, scientific and laic, has resounded at frequent intervals since.(5) It is the 1928 outcome of this discovery with which we are particularly concerned. These rays are about 100 times as penetrating as any hitherto discovered, and of extraterrestrial origin, traversing space in all directions. In January, 1927, the Swiss physicists, Gockel and Hess(6) announced the discovery of rays, which may or may not have been the "Millikan Rays," one thousand times as penetrating as any of earthly origin; they considered that through this, "science would be compelled to abandon established nebular theories."

They also announced a suspicion that these rays may have played a part in the creation of life on the earth. Meantime, Prof. Wm. Duncan McMillan theorized to the effect that if we were to consider that atoms are being evolved in interstellar space, with absorption of radiant energy, and being destroyed in the interiors of stars, with release of radiant energy, "it would lead to a wonderful expansion of our cosmological ideas!"(7) Wonderful indeed! For they would then measure -- on the material plane -- almost to the scope of The Secret Doctrine.

In the spring of 1928, Dr. Millikan himself(8) announced measurements of the "cosmic rays" which showed them to be definite bands of color like the discontinuous spectra. The qualities of their vibrations were such that the only conclusion he could draw, was that the rays emanated from matter in the process of formation. It indicated, he thought, that ordinary atoms are being formed from electrons. Ever since 1897, it had been suspected that atoms were built up of these smaller units; Dr. Millikan's discovery was the first scientific evidence that this creation is a continuing process. It was, of course, nothing new to Theosophists.

...the absolutely eternal universal motion, or vibration, that which is called in Esoteric language "the GREAT BREATH," differentiates in the primordial, first manifested ATOM. More and more, as chemical and physical sciences progress, does this occult axiom find its corroboration in the world of knowledge: the scientific hypothesis, that even the simplest elements of matter are identical in nature and differ from each other only owing to the variety of the distributions of atoms in the molecule or speck of substance, or by the modes of its atomic vibration, gains every day more ground. (S.D. I, 455).
Coupling this with the First Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine, it is obvious that the upbuilding must be eternally going on somewhere in space. The word atom --as is evident by the context both here and elsewhere -- was used to express what science now calls the "electron;" and the meaning of "modes of atomic vibration" must be sufficiently clear to those familiar with the Bohr and Langmuir models of the scientific atom; more significant in connection with the "wave mechanics" theory. Note also that Drs. C. J. Davisson and L. H. Germer, conclude that "solid matter" may consist of waves or vibrations.(9)


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:

WHAT THE IMAGE?

Outside a certain highly spiritual and elevated state of mind, during which Man is at one with the UNIVERSAL MIND -- he can get nought on earth but relative truth, or truths, from whatsoever philosophy or religion. Were even the goddess who dwells at the bottom of the well to issue from her place of confinement, she could give man no more than he can assimilate. Meanwhile, every one can sit near that well -- the name of which is KNOWLEDGE -- and gaze into its depths in the hope of seeing Truth's fair image reflected, at least, on the dark waters. This, however, as remarked by Richter, presents a certain danger. Some truth, to be sure, may be occasionally reflected as in a mirror on the spot we gaze upon, and thus reward the patient student. But, adds the German thinker, "I have heard that some philosophers in seeking for Truth, to pay homage to her, have seen their own image in the water and adored it instead." --H.P.B.


Next article:
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
XXVIII (Part II of III)
(Part 30 of a 103-part series)

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NINE (9) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:

(1) Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 20, 1927.
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(2) Science, Aug. 26, 1927.
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(3) Science, Mar. 30, 1928.
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(4) Press, Dec. 25, 1925; Science, Dec. 18, 1925; Science, Jan. 8, 1926.
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(5) Literary Digest, Nov. 28, 1925; Science, Nov. 20, 1925; Scientific American, March, 1926.
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(6) New York Times, Jan. 23. 1927.
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(7) Scientific American, May, 1926.
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(8) Press of March 17, 1928.
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(9) Science, May 11, 1928.
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