THIS book is a curiously naive attempt to justify and interpret in the light of modern scientific discoveries a somewhat old-fashioned form of orthodoxy. “The whole universe is the scene of a conflict between two powers over the possession of atoms of matter.” This conflict is waged by means of the α- and β-rays of the physicist, which have respectively the power of “doing building work” with the atoms and of destroying the systems thus set up. Man is “a transgressing anthropoid ape” who, having wandered out of the regions where alone he could live in a state of nature, has purchased relief from his conditions by taking service with the Power of Repulsion—destroying the forests of the earth for fuel, and analysing compounds (such as ores) for their useful elements. But the growth Qf his needs has led him from mere destruction to synthesis, and so into the serviqe of the Power of Attraction. Nevertheless, his original transgression condemns him still to destroy on earth, so that his synthetic activities—shown, for example, in chemistry, physics, and engineering—must be regarded as really “a training in the art of Universebuilding,” to be applied seriously only when the present cosmic order makes way for the New Evolution. Thus death is “a recruiting agency for the staff” to be engaged upon this gigantic re-constructive operation, when they have re-clothed their “resting forms” in the protoplasmic garments for which the coal seams and the nitrate beds are perhaps intended to provide materials.
Man and his Future: A Glimpse from the Fields of Science.
By Lt.-Col. William Sedgwick. Pp. 256. (London: T. Werner Laurie, 1907.) Price 7s. 6d. net.