It is singular how variously this question of life in other worlds has been viewed at various stages of astronomical progress. From the time of Pythagoras, who first, so far as is known, propounded the general theory of the plurality of worlds, down to our own time, when Brewster and Chalmers on the one hand, and Whewell on the other, have advocated rival theories probably to be both set aside for a theory at once intermediate to and more widely ranging in time and space than either, the aspect of the subject has constantly varied, as new lights have been thrown upon it from different directions. It may be interesting briefly to consider what has been thought in the past on this strangely attractive question, and then to indicate the view towards which modern discoveries seem manifestly to point—a view not likely to undergo other change than that resulting from clearer vision and closer approach. In other words, I shall endeavour to show that the theory to which we are now led by all the known facts is correct in general, though, as fresh knowledge is obtained, it may undergo modification in details. We now see the subject from the right point of view, though as science progresses we may come to see it more clearly and definedly.
When men believed the earth to be a flat surface above which the heavens were arched as a tent or canopy, they were not likely to entertain the belief in other worlds than ours. During the earlier ages of mankind ideas such as these prevailed. The earth had been fashioned into its present form and condition, the heavens had been spread over it, the sun, and moon, and stars had been set in the heavens for its use and adornment, and there was no thought of any other world.
But while this was the general belief, there was already a school of philosophy where another doctrine had been taught. Pythagoras had adopted the belief of Apollonius Pergæus that the sun is the centre of the planetary paths, the earth one among the planets—a belief inseparable from the doctrine of the plurality of worlds. Much argument has been advanced to show that this belief never was adopted before the time of Copernicus, and unquestionably it must be admitted that the theory was not presented inthe clear and simple form to which we have become accustomed. But it is not necessary to weigh the conflicting arguments for and against the opinion that Pythagoras and others regarded the earth as not the fixed centre of the universe. The certain fact that the doctrine of the plurality of worlds was entertained (I do not say adopted) by them, proves sufficiently that they cannot have believed the earth to be fixed and central. The idea of other worlds like our earth is manifestly inconsistent with the belief that the earth is the central body around which the whole universe revolves.
It was naturally only by a slow progression that men were able to advance into the domain spread before them by the Copernican theory, and to recognise the real minuteness of the earth both in space and time. They more quickly recognised the earth’s insignificance in space, because the new theory absolutely forced this fact upon them. If the earth, whose globe they knew to be minute compared with her distance from the sun, is really circling around the sun in a mighty orbit many millions of miles in diameter, it follows of necessity that the fixed stars must lie so far away that even the span of the earth’s orbit is reduced to nothing by comparison with the vast depths beyond which lie even the nearest of those suns. This was Tycho Brahe’s famous and perfectly sound argument against the Copernican theory. ‘The stars remain fixed in apparent position all the time, yet the Copernicans tell us that the earth from which we view the stars is circling once a year in an orbit many millions of miles in diameter; how is it that from so widely ranging a point of view we do not see widely different celestial scenery? Who can believe that the stars are so remote that by comparison the span of the earth’s path is a mere point?’ Tycho’s argument was of course valid. Of two things one. Either the earth does not travel round the sun, or the stars are much farther away than men had conceived possible in Tycho’s time. His mistake lay in rejecting the correct conclusion because simply it made the visible universe seem many millions of times vaster than he had supposed. Yet the universe, even as thus enlarged, was but a point to the universe visible in our day, which in turn will dwindle to a point compared with the universe as men will see it a few centuries hence; while that or the utmost range of space over which men can ever extend their survey is doubtless as nothing to the real universe of occupied space.
Such has been the progression of our ideas as to the position of the earth in space. Forced by the discoveries of Copernicus to regard our earth as a mere point compared with the distances of the nearest fixed stars, men gradually learned to recognise those distances which at first had seemed infinite as in their turn evanescent even by comparison with that mere point of space over which man is able by instrumental means to extend his survey.
Though there has been a similar progression in men’s ideas as to the earth’s position in time, that progression has not been carried to a corresponding extent. Men have not been so bold in widening their conceptions of time as in widening their conceptions of space. It is here and thus that, in my judgment, the subject of life in other worlds has been hitherto incorrectly dealt with. Men have given up as utterly idle the idea that the existence of worlds is to be limited to the special domain of space to which our earth belongs; but they are content to retain the conception that the domain of time to which our earth’s history belongs, ‘this bank and shoal of time’ on which the life of the earth is cast, is the period to which the existence of other worlds than ours should be referred.
This, which is to be noticed in nearly all our ordinary treatises on astronomy, appears as a characteristic peculiarity of works advocating the theory of the plurality of worlds. Brewster and Dick and Chalmers, all in fact who have taken that doctrine under their special protection, reason respecting other worlds as though, if they failed to prove that other orbs are inhabited now, or are at least now supporting life in some way or other, they failed of their purpose altogether. The idea does not seem to have occurred to them that there is room and verge enough in eternity of time not only for activity but for rest. They must have all the orbs of space busy at once in the one work which they seem able to conceive as the possible purpose of those bodies—the support of life. The argument from analogy, which they had found effective in establishing the general theory of the plurality of worlds, is forgotten when its application to details would suggest that not all orbs are at all times either the abode of life or in some way subserving the purposes of life.
Just make do or do without Use it up and wear it out Go green and go without a fight The truth is slowly coming clear The greater good is prime A cyber life awaits mankind
They’re planning for our future now Planning to reset somehow Here we are in no man’s land Here is what we understand We are begging for our freedom here The great reset is all we fear No one understands this fact Two thousand thirty is the year
Reshape and override All’s reset overnight Planet Earth re-aligned Without a doubt
All creatures great and small Replaced by digital culls We know where this will go from here
They’re planning for our future now Planning to reset somehow Here we are in no man’s land Here is what we understand
We are begging for our freedom here The great reset is all we fear No one understands this fact Unaware we go to bed
The Great Reset The Great Reset
We say enough now with growth Enough now with oils Enough now with all that spoils
They’re planning for our future now Planning to reset somehow Here we are in no man’s land Here is what we understand We are fighting for our freedom here The great reset is all we fear No one understands this fact Two thousand thirty is the year
Thou wast that all to me, love, For which my soul did pine— A green isle in the sea, love, A fountain and a shrine, All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers, And all the flowers were mine.
Ah, dream too bright to last! Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise But to be overcast! A voice from out the Future cries, “On! on!”—but o’er the Past (Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies Mute, motionless, aghast!
For, alas! alas! with me The light of Life is o’er! No more—no more—no more— (Such language holds the solemn sea To the sands upon the shore) Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree, Or the stricken eagle soar!
And all my days are trances, And all my nightly dreams Are where thy grey eye glances, And where thy footstep gleams— In what ethereal dances, By what eternal streams.