The natural sciences are built upon theories which...

Peoria (Ill.) Herald-Transcript

The natural sciences are built upon theories which, however accurate they may appear to be, are not too susceptible of proof. The electric current, for instance, has become a common expression, yet nobody has ever proved that there is a current and the chances are that there is not; but the theory of a current made it possible to explain all the phenomena of electricity and also made the study of the science easier, and so the current theory is to-day the foundation of the science of electricity.

The atom is the foundation of the science of chemistry. There are about sixty simple elements or elementary substances now identified. Science teaches that when these combine, one or more atoms of one element combines with one or more atoms of the other. The atom is defined as the smallest portion of the substance that can be imagined. Just as one grain of corn is the smallest portion of corn that can be taken from a load or from an elevator, so the atom is the smallest part of any substance that contains all the characteristics of that substance. Nobody knows that this is so, but upon this theory is built the entire science of chemistry. From time to time, as new elements have been discovered and new combinations made, chemists have been hard put to it to reconcile the results with the atomic theory, but they have invariably succeeded, until radium and helium were discovered. That discovery has thrown the atomic theory out of gear, until now even the chemists themselves are attacking the atomic theory.

Last year a member of the British University proved that helium was formed by the emanations from radium, and the battle against the atomic theory was on. This year another scientist has submitted proof that radium had the power of converting copper into lithium. Now the scientists have held that both copper and lithium were elementary bodies and could not possibly be transmitted, but if this new discovery should be verified the whole atomic theory will be knocked out and scientists will be forced into the belief that if matter exists at all there was originally but one form of matter and that all the modifications we know of are but compounds. And yet it was upon such a gauzy hypothesis as the atomic theory that most of our knowledge of the physical world has been built. When we can be certain of so little regarding the things we can feel and see and hear and handle and weigh and measure, why should we be so ready to deny that there is a spiritual world, just because we cannot hear or see or weigh or measure it?

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October 12, 1907

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