“We have also given as much thought as our natural powers will permit to Professor Huxley’s celebrated lecture On the Physical Basis of Life, so that what we may say in this volume as to the tendency of modern scientific thought may be free from ignorant misstatement.
Compressing his theory within the closest possible limits, it may be formulated thus: Out of cosmic matter all things are created; dissimilar forms result from different permutations and combinations of this matter; matter has “devoured spirit”, hence spirit does not exist; thought is a property of matter; existing forms die that others may take their place; the dissimilarity in organism is due only to varying chemical action in the same life-matter – all protoplasm being identical.
As far as chemistry and microscopy goes, Professor Huxley’s system may be faultless, and the profound sensation caused throughout the world by its enunciation can be readily understood. But its defect is that the thread of his logic begins nowhere, and ends in a void. He has made the best possible use of the available material. Given a universe crowded with molecules, endowed with active force, and containing in themselves the principles of life, and all the rest is easy; one set of inherent forces impel to aggregate into worlds, and another to evolve the various forms of plant and animal organism.
But what gave the first impulse to those molecules and endowed them with that mysterious faculty of life? What is the occult property which causes the protoplasms of man, beast, reptile, fish, or plant, to differentiate, each ever evolving its own kind, and never any other? And after the physical body gives up its constituents to the soil and air, “whether fungus or oak, worm or man”, what becomes of the life which once animated the frame?
Is the law of evolution, so imperative in its application to the method of nature, from the time when cosmic molecules are floating, to the time when they form a human brain, to be cut short at that point, and not allowed to develop more perfect entities out of this “preexistent law of form”? Is Mr. Huxley prepared to assert the impossibility of man’s attainment to a state of existence after physical death, in which he will be surrounded with the new forms of plant and animal life, the result of new arrangements of now sublimated matter?
He acknowledges that he knows nothing about the phenomena of gravitation; except that, in all human experience, as “stones, unsupported, have fallen to the ground, there is no reason for believing that any stone so circumstanced will not fall to the ground.”
But, he utterly repels any attempt to change this probability into a necessity, and in fact says: “I utterly repudiate and anathematize the intruder. Facts I know, and Law I know; but what is this necessity, save an empty shadow of my own mind’s throwing?”
It is this, only, that everything which happens in nature is the result of necessity, and a law once operative will continue to so operate indefinitely until it is neutralized by an opposing law of equal potency.
Thus, it is natural that the stone should fall to the ground in obedience to one force, and it is equally natural that it should not fall, or that having fallen, it should rise again, in obedience to another force equally potent; which Mr. Huxley may, or may not, be familiar with.
It is natural that a chair should rest upon the floor when once placed there, and it is equally natural (as the testimony of hundreds of competent witnesses shows) that it should rise in the air, untouched by any visible, mortal hand. Is it not Mr. Huxley’s duty to first ascertain the reality of this phenomenon, and then invent a new scientific name for the force behind it?”
H. P. Blavatsky