THE PROGRESSION OF THE WORLDS
19. Progress is a law of nature. All beings of creation, be they animated or not, have been submitted to this law through the bounty of God, Who wishes everything to be exalted and to prosper. Even actual destruction, which appears to Man to be the end of everything, is only a means of reaching a more perfect state through transformation, seeing that everything dies only to be reborn again, suffering no consequences from the annihilation.
At the same time as living beings progress morally, so the worlds in which they live progress materially. If we were to accompany a world during its different phases, from the first instant the atoms destined to its construction began to agglomerate, we would see it travelling along on a constantly progressive scale, although these steps would be imperceptible to each generation. It would offer its inhabitants a more agreeable home as these generations passed, according to the manner in which they themselves advanced along their pathway to progress. Nothing in nature remains stationary. So we find that together with Man, the animals who are his helpers, the vegetables, and the habitations are all constantly marching along parallel to one another. How glorious this idea is and so worthy of the grandeur of the Creator! It would be paltry and unworthy of His power if, on the contrary, He concentrated His solicitude and providence on an insignificant grain of sand, which is this planet, so restricting humanity to the few people who inhabit it!
According to this law, the world has been in a materially and morally inferior position to that which it finds itself today, and it will lift itself up in both these aspects so as to reach a more elevated degree in the future. The time has now been reached for one of these periodic transformations, which will move the Earth upwards from a world of atonement to that of a regenerating planet where men will be happy because God's laws will reign. - SAINT AUGUSTIN (Paris, 1862).