51. Thus the real and effective eternity of the universe is assured by the same laws which direct the operations of time. Thus worlds succeed to worlds, suns to suns, without the immense mechanism of the heavens ever reaching the limit of its gigantic resources.
There, where your eyes admire the splendid stars under the vault of night, — there, where your mind contemplates the magnificent radiance, resplendent in far-distant space — through countless ages, the finger of death has extinguished these splendors. Long ago void has succeeded to this radiance, and received new creations yet unknown. It takes millions of years for the light of these stars to reach us, by reason of their immense distance from us; and the rays that we receive today are those that were sent in our direction a long time before the formation of this Earth. We continue to admire them long ages after their extinction.*
What are the six thousand years of historic humanity compared with the measureless ages before them? Seconds to your ages! What are your astronomical observations compared with the actual state of the universe? The shadow eclipsed by the sun.
* Here there is an effect of the time the light takes to cross the space. Scientists have defined the speed of light in a vacuum to be exactly 299,792,458 meters per second (about 186,000 miles per second). Since the mean distance of the earth from the sun is 149,503,000 km (92,897,000 mi), it takes approximately 8 minutes and 30 seconds from the sun to earth. From this results that a phenomenon that takes place on the surface of the sun will only be perceived eight minutes later; and for the same reason, we will see it only eight minutes after its disappearance. If, due to its distance, the light of a star takes a thousand years to reach us, we cannot see this star until a thousand years after its formation. (For complete explanation and description of this phenomenon, see the “Revue Spirite” of March and May of 1867, pgs. 93 and 151; clarifications from “Lumen,” by M. C. Flammarion).