THEORIES OF THE EARTH
Theory of Projection – Theory of Condensation Theory of Incrustation – The Spirit
of the Earth
Theory of Projection
1. Of all the theories touching the origin of being, that which has received the most credit
in recent days is that of Buffon, perhaps by reason of the place its author held in the scientific
world, perhaps because knowledge on the subject was slender at the time.
By seeing all the planets moving in the same direction and in the same plane from the
occident to the orient, from west to east, going over orbits of which the inclination does not
exceed seven and a half degrees, Buffon concluded, by this uniformity, that they must all move
in obedience to the same cause.
According to him, the sun being an incandescent melted mass, he supposed that a comet,
having been hurled obliquely against it, by knocking against its surface, had detached a portion,
which, projected into space by the violence of the shock, became divided into many fragments.
These fragments have formed planets, which have continued to move circularly, by the
combination of centripetal and centrifugal force, in the way communicated by the direction of
the original shock; i.e., in the plane of the ecliptic.
Planets must then be parts of the incandescent substance of the sun, and consequently
incandescent themselves at their commencement. They have been submitted to a cooling and
consolidating process during a period of time proportionate to their volume; and, when the
temperature has permitted, life has appeared on their surface.
In consequence of the gradual lowering of the central heat, the Earth would arise in a
given time to a completely cool state; the liquid mass would be entirely frozen; and the air,
more and more condensed, would finally disappear. The lowering of the temperature, rendering
life impossible, would lead to the diminution, then to the disappearance, of all organized beings.
The cooling process which has commenced at the poles would pass successively from one
country to another until it reached the equator.
Such is, according to Buffon, the present state of the moon, which, smaller than the Earth,
should be now an extinguished world, whence life is henceforth excluded. The sun itself will
some day end in the same manner. According to his calculation, it must have taken the Earth
about seventy-four thousand years to arrive at its present temperature, and in ninety-three
thousand years it must see the end of organized nature.
2. The Theory of Buffon - Contradicted by more recent discoveries in science, is now
almost entirely abandoned for the following reasons:
1 - For a long time it was believed that comets were solid bodies, which, coming in
collision with planets, would destroy them. According to this hypothesis the
supposition of Buffon was not improbable; but is now known that they are formed of a
gaseous, condensed substance, rarefied enough, however, to allow of stars of less
magnitude being visible through their nucleus. In this state, offering less resistance than
the sun, a violent shock capable of projecting afar a portion of its substance is an
2 - The incandescent nature of the sun is equally a hypothesis, as nothing yet discovered confirms it. The results of observation all point, however, in an opposite direction.
Although its nature as yet has not been quite determined upon, the means of observation
are very much improved, and thus it can be much better studied. It is now generally
admitted by scientists that the sun is a globe composed of a solid substance, surrounded
by a luminous atmosphere, which is not in contact with its surface. *
3 - In the times of Buffon the six planets familiar to the ancients were the only ones
discovered, - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Since then there have
been discovered a number, of which the three principal – Juno, Ceres, and Pallas – have
an inclined orbit of thirteen, ten, and thirty-four degrees respectively, which does not
accord with the movement of unique projection.
4 - The calculations of Buffon upon the cooling process have been recognized as
completely wrong since the discovery of the law of the diminution of heat by M.
Fourier. Therefore, not only seventy-four thousand years have been necessary to
develop the present temperature of the Earth, but rather millions of years.
5 - Buffon has considered only the central heat of the globe, without taking into account
that of the sun’s rays. Now it is recognized by scientific facts, rigorously founded upon
experience that, by reason of the thickness of the terrestrial crust, the internal heat of the
globe has for a long time played only an insignificant part in regulating the temperature
of the surface. The variations to which the atmosphere is submitted are periodical and
due to the preponderating action of the solar heat (see chap. VII, n° 25). The effect of
this cause being permanent, whilst that of the central heat is hardly anything, the
diminution of the latter can bring to the surface of the Earth no sensible modification in
order that the Earth should become uninhabitable by the general cooling process: the
extinction of the sun would be necessary. **
One will find a complete dissertation, according to modern science, upon the nature of the sun and
comets in “Studies and Lectures upon Astronomy,” by Camille Flammarion.
For details on this subject, and for the law of the diminution of heat, see “Letters upon the Revolution of
the Globe” by Bertrand pages 19 and 307. This work, which was written with simplicity and without a
spirit of system, offers, in terms of modern science, a geological study of great interest.
Theory of Condensation
3. The theory of the formation of the Earth by the condensation of cosmic matter is that
which now prevails in science as being that which is best justified by observation, which solves
the greatest number of difficulties, and which leans more than all others upon the grand
principle of universal unity. It is that which has been previously described in chap. VII,
The two theories, as we perceive, lead to the same result, - the primitive state of
incandescence of the globe ceasing, the formation of a solid crust, the existence of the central fire, and the appearance of organic life as soon as the temperature renders it possible. They
differ in the mode of formation of the Earth; and it is probable that, if Buffon had lived in our
day, he would have had other ideas.
Geology takes the Earth at the point where direct observation is possible. Its state
anterior to this can be only conjectural. Now, between two hypothesis, good sense teaches that
it is necessary to choose the one sanctioned by logic, and which best agrees with observed facts.
Theory of Incrustation
4. We mention this theory only from memory, not because it has any scientific value, but
only because it has some few adherents even today who have been seduced by it. The following
is an abstract of it:
“God, according to the Bible, created the world in six days, four thousand years before
the Christian era. This is what geologists contest by the study of fossils, and by numerous
incontestable evidences of decay, which carries the origin of the Earth back a million of years.
However, the scriptures have told the truth, and the geologists also; and it’s a simple peasant * who makes them agree by teaching us that our Earth is a very recently incrustrated planet,
composed of very ancient materials.
“After the appearance of the unknown planet, after its having arrived at maturity in the
place we now occupy, the spirit of the Earth received the order to bring together its satellites, in
order to form our present globe according to the laws of progress. Four of these bodies alone
consented to the association proposed to them, the moon alone persisted in its autonomy; for the
globes have all their free will. In order to proceed with this fusion, the spirit of the Earth
directed toward the satellites a magnetic attractive ray, which entranced all the animal,
vegetable, and mineral properties which they brought to the community. To the operation there
were no witnesses save the spirit of the Earth and the great celestial messengers who aided in
this work by opening the globes in order to unite their contents. The joining together having
been accomplished, the water ran into the voids left by the absence of the moon. The
atmospheres were mingled; the awakening or resurrection of the entranced germs commenced.
Man was the last object which was awakened from the magnetic sleep, saw around him the
luxuriant vegetation of a terrestrial paradise, with animals feeding in peace around him. All that
could be performed in six days with workmen as powerful as those which God had charged with
this commission. The planet Asia brought us the yellow race, which belongs to the most ancient
civilization; Africa, the black race; Europe, the white; and America, the red. The moon would
perhaps have brought the green or blue.
Thus certain animals of which we find the remains may never have lived upon this
present Earth, but may have been found in the portions received from other worlds which have
decayed. Fossils, found in climates where they would not have been able to exist lived, no
doubt, in very different zones upon globes where they were born. Such remains, as are found at
the poles with us, must have existed at the equator on their own globes.
M. Michel of Figagneres (Var), author of the “Key of Life.”
5. This theory has against it the most positive results of experimental science, added to
which it leaves out entirely the question of origin, which it pretends to solve. It tells well how
the Earth should be formed, but does not instruct us how the four worlds which constitute this
have been formed.
If such things have taken place, why is it that we find no trace of this immense union in
any depth which has been explored? If each one brought its own peculiarities of materials, then Asia, Africa, Europe, and America would each have a geology peculiar to themselves, which is
not so. On the contrary, the first granite uniform crust of a homogeneous composition is in all
parts of the globe without a breach of continuity. Then the geological beds of the same
formation are identical in their constitution; everywhere in the same order superposed,
continuing, without interruption, from one side to the other of the seas of Europe, Asia, Africa,
and America, and conversely. These beds are witnesses to the transformations of the globe,
attesting that these transformations have been accomplished over its entire surface, and not upon
one part alone. It shows us equally well the periods of the appearance, existence, and
disappearance of the same species of animals and vegetables in different parts of the world; the
fauna and flora of these remote periods, marching everywhere simultaneously under the
influence of a uniform temperature, changing in character everywhere according as the
temperature is modified. Such a state of things is irreconcilable with the theory of the formation
of the Earth by the additions of many different worlds.
One would naturally inquire: What would become of the sea, which occupies the void left
by the moon, if the latter had desired to join its sisters? Also what would become of the Earth if
the moon should some day take a fancy to join the others, take its place, and expel the sea.
6. This belief has gained some adherents, because it seemed to explain the presence of the
different races of men upon the Earth, and their localization; but, since these races have been
able to germinate upon separate world, why would they not be able to have germinated upon
different points of the same globe? That is trying to solve a difficulty by one much greater.
Indeed, however great the rapidity and dexterity with which this operation may have been
performed, this adjunction could not have been made without violent commotion. The more
rapid it had been, the more disastrous had been the inundations. It seems then impossible that
beings in a simple cataleptic sleep could have slept through it, awaking peacefully after all was
over. If these beings were only germs, of what did they consist? How could perfectly formed
beings be reduced to the state of a germ? The question would always arise: How were they
developed anew? The miracle of a miraculous formation would again be brought forth, but by a
method less poetic and grand than the biblical Genesis; whilst natural laws give an explanation
of its formation much more complete, and above all more rational, deduced from experience
and observation. *
* When such ideas are added to a cosmogony, one wonders if the rest of it reposes upon a rational basis.
The agreement which they pretend to establish by this system between the biblical Genesis and science is
altogether an illusory idea, since it is contradicted by science itself. The author of the letter above, a man
of great learning, having been for a time seduced by this theory, soon saw the vulnerable side, and
delayed not to combat it with the arms of science.
The Earth’s Soul
7. The Earth’s soul represents the main theme in the theory of incrustation; let us see if
the following idea gives us a better foundation.
Organic development is always in accordance with the development of the intellectual
principle. The organism completes itself upon the multiplication of the soul’s faculties. In all
beings, from the polyp to the man, the organic scale follows constantly the progression of
intelligence. Neither could it be otherwise, as the soul needs an instrument adequate to the
importance of the functions it should carry out. What good would be the intelligence of the
monkey to an oyster, without the necessary organs for its manifestation? If then, the Earth were an animated being, serving as body to a special soul, due to its constitution, this soul would
have to be even more rudimental than that of the polyp, as the Earth does not have the same
vitality as that of the plant. According to the role that has been attributed to this soul, one makes
of it a being that is endowed with reason and a most complete free will; in short, a superior
Spirit. This is not rational, as never a Spirit would have been so poorly divided and imprisoned.
The idea of the soul of the Earth, understood in such sense should then be classified among the
systematic and chimerical conceptions.
More rationally one would understand the soul of the Earth to be the collectivity of
Spirits in charge of developing and directing its constituent elements, which would already
suppose a certain degree of intellectual development; better still, to a Spirit to whom is assigned
the highest direction of the moral destinies and the progress of its inhabitants. Such a mission
cannot be developed by other than a being eminently superior in wisdom and knowledge. In this
case, this Spirit is not the soul of the Earth per say, since it is neither incarnate in it, nor
subjugated to its material state; rather it will be a leader placed at its direction, analogous to a
general who is placed at the direction of an army.
A Spirit in charge of such an important mission, as the governing of a world, could not
have caprices, or else God would be very imprudent for entrusting the execution of his laws to
beings capable of transgressing them due to their bad will. Or, if we follow the doctrine of
incrustation, it would be due to the ill will of the Moon’s soul that one attributes the reason of
the Earth’s incompleteness. These are ideas that are refutable by their own selves. (“Revue
Spirite” of September of 1868, pg. 261)