Allan Kardec

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General or Partial Revolution – Age of the Mountains – Biblical Deluge – Periodical Revolutions – Future Cataclysms – Increase or Diminution of the Volume of the Earth.

General or Partial Revolution

1. The geological periods mark the phases of the general aspect of the globe by the succession of its transformations. But with the exception of the deluge period, which bears the marks of sudden commotions, all others have been accomplished slowly, and without sudden transition. During all the times that the constituent elements of the globe have been seeking their true positions, changes have been general. Once the base consolidated, only partial modifications are produced upon the surface.

2. Besides general revolutions, the Earth has undergone a great many local perturbations, which have changed the aspect of certain countries. As for the others, two causes have led to them, - fire and water.

By fire; sometimes by volcanic eruptions, which have desolated whole districts, turning villages and their inhabitants into beds of ashes; by earthquakes, or by uprisings of the solid Earth crust, making the water flow back upon the lower countries, or by depressions of this same crust in certain places over greater or less extents, where the waters have been precipitated, leaving other territories bare. Thus islands have appeared on the bosom of the ocean, while others have disappeared; thus portions of continents have separated, and formed islands; thus arms of land in the ocean, becoming dry, have united islands to continents.

By water; - sometimes by overflows, or the retreat of the sea from certain shores; by uprisings, which have arrested the course of the water, lakes have been formed; by overflows and inundations, or the alluvia formed at the mouth of rivers. This alluvial deposit, by obliging the sea to flow back, has created new countries: such is the origin of the Delta of the Nile, in Lower Egypt; of the Delta of the Rhone, or Camargue.

Age of the Mountains

3. By the inspection of territories disturbed by the uprising of mountains, and beds which form long chains, one can determine their geological age. By the geological age of mountains, it is not necessary that we understand it as the number of the years of their existence, but the period during which they have been formed, and consequently their relative antiquity. It would be an error to suppose that this antiquity is by reason of their elevation, or of their exclusively granite nature, considering that the mass of granite, while being thrown up, can have perforated and separated the superposed beds.

It has thus been ascertained by observation that the mountains of Vosges, of Bretagne, and of the Côte d’Or, in France, which are not very high, belong to the ancient formations. They date from the transition period, and are anterior to the coal deposits. The Jura has been formed near the middle of the secondary period. It is contemporary with gigantic reptiles. The Pyrenees have been formed later, - at the commencement of the tertiary period. The Mont Blanc, and the group of Western Alps, are posterior to the Pyrenees, and date from the middle of the tertiary period. The Eastern Alps, which comprise the mountains of the Tyrol, are more recent still; for they were not formed until the end of the tertiary period. Some mountains of Asia are posterior to or contemporary with the deluge period.

These uprisings must have been due to great local perturbations and inundations, - greater or less according to the extent of the displacement of waters, and the interruptions and changes of course of rivers. *

* The last century offers a remarkable example of a phenomenon of this kind. Six days journey from the city of Mexico was found in 1759 a fertile and well-cultivated country, where grew an abundance of rice, corn, and bananas. In the month of June frightful earthquakes agitated the soil, and the trembling continued two whole months. In the night of Sept. 28 and 29 the earth experienced a violent commotion; a territory of many miles in extent was slowly raised, and attained a height of five hundred feet upon a surface of thirty square miles. The earth undulated like ocean-waves in a tempest. Millions of hillocks alternately rose and fell. At length a gulf, nearly nine miles in extent opened. From it proceed smoke, fire, burning stones and ashes, which were thrown to a prodigious height. Six mountains rose from this yawning gulf, among which the volcano Jorullo was raised to about five hundred and fifty yards, or thirteen hundred and seventy-five feet, above the former plain. At the moment the earthquake commenced, two rivers, - the Cuitimba and the Rio San Pedro, - flowing behind, inundated the whole plain occupied now by the Jorullo; but a gulf opened, and swallowed them. They reappeared in the west, very far away from their ancient bed. (Louis Figuer: “The Earth before the Deluge,” p.370).

Biblical Deluge

4. The biblical deluge – designated also the great Asiatic deluge – is a fact which cannot be contested. It must have been occasioned by the uprising of a portion of the mountains of that country, similar to the phenomenon in Mexico. That which supports this theory is the existence of an inland sea, which formerly extended from the Black Sea to the Arctic Ocean, which has been attested by geological observations. The Ocean of Azov, the Caspian Sea, whose water are brackish, although not in communication with any other sea, the Sea of Aral, and the innumerable lakes scattered over the immense plains of Tartary and the steppes of Russia, appear to be remains of this ancient sea. Then, by the uprising of the Caucasian Mountains, a part of these waters have flowed back northward to the Arctic Ocean, and another portion to the south toward the Indian Ocean. These inundated and ravished Mesopotamia in particular, and all the country inhabited by the ancestors of the Hebrews. Although this deluge extended over a considerable surface, it is well understood today that it has been only local in its extent; that it has not been due to rain: for, however abundant and continuous rains had been for sixty days, the calculation proves that the quantity of fallen water could not possibly have been sufficient to cover all the Earth even to the tops of the highest mountains.

But men were then acquainted with only a very small portion of the globe, and had no idea of its configuration. As soon as the inundation had encompassed all know countries, it was for them a universal flood. If, to this belief, one adds the hyperbolical form and imagery peculiarly Oriental in style, one cannot be surprised at the exaggeration in the biblical recital.

5. The Asiatic deluge was evidently posterior to the advent of man upon the Earth, since the memory of it has been preserved by tradition only in the memory of the inhabitants of this part of the world, who have consecrated it in their theogonies. *

It is equally posterior to the great universal deluge which has marked the present geological period; and, when they speak of pre-diluvium men and animals, geologists make reference to this first cataclysm.

* The Indian legend about the diluvium states, according to the Book of Vedas that Brahma, transformed into a fish addressed the pious monarch Vaivaswata telling him: “The time for the dissolution of the Universe has arrived; shortly, everything existent upon the earth will be destroyed. You need to build a ship in which you will board, after you have gathered and loaded the seeds of all plants. You will wait for me, for I will be with you at the ship; you will recognize me because, as a sign, I will have a horn on my head.” The saint obeyed; he built a ship in which he boarded and, using a strong cable, tied it to the fish’s horn. For many years the ship was towed with great speed through the darkness of a frightful thunderstorm, landing finally at the top of the Himawat (Himalaya) mount. Brahma then instructed Vaivaswata to create all beings in order to populate the Earth.

The analogy between this legend and Noah’s biblical report about the deluge is evident. From India this legend made its way to Egypt, along with a multitude of other beliefs. Being that the book of Vedas antecedes that of Moses, the narrative it contains about the deluge cannot be a copy of the latter. Rather, it is possible that Moses, who had learned the doctrines of the Egyptian priests, may have taken his information from them.

Periodical Revolutions

6. Besides its annual motion around the sun, which produces the seasons; its rotary movement upon itself in twenty-four hours, which produces day and night, - the Earth has a third movement, which is completed in about twenty-five thousand years (or, more exactly, 25,868 years), which produces the phenomenon designated in astronomy “the precession of the equinoxes” (Chap. V, n° 11).52

This movement, which it would be impossible to explain in a few words without figures and without a geometrical demonstration, is described by a waved curve very nearly circular, which has been compared to the movement of a dying spinning-top, in consequence of which the axis of the Earth, changing in inclination, described a double cone, of which the summit is at the center of the Earth, and the bases embrace the surface circumscribed by the polar circles; that is to say, an amplitude of twenty-three and a half degrees of radius.

7. The equinox is the time when the sun enters the equinoctial points, - viz., March 21 and Sept. 22; the former being called the vernal or spring equinox, and the latter the autumnal: therefore the sun is exactly on the equator twice a year.

But, in consequence of the gradual change in the obliquity of the axis, the obliquity of the ecliptic is brought about. The time of the equinox is found each year to have advanced a few minutes (twenty-five minutes seven seconds). It is this advance which is called the precession of the equinoxes from the Latin proecedere, to march before,” derived from proe, signifying “before,” and cedere, signifying “to go away.”

These few minutes, after a long time, make years. The result is that the equinox of the springtime, which now arrives in March, will arrive in a given time in February, then in January, then in December; and then the month of December will have the temperature of March, and March that of June, and so on in succession, until, returning to the month of March, it will be found as at present, which will be 25,868 years from now. Then it will recommence the same revolution indefinitely. *

* The procession of the equinoxes leads to another change, that which has been brought to pass in the signs of the Zodiac. The earth going around the sun in a year, according as it advances, the sun finds itself every month opposite a new constellation; these are twelve in number; viz., Taurus, Aries, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Libra, Virgo, Leo, Cancer, Gemini. These are the signs of the Zodiac they form a circle in the plan of the terrestrial equator. According to the month of the birth of an individual, they say that he was born under such a sign: whence the prognostications of astrology. But, in consequence of the precession of the equinoxes, it happens that the months do not correspond to constellations as they did two thousand years ago. For instance, a person born in July is not now born in the sign Leo, but in that of cancer: thus falls the superstition attaching to signs (chap. V, n° 12).

8. It results from this conical movement of the axis that the poles of the Earth do not constantly regard the same points in the heavens; that the polar star is not always the same; that the poles are gradually more or less inclined toward the sun, and receive from it more or less direct rays. Whence it follows that Iceland and Lapland, for example, which are under the polar circle, will, in a given time, be able to receive the solar rays as though they were in the latitude of Spain or Italy; and that, in the extreme opposite position, Spain and Italy will have the temperature of Iceland and Lapland; so in succession at every renewed period of 25,000 years. *

* The gradual displacement of the isothermal lines, a phenomenon recognized by science in such a positive way as the displacement of the sea, is a material fact that supports this theory.

9. The consequences of this movement have not yet been determined upon with precision, because only a very small part of its revolution has been observed. We have only then to offer a few presumptions, some of which are, however, highly probable.

The consequence of this are:

1st- The heat and the cold alternating at the poles, and consequently the fusion of polar ice during half of the period of 25,000 years, and their new formation during another similar period; whence it must result that the poles are not destined to abide in everlasting sterility, but will enjoy in their turn the blessing of fertility.

2nd- The gradual displacement of the sea, which encroaches little by little upon the land, whilst it leaves bare other lands in order to abandon them again, and lie upon its former bed. This periodical movement indefinitely renewed would cover the whole Earth with water once every 25,000 years.

The slowness with which the seas thus operate renders it almost imperceptible to each generation; but after a few centuries it is very marked. It can cause no sudden inundation, because men retreat from it from age to age by measure as the sea advances, and they advance upon that land from which the sea retreats. It is to this cause that some wise men attribute the retreat of the sea upon certain shores, and its invasion upon others.

10. The slow, gradual, and periodical displacement of the sea is a fact proved by experience, attested by numerous examples at all points of the globe. In this manner it keeps in repair the productive forces of the Earth. This long immersion is a time of repose, during which the submerged Earth recuperates the vital principals exhausted by a no shorter period of production. The immense deposits of organic matter brought by the waters from age to age are natural composts periodically renewed; and generations succeed generations without perceiving these changes. *

* Among the most recent facts proving the displacement of the sea, one can cite the following: In the Gulf of Gascogne, between the old Souillac and the tower of Cordova, when the sea is calm, one discovers in the water’s depths pieces of wall. These are the remains of the great and ancient city of Noviomagus, invaded by the water A.D. 580. The rock of Cordova, which then joined the shore, is now twelve kilometers from it. By La Manche, upon the Havre side, the sea gains every day upon the earth, and undermines the cliffs of St. Andres, which are gradually crumbling. Two kilometers from the shore, between St. Andres and Cape Hague, exists the bank of L’Eclat, in olden time dry ground and united to terra firma. Ancient documents state that upon this ground where one can sail upon the water today was the village of St. Denis-chef-de-Caux. The sea having invaded the land during the fourteenth century, the church was engulfed in 1378. It is pretended that in a calm tide the remains of it can be seen in the waters. Upon nearly the whole extent of the coast of Holland the sea has been restrained only by dikes, which give way from time to time. The ancient Lake Fleno, united with the sea in 1255, forms today the Gulf of Zuyder-Zee. This eruption of the ocean submerged many villages. Judging from this, Paris and, indeed, all of France, will some day be again occupied by the sea, as it has already been many times, as geological observations prove. The mountainous regions will then form islands like Jersey, Guernsey, and England, formerly contiguous to the continent. The countries now traversed by railroads will then be sailed over. Ships will stop at Montmartre, at Mount Valerian, on the shore of St. Cloud and Meudon. The woods and forests through which we now promenade will be buried under water, covered again with earth, and inhabited by fish instead of birds. The biblical deluge cannot have been caused in this way, since the invasion of the waters was sudden and their sojourn short; otherwise, it would have lasted many thousand years, would still exist without men knowing of its occurrence.

Future Cataclysms

11. The great commotions of the Earth have taken place when the crust, by reason of its thinness, offered only a feeble resistance to the effervescence of the incandescent substances in the interior. They diminished in intensity and generality as the crust consolidated. Numerous volcanoes are now extinguished; others have been recovered with rocks of a posterior formation.

There will still be local perturbations, in consequence of volcanic eruptions; also new volcanoes will open with the sudden inundations of certain countries. Some islands will spring out of the sea, and others will be engulfed by it; but the time of the general inundations, like those which have marked great geological periods is past. The Earth, henceforth, will take a position which, without being absolutely unchangeable, place human beings in shelter from general perturbation unless by unknown causes, strange to our globe, something should happen which cannot be foreseen.

12. As to comets, it has been decided that their influence is salutary, rather than hurtful; that they appear destined to refurnish with provisions (if such an expression be allowable) worlds by carrying to them the vital principles which they have accreted during their journey through space in the neighborhood of suns. They would thus be sources of prosperity, rather than messengers of evil.

On account of their gaseous nature, which is now well understood (chap. VI, from item n° 28 on), a violent shock is not to be feared from them; for, in case they should collide with the Earth, the latter would pass through the comet as through a fog.

Their tails are not formidable, as they are formed only by the reflection of the solar light in the immense atmosphere surrounding them, and are constantly directed from the side opposed to the sun, and change their direction according to the sun’s position. This gaseous matter would thus be able, in consequence of the rapidity of the comet’s movement, to form a sort of coma like the foamy track which follow a ship, or the smoke of a locomotive. Besides, many comets have already approached the Earth without causing any damage; and, by reason of their respective density, the Earth will exercise a greater attraction upon the comet than the comet upon the Earth. The remains of an old prejudice can alone inspire fear of their presence. *

* The comet of 1861 has traversed the same route as the earth twenty hours before the latter, without any accident resulting there from.

13. It is necessary to banish from chimerical hypothesis the possibility of the encounter of the Earth with another planet. The regularity and unchangeableness of the laws which preside over the movements of celestial bodies take away all probability of a collision between them.

The Earth, however will have an end; but how? This is something upon which it is impossible to decide; but, as it is far from the perfection to which it will attain, and from the decay which will be a sign of its decline, its present inhabitants may well be assured that it will not be in their time (chap. VI, from item n° 48 on).

14. Physically the Earth has had convulsions from its infancy. It has, however, entered upon a career of relative stability, of peaceable progress, which is accomplished by the regular return of the same physical phenomena, and the intelligent concurrence of man. But it is yet quite in the infancy of its work of moral progress: there will be the cause of its greatest commotions. Until humanity be sufficiently advanced toward perfection by intelligence and the practice of the divine laws, greater perturbations will be caused by man rather than by nature; that is to say, there will occur social and moral, rather than physical changes.

Increase or Diminution of the Volume of the Earth

15. Does the volume of Earth increase, decrease or remain the same?

To uphold the notion of the Earth’s increase in volume, some people maintain that plants give to the soil more than they extract from it. This is both true and false. Plants nourish themselves just as much - even more in fact — from the gaseous substances they draw from the atmosphere, than they do from the absorption of their roots. Being that the atmosphere is an integral part of the globe; the gases it is comprised of come from the decomposition of solid bodies; and these solid bodies, upon their recomposition take back that which they had previously given out. It is an exchange or, better still, a perpetual transformation. In fact, the increase of animal and vegetal life is accomplished with the aid of constituent elements of the globe, that is, with their remains. Note that despite their considerable amount these remains do not add a single atom to the mass. If the solid part of the globe increased permanently as a result of this fact, it would have to entail a proportional decrease of the atmosphere. Such an occurrence would render the atmosphere unsuitable for the sustenance of life - if it did not recover, through decomposition of solid bodies that which it lost for their composition.

At the origin of the Earth the first geologic layers were formed by solid matter - momentarily volatilized by the effects of high temperature - condensed later on by the cooling of temperature, and then precipitated. Undeniably this caused the Earth’s surface to increase slightly, though this did not add to the total mass of the globe, as this occurrence was simply a displacement of matter. When the atmosphere attained its normal state, by purging itself of the strange elements it contained within, things took their natural path. Today, a minor modification in the atmosphere’s constitution would forcibly bring about the destruction of its current inhabitants. Though new races would probably be formed, under these other conditions.

Considering it from this viewpoint, the mass of the globe — which is the sum of the molecules that comprise the set of its solid parts, liquid and gaseous — has been unquestionably the same since its origin. If the globe experienced an expansion or contraction, its volume would increase or decrease without the mass, having to undergo any alteration. Therefore, if the Earth increased its mass, it would have to be the result of a foreign cause, as it could not extract from itself the necessary elements for such an increase.

There is an opinion saying that the globe could increase its mass and volume by the influx of cosmic interplanetary matter. This idea is not irrational, but it is too hypothetical to be accepted as a principle. It is no more than a hypothesis opposing another contrary hypothesis, about which science has not yet defined itself in either way. On this subject, we present herewith the opinion of the eminent Spirit who dictated the wise uranographic studies transcribed in chapter VI:
“Worlds wear out because of their old age and tend to dissolve in order to serve as constituent elements for the formation of other universes. Little by little they give back to the universal cosmic fluid that which they took for their formation. Additionally, all bodies wear out by attrition; the rapid and incessant movement of the globe, through the cosmic fluid, results in the constant decrease of its mass, though in quantities imperceptible to us at any given period of time. *

The existence of the worlds, as I see, can be divided into three periods: First period: condensation of matter; at this period the volume of the globe decreases considerably, though its mass remains the same. This is the infancy period. Second Period: contraction and solidification of the crust; eclosion of germs and development of life up to the appearance of the most perfectible type. At this moment the globe has all its plenitude, this is the virility epoch; it loses, though very little, its constituent elements. Third period: as its inhabitants progress spiritually, the globe enters its period of material decrease; it suffers losses, not only as a result of attrition, but also by the dispersion of its molecules, similarly to a rock that, worn out by the passage of time, is reduced to dust. In its double movement of rotation and the orbiting of the sun, the globe gives back to space fluidic parcels of its substance, until the moment of its complete dissolution.

Then, as the power of attraction is directly related to its mass, and not to volume, upon the reduction of the globe’s mass, its conditions of equilibrium in space are modified. Dominated by more powerful planets, to which it cannot counterbalance, it would experience deviation in its movements, causing thus profound changes in the conditions of life in its surface. Thus: birth, life and death; or, infancy, virility, decrepitude. These are the three phases through which all agglomeration of organic or inorganic matter goes through. Only the Spirit, which is not matter, is indestructible.” (Galileo, Société de Paris, 1868)

* In its orbital movement around the Sun, the velocity of the Earth is 400 leagues per minute. Being that its circumference is 9,000 leagues, in its movement of rotation around its axis, each point of the equator traverses 9,000 leagues in 24 hours, or 6.3 leagues per minute.

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