Jeans, Sir James - The Mysterious Universe - The Principle of Cause and Effect
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Sir James Jeans – The Mysterious Universe
Primitive man must have found nature singularly puzzling and intricate. The simplest phenomena could be trusted to recur indefinitely; an unsupported body invariably fell, a stone thrown into water sank while apiece of wood floated.
Yet other more complicated phenomena showed no such uniformity – the lightning struck one tree in the grove while its neighbour of similar growth and equal size escaped unharmed; one month the new moon brought forth fair weather, the next month foul.
Confronted with a natural world which was to all appearances as capricious as himself, man’s first impulse was to create Nature in his own image; he attributed the seemingly erratic and unordered course of the universe to the whims and passions of gods, or of malevolent lesser spirits. Only after much study did the great principle of causation emerge. In time it was found to dominate the whole of inanimate nature; a cause which could be completely isolated in its action was found invariably to produce the same effect.
What happened at any instant did not depend on the volitions of extraneous beings, but followed inevitably by inexorable laws from the state of things at the preceding instant. And this state of things had in turn been inevitably determined by an earlier state and so on indefinitely.