"More than machinery, we need humanity."
“Why constantly elevate the edifice of civilization, and heap Pelion on Ossa? Do you still want to climb to the sky, do you not remember the lightning bolts of Jupiter, do you not know that the electricity strikes even more surely when the monument is higher; and besides, do you not feel it cracking under its own weight? Will you never understand that you are only raising your own mausoleum?” – Huzar
Please note: this is the fourth, and final, part of the English translation of La Fin du Monde par la Science, it is advisable to start with Part One.
Translator’s Introduction to “Book Three – The Future”
From the very beginning, Eugene Huzar left little question for his readers as to what awaited civilization in its future. A catastrophic fall is coming, according to Huzar, one brought about by humanity’s scientific hubris as seen in its conquests of the natural world. Through its unquenchable thirst to know the world, humanity would unleash powers it could not truly control, and thereby bring the grand edifice of civilization crashing down upon itself. The more boldly the monuments of civilization rose into the heavens, the more dangerous would be their eventual collapse. To Huzar this was humanity’s inevitable fate, it was the destiny which had been foretold in the myths and religions of the ancients, as he noted in the first line of The End of the World by Science, “what has been, will be, because in our view the past is only the mirror of the future.”
After presenting that core concept, “what has been, will be,” in the book’s introductory sections, Huzar had presented a description of “The Present” out of which the book had been written. That had been France in 1855, and Huzar had given an overview of some of the impressive technical and scientific advances that had recently occurred at that time. Particular emphasis was given by Huzar not only to the innovations themselves, but to the speed with which these discoveries had been disseminated, and he suggested that as scientific knowledge increased so too would accelerate the speed by which this knowledge spread throughout the world – a spread which would in turn lead to further technical and scientific advances. Granted, despite the hopes of some, this acceleration sped humanity not towards utopia, but towards catastrophe. Huzar’s sense of oncoming disaster was influenced less by his opinion of any particular technical or scientific advance than it was by his rather iconoclastic reading of ancient myths and religions. Looking to “The Past,” Huzar had considered the myths and religions of a variety of groups and drawn particular attention to the recurrence of stories of humanity (or a figure presented as a stand-in for humanity) being destroyed for pursuing knowledge that was not its to command. For Huzar, Prometheus, Brahma, and Adam were all cautionary tales left behind by long gone civilizations, desperately trying to warn the civilizations that would come after them not to repeat their mistakes. And as Huzar looked at his world he felt that civilization had failed to learn those lessons, and as a result doom was imminent.
In this, the final section of La Fin du Monde par la Science, titled “The Future,” Huzar rounds out his prophesizing. Somewhat oddly, and perhaps unfortunately, this section does not contain much in the way of speculative thinking. Those turning to this section hoping to see Huzar dream of flying bicycles, locomotives powered by electricity, Internet-esque communications systems, or armies of robot workers – will find nothing of the sort. Similarly, those who enjoy delving into past projections of the future with a scorecard to see how many predictions came to pass, will find little in this section to check off. Indeed, if one wants an idea of some of the specifics that Huzar imagined might be coming, the section to look at is actually “The Present,” for it was in that section that Huzar extrapolated from the trends of his time to make some (altogether modest and decently well-founded) predictions of things to come. Rather, “The Future” sees Huzar expounding further upon mythology and religion to highlight the recurrent character of the destroying snake, a creature which Huzar frames as the cause and effect of humanity’s fall. For Huzar, the serpent is simultaneously humanity being tempted by knowledge (cause), and is also the danger of this unleashed knowledge that consumes humanity (effect). As Huzar bitingly puts it, “the flame that lights our path is also the torch that lights our stake,” or as he asks in frustration as he beholds his compatriots who cannot see the warning signs: “Will you never understand that you are only raising your own mausoleum?”
Huzar began La Fin du Monde par la Science with an admission that he did not expect to be understood by the readers of his time, and in his “final word” Huzar concluded the book with a similar sentiment. To him, civilization was not yet advanced enough to fully make sense of the dangers that he had discovered, it was still too in thrall to the wonders of its technical and scientific advancements to recognize that these triumphs were reasons to shudder not celebrate. Yet Huzar predicted that “Other times will come when man, penetrated with terror at the sight of the wonders that are happening before his eyes, will understand and be afraid.” And so, perhaps, today’s readers are the audience that Huzar anticipated – readers who are seeing a world breaking apart under the pressure of climate change, beginning to fully grasp the enormity of the dangers humanity has unleashed upon itself, and beginning to “understand and be afraid.” For a reader in Huzar’s day, the prediction that humanity’s hubristic embrace of technology and science would eventually destabilize civilization itself might have appeared laughable, but for one who reads Huzar today alongside a deluge of stories about climate change exacerbated disasters it is harder to dismiss his premonitions.
Granted, those who are desperately seeking a way out, or looking for hope, will not find it in Huzar. Alas. His was a cyclical view of history in which civilizations were constantly rising from the ashes of previous civilizations only to collapse due to their own pursuit of science and technology – put differently, in Huzar’s thinking the world of today is not the first time that a civilization with high scientific and technological capabilities has appeared on the face of the planet, nor will it be the last. And though Huzar did not seem to think that humanity could break from this cycle, he clearly felt that the culprit was humanity’s scientific hubris: “The pride of science, this life-long sin of the world, which has been the cause of the fall of man in the past, will also be the cause of his fall in the future.”
Looking to the future Huzar predicted that the ship of civilization would soon come crashing against the reef of fatality, and it was a reef that he felt humanity could not anticipate or avoid.
In other words, brace for impact.
The end of the organic world – Role of the Serpent
We have followed the march of man across time, we have studied it first in the present, and we have witnessed his great discoveries, this immense heap of knowledge, which only an encyclopedist could describe: we have sought above all to make clear all that will one day emerge from the diffusion of enlightenment, that incalculable power, from which will one day spring all the living forces of civilization.
We then studied the march of humanity in the past, and found that the dogma of original sin was the cornerstone of all religions, and we gave a single formula to explain all their symbols and all their myths.
We will now study the march of humanity into the future, and it will still be through the vague, obscure, enigmatic symbols of antiquity, that we will seek to prove this great idea of a universal catastrophe, that all religions have provided for, that all religions have foretold; an immense catastrophe, which must arrive by the fact and fault of man alone.
“Brahmanism tells us of three incarnations, of three epochs. The first, that of Brahma, which lasts a thousand years; then appeared the second incarnation of Shiva, then that of Vishnu; but these various incarnations have each been renewed thousands of times (1).”
From there, we derive this conclusion, that the Hindus believed that the cataclysms had been renewed thousands of times.
“Brahma is the man-god, the natural man, the real man; God fallen, tied to the earth and destined to go through the necessary circle of regenerations.
“So the story of Brahma is the history of the world and its revolutions; it is at the same time the story of man and his fall, and his long mistakes; the whole morality of the Hindus comes to be reflected in him as in a mirror.”
Therefore, the story of Brahma is the story of humanity’s different revolutions through time, and consequently the history of the different catastrophes of the planet.
Out of this we see that the end of the world has come thousands of times before, we will see it announced now in a brilliant way.
(1.) All of our quotes are taken from Creuser and J. Reynaud.
“Vishnu, in his tenth incarnation, will appear mounted on a courier of dazzling whiteness with a resplendent sword equal to a comet, to put an end to the crimes of the earth: some say that he himself will be the courier, having a foot raised for vengeance; as soon as he dwells on the globe, the wicked will be thrown into the abyss and the earth will be turned to powder. We still see him with the human form and a horse’s head, armed with a sword and a shield. It is the alliance of Vishnu and Shiva; and when Kali comes, the destroyer, a wind of fire, or according to others the snake Sécha vomiting torrents of flames, will consume all worlds and destroy all creatures. But, it is added, in the midst of this general embrace, the seeds of things will be collected in the Lotus; then a new creation will begin again, so a new age of purity will open. Nothing can be absolutely destroyed, the substance remains in the perpetual variations of forms.”
Where can we see a more striking description of the end of the world and its
different palingenesis? We will find it everywhere the same in all antiquity.
“The Stoics also believed in the destruction of the world by fire, there is
an astonishing analogy between the ideas of this school and the belief of the Shivaists on the final consumption of things.”
All of philosophical and religious antiquity, therefore, believed in the destruction of the organic world by fire, that we should not forget.
“After Brahma and Vishnu, there remains only Shiva, like a flame dancing on the world reduced to cinders.
“Since the world and men are advancing in the career of time, they are moving away from their principle; they degenerate into the empire of death and sin; the forms are developing, the creation is expanding, growing and improving in appearance: vain illusion! The evil also grows and unfolds, the world is constantly moving towards ruin; life is exhausted, substance fades little by little; then incarnations alone follow constant progressions of beauty and grandeur. Vishnu is the mediator who devotes himself to the salvation of creatures and continually repels the attacks through which a destructive cause incessantly undermines the universe.”
We completely reject the explanation given by this author on the end of things, when we say: “life is exhausted, substance fails.”
No, life is not exhausted; no, the substance does not fail: on the contrary, human life exalts its powers and solicits all the energies of nature until it bursts, similar to a man who overloads an electric battery which makes it fly in splinters.
“The Egyptians in their mythology recognized periods or cycles of 1400 years and even more considerable that were to be ended by general revolutions in nature every 3000 years, according to tradition, at the vernal equinox, when drought exerts its empire. When we wait for the horn of salvation and dance, instead of the flooding of the Nile a flood of fire occurs, the whole world is the prey of the flames, and the sacred land of Hermes fades into smoke, then Sirius returns, and with him the preservative flood.”
It should be noted that among the Hindus Vishnu is the principle of water and Shiva the principle of fire, as in Egypt Typhon is fire and Sirius is water. The great role of Sirius and Vishnu is to extinguish the fire lit by Shiva and Typhon. The end of the world comes by fire, that is to say by Shiva and Typhon who consume everything: then the deluge, represented by Vishnu and Sirius, comes to extinguish the fire, and a new creation comes from the bosom of the waves that carries it in germ. So the ancients worshiped Vishnu and Sirius, or the liquid element, as symbols of regeneration, and they considered Shiva and Typhon, or fire, as the destroyers of the world.
“In Egypt, Hermes or Sirius is still the spirit of the spirits, it is he who leads and brings back souls from all spheres and attends the end and the beginning of the great career of the world and times, this fatal career is nothing other than the great period of three millennia after which all things are returned to their first place and are renewed.
“The transmigration of souls, an immense idea, is represented by the labyrinth with three thousand chambers, one thousand five hundred above and one thousand five hundred below the earth; it is the symbolic palace intended to represent this great cycle of three thousand years that man has to go through until the renewal of the universe.
“The Manwantaras are infinite, the destructions and the creations are innumerable; the supreme being produces and reproduces the worlds as if in play.
“Vishnu, is the water that keeps, Shiva is the fire that destroys; after the flood, nature is reborn. After the fire, the world remains millions of years without creatures.
“Brahma, who is sometimes God, sometimes the mystic man, the prototype of man, is an allegory of time, with its periods of destruction and renewal, embracing at once the history of man and of the world; from this series of Brahma, which dies and revives in turn, and their heads suspended or glued to the neck of Shiva and Kali: true mythological enigmas, which the philosopher, the historian, the astronomer, must explain in concert.” (Creuzer)
It is amazing that the author, whom we quote, asks for the explanation of this enigma. If Brahma is the man in time, if it is also the history of the world and its renewals, it is natural that Kali and Shiva, these devouring fires, these destroyers of worlds carry as trophies around their necks the heads of the various incarnations of Brahma, since they are constantly consuming them. To not understand this riddle and to give it another guess by astronomers, historians and philosophers, he must have completely forgotten the opinion of antiquity, as we see it reproduced in the different symbolic figures of the serpent burning the worlds. If he had attributed to the serpent the role attributed to him by all antiquity, he would understand Shiva and Kali as we do, whose attribute is the serpent, symbol of destruction, are represented with the necklace of the worlds that they have set with the Brahma heads that they destroyed
“Bhavani Dourga is the cosmic Lyoni of Mount Merou, the grandmother and the matrix of beings; it is Bhavani who in the general upheaval of the universe collects in herself the seeds of things.
“In Boeotia as in Libya we find on the shores of Lake Copaüs memories of the catastrophes of a primitive world.”
Are not the volcanoes that are extinguished today the last glances of a world that is no more?
“There are four ages, M. Reynaud tells us, in the history of the earth: the age of
fire, the age of the ocean, of the continents, of man.”
He should have added: and these four ages are renewed across infinity. The Egyptians
understood this so well that they worshiped the Phoenix; from the ashes of the old Phoenix who burned himself, the new one was born.
Moreover, why have these four ages not already taken place an infinite number of times? Who can prove to us that before the last burning of the globe man had not already existed for thousands of years, then disappeared in this universal vitrification, then reappeared nowadays when the planet has cooled down and the vapors have been liquefied and condensed? This opinion is all the more true, since it in no way contradicts science, and is entirely confirmed by the doctrines of the Hindus and the Egyptians.
“Menou declares to Brahma himself that the human race runs eternally in a circle divided into four ages; the periods of the Menous are innumerable as well as the creations and the destructions of the world, and the supreme being renews them as in playing.”
“The pre-historic age represents the childhood of humanity; antiquity, his adolescence; the Middle Ages, his youth; the age in which we are, its maturity. But if, from his cradle, man climbs the ascending degrees to middle age, from there the degrees descend in the opposite direction, he descends again by old age and decrepitude to the grave.”
We do not share this opinion, we even reject it with all our strength; the march of humanity through time cannot be compared to a double scale where man, after having successively ascended the degrees of a side, would then be obliged to descend the opposite degrees.
We do not recognize limits to human genius, and we believe, like the encyclopedist Condorcet, that human perfectibility is really indefinite. Therefore, we do not admit this second period of old age and decrepitude; but we believe that man, arriving at the last stages of civilization, will disappear fatally and all of a sudden, under the ruins of the very civilization he has wanted to raise too high.
Is this not the necessary explanation of the Tower of Babel? That man wanted to raise proudly to heaven? What do you think?
We see it, then, how all pagan antiquity tells in this dramatic way that world will end; there would be voices to make these irresistible arguments found in the theogonies of all peoples. But here as for original sin, we will know to stop within certain limits, for fear of tiring the reader.
The Bible also tells it in a splendid manner.
Angels will sound the trumpets at the end of the world. Matt. 24, 31. Cor. 15, 52.
The Apocalypse describes it in a striking manner.
The temptations and the seductions of the evil genius will be redoubled at the last times.
Notice well these words from the Bible (the universal judgment will first fall on the great enemy): the tempter of the first man who accompanies him in time and disappears with him at the end of the world.
This solidarity, this identity, this parallelism of the man and the serpent that is born with him, lives and dies with him, proves that the serpent, or Satan, is only the personification of pride in man, who takes him in the cradle and accompanies him until death.
Scripture gives us a glimpse of the time when the angels, gifted like us with free will, shared between obedience and rebellion where they fell voluntarily.
We can conclude from this that the man will also fall voluntarily (1), and that he will be the cause of the great catastrophe.
(1) That is to say, by his own fault.
Immediately after the fall, the great sentence of Satan and his companions was pronounced; it is under the eternal bonds of this judgment, bonds of darkness, says the Scripture, that they have been kept since then for the coming judgment of the great day.
The universal judgment will first fall on the great enemy, then Satan will disappear forever with our earth and our heavens, to make room for the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. XXII).
We have just witnessed this great prophecy of the end of the world which all antiquity tells us of so strikingly, we have witnessed the end times announced by the Bible; it would be easy for us to extend our quotes to infinity; we leave this care to the reader. Whether he takes the first book from cosmogony or theogony, he will find an immense harvest to make, which will enable him to satisfy his curiosity completely. But let it be noted, in all religions, the serpent, symbol of cunning, seduction, temptation, is the great actor of this dreadful drama, it is at once the cause and the effect.
The End of the World by the Serpent
We will try to make you understand, by some quotations, the role which all antiquity assigned to the serpent in the end of things.
And, perhaps, you will understand that the serpent is only the personification of the pride and exaltation of the human power, which are the eternal causes of the fall of man.
It is the cause and effect, when the Bible says the final judgment will fall first on the great enemy of man) on the one who exalted his pride by saying: Eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge, you will be as God, knowing good and evil, that is to say the truth; on this enemy due to whose seduction one day all was lost, and who has since been constantly working to seduce him, until the day when he will cause him to definitively lose, when the last times have come.
It is cause and effect when, as the Vedas say, Shiva, at the fall of the worlds, sits alone on the dragon who devoured them; for it is the soul that kindles the fire, and the fire that devours: is it not indeed pride that lights the fire?
It is cause and effect when India tells us: when Kali comes, the destroyer, a wind of fire, or according to others the serpent Secha, vomiting torrents of flame, will consume all the worlds and destroy all creatures.
It is cause and effect, when Shiva remains alone at the end of time, like a flame dancing on the world reduced to ashes, and we know that Shiva is nothing else than Kali and Sèche, those devouring serpents.
We see, then, that everywhere the serpent found at the beginning of the theogonies reappears at the end of time; it is always the principle of evil, the cause of the fall of creation, and the soul that consumes it.
There is not one of the cosmogonic scenes of the religions of antiquity, in which we do not find the idea of the serpent linked to that of the end of the world.
We see the god Shiva, figure 30 of the cosmogonic scenes of Creuzer, seated on the great three-headed serpent, which is the symbol of destruction, of temptation, the eternal cause of order and chaos that manifests itself in time.
In one of the same cosmogonic scenes of Creuzer we see two serpents arranged in a circle devouring a man and who seem to express their fatal power over his past and his future; for while one devours his head, the other devours his lower limbs. This horribly striking figure is painful to see, it shows us in an irrefutable way the role that the ancients assigned to the serpent, which according to them must cause man to lose in the future as it has already caused him to lose in the past. The horrible thing about this scene is that man can no longer fight, he is devoured without being able to defend himself.
We still see a scene representing two serpents embracing Saturn or the
times in their terrible rings, affecting a sinuous form, but nevertheless circumscribing the circle of the infinite; it is for us the frightful image that antiquity made of the triumph of evil
in time, because Saturn is completely enveloped by the snake.
The serpent is also the symbol of science, of genius, of invention, and so is represented in the midst of the harvest; but his presence, which is the emblem of wisdom and science is only a question of time, and this science and wisdom end with Secha, that serpent that sets the worlds ablaze.
Another significant figure represents the serpent Secha with seven heads, vomiting flames that will consume all things at the end of the fourth age; at the head of each snake is suspended a world that burns (1).
Figure 115 is striking, we see the worlds supported by the turtle, a symbol of strength and conservative power, resting itself on the great serpent, emblem of eternity that envelops all worlds in its fatal circle
It is therefore evidently seen that all antiquity attached to the serpent a fatal and terrible role: it is the preface and the conclusion, the alpha and the omega of all religions, of all theogonies. He will thus eternally surround in his sinuous folds the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and he will present in all eternity the fruits so sweet and so fatal to man. The spiral that his body describes around the old trunk of the tree of knowledge, is it not the symbol of knowledge itself, rising by a slope always ascending to the fruit to which the man constantly tends a reckless hand? The day when he will have gathered it, the last times will come, for on that day the man, the new Samson, will have felt his strength come back to him, he will understand the fullness of his power; then, strong as God himself, he will shake the pillars of the eternal order and disappear under the ruins of the world.
Our task has been achieved, we will summarize.
We first showed man in the present time, arriving at civilization and progressing indefinitely; we have not been able to develop the sum of all his acquired knowledge, as we would have liked. It is the work of an encyclopedist, we are only ignorant; but we have seen some of its immense progress achieved in a century only, and we have deduced with Michelet, Reynaud, Pascal, Condorcet: that the progress of the human mind was indefinite, and that no term could be attached to the perfection of the human faculties.
To those who ask us: What is the present? we will answer: The present is at once cause and effect, for it is at once light and darkness; it is darkness by the original sin and the fall of the man, it is light by the future. We are indeed between two catastrophes, between two fires, one that has just come to a standstill, the other that starts to light up.
We then sought to explain original sin, this enigma posited by all religions and found at the threshold of all the theogonies of antiquity, and through all the thick veils of the past we have always seen the same idea transpire, to know:
That the pride of science, this old sin of the world, which was the cause of the fall of man in the past, will still be the cause of the fall of man in the future.
Try to give another theory that better explains better all the myths and symbols, all the mysteries of ancient religions; which gives man his true place in the present and better determines the future of the world inscribed in all the religions of antiquity: we challenge you.
Knowing, then, the worth of man in the present and the past, we have sought to identify the future, and we have found that the last times were predicted in the Bible, in the Vedas, and in all the religions of antiquity; we have seen that this end of things was everywhere personified by the myth of the tempting serpent, as cause and effect, for it is the flame that lights the fire and it is the burning fire; it is the seduction, temptation and pride of science and power; it is Shiva who, at the end of the world, sits on the dragon that devours it; it is Secha vomiting torrents of flames and consuming the worlds, for we see in the cosmogonic scenes two serpents in a circle, one of which devours the head, the other the lower limbs of humanity: this is the terrible role assigned to the serpent by the whole of antiquity regarding the past and the future of man.
Let no one therefore come to tell us that antiquity believed the world would be destroyed by a comet; we will then ask why we see in all these cosmic scenes, in all these ancient legends, the serpent as the principle of all evil, of all destruction
If we wanted to remember the role that he has been assigned by all antiquity, we would see that everywhere, as in the Bible, he is the tempter, seducer, and ultimately destroyer; he is a person and not a thing: by doing evil he knows that he does it and why he does it; while, on the contrary, the comet that destroys obeys a fatal law, it destroys without knowing why it destroys; burns because it burns; it does not tempt, it does not seduce, it is not a person, it is only a fatal force. So, giving the serpent as the cause of the fall of man, and the cause of his disappearance in the future, antiquity wanted to teach us that the great catastrophe would be brought by a seeing, acting and thinking creature. Prometheus, seizing fire from heaven, is he a blind force? No! He is a moral cause.
The pre-established harmony can only be disturbed by a responsible person enjoying the unlimited exercise of his freedom. Only this unlimited freedom of man will one day be the cause of his loss; for, so that he could safely enjoy the forces of nature, he would have to assume that he knew them completely, and besides, even though he would know them completely, he would not know all the relations that stand between them and which are the sources of all harmonies and all fatalities. So he will come one day to misunderstand the energetic relations of nature, and all will be lost. The unlimited freedom that God has given us, serves us all at the same time, and the flame that lights our path is also the torch that lights our stake.
Oh man! What are you then, and why pride yourself on your knowledge, when fatality, that sword ceaselessly hanging over your head, threatens to fall on you with every imprudent movement you make?
Why constantly elevate the edifice of civilization, and heap Pelion on Ossa? Do you still want to climb to the sky, do you not remember the lightning bolts of Jupiter, do you not know that the electricity strikes even more surely when the monument is higher; and besides, do you not feel it cracking under its own weight? Will you never understand that you are only raising your own mausoleum?
The man responds with a sigh: It is my destiny.
This is Sisyphus’s word rolling his eternal rock.
This is the word of the Danaides filling their eternal barrel.
It is the one of Ixion.
It is, in a word, the great sigh of all antiquity: it will also be the last word of the future.
Civilization inevitably runs to its end with a blindfold over its eyes
In fact, at any height that civilization may one day reach, the ignorance of the relations of forces will always be the entry through which fatality will penetrate: it will be the defect of the cuirass by which humanity one day shall receive its mortal wound.
Let’s give some examples.
Ignorance of the atmospheric laws and their relations with the organic world, has this not made us deforest the mountains, and did not Fourier predict that deforestation would bring floods, and torrential rains? And if you pretend that oidium, this disease of the vine, that the disease of potatoes come from too much moisture, should this not be attributed to deforestation, this work of ignorance of a learned civilization? Whatever may be the value of this theory of plant disease, it is none the less true that on this day it is necessary to reforest the mountains which were deforested yesterday.
So civilization always goes forward, like a crow that tears down nuts.
Is it not she who, by breaking up the property, must, according to Fourier, sterilize the earth?
But, you will say, we have learned at our cost that deforestation was the cause of floods, so let us reforest them ourselves: from something bad comes something good.
Is the fragmentation of property considered to be contrary to agriculture? We are restoring large property by the associations. If it will only be that, our experience will have at least served us something.
Is not experience the very condition of progress?
Sad answer! That is to say that after each disaster you have caused you will always hope to find the cure, and that your experience will serve you later. And who says to you that one day the disaster, the disaster towards which your civilization inevitably leads, will not be such that there will be no cure?
See this immense ocean of seas that surround our globe, with its phosphorescent fires with its oily and greasy layers, with its elements so combustible, so unmeasurable that the volcanoes are incessantly lighting up, and that they are extinguished, for want of food, only when the sea has abandoned them.
See, on the other hand, this chemical, potassium, burn in water; a veritable Greek fire, which will open the road to a hundred other discoveries more inescapable still.
And finally understand how one day or another this fire can ignite the world.
Among the innumerable titanic conceptions that have emerged from the brains of socialist philosophers, and which must be realized one day, we will quote only one which will serve as a model of all the others (1). It necessarily assumes that the collection of wills and forces by the association, this dream that will come true one day.
(1) See in my book, The Tree of Science, all the developments and proofs I have given in support of this assertion, in the chapter entitled Dangers of a purely experimental science.
We read from M. Reynaud:
“To perfect the conditions of our existence with regard to the rain, considering that there are only the solar rays which have influence on this meteor, we must feel that the movements of the atmosphere are perhaps not so essentially independent. of our industry than those of the stars; it suffices us to make the radiance of the central nucleus of the earth play somehow, in order to arouse in the sun, at least in our atmosphere, a power capable of disturbing it in its absolute domination, and consequently to cause a revolution in the current order of winds and clouds in the world; but we will also be convinced by this same sequence that it is on the condition of being able to handle at will a weapon as prodigious as the planetary heat, that man can ever hope to make himself master of this domain.”
We admit all this with you, Mr. Reynaud, but what dangers before arriving at this atmospheric conquest, and what pride on the part of the man to dare to try!
Is this not wanting to renew the story of Prometheus stealing fire from heaven and being struck by Jupiter’s lightning?
The story of Zagara burned to ashes for having penetrated into the bowels of
the earth and have proudly attacked the divinity?
The story of Adam picking the forbidden fruit, and being thunderstruck for his conquest?
Do we not know that our planet is a globe of fire, whose super-cool outer layer is only an imperceptible film in relation to its three thousand leagues?
I quote to you this theory from M. Reynaud among a thousand others that I find in the socialist authors, these prophets of the future, only for the purpose of making you understand all the fatal consequences which may result from those great experiments which humanity must necessarily attempt, and which, one day or the other, must inevitably change the planetary face.
What do you find, after all, impossible and paradoxical? Do we not see man DESTROYING THE FORESTS, PIERCING THE MOUNTAINS (THE ALPS)—BREAKING THE ISTHMUS AND UPSETTING THE GEOLOGICAL ECONOMY, —and upsetting the geological economy of the globe, —reducing to the state of steam five hundred and fifty million metric quintals of charcoal per year (1)? Should this not give us in small terms the approximate idea of what man’s daring might attempt in a few centuries, when science has placed in the hands of man the forces and energies of nature?
So how can we not cry out with terror: Where are we going? Know it well – ONE DAY THE SHIP OF CIVILIZATION WILL COME CRASHING AGAINST THE REEF OF FATALITY, A REEF SO DEEPLY HIDDEN IN THE FORCES OF NATURE THAT MAN CAN NEITHER SUSPECT NOR AVOID IT. THAT DAY WILL BE THE LAST OF OUR HUMAN CYCLE.
From this entire book, what to remember?
A word, a single formula that explains both the past, the present and the future of humanity:
The pride of science, this life-long sin of the world, which has been the cause of the fall of man in the past, will also be the cause of his fall in the future.
(1) Peligo, professor of chemistry at the conservatory of arts and crafts
A FINAL WORD
You closed this book without understanding it. Did not I tell you that when I started? So, my formula cannot be your formula. Civilization is not advanced enough, we are only at the dawn of things; I tell you again, this book is not written for this century, for you. Other times will come when man, penetrated with terror at the sight of the wonders that are happening before his eyes, will understand and be afraid.
But the day when he will interpret, like us, the myth of original sin, of the tree of knowledge, of the forbidden fruit, of the fall of man:
The last times will come;
The fruit of the tree of science will have been gathered;
The columns of the eternal order will have been shaken;
And our human cycle will at that point disappear, as one day disappeared that of Adam who preceded him.
Because, do not forget it:
The past is only the mirror of the future, the fall of Adam foreshadows our downfall.
WHAT HAS BEEN WILL BE
Translator’s Note: This posting represents the fourth and final part of this, the first English-language translation of La Fin du Monde par la Science. In the months ahead I hope to continue improving the complete translation, strengthen it with explanatory footnotes, and put together a more comprehensive introduction – perhaps that version will wind up being published as an actual book, or it might simply be re-posted on this site. I also intend to begin translating Huzar’s second book, and I intend to post that work as well.
Other Parts of this Translation: