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The two beliefs can not be held together in the same mind; and he
who thinks that he believes both, has thought but little of either.

Though the belief of a plurality of worlds was familiar to the
ancients, it is only within the last three centuries that the extent and
dimensions of this globe that we inhabit have been ascertained. Several
vessels, following the tract of the ocean, have sailed entirely round
the world, as a man may march in a circle, and come round by the
contrary side of the circle to the spot he set out from. The circular
dimensions of our world, in the widest part, as a man would measure the
widest round of an apple, or a ball, is only twenty-five thousand and
twenty English miles, reckoning sixty-nine miles and an half to an
equatorial degree, and may be sailed round in the space of about three
years. [NOTE by Paine: Allowing a ship to sail, on an average, three
miles in an hour, she would sail entirely round the world in less than
one year, if she could sail in a direct circle, but she is obliged to
follow the course of the ocean.--Author.]

A world of this extent may, at first thought, appear to us to be
great; but if we compare it with the immensity of space in which it is
suspended, like a bubble or a balloon in the air, it is infinitely less
in proportion than the smallest grain of sand is to the size of
the world, or the finest particle of dew to the whole ocean, and is
therefore but small; and, as will be hereafter shown, is only one of a
system of worlds, of which the universal creation is composed.

It is not difficult to gain some faint idea of the immensity of space
in which this and all the other worlds are suspended, if we follow a
progression of ideas. When we think of the size or dimensions of, a
room, our ideas limit themselves to the walls, and there they stop.
But when our eye, or our imagination darts into space, that is, when
it looks upward into what we call the open air, we cannot conceive any
walls or boundaries it can have; and if for the sake of resting our
ideas we suppose a boundary, the question immediately renews itself, and
asks, what is beyond that boundary? and in the same manner, what beyond
the next boundary? and so on till the fatigued imagination returns and
says, there is no end. Certainly, then, the Creator was not pent for
room when he made this world no larger than it is; and we have to seek
the reason in something else.

If we take a survey of our own world, or rather of this, of which the
Creator has given us the use as our portion in the immense system of
creation, we find every part of it, the earth, the waters, and the air
that surround it, filled, and as it were crowded with life, down from
the largest animals that we know of to the smallest insects the naked
eye can behold, and from thence to others still smaller, and totally
invisible without the assistance of the microscope. Every tree, every
plant, every leaf, serves not only as an habitation, but as a world
to some numerous race, till animal existence becomes so exceedingly
refined, that the effluvia of a blade of grass would be food for
thousands.

Since then no part of our earth is left unoccupied, why is it to be
supposed that the immensity of space is a naked void, lying in eternal
waste? There is room for millions of worlds as large or larger than
ours, and each of them millions of miles apart from each other.

Having now arrived at this point, if we carry our ideas only one thought
further, we shall see, perhaps, the true reason, at least a very good
reason for our happiness, why the Creator, instead of making one immense
world, extending over an immense quantity of space, has preferred
dividing that quantity of matter into several distinct and separate
worlds, which we call planets, of which our earth is one. But before I
explain my ideas upon this subject, it is necessary (not for the sake
of those that already know, but for those who do not) to show what the
system of the universe is.



CHAPTER XIV - SYSTEM OF THE UNIVERSE.

THAT part of the universe that is called the solar system (meaning the
system of worlds to which our earth belongs, and of which Sol, or in
English language, the Sun, is the center) consists, besides the Sun, of
six distinct orbs, or planets, or worlds, besides the secondary bodies,
called the satellites, or moons, of which our earth has one that attends
her in her annual revolution round the Sun, in like manner as the
other satellites or moons, attend the planets or worlds to which they
severally belong, as may be seen by the assistance of the telescope.

The Sun is the center round which those six worlds or planets revolve at
different distances therefrom, and in circles concentric to each other.
Each world keeps constantly in nearly the same tract round the Sun, and
continues at the same time turning round itself, in nearly an upright
position, as a top turns round itself when it is spinning on the ground,
and leans a little sideways.

It is this leaning of the earth (23 1/2 degrees) that occasions summer
and winter, and the different length of days and nights. If the earth
turned round itself in a position perpendicular to the plane or level
of the circle it moves in round the Sun, as a top turns round when it
stands erect on the ground, the days and nights would be always of the
same length, twelve hours day and twelve hours night, and the season
would be uniformly the same throughout the year.

Every time that a planet (our earth for example) turns round itself, it
makes what we call day and night; and every time it goes entirely round
the Sun, it makes what we call a year, consequently our world turns
three hundred and sixty-five times round itself, in going once round the
Sun.

The names that the ancients gave to those six worlds, and which are
still called by the same names, are Mercury, Venus, this world that we
call ours, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They appear larger to the eye than
the stars, being many million miles nearer to our earth than any of the
stars are. The planet Venus is that which is called the evening star,
and sometimes the morning star, as she happens to set after, or rise
before the Sun, which in either case is never more than three hours.

The Sun as before said being the center, the planet or world nearest the
Sun is Mercury; his distance from the Sun is thirty-four million miles,
and he moves round in a circle always at that distance from the Sun, as
a top may be supposed to spin round in the tract in which a horse goes
in a mill. The second world is Venus; she is fifty-seven million miles
distant from the Sun, and consequently moves round in a circle much
greater than that of Mercury. The third world is this that we inhabit,
and which is eighty-eight million miles distant from the Sun, and
consequently moves round in a circle greater than that of Venus. The
fourth world is Mars; he is distant from the sun one hundred and
thirty-four million miles, and consequently moves round in a circle
greater than that of our earth. The fifth is Jupiter; he is distant from
the Sun five hundred and fifty-seven million miles, and consequently
moves round in a circle greater than that of Mars. The sixth world is
Saturn; he is distant from the Sun seven hundred and sixty-three million
miles, and consequently moves round in a circle that surrounds the
circles or orbits of all the other worlds or planets.

The space, therefore, in the air, or in the immensity of space, that
our solar system takes up for the several worlds to perform their
revolutions in round the Sun, is of the extent in a strait line of the
whole diameter of the orbit or circle in which Saturn moves round the
Sun, which being double his distance from the Sun, is fifteen hundred
and twenty-six million miles; and its circular extent is nearly five
thousand million; and its globical content is almost three thousand five
hundred million times three thousand five hundred million square miles.
[NOTE by Paine: If it should be asked, how can man know these things? I
have one plain answer to give, which is, that man knows how to calculate
an eclipse, and also how to calculate to a minute of time when the
planet Venus, in making her revolutions round the Sun, will come in a
strait line between our earth and the Sun, and will appear to us about
the size of a large pea passing across the face of the Sun. This happens
but twice in about a hundred years, at the distance of about eight years
from each other, and has happened twice in our time, both of which were
foreknown by calculation. It can also be known when they will happen
again for a thousand years to come, or to any other portion of time.
As therefore, man could not be able to do these things if he did not
understand the solar system, and the manner in which the revolutions of
the several planets or worlds are performed, the fact of calculating an
eclipse, or a transit of Venus, is a proof in point that the knowledge
exists; and as to a few thousand, or even a few million miles, more
or less, it makes scarcely any sensible difference in such immense
distances.--Author.]

But this, immense as it is, is only one system of worlds. Beyond this,
at a vast distance into space, far beyond all power of calculation, are
the stars called the fixed stars. They are called fixed, because they
have no revolutionary motion, as the six worlds or planets have that
I have been describing. Those fixed stars continue always at the same
distance from each other, and always in the same place, as the Sun does
in the center of our system. The probability, therefore, is that each of
those fixed stars is also a Sun, round which another system of worlds or
planets, though too remote for us to discover, performs its revolutions,
as our system of worlds does round our central Sun. By this easy
progression of ideas, the immensity of space will appear to us to be
filled with systems of worlds; and that no part of space lies at
waste, any more than any part of our globe of earth and water is left
unoccupied.

Having thus endeavoured to convey, in a familiar and easy manner, some
idea of the structure of the universe, I return to explain what I before
alluded to, namely, the great benefits arising to man in consequence of
the Creator having made a Plurality of worlds, such as our system is,
consisting of a central Sun and six worlds, besides satellites, in
preference to that of creating one world only of a vast extent.



CHAPTER XV - ADVANTAGES OF THE EXISTENCE OF MANY WORLDS IN EACH SOLAR
SYSTEM.

IT is an idea I have never lost sight of, that all our knowledge of
science is derived from the revolutions (exhibited to our eye and from
thence to our understanding) which those several planets or worlds of
which our system is composed make in their circuit round the Sun.

Had then the quantity of matter which these six worlds contain been
blended into one solitary globe, the consequence to us would have
been, that either no revolutionary motion would have existed, or not a
sufficiency of it to give us the ideas and the knowledge of science we
now have; and it is from the sciences that all the mechanical arts that
contribute so much to our earthly felicity and comfort are derived.

As therefore the Creator made nothing in vain, so also must it be
believed that he organized the structure of the universe in the most
advantageous manner for the benefit of man; and as we see, and from
experience feel, the benefits we derive from the structure of the
universe, formed as it is, which benefits we should not have had the
opportunity of enjoying if the structure, so far as relates to our
system, had been a solitary globe, we can discover at least one reason
why a plurality of worlds has been made, and that reason calls forth the
devotional gratitude of man, as well as his admiration.

But it is not to us, the inhabitants of this globe, only, that the
benefits arising from a plurality of worlds are limited.



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