The Theosophical Forum – February 1939


The reference by Professor C. J. Ryan in March 1938 THEOSOPHICAL FORUM to the "heat-death" theory of the old scientists has brought to the mind of the writer that the heat-death theory from the continuous cooling of the earth which would finally render the earth uninhabitable, as enunciated by Lord Kelvin, has finally met its death. Like many others of the materialistic theories of former scientists, in this swift-moving world with the many discoveries of our present age, just as H. P. B. predicted they would be, they show that this Russian genius knew what she was talking about, fifty years ago. This reversal of materialistic concepts was hastened by the discovery of radium by the Polish woman Mme. Curie and by "Isostasy" (equal status), both of which are now recognised as facts by men of science. Isostasy is dependent also on the discovery of the radio-activity of the rocks of the earth. These two fundamentals of the surface of the earth are presented by John Joly, SC. D., F. R. S., Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, in his great book of recent date entitled The Surface History of the Earth, Oxford Clarendon Press, 1930. These elements include the transgression of the seas on the continents and the retrogression of those seas taking place after many millions of years when the rising of the mountain ranges built mainly of the sediments collected in the depths of the former continental waters. In his story of the accumulation of heat from the radio-active rocks and its periodical dissipation, this scientist says our old world "possesses the gift of rejuvenation." It is a great temptation to quote from him at length, when he speaks of "thermal Cycles." This radio-active heat melted the internal rocks and formed a molten substratum on which the continents float, and on which the moon has a tidal effect or influence. Seismology enables us to infer that the continental rocks extend downwards some 30 to 40 kilometers (about 18 to 25 miles). Samples of basaltic rock which have reached the surface were found to be in every case radio-active, which insures the generation of heat. Here we have to take into account the great fact of Isostasy. This means that the continents which are floating in the semi-viscous understratum of basaltic material which extends far down beneath the basaltic rocks, themselves are continually generating heat which has no direct means of escape. The sub-continental basalts grow ever hotter until they melt. As they melt they expand a little and so lose density, and accordingly the floating continents sink a little. As the continents sink relatively to the floor of the ocean, the waters must flow over their lower levels. As a consequence tensions develop in the continents and mountains are formed and volcanic eruptions occur over large areas. When the condition of fluidity creeps upward beneath the ocean floor, the accumulated heat begins to leak into the ocean, and tidal phenomena in the fluid substratum occur. With the escape of heat the continents revert to their former state, while the earth's radius goes back to its former dimensions, with attendant mountain-building and buckling of the ocean floor. Then comes a repetition of this "stately history," as Joly says.

This description of the manner in which our Mother Earth becomes wrinkled and has her face lifted is most interesting to a geologist and especially to one who is a theosophist and has read The Secret Doctrine. It explains how the subterranean fires may have destroyed the Atlanteans and proves the derided statements of H. P. Blavatsky, as to the great age of the earth. This heat from the radio-active rock has an important contribution from the potassium, everywhere present in the rocks. The geologist can point to five great Revolutions, the geological record of which covers, so Joly says, many hundreds of millions of years. This statement from such a competent geologist as Professor Joly is acknowledged to be, amply confirms all H. P. Blavatsky's assertions as to the age of our Mother Earth, and more.

It also proves the possibility, as she asserted, of initiates traveling dry-shod from Egypt to England before some depression allowed the ocean to rush in and form the Strait of Dover.

Note by C. J. Ryan

Dr. Joly's theory, quoted above by Mr. Cyrus Willard, has been very fully discussed for many years, but it has held its own in principle as the most probable cause of the great cyclic changes for which no satisfactory explanation could be found until the radioactivity of the rocks was recently discovered. Professor W. W. Watts, in his Presidential Address to the British Association in 1935 devoted great attention to Dr. Joly's theory. With certain modifications in detail which do not affect the main principle, he strongly supported it. Geology recognises at least four or five great "Revolutions" within the available record of hundreds of millions of years, and suspects more. In this connexion, it is important to remember that, according to the Theosophical teachings, while it is true that the ordinary physical and mechanical forces such as radio-activity, heat, denudation, etc., are operative in these Revolutions on the earth's surface there are other and hidden causes behind them, unknown to modern science. H. P. Blavatsky says:

Therefore, it is absolutely false, and but an additional demonstration of the great conceit of our age, to assert . . . that all the great geologic changes and terrible convulsions have been produced by ordinary and known physical forces. For these forces were but the tools and final means for the accomplishment of certain purposes, acting periodically, and apparently mechanically, through an inward impulse mixed up with, but beyond their material nature. There is a purpose in every important act of Nature, whose acts are all cyclic and periodical. But spiritual Forces having been usually confused with the purely physical, the former are denied by, and therefore have to remain unknown to Science, because left unexamined. — The Secret Doctrine, I, 640

In all Nature there exists the Basic Unity behind the apparent diversity, and we cannot separate the Divine Cosmic Consciousness from its material manifestation or we fall into the "heresy of separateness," the only heresy recognised by Theosophy.

The Theosophical Forum