Lecomte du Nouy

Human Destiny

"The old-fashioned materialist who is honestly convinced that human life is without a cause and without a goal, that man is an irresponsible particle of matter engulfed in a maelstrom of purposeless forces, reminds us of the delightful remark made by a brilliant philosopher, Whitehead: '...Scientists who spend their life with the purpose of proving that it is purposeless constitute an interesting subject of study.' If a microbe, living in one of the cracks of an elephant's skin, possessed our intelligence, and if his ancestors had built up and transmitted to him a is conceivable that he would not have a very clear idea of the laws governing his universe: the elephant. The microbe lives at the bottom of a valley one fifth of an inch deep, the equivalent to us of a canyon six or seven thousand feet high. There he may have created an image of his world very different from ours, and when the elephant scratches himself, or takes a bath, the microscopic dweller of the valley can be excused if he attributes these unpredictable cataclysms to an entirely different cause. Let us try to avoid the point of view of the microbe, for whom one day of twenty-four hours corresponds to a century, or four generations."