Balfour Stewart

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In existographies, Balfour Stewart (127-68 BE) (1828-1887 ACM) (CR:84) (LH:7) (TL:93|#125) was a Scottish physicist, noted for to []


In 1868, Stewart, together with Norman Lockyer, penned an article entitled “The Sun as a Type of the Material Universe”, an historical overview of sun spot theory, followed by a second article “The Place of Life”, in which they attempt to explain energy of position and energy of motion, as well a degradation of energy, in both the physical world and social world.[1] They open to what, via an analogy, as they say, their "social cannon ball model".[2]

Stewart and Lockyer, in their attempt to explain life via energy and materialism, do not come to a conclusion, but instead blur the line, with reference to how there is "directive energy" when a man pulls the trigger of a gun, thus igniting the gunpowder, which which kinetic energy of the bullet, which thus might win the war. The following is their main concluding point:

“We are thus presented with two hypotheses of the action of life. The first of these is the materialistic hypothesis, which denies the existence of life as a principle apart from matter; while the other allows the existence of an independent principle, but assumes its action to take place through the medium of a machine of infinite delicacy, so that by a primordial impulse of less than any assignable amount a finite and visible outcome is produced. These are the two alternatives, and it is not within our province to attempt to decide between them. The battle must be fought in other pages than ours, and by other weapons than those which we can produce.”
— Balfour Stewart (1868), “The Place of Life in a Universe of Energy” (co-author: Norman Lockyer) (pg. 100)

Here, we see their use of the code-word "infinite" (or infinity), which scientific god synonym.

In 1875, Stewart, with Peter Tait, a theistic reaction to John Tyndall's 1874 "Materialistic Atheism" BAAS address, penned The Unseen Universe, on immortality and conservation of energy.[3]

In 1878, Stewart, in his Paradoxical Philosophy, a solo-sequel to The Unseen Universe, gave his personal reflections on his own rhetoric, and gives an account of debates arisen in the "Paradoxical Society", founded by Isaac Fairbank (1826). The title page quote, however, opens to a Bible quote, about asking god and Jesus for help through the darkness, at which point his former "covert god language" begins to leak out.[4]

End matter

See also


  1. (a) Lockyer, Norman; Stewart, Balfour. (1868). “The Sun as a Type of the Material Universe”, MacMillan’s Magazine, 18: 319-; in: Contributions to Solar Physics (§6, pgs. 63-84). Publisher.
    (b) Lockyer, Norman; Stewart, Balfour. (1868). “The Place of Life in a Universe of Energy”, MacMillan’s Magazine, 18: 319-; in: Contributions to Solar Physics (§7, pgs. 85-103). Publisher.
  2. Social cannon ball model – Hmolpedia 2020.
  3. Stewart, Balfour; Tait, Peter. (1875). The Unseen Universe: Physical Speculations on a Future State. Macmillan.
  4. Stewart, Balfour. (1878). Paradoxical Philosophy: a Sequel to the Unseen Universe. Macmillan.

External links


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