The Law of No Upper Limit

Address before S. D. A. Science and Mathematics Teachers' Council, Washington, D. C.

By PHILIP S. CHEN, Professor of Chemistry, Atlantic Union College, Massachusetts

The Law of No Upper Limit is an ex­pression I have given to the uniform re­sults that were reached after examining the various important entities in God's created universe and trying to answer the question of whether or not God has placed any limit upon them. While an omnipotent God can do any­thing He pleases with the things He has cre­ated or ordained, it was surprising to find that upon each of the various entities examined—physical, biological, mental, and spiritual—He has placed a lower limit, but no upper limit. As we shall see from the discussion to follow, He did this for the purpose of magnifying His omnipotence and love and for the blessing of His children.

Let us first of all consider the physical world. The smallest thing known in size, and mass is the electron. The electron is so small that it takes 1,840 of them to make a mass equal to that of a hydrogen atom, the lightest of all chemical elements ; and hydrogen atoms are so small that it takes six hundred and six thousand billion billions of them to weigh one gram, which is roughly one twenty-eighth of an ounce. These figures are given, not so much to show the minuteness of the electron, as to show the definite knowledge available concerning the lower limit of our physical world in mass or size.

Now let us consider the upper limit. Of course the biggest thing is the universe itself. Most people are not sure whether the universe has any limit. There are two schools of thought on this point. Some astronomers and relativists believe that the universe is finite and have even given numerical values for it. For example, Charlier believes the universe is one thousand million light-years in diameter.' But certain other equally prominent scientists do not think the universe has any limit. Dr. F. R. Moulton, permanent secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said in a letter to me, dated July 30, 1942: "No one knows the size of the universe. My own opinion is that it is infinite in mass, space occupied, and duration."' And to show how the opposing view is fading away, he says:

"Although I think the universe is infinite, certain scientists, basing their conclusion on certain assump­tions regarding the theory of relativity, believe that the universe is finite and, in fact, that t was created a few billion years ago. I feel ,quite sure that this is a passing theory; in fact, there are distinct signs that it has about rtra its course."

When one reads similar discussions on this point in the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Encyclopedia Americana, one is convinced that the theory that the universe is finite is indeed a passing theory.

Having considered mass, we now note several forms of energy ; namely, heat, light, and the energy of motion, to see if they have any upper limit. We shall consider heat in terms of temperature. According to Charles' law the lowest temperature possible is 273° C. below zero, known scientifically as the abso­lute zero. Many attempts have been made in the laboratory to attain this low temperature. Actually a temperature within two tenths of a degree of absolute zero has been reached.

Although the lower limit of temperature is definitely known, the limit in the direction of high temperature is beyond the imaginary mind. We usually think of the sun as the hottest ob­ject we know, its surface temperature' ranging in the neighborhood of io,000° F. Yet Doctor Suits, assistant director of the General Electric laboratory, experimenting with an electric arc under 2,700 atmospheres pressure, produced a temperature nearly twice that of the sun, namely, 18,000° F.' However, as we study the heavenly bodies we find that there are many stars which are estimated to have temperatures far above the surface temperature of the sun. For instance, the surface temperature of the white stars in the Orion belt is calculated to to be 23,000° C. or 40,000° F. While the sur­face temperature of these stars is tremendously high, it is in no comparison with their internal temperature. The internal temperature of the sun is perhaps 40,000,000° C. (72,000,000° F.). What the internal temperature of the bright­est star is, is indeed beyond human compre­hension.

What is true of temperature is also true of intensity of light. "Pitch dark" is our common expression for total darkness, which is, of course, the lower limit. To an uninitiated individual the brightest object in the universe is the sun. But astronomers tell us that Rigel, the brightest star in Orion, is at least 2,000 times as luminous as the sun ; Canopus in the constellation of Carina is more than 10,000 times as luminous, and the variable star S Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud has a luminosity 600,000 times that of our sun. Since the number of known stars is infinitesimally small in compari­son with the number of those yet undiscovered, it would be foolish indeed to say that there are no stars in the infinite universe which do have a luminosity greater than that of S Doradus.

Just as temperature and intensity of light have lower limits but no upper limits, so it is with motion. The lower limit of motion is, of course, lack of motion, which we ordinarily call "standstill." In the direction of fast motion, one invariably thinks of light and electricity.

But are light and electricity, traveling at the velocity of 186,000 miles per second, the fastest-moving things in the universe ? When one realizes the tremendous distance between God's dwelling place in the open space in Orion' and the earth, and the little time it takes prayer and angels of God to traverse this great distance, one will readily see that light and electricity do not have the greatest velocity after all.

To make more vivid the comparison between the velocity of prayer and angels' flight on the one hand and that of light and electricity on the other hand, let us analyze Daniel 9:4-25. Dan­iel began his prayer for his people in verse 4. By the time he reached verse 21, the angel Gabriel had come back with God's message. The fact that the angel came from God's dwell­ing place is somewhat indicated by the phrase in verse 21, "being caused to fly swiftly." Now it has b'een estimated that the distance of the great Orion Nebula containing the "open space" is 2,400,000,000 times the distance between the earth and the sun.' If we allow one minute for each verse and sixteen minutes for the total sixteen verses covered in Daniel's prayer, we may speculate that it took not more than eight minutes for Daniel's prayer to reach the throne of God and another eight minutes for Gabriel to bring back God's message, provided Daniel's prayer and the angel's flight had the same velocity.

Since it takes light eight minutes to traverse the 93,000,000-mile distance between the earth and the sun, and it took the same amount of time for Daniel's prayer and also for the angel's flight to cover a distance 2,400,000,000 times that of the sun, it is seen that the velocity of Daniel's prayer and of the angel's flight was 2,400,000,000 times the velocity of light.

As it is entirely possible for an omnipotent God to give a speedier answer to a more urgent prayer, it is beyond human comprehension what speed or velocity God might use to execute His will. AU we can say is that there is no limit!

We have noted how the Law of No Upper Limit applies to the physical world, as to both mass and various forms of energy. We shall now show how this great law of God applies to the biological, mental, and spiritual realms.

We all know that life has a beginning, but whether life has an upper limit, or is eternal, depends on the individual. It is true that in the case of the wicked, the Law of No Upper Limit does not apply, but that is the result of sin. In the case of the righteous, God still promises everlasting life as He originally in­tended.

Those who have seen persons who have com­pletely lost their minds recognize the lower limit of human mentality, but that human men­tality may have no upper limit is a fact that is not generally recognized. There is no upper limit to mental development in the life hereafter.

"There, immortal minds will contemplate with never-failing delight the wonders of creative power, the mysteries of redeeming love. There will be no cruel, deceiving foe to tempt to forgetfulness of God. Every faculty will be developed, every capacity in­creased. The acquirement of knowledge will not weary the mind or exhaust the energies. There the grandest enterprises may be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations reached, the highest ambitions realized ; and still there will arise new heights to sur­mount, new wonders to admire, new truths to com­prehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of mind and soul and body."

In the spiritual realm we have evil on one end and good on the other end. Evil originated with Satan and is soon to end. But good, or God's love, is immeasurable, inexhaustible, and incomprehensible. This is the picture portrayed by the messenger of God, who says :

"All the paternal love which has come down from generation to generation through the channel of hu­man hearts, all the springs of tenderness which have opened in the souls of men, are but as a tiny rill to the boundless ocean, when compared with the infi­nite, exhaustless love of God. Tongue cannot utter it ; pen cannot portray it. Yon may meditate upon it every day of your life ; you may search the Scriptures diligently in order to understand it ; you may summon every power and capability that God has given you, in the endeavor to comprehend the love and compas­sion of the heavenly Father ; and yet there is an in­finity beyond. You may study that love for ages : yet you can never fully comprehend the length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of the love of God in giving His Son to die for the world. Eter­nity itself can never fully reveal it."

Thus we see the universal application of the Law of No Upper Limit in the various realms of God's created universe and in God's love. When one realizes how small he is in size and mass, in this grand scheme of God's omnipo­tence, how low a temperature and intensity of light he is able to produce, how slow are the fastest airplanes and rockets he is able to build, how little he is able to lengthen his span of life, how limited an improvement he is able to make in his intellectual powers, and how little good there is in him, he feels how infinitesimally in­significant he is in this infinite universe of God.

In the light of all this, is there any wonder the prophet of old wrote, "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance ;"' and that the psalm­ist cried out, "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?"'


1 O. Thomas, "Heaven and Earth," p. 189 (Norton).

2 For a discussion of Doctor Moulton's hypothesis of an infinite universe, see his "Astronomy," pp. 529-533 (Macmillan).

3 Popular Science, December, 1941, p. 96.

'Early Writings," p. 41.

5 Scientific Monthly, January, 1942, P. 97.

6 "The Great Controversy," p. 677.

7"Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 740. 

8 Isa. 40:15.

9 Ps. 8:4.

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By PHILIP S. CHEN, Professor of Chemistry, Atlantic Union College, Massachusetts

November 1943

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