Substances as individualities

Were Substances different in the past?

The phenomena considered in this website can give rise to the question of whether substances and transformations existed in the distant past which no longer exist today.  The uniformitarian view prevailing in geology at present would say that this is not possible- „the present is the key to the past“, and if something existed earlier it should be possible to find it today as well.  This view has of course been modified considerably over the centuries.  No one would argue that oil and natural gas, for example, are being formed today in the ways and quantities of the past.  Still, one would say that they could be formed, if the proper conditions were maintained for a sufficient period of time.

How is it with the phenomena presented earlier in this website, which point to colloidal substances being present in huge quantities in the past?  This is not true today; indeed the prevailing opinion is that it would be impossible for such colloidal masses to form at present.  This in turn creates doubts that such masses existed in the past either.  Is there a way to account for the past existence of substances which seemingly cannot exist today?

Several possibilities are conceivable.  One would be that substances, like living organisms, undergo an evolutionary process, and were different in the distant past.  Another was mentioned earlier- that the tremendous pressure of the earth’s former atmosphere provided the conditions for the creation of colloidal substances.  Since these conditions no longer exist, one no longer observes such colloids being created.

Another explanation, however, is indicated by the fact that living substance is almost universally colloidal.  Today this huge quantity of colloidal matter produced by living organisms is generally carbon-based- protoplasm of cells, blood serum, egg-white, gelatine, etc.  The opaline skeletons of radiolarians and diatoms, however, are the gel form of colloidal silica, showing that silica-based material can also originate in this manner.  Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research indicates that the early thick atmosphere of the primeval Earth was a living substance, not yet individuated into cells, and permeated by etheric life-forces.  According to his observations, the earlier rock types such as granite and gneiss were precipitated out of this atmosphere.  It would then seem quite likely that such rock substance was colloidal; that its colloidal state was connected with the presence of etheric life-forces within it, and that the eventual crystallization which took place was connected with the gradual dying-off of these forces.