§ 1. What is meant by Anti-Theism. § 2.Polytheism. § 3. Hylozoism.
§ 4. Materialism. § 5. Pantheism.
§ 1. What is meant by Anti-Theism.
As Theism is the doctrine of an extramundane, personal God, the creator, preserver, and governor of all things, any doctrine which denies the existence of such a Being is anti-theistic. Not only avowed Atheism, therefore, but Polytheism, Hylozoism, Materialism, and Pantheism, belong to the class of anti-theistic theories.
Atheism does not call for any separate discussion. It is in itself purely negative. It affirms nothing. It simply denies what Theism asserts. The proof of Theism is, therefore, the refutation of Atheism. Atheist is, however, a term of reproach. Few men are willing to call themselves, or to allow others to call them by that name. Hume, we know, resented it. Hence those who are really atheists, according to the etymological and commonly received meaning of the word, repudiate the term. They claim to be believers in God, although they assign to that word a meaning which is entirely unauthorized by usage. Thus Helvetius1 says, “There is no man of understanding who does not admit an active principle in nature; therefore there is no atheist. He is not an atheist who says that motion is God; because in fact motion is incomprehensible, as we have no clear idea of it, because it only manifests itself by its effects, and by it all things are performed in the universe. Cousin2 says, ” Atheism is impossible, because the existence of God is implied in every affirmation. If a man believes that he exists, he must believe in the power of thought, and that is God.” In like manner Herbert Spencer claims to be religious. He does not oppose religion, but dogmas. He acknowledges inscrutable power. He reduces all our knowledge to the two facts, “That force is,” and “Force is persistent.” Force, however, is perfectly inscrutable and incomprehensible. On this principle he attempts to reconcile religion and science. The ultimate principle of religion, that in which all religions agree, is that there is an inscrutable power which is the cause of all things. This also is the ultimate principle of science. They have therefore a common ground. Nothing can be predicated of this cause; not consciousness; not intelligence; not will; only that it is a force. This is all the God the new philosophy leaves us.3
Language, however, has its rights. The meaning of words cannot be changed at the pleasure of individuals. The word God, and its equivalents in other languages, have a definite meaning, from which no man is at liberty to depart. If any one says he believes in God, he says he believes in the existence of a personal, self-conscious being. He does not believe in God, if he only believes in “motion,” in “force,” in “thought,” in “moral order,” in “the incomprehensible,” or in any other abstraction.
Theists also have their rights. Theism is a definite form of belief. For the expression of that belief, the word Theism is the established and universally recognized term. We have the right to retain it; and we have the right to designate as Atheism, all forms of doctrine which involve the denial of what is universally understood by Theism.
Is Atheism possible?
The question has often been discussed, Whether Atheism is possible? The answer to the question depends on the meaning of the term. If the question be, Whether a man can emancipate himself from the conviction that there is a personal Being to whom he is responsible for his character and conduct, and who will punish him for his sins? it must be answered in the negative. For that would be to emancipate himself from the moral law, which is impossible. If, however, the question means, Whether a man may, by speculation or otherwise, bring himself into such a state as to lose the consciousness of the belief of God as written in his heart, and free himself, for a time, from its power? it must be answered affirmatively. A man may, in this sense, deny his individuality or identity; the real, objective existence of soul or body, mind or matter; the distinction between right and wrong. But this is unnatural, and cannot last. It is like deflecting a spring by force. The moment the force is removed, the spring returns to its normal position. Men, therefore, often pass in a moment from a state of entire skepticism to a state of unquestioning faith; not of course by a process of argument, but by a change in their inward state. This transition from unbelief to faith, though thus sudden, and although not produced by an intellectual process, is perfectly rational. The feelings which rise in the mind contain evidence of the truth which the understanding cannot resist. It is also a familiar psychological fact, that skepticism and faith may, in a certain sense, coexist in the mind. An idealist while abiding by his theory has nevertheless an inward conviction of the reality of the external world. So the speculative atheist lives with the abiding conviction that there is a God to whom he must render an account.
As the word implies, Polytheism is the theory which assumes the existence of many gods. Monotheism was the original religion of our race. This is evident not only from the teachings of the Scriptures, but also from the fact that the earliest historical form of religious belief is monotheistic. There are monotheistic hymns in the Vedas, the most ancient writings now extant, unless the Pentateuch be an exception.
The first departure from monotheism seems to have been nature worship. As men lost the knowledge of God as creator, they were led to reverence the physical elements with which they were in conflict, whose power they witnessed, and whose beneficent influence they constantly experienced. Hence not only the sun, moon, and stars, the great representatives of nature, but fire, air, and water, became the objects of popular worship. We accordingly find that the Vedas consist largely of hymns addressed to these natural elements.
These powers were personified, and soon it came to be generally believed that a personal being presided over each. And these imaginary beings were the objects of popular worship.
While the mass of the people really believed in beings that were “called gods” (1 Cor. viii. 5), many of the more enlightened were monotheists, and more were pantheists. The early introduction and wide dissemination of pantheism are proved frcm the fact that it lies at the foundation of Brahminism and Buddhism, the religions of the larger part of the human race for thousands of years.
There can be little doubt that when the Aryan tribes entered India, fifteen hundred or two thousand years before Christ, pantheism was their established belief. The unknown, and “unconditioned” infinite Being, reveals itself according to the Hindu system, as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, — that is, as Creator, Preserver, and Restorer. These were not persons, but modes of manifestation. It was in this form that the idea of an endless process of development of the infinite into the finite, and of the return of the finite into the infinite, was expressed. It was from this pantheistic principle that the endless polytheism of the Hindus naturally developed itself; and this determined the character of their whole religion. As all that is, is only a manifestation of God, everything remarkable, and especially the appearance of any remarkable man, was regarded as an “avatar,” or incarnation of God, in one or other of his modes of manifestation, as Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva. And as evil is as actual as good, the one is as much a manifestation, or, modus existendi, of the infinite Being as the other. And hence there are evil gods as well as good. In no part of the world has pantheism had such a field for development as in India, and nowhere has it brought forth its legitimate effects in such a portentous amount of evil. Nowhere has polytheism been carried to such revolting extremes.
Among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans polytheism assumed a form determined by the character of the people. The Greeks rendered it bright, beautiful, and sensual; the Romans were more decorous and sedate. Among barbarous nations it has assumed forms much more simple, and in many cases more rational.
In the Bible the gods of the heathen are declared to be “vanity,” and “nothing,” mere imaginary beings, without power either to hurt or to save. (Jer. ii. 28; Isa. xli. 29; xlii. 17; Ps. cvi. 28.) They arc also represented as daimo,nia (1 Cor. x. 20). This word may express either an imaginary, or a real existence. The objects of heathen worship are called gods, even when declared to be nonentities. So they may be called “demons,” without intending to teach that they are “spirits.” As the word, however, generally in the New Testament, does mean “evil spirits,” it is perhaps better to take it in that sense when it refers to the objects of heathen worship. This is not inconsistent with the doctrine that the gods of the heathen are “vanities and lies.” They are not what men take them to be. They have no divine power. Paul says of the heathen before their conversion, “evdouleu,sate toij fu,s uh. o=si qeoi/j” (Gal. iv. 8). The prevalence and persistency of Polytheism show that it must have a strong affinity with fallen human nature. Although, except in pantheism, it has no philosophical basis, it constitutes a formidable obstacle to the progress of true religion in the world.
Hylozoism, from u[lh, matter, and zwh,, life, is properly the doctrine that matter is endued with life. And this is the form in which the doctrine was held by many of its advocates. All matter, and every particle of matter, besides its physical properties, has a principle of life in itself, which precludes the necessity of assuming any other cause for the phenomena of life exhibited in the world. In this form Hylozoism does not differ from Materialism.
Most commonly, however, the term is used to designate a system which admits a distinction between mind and matter, but considers them as intimately and inseparably united, as the soul and body in man. God, according to this view, is the soul of the world; an intelligent power everywhere present, to which are to be referred all the manifestations of design in the external world, and all the activity of the human soul. The relation, however, of the soul to the body, is a very imperfect illustration of the relation of God to the world according to the hylozoistic system. The soul is really exterior to the body, and independent of it, at least for its existence and activity. It is not the life of the body. It neither fashions nor preserves it. It is not even conscious of the vital activity by which the body is developed and sustained. Whereas according to the hylozoistic theory, the soul of the world is its plastic principle, the inward source of all its organizations and of all its activities.
The leading principles of this theory as developed by the Stoics are, (1.) There are two constituent principles of the universe, one active, the other passive. The passive principle is matter, without form and without properties, i. e., inert. The active principle is mind, dwelling in matter its organizing formative power, i. e., God. (2.) The universe is therefore to be viewed under three aspects: (a.) As the all-forming power; the natura naturans, or, h`fu,sij tecnikh,. (b.) The world as formed by this living, inward principle. The living ko,smoj, or natura naturata. (c.) The identity of the two, as they form one whole. It is only by an act of the mind that the one is distinguished from the other. Therefore the world, as including both, or as the identity of both, is formed with the greatest wisdom, and by a necessary process, for the laws of nature are the laws of reason. Cicero,4 expounding this system, says, “Natura, non artificiosa solum, sed plane artifex ab eodem Zenone dicitur; consultrix, et provida utilitatum opportunitatumque omnium. Censet [Zeno] enim artis maxime proprium est creare et gignere, quodque in operibus nostrarum artium manus officiet id multo artificiosius naturam officere.”
(3.) The universe, therefore (The All-one), of which God is the soul and Nature the body, is living, immortal, rational, and perfect (zw/on avqa,naton, logiko.n, te,leion). God, as the controlling, operative principle in all things, acts according to necessary although rational laws. (4.) The souls of men are of the same nature with the soul of the world, but as individual existences, passing away when the life of the body ceases. (5.) The highest end of life is virtue; and virtue is living according to reason.5
This system in one of its forms is nearly identical with Materialism, and in the other with Pantheism. There is no personal God to whom we are responsible, no freedom of the will; therefore, no sin, and no conscious existence after death.
§ 4. Materialism.
Materialism is that system which ignores the distinction between matter and mind, and refers all the phenomena of the world, whether physical, vital, or mental, to the functions of matter.
A. The Doctrine of Epicurus.
Epicurus taught, (1.) That as ex nihilo nihil fit, the universe has always existed, and must continue to exist forever. (2.) That space, and the number of bodies which it contains, are infinite. (3.) These bodies are of two kinds, simple and compound. The simple bodies are atoms possessing form, magnitude, and weight. They are indivisible, unalterable, and indestructible. This is also the doctrine of modern science. Faraday6 says, “A particle of oxygen is ever a particle of oxygen, — nothing can in the least wear it. If it enters into combination, and disappears as oxygen; if it pass through a thousand combinations, animal, vegetable, and mineral — if it lie hid for a thousand years, and then be evolved, it is oxygen with its first qualities, neither more nor less. It has all its original force, and only that; the amount of force which it disengaged when hiding itself, has again to be employed in a reverse direction when it is set at liberty.” (4.) These atoms have their peculiar forces, distinct from their mere gravity. This, too, is the doctrine of modern science. It is included in what Faraday says in the passage just quoted. “Molecules,” say the scientific men of our day, “have been endowed with forces which give rise to various chemical qualities, and these never change either in their nature or in their amount.”7 (5.) Epicurus taught that the quantity of matter, and of course the amount of force in the world, is always the same. Neither can be increased or diminished. (6.) The atoms, of which the number is infinite, move through space with incredible velocity under the guidance of necessary physical laws. (7.) By the combination of these atoms under the influence of gravity and other physical forces, the universe was formed, and became a cosmos. This is very nearly the nebular hypothesis. (8.) The soul is material; or, in other words, all mental phenomena are due to the properties of matter. This, also, is proclaimed as the last result of modern science. (9.) The soul, of course, ceases to exist when the body dies; i. e., as death is the cessation of the vital, so it is also of the intellectual functions of the individual. The atoms of which the man is composed, with the forces which belong to them, continue to exist, and may enter into the composition of other men. But the man, as an individual, ceases to exist. This, almost in so many words, is the avowed doctrine of many physicists of the present day. (10.) Sensation is for us the only source of knowledge. By remembering former sensations, we form ideas, and by the combination of ideas we form judgments. Almost the very words of Hume, and the doctrine of the whole school of which he is the representative. (11.) As Epicurus held that nothing is incorporeal except a vacuum, he of necessity includes all the forms of existence under the head of matter. As there is no mind or spirit, there is no God, and no moral law. Virtue is only a prudent regard to happiness. In a certain sense he admitted the existence of God’s, but they were corporeal beings having no concern with the affairs of men.8
A recent German writer,9 in Herzog’s “Encyklopadie,” under the head of Materialismus, says that notwithstanding the great progress of modern science, the Materialists of our day have not advanced a step upon the system of Epicurus. That system, probably owing to the dominant influence of the higher philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, did not exert much influence on the ancient mind, or on the progress of human thought. It was not until modern times that Materialism gained any great power as a philosophical theory.
B. Materialism in England during the Eighteenth Century.
Hobbes (1588-1679) anticipated the movement towards Materialism which manifested itself in England during the last century “He made sensation the real basis of every mental operations the sole originator of our ideas, the sole medium and test of truth.10 As, therefore, we can perceive through sensation only what is material, he concluded that matter is the only reality, and that whatever exists to us must accordingly be a part of the material universe. The whole process of scientific investigation was thus reduced to the doctrine of bodies, beyond which, he maintained, there can be no knowledge whatever accessible to the human mind. This knowledge, however, does not refer simply to the existence of bodies, but also to their changes, of all which changes the ultimate principle is motion. The doctrine of bodies, therefore, includes the knowledge of all phenomena in relation to their probable causes; and of all possible causes as known from their observed effects. . . . The mind itself he viewed as wholly material, the phenomena of consciousness being the direct result of our organization. The one great and fundamental fact of mind is sensation, which is nothing more or less than the effect of material objects around us, exerted by means of pressure or impact upon that material organization which we term the mind.”11 Thus it appears that Hobbes anticipated the great result of modern science, that all force may be resolved into motion.
The introduction of Materialism into England during the last century is generally attributed to the influence of Locke’s philosophy. Locke himself was far from being a Materialist, and the advocates of his system strenuously insist that his principles have no legitimate tendency to obliterate the distinction between matter and mind. Locke, however, in combating the doctrine of “innate ideas,” in the sense of abstract truths, seemed to deny that the mind was so constituted as to apprehend truth intuitively, and beyond the range of experience. He compared the mind to a “tabula rasa.“ This figure suggests that all our knowledge is from without, as the slate contributes nothing to the matter written upon it. He defined ideas to be “anything with which the mind is immediately occupied when we think.” The origin of these ideas, he said, was sensation and reflection. If by reflection he meant the observation of the phenomena of the mind, his theory is one thing. If it mean the process of recalling, combining, analyzing, and otherwise elaborating the impressions upon us from without, his theory is another. Probably Locke himself, and certainly many of his followers, took it in the latter sense; and thus the two sources of ideas, or of knowledge, are reduced to one, and that one is sensation. But as sensation can give us the knowledge only of what is external and material, the theory in this form seemed to leave no room for the higher ideas of eternal and necessary truths. Locke attempts to account for our ideas, of time, space, infinity, cause, and even of right and wrong, from observation, i. e., from observation of what is without, or from impressions made upon our senses. It is a common criticism upon Locke’s great work, that in it he does not distinguish between the occasion and the source of our ideas. Our experience furnishes the occasion, and it may be the necessary condition, of waking the mind to the perception not only of the fact experienced, but also of the intuitive apprehension of the universal and necessary truth which the fact involves. If we did not see effects produced around us, and did not ourselves exercise efficiency, we might never have the idea of causation; but the conviction that every effect must have a cause is an intuitive judgment, which experience can neither produce nor limit. It is not from the observed tendency of some acts to produce happiness, and of others to produce misery, that we get the idea of the essential distinction between right and wrong; but from the constitution of the mind. Although Locke, and many of his disciples, were satisfied with his method of accounting for our ideas of God, of spirit, and of moral and religious truths, yet it is also certain that many of his followers felt justified on his principles to discard them.
Hartley was a physician and a physiologist. Physiology and psychology have intimate relations. It is perhaps natural that those who devote themselves specially to the former, should make little of the latter. It is the marked characteristic of our age, so far as physicists are concerned, that it tries to merge psychology entirely into physiology. Hartley adopted the principles of Locke, and endeavored to show how it is that external things produce sensation and thought. This he did by his theory of vibrations. “The objects of the external world affect in some manner the extreme ends of the nerves, which spread from the brain as centre to every part of the body. This affection produces a vibration, which is continued along the nerve by the agency of an elastic ‘ether, until it reaches the brain, where it constitutes the phenomenon we term sensation. When a sensation has been experienced several times, the vibratory movement from which it arises acquires the tendency to repeat itself spontaneously, even when the external object is not present. These repetitions or relics of sensations are ideas, which in their turn possess the property of recalling each other by virtue of mutual association among themselves.”12 This doctrine of association of ideas is the most important part of his system. He insists principally on the following law: “An idea is sometimes associated with another through the medium of a third; but in process of time this intermediate idea may be disregarded, and yet the connection between the first and third may, notwithstanding, remain. Thus the idea of pleasure, which is so indissolubly connected with money, arises from the conveniences which it is able to procure, while in the mind of the miser the conveniences are lost sight of, and the very possession of the money itself is regarded as containing the whole enjoyment. In this way Hartley accounts for almost all the emotions and passions of the human mind. The domestic affections, for instance, arise from the transference of the pleasure derived from parental kindness to the parent itself; the social and patriotic affections from transferring the pleasures of society to the country which affords them; in like manner, also, the moral and religious affections, the love of virtue and the love of God, arise from the pleasures connected with virtuous and pious conduct, being transferred to the law of action, or to the supreme Lawgiver, from whom these pleasures have emanated.”13 The connection of this theory with Materialism is obvious. If vibrations of the brain constitute sensation, and if the relics, or spontaneous repetitions of these vibrations constitute thought and feeling, then all mental and moral acts are mere affections of our material organism. It is also obvious that, according to this theory, there is no more freedom in volition than in sensation. The former is a mode, or relic of the latter. Although this tendency of his system was undeniable, and although his successors drew these conclusions from his principles, Hartley himself was not a Materialist. He was a very religious man. It is not at all uncommon for a man to hold a speculative theory inconsistent with his faith.
Morell14quotes the following criticism of Hartley’s doctrine from the “Edinburgh Review”: “There may be,” says the reviewer, “little shakings in the brain, for anything we know, and there may even be shakings of a different kind accompanying every act of thought or perception ; — but that the shakings themselves are the thought or perception, we are so far from admitting, that we find it absolutely impossible to comprehend what is meant by the assertion. The shakings are certain throbbings, vibrations, or stirrings, in a whitish, half-fluid substance like custard, which we might see perhaps, or feel, if we had eyes and fingers sufficiently small or fine for the office. But what should we see or feel, upon the supposition that we could detect by our senses, everything that actually took place in the brain? We should see the particles of this substance change their place a little, move a little up or down, to the right or the left, round about or zigzag, or in some other course or direction. This is all that we could see, if Dr. Hartley’s conjecture were proved by actual observation; because this is all that exists in motion, according to our conception of it, and all that we mean when we say that there is motion in any substance. Is it intelligible, then, to say, that this motion, the whole of which we see and comprehend, is thought and feeling, and that thought and feeling will exist, wherever we can excite a similar motion in a similar substance? — In our humble apprehension the proposition is not so much false, as utterly unmeaning and incomprehensible.”15
If history repeats itself, so does philosophy. What the “Edinburgh Review” said of Hartley nearly seventy years ago, Professor Tyndall says of the Materialists of our day. “The passage from the physics of the brain to the corresponding facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definite thought and a definite molecular action in the brain occur simultaneously; we do not possess the intellectual organ, nor apparently any rudiment of the organ, which would enable us to pass, by a process of reasoning, from the one phenomenon to the other. They appear together, but we do not know why. Were our minds and senses so expanded, strengthened, and illuminated, as to enable us to see and feel the very molecules of the brain; were we capable of following all their motions, all their grouping, all their electric discharges, if such there be; and were we intimately acquainted with the corresponding states of thought and feeling, we should probably be as far as ever from the solution of the problem. How are these physical processes connected with the facts of consciousness? The chasm between the two classes of phenomena would still remain intellectually impassable. Let the consciousness of lose, for example, be associated with a right-handed spiral motion of the molecules of the brain, and the consciousness of hate with a left-handed spiral motion. We should then know when we love that the motion is in one direction, and when we hate that the motion is in the other, but the ‘Why?’ would still remain unanswered. In affirming that the growth of the body is mechanical, and that thought, as exercised by us, has its correlative in the physics of the brain, I think the position of the ‘Materialist’ is stated as far as that position is a tenable one. I think the Materialist will be able finally to maintain this position against all attacks; but I do not think, as the human mind is at present constituted, that he can pass beyond it. I do not think he is entitled to say that his molecular grouping and his molecular motions explain everything. In reality they explain nothing.”16
Priestley owes his permanent reputation to his important discoveries in the department of physical science. He was, however, prominent during his life for the part he took in philosophical and theological controversies. Devoted to science, the senses were for him the great sources of knowledge; all others, except supernaturaI revelation which he admitted, he distrusted. He adopted with enthusiasm the theory of Hartley which resolved thought and feeling into vibrations of the brain. Hartley, he said, had done more for the doctrine of mind than Newton accomplished for the theory of the material universe. He did not hesitate to avow himnself a Materialist. ” Priestley,” says Morell,17 “rested the truth of Materialism upon two deductions. The first was, that thought and sensation are essentially the samne thing — that the whole variety of our ideas, however abstract and refined they may become, are, nevertheless, but modifications of the sensational faculty. . . . The second deduction was, that all sensation, and, consequently, all thought, arises from the affections of our material organization, and therefore consists entirely in the motion of the material particles of which the nerves and brain are composed.” He was a necessitarian, and in morals a utilitarian. Believing, however, in God and in divine revelation, he admitted a future state of existence. As the Bible teaches the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, Priestley believed that man would be restored to conscious existence when that event occurred. His principal works bearing on this subject are: “Examination of Reid, Beattie, and Oswald,” “Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity Explained,” “Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit,” and “Hartley’s Theory of the Human Mind, with Essays relating to the subject of it.”
Hume is regarded as their master by the most advanced physicists of the modern scientific school, so far as their general principles and method of philosophizing are concerned. He was neither a Materialist nor an Idealist, but rather a Nihilist, as his great object was to show that no certainty could be attained in any department of knowledge. He affirmed nothing and denied everything. Such knowledge as we have comes fromn sensation, therefore, he maintained that as we have no sensation of efficiency, we can have no idea of it, and no evidence of its reality. A cause is not that which produces an effect, but simply that which uniformly precedes it. Consequently, anything can be the cause of anything. Again, as we have no perception by the senses of substance, there can be no such thing. This applies to mind as well as matter. Nothing exists to us but our thoughts and feelings. We are “nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in perpetual flux and movement.”
C. Materialism in Prance during the Eighteenth Century.
The sensational philosophy, as it is called, found a much more congenial soil in France than in England. Locke’s “Essay” was translated into the language of that country and made the subject of comments and lectures. His leading principles were adopted without the limitations and qualifications with which he had presented them, and conclusions drawn from them which Locke would have been the first to repudiate.
Condillac, one of the first and most influential of the disciples of Locke, in his first work, ‘Essai sur l’Origine des Connaissances Humaines,” differed comparatively little from the English philosopher. But in his “Traite des Sensations,” he virtually discarded “reflection” as a source of our ideas, and regarded all thoughts, feelings, and volitions as “transformed sensations.” “While he answered the question concerning the relation between the soul and body, by assuming their identity, he took theistic ground in accounting for the origin of the world. This middle ground was occupied also, at least ostensibly, by Diderot and D’Alembert in the French “Encyclopedie,” who, notwithstanding their sensational theory as to the source of our knowledge, and their making happiness the ground of morals and end of life, not only maintained theistic principles, but insisted on the necessity of a divine revelation. This, however, was probably more a matter of prudence than of conviction.”18
These, however, were only the first steps. The extreme of materialistic atheism was soon reached and avowed. La Mettrie published his “L’Histoire Naturelle de l’Ame” in 1745, his “L’Homme Machine,” the same year, and his “L’Homme Plante,” in 1749. Helvetius published his work “De l’Esprit” in 1758. His book entitled “De l’Homme” was published after his death. The climax was reached by Baron d’Holbach in his “Syste.me de la Nature,” in which Materialism, fatalism, and atheism were openly avowed. According to this system matter and motion are eternal; thought is an agitation of the nerves; the soul the result of our corporeal organization; the will the strongest sensation; the ground of morals a regard to our own happiness. There is no freedom, no morality, no future existence, no God. When these principles got hold of the popular mind, then came the end.
Comte, the author of the “Positive Philosophy,” was born in 1798, and died in 1859. The greater part of his life was passed in poverty and neglect. His only occupation was teaching. Ten years were devoted to the preparation of a course of lectures on philosophy which secured him wealth and fame. He called his system “Philosophie Positive,” because it purported “to assume nothing beyond the content of observed facts.”
The fundamental principle of the “Positive Philosophy” is the one so often referred to, namely, that the senses are the only source of our knowledge, hence nothing exists but matter. There is no mind distinct from matter; no such thing as efficiency; no causes, whether first or final; no God; no future state of existence for man. Theology and psychology are, therefore, banished from the domain of science. Science is solely occupied in the observation of facts, and in deducing from them the laws by which they are determined. These laws, however, are not forces operating in a uniform manner, but simply statements of the actual order in the sequence of events. This sequence is not only uniform but necessary. Our business is simply to ascertain what it is. The only method by which this can be done is observation. This task is much easier in some departments than in others; for in some the facts to be observed are less numerous and less complicated. In mathematics and astronomy the facts are all of one kind; whereas in physiology and sociology they are of very different kinds, and vastly more complicated. The same rule, however, applies to all departments. In all, the sequence of events is uniform and necessary; and if we can only, by a sufficient induction of facts, ascertain what the law of sequence is, we shall be able to predict the future as certainly in one department as in another. The astronoomer can tell what will be the position of the stars and planets a century hence. The Positivist will he able to foretell with equal certainty how a man will act in any given circumstances, and what will be the progress and state of society in time to come.
It follows, therefore, according to the Positive Philosophy, (1.) That all our knowledge is confined to physical phenomena. (2.) That all we can know of such phenomena is, that they are, and the relations in which they stand to each other. (3.) That these relations are all included under the heads of sequence and resemblance. (4.) These relations constitute the laws of nature, and are invariable. (5.) As everything that exists is material, these laws, or “invariable relations of succession and resemblance,” control all the phenomena of mind, as we call it, and of social life and of history, as well as those of nature, in the common sense of that word. (6.) As everything is included in the department of physics, everything is controlled by physical laws, and there is no more freedom in human acts than in the motions of the stars; and, therefore, the one can be predicted with the same certainty as the other.
The following quotations from the “Philosophie Positive,” “freely translated and condensed by Harriet Martineau,”19 include all the points above mentioned.
“The first characteristic of the Positive Philosophy is that it regards all phenomena as subjected to invariable natural laws. Our business is, — seeing how vain is any research into what are called causes, whether first or final, — to pursue an accurate discovery of these laws, with a view to reducing them to the smallest possible number.”20 “Our positive method of connecting phenomena is by one or other of two relations, — that of similitude or that of succession, — the mere fact of such resemblance or succession being all that we can pretend to know; and all that we need to know; for this perception comprehends all knowledge which consists in elucidating something by something else, — in now explaining, and now foreseeing certain phenomena, by means of the resemblance or sequence of other phenomena.”21 “If we regard these functions [of the mind] under their statical aspect,– that is, if we consider the conditions under which they exist, — we must determine the organic circumstances of the case, which inquiry involves it with anatomy and physiology. If we look at the dynamic aspect, we have to study simply the exercise and results of the intellectual powers of the human race, which is neither more nor less than the general object of the Positive Philosophy.”22
Comte is obliged to use the word “power,” and to speak of its exercise, yet all his philosophy denies the existence of any such thing as efficiency. The laws which determine events are nothing more than facts of uniform sequence. According to the passage just quoted, one department of psychology (the statical) belongs to anatomy and physiology; the other (the dynamic) to the observed sequence of certain facts called intellectual. The sequence is invariable. The intervention of will is necessarily excluded, because philosophy, at least Positivism, is nothing unless it secures the power of prevision. But free acts cannot be foreseen by man. Hence Comte says, “The arbitrary can never be excluded while political phenomena are referred to will, divine or human, instead of being connected with invariable natural laws.”23 “If social events were always exposed to disturbance by the accidental intervention of the legislator, human or divine, no scientific prevision of them would be possible.”24
Intellectual exercises being regarded as a function of the brain, Comte says, “The positive theory of the intellectual and affective functions is therefore henceforth unchangeably regarded as consisting in the study, both rational and experimental, of the various phenomena of internal sensibility, which are proper to the cerebral ganglia, apart from their external apparatus. It is, therefore, simply a prolongation of animal physiology, properly so called, when this is extended so as to include the fundamental and ultimate attributes.”25
Comte, being an ardent phrenologist, founded one of the arguments for his system on the organization of the brain; but his great dependence was upon the law of human development. He admitted no essential difference between man and irrational animals. The superiority of man is only in the degree of his intelligence, which is due to his better physical organization. According to Comte, the whole human race, and every individual man, passes through three distinct stages, which he calls the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive. During the first stage all events are referred to supernatural causes. In the first part of this stage of their progress, men were fetich-worshippers; then they gradually became polytheists, and monotheists. This he endeavors to prove historically in regard to the Greeks, the Romans, and the inhabitants of western Europe. As men outgrew the fetich age, so they outgrew the polytheistic and monotheistic forms of belief. That is, they ceased to refer phenomena to the agency of supernatural beings.
During the metaphysical stage, phenomena are referred to unseen causes, to occult powers, or forces, that is, to something which the senses cannot detect. This also has passed away, and men have come to recognize the great fact that there are no spiritual agencies in the universe, no efficient causes, nothing but events to be arranged according to the laws of sequence and resemblance. The order of events is invariable and necessary. What it has been in the past, it will be in the future. As this is the law of the development of the race collectively, so it is of the individual man. Every one, in his progress from infancy to manhood, passes through these several stages, the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive. We first believe in supernatural agencies (witches, ghosts, souls, angels, etc.); then in occult causes; then only in facts discerned by the senses. The history of the race and the experience of the individual man are thus made the broad and sure foundation of the Positive Philosophy.
1. Considering that the advocates of this philosophy are a mere handful; considering that nine hundred and ninety-nine millions of the thousand millions of our race still believe in God, it is a rather violent assumption that mankind have reached the stage of Positivism. It may be readily admitted that the progress of science and of Christianity has banished alchemy, astrology, witchcraft, and necromancy from enlightened portions of our race, but it has had a scarcely discernible effect in banishing belief in mind as distinct from matter, or in efficient causes, or in God. Admitting, therefore, the principle of the argument to be correct, the conclusion arrived at is contradicted by facts.
2. The principle itself, however, is a groundless assumption. There has been no such development of the race, and there is no such development of the individual man, as the argument supposes. Much less is it true, as Comte maintains, that these several methods of dealing with phenomena are antagonistic and mutually exclusive; that if we believe in spiritual agents, we cannot believe in unseen, metaphysical causes; and that if we believe in the latter we cannot believe in the former. The fact is, the great mass of mankind, educated and uneducated, believe in both. They believe in God and mind, as well as in occult causes, such as electricity, magnetism, and other physical forces; which, in Comte’s sense of the word, are metaphysical.
With regard to this assumed law of progress, Prof. Huxley, who is as completely emancipated from the trammels of authority as any man of science now living, says, in the first place, that Comte contradicts himself as to this fundamental principle. In proof he quotes a long passage from the “Philosophie Positive,” in which Comte teaches, — “(a.) As a matter of fact, the human intellect has not been invariably subjected to the law of the three states, and, therefore, the necessity of the law cannot be demonstrable a priori. (b.) Much of our knowledge of all kinds has not passed through the three states, and more particularly, as M. Comte is careful to point out, not through the first. (c.) The positive state has more or less coexisted with the theological, from the dawn of human intelligence. And, by way of completing the series of contradictions, the assertion that the three states are ‘essentially different and even radically opposed,’ is met a little lower on the same page by the declaration that ‘the metaphysical state is, at bottom, nothing but a simple general modification of the first.'” “Men of science,” he adds, “are not in the habit of paying much attention to ‘laws’ stated in this fashion.”26
After showing that the individual man does not pass through these several states, Prof. Huxley says, “What is true of the individual is, mutatis mutandis, true of the intellectual development of the species. It is absurd to say of men in a state of primitive savagery, that all their conceptions are in a theological state. Nine tenths of them are eminently realistic, and as ‘positive’ as ignorance and narrowness can make them.”27
Besides, it is not true that the race of men now existing on the earth, were in their primitive state fetich-worshippers, or that they gradually rose to polytheism and monotheism. The reverse is true. Not only revelation, but all history and tradition, go to show that the primitive state of our race was its highest state, at least so far as religion is concerned. Monotheism was the earliest form of religion among men. To that succeeded nature-worship and pantheism, and to that polytheism. It is a historical fact that monotheism was not reached by a process of development. Monotheism was first; it gradually perished from among men, except as miraculously preserved among the Hebrews, and from them diffused through the medium of, or rather, in the form of, Christianity. It extends nowhere beyond the influence, direct or indirect, of the supernatural revelation contained in the Bible. This is a fact which scientific men should not overlook in their deductions.
3. Comte was guilty of the unfairness of confining his survey to a small portion of the nations of the earth; and that the portion too which had been brought under the influence of Christianity. If the law which he sought to establish be universal and necessary, it must have operated from the beginning in India and China as well as in Europe. The millions of those regions have not reached the monotheistic, much less the metaphysical, and still less the positive stage of development. India especially furnishes a striking refutation of this theory. The Hindus are a highly intellectual race. Their language and literature are on a par with those of Greece and Rome. Their philosophers, nearly three thousand years ago, anticipated the highest results reached by thie Schellings and Hegels of our day. Yet of all the nations of the earth the Hindus are the least materialistic, or positive, in their views of nature. With them the supernatural or spiritual is alone real. The Hindus, therefore, cannot be subject to that universal and necessary law of development which is assumed as the foundation of the Positive Philosophy.
4. It is of course presumptuous and idle to attempt to reason men out of their senses, or to convince them that what their very nature teaches them is true, is utterly false and untrustworthy. This, however, Comte not only attempts, but his whole system is rounded on the assumption that our nature is a delusion and a lie. That is, it is founded on the assumption that intuitive truths are false. It is intuitively true that we are free agents. This Comte denies. It is intuitively true that there is a specific and essential difference between right and wrong. This is denied. It is intuitively true that every effect has an efficient cause. This too is denied. It is intuitively true that there is a God to whom men are responsible for their character and conduct. This also is denied. Had all the intellect and all the knowledge ever possessed by men and angels been concentrated in the person of Comte, it had still been folly in him to attempt to found a system involving the denial of such truths as these. The Christian is not afraid to say one thing more. It is intuitively true, to all who have eyes to see, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that his gospel is the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation, and that it is absolutely impossible that any theory which is opposed to these divine intuitions can be true.
Another illustration of the presumptuous character of this philosophy is found in what it teaches concerning Sociology. Scientific men of all countries have long been laboriously engaged in making meteorological observations, and yet such are the number and complexity of the causes which determine the state of the weather, that no man is able to predict how the wind will blow forty-eight hours, much less, a year, in advance. The causes which determine human action in the individual and in society, are far more complex and inscrutable than those which determine the state of the weather. Yet Comte assumes to have reduced Sociology to a science, vying with mathematics in certainty. “I will venture to say,” is his confident assertion, “that Sociological science, though only established by this book, already rivals mathematical science itself, not in precision and fecundity, but in positivity and rationality.”28
Practical Applications of Positivism.
The practical applications of this philosophy are very serious. Positivism claims the right of absolute and universal control over all human affairs; over education, politics, social organization, and religion. As the progress of science has banished all liberty of opinion or of action from the departments of mathematics and astronomy, so it must banish it from every other department of human thought and activity. Speaking of liberty of conscience, Comte says: “Negative as we now see this dogma to be, signifying release from old authority, while waiting for the necessity of positive science, the absolute character supposed to reside in it gave it energy to fulfil its revolutionary destination. . . . This dogma can never be an organic principle; and, moreover, it constitutes an obstacle to reorganization, now that its activity is no longer absorbed by the demolition of the old political order. . . . Can it be supposed,” he asks, “that the most important and the most delicate conceptions, and those which by their complexity are accessible to only a small number of highly prepared understandings, are to be abandoned to the arbitrary and variable decisions of the least competent minds.”29 This argument is conclusive. If social life, the acts of men, are as much and as certainly determined by physical laws as material changes, those who have ascertained these laws are entitled to control all other men. As it would be preposterous to allow men to build our houses or navigate our ships who would not obey the laws of nature, so it would be absurd, on this hypothesis, to allow those ignorant of social laws to govern society. Comte avows his admiration, not of popish doctrine, but of the papal organization, which in the new order of things he proposes to continue. “Papal infallibility,” he says,30“was a great intellectual and social advance.” Prof. Huxley pithily characterizes Positivism, in this regard, as “Catholicism minus Christianity.”
Religion is not excepted from this absolute subjection. The Positive Philosophy, as it denies the existence of the soul and the being of God, would seem to leave no place for religion. Comte placed on the title-page of his “Discours sur l’Ensemble du Positivisime,” the announcement that his design was to reorganize society “sans Dieu ni Roi.” Nevertheless, as men must have, as they always have had, some religion, a philosophy which aspired to absolute dominion over all the departments of human life, must make some provision for this universal, although imaginary, necessity of our nature. Comte, therefore, published a catechism of religious belief, and a ritual of religious worship. The object of worship was to be the aggregate of humanity formed by the absorption of the successive generations of men. Every great man has two forms of existence: one conscious before death; the other after death, unconscious, in the hearts and intellects of other men. The God of the Positive Philosophy is, therefore, the aggregate of the memories of great men. “Undoubtedly,” says Huxley, “‘Dieu’ disappeared, but the ‘Noveau Grand-Etre Supreme,’ a gigantic fetich, turned out bran-new by M. Comte’s own hands, reigned in his stead. ‘Roi’ also was not heard of; but in his place I found a minutely-defined social organization, which, if it ever came into practice, would exert a despotic authority such as no sultan has rivalled, and no Puritan presbytery in its palmiest days could hope to excel. While, as for the ‘culte syste,matique de l’humnanite,,’ I, in my blindness, could not distinguish it from sheer Popery, with M. Comte in the chair of St. Peter, and the names of most of the saints changed.”31
There are, however, to be two forms of worship, the one private, the other public. The special object of the former is woman, because she is the most perfect representative of humanity. As “Mother, she excites veneration; as wife, affection, and as daughter, kindness. To excite these sentiments, ideal woman is to be worshipped. Humanity, or the memory of great men, is the object for public worship, regarding which minute details are given. The new religion is to have ten sacraments, a peculiar architecture, and an extended hierarchy, under the control of one absolute High Priest. Such is the system which Comte was allowed to believe would supersede the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has already almost passed away. Among the advanced men of science in England there is scarcely one so poor as to do it reverence.32
E. Scientific Materialism.
The leading principles of the modern scientific form of Materialism are embraced, by some at least, who do not consider themselves Materialists. They, however, adopt the language of the system, and avow principles which, in their generally accepted meaning, constitute what in the history of human thought is known as Materialism.
The most important of these principles are the following, many of which, however, are not peculiar to the system.
1. Matter and force are inseparable. Wherever there is matter there is force, and wherever there is force there is matter. This proposition, at least in the first instance, is to be understood only of physical force.
2. All physical forces, such as light, heat, chemical affinities, electricity, magnetism, etc., etc., are convertible. Light may be converted into heat, and heat into light; either into electricity, and electricity into either; and so through the whole range. This is what is called the correlation of forces. Count Rumford, in a communication to the Royal Society of London, in 1798, satisfied that the heat generated in boring cannon could not be otherwise accounted for, advanced the doctrine that heat is a peculiar mode of motion. Since then the doctrine has been generalized, and it is now the commonly received opinion that all the physical forces are resolvable into motion. This generalization, however, is not accepted by all scientific men. They find it impossible to conceive how gravitation, which acts instantaneously at all distances, can he motion. It is simply a force which tends to produce motion.
3. This motion, however, is not of a fluid, or ether, or any other imponderable substance peculiar to each particular kind of force. As sound consists in, or rather is produced by the vibrations ot the atmosphere, it was natural to assume that light was the undulation of one medium, heat of another, electricity of another. This theory is discarded. The motion intended is motion in the molecules of the matter affected. When iron is heated, nothing is added to it. There is no imponderable substance called caloric. All that occurs is, that the molecules of the iron are agitated in a particular way. If the iron be magnetized, it is only a different kind of motion imparted to its constituent atoms. So of all other kinds of force. When, however, light or heat is radiated from a distant object, the motion which constitutes these forces must be transmitted through some medium. For where there is motion, there must be something that moves. And, therefore, if heat be motion in the molecules of the sun, that heat could not reach us unless there was some material medium between us and the sun.
4. The physical forces are not only convertible one into any of the others, but they are quantitively equivalent; that is, a given amount of heat will produce an amount of light or of electricity, or of any other force, which, if it could be utilized, would reproduce precisely that amount of heat. A cannon-ball, when it impinges on a target, produces heat enough to give it the velocity which it had at the moment of contact. A certain amount of light and heat derived from the sun is expended in the formation of a certain amount of wood or coal; that amount of wood or coal will furnish precisely the amount of light and heat which was expended in its production. Count Rumford experimented to determine the quantitive relation between motion and heat, and arrived at very nearly the same conclusion as that reached by Dr. Joule of Manchester, England, who found that one pound of matter, falling seven hundred and seventy-two feet, will produce heat enough to raise the temperature of a pound of water one degree of Fahrenheit. This is now received as the unit of force.
5. Force is indestructible. It is never increased or diminished What is lost in one form is taken up in another. Forces are, therefore, indestructible, convertible, and imponderable agents. This correlation and conservation of forces is declared by Dr. Carpenter, the eminent physiologist, to be “now amongst the best established generalizations of physical science,” and the greatest scientific triumph of the age; “thanks,” as he says, “to the labors of Faraday, Grove, Joule, Thomson, and Tyndall, to say nothing of those of Helmholtz and other distingtlished continental savans.”33
Correlation of the Physical and Vital Forces.
So long as this doctrine of the correlation of forces is confined to the department of physics, it is a purely scientific question, in which the theologian has no special interest. Unhappily it has not been thus confined. Dr. Carpenter, in the paper just quoted, says, “Every thoughtful physiologist must desire to see the same course of inquiry thoroughly pursued in regard to the phenomena of living bodies.”34 The first step in that direction, he adds, was taken by Dr. Mayer of Germany, in his remarkable treatise on “Organic Movement in its Relation to Material Changes.”
There appear to be three forms of opinion among scientific men, of the “advanced” school, as to the relation between vital and physical forces. First, there are some, of whom Dr. Carpenter is one, who hold that the forces by which vital processes are carried in, are light, heat, electricity, and so forth, but that these are directed or controlled by a force of a different kind, called “a directing agency.”
Dr. Carpenter’s Theory.
Dr. Carpenter denies that there is any such thing as vitality, or vital force, or nisus formativus, or Bildungstrieb. Two germs may be selected between which neither the microscope nor chemical analysis can detect the slightest difference; yet one develops into a fish, another into a bird. Why is this? Dr. Carpenter answers because of a “directing agency” residing in the germ. His language is: “The prevalent opinion has until lately been, that this power is inherent in the germ; which has been supposed to derive from its parent not merely its material substance, but a nisus formativus, Bildungstrieb, or germ-force, in virtue of which it builds itself up into the likeness of its parent, and manmtains itself in that likeness until the force is exhausted, and at the same time imparting a fraction of it to each of its progeny.”35 This opinion he rejects; but adds, “When we look carefully into the question, we find that what the germ really supplies, is not the force, but the directive agency; thus rather resembling the control exercised by the superintendent builder, who is charged with working out the design of the architect, than the bodily force of the workmen who labor under his guidance in the construction of the fabric.”36 The conclusion at which he arrives is “that the correlation between heat and the organizing force of plants is not less intimate than that which exists between heat and motion. The special attribute of the vegetable germ is its power of utilizing, after its own peculiar fashion, the heat which it receives, and of applying a constructive power to the building up of its fabric after its characteristic type.”37
On this doctrine of Carpenter it may be remarked, (1.) That it seems to be self-contradictory. He denies to the germ a nisas formativus, or, Bildungstrieb, and attributes to it “a constructive power.” What is the difference? The English phrase is a literal translation of the German word. (2.) He says that “heat and the organizing force of plants” are correlated, i. e., they are convertible one into the other and are quantitively equivalent; and yet the relation between them is analogous to that between a superintending builder and the strength of the workmen. According to this, the physical strength of the hod man is convertible into the intellect of the builder and is its quantitive equivalent. We do not see how this contradiction is to be avoided, unless he uses the phrases “constructive force,” “organizing force,” sometimes for the “directing agency” in the germ, and sometimes, for the physical forces which that agency controls. But if he distinguishes between the “directing agency” and “the organizing force,” then there is no correlation between the physical force and “the vital activity of the germ.”
3. According not only to the common, but to the latest, opinion of physiologists, the germ supplies something more than “a directing agency” (which must itself be a force). It not only directs, but it effects, or produces changes. It is an operative force, acting not by, but against physical forces or chemical affinities; counteracting them as long as it continues. As soon as the germ or plant or tissue dies, the physical forces obtain ascendency and disintegration takes place. This Dr. Carpenter himself admits. The most marked characteristic, he says, which distinguishes “vital from every kind of physical activity,” is, “the fact that a germ endowed with life, develops itself into an organism of a type resembling that of its parent; that this organism is the subject of incessant changes, which all tend, in the first place, to the evolution of its typical form; and subsequently to its maintenance in that form, notwithstanding the antagonism of chemical and physical agencies, which are continually tending to produce its disintegration; but that, as its term of existence is prolonged, its conservative power declines so as to become less and less able to resist these disintegrating forces, to which it finally succumbs, leaving the organism to be resolved by their agency into the components from which its materials were originally drawn.”38 This does not mean that chemical agencies have no part to act in the growth and development of plants and animals, but it certainly does mean that the vital force or life is an agency or power different from any kind of physical force. Life and physical force, therefore, are not identical. They are not correlated. The former is not a mere form of the latter.
On of the most eminent of living physiologists is Dr. John Marshall, and he, although far from belonging to the old school, distinctly takes the ground that there is a vital force which cannot be resolved into any of the physical forces operative in the external, inorganic world. He says:39 “All the strictly physical processes within the body, whether chemical, mechanical, thermic, electric, or photic, are performed by modifications of the common force which produces similar phenomena in the inorganic world around us. There exists, however, in the living animnal, as in the living vegetable organism, a special formative or organizing enemgy, evolving the perfect animal or plant from the primitive ovum or ovule, developing its various tissues and organs, and conserving them from the commencement to the termination of its individual existence. The influence of this force, moreover, extends from the parent to the offspring, generation after generation.” This is the commonly received doctrine, that physical phenomena are to be referred to physical forces; vital phenomena to vital force; and mental phenomena to mind. The new doctrine, however, is that all phenomena are to be referred to physical forces, no other forces being either known or knowable.
The more advanced Opinions.
The second view adopted in reference to the relation of physical to vital force, is, that if there be any difference it cannot be known. Physical forces are known. They can be measured. They can not only be converted one into another, but can be proved to be quantitively equivalent. If any other kind of force be assumed to account for vital phenomena, the assumption is gratuitous. It is taking for granted that something exists of which we know, and can know nothing. It must, therefore, lie beyond the sphere of science and is of no importance. Even Dr. Carpenter uses such language as this: “Another class of reasoners have cut the knot which they could not untie, by attributing all the actions of living bodies for which physics and chemistry cannot account, to a hypothetical ‘vital principle;’ a shadowy agency that does everything in its own way, but refuses to be made the subject of scientific examination; like the ‘od-force,’ or the ‘spiritual power ‘to which the lovers of the marvellous are so fond of attributing the mysterious movements of turning and tilting tables.”40 “If a man asks me,” says Prof. Huxley, “what the politics of the inhabitants of the moon are, and I reply, that I do not know; that neither I, nor any one else, have any means of knowing; and that, under these circumstances, I decline to trouble myself about the subject at all, I do not think he has any right to call me a skeptic.”41 It is thus he banishes vitality from the sphere of science, because everything, except matter and its functions, belongs to the region of the unknown and the unknowable. Prof. Tyndall and Herbert Spencer take, at times, the same ground.
But, although such writers as Dr. Carpenter, in apparent contradiction to their own admissions, acknowledge the existence of “a directing agency” in the living germ, the majority of the writers of this school refuse to recognize any such agency or force as a scientific truth. The only difference between the second and third views on this general subject, above referred to, is, that according to the one, the assumption of vital as distinct from physical force, is regarded as gratuitous and unnecessary; according to the other, any such assumption is declared to be unphilosophical, and to be utterly discarded. The same writer sometimes takes one, and sometimes the other of these grounds.
The Argument for the correlation of Physical and Vital Forces.
Thus Prof. Huxley, although a few years since a firm advocate of vital, as distinct from physical force, in his discourse on the “Physical Basis of Life,” takes the opposite ground. The argument is this: the elements furnished by the mineral kingdom are taken up by the plant, and, under the influence of light and heat, transformed into organized matter. The products of vegetation, starch, sugar, fibrine, etc., are purely material. This is true even of protoplasm, or living matter, or the physical basis of life, as it is called, which is elaborated by the plant out of the lifeless materials furnished by the soil and the atmosphere. There is indeed a great difference between the products of vegetation and the lifeless elements out of which they are formed. But so there is between the elements of water and water itself. If an electric spark be passed through a volume of oxygen and hydrogen gas, it becomes water, which weighs precisely as much as the volume of the two gases of which it is composed. It is oxygen and hydrogen in combination, and nothing more. Yet the properties of the water are entirely different from those of the oxygen and hydrogen. In like manner there is a great difference between the properties of the carbonic acid, the water, and the ammonia, of which the plant is composed, and the living plant itself. But as it would be unphilosophical to assume the existence of an unknown something called aquosity to account for the difference between water and its elements, it is no less unphilosophical to assume the existence of an unknown something called vitality to account for the difference between it and the lifeless materials of which living matter is composed.
In like manner all the phenomena of animal life are referred to the physical forces inseparable from the matter which composes the animal structure. It is true the functions of matter in the animal tissues are higher than in those of the plant. But the advocates of the theory under consideration, endeavor to reduce the difference between animal and vegetable life to a minimum. It is only the upper surface of the leaf which is susceptible of the peculiar effects of light. So it is only the optic nerve that is affected in a way which is necessary to vision. The sensitive plant contracts when touched; and so does the animal muscle when the proper stimulus, nervous or electric, is applied. In short, as all the operations of vegetable life are due to physical forces, so all the phenomena of animal life are due to the same causes.
On this subject Prof. Huxley says: “The matter of life is composed of ordinary matter, differing from it only in the manner in which its atoms are aggregated. It is built up of ordinary matter, and again resolved into ordinary matter when its work is done.”42 By protoplasm, or matter of life, he sometimes means matter which exhibits the phenomnena of life; and sometimes, matter which having been elaborated by the plant or animal, is capable of supporting life. Hence he calls boiled mutton protoplasm.
The only difference between inorganic, lifeless matter, and living plants or animals, is in the manner in which their atoms are aggregated. “Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, are all lifeless bodies. Of these, carbon and oxygen unite, in certain proportions, and under certain conditions, to give rise to carbonic acid; hydrogen and oxygen produce water; nitrogen and hydrogen give rise to ammonia. These new compounds, like the elementary bodies of which they are composed, are lifeless. But when they are brought together, under certain conditions they give rise to the still more complex body, protoplasm, and this protoplasm exhibits the phenomena of life. I see no break in this series of steps in molecular complication, and I am unable to understand why the language which is applicable to any one term of the series may not be used to any of the others. . . . When hydrogen and oxygen are mimxed in a certain proportion, and an electric spark is passed through them, they disappear, and a quantity of water, equal in weight to the sum of their weights, appears in their place. There is not the slightest parity between the passive and active powers of the water and those of the oxygen and hydrogen which have given rise to it.”43 “What justification is there, then, for the assumption of the existence in the living matter of a something which has no representative, or correlative, in the not living matter which gave rise to it? What better philosophical status has ‘vitality’ than ‘aquosity?’ And why should ‘vitality’ hope for a better fate than the other ‘itys’ which have disappeared since Martinus Scriblerus accounted for the operation of the meat-jack by its inherent ‘meat-roasting quality,’ and scorned the materialism of those who explained the turning of the spit by a certain mechanism worked by the draught of the chimney? . . . . If the properties of water may be properly said to result from the nature and disposition of its component molecules, I can find no intelligible ground for refusing to say that the properties of protoplasm result from the nature and disposition of its molecules.”44
The doctrine, therefore, is, that carbonic acid, water, and ammonia, lifeless bodies, under certain conditions, become living matter, not in virtue of any new force or principle communicated to them, but solely in virtue of a different arrangement of their molecules. Of this living matter all plants and animals are composed, and to the properties or physical forces inherent in the matter of which they are composed, all the phenomena of vegetable and animal life are to be referred. “Protoplasm,” says Prof. Huxley, “is the clay of the potter: which, bake it and paint it as he will, remains clay, separated by artifice and not by nature, from the commonest brick or sun-dried clod.”45 As the brick, no matter what its shape or color, can have no properties not inherent in the clay, so vegetable or animal organisms can have no properties which do not belong to protoplasm, which, in the last analysis, is nothing but carbonic acid, water, and ammonma.
Professor Huxley is not only a distinguished naturalist, but a popular lecturer and preacher of “Lay Sermons,” and thus has become a representative man among the advocates of this new form of Materialism. He is, however, very far from standing alone. “Some of the most distinguished living physicists, chemists, and naturalists, says Dr. Beale, “have accepted this physical theory of life. They have taught that life is but a mode of ordinary force, and that the living thing differs from the non-living thing, not in quality, or essence, or kind, but merely in degree.”46 “So long,” says the same writer, “as the advocates of the physical doctrine of life contented themselves with ridiculing ‘vitality’ as a fiction and a myth, because it could not be made evident to the senses, measured or weighed, or proved scientifically to exist, their position was not easily assailed; but now when they assert dogmatically that vital force is only a form or mode of ordinary motion they are bound to show that the assertion rests upon evidence, or it will be regarded by thoughtful men as one of a large number of fanciful hypotheses, advocated only by those who desire to swell the ranks of the teachers and expounders of dogmatic science, which, although pretentious and authoritative, must ever be intolerant and unprogressive.”47
Not only are the operations of vegetable and animal life, according to the new doctrine, due to physical forces, but the same is true of all mental operations. If the argument from analogy is valid in the one case, it is valid in the other. If we must believe that the properties of protoplasm, or living matter, are to be referred to the mode in which its molecules are aggregated, because the properties of water are due to the peculiar aggregation of the atoms of which its elements, hydrogen and oxygen, are composed; then we must believe that all thought and feeling are due to the molecular composition and movements of the brain atoms. Accordingly, Professor Huxley, after saying that “vitality” has no better philosophical standing than “aquosity,” warns his readers that they cannot stop with that admission. “I bid you beware,” he says, “that in accepting these conclusions, you are placing your feet on the first rung of a ladder, which in most people’s estimation is the reverse of Jacob’s, and leads to the antipodes of heaven. It may seem a small thing to admit that the dull vital actions of a fungus or a foraminifer are the properties of their protoplasm, and are the direct results of the nature of the matter of which they are composed. But if, as I have endeavored to prove to you, their protoplasm is essentially identical with, and most readily converted into, that of any animal, I can discover no logical halting-place, between the admission that such is the case, and the further concession that all vital action may with equal propriety be said to be the result of the molecular forces of the protoplasm which displays it. And if so, it must be true, in the same sense and to the same extent, that the thoughts to which I am now giving utterance, and your thoughts regarding them, are the expression of molecular changes in that matter of life which is the source of our other vital phenomena.”48 “Further,” he says, “I take it to be demonstrable that it is utterly impossible to prove that anything whatever may not be the effect of a material and necessary cause, and that human logic is equally incompetent to prove that any act is really spontaneous. A really spontaneous act is one which, by the assumption, has no cause [i. e. no material cause, for he admits no other]; and the attempt to prove such a negative as this is, on the face of the matter, absurd. And while it is thus a philosophical impossibility to demonstrate that any given phenomenon is not the effect of a material cause, any one who is acquainted with the history of science will admit that its progress has in all ages meant, and now more than ever means, the extension of the province of what we call matter and causation, and the concomitant gradual banishment from all regions of human thought of what we call spirit and spontaneity.”49 “After all, what do we know of this terrible ‘matter,’ except as a name for the unknown and hypothetical cause of states of our own consciousness? And what do we know of that ‘spirit’ over whose threatened extinction by matter a great lamentation is arising except . . . that it is also a name for an unknown and hypothetical cause or condition of states of consciousness? In other words, matter and spirit are but names for the imaginary substrata of groups of natural phenomena.”50 “As surely as every future grows out of past and present, so will the physiology of the future gradually extend the realm of matter and law until it is co-extensive with knowledge, with feeling, and with action.”51 He cites the often-quoted exhortation of Hume, and enforces “the most wise advice” which it contains. “If we take in our hand,” says Hume, “any volume of divinity or school-metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact or existence? No. Commit it, then, to the flames; for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”52
The history of human speculation does not furnish a more explicit avowal of Materialism than that contained in the above quotations. All known effects are ascribed to material causes. Spirit is declared to have only an imaginary existence. Spontaneity is pronounced an absurdity. Necessity is affirmed to be inexorable and universal. Yet Huxley says he is no Materialist. This in a sense is true. He is not a Materialist, because he believes in neither matter nor spirit. He avows himself a disciple of Hume, who taught that we know nothing but impressions and ideas. Substance, whether material or spiritual, efficiency, and God, are banished from the sphere of knowledge to that of “sophistry and illusion.” He avows his fellowship with Herbert Spencer, the fundamental principle of whose “New Philosophy” is, that all we know, or can know, is, that force is and that it is persistent, while force itself is absolutely inscrutable. This blots the soul and God out of existence, except as those words indicate an unknown force. But as he also holds that all forces are convertible, the distinction between material and mental forces, whether humau or divine, is obliterated. He avails himself of the common assumption that his theory does not degrade spirit, but exalts matter. It is the verdict of history, however, as Julius Maller truly says, “That every attempt to spiritualize matter ends in materializing spirit.” On this subject Spencer says: “Men who have not risen above that vulgar conception which unites with matter the contemptuous epithets ‘gross’ and ‘brute,’ may naturally feel dismay at the proposal to reduce the phenomena of life, of mind, and of society, to a level with those which they think so degraded. . . . The course proposed does not imply a degradation of the so-called higher, but an elevation of the so-called lower.”53 This at least is an avowal that the phenomena of life, mind, and society are to be referred to material or physical causes. This, indeed, he repeatedly asserts. After insisting on the transformation of physical forces into chemical, and these into vital, he adds, “Many will be alarmed by the assertion that the forces which we distinguish as mental, come within the same generalization. Yet there is no alternative but to make this concession.54 . . . . Any hesitation to admit that between the physical forces and the sensations there exists a correlation like that between the physical forces themselves, must disappear on remembering how the one correlation like the other, is not qualitive only, but quantitive.”55 “Various classes of facts unite to prove that the law of metamorphosis, which holds among the physical forces, holds equally between them and the mental forces. . . . How this metamorphosis takes place — how a force existing as motion, light, or heat, can become a mode of consciousness,” is mysterious; but he adds, it is not a greater mystery “than the transformations of physical forces into each other.”56
Dr. Maudsley, a distinguished writer of the same school,57 says, “Few, if any, will now be found to deny that with each display of mental power there are correlative changes in the material substratum; that every phenomenon of mind is the result, as manifest in energy, of some change, molecular, chemical, or vital, in the nervous elements of the brain.” Again, he says,58 “With regard to the manifold phenomena of mind; by observation of them, and abstraction from the particular, we get the general conception, or the essential idea of mind, an idea which has no more existence out of the mind, than any other abstract idea or general term. In virtue, however, of that powerful tendency in the human mind to make the reality conformable to the idea, a tendency which has been at the bottom of so much confusion in philosophy, this general conception has been converted into an objective entity, and allowed to tyrannize over the understanding. A metaphysical abstraction has been made into a spiritual entity and a complete barrier thereby interposed in the way of positive investigation.”
The passages quoted above are a fair specimen of the kind of reasoning in which scientific men frequently indulge. In the first quotation, there are two clauses presented as equivalent, which are in fact essentially different; and substituting the one for the other is just a silent and subtle begging of the question. The first says that every mental act is attended by a molecular change in the brain. The other in effect says, the molecular change is the mental act. These two propositions are as different as day and night. The theory is that a certain kind of molecular motion in iron is heat; and a certain kind of molecular motion in the brain is thought. And all the proof, as far as the latter is concerned, is that the one attends the other. But the formation of an image on the retina attends sight, and yet does not prove that the image is our consciousness when we see.
Again, in the second passage, Dr. Maudsley says that “mind is an abstract idea,” which has no existence outside “of the mind,” i.e., outside of itself. An abstract idea has an abstract idea, which it makes into an objective entity. Men who deny the objective existence of mind, can no more think, speak, or write without recognizing its existence, than an idealist can act without recognizing the existence of the external world. Any theory which involves a denial of the laws of our nature is of necessity absurd.
The German Physicists.
As might be expected, the scientific men of the continent are more outspoken in their Materialism than those of England. A late German writer, Th. Otto Berger, Oberlehrer fur Mathematik and Physik,59 says: Materialism is the philosophy of the five senses, it admits nothing but on the testimony of sensation, and therefore denies the existence of the soul, of God, and of everything supersensuous. In its modern form, it teaches that as the material is alone true and real, it is uncreated and eternal. It always has been and always will be. It is indestructible, and, in its elements, unchangeable. Force is inseparable from matter. According to the theory no matter is without force, and no force is without matter. No force exists of itself; and, therefore, there is none to which the creation of matter is to be referred. The universe as it now is, is due to the gradual evolution of the two elements, matter and force; which evolution proceeds under the operation of fixed laws. The lower organisms are first formed; then the higher, until man appears. All life, whether animal, vegetable, or spiritual, is due to the working of physical and chemical forces in matter. As no power exists but in matter, there can be no divine Being with creative power nor any created human soul. Berger quotes Virchow as saying, “The scientific naturalist knows only bodies and the properties of bodies.” All that is beyond them he pronounces “transcendental, and the transcendental is the chimerical.” He also quotes B. C. Vogt, as saying, “We admit of no creator, either in the beginning, or in the course of the world’s history; and regard the idea of a self-conscious, extramundane creator as ridiculous.” Man, according to these writers, consists only of a material body; all mental acts and states are of the brain. When the body dies, the man ceases to exist. “The only immortality,” says Moleschott, “is, that when the body is disintegrated, its ammonia, carbonic acid, and lime, serve to enrich the earth, and to nourish plants, which feed other generations of men.”60
As Materialism, in its modern form, in all that is essential to the theory, is the same that it was a thousand years ago, the old arguments against it are as available now as they ever were. Its fundamental affirmation is, that all the phenomena of the universe, physical, vital, and mental, are to be referred to unintelligent physical forces; and its fundamental negation is, that there is no such objective entity as mind or spirit. If, therefore, it can be shown that unintelligent force cannot account for all the phenomena of the universe; and that there is such an objective entity or substance, as mind, the theory is refuted. There are two methods of combating any given theory. The one is the scientific, which calls in question the accuracy or the completeness of the data on which it is founded, or the validity of the inferences deduced from them. The other is the shorter and easier method of the reductio ad absurdum. The latter is just as legitimate and valid as the former. It is to be remembered that every theory includes two factors; facts and principles; or, facts and inferences drawn from them. The facts may be admitted, when the principles or inferences may be denied. Thus the facts on which Materialists insist may, for the most part at least, be acknowledged; while the sweeping inferences which they draw from them, in the eye of reason may not be worth a straw. All such inferences must be rejected whenever they conflict with any well-established truth, whether of intuition, experience, or of divine revelation.
Three general theories have been proposed to solve the great problem of the universe: the Materialistic, the Pantheistic, and the Theistic. According to the first all the phenomena of the universe are due to matter and its forces; according to the second, in its most rational form, all power, activity, and life, are the power, activity, and life of the one universal mind. The third, or Theistic theory, assumes the existence of an infinite, extramundane God, who created matter, endowed with forces, and finite minds gifted with intelligence and will; and that all the ordinary phenomena of the universe are proximately due to these physical and mental forces as constantly upheld and controlled by the omnipresent wisdom and power of God. It may be doubted whether any amount of argument can deepen the conviction that the Theistic solution of this great problem is the true one. It is seen to be true, because it is seen to be a solution. It satisfactorily accounts for all the facts of consciousness and observation. It satisfies the reason, the heart, and the conscience. It is in fact self-evidently true, in the sense that no man to whom it has been once proposed, can ever permanently shake off the conviction of its truth. The other theories are not solutions. They may account for some classes of facts, but not for others. Our present concern, however, is with Materialism.
Materialism contradicts the Facts of Consciousness.
1. The primary principle of all knowledge is the knowledge of self. This must be assumed. Unless we are we cannot know. This knowledge of self is a knowledge that we are something; a real existence; not merely a state or mode of something else; but that the self is a substance, a real, objective entity. It is, moreover, a knowledge not only that we are a substance, but also that we are an individual subsistence, which thinks, feels, and wills. Here, then, is mind, i. e., an individual, intelligent, voluntary agent, necessarily included in the first, and the most essential of all truths. If this be denied, then Hume is right, and we can know nothing. It is, moreover, included in this knowledge of the Self, that the body is not the Ego. Although the body is intimately, and even vitally united to the substance in which our personality resides, it is nevertheless objective to it. It is the organ which the Self uses, and by which it holds communion with the external world. That these are really facts of consciousness, and not merely dicta, or arbitrary assumptions, is clear because they are universally and of necessity recognized. They are imbedded in all human languages; they are involved in all expressions of human thought; they are of necessity assumed by those who theoretically deny them. The Materialist cannot think, or speak, or write, without assuming the existence of mind as distinct from matter, any more than the Idealist can live and act without assuming the existence of the external world.
Our knowledge of mind, therefore, as a thinking substance, is the first, and most certain, and the most indestructible of all forms of knowledge; because it is involved in self-knowledge, or self-consciousness, which is the indispensable condition of all knowledge. That which knows is, in the order of nature, before that which is known. It is impossible, therefore, that the Materialist can have any higher evidence of the existence of matter, or of force, than that which every man has, in his own consciousness, of the existence of mind. To deny the one is as unreasonable as to deny the other. Neither can be denied, except theoretically. As a matter of fact, every man believes in matter, and every man believes in mind. What are our sensations which are relied upon so confidently to give us knowledge of physical phenomena, but states of consciousness? If consciousness is to be trusted in reporting the testimony of the senses, why is it not to be trusted when it reports the facts of our interior life? If it is believed when it says there is something visible and tangible without us, why should it not be believed when it says there is something which thinks and wills within us? If unreliable in the one case, it is unreliable in the other; and if unreliable in either, the whole foundation of knowledge and of all faith is swept away. Confidence in the veracity of consciousness is our only security from the wildest, the most irrational, and the most degrading skepticism.
It may be said, however, that the Materialist does not deny that there is something within us that thinks and wills. He only says that that something is the brain. This, however, is to ignore one half of the testimony which consciousness really bears. It testifies not only that there are such sensations as those of sight and touch, but that there is a real objective substance which is tangible and visible. That is to say, we believe in virtue of the constitution of our nature, and therefore of necessity, when we see or touch, that the objects of our sense-perceptions have a real, objective existence. This every man believes, and cannot help believing. And in like manner, when he thinks, feels, or wills, he believes, in virtue of the constitution of his nature, and therefore by a like necessity, that he himself is an intelligent, feeling, and voluntary substance. That is, he believes that the Self is mind, or spirit, to which the body is objective, and therefore different front the Self. The belief in mind, therefore, is involved in the belief of self-existence. Consciousness gives us the assurance that the Self is an intelligent, voluntary agent, or spirit.
2. Another fact of consciousness which Materialism denies, either avowedly or by necessary implication, is the fact of free agency. This, indeed, is involved in what has already been said. Nevertheless there are those who admit the existence of mind who deny that man is a free agent. It needs no proof that consciousness attests that men have the power of self-determination. Every man knows this to be true with regard to himself. Every man recognizes the fact with regard to his fellow-men. This again is a conviction which no obduracy of the conscience, and no sophistry of argument can permanently obliterate from the human mind. This, however, Materialism denies. Physical forces act necessarily and uniformly. In referring all mental action to physical forces, Materialism cannot but exclude all freedom of action. There is no spontaneity in chemical affinity, in light, heat, or electricity; yet to these forces all vital and mental phenomena are referred. If thought be a certain kind of molecular motion of the brain, it is no more free than that other kind of molecular motion called heat. And this is the more obviously true, if they are cordative, the one being changed into the other. Accordingly Materialists, as a general thing, are avowed necessitarians. This is not only true of the Positivists, but the doctrine that human action is determined by necessary laws, is the foundation of their whole system of Social Science. And Professor Huxley, as we have seen, pronounces a spontaneous act, from the nature of the case, an absurdity. It is for him a causeless effect. Every man, therefore, who knows that he is a free agent, knows that Materialism cannot be true.
3. Materialism contradicts the facts of our moral and religious Consciousness. Our moral perceptions are the clearest, the most certain, and the most authoritative of all of our cognitions. If a man is shut up to deny either the testimony of his senses or the truths of reason, on the one hand, or the testimony of his moral nature on the other, all experience shows that he will give up sense and reason, and bow to the authority of conscience. He cannot help it. No man can free himself from the sense of sin, or of accountability. These moral convictions involve in them, or, at least, necessitate the belief in a God to whom we must give an account. But Materialism, in banishing all mind in man, leaves nothing to be accountable; and in banishing all mind from the universe, leaves no Being to whom an account can be rendered. To substitute for an intelligent, extramundane, personal God, mere “inscrutable force,” is a mockery, an insult. Our whole moral and religious nature declares any such theory to be false. It cannot be true unless our whole nature be a lie. And our nature cannot be a lie, unless, as Sir William Hamilton says, the whole universe be “a dream of a dream.” To call upon men to worship gravitation, and sing hallelujahs to the whirlwind, is to call upon them to derationahize themselves. The attempt is as idle as it is foolish and wicked.
This argument from the facts of consciousness against Materialism, is met by the assertion that consciousness is not to be trusted. Dr. Maudsley devotes the greater part of the first chapter of his book on the “Physiology of the Mind,” to the establishment of this point. He argues that self-consciousness is unreliable in the information which it does give, and incompetent to give any account of a large part of our mental activity. lt gives no account of the mental phenomena of the infant, of the uncultivated adult, and of the insane; no account of the bodily conditions which underlie every mental manifestation; no account of the large field of unconscious mental action exhibited, not only in the unconscious assimilation of impressions, but in the registrations of ideas and of their associations, in their latent existence and influence when not active, and their recall into activity; and no account of the influence organically exerted on the brain by other organs of the body. That is, consciousness does not tell us all things, and sometimes tells us wrong. Cannot the same be said of the senses? Can they inform us of everything which goes on in the body? Do they not often deceive us? Are not the sensations of the delirious and the maniac altogether untrustworthy? Does it follow from this that our senses are never to be relied upon? What then becomes of the physical sciences, which are founded on the trustworthiness of the senses. The fact is that if the testimony of consciousness is not to be received as to our mental operations, it cannot be received as to our sensations. If we have no trustworthy evidence of the existence of mind, we have no valid evidence of the existence of matter; and there is no universe, no God. All is nothing.
Happily men cannot emancipate themselves from the laws of their nature. They cannot help believing the well-attested testimony of their senses, and they cannot help believing the testimony of consciousness as to their personal identity, and as to the real, objective existence of the soul as the subject of their thoughts, feelings, and volitions. As no man can refuse to believe that he has a body, so no man can refuse to believe that he has a soul, and that the two are distinct as the Self and the Not-Self.
Materialism contradicts the Truths of Reason.
1. It is intuitively true that every effect must have a cause. This does not mean merely that every effect must have an antecedent; or, as Hume says, that anything may be the cause of anything. Nor does it mean merely that every effect must have an efficient cause. But it means that the antecedent or cause of every effect must have that kind and degree of efficiency which will rationally account for the effect.
There are two general classes of effects with which we are familiar, and which are specifically different, and therefore must have specifically different causes. The one class consists of effects which do not, the other of those which do indicate design. In the latter we see evidence of a purpose, of foresight, of provision for the future, of adaptation, of choice, of spontaneity, as well as of power. In the former all these indications are absent. We see around us innumerable effects belonging to each of these classes. We see water constantly flowing from a higher to a lower level; vapor constantly ascending from the sea; heat producing expansion, cord contraction, water extinguishing fire, alkalies correcting acidity, etc., etc. On the other hand, the world is crowded with works of human intelligence; with statues, pictures, houses, ships, complicated machines for different purposes, with books, libraries, hospitals prepared for the wants of the sick, with institutions of learning, etc., etc. No man can help believing that these classes of effects are specifically different, nor can he help believing that they are due to causes specifically different. In other words, it is self-evident that an unintelligent cause cannot produce an intelligent effect; it cannot purpose, foresee, organize, or choose. Professor Joule may determine through what space a weight must fall to produce a given amount of heat; but can he tell how far it must fall to write a poem, or produce a Madonna? Such a cause has no tendency to produce such an effect. And to suppose it to operate from eternity, is only to multiply eternally, nothing by nothing, it is nothing still.
If every man recognizes the absurdity of referring all the works of human ingenuity and intellect to unintelligent, physical force, how much greater is the absurdity of referring to blind force the immeasurably more stupendous, complicated, and ordered works of God, everywhere indicative of purpose, foresight, and choice. Of this absurdity Materialism is guilty. It teaches, in its modern form, that to carbonic acid, water, and ammonia, with the molecular forces they contain, is the causal efficiency to which all organisms from the fungus to man, and all vital and mental phenomena, are to be referred. This is the doctrine elaborately proposed and defended in Professor Huxley’s paper on the “Physical Basis of Life.” That paper is devoted to establishing two propositions. The first is, “That all animal and vegetable organisms are essentially alike in power, in form, and in substance; and the second, That all vital and intellectual functions are the properties of the molecular dispositions and changes of the material basis (protoplasm) of which the various animals and vegetables consist.”61 He even intimates, after referring to a clock which marks the time, and the phases of the moon, as an illustration of the vital and intellectual phenomena of the universe, as produced by molecular motions and combinations, “that the existing world lay potentially in the cosmic vapor; and that a sufficient intelligence could, from a knowledge of the properties of the molecules of that vapor, have predicted, say the state of the Fauna of Britain in 1869, with as much certainty as one can say what will happen to the vapor of the breath in a cold winters day.”62 On this it is obvious to remark, in the first place, that it is not one whit in advance of the theory of Epicurus propounded more than two thousand years ago. As the whole mass of thinking men have turned their backs on that theory from that day to this, it is not probable that the reassertion of it, however confidently made, will have much effect upon men who have either heads or hearts. In the second place, it gives no rational account of the origin of the universe, and of the wonders which it contains. It violates the fundamental intuitive truth that every effect must have an adequate cause, inasmuch as it refers intelligent effects to unintelligent causes; all the libraries in the world, for example, to “the properties of the molecules,” of carbonic acid, water, and ammonia.
2. A second truth of Reason which Materialism contradicts is that an infinite succession of effects is as unthinkable as a self-supporting chain of an infinite number of links. The modern doctrine is that lifeless matter never becomes living except when brought into contact with previous living matter. It is the office of the living plant to take up the dead elements of the inorganic world and imbue them with life. The plant, therefore, must either precede protoplasm, which is impossible, as it is composed of protoplasm; or the protoplasm must precede the plant, which is equally impossible, because the plant alone, in the first instance, can make protoplasm; or there must be an infinite succession. That is, an infinite number of causeless effects, which is no less impossible. The doctrine of spontaneous generation, or of life originating out of dead matter, is repudiated by the most advanced advocates of the modern form of Materialism. Professor Huxley has done the cause of truth good service by his able refutation of that doctrine.63 Whatever may be the ultimate decision of the question as to the origin of life, it is enough for the present that the modern advocates of Materialism admit that living matter can only come from matter already alive. This admission, it is now urged, is fatal to their theory, as it necessitates the assumption of an eternal effect. If dead matter can only be made alive by previous living matter, there must be a source of life outside of matter, or life never could have begun.
Materialism inconsistent with the Facts of Experience.
It is generally admitted that in nature, i. e., in the external world, there are four distinct spheres, or, as they are sometimes called, planes of existence. First, the common chemical compounds, which constitute the mineral kingdom; second, the vegetable kingdom; third, the irrational animal world; and fourth, Man. It is admitted that all the resources of science are incompetent to raise matter from one of these planes to another. The plant contains ingredients derived from the mineral kingdom, with something specifically different. The animal contains all that is in the plant, with something specifically different. Man contains all that enters into the constitution of the plant and animal, with something specifically different. The lifeless elements of the mineral kingdom, under “the influence of preexistent living matter,” and not otherwise, become living and life supporting matter in the plant. The products of vegetable life, in like manner, become the matter of animal tissues and organs, but only under the influence of preexisting living animal tissues. So, also, the products of the vegetable and animal kingdoms are received into the human system, and become connected with the functions and phenomena of the intellectual and moral life of man, but never otherwise than in the person of a man. This outstanding fact, vouched for by the whole history of our globe, proves that there is something in the plant which is not in lifeless matter; somethiing in the animal which is not in the plant, and something in man which is not in the animal. To assume, with the Materialist, that the organizing life of the plant comes out of lifeless matter; that the sensitive and voluntary life of the animal comes out of the insensible and involuntary life of the plant; or that the rational, moral, and spiritual life of Man comes out of the constituents of the animal, is to assume as a fact something which all experience contradicts. We are not forgetful of the theories which refer these different grades or orders of existence to some process of natural development. We here, however, refer only to the outstanding fact of history, that, in the sphere of human experience, lifeless matter does not become organizing and living, in virtue of its own physical forces; nor the plant an animal; nor the animal a man from anything in the plant or animal, but only in virtue of an ab extra vital influence. It is indeed said that as the same chemical elements combined in one way, have certain properties; and when combined in another way, have other properties; so the same elements combined in one way in lifeless matter and in other ways, in plants, animals, and man, may account for all their distinctive characteristics. But it is to be remembered that the properties of chemical compounds, however varied, are chemical, and nothing more; whereas, in vital organisms the properties or phenomena are specifically different from mere chemical effects. They have no relation to each other, any more than gravity to beauty; and, therefore, the one cannot account for the other.
Atheism is the denial of an extramundane personal God. In saying that Materialism is Atheism, it is not meant that all Materialists are atheists. Some, as for example, Dr. Priestley, confine the application of their principles to the existing order of things. They admit the being of God to whom they refer the creation of the world. The number, however, of such illogical Materialists is small. Leaving out of view these exceptional cases, the philosophers of this school may be divided into three classes, —
(1.) Avowed atheists. To this class belong the Epicureans; the French skeptics of the last century; the Positivists; and a large part of the physicists of the present generation, especially in Europe. (2.) Those who repudiate the charge of atheism, because they admit the necessary existence of an inscrutable force. But inscrutable force is not God. In rejecting the doctrine of an extramundane Spirit, self-conscious, intelligent, and voluntary, the First Cause of all things, they reject Theism; and the denial of Theism is Atheism. (3.) Those whose principles involve the denial of an extramundane God. To this class belong all those who deny the distinction between matter and mind; who deny the “supersensual,” and “supernatural,” who affirm that physical force is the only kind of force of which we have any knowledge; and who maintain that thought is in such a sense a product of the brain, that where there is no brain there can be no thought. Buchner, who although an avowed atheist, is, as to this point, a fair representative of the whole school, says that the fundamental principle (der oberste Grundsatz) of our philosophy is, “No matter without force; and no force without matter.” “A spirit without a body,” he adds, “is as unthinkable as electricity or magnetism without the matter of which they are affections.”64 This he makes the ground of his argument to prove the impossibility of the existence of the soul after death. The principle, if admitted, is equally conclusive against the existence of God. As Materialism leaves us no God to reverence and trust, no Being to whom we are responsible; and as it denies any conscious existence after death, it can be adopted only on the sacrifice of the higher attributes of our nature; and its whole tendency must be to demoralize and degrade.
The Correlation of Physical and Vital and Mental Forces.
Besides the considerations urged above against Materialism as a general theory, it may be proper to say a few words in reference to its modern scientific form. It is admitted that it is the province of scientific men to discuss scientific questions; and that much injury to the cause of truth has followed the attempts of men not devoted to such pursuits, undertaking to adjudicate in such caees. Physicists are wont to take high ground on this subject, and to warn off as intruders all metaphysicians and theologians, all who are devoted to the study of the supersensuous and the supernatural. They are not allowed to be heard on questions of science. The rule must work both ways. If metaphysicians and theolegians must be silent on matters of science, then scientific men devoted to the study of the sensuous, are not entitled to be dictatorial in what regards the supersensuous. A man may be so habituated to deal with quantity and number, as to become incapable of appreciating beauty or moral truth. In like manner a man may be so devoted to the examination of what his senses reveal, as to come to believe that the sensible alone is true and real. The senses have their rights, and so have reason and conscience; and the votaries of sense are not entitled to claim the whole domain of knowledge as exclusively their own.
While, therefore, it is conceded that it belongs specially to scientific men to deal with scientific subjects, yet other classes have some rights which are not to be denied. They have the right to judge for themselves on the validity of the arguments of scientific men; and they have the right to appeal from one scientific man to another, and from the few to the many. So far as the correlation of physical and vital forces is concerned, it is not only a new doctrine, but as yet is adopted only by “advanced thinkers,” as they are called, and call themselves. Dr. H. B. Jones, F. R. S., one of the more modest advocates of the doctrine,65 says, “We are only just entering upon the inquiry how far our ideas of conservation and correlation of energy can be extended to the biological sciences.” And certain it is that the leading men of science, both in Europe and America, are firm believers in vital and mental forces, as distinct in kind, from all physical forces operative in the inorganic world.
The Arguments for such Correlation are Invalid.
The Argument from Analogy.
It has already been stated on the authority of the advocates of the theory, that their first and most important argument in its support is from analogy. The physical forces are all correlated; one is convertible into either of the others; all may be resolved into motion. This creates, as it is said, a strong presumption, that all force, whatever its phenomena, is essentially the same thing. If one kind of motion is heat, another electricity, another light, it is fair to infer that vitality is only another kind of motion, and thought and feeling another. As there is no reason for assuming a specific force for light, and another for heat, therefore it is unnecessary, and unphilosophical, to assume a specific kind of force to account for vital or mental phenomena. Prof. Barker of Yale College, says,66 “Today, as truly as seventy-five years ago when Humboldt wrote, the mysterious and awful phenomena of life, are commonly attributed to some controlling agent residing in the organism — to some independent presiding deity, holding it in absolute subjection.” This presiding agent is called “vital fluid,” “materia vitae diffusa,“ “vital force.” “All these names,” he adds, “assume the existence of a material or immaterial something, more or less separable from the material body, and more or less identical with the mind or soul, which is the cause of the phenomena of living beings. But as science moved irresistibly onward, and it became evident that the forces of inorganic nature were neither deities nor imponderable fluids, separable from matter, but were simple affections of it, analogy demanded a like concession in behalf of vital force. From the notion that the effects of heat were due to an imponderable fluid called caloric, discovery passed to the conviction that heat was but a motion of material particles, and hence inseparable from matter; to a like assumption concerning vitality [namely, that it also is but a motion of material particles], it was now but a step. The more advanced thinkers in science of today, therefore, look upon the life of the living form as inseparable from its substance, and believe that the former is purely phenomenal, and only a manifestation of the latter. Denying the existence of a special vital force as such, they retain the term only to express the sum of the phenomena of living beings.”
The argument from analogy is presented, as we have seen, in another form, by Huxley and others. The properties of water are very different from those of the hydrogen and oxygen of which it s composed. Yet no one supposes that those properties are due to anything else than the material composition of the water itself. So also the phenomena of living matter, and of the human brain, are very different from those of the elements which enter into their constitution; but this affords no presumption that there is any “vital force” or “mind” to account for this difference any more than the peculiar properties of water justify the assumption of the existence of anything distinct from its material element. Vitality and mind, we are told, have no better philosophical status than aquosity.
Dr. Stirling67 states the case thus: “If it is by its mere chemical and physical structure that water exhibits certain properties called aqueous, it is also by its mere chemical and physical structure that protoplasm exhibits certain properties called vital. All that is necessary in either case is, ‘under certain conditions,’ to bring the chemical constituents together. If water is a molecular complication, protoplasm is equally a molecular complication, and for the description of the one or the other, there is no change of language required. A new substance with new qualities results in precisely the same way here, as a new substance with new qualities there; and the derivative qualities are not more different from the primitive qualities in the one instance, than the derivative qualities are different from the primitive qualities in the other. Lastly, the modus operandi of preexistent protoplasm is not more unintelligible than that of the electric spark. The conclusion is irresistible, then, that all protoplasm being reciprocally convertible, and consequently identical, the properties it displays, vitality and intellect included, are as much the result of molecular constitution, as those of water itself.” This analogy is two-fold; having reference to chemical composition on the one hand, and to the antecedent stimulus which determines it on the other. “As regards chemical composition, we are asked, by virtue of the analogy obtaining, to identify, as equally simple instances of it, protoplasm here and water there; and, as it regards the stimulus in question, we are asked to admit the action of the electric spark in the one case to be quite analogous to the action of prexisting protoplasm in the other.”
In answer to this argument Dr. Stirling goes on to show that the analogy holds only as to chemical and physical properties. “One step farther and we see not only that protoplasm has, like water, a chemical and physical structure; but that, unlike water, it has also an organized or organic structure. Now this, on the part of protoplasm, is a possession in excess; and with relation to that excess there can be no grounds for analogy.” “Living protoplasm, namely, is identical with dead protoplasm,” says Dr. Stirling, “only so far as its chemistry is concerned (if even so much as that); and it is quite evident, consequently, that difference between the two cannot depend on that in which they are identical — cannot depend on the chemistry. Life, then, is no affair of chemical and physical structure, and must find its explanation in somethng else. It is thus that, lifted high enough, the light of the analogy between water and protoplasm is seen to go out.”68 Water and its elements, hydrogen and oxygen, are as to the kind of power which they exhibit on a level. “But not so protoplasm, where, with preservation of the chemical and physical likeness there is the addition of the unlikeness of life, of organization, and of ideas. But the addition is a new world — a new and higher world, the world of a self-realizing thought, the world of an entelechy.“69 “There are certainly different states of water, as ice and steam; but the relation of the solid to the liquid, or of either to the vapor, surely offers no analogy to the relation of protoplasm dead to protoplasm alive. That relation is not an analogy but an antithesis, the antithesis of antitheses. In it, in fact, we are in the presence of the one incommunicable gulf — the gulf of all gulfs — that gulf which Mr. Huxley’s protoplasm is as powerless to efface as any other material expedient that has ever been suggested since the eyes of men first looked into it — the mighty gulf between death and life.”70
“The differences alluded to (they are, in order, organization and life, the objective idea — design, and the subjective idea — thought), it may be remarked, are admitted by those very Germans to whom protoplasm, name and thing, is due. They, the most advanced and innovating of them, directly avow that there is present in the cell ‘an architectonic principle that has not yet been detected.’ In pronouncing protoplasm capable of active or vital movements, they do by that refer, they admit also, to an immaterial force, and they ascribe the processes exhibited by protoplasm — in so many words — not to the molecules, but to organization and life.”71
“Was it molecular powers that invented a respiration — that perforated the posterior ear to give a balance of air; that compensated the fenestra ovalis by a fenestra rotunda; that placed in the auricular sacs those otolithes, those express stones for hearing? Such machinery! The chordae tendineae are, to the valves of the heart, exactly adjusted check-strings; and the contractile columnae earneae are set in, under contraction and expansion, to equalize their length to their office. . . . Are we to conceive such machinery, such apparatus, such contrivances, merely molecular? Are molecules adequate to such things — molecules in their blind passivity, and dead, dull, insensibility? . . . . Surely in the presence of these manifest ideas, it is impossible to attribute the single peculiar feature of protoplasm — its vitality, namely — to mere molecular chemistry. Protoplasm, it is true, breaks up into carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, as water does into hydrogen and oxygen; but the watch breaks similarly up into mere brass, and steel, and glass. The loose materials of the watch — even its chemical material if you will — replace its weight, quite as accurately as the constituents, carbon, etc., replace the weight of the protoplasm. But neither these nor those replace the vanished idea, which was alone the important element.”72There is, therefore, something in protoplasm which cannot be weighed or otherwise measured, and to which the vital phenomena are to be referred.
If then the argument from analogy fails in its application to vital phenomena, there can be no pretence that it is valid in its application to the phenomena of mind. If we refuse to take the first step, even Professor Huxley cannot require us to take those which follow.
Further Arguments of the Materialists.
Besides the analogical argument, Materialists insist that there is direct evidence of the correlation of physical, with vital, and mental force. Let it be remembered what this means. Correlated forces are such as may be converted, the one into the other, and which are consequently in their nature identical. The thing, therefore, in this case, to be proved is that light, heat, etc., can be changed into life and thought, and that the latter are identical with the former, both classes being resolvable into motion of the molecules of matter.
The proof is substantially this. The animal body generates heat by the combustion of the carbon of the food which it receives, precisely as heat is produced by the combustion of carbon out of the body. And it has been experimentally proved that the quantity of heat produced in the body, is precisely the same due allowances being made, as the same amount of carbon would produce if burnt out of the body. Vital heat, therefore, is identical with physical heat.
Again, muscular force is produced precisely in the same way as physical force. The potential energy of the fuel moves the steam engine. Its work or power is measured and determined by the amount of power stored in the wood or coal consumed in its production. The source and measure of muscular power, are in like manner to be found in the food we eat. Its potential energy, derived from the sun as is the case with the potential energy of wood and coal, when liberated, produces its due amount, so much and no more, of muscular power. Muscular power, therefore, is as purely physical, produced in the same way, and measured by the same standard, as the power of the steam-engine.
In like manner, “nervous energy, or that form of force, which, on the one hand, stimulates a muscle to contract, and on the other, appears in forms called mental,” is merely physical. It comes from the food we eat. It moves. The rate of its motion is determined to be ninety-seven feet in a second. Its effects are analogous to those of electricity. It is, therefore, for these and similar reasons, inferred that “nerve-force is a transmuted potential energy.” This is no less true of nerve-force when manifested in the form of thought and feeling. Every external manifestation of thought-force, argues Professor Huxley, is a muscular one, and therefore analogous to other forces producing similar effects. Besides, it has been proved that every exercise of thought or feeling is attended by an evolution of heat, which shows that thought is resolved into heat. “Can we longer doubt, then, that the brain, too, is a machine for the conversion of energy? Can we longer refuse to believe that even thought is, in some mysterious way, correlated to the other natural forces? and this, even in face of the fact that it has never yet been measured?”73
To unscientific men of ordinary intelligence, to men not devoted to the study of the sensuous, it is a matter of astonishment that such arguments should be regarded as valid. Admitting all the above facts,what do they prove? Admitting that animal heat is the same in source and nature with heat outside the body; admitting that muscular power is physical in its nature and mode of production; admitting that nerve-force is also physical; what then? Do these facts give any solution of the mysteries of life, of organization, alimentation, or reproduction? Do they in any measure account for the formation of the eye or ear; for the mutual relations and interdependence of the organs of the body? Admitting these forces to be physical; who or what uses them? What guides their operation so as to answer a preconceived design? Admitting muscular power to be physical, what calls it into exercise at one time and not at another; beginning, continuing, or suspending it, at pleasure? It is plain that the facts adduced, are no solution either of vital or of voluntary phenomena. And when we come to thought, admitting that mental action is attended by a development of heat, does that prove that thought and heat are identical? When ashamed we blush, when afraid we become pale; do these facts prove that shame and fear and their bodily effects are one and the same thing? Does concomitancy prove identity? In proving the former, do you establish the latter? Do the facts adduced prove that shame is heat and heat shame, and that the one may be converted into the other? All the world knows that sorrow produces tears; but no one infers from this coincidence that sorrow and salt water are identical. Even Professor Tyndall, one of “the advanced thinkers,” tells the Materialists, that when they have proved everything they claim to prove, they have proved nothing. They leave the connection between mind and body precisely where it was before.74
Direct Arguments against the Theory of the Correlation of
Physical, and Vital, and Mental Forces
1. They are heterogeneous. All physical forces are alike. They all tend to produce motion. They all tend to equilibrium. They are all measurable, by weight, or velocity, or by their sensible effects. They are all unintelligent. They act by necessity, without choice, without reference to an end. In all these respects mental forces are directly the reverse. They do not produce motion, they only guide and control it. They resist a state of equilibrium. They counteract physical force. As soon as vitality is gone, the chemical forces come into play and the plant or animal decays. They cannot be measured. Forces which do not admit of measurement, do not admit of correlation, for correlation involves sameness in quantity. “Thought,” says President Barnard, “cannot be a physical force, because thought admits of no measure. I think it will be conceded without controversy that there is no form of material substance, and no known force of a physical nature (and there are no other forces), of which we cannot in some form definitely express the quantity, by reference to some conventional measuring unit. . . . No such means of measuring mental action has been suggested. No such means can be conceived. . . . Now, I maintain that a thing which is unsusceptible of measure cannot be a quantity; and that a thing that is not even a quantity, cannot be a force.”75
Again, vital and mental force act with intelligence, with forethought, with freedom, and with design. Wherever the intelligence may reside, it is perfectly evident that all vital operations are carried on in execution of a purpose. Heat and electricity can no more fashion an eye than brass and steel can make a watch, or pen and paper write a book. Intelligent force, therefore, differs in kind from unintelligent force. They are not only different, but contradictory; the affirmation of the one is the negation of the other.
Professor Joseph Henry.
Prof. Joseph Henry, of the Smithsonian Institute, is admitted to be one of the most eminent naturalists of the age; distinguished not only for the thoroughness of his researches, but for soundness of judgment, and for the rare gift of being able to appreciate different kinds of evidence. He admits the correlation of physical forces, but protests against the obliteration of the distinction between them and vitality and mind. “The body,” he says, “has been called ‘the house we live in,’ but it may be more truly denominated the machine we employ, which, furnished with power, and all the appliances for its use, enables us to execute the intentions of our intelligence, to gratify our moral natures, and to commune with our fellow beings. This view of the nature of the body is the furthest removed possible from Materialism; it requires a separate thinking principle. To illustrate this, let us suppose a locomotive engine equipped with steam, water, fuel, — in short, with the potential energy necessary to the exhibition of immense mechanical power; the whole remains in a state of dynamic equilibrium, without motion, or signs of life or intelligence. Let the engineer now open a valve which is so poised as to move with the slightest touch, and almost with a volition to let on the power to the piston; the machine now awakes, as it were, into life. It rushes forward with tremendous power; it stops instantly, it returns again, it may be, at the command of the master of the train; in short, it exhibits signs of life and intelligence. Its power is now controlled by mind — it has, as it were, a soul within it.”76 This illustration holds just so far as it was intended to hold. The intellect which controls the engine is not in it, nor is it affected by its changes. Nevertheless, in the body, as well as in the engine, the controlling intellect is equally distinct from the physical force, which both so wonderfully exhibit.
In more direct reference to vitality, Professor Henry says: “Vitality gives startling evidence of the immediate presence of a direct, divine, and spiritual essence, operating with the ordinary forces of nature, but being in itself entirely distinct from them. This view of the subject is absolutely necessary in carrying out the mechanical theory of the equivalency of heat and the correlation of the ordinary physical forces. Among the latter vitality has no place, and knows no subjection to the laws by which they are governed.”77
Dr. Beale78 is equally explicit. He constantly insists that what acts voluntarily, with choice to accomplish an end, cannot be physical; and that in vital and mental operations there is unquestionable evidence of such voluntary action. He says, “I regard ‘vitality’ as a power of a peculiar kind, exhibiting no analogy whatever to any known forces. It cannot be a property of matter, because it is in all respects essentially different in its actions from all acknowledged properties of matter. The vital property belongs to a different category altogether.”79 He argues also to prove that organization cannot be referred to physical force. “It cannot be maintained that the atoms arrange themselves, and devise what positions each is to take up, — and it would be yet more extravagant to attribute to ordinary force or energy, atomic rule and directive agency. We might as well try to make ourselves believe that the laboratory fire made and lighted it self, that the chemical compounds put themselves into the crucible, and the solutions betook themselves to the beakers in the proper order, and in the exact proportions required to form certain definite compounds. But while all will agree that it is absurd to ignore the chemist in the laboratory, many insist upon ignoring the presence of anything representing the chemist in the living matter which they call the ‘cell-laboratory.’ In the one case the chemist works and guides, but in the other, it is maintained, the lifeless molecules of matter are themselves the active agents in developing vital phenomena. . . . No one has proved, and no one can prove, that mind and life are in any way related to chemistry and mechanics. . . . Neither can it be said that life works with physical and chemical forces, for there is no evidence that this is so. On the other hand it is quite certain that life overcomes, in some very remarkable and unknown manner, the influence of physical forces and chemical affinities.”80 On a former page he had said, “In order to convince people that the actions of living beings are not due to any mysterious vitality or vital force or power, but are in fact physical and chemical in their nature, Professor Huxley gives to matter which is alive, to matter which is dead, and to matter which is completely changed by roasting or boiling, the very same name. The matter of sheep and mutton and man and lobster and egg is the same, and, according to Huxley, one may be transubstantiated into the other. But how? By ‘subtle influences,’ and ‘under sundry circumstances,’ answers this authority. And all these things alive, or dead, or roasted, he tells us are made of protoplasm, and this protoplasm is the physical basis of life, or the basis of physical life. But can this discoverer of ‘subtle influences’ afford to sneer at the fiction of vitality? By calling things which differ from one another in many qualities by the same name, Huxley seems to think he can annihilate distinctions, enforce identity, and sweep away the difficulties which have impeded the progress of previous philosophers in their search after unity. Plants, and worms, and men are all protoplasm, and protoplasm is albuminous matter, and albuminous matter consists of four elements, and these four elements possess certain properties, by which properties all differences between plants, and worms, and men, are to be accounted for. Although Huxley would probably admit that a worm was not a man, he would tell us that by ‘subtle influences’ the one thing might be easily converted into the other, and not by such nonsensical fictions as ‘vitality,’ which can neither be weighed, measured, nor conceived.”81
In the latter portion of his book Dr. Beale shows that the brain is not a gland to secrete thought as the liver does bile; nor is thought a function of the brain, nor the result of mechanical or chemical action; nor is the brain a voltaic battery giving shocks of thought, as Stuart Mill conjectures; but it is the organ of the mind, not for generating, but for expressing thought.
To quote unly one more authority, we refer to the eminent naturalist Wallace, the friend and associate of Darwin, and the zealous defender of his theory. “If,” says he, “a material element, or a combination of a thousand material elements in a molecule, are alike unconscious, it is impossible for us to believe, that the more addition of one, two, or a thousand other material elements to form a more complex molecule, could in any way tend to produce a self-conscious existence. To say that mind is a product or function of protoplasm, or of its molecular changes, is to use words to which we can attach no clear conception. You cannot have, in the whole, what does not exist in any of the parts; . . . either all matter is conscious, or consciousness is something distinct from matter; and in the latter case, its presence in material forms is a proof of the existence of conscious beings, outside of, and independent of, what we term matter.”82
Vital and Physical Forces not Convertible.
2. A second argument against the doctrine of the correlation of vital and physical forces is that in fact they are not convertible. Motion and heat are said to be correlated, because one can be changed into the other, measure for measure. But no one has ever changed death into life, dead matter into living matter. This Professor Huxley admits. If the simplest living cell once dies, all the science in the world cannot make it alive. What is dead can be made alive only by being taken up and assimilated by that which is still living. The life, therefore, is not due to the chemical properties of that which is dead. So far as chemistry is concerned, there is no known difference between protoplasm dead and protoplasm alive; and yet there is all the difference between them of life and death. That difference, therefore, is not chemical. Until scientific men can actually change heat and electricity into life, and go about raising the dead, men will be slow to believe that heat and life are identical; and until they can transmute physical force into intelligence and will, they cannot convert “thinkers” into Materialists.
3. Another argument against this theory is the inadequacy of the cause to the assumed effect. The doctrine is that the relation between correlated forces is quantitive; so much of the one will produce so much of the other. But we know that great mental agitation may be produced by the mere sight of certain objects, and that these mental states may call into action violent muscular force. According to the hypothesis, the impression on the nerves of sight or hearing is first transformed into mental force, and that again into muscular and molar energy. This, President Barnard, who presents this argument, pronounces to be absurd, “since it makes a small force equivalent to a large one.”83
President Barnard further argues against this theory from the fact that the mental states produced by impressions on the senses are, at least in many cases, obviously due not to the physical impression, but to the idea therewith connected. If you insult a Frenchman in English, it produces no effect; if the insult be expressed in his own language, it rouses him to fury. The meaning of the words is not a physical force, and yet it is to the meaning the effect is due. Dr. Barnard says, “when it is demanded of us to pronounce as physicists that spiritual existence is an absurdity and religion a dream, it seems to me that no choice is left us but to proclaim our dissent, or to be understood by our silence to accept the doctrine as our own. When such is the alternative, for one I feel bound to speak, and to declare my conviction that as physicists we have nothing to do with mental philosophy; and that in endeavouring to reduce the phenomena of mind under the laws of matter, we wander beyond our depth, we establish nothing certain, we bring ridicule upon the name of positive science, and achieve but a single undeniable result, that of unsettling in the minds of multitudes convictions which form the basis of their chief happiness.”84
4. Physicists cannot carry out their own theory. Even those least susceptible of the force of the supersensuous, are compelled to admit that there is more in mental and vital action than blind physical force can account for. Dr. Carpenter, as we have seen, assumes the presence of “a directive agency;” the Germans of an “architectonic principle” unknown, and uncorrelated, in living matter, to explain undeniable facts for which physical force furnishes no solution. Others, whose spiritual nature is not so entirely subjected to the sensible, break down entirely. Thus Professor Barker, of Yale College, after devoting his whole lecture to prove that vital force and even thought “are correlated to other natural forces” (i. e., identical with them), comes at the end to ask: “Is it only this? Is there not behind this material substance, a higher than molecular power in the thoughts which are immortalized in the poetry of a Milton or a Shakespeare, the art creations of a Michael Angelo or a Titan, the harmonies of a Mozart or a Beethoven? Is there really no immortal portion separable from this brain-tissue, though yet mysteriously united to it? In a word, does this curiously fashioned body inclose a soul, God-given, and to God returning? Here science veils her face, and bows in reverence before the Almighty. We have passed the boundaries by which physical science is inclosed. No crucible, no subtle magnetic needle can answer now our questions. No word but His who formed us can break the awful silence. In the presence of such a revelation science is dumb, and faith comes in joyfully to accept that higher truth which can never be the object of physical demonstration.”85
It thus appears, after all, that there is in man a soul; that the soul is not the body, nor a function of it; that it is the subject and agent of our thoughts, feelings, and volitions. But this is precisely the thing which the lecture is devoted to disproving. Thus Professor Barker’s science gives up the ghost at the feet of his religion. It quenches its torch in the fountain of an order of truths higher than those which admit of “physical demonstration.” The prw/ton yeu/doj of the whole theory is, that nothing is true which cannot be physically demonstrated; that is, which cannot be felt, weighed, or otherwise measured.
Wallace, the Naturalist.
A still more striking illustration of the insufficiency of materialistic principles is furnished by the distinguished naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, above quoted. After devoting his whole book to the defence of the doctrine of natural selection, which refers the origin of all species arid genera of plants and animals to the blind operation of physical forces, he comes to the conclusion that there are no such forces; that all is “Mind.” Matter has no existence. Matter is force, and force is mind; so that “the whole universe is not merely dependent on, but actually is the WILL of higher intelligences, or one Supreme Intelligence.”86 He holds that instead of admitting the existence of an unknown something called matter, and that mind is “another thing, either a product of this matter and its supposed inherent forces, or distinct from, and co-existent with it;” . . . it is a “far simpler and more consistent belief, that matter, as an entity distinct from force, does not exist; and that force is a product of MIND. Philosophy,” he adds, “had long demonstrated our incapacity to prove the existence of matter, as usually conceived, while it admitted the demonstration to each of us of our own self-conscious, ideal existence. Science has now worked its way up to the same result, and this agreement between them should give us some confidence in their combined teaching.”87 Thus, by one step, the gulf between Materialism and idealistic pantheism is passed. This, at least, is a concession that physical forces cannot account for the phenomena of life and mind; and that in conceding that Materialism as a theory is false.
The great mistake of Materialists is that they begin at the wrong end. They begin with blind, lifeless matter; and endeavor to deduce from it and its molecular changes, all the infinite marvels of organization, life, and intelligence which the universe exhibits. This is an attempt to make everything out of nothing. The human mind, in its normal state, always begins with God; who, as the Bible teaches us, is an Infinite Spirit, and therefore self-conscious, intelligent, and voluntary; the creator of all things; of matter with its properties, and of finite minds with their powers; and who controls all things by his ever present wisdom and might; so that all the intelligence indicated in unintelligent forces is only one form of the infinite intelligence of God. This is the solution of the problem of the universe given in the Scriptures; a solution which satisfies our whole nature, rational, moral, and religious.
All works on Psychology, and on the history of Philosophy, contain discussions on the principles of Materialism. Chapter iv. of Dr. Buchanan’s able work, “Faith in God and Modern Atheism Compared,” is devoted to the history and examination of that theory. See also chapter ii. of the Introduction to Professor Porter’s elaborate work, “The Human Intellect.” Professor Porter gives, on page 40, a copious account of the literature of the subject. In Herzog’s “Real-Encyklopadie,” article Materialismus, an account is given of the principal recent German works against the modern form of the doctrine.
Among the most important works on this subject, besides the writings of Comte and his English disciples, J. Stuart Mill, and H. G. Lewes, are Herbert Spencer’s “First Principles of a New System of Philosophy,” and his “Biology” in two volumes; Maudsley’s “Physiology and Pathology of Mind;” Laycock (Professor in the University of Edinburgh), “Mind and Brain;” Huxley’s “Discourse on the Physical Basis of Life;” his “Evidence of Man’s Place in Nature” and “Introduction to the Classification of Animals:” and his “Lay Sermons and Essays;” Professor Tyndall’s “Essay on Heat;” “The Correlation and Conservation of Forces: A Series of Expositions, by Professor Grove, Professom Helmholtz, Dr. Mayer, Dr. Faraday, Professor Liebig, and Dr. Carpenter; with an Introduction by Edward L. Youmans, M. D.; “Alexander Bain (Professor of Logic in the University of Aberdeen), “The Senses and the Intellect;” “The Emotions and the Will;” “Mental and Moral Science;” “Kraft und Stofi von Ludwig Buchner. Zehnte Auflage. Leipzig, 1869.” By the same author, “Die Stellung des Menschen in der Natur in Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft. Oder Woher kommen wir? Wer sind wir? Wohin gehen wir? Leipzig, 1869.” Also, “Sechs Vorlesungen uber die Darwin’sche Theorie von der Verwandlung der Arten und die erste Entstehung der Organismenwelt. Leipzig, 1868.”
§ 5. Pantheism.
A. What Pantheism is.
If the etymology of the word Pantheism be allowed to determine its meaning, the answer to the question, What is Pantheism? is easy. The universe is God, and God is the universe. To. pa/n Qeoj e;sti. This is not only the signification of the word and the popular idea usually attached to it, but it is the formal definition often given of the term. Thus Wegscheider says, “Pantheismus [est] ea sententia, qua mundum non secretum a numine ac disparatum, sea ad ipsam Dei essentiam pertinere quidam opinati sunt.”88 This, however, is pronounced by the advocates of the doctrine to be a gross misrepresentation. The idea that the universe, as the aggregate of individual things, is God, is, they say, a form of thought, which the earliest philosophy of the East had surmounted. It might as well be said that the contents of a man’s consciousness, at any one time, were the man himself; or that the waves of the ocean were the ocean itself. It is because so many Pantheists take the word in the sense above indicated, that they deny that they are Pantheists, and affirm their belief in the being of God. As the system which is properly designated Pantheism, does exclude the popular view of the subject, derived from the etymology of the word; and as it has been held in very different forms, it is not easy to give a concise and satisfactory answer to the question, What is Pantheism? The three principal forms in which the doctrine has been presented, are, (1.) That which ascribes to the Infinite and Universal Being, the attributes (to a certain extent at least) of both mind and matter, namely, thought and extension. (2.) That which ascribes to it only the attributes of matter, Materialistic Pantheism. (3.) That which ascribes to it only the attributes of spirit, Idealistic Pantheism.
General Principles of the System.
For the purpose of theological instruction it is sufficient to stat what these several systems unite in denying, and what they substantially agree in affirming.
1. They deny all dualism in the universe. The essential distinction between matter and mind, between soul and body, between God and the world, between the Infinite and the Finite is repudiated. There is but one substance, but one real Being. Hence the doctrine is called Monism, or, the All One doctrine. “The idea,” says Cousin,89 “of the finite, of the infinite, and of their necessary connection as cause and effect, meet in every act of intelligence, nor is it possible to separate them from each other; though distinct, they are bound together, and constitute at once a triplicity and unity.” “The first term (the infinite), though absolute, exists not absolutely in itself, but as an absolute cause which must pass into action, and manifest itself in the second (the finite). The finite cannot exist without the infinite, and the infinite can only be realized by developing itself in the finite.”
All philosophy is founded, he says, on the ideas of “unity and multiplicity,” “of substance and phenomenon.” “Behold,” he says, “all the propositions which we had enumerated reduced to a single one, as vast as reason and the possible, to the opposition of unity and plurality, of substance and phenomenon, of being and appearance, of identity and difference.”90 All men, he says, believe, “as it were, in a combination of phenomena which would cease to be at the moment in which the eternal substance should cease to sustain them; they believe, as it were, in the visible manifestation of a concealed principle which speaks to them under this cover, and which they adore in nature and in consciousness.”91“As God is made known only in so far as he is absolute cause, on this account, in my opinion, he cannot but produce, so that the creation ceases to be unintelligible, and God is no more without a world than a world without God.”92 It is one of the most familiar aphorisms of the German philosophers, “Ohne Welt kein Gott; und ohne Gott keine Welt.”
Renan in his “Vie de Je,sus,” understands by Pantheism, materialism, or the denial of a living God. This would exclude all the forms of the doctrines held by idealistic pantheists in all ages. Dr. Calderwood pronounces Sir William Hamilton’s doctrine of creation pantheistic, because it denies that the sum of existence can either be increased or diminished. Sir William Hamilton teaches that when we say God created the world out of nothing, we can only mean that “He evolves existence out of himself.” Although all the forms of Pantheism are monistic, except Hylozoism, which is properly dualistic, yet the mere doctrine of the unity of substance does not constitute Pantheism. However objectionable the doctrine may be that everything that exists, even unorganized matter, is of the substance of God, it has been held by many Christian Theists. This does not necessarily involve the denial of the essential distinction between matter and mind.
2. However they differ as to the nature of the Infinite as such, whether it be matter or spirit; or that of which both thought and extension (potentially) can be predicated; or, whether it be thought itself, or force, or cause, or nothing, i. e., that of which nothing can be affirmed or denied; a simple unknown quantity; they all agree that it has no existence either before or out of the world. The world is, therefore, not only consubstantial, but coeternal with God.
3. This of course precludes the idea of creation; except as an eternal and necessary process.
4. They deny that the Infinite and Absolute Being in itself has either intelligence, consciousness, or will. The Infinite comes into existence in the Finite. The whole life, consciousness, intelligence, and knowledge, at any time, of the former, is the life, consciousness, intelligence, and knowledge of the latter, i. e., of the world. “Omnes (mentes),” says Spinoza, “simul Dei aeternum et infinitum intellectum constituunt.”93 “God alone is, and out of Him is nothing.”94 “Seine Existenz als Wesen ist unser Denken von ihm; aber seine reale Existenz ist die Natur, zu welcher das einzelne Denkende als moment gehort.”95
5. Pantheism denies the personality of God. Personality as well as consciousness implies a distinction between the Self and the Not Self; and such distinction is a limitation inconsistent with the nature of the Infinite. God, therefore, is not a person who can say I, and who can be addressed as Thou. As He comes into existence, intelligence, and consciousness only in the world, He is a person only so far as He comprehends all personalities, and the consciousness of the sum of finite creatures constitutes the consciousness of God. “The true doctrine of Hegel on this subject,” says Michelet,96 “is not that God is a person as distinguished from other persons; neither is He simply the universal or absolute substance. He is the movement of the Absolute ever making itself subjective; and in the subjective first comes to objectivity or to true existence.” “God,” he adds, “according to Hegel, is the only true personal Being.” “As God is eternal personality, so He eternally produces his other self, namely, Nature, in order to come to self-consciousness.”
It follows of necessity from the doctrine, that God is the substance of which the universe is the phenomenon; that God has no existence but in the world; that the aggregate consciousness and life of the Finite is, for the time being, the whole consciousness and life of the Infinite; that the Infinite cannot be a person distinct from the world, to whom we can say, Thou. On this point Cousin says, “Take away my faculties, and the consciousness that attests them to me, and I am not for myself. It is the same with God; take away nature, and the soul, and every sign of God disappears.”97 What the soul would be without faculties and without consciousness, that is God without the universe. An unconscious God, without life, of whom nothing can be predicated but simple being, is not only not a person, but he is, for us, nothing.
6. Man is not an individual subsistence. He is but a moment in the life of God; a wave on the surface of the sea; a leaf which falls and is renewed year after year.
7. When the body, which makes the distinction of persons among men, perishes, personality ceases with it. There is no conscious existence for man after death. Schleiermacher, in his “Discourses,” says, the piety in which he was nurtured in his youth, “remained with me when the God and immortality of my childhood disappeared from my doubting sight.”98On this avowal, Mr. Hunt, curate of St. Ives, Hunts, comments: “The ‘God and immortality’ – of his childhood disappeared. The personal God whom the Moravians worshipped was exchanged for the impersonal Divinity of philosophy. Nor did this theology seem impious. No, it was the very essence of true religion.” There is good reason to believe that with regard to the personal existence of the soul after death, Schleiermacher sacrificed his philosophy, as he certainly did in other points, to his religion. This, however, only the more clearly shows how inconsistent the pantheistic view of the nature of God is with the doctrine of conscious existence after death. The absorption of the soul in God, of the Finite into the Infinite, is the highest destiny that Pantheism can acknowledge for man.
8. As man is only a mode of God’s existence, his acts are the acts of God, and as the acts of God are necessary, it follows that there can be no freedom of the will in man. Spinoza says,99 “Hinc sequitur mentem humanam partem esse infiniti intellectus Dei: an proinde cum dicimus, mentem humanam hoc vel illud percipere, nihil aliud dicimus, quam quod Deus, non quatenus infinitus est, sed quatenus per naturam humanae mentis explicatur, sive quatenus humanae mentis essentiam constituit, hanc vel illam habeat ideam.” “In mente nulla est absoluta sive libera voluntas. Mens certus et determinatus modus cogitandi est adeoque suarum actionum non potest esse causa libera.”100 “Eodem hoc modo demonstratur, in mente nullam dari facultatem absolutam intelligendi, cupiendi, amandi, etc.”101
Cousin says, “We are thus arrived then in the analysis of the me, by the way of psychology still, at a new aspect of ontology, at a substantial activity, anterior and superior to all phenomenal activity, which produces all the phenomena of activity, survives them all, and renews them all, immortal and inexhaustible, in the destruction of its temporary manifestations.”102 Thus our activity is only a temporary manifestation of the activity of God. All our acts are his acts.103
Mr. Hunt, analyzing Spinoza’s system, and using mainly his language on this point, says, “Spinoza ascribed to God a kind of freedom: a free necessity. But to created existences even this kind of freedom is denied. ‘There is nothing contingent in the nature of beings; all things on the contrary are determined by the necessity of the Divine nature, to exist and to act, after a certain fashion. ‘Nature produced’ is determined by ‘nature producing. It does not act, it is acted upon. The soul of man is a Spiritual automaton. . . . There can be nothing arbitrary in the necessary developments of the Divine essence.”104
As Pantheism makes creation an eternal, necessary, and continuous evolution of the Infinite Being, all liberty of second causes is of necessity excluded. A distinction may be made between the necessity by which a stone falls to the ground, and the necessity by which a mind thinks; but the necessity is as absolute in the one case as in the other. Liberty in man is rational self-determination, that is, spontaneity determined by reason. But reason in man is impersonal, according to Pantheism. It is God as explicated in us. All the acts of the human mind are the acts of God as determined by the necessity of his nature. The same doctrine of fatalism is involved in the idea that history is merely the self-evolution of God. One idea, or phase of the Infinite Being, is exhibited by one age or nation, and a different one by another. But the whole is as much a necessary process of evolution as the growth of a plant.
Sir William Hamilton, therefore, says that Cousin destroys liberty by divorcing it from intelligence, and that his doctrine is inconsistent not only with Theism but with morality, which cannot be founded “on a liberty which at best only escapes necessity by taking refuge with chance.”105 And Morell, a eulogist of Cousin, says, that according to Cousin: “God is the ocean, we are but the waves; the ocean may be one individuality, and each wave another; but still they are essentially one and the same. We see not how Cousin’s Theism can possibly be consistent with any idea of moral evil; neither do we see how, starting from such a dogma, he can ever vindicate and uphold his own theory of human liberty. On such Theistic principles, all sin must be simply defect, and all defect must be absolutely fatuitous.”106
9. Pantheism in making man a mode of God’s existence, and in denying all freedom of the will, and in teaching that all “phenomenal activity” is “a transient manifestation” of the activity of God, precludes the possibility of sin. This does not mean that there is in man no sentiment of approbation or disapprobation, no subjective difference between right and wrong. This would be as absurd as to say that there is no difference between pleasure and pain. But if God be at once God, nature, and humanity; if reason in us be God’s reason; his intelligence our intelligence, his activity our activity; if God be the substance of which the world is the phenomenon, if we are only moments in the life of God, then there can be nothing in us which is not in God. Evil is only limitation, or undeveloped good. One tree is larger and finer than another; one mind is more vigorous than another; one mode of action more pleasurable than another; but all alike are modes of God’s activity. Water is water, whether in the puddle or in the ocean; and God is God, in Nero or St. John. Hegel says that sin is something unspeakably higher than the law-abiding motion of the planets, or the innocence of plants. That is, it is a higher manifestation of the life of God.
Spinoza teaches that “sin is nothing positive. It exists for us but not for God. The same things which appear hateful in men are regarded with admiration in animals. . . . It follows then that sin, which only expresses an imperfection, cannot consist in anything which expresses a reality. We speak improperly, applying human language to what is above human language, when we say that we sin against God, or that men offend God.”107
It is the necessary consequence of the doctrine that God is the universal Being, that the more of being the more of God, and therefore the more of good. And consequently the less of being, the less of good. All limitation, therefore, is evil; and evil is simply limitation of being. Spinoza108 says, “Quo magis unusquisque — suum esse conservare conatur et potest, eo magis virtute praeditus est; contra quatenus unusquisque — suum esse conservare negligit, eatenus est impotens.” In the demonstration of this proposition, he says, “Virtus est ipsa humana potentia,”109 making power and goodness identical. Professor Baur of Tubingen,110 says: “Evil is what is finite; for the finite is negative; the negation of the infinite.”
It is only, as just said, another form of this doctrine that power, or strength, is in man the only good. This does not mean the strength to submit to injury; the strength of self-sacrifice; the strength to be humble and to resist evil passion, but the power to carry out our own purposes in opposition to the will, interests, or happiness of others. That is, that might is right. The victor is always right, the vanquished is always wrong. This is only one manifestation of God, suppressing or superseding a less perfect manifestation. Spinoza’s doctrine is, “To the pursuit of what is agreeable, and the hatred of the contrary, man is compelled by his nature, for ‘every one desires or rejects by necessity, according to the laws of his nature, that which he judges good or bad.’ To follow this impulse is not only a necessity but it is the right and the duty of every man, and every one should be reckoned an enemy who wishes to hinder another in the gratification of the impulses of his nature. The measure of every one’s right is his power. The best right is that of the strongest; and as the wise man has an absolute right to do all which reason dictates, or the right of living according to the laws of reason, so also the ignorant and foolish man has a right to live according to the laws of appetite.”111 A more immoral and demoralizing principle was never expressed in human language. To say that it is the duty of every man to seek his own gratification, to satisfy the impulses of his nature; that he is an enemy who attempts to hinder that gratification; that the only limit to such gratification is our power; that men have the right, if so inclined, to live according to the laws of appetite, is to say that there is no such thing as moral obligation; no such thing as right or wrong.
Cousin repeats ad nauseam the doctrine that might is right; that the strongest is always the best. “We usually see in success,” he says, “only a triumph of force,. . . . I hope I have shown that, inasmuch as there always must be a vanquished party, and in asmuch as the vanquished party is always that which ought to be vanquished, to accuse the vanquisher and to take part against victory, is to take part against humanity, and to complain of the progress of civilization. It is necessary to go further; it is necessary to prove that the vanquished party deserves to be vanquished; that the vanquishing party not only serves the cause of civilization, but that it is better, and more moral than the vanquished party.” “Virtue and prosperity, misfortune and vice, are in necessary harmony .” “Feebleness is a vice, and, therefore, it is always punished and beaten.” “It is time,” he says, “that philosophy of history put beneath its feet the declamations of philanthropy.”112 It must, of course, be true, if God is the life of the world, all power his power, every act his act, not only that there can be no sin, but that the most powerful are always morally (if that word has any meaning) the best; and that might is right. This is the theory on which hero worship is founded, not only among the heathen, but among Christians, so called, of our day.
10. Pantheism is self deification. If God comes to existence only in the world, and if everything that is, is a manifestation of God, it Follows that (so far as this earth is concerned, and so far as pantheists allow or acknowledge) the soul of man is the highest form of the existence of God. As the souls of men differ very much one from another, one being much superior to others, the greater the man the more divine he is, i. e., the more does he represent God; the more of the divine essence does he reveal. The highest step of development is reached only by those who come to the consciousness of their identity with God. This is the precise doctrine of the Hindus, who teach that when a man is able to say, “I am Brahm,” the moment of his absorption into the infinite Being has arrived. This is the ground on which the pantheistic philosophers rest their claim of preeminence; and the ground on which they concede the preeminence of Christ. He, more than any other man, saw into the depths of his own nature. He was able to say as no other man could say, “I and the Father are one.” But the difference between Christ and other men is only one of degree. The human race is the incarnation of God, which is a process from eternity to eternity. “Mankind,” says Strauss, “is the Godman; the key of a true Christology is, that the predicates which the Church gives to Christ, as an individual, belong to an idea, a generic whole.”113
11. There is only one step further, and that is, the deification of evil. That step Pantheists do not hesitate to take; so far as evil exists it is as truly a manifestation of God as good. The wicked are only one form of the self-manifestation of God; sin is only one form of the activity of God. This dreadful doctrine is explicitly avowed.
Rosenkranz says,114 “Die dritte Consequenz endlich ist die, dass Gott der Sohn auch als identisch gesetzt ist mit dem Subject, in welchem die religiose Vorstellung den Ursprung des Bosen anichaut, mit dem Satan, Phosphoros, Lucifer. Diese Verschmelzung begrundet sich darin, dass der Sohn innerhalb Gottes das Moment der Unterscheidung ist, in dem Unterschied aber die Moglichkeit der Entgegensetzung und Entzweiung angelegt ist. Der Sohn ist der selbstbewusste Gott.” Such a sentence as the foregoing has never been written in English, and, we trust, never will be. The conclusion it avows, however, is unavoidable. If God be everything, and if there be a Satan, God must be Satan. Rosenkranz says, that the mind is horrified at such language, only because it does not recognize the intimate connection between good and evil; that evil is in good, and good in evil. Without evil there can be no good.
It me because of this deification of evil, that a recent German writer115 said that this system should be called Pandiabolism instead of Pantheism. He, if we mistake not, is the author of the article in Hengstenberg’s “Kirchen-Zeitung,”116 in which it is said. “this is the true positive blasphemy of God — this veiled blasphemy — this diabolism of the deceitful angel of light — this speaking of reckless words, with which the man of sin sets himself in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. The Atheist cannot blaspheme within such power as this; his blasphemy is merely negative. He merely says: ‘There is no God. It is only out of Pantheism that a blasphemy can proceed, so wild, of such inspired mockery, so devoutly godless, so desperate in its love of the world, — a blasphemy so seductive, and so offensive that it may well call for the destruction of the world.”
Pantheism, however, becomes all things to all men. To the pure it gives scope for a sentimental religious feeling which sees God in every thing and every thing in God. To the proud it is the source of intolerable arrogance and self-conceit. To the sensual it gives authority for every form of indulgence. The body being a mode of God’s extension, according to Spinoza’s theory, as the mind is a mode of the divine intelligence, the body has its divine rights as well as the soul. Even some of the most reputable of the Pantheistic school, do not hesitate to say in reference to the trammels of morality: “It is well that the rights of our sensual nature should, from time to time, be boldly asserted.”117 This system, therefore, as even the moderate Tholuck says, “comes to the same result with the materialism of French encyclopedists, who mourned over mankind for having sacrificed the real pleasures of time for the imaginary pleasures of eternity, and the protracted enjoyments of life, for the momentary happiness of a peaceful death.”
Pantheism, therefore, merges everything into God. The universe is the existence-form of God; that is, the universe is his existence. All reason is his reason; all activity is his activity; the consciousness of creatures, is all the consciousness God has of himself; good and evil, pain and pleasure, are phenomena of God; modes in which God reveals himself, the way in which He passes from Being into Existence. He is not, therefore, a person whom we can worship and in whom we can trust. He is only the substance of which the universe and all that it contains are the ever changing manifestation. Pantheism admits of no freedom, no responsibility, no conscious life after death. Cousin sums up the doctrine in this comprehensive paragraph: “The God of consciousness is not an abstract God, a solitary monarch exiled beyond the limits of creation, upon the desert throne of a silent eternity, and of an absolute existence which resembles even the negation of existence. He is a God at once true and real, at once substance and cause, always substance and always cause, being substance only in so far as He is cause, and cause only so far as He is substance, that is to say, being absolute cause, one and many, eternity and time, space and number, essence and life, indivisibility and totality, principle, end, and centre, at the summit of Being and at its lowest degree, infinite and finite together, triple, in a word, that is to say, at the same time God, nature, and humanity. In fact, if God be not everything, He is nothing.”118
History of Pantheism.
Pantheism has proved itself to be the most persistent as well as the most wide-spread form of human thought relative to the origin and nature of tIme universe, and its relation to the Infinite Being, whose existence in some form seems to be a universal and necessary assumption. Pantheistic ideas underlie almost all the forms of religion which have existed in the world. Polytheism, which has been almost universal, has its origin in nature worship; and nature-worship rests on the assumption that Nature is God, or, the manifestation, or existence form of the infinite unknown. Of course it is only the briefest outline of the different forms of this portentous system of error, that can be given in these pages.
B. Brahminical Pantheism.
Ethnographically the Hindus belong to the same race as the Greeks, Romans, and other great European nations. In prehistoric periods one division of the great Aryan family spread itself westward over the territory which now constitutes Europe. Another division extended south and east and entered India, displacing almost entirely the original inhabitants of that large, diversified, and fertile region.
Long before Greece or Rome became cultivated communities, and when Europe was the home only of uncivilized barbarians, India was covered with rich and populous cities; the arts had reached the highest state of development; a literature and language which, in the judgment of scholars, rival those of Greece and Rome, had been produced, and systems of philosophy as profound, as subtle, and as diversified as the human mind ever elaborated, were already taught in her schools.
The Hindus number nearly two hundred millions of souls. They are now, in the essential principles of their philosophy, their religion, and their social organization, what they were a thousand years before the birth of Christ. Never in the history of the world has a form of religious philosophy been so extensively embraced, so persistently adhered to, or so effective in moulding the character and determining the destiny of a people.
Few questions of the kind, therefore, are of deeper interest than what the true character of the Hindu religion actually is. The decision of that question is not free from difficulty; and it has, therefore, received very different answers. The difficulty in this case arises from various sources.
1. The religious books of the Hindus are not only written in Sanskrit, a language unintelligible, except to a small class of learned men, but they are exceedingly voluminous. The Vedas, the most ancient and authoritative, fill fourteen volumes folio. The Institutes of Menu, the Puranas, and the sacred poems, “Ramayana” and “Mahabhrata,” are equally extensive. The former of these poems consists of a hundred thousand verses, and the latter of four hundred thousand, while the Aeneid has only twelve thousand, and the Iliad twenty-four thousand. Sir William Jones said that the student of the Hindu literature and religion, found himself in time presence of infinity.
2. lt is not only, however, the voluminousness of the authoritative sacred books, but the character of their contents, which creates the difficulty of getting a clear idea of the system which they teach. The Vedas consist mainly of hymns of various ages, interspersed with brief obscure, philosophical or theological explanations and comments. The Puranas are filled with extravagant legends; which are to be interpreted historically, and which mythically, it is difficult to decide.
3. The spirit of exaggeration is so characteristic of the Hindu mind that statements meant to be understood literally shock the mind by their extravagance. Thus their books make the earth a circular plane one hundred and seventy millions of miles in diameter; they speak of mountains sixty miles high, and of periods of four thousand millions of millions of years.
The Religion of the Hindus not originally Monotheistic.
It is a common opinion that the Hindu religion was originally and for centuries monotheistic; that out of monotheism gradually rose the present complicated and monstrous polytheism, and that contemporaneously among the philosophical class, were developed the different forms of Pantheism. But this is contrary to well established facts, and is altogether unsatisfactory as a solution of the great problem of Hindu life.
It is indeed true, as we know from the Bible, that monotheism was the earliest form of religion among men. And it is also true in all probability that the Vedas, which are collections of ancient hymns, contain some which belong to the monotheistic period. Most of those, however, which appear to assume the existence of one God, are to be understood in a pantheistic and not in a theistic sense. These recognize one divine Being, but that one includes all the other forms of being. The history of religion shows that when monotheism failed among men because “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” it was replaced by the worship of nature. This nature-worship assumed two forms. The different elements, as fire, air, and water, were personified, endowed with personal attributes and divine powers, giving rise to polytheism. Or nature as a whole was the object of worship, giving rise to Pantheism.
It is evident that among the highly intellectual Aryans who settled in India, between one and two thousand years before Christ, the pantheistic view had obtained the ascendency, not as a philosophical theory merely, but as a religious doctrine. It became, and has continued until this day, the foundation of the religious, civil, and social life of the Hindu. It is this which gives it its paramount importance. It stands alone in history. In no other case, among no other people, has Pantheism become the controlling form of religious belief among the people, so as to determine their institutions and to mould their character. The Hindus, therefore, have an interest for Christians and for the religious philosopher which attaches to no other heathen nation. They show, and were doubtless intended to show, what are the legitimate effects of Pantheism. That doctrine has had dominant control for millenniums over a highly cultivated and intelligent people, and in their character and state we see its proper fruits.
It was Pantheistic.
That the religion of the Hindus is fundamentally pantheistic, is evident —
1. From what their sacred writings teach of the Supreme Being. It is designated by a word in the neuter gender, Brahm. It is never addressed as a person. It is never worshipped. It has no attributes but such as may be predicated of space. It is said to be eternal, infinite, immutable. It is said to have continued for untold ages in the state of unintelligent, unconscious being. It comes to existence, to consciousness, and life, in the world. It unfolds itself through countless ages in all the forms of finite existence; and then by a like gradual process all things are resolved into unconscious being. The illustrations of the origin of the world commonly employed are sparks issuing from a burning mass; or, better, vapour rising from the ocean, condensing and falling back to the source whence it came. Being as such, or the Infinite, is, therefore, viewed in three aspects: as coming to existence, as developing itself in the world, as receiving everything back into the abyss of simple being. These different aspects are expressed by the words, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, to which our terms, Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, answer very imperfectly.
We have here the constantly recurring pantheistic formula, Thesis, Analysis, Synthesis; Being. Development, Restoration. The Infinite, the Finite, and their Identity. The principal difference between the Brahminical system and the theories of the later pantheists, is that the latter make the universe co-eternal with God. The Infinite from eternity to eternity develops itself in the Finite. Whereas, according to the former, there was an inconceivably long period of repose antecedent to the process of development, and that process after millions of millions of ages, is to be followed by a like period of unconsciousness and rest.
Relation of Infinite Being to the World.
2. The relation of God to the world, or rather of the Infinite to the Finite, is the same in the Brahminical, as in other pantheistic systems. That relation has been already intimated. It is that of identity. The world is the existence-form of God. God is every thing, good and evil; and everything is God. But in very different degrees. There is more of Being (i. e., of God) in a plant than in unorganized matter; more in an animal than in the plant more in man than in either; more in one man, or race of men, than in another.
Relation of Pantheism to Polytheism.
3. The vast polytheistic system of the Hindus is founded on Pantheism and is its logical consequence. In the first place, as just remarked, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, commonly called the Hindu Trinity, are not persons, but personifications, or different aspects under which Infinite Being is to be regarded. In the second place, as the Infinite Being manifests itself in different degrees in different persons and things, anything extraordinary in nature, any remarkable man, is regarded as a special manifestation or embodiment of God. Hence the frequent avatars or incarnations of the Hindu mythology. In this way the gods may be, and have been indefinitely multiplied. Any person or thing, or quality, may be deified as a manifestation of infinite Being. In the third place, this accounts for the facts that the Hindu gods are regarded as destitute of moral excellence, and that even evil, as under the name of Kali, the goddess of cruelty and patroness of murderers, may be the special object of reverence. In the fourth place, no god, not even Brahma or Vishnu, is, according to the Hindu system, immortal. All gods and goddesses are at length to be merged in the abyss of infinite, unconscious Being.
Effect of Pantheism on Religion.
4. Pantheism, as it makes being, God, as it recognizes no attribute but power in the objects of worship, divorces morality from religion. It is not in the power of any system, however sincerely embraced, to reverse the laws of our nature. And, therefore, in despite of the prevalence of a doctrine which denies the possibility of either sin or virtue, and makes everything dependent on fate, or the power of arbitrary being, the people in various ways recognize the obligation of the moral law and the excellence of virtue. But this has nothing to do with their religion. The great object of all religious observances was final absorption in God; their proximate object was to propitiate some power by which the worshipper would be raised one or more steps toward the state in which that absorption is possible. On this point Professor Wilson says:119 “Entire dependence upon Krishna, or any other favorite deity, not only obviates the necessity of virtue, but it sanctifies vice. Conduct is wholly immaterial. It matters not how atrocious a sinner a man may be, if he paints his face, his breast, his arms with certain sectarial marks; or, which is better, if he brands his skin permanently with them with a hot iron stamp; if he is constantly chanting hymns in honor of Vishnu, or, what is equally efficacious, if he spends hours in the simple reiteration of his name or names; if he die with the word Hari, or Rama, or Krishna on his lips, and the thought of him in his mind, he may have lived a monster of iniquity, — he is certain of heaven.” “Certain of heaven,” is a Christian form of expression, and conveys an idea foreign to the Hindu mind. What such a worshipper hopes and expects is that when next born into the world it may be in a higher state and so much the nearer his final absorption. As Professor Wilson is not only moderate, but almost apologetic in the account which he gives of the religion of the Hindus, the above quoted statement cannot be suspected of unfairness or exaggeration.
Character of the Hindu Worship.
The two leading characteristics of the Hindu worship are cruelty and indecency. And these are sufficiently accounted for by the Pantheism which underlies the whole system. Pantheism denies the distinction between virtue and vice; it recognizes no attribute but power; it deifies evil; it “sanctifies vice;” passion, sensual or malignant, is as much a mode of divine manifestation as the most heroic virtue. Indeed, there is no room for the idea of moral excellence. Hence the prescriptions of religion have reference almost exclusively to rites and ceremonies. The Brahmin when he rises must bathe in a certain way, stand in a certain posture, extend his fingers in a prescribed manner; he must salute the rising sun, resting on one foot; he must repeat certain words. When he eats, the dish must be placed according to rule; he must make prescribed motions with his hands, and so on through the whole day. Every act is prescribed, everything is religious; everything either defiles or purifies, ceremonially, but of moral defilement or purity there seems to be in their religion no recognition.
The Anthropology of the Hindus.
5. The anthropology of the Hindus proves the pantheistic character of their whole system. Man is only a part of God, a mode of his existence. He is compared to a portion of sea-water inclosed in a bottle and thrown into the ocean. The water in the bottle is the same in nature as that without. As soon as the bottle is broken the water within it is lost in the surrounding ocean. Another illustration of the destiny of the soul is that of a lump of salt thrown into the ocean, which immediately disappears. Its individuality is lost. This absorption of the soul is the highest beatification which Pantheism offers to its votaries. But this, in the case of the vast majority of men, can be attained only after a long process of transmigrations extending, it may be, through millions of years. If a man be faithful and punctilious in his religious observances, he comes into the world after death in a higher state. Thus, a Soudra may become a Brahmin. But if unfaithful, he will be born in a lower form, it may be, in that of a reptile. It is thus, by these alternations, that the wished for absorption in Brahm is ultimately attained. With regard to the sacred, or Brahminical caste, the process may be shorter. A Brahmin’s life is divided, according to the Institutes of Menu, into four periods: childhood, student life; life as householder; and finally, the ascetic period. As soon as a Brahmin feels the approach of old age, he is directed to retire from the world; to live as a hermit; to subsist only on herbs; to deny himself all business and enjoyment, that by continued self-negation he may not only destroy the power of the body, and free himself from the influence of the things seen and temporal, but also lose the consciousness of his individuality, and be able at last to say, “I am Brahm,” and then be is lost in the infinite.
The Hindu life is dominated by this doctrine of absorption in God after a long series of transmigrations, and by the division of the people into castes, which has in like manner its foundation in their theory of the relation of God to the world, or, of the Infinite to the Finite. The Brahminical, or sacred class, is a higher manifestation of God than the military class; the military, than the mercantile; the mercantile, than the servile. This is popularly expressed by saying that the first proceeds from the head, the second from the arms, the third from the body, and the fourth from the feet of Brahm. The member of one of the lower castes cannot pass into either of those above him, except that by merit (ritual observances) he may on his next birth into the world be advanced to a higher grade; and one of a higher caste, by neglect of the prescribed rule of living, may at his next birth find himself degraded into a lower caste, or even into a beast or a reptile. Hence the horror of losing caste, which places a man out of the line of advancement, and consigns him to an almost endless state of degradation.
The Effect of Pantheism on the Social Life of the Hindus.
6. The whole religious and social life of the Hindu is controlled by the radical principle that all things are God, or modes of his existence, and all destined to return to Him again. To a Hindu his individual existence is a burden. It is a fall from God. Hence to get back, to be lost in the Infinite, is the one great object of desire and effort. As this end is not to be attained by virtue, but by asceticism, by propitiation of the gods, their religion is simply a round of unmeaning ceremonies, or acts of self-denial, or self-torture. Their religion, therefore, tends to destroy all interest in the present life, which is regarded as a burden and degradation. It cuts the nerves of exertion. It presents no incentive to virtue. it promotes vice. It has all the effects of fatalism. The influence of the worship of deities without moral excellence, some of them monsters of iniquity; the belief that cruelty and obscenity are acceptable to these deities, and secure their favor, cannot be otherwise than debasing. The world, therefore, sees in India the practical working of Pantheism. The system has been in unrestricted operation, not as a philosophy, but as a practical religious belief, for thousands of years, and among a people belonging to the most favored of the various races of men, and the result is before our eyes.
“Greece and India,” says Max Muller,120 “are, indeed, the two opposite poles in the historical development of the Aryan man. To the Greek, existence is full of life and reality; to the Hindu it is a dream, an illusion. . . . The Hindu enters this world as a stranger; all his thoughts are directed to another world; he takes no part even where he is driven to act; and when he sacrifices his life, it is but to be delivered from it. No wonder that a nation like the Indian cared so little for history; no wonder that social and political virtues were little cultivated, and the ideas of the useful and the beautiful scarcely known to them. With all this, however, they had what the Greek was as little capable of imagining as they were of realizing the elements of Grecian life. They shut their eyes to this world of outward seeming and activity, to open them full on the world of thought and rest. Their life was a yearning after eternity; their activity a struggle to return into that divine essence from which this life seemed to have severed them. Believing as they did in a divine and really existing eternal Being (to. o;ntwj o;n), they could not believe in the existence of this passing world. If the one existed, the other could only seem to exist; if they lived in the one, they could not live in the other. Their existence on earth was to them a problem, their eternal life a certainty. The highest object of their religion was to restore that bond by which their own self (atman) was linked to the eternal Self (paramatman); to recover that unity which had been clouded and obscured by the magical illusions of reality, by the so-called Maya of creation.”
In order to show “How largely this idea of the Atman, as the Divine Spirit, entered into the early religious and philosophical speculations of the Indians,” he quotes from one of the Vedas a Dialogue in which, among other things, one of the speakers says: “Whosoever looks for this world, for the gods, for all beings, for this universe, elsewhere than in the Divine Spirit, should be abandoned by them all. This Brahmahood, this kshatra-power, this world, these gods, these beings, this universe, all is the Divine Spirit.”121 The illustrations used by the speaker to show the relation of the phenomenal universe to God, are derived from the sounds issuing from a drum or a lute, smoke rising from a fire, vapour from the sea. He adds, “It is with us, when we enter into the Divine Spirit, as if a lump of salt was thrown into the sea, it becomes dissolved into the water (from which it was produced), and is not to be taken out again. But wherever you take the water and taste it, it is salt. Thus is this great, endless, and boundless Being but one mass of knowledge. As the water becomes salt, and the salt becomes water again, thus has the Divine Spirit appeared from out the elements and disappears again into them. When we have passed away, there is no longer any name.”122
There can therefore be no reasonable doubt that Pantheism lies at the foundation of all the religion of India. There is, indeed, the same difference between the present complex and corrupt polytheism of the Hindus and the teachings of the Vedas, that there is between the Roman Catholicism of our day and primitive Christianity. There is, however, this important distinction between the two cases. Popery is a perversion of Christianity by the introduction of incongruous elements derived from Jewish and heathen sources, whereas the religion of modern India is the legitimate and logical result of the principles of the earliest and purest of the Hindu sacred writings.
The most accessible sources of information on the literature and religion of lndia, are the writings of Sir William Jones; the writings of Colebrooke; the Journal of the Asiatic Society; the works of Prof. Wilson of Oxford, specially his “Essays and Lectures on the Religion of the Hindus”; Max Muller’s work just quoted. Dr. Duff’s “India and Indian Missions,” and the histories of India, by Macaulay, Elphinstone. et al.
C. Grecian Pantheism.
The remark of Max Muller, that “Greece and India are the two opposite poles of the development of the Aryan man,” is strikingly correct. The Greek believed in, and lived for the present and the visible; the Indian believed in, and lived for the invisible and the future. Nevertheless there was a tendency in the higher minds among the Greeks to adopt the same speculative views as to God and the universe, the Infinite and the Finite, as prevailed in India. With the Greek, however, it was a matter of speculation; with the Hindu, it was a practical religious belief.
Speaking in general terms, the different forms of Grecian philosophy are characterized by the effort to reduce all the forms of existence to unity; to discover some one substance, principle, or power, to which all modes of manifestation of being could be referred. Sometimes this one substance was assumed to be material; sometimes spiritual; sometimes the obvious incompatibility between the phenomena of mind and those of matter, forced the admission of two eternal principles: the one active, the other passive; the one spiritual, the other material. The fundamental principle or idea, therefore, of the Grecian philosophy was pantheistic, either in its materialistic, spiritualistic, or hylozoistic form.
The Ionic School.
The earliest school among the Greeks was the Ionic, represented by Thales the Milesian, Anaximander and Anaximenes also of Miletus, and Heraclitus of Ephesus. These philosophers flourished from about 600 to 500 B. C. They were all materialistic in their theories. With Thales the one primal universal substance was water; with Anaximenes it was air; with Heraclitus it was fire. “It was the endeavour of this oldest of the Ionic philosophies, to reduce the origin of all things from one simple radical cause, a cosmical substance, in itself unchangeable, but entering into the change of phenomena; and this was why these philosophers had no room in their doctrine for gods, or transmundane beings, fashioning and ruling things at will; and, in fact, Aristotle also remarked of the old physiologists, that they had not distinguished the moving cause from matter.”123 Of Heraclitus, Dollinger, in his able work “The Gentile and the Jew in the Courts of the Temple of Christ,” says he “meant by his ‘fire,’ an ethereal substance as primal matter, the all-pervading and animating soul of the universe, a matter which he conceived to be not merely actual fire, but caloric, and this being at the same time the only power at work in the world, all-creative and destructive in turns, was, to speak generally, the one real and veritable existence among all things. For everything had its origin only in the constant modification of this eternal and primal fire: the entire world was a fire dying out and rekindling itself in a fixed succession, while the other elements are but fire converted by condensation or rarefaction into a variety of forms. Thus the idea of a permanent being is a delusion; everything is in a state of perpetual flux, an eternal-going to be (Werden), and in this stream spirit is hurried along as well as body, swallowed up and born afresh. . . . Heraclitus, as any thorough-going Pantheist would, called the common soul of the world, the all-comprehending primal fire, Zeus; and the flux of perpetual change and tendency to be, into which it enters, he termed poetically Zeus playing by himself.”124
Cousin says, “For the Ionic school in both its stages, there was no other God than nature. Pantheism is inherent in its system. What is Pantheism? It is the conception of the universe, to. pa/n, as alone existing, as self-sufficient, and having its explanation in itself. All nascent philosophy is a philosophy of nature, and thus is inclined to Pantheism. The sensationalism of the Ionians of necessity took that form; and, to speak honestly, Pantheism is nothing but atheism.”125
Cousin frames the definition of Pantheism so as to exclude his own system. With him the material universe alone is not God. He believes in “God, nature, and humanity.” But these three are one. “If God,” he says, “be not everything, He is nothing.” This, however, is as truly Pantheism (although in a more philosophical form), as the Materialism of the Ionians.
The Eleatic School.
The Eleatic or Italian school, of which Xenophanes, Parmenides, and Zeno, are the principal representatives, was inclined to the other extreme of denying the very existence of matter. Of these philosophers, Cousin says, “They reduced everything to an existence absolute, which approached nearly to Nihilism, or the denial of all existence.”126 Of Xenophanes, born in Colophon 617 B. C., Dollinger127 says, “With all his assertions of monotheistic sound, he was still a Pantheist, and, indeed, a material Pantheist, and is universally understood to be such by the ancients. Certainly there was present to his mind the idea of a being, one and spiritual, embracing the whole complement of existence and thought within himself; yet this being was in his view but the general nature-power; the unity of God was to him identical with the unity of the world, and this again but the manifestation of the invisible being, called God, and therefore also he explained it to be uncreate, everlasting, and imperishable.” It is hard to see how this differs from the modern pantheistic doctrine, that God is the substance of which the world is the phenomenon; or why Xenophanes should be regarded as a materialist more than Schelling or Cousin.
Parmenides of Elea about 500 B. C. was more of an idealist. He attained to the idea of a pure and simple being in opposition to the material principle of the Ionic school. This “being,” however, was not a “pure metaphysical idea, for,” says Dollinger, “he so expressed himself as to seem to represent it at one time as corporeal, and extended in space, at another as thinking. ‘To think, and the object of which the thought is, are one and the same, was a saying of his. . . . There was no bridge for Parmenides that had led from this pure simple ‘being’ to the world of phenomena, of the manifold, and of motion; and therefore he denied the reality of all we see; the whole world of sense owed its existence only to the illusions of sense and the empty notions of mortal men built thereon.”128 Thus Parmenides anticipated Schelling in teaching the identity of subject and object.
The Stoics take their origin from Zeno of Cittium, in Cyprus (840-260 B. C.). Their doctrine has already been noticed under the head of Hylozoism. Dollinger, indeed, says, “The Stoic system is utter Materialism, built upon Heraclitic doctrine. It adopted corporeal causes only, and is only acquainted with two principles — matter, and an activity resident in matter, from eternity, as power and giving it form. Everything real is body; there are no incorporeal things, as our abstractions, space, time, etc., have merely an existence in our thoughts; so all that really exists can only be known through the senses.”129 This judgment, however, is modified by what he says elsewhere. It is very plain that the later Stoics, especially among the Latins, as Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, regarded the general principle which animated matter as having all the attributes of mind. On this point Dollinger says, “The two principles, matter and power, are to the Stoics but one and the same thing viewed in different relations. Matter required for its existence a principle of unity to give it form and keep it together; and this, the active element, is inconceivable without matter, as a subject in and on which it exists and dwells, and in which it works and moves. Thus, the positive element is matter; yet conceived without properties; the active one, running through and quickening all, is God in matter. But in truth, God and matter are identical; in other words, the Stoic doctrine is hylozoic Pantheism.” “God is, therefore, the world-soul, and the world itself no aggregate of independent elements, but an organized, living being, whose complement and life is a single soul, or primal fire, exhibiting divers degrees of expansion and heat. . . . God, then, in his physical aspect, is the world-fire, or vital heat, all-penetrating, the one only cause of all life and all motion, and, at the same time, the necessity that rules in the world: but, on the other side, as the universal cause can only be a soul full of intelligence and wisdom, he is the world-intelligence, a blest being, and the author of the moral law, who is ever occupied with the government of the world, although he is precisely this world itself.”130 “The one substance is God and nature together, of which all that comes into being, and ceases to be, all generation and dissolution, are mere modifications. Seneca explains Zeus or God’s being at once the world and the world’s soul by pointing to man, who feels himself to be a single being and yet again as one consisting of two substances, body and soul.”131
The Stoics adopted the Hindu doctrine of the dissolution of all things, and the redevelopment of God in the world, after long successive periods. “In the great conflagration which takes place after the expiration of a world period or great year,” all organized beings will be destroyed, all multiplicity and difference be lost in God’s unity; which means, all will become ether again. But forthwith, like the phoenix recovering life from his own ashes, the formation of the world begins afresh; God transforms himself once more by a general renovation into a world in which the same events, under similar circumstances, are again to be repeated down to the minutest detail. Many of these great catastrophes have already happened, and the process of burning by fire will follow again upon this regeneration, and so on ad infinitum.132
This system as well as every other form of Pantheism, excludes all moral freedom: everything is under the law of absolute necessity. It therefore precludes the idea of sin. “Acts of vice, Chrysippus said, are movements of universal nature, and in conformity with the divine intelligence. In the economy of the great world, evil is like chaff falling, — as unavoidable and worthless. Evil also was said by this school to do the service of making the good known, and yet at last all must resolve itself into God.”133
Thus the Ionic, the Eleatic, and the Stoic forms of Grecian philosophy were in their fundamental principles pantheistic. The two great philosophic minds of Greece, and of the world, however, were Plato and Aristotle, the one the philosopher of the ideal world, and the other of the natural. The latter was the disciple of the former, although in most points of doctrine, or at least of method, his antagonist. It is only with the views of these mind-controlling men, concerning the nature of the supreme Being, and of his relation to the phenomenal world, that the theologian as such has anything to do. And this, unfortunately, with regard to both, is the point in regard to which their teachings are the most obscure.
Plato united in his comprehensive intellect, and endeavoured to harmonize the elements of the different doctrines of his predecessors in the field of speculation. “The Socratic doctrine of the absolute good and beautiful, and of the Deity revealing himself to man as a kind Providence, formed the basis on which he started. As channels for the Heraclitic doctrine of the perpetual coming into being and flux of all things, together with the Eleatic one of the eternal immutability of the one and only Being, the dogma of Anaxagoras of a world-ruling spirit was serviceable to him, and with it he had the skill to connect the Pythagorean view of the universe, as an animated intelligent whole, in a spiritualized form.”134These are sufficiently incongruous materials. An intelligent Deity exercising a providential control over the world; the Heraclitic doctrine which involved the denial of all reality and resolved everything into a perpetual flow of phenomena; the Eleatic doctrine of a one and only Being; and the Pythagorean idea of the universe as an animated and intelligent whole. It was not possible but that first one, and then another of these elements should be made the more prominent, and consequently that the great philosopher should speak sometimnes as a Theist and sometimes as a Pantheist. Neither was it possible that these incongruous elements should be moulded into a consistent system. It is not, therefore, a matter of surprise that Dollinger, one of the greatest admirers of Plato and one of the ablest expounders of his writings, should immediately add to the passage above quoted. “Plato never arrived at a finished system, rounded off and perfect in itself; nevertheless there is unmistakable evidence in his works of a continual progress, an effort after an increasing depth of foundation, and a stronger internal articulation, joined to a wonderful exuberance of ideas, often excessively bold.”135
Plato was not a Theist, in the ordinary and Christian sense of that word. He did not recognize the existence of an extramundane God, the creator, preserver, and governor of the world, on whom we are dependent and to whom we are responsible. With him God is not a person. As Anselm and the Realists generally admitted the existence of “rationality” as distinct from rational beings; a general principle which became individual and personal in angels and men; so Plato admitted the existence of an universal intelligence, or nou/j, which becomes individualized in the different orders of intelligent beings, gods, demons, and men. God with him was an Idea; the Idea of the Good; which comprehended and gave unity to all other ideas.
What then were ideas in Plato’s sense of the term? They were not mere thoughts, but the only real entities, of which the phenomenal and sensible are the representations or shadows. He illustrated their nature by supposing a man in a dark cave entirely ignorant of the external world, with a bright light shining behind him, while between him and the light there continually passes a procession of men, animals, trees, etc. The moving shadows of these things would be projected on the wall of the cavern, and the man would necessarily suppose that the shadows were the realities. These ideas are immutable and eternal, constituting the essence or real being of all phenomenal existence. “Plato teaches that for as many general signs of our conceptions as we have, there are so many really existing things, or Ideas, in the intelligible world corresponding: to man these are the only solid and worthy objects of thought and knowledge; for they are eternal and immutable, existing only in themselves, but separate from all things and individual, while their manifold copies, the things perceptible by sense, are ever fluctuating and transitory. Independent of time and space, as well as of our intellect and its conceptions, Ideas belong to a world of their own, of another sphere, transcending sense. They are not the thoughts of God, but the objects of his thought; and, according to them, He created the world in matter. They only and God are really existing beings; and therefore earthly things have but the shadow of an existence, and that only derived from a certain participation in the Ideas, their types.”136
The Relation of Ideas, in Plato’s Philosophy, to God
What is the relation of these ideas to God? This is the decisive question so far as the theology of Plato is concerned. Unfortunately it is not a question easily answered. It is a point about which the commentators differ; some saying that Plato leaves the matter undecided, sometimes identifying ideas with God, and at others representing them as distinct; others say that he clearly identifies ideas with God, or includes them in the divine essence; while others again understand him as making a marked distinction between God and the ideas after which the universe was moulded. It is not easy to reconcile what Dollinger says on this subject. In the passage above quoted he says that ideas are not the thoughts of God, but the objects of his thought. But on the same page137 he says, “These Ideas are not to be conceived as beside and external to God. They are founded in God, and God is the all comprehensive Idea, embracing all partial archetypes in an unity.” He had before said, that with Plato Ideas and God are the only “really existing beings.” If this be so, and if God is “the all comprehensive idea, embracing all others in unity,” then God is the only really existing Being; and we have pure Pantheism. According to Cousin, Plato not only gave ideas a real and proper existence, but, “en dernie.re analyse il les place dans la raison divine: c’estla qu’ elles existent substantiellement.”138 Dollinger, in commenting on a passage in the Timaeus, in which “God is styled the Father, who has begotten the world like a son, as an image of the eternal gods, i. e., ideas,” says, “Had Plato ready intended here to explain the idea of procreation as a communication of essence, he would have been a pure Pantheist.”139 Plato, however, he says140 “is no Pantheist; matter is, with him, entirely distinct from God; still he has a pantheistical bias in his system; for all that there is of intelligence in the world, down even to man, belongs, in his view, to the divine substance.” Plato, therefore, escapes Pantheism only by admitting the eternity of matter; but this eternal matter is as near nothing as possible. It is not corporeal. It is “something not yet entity.”
As Plato made ideas eternal and immutable; as they were all included in the idea of God, i. e., in God; and as they constitute the only really existing beings, all that is phenomenal or that affects the senses being mere shadows of the real, it can hardly be denied that his system in its essential character is really pantheistical. It is, however, an ideal Pantheism. It does not admit that matter or evil is a manifestation of God, or mode of his existence. Only what is good, is God; but all that really is, is good.
The cosmogony of Plato.
Plato’s cosmogony and anthropology confirm this view of his theology. Nothing has ever been created. All that is, is eternal; not indeed in form, but in substance. Matter, something material, has always existed. This in itself is lifeless, but it has “a soul,” an unintelligent force by which chaotic or disorderly agitation or motion is produced. This unintelligent force God endowed with a portion of his own intelligence or nou/j, and it becomes the world-soul, i. e., the Demiurgus, the formative principle of the world. God is not therefore himself even the framer of the world. This is the work of the Demiurgus. This world-soul pervades the visible universe, and constitutes one living, animated whole. This “world-soul” is individualized in star-gods, demons, and human souls. Thus Plato’s system makes room for polytheism.
The Nature of the Soul.
The soul, according to this theory, consists of intelligence which is of the substance of God, and of elements derived from the world-soul as distinguished from the nou/j which did not originally belong to it. All evil arises from the connection of the divine element in man with matter. The object of life is to counteract this evil influence by contemplation and communion with the ideal world. Plato taught the preexistence as well as the immortality of the soul. Its state in the present stage of existence being determined by its course in its previous forms of being. It is, however, according to his common mode of representation, strictly immortal. “Plato’s monotheistic conception of God,” says Dollinger,141 “is one of the most refined to which ante-Christian speculation attained; yet he contributed nothing whatever to the knowledge of the perfect, living, personality of God, and its absolute and unconditional liberty.” His monotheism, it would seem, consisted in the acknowledgment of a universal intelligence which manifested itself as reason in all rational beings.
Aristotle, although the disciple, was the great opponent of Plato and his philosophy. He rejected Plato’s doctrine of ideas as chimerical, as a hypothesis which was unnecessary and without evidence. In like manner he denied the existence of preexistent matter out of which the world was fashioned. He believed the world to be eternal both in matter and form. It is, and there is no reason to doubt that it always has been and always will be. He admitted the existence of mind in man; and, therefore, assumed that there is an infinite intelligence, of which reason in man is a manifestation. But this infinite intelligence, which he called God, was pure intelligence, destitute of power and of will; neither the creator nor the framer of the world; unconscious, indeed, that the world exists; as it is occupied exclusively in thought of which it is itself the object. The world and God are coeternal; and yet, in a certain sense, God is the cause of the world. As a magnet acts on matter, or as the mere presence of a friend stirs the mind, so God unconsciously operates on matter, and awakens its dormant powers. As the universe is a cosmos, an ordered system; and as innumerable organized beings, vegetable and animal, exist in the world, Aristotle assumed that there are “forms” inherent in matter, which determine the nature of all such organizations. This is very much what in modern language would be called “vital force,” “vitality,” “vis formativa,“”Bildungstrieb,” or Agassiz’s “immaterial principle,” which is different in every distint species, and which constitutes the difference between one species and another. The soul is the “forma“ of the man. “It is the principle that gives form, motion, and development to the body, the entelecheia of it; i. e., that substance, which only manifests itself in the body which is formed and penetrated by it, and continues energizing in it as the principle of life, determining and mastering matter. Thus, the body is nothing of itself; it is what it is, only through the soul, the nature and being of which it expresses, to which it stands in the relation of a medium in which the object, the soul, is realized; and so it cannot be imagined without the body, nor the body without it; one must be produced contemporaneously with the other.”142 Of course there can be no immortality of the soul. As no plant is immortal, as the vital principle does not exist separately from the plant, so the soul has no existence separate from the body. The two begin and end together. “The really human in the soul, that which has come into being, must also pass away, the understanding even; only the divine reason is immortal; but, as the memory belongs to the sensitive soul, and individual thought depends on the understanding or passive nous only, all self-consciousness must cease with death.”143 “Thus, then, Aristotle’s doctrine of the soul shows that his defect, as well as that of Plato, and indeed of all antiquity, was his imperfect acquaintance with the idea of personality; and on that head he cannot be acquitted of a pantheistic tendency.”144“His God is not a really personal one, or is only an imperfect personality.”145“The nous, or reason, allows souls, with their bodies, to sink back into nothingness, from which they severally issued. It alone exists on, ever the same and unalterable, for it is no other than the divine nous in individual existence, the divine intelligence enlightening the night of human understanding, and must be conceived just as much the prime mover of human discursive thought and knowledge, as of his will.”146
This brief review of the Grecian philosophy in its relation to theology, shows that in all its forms it was more or less pantheistic. This remark will not be recognized as correct by those, who with Cousin, limit the use of the word Pantheism to designate either the doctrine which makes the material universe God; or that which denies the existence of anything but matter and physical force, which is atheism; nor by those who take the word strictly as meaning the theory which admits of only one substance, which is the substance of God; and which consequently makes matter as much a mode of God’s existence as mind. Its correctness, however, will be admitted by those who mean by Pantheism the doctrine which makes all the intelligence in the world the intelligence of God, and all intellectual activity modes of the activity of God, and which necessarily precludes the possibility of human liberty and responsibility.
The authorities on this subject are, so far as Plato and Aristotle are concerned, of course their own writings; with regard to those philosophers whose works are not preserved, or of which only fragments are extant, their systems are more or less fully detailed by the ancient writers, as Plutarch and Cicero. The general reader will find the information he needs in one or more of the numerous histories of philosophy; as those of Brucker, Ritter, Tenneman, and Cousin; among the latest and best of which is Dollinger’s “The Gentile and the Jew in the Courts of the Temple of Christ,” London, 1862.
D. Mediaeval Pantheism.
Pantheism, as it appeared in the Middle Ages, took its form and character from Neo-Platonism. This was an eclectic system in which the Eleatic doctrine of the unity of all being was combined with the Platonic doctrine concerning the phenomenal universe. The philosophers recognized as the representatives of this school are Plotinus (A. D. 205-270), Porphyry (born A. D. 233), Jamblichus in the fourth century, and Proclus in the fifth. Neo-Platonism was monism. It admitted of only one universal Being. This Being considered in itself was inconceivable and indescribable. It was revealed, or self-manifested in the world-soul, and world-reason, which constituted a trinity; one substance in different aspects or modes of manifestation. The world is therefore “the affluence of God,” as fire emits heat. The soul of man is a mode of God’s existence, a portion of his substance. Its destiny is absorption in the infinite Being. This was not to be attained by thought, or by meditation, but by ecstasy. This constituted the peculiar feature of the Neo-Platonic school. “Union with God” was to be attained by “a mystical self-destruction of the individual person (Ichheit)” in God.147 Schwegler148 says: “From the introduction of Christianity monism has been the character and the fundamental tendency of the whole modern philosophy.” This remark, coming from an advocate of that theory, must be taken with no small amount of allowance. It is, however, true that almost all the great departures from the simplicity of the truth as revealed in the sacred Scriptures, have assumed more or less distinctly a pantheistic tendency.
John Scotus Erigena.
The most pronounced Pantheist among the schoolmen was John Scotus Erigena. Little is known of his origin or history. From his name Scotus and designation Erigena (son of Erin), it has been generally assumed that he was an Irishman. It is known that he enjoyed the protection and patronage of Charles the Bald of France, and that he taught in Paris and perhaps in England.
His principal work is that “De Divisione Naturae.” By nature he means all being. The fourfold divisions which he makes of nature, are only so many manifestations or aspects under which the one Being is revealed or is to be contemplated. Those divisions are: (1.) That which creates and is not created. (2.) That which creates and is created. (3.) That which does not create but is created. (4.) That which neither creates nor is created. “This division of nature,” says Ritter,149 “is made simply to show that all is God, since the four natures are only revelations of God.”
Scotus agreed with most philosophers in making philosophy and religion identical, and in admitting no higher source of knowledge than human reason. ” Conficitur,” he says, “veram esse philosophiam veram religionem, conversimque veram religionem esse veram philosophiam.”150
The leading principles of his philosophy are the following: (1.) The distinction with him between being and not-being, is not that between something and nothing, between substantial existence and non-existence, but between affirmation and negation. Whatever may be affirmed is; whatever is denied is not. (2.) All being consists in thought. Nothing is but as it exists in the mind and consciousness. (3.) With God, being, thought, and creating are identical. God’s being consists in thinking, and his thoughts are things. In other words, the thought of God is the real being of all that is. (4.) Consequently the world is eternal. God and the world are identical. He is the “totum omnium.“
His system is, therefore, a form of idealistic Pantheism. Ritter devotes the ninth book of his “Geschichte der Christlichen Philosophie,”151 to the exposition of the philosophy of Scotus. The few following passages from the “De Divisione Naturae,” are sufficient to show the correctness of the above statement of his principles.
“Intellectus enim omnium in Deo essentia omnium est. Siquidem id ipsum est Deo cognoscere, priusquam fiunt, quae facit, et facere, quae cognoscit. Cognoscere ergo et facere Dei unum est.”152 “Maximus ait: Quodcunque intellectus comprehendere potuerit, id ipsum fit.”153 “Intellectus enim rerum veraciter ipsae res sunt, dicente Sancto Dionysio, ‘Cognitio eorum, quae sunt, ea, quae sunt, est.'”154 “Homo est notio quaedam intellectualis in mente divina aeternaliter facta. Verissima et probatissima definitio hominis est ista: et non solum hominis, verum etiam omnium quae in divina sapientia facta sunt.”155 Omnis visibilis et invisibilis creatura Theophania, i. e., divina apparitio potest appelari.156 “Num negabis creatorem et creaturam unum esse?”157 “Creation [with Erigena] is nothing else than the Lord of creation; God in some ineffable manner created in the creation.”158
Scotus translated the works of the so-called St. Dionysius, the Areopagite, and in so doing prepared the way for that form of mystical Pantheism which prevailed through the Church down to the period of the Reformation. The pseudo-Dionysius was a Neo-Platonist. His object was to give the doctrine of Plotinus a Christian aspect. He adopted the principle of the unity of all being. All creatures are of the essence of God. But instead of placing the self-manifestation of God in nature, in the world-soul, he placed it principally in the hierarchy of rational being, — cherubim, seraphim, thrones, principalities, and powers, and souls of men. The destiny of all rational creatures, is reunion with God; and this reunion, as the Neo-Platonists taught, was to be attained by ecstasy and the negation of Self. It was this system, which, in common with all other forms of Pantheism, precluded the idea of sin, which was reproduced by the leading mystics of the Middle Ages, and which, when it found its way among the people as it did with the Beghards and Brethren of the Free Spirit, produced, as substantially the same system has done in India, its legitimate fruits of evil. Of the mystical Pantheism of the Middle Ages, however, enough has already been said in the Introduction, in the chapter on Mysticism
E. Modern Pantheism.
The revival of Pantheism since the Reformation is principally due to Spinoza; he was born at Amsterdam in 1634, and died at Ghent in the forty-fourth year of his age. He was descended from a wealthy Jewish Portuguese family, and enjoyed the advantage of a highly finished education. He early devoted himself to the study of philosophy, and was at first a disciple of Des Cartes. Leibnitz characterizes the system of Spinoza as Cartesianism run wild. Des Cartes distrusted the testimony of the senses. His starting-point was the consciousness of existence, “I think.” In that proposition the existence of a thinking substance is necessarily included. The outward world produces impressions on this thinking substance. But after all, these sensations thus produced, are only states of self-consciousmiess. Self, therefore, and its varying states, are all of which we have direct knowledge. It is not all, however, that Des Cartes believed actually existed. He was a sincere Catholic, and died in communion with the Church. He acknowledged not only the existence of mind, but also of God and of matter. Our knowledge, however, of God and of matter as substances distinct from our minds, was arrived at by a process of reasoning. The validity of that process Spinoza denied. He admitted the existence of only one substance, and gave such a definition of the word as precluded the possibility of there being more substances than one. With him substance is that which exists of itself, of necessity, and is absolutely independent. There is, therefore, but one substance possible. We come, however, everywhere into contact with two classes of phenomena: those of thought and those of extension. Thought and extension, therefore, are the two attributes of the one infinite substance. Individual things are the modes under which the infinite substance is constantly manifested. In Spinoza’s system there are the three radical ideas of substance, attribute, and mode. Of these that of substance alone has any reality. The other two are mere appearances. If we look at anything through a glass colored red the object will appear red; if the glass be blue, the object will appear blue; but the color is not really an attribute of the object. Thus substance (the one) appears to us under one aspect as thought and under another as extension. The difference is apparent and not real. The finite has therefore no real existence. The universe is sunk into the Infinite; and the Infinite is a substance of which nothing can be affirmed. Of the Infinite nothing can be denied, and therefore nothing can be affirmed for “omnis deter minatio est negatio.” The Infinite, therefore, is practically nothing
A sufficient account of modern Pantheism in its general features as represented by Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, and their successors and disciples, has been given already at the commencement ol this chapter. More detailed information may be found in the numerous recent histories of philosophy, as those of Morell, Schwegler, Michelet, and Rosenkranz, and in Hunt’s “History of Pantheism.”
The fact that Pantheism has so extensively prevailed in every age and in every part of the world, is a proof of its fascination and power. Apart from a divine revelation, it seems to have been regarded as the most probable solution of the great problem of the universe. Nevertheless it is so unsatisfactory, and does such violence to the laws of our nature, that it has never to any extent taken hold on the hearts of the people. India may be regarded as furnishing an exception to this remark. But even there, although Pantheism was the ground form of the popular religion, it had to resolve itself into polytheism in order to meet the necessities of the people. Men must have a personal god whom they can worship and to whom they can pray.
The most obvious remark to be made of the whole system is that it is a hypothesis. From its very nature it is incapable of proof. It is a mere theory assumed to account for the phenomena of the universe. If it did satisfactorily account for them, and did not contradict the teachings of the Bible, it might be safely admitted. But it is not only inconsistent with all that the Scriptures reveal concerning the nature of God and his relation to the world, but it contradicts the laws of belief which God has impressed on our nature, subverts the very foundation of religion and morality and involves even the deification of sin.
Had we no divine revelation on the subject, Theism merely as a theory could not fail to secure the assent of every devout mind in preference to Pantheism. Theism supposes the existence of a personal, extramundane God, the creator and preserver of the universe; everywhere present in his wisdom and power, directing all events to the accomplishment of his infinitely wise designs. It supposes the material universe to be distinct from God, dependent on his will, upheld by his power, and pregnant with physical forces ever active under his control. It supposes that man is the creature of God, owing his existence to the will of God, created after his image, a free, rational, moral, and accountable agent, capable of knowing, loving, and worshipping God as a Spirit infinite in his being and perfections. Although this theory may have, for the reason, some problems, such as the origin and prevalence of evil, without a satisfactory solution, yet as it meets and satisfies all the demands of our nature, and solves the problem as to the origin and nature of the universe, it commends itself to the reason, the heart, and the conscience with a force which no sophistry of speculation can resist.
Pantheism, on the other hand, does violence to our nature, and contradicts the intuitive convictions of consciousness.
1. We are conscious that we are free agents. This is a truth which no man can deny with regard to himself, and which every man assumes with regard to others. This truth Pantheism denies. It makes our activity only a form of the activity of God, and assumes that his acts are determined by necessity as much as the development of a plant or animal.
2. It is intuitively certain that there is a real distinction between moral good and evil: that the one is that to which man is bound to be conformed, and the other that which he is bound to hate and to avoid; that the one deserves approbation, and that the other deserves disapprobation, and merits punishment. These are convictions which belong to the rational nature of man; and they cannot be destroyed without destroying his rationality. Pantheism, however, pronounces these convictions delusions; that there is no such thing as sin, in the sense above stated; that what we call sin is mere weakness; imperfect development, as unavoidable as feebleness in an infant. It goes further: it pronounces evil good. It makes the sinful acts and passions of men as much the acts and states of God as holy acts and holy feelings. There is no good but being; and the men of power are the men of being; and, therefore, the strongest are the best; the weak are to be despised; they deserved to be conquered and trodden under foot. Hence where Pantheism has become a religion the deities who represent evil are the most honoured and worshipped.
3. Pantheism not only destroys the foundation of morals, but it renders all rational religion impossible. Religion supposes a personal Being endowed not only with intelligence and power, but with moral excellence; and to be rational, that Being must be infinite in all his perfections. Pantheism, however, denies that an infinite Being can be a person; that it is intelligent, self-conscious, or possessed of moral attributes. It is just as impossible to worship such a Being as it is to worship the atmosphere, or the law of gravitation, or the axioms of Euclid.
4. It is no extravagance to say that Pantheism is the worst form of atheism. For mere atheism is negative. It neither deifies man nor evil. But Pantheism teaches that man, the human soul, is the highest form in which God exists; and that evil is as much a maniestation of God as good; Satan as the ever-blessed and adorable Redeemer. Beyond this it is impossible for the insanity of wickedness to go.
5. Man, according to this system, is no more immortal than the leaves of the forest, or the waves of the sea. We are transient forms of universal Being.
Our nature is indestructible; as it is impossible that we should not believe in our own individual existence, in our free agency, in our moral obligations; in our dependence and responsibility to a Being capable of knowing what we are and what we do, and of rewarding and punishing as He sees fit, so it is impossible that Pantheism should ever be more than a philosophical speculation, where the moral nature of man has once been developed by the knowiedge of the living and true God.