Imágenes de páginas


[ocr errors]

constructing a most grotesque and ludicrous figure, which he calls our argument, and forthwith proceeds to demolish ; and he ends by summoning up a horrible and awful phantom, against which he feelingly warns

This phantom has already, it seems, destroyed two civilisations, and is capable of even worse things, though it is merely the 'sifted sediment of a residuum.' He does not tell us whether he means Religion in general, or only that particularly objectionable form of it called Christianity.

Our critic shows that he has not read our work,has, in fact, merely glanced into it here and there. This is proved by what he says of Struve's notions, on which we lay no stress whatever, while he puts them forward as the mainstay of our argument. We are also made out to be the assertors of a peculiar molecular constitution of the unseen universe, although with reference to this we say in our work, page 217, for the sake of bringing our ideas in a concrete form before the reader, and for this purpose only, we will now adopt a definite hypothesis.' Of course it is too much to expect a critic now-a-days to read every word of a book which he is content to demolish, but we did hope he might have noticed the italics.

Our' critic too commits several singular mistakes due to imperfections of memory. Why speak of the negative as universal, which appears in such words as immortality, endless existence, etc., when the most common of all expressions connected with the subject



are the phrases, 'eternal life,' 'everlasting life,' etc., none of which involve the negative?

How the sun could go down upon ‘Gideon' is not obvious. Had it done so it would certainly have occasioned personal inconvenience (to say the least) to that hero. But what's in a name ? Our critic was evidently thinking of Joshua and Gibeon,' and why should a critic care about the difference between Amorites and Amalekites? It is a mere matter of spelling,-a trifle. Similar mistakes in a previous article are apologised for in a footnote appended to that on the ‘Unseen Universe.' Probably the author designed the apology to extend to it also, but forgot to say so; again a trifle. But it is of straws, some even weaker than these, that the imposing article is built; so that when we come forth to battle we find nothing to reply to.

To reduce matters to order, we may confidently assert that the only reasonable and defensible alternative to our hypothesis (or, at least, something similar to it) is, the stupendous pair of assumptions that visible matter is eternal, and that IT IS ALIVE. (See § 240.) If any one can be found to uphold

§ notions like these (from a scientific point of view), we shall be most happy to enter the lists with him.

We have made numerous small though sometimes important changes in the text, but none of them at all modify the general tenor of the work as it first appeared two months ago


WE have reason to think that notwithstanding all we have said, the position we take is not yet clearly understood, and we would therefore utilise the Preface to our Third Edition to put ourselves right with the public on this vital point.

To begin with the scientific side of our argument, we must once more make the statement that it is not we who are the dogmatists, but rather that school of scientific men who assert the incompatibility of science with Christianity.

Persistent as they have been in their endeavours to close the door leading from the seen to the unseen, we as resolutely maintain that it must be left open.

This class take credit to themselves for having thus barred the entrance to a throng of superstitious fancies which would inevitably rush through an open avenue-forgetting that they have by the same act barred the way to all the higher aspirations of man. But though we have founded no argument for im.


mortality on the existence of these higher aspirations, we cannot allow our adversaries to bar the way upon the plea that it would inevitably be the resort of unworthy passengers.

If it be the King's highway it must be left open ; if the unseen universe be a reality, surely we are not to dismiss it from our minds lest some people might entertain absurd views regarding its relation to the present visible universe. Such fancies are no new thing in the progress of knowledge. When two things are known to exist, we may have ten thousand erroneous hypotheses regarding their mutual relations, but only one true theory.

In the next place, we would say one word to that religious school which is more particularly affected by our present inquiry,we mean the school who assert the resurrection of our material bodies, and a grossly material future state.

We have endeavoured to explain to this class of men that their belief is inconsistent with the integrity of that Principle of Continuity which underlies not only all scientific inquiry, but all action of any kind in this world of ours.

Under these circumstances such men have three honest alternatives before them.

In the first place they may acknowledge the truth of our position and change their views; or, secondly, they may combat our argument regarding the alleged incompatibility of their position with the Principle of

Continuity; or, lastly, they may decline to accept this scientific principle in matters which concern their faith. What we complain of is, that the members of this school have chosen none of these alternatives, but have rather attempted to brand us as infidels and materialists, apparently forgetting (as usual) that such a method of conducting a discussion is neither Christ-like nor convincing.

But while one class of religious men have tried to brand us with these names, those of another school consider our theology narrow and gloomy. We reply to these men that we do not pretend to be theologians in any sense of the word. Our position in this respect has been greatly misunderstood. We are, no doubt, endeavouring to bring about a reconciliation between science and religion. In order to accomplish this we must first find out what is the fundamental principle of science, next what is the fundamental creed of the great majority of Christians, and then endeavour to show that the two are not incompatible with each other. In carrying out this process we have been led to regard the Principle of Continuity as the great law which regulates scientific inquiry, and there cannot be a doubt that the Old and New Testaments are regarded as authoritative expositions of religious truth by the great majority of the Church of Christ.

Now we find that the expressions in the Scriptures regarding the future of man and the constitution of

« AnteriorContinuar »