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NATURALISM.

Activity Of Consciousness
Aim And Method Of Naturalism
Autonomy Of Spirit
Consciousness Of The Ego
Constructive Criticism
Contrast Between Darwinian And Post-darwinian Views
Creative Power Of Consciousness
Criticisms Of The Mechanistic Theory Of Life
Crities Of Darwinism
Darwinish In General
Darwinism And Teleology
Darwinism In The Strict Sense
De Vries's Mutation-theory
Differences Of Opinion As To The Factors In Evolution
Eimer's Orthogenesis
Evolution And New Beginnings
Feeling
Feeling Individuality Genius And Mysticism
Freedom Of Spirit
Fundamental Principles Of Naturalism
Genius
Goethe's Attitude To Naturalism
Haeckel's Evolutionist Position
Heredity
How All This Affects The Religious Outlook
How The Religious And The Naturalistic Outlooks Conflict
Immortality
Individual Development
Individuality
Intuitions Of Reality
Irritability
Is There Ageing Of The Mind?
Lamarckism And Neo-lamarckism
Machnical Theories Criticism
Mind And Spirit The Human And The Animal Soul
Mystery : Dependence : Purpose
Mysticism
Natural Selection
Naturalism
Naturalistic Attacks On The Autonomy Of The Spiritual
No Parallelism
Other Instances Of Dissatisfaction With The Theory Of Descent
Parallelism
Personality
Pre-eminence Of Consciousness
Preyer's Position
Religion And The Theory Of Descent
Self-consciousness
Spontaneous Generation
Teleological And Scientific Interpretations Are Alike Necessary
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Space
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Time
The Antimony Of The Conditioned And The Unconditioned
The Characteristic Features Of Darwinism
The Conservation Of Matter And Energy
The Constructive Work Of Driesch
The Contingency Of The World
The Dependence Of The Order Of Nature
The Development Of Darwinism
The Ego
The Fundamental Answer
The Law Of The Conservation Of Energy
The Mechanics Of Development
The Mystery Of Existence Remains Unexplained
The Organic And The Inorganic
The Position Of Bunge And Other Physiologists
The Problema Continui
The Real World
The Recognition Of Purpose
The Religious Interpretation Of The World
The Spontaneous Activity Of The Organism
The Supremacy Of Mind
The Theory Of Descent
The True Naturalism
The Two Kinds Of Naturalism
The Unconscious
The Unity Of Consciousness
The Views Of Albrecht And Schneider
The Views Of Botanists Illustrated
The World And God
Theory Of Definite Variation
Theory Of Life
Underivability
Various Forms Of Darwinism
Virchow's Caution
Virchow's Position
Weismann's Evolutionist Position
Weismannism
What Is Distinctive In The Naturalistic Outlook
What Is Distinctive In The Religious Outlook



What Is Distinctive In The Religious Outlook








At the very beginning and throughout we must keep the following points
clearly before us, otherwise all our endeavours will only lead us astray,
and be directed towards an altogether false issue.

Firstly, everything depends and must depend upon vindicating the validity
and freedom of the religious view of the world as contrasted with
world-science in general; but we must not attempt to derive it directly
from the latter. If religion is to live, it must be able to
demonstrate--and it can be demonstrated--that its convictions in regard to
the world and human existence are not contradicted from any other quarter,
that they are possible and may be believed to be true. It can, perhaps,
also be shown that a calm and unprejudiced study of nature, both physical
and metaphysical reflection on things, will supplement the interpretations
of religion, and will lend confirmation and corroboration to many of the
articles of faith already assured to it. But it would be quite erroneous
to maintain that we must be able to read the religious conception of the
world out of nature, and that it must be, in the first instance, derivable
from nature, or that we can, not to say must, regard natural knowledge as
the source and basis of the religious interpretation of the world. An
apologetic based on such an idea as this would greatly overestimate its
own strength, and not only venture too high a stake, but would damage the
cause of religion and alter the whole position of the question. This
mistake has often been made. The old practice of finding "evidences of the
existence of God" had exactly this tendency. It was seriously believed
that one could thereby do more than vindicate for religious conviction a
right of way in the system of knowledge. It was seriously believed that
knowledge of God could be gained from and read out of nature, the world,
and earthly existence, and thus that the propositions of the religious
view of the world could not only gain freedom and security, but could be
fundamentally proved, and even directly inferred from Nature in the first
instance. The strength of these evidences was greatly overestimated, and
Nature was too much studied with reference to her harmony, her marvellous
wealth and purposeful wisdom, her significant arrangements and endless
adaptations; and too little attention was paid to the multitudinous
enigmas, to the many instances of what seems unmeaning and purposeless,
confused and dark. People were far too ready to reason from finite things
to infinite causes, and the validity or logical necessity of the
inferences drawn was far too rarely scrutinised. And, above all, the main
point was overlooked. For even if these "evidences" had succeeded better,
if they had been as sufficient as they were insufficient, it is certain
that religion and the religious conception of the world could never have
arisen from them, but were in existence long before any such
considerations had been taken into account.

Long before these were studied, religion had arisen from quite other
sources. These sources lie deep in the human spirit, and have had a long
history. To trace them back in detail is a special task belonging to the
domain of religious psychology, history, and philosophy, and we cannot
attempt it here, but must take it for granted. Having arisen from these
sources, religion has long lived a life of its own, forming its own
convictions in regard to the world and existence, possessing these as its
faith and truth, basing their credibility, and gaining for them the
adherence of its followers, on quite other grounds than those used in
"proving the existence of God." Ideas and conclusions which have not
arisen in this way can hardly be said to be religious, though they may
resemble religious ideas. But having thus arisen, the religious view comes
into contact with knowledge in general, and then a need for justification,
or even a state of antagonism, may arise. It may then be asked whether
convictions and ideas which, so far, have come solely from within, and
have been affirmed and recognised as truths only by heart and conscience,
can possibly be adhered to in the face of the insight afforded by an
investigation and scientific knowledge of nature.

Let us take an example, and at once the highest that can be found. The
religious recognition of the sway of an eternal Providence cannot possibly
be directly derived from, or proved by, any consideration of nature and
history. If we had not had it already, no apologetic and no evidences of
the existence of God would have given it to us. The task of an apologetic
which knows its limitations and its true aims can only be to inquire
whether there is scope and freedom left for these religious ideas
alongside of our natural knowledge of the world; to show that the latter,
because of its proper limitations, has no power to make a pronouncement in
regard to the highest meaning of the world; and to point to certain
indications in nature and history that justify us in interpreting the
whole in terms of purpose and ultimate import. This is the case with all
the conceptions and conclusions of the religious view of the world. No
single one of them can be really proved from a study of nature, because
they are much too deep to be reached by ordinary reasoning, and much too
peculiar in their character and content to be discovered by any scientific
consideration of nature or interpretation of the world. It is, however, at
the same time obvious that all apologetic must follow religion, and can
never precede it. Religion can only be awakened, never coerced. Once
awakened, it can reflect on its validity and freedom; but it alone can
really understand both. And apart from religion, or without its presence,
all apologetic endeavours are gratuitous, and are, moreover, expressly
forbidden by its own highest authorities (Matt. xxiii. 15).

The second point is even more important. Religion does not hold its theory
of the world and its interpretations of the nature and meaning of things
in the same way as poetry does its fine-spun, airy dreams, whose chief
value lies in the fact that they call up moods and arouse a play of
feeling, and which may be grave or gay, elegiac or idyllic, charming or
sublime, but may be true or false indifferently.

For there is this outstanding difference between religion and all
"moods"--all poetic or fanciful views of nature--that it lives by the
certainty of its ideas, suffers if they be uncertain, and dies if they be
shown to be untenable, however charming or consoling, sublime or simple
they may be. Its theories of the world are not poems; they are
convictions, and these require to be first of all not pleasing but true.
(Hence it is that criticism may arise out of religion itself, since
religion seeks for its own sake to find secure foundations.) And in this
respect the religious conception of the world is quite in line with
world-theory in general. Both desire to express reality. They do not wish
to lay gaily-coloured wreaths and garlands about reality that they may
enjoy it, plunged in their respective moods; they desire to understand it
and give an account of it.

But there is at once apparent a characteristic difference between the
propositions and conclusions of the religious view and those of the
secular, a difference not so much of content, which goes without saying,
but in the whole form, manner and method, and tone. As Schleiermacher put
it: "You can never say that it advances with the sure tread" of which
science in general is capable, and by which it is recognisable. The web of
religious certainty is much more finely and delicately woven, and more
susceptible of injury than the more robust one of ordinary knowledge.
Moreover, where religious certainty has attained its highest point in a
believing mind, and is greater rather than less than the certainty of what
is apprehended by the senses or experienced day by day, this
characteristic difference is most easily discerned. The believer is
probably much more confident about "the care of his Heavenly Father," or
"the life eternal," than he is about this life with its varying and
insignificant experiences and content. For he knows about the life beyond
in quite a different way. The truths of the religious outlook cannot be
put on the same level as those of ordinary and everyday life. And when the
mind passes from one to the other it does so with the consciousness that
the difference is in kind. The knowledge of God and eternity, and the real
value, transcending space and time, of our own inner being, cannot even in
form be mixed up with the trivial truths of the normal human understanding
or the conclusions of science. In fact, the truths of religion exhibit, in
quite a special way, the character of all ideal truths, which are not
really true for every day at all, but are altogether bound up with exalted
states of feeling. This is expressed in the old phrase, "Deus non scitur
sed creditur" [God is not known but believed in]. For the Sorbonne was
quite right and protected one of the essential interests of religion, when
it rejected as heresy the contrary position, that it was possible to
"know" God. Thus, in the way in which I "know" that I am sitting at this
writing-table, or that it rained yesterday, or that the sum of the angles
in a triangle are equal to two right angles, I can know nothing of God.
But I can know of Him something in the way in which I know that to tell
the truth is right, that to keep faith is duty, propositions which are
certain and which state something real and valid, but which I could not
have arrived at without conscious consent, and a certain exaltation of
spirit on my own part. This, and especially the second part of it, holds
true in an increased degree of all religious conceptions. They weave
themselves together out of the most inward and subtle experiences, out of
impressions which are coarsened in the very act of expressing them. Their
import and value must be judged entirely by the standards of conscience
and feeling, by their own self-sufficiency and validity. The best part of
them lies in the intensity and vitality of their experience, and in the
spontaneous acceptance and recognition which they receive. They cannot be
apprehended by the prosaic, secular mind; whatever is thus apprehended is
at most an indifferent analogue of religious experience, if it is not
self-deception. It is only in exaltation, in quiet enthusiasm, that
religious feelings can come to life and become pervasive, and religious
truth can only become a possession available for everyday use in
proportion as it is possible to make this non-secular and exalted state of
mind permanent, and to maintain enthusiasm as the enduring mood of life
and conduct. And as this is capable of all degrees of intensity from
overpowering outbursts and isolated raptures to a gentle but permanent
tension and elevation of spirit, so also is the certainty and actuality of
our knowledge, whether of the sway of the divine power, or of our own
higher nature and destiny, or of any religious truth whatever. This is
what is meant by St. Paul's "Praying without ceasing" and his "Being in
the Spirit" as a permanent mood; and herein lies the justification of the
statement of enthusiasm that truth is only found in moments of ecstasy. In
fact, religion and religious interpretations are nothing if not
"enthusiasms," that is to say, expressions of the art of sustaining a
permanent exaltation of spirit. And any one who is not capable of this
inward exaltation, or is too little capable of it, is badly qualified for
either religion or religious outlook. The "enthusiasts" will undoubtedly
make a better figure in the "kingdom of God," as well as find an easier
entrance therein, than the prosaic matter-of-fact people.

This is really the source of much that is vexatious in all apologetic
efforts, and indeed in all theorising about religion, as soon as we
attempt to get beyond the periphery into the heart of the matter. For in
order to understand the subject at all a certain amount of "enthusiasm" is
necessary, and in most cases the disputants fail to reach common ground
because this enthusiasm is lacking in one or both. If they both have it,
in that case also dialectics are out of the question.

Finally, it must be remarked that, as Luther puts it, "Faith always goes
against appearances." The religious conception of the world not only never
grows directly out of a scientific and general study of things, but it can
never be brought into absolute congruence with it. There are endless
tracts and domains of the world, in nature and history, which we cannot
bring under the religious consideration at all, because they admit of no
interpretation from the higher or more general points of view; they lie
before us as everlasting unrelated mysteries, uncomprehended as to their
import and purpose. Moreover, the religious theory of the world can never
tell us, or wish to tell us, what the world is as a whole, or what is the
meaning of its being. It is enough for us that it throws light on our own
being, and reveals to us our place and destiny, and the meaning of our
existence. It is enough if, in this respect, reality adapts itself to the
interpretations of religion, admits of their truth and allows them scope,
and corroborates them in important ways and instances. It actually does
this, and it can be demonstrated that it does. And in demonstrating this
the task of an apologetic that knows its own limitations alone consists.
It must be aware that it will succeed even in this, only if it is
supported by a courageous will to believe and joy in believing, that many
gaps and a thousand riddles will remain, that the ultimate and highest
condition of the search after a world-interpretation is personal decision
and personal choice, which finally depends upon "what manner of man one
is." Faith has always meant going against appearances. It has gone against
them not from obstinacy or incorrigible lack of understanding, but because
it has had strong reasons, impossible to set aside, for regarding
appearances literally as appearances. It has suffered from the apparent,
often even to the point of extinction, and has again drawn from it and
from its opposition its highest strength. That they overmastered
appearances made of the heroes of faith the greatest of all heroes. And
thus religion lives by the very riddles which have frequently caused its
death, and they are a part of its inheritance and constitution. To work
continually towards their solution is a task which it will never give up.
Until success has been achieved, it is of importance to show, that what
comes into conflict with faith in these riddles at the present day is not
something new and previously unheard of. In cases where faith has died
because of them we almost invariably find the opinion that religion might
have been possible in earlier and more naive times, but that it is no
longer possible to us, with our deeper insight into the dark mystery of
nature and destiny. This is foolishness. When faith dies thus, it dies of
one of its infantile diseases. For from the tragedies of Job and of
Jeremiah to the Tower of Siloam and the horror of the Mont-Pelee eruption
there runs a direct lineage of the same perennial riddle. Well-developed
religion has never existed without this--at once its shadow and its
touchstone.





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Previous: The Religious Interpretation Of The World



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