Teleological And Scientific Interpretations Are Alike Necessary

(7.) Thus religion confidently subjects the world to a teleological

interpretation. And to a teleological study in this sense the strictly

causal interpretations of natural science are not hostile, but

indispensable. For how do things stand? Natural science endeavours by

persistent labour to comprehend the whole of the facts occurring in our

world, up to the existence of man, as the final outcome and result of an

age-long process of evolution, attempts also to follow this process ever

higher up the ladder of strictly causal and strictly law-governed

sequences, and finally to connect it with the primary and simplest

fundamental facts of existence, beyond which it cannot go, and which must

simply be accepted as "given." If these results of this causally

interpreted evolution reveal themselves to our inward power of valuation

as full of meaning and value, indeed of the deepest and most incomparable

value, the causal mode of explanation is in no way affected, but its

results are all at once placed in a new light and reveal a peculiarity

which was previously not discoverable, yet which is their highest import.

They become a strictly united system of means. And purposefulness as a

potentiality is thus carried back to the very foundation and "beginning,"

to the fundamental conditions and primary factors of the cosmos itself.

The strict nexus of conditions and causes is thus nothing more than the

"endeavour after end and aim," the carrying through and realisation of the

eternal purpose, which was implicit potentially in the fundamental nature

of things. The absolute obedience to law, and the inexorableness of chains

of sequence are, instead of being fatal to this position, indispensable to

it. When there is a purpose in view, it is only where the system of means

is perfect, unbroken, and absolute, that the purpose can be realised, and

therefore that intention can be inferred. In the inexplicable datum of the

fundamental factors of the world's existence, in the strict nexus of

causes, in the unfailing occurrence of the results which are determined by

both these, and which reveal themselves to us as of value and purpose,

teleology and providence are directly realised. The only assumptions are,

that it is possible to judge the results according to their value, and

that both the original nature of the world and the system of its causal

sequences--that is, the world as we know it--can be conceived of in

accordance with the ideas of dependence and conditionedness. Both

assumptions are not only possible, but necessary.

In thinking out this most general consideration, we find the real and

fundamental answer to the question as to the validity and freedom of the

religious conception of the world with regard to teleology in nature. And

if it be held fast and associated with the insight into the autonomy of

the spiritual and its underivability from the natural, we are freed at

once from all the petty strife with the naturalistic doctrines of

evolution, descent, and struggle for existence. We shall nevertheless be

obliged to discuss these to some extent, because it is not a matter of

indifference whether the detailed study of natural evolution fits in more

or less easily with the conception of purpose whose validity we have

demonstrated in general. If that proves to be the case, it will be an

important factor in apologetics. The conclusion which we have already

arrived at on abstract grounds will then be corroborated and emphasised in

the concrete.

Spontaneous Generation The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Space facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail