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In an article on "Science and the Bishops,"* Professor Huxley writes thus: "That this Christianity is doomed to fall is, to my mind, beyond a doubt." The Christianity of which he predicts the fall is defined to be "that varying compound of some of the best and some of the worst elements of Paganism and Judaism, moulded in practice by the innate character of certain people of the Western World, which since the second century has assumed to itself the title of orthodox Christianity." "The fall," he says, "will be neither sudden nor speedy;" because enlightenment has always been slow in dispersing darkness. But this Christianity, he holds, will disappear just as rapidly as men in general come to the knowledge of the truth. Now that definition might suggest the inquiry, What is Professor Huxley's view about the Christianity of the first century? How is that to be distinguished from the singular compound which dates from the second century? Can "orthodox Christianity" fall without involving in its fate the Christianity of the Apostles? To such an inquiry Professor Huxley himself gives a partial answer. He affirms that a faith which is in any way bound up with "the miraculous" will be rejected by all enlightened persons, not because a "miracle" is a priori impossible, but because no miracle is supported by evidence which can satisfy those who understand the nature of proof.

Professor Huxley shows his characteristic lucidity, both of thought and statement, in what he is accustomed to lay down concerning miracles and the laws of nature. He makes admissions which, if they had been made and apprehended a couple of centuries ago, would have cleared the air of an immeasurable quantity of futile argument. He points out that a law of nature, which is a generalization from our experience of the past, can have no authority to pronounce any alleged fact whatsoever to be impossible, but that it makes anything reported as a violation of it extremely improbable; that we reasonably require the stronger evidence of that which is the more improbable; and that writings of unknown origin, by unknown authors, do not supply the kind of evidence which scientific training allows men to regard as incontrovertible. He disbelieves the miracles affirmed by orthodox Christianity, not because they are impossible in the nature of things, but because they are supported by evidence which seems to him absurdly inconclusive. He says, with M. Renan, not that miracles could not occur, but that as a

* Nineteenth Century, November, 1887; reprinted in THE LIBRARY MAGAZINE, January, 1888,


matter of history they have not occurred. I believe that it will be entirely to the advantage of Christianity that we should dismiss the idea of "the miraculous" from our contentions and our thoughts. The claim made in the name of miracles has had a pestilent effect upon the Christian cause. We are all familiar with the logical argument:-our Lord and his apostles wrought miracles; miracles could only be wrought by supernatural power; it is at our peril if we refuse to accept the authority of those who had supernatural power at their back. Such an argument obviously challenges the keenest criticism of the evidence in favor of the alleged miracles; the kind of criticism with which we sift reports of modern miracles, if indeed we think it worth while to criticise them at all. It suggests to us to refuse belief to the Christian creed until we are satisfied that the evidence for the miracles is such as could prove the most improbable things to the most scientifically skeptical mind. If it is said that we are warranted by the goodness of the Gospel in being content with inferior evidence of the miracles, we are so far abandoning the argument from the miraculous. But in adopting this argument at all, we are departing from our Lord's method and incurring his reproach; and, as a natural consequence, we are so far spoiling our Christianity. It was his custom to make light of wonders, that is, of miracles; to assume that they might be shown by false prophets, to repel with aversion the support which his hearers were ready to give him on the ground of wonders; to grieve with indignant disappointment over the demand for wonders. When he said, "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe!" was he praising the disposition which he notes? Is it not certain that he was deploring it? If critics will not allow us to take for granted that these words from the "Fourth Gospel"" were spoken by Jesus, we can show that they express what is indicated by sayings and actions recorded in the Synoptic Gospels; and we must observe that it is very remarkable if this was the view of our Lord's mind which commended itself to Professor Huxley's second century. When it is urged that in those ages the demand for miracles was universal, and had the natural effect of calling forth the supply, we answer that the repudiation in the New Testament of the method of believing because of miracles is by so much the more striking.

Is it open to the bishops, then, to shake hands with Professor Huxley on the terms which he seems to have some hope that they will accept that they will give up miracles, and he will "estimate as highly as they do the purely spiritual elements of the Christian faith?" That question raises another, How are we to conceive of these purely spiritual elements of the Christian faith? Recognizing as I do to the full "the supreme importance of the purely spiritual in our faith, on which the Bishop of Manchester has insisted, and

the admission of which Professor Huxley so courteously welcomes, I think it may be especially advantageous at the present moment to consider what this phrase means and involves. In the competition between the various creeds which are soliciting general acceptance, and endeavoring to commend themselves to open minds, we can desire no better test to be applied to them than this, What support does each provide for the spiritual interests of mankind? If the question which I have put at the head of this article, "The Higher Life: how is it to be sustained?" be regarded as a kind of challenge addressed to these creeds, I believe that the most legitimate and the most effective defence of Christianity, and that which will best bring out its proper character and authority, will consist in answering the challenge.

The purely spiritual elements of the Christian faith" might include both the truest Christian dispositions and the spiritual objects of Christian belief. What are the dispositions which make up or minister to the higher life of mankind? We say that they are such as these reverence, trust, self-condemnation, self-mastery, selfdevotion, respect for fellow-men and desire of their well-being, indignation against wrong, peace, joy, patience, hope, love. I do not give these as an exhaustive catalogue, but as indicating the qualities which men agree to admire as the noblest and deepest of which their nature is capable. I assume that, if any of these are to wither, the life of our race will be by so much the poorer; and it seems to me reasonable to contend that whatever beliefs these demand for their sustenance have an extremely powerful force in their favor.

Professor Huxley is the professed champion of scientific agnosti cism. We could not have a better representative of "the thousands of men, not the inferiors of Christians in character, capacity, or knowledge of the questions at issue, who will have nothing to do with the Christian Churches," on the ground that the evidence in support of the improbable things which the Gospels relate appears to them utterly inadequate. He, no doubt, looks up to Mr. Herbert Spencer as the constructive philosopher of his school; and he could justly appeal to the blameless character of this illustrious thinker, to his zeal for human progress, and even to the righteous anger with which he denounces all forms of aggression. The great naturalist whose personal history the world is now studying has done more than any one else to diffuse the spirit of scientific ticism; and the unfolding of his private life shows him to be entitled to no less admiring esteem as a man than as a discoverer. But Mr. Huxley is the controversialist, who is continually challenging those who differ from him, and whose frank candor and reasonableness, as remarkable as his courage and lucidity, make it agreeable even to a poorly equipped opponent to offer what he finds to say in reply.


It is Professor Huxley's point to lay stress upon the need and the nature of proof. Scientific men are trained to look for evidence and to demand it and to be governed by it. He holds that there is demonstrative evidence in support of the principle of evolution as explaining nature and man. He looks back, and sees everything growing out of its antecedents. When he can see antecedents no longer behind the molecules of the cosmic nebula, what he has to say is simply that he does not see them; he affirms nothing and accepts no affirmation about what is beyond his intellectual vision. He recognizes the method of evolution in man as well as in the inferior animals and in the inanimate world; in the mind and thoughts of man as well as in his body. He admits the mysteriousness of human nature, and, as he cannot trace thought and matter to their junction, he professes himself an agnostic with reference to the questions which divide the spiritualist and the materialist. But he finds evolution to be as much the law of the mental world as of the physical. "The fundamental proposition of evolution is, that the whole world, living and not living, is the result of the mutual interaction, according to definite laws, of the forces possessed by the molecules of which the primitive nebulosity of the universe was composed." Mr. Huxley regards the antecedent causes, within the world of our knowledge, as adequately explaining effects within the same world; everything, to him, is what it is on account of the things that went before it, and it could not be otherwise than as it is. He finds no reason for excepting men's states of consciousness from this general order; what any one feels at any moment is the result of his organization and the forces brought to bear upon it. He does not affirm it to be impossible that an unseen Being should -say in answer to human prayer-interfere with the course of nature; but he finds no necessity for resorting to such an explanation of anything which has actually occurred. So far as he can see, things have always gone as it was inevitable that they should go. Morality, like everything else, has grown out of the interaction of the primary forces. The interest or the desire of the strongest has prevailed. Experience soon taught men that union creates strength, and they were thus induced to join themselves together; and the united group, stronger than the strongest single person, has been able to impose its common interest upon the action of individuals. In this way the social instincts have been cultivated, and consideration for others has been bred as a persistent element in human nature. What a man feels and what he does, at any moment, are the results of his inherited nature and the forces from without that have acted upon it. He could not do otherwise than as he does, or feel otherwise than as he feels. Man is an automaton. That is a conclusion

which seems to Professor Huxley, as a scientific observer, to be irresistible and incontrovertible.

I do not know that Professor Huxley has allowed the argument to lead him to the confident assurance as to the future which Mr. Herbert Spencer entertains and expresses. The same forces which have thus far socialized mankind must necessarily, in Mr. Spencer's view, go on to make the world a happier and a better one. We may trust to nature for that result. Any one who understands the working of the natural forces will see that no other result is possible.

Let us suppose these to be ultimate truths concerning man and his destiny, brought to light by scientific investigation and demonstrated by scientific evidence the propositions, I mean, that man is an automaton, and that the forces which act within him and upon him can only work together for good. It will then be rational for us all to contemplate these truths, and to adjust ourselves to them. Even in so speaking we seem to give way to the inveterate delusion of supposing ourselves to have a choice as to what we shall do. According to the theory of naturalism, we shall all of us-the wisest and the most foolish alike, the Spencer and the Darwin as well as the idiot and the lunatic-feel and judge and act precisely as the primary molecular forces originally determined that we should. I observe that so-called "determinists" are accustomed to say, in selfdefence, "Of course we shall speak as our fellow-men do. We are not going to let our determinism reduce us to silence and inaction. If you theologians taunt us with being by our own account nothing more than automata addressing other automata, we can meet you with an argumentum ad hominem; your own idea of a God implies that all things are determined beforehand by his will." It is true that we theists are in this difficulty. But our agnostic opponents are persons who make it their profession to be guided and governed by science, and it is a boast made on behalf of science that its truths never conflict with one another. Mr. Cotter Morison, who professes to be, as an agnostic and determinist, a devotee of science, writes as follows:

"Not less marked in another respect is the difference between the truths derived from religion and the truths derived from science. The truths of science are found to be in complete harmony with one another. Where this harmony is wanting, it is at once felt that error has crept in unawares. We never give a thought to the alternative hypothesis, that truths in different sciences or departments of knowledge may be inconsistent and mutually hostile, and yet remain truths. On the contrary, we find that the discovery of new truth has invariably among its results the additional effect of corroborating other and older truths, instead of conflicting with them."

Mr. Morison, as I said, professes to be a determinist. "The doctrine of determinism," he says, "is now so generally accepted, that it will not be needful to dwell upon it at any length here." He

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