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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/786

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NATURALISM


714


NATURALISM


as the origin of all thinps, unknowable even to Him- self; (2) crcateil and creating nature, i. e., God as eon- taininR the types and exemplars of all things; {',i) createil and nol-ereating nature, i. e., the world of phenomena in space and time, all of which are partici- pations of the Divine being and also Ihcnphaniiv, or manifestations of t!od; (1) neither created nor creat- ing nature, i. e., God ius the end of all things to whom all things ultimately return. Giordano Bruno also professes that God and nature are identical, and that the world of phenomena is but the manifestation of the Divine substance which works in nature and ani- mates it. .'\ccording to Spinoza, God is the one .sub- stance which unfolds itself through attributes, two of which, extension and thought, are known to us. These attributes manifest themselves through a number of modes which are the finite determinations of the infi- nite substance. As absolute substance, God is nnlura naturans: as manifesting himself through the various modes of phenomena, he is nalura nalurata. To-day Monism reproduces essentiallj' the same theories. Mind is not reduced to a property, or epiphenomenon, of matter, but both matter and mind are hke parallels; they proceed together as phenomena or aspects of the same ultimate reality. What is this reality? By some, explicitly or implicitly, it is rather conceived as material, an<l we fall back into Materialism; by others it is claimed to be nearer to mind than to matter, and hence result various idealistic systems and tendencies; by others, finally, it is declared to be strictly unknown and unknowable, and thus Monistic Naturalism comes into close contact with Agnosticism (q. v.).

Whatever it may be ultimately, nature is substan- tially one ; it requires nothing outside of itself, but finds within itself its adequate explanation. Either the hu- man mind is incapable of any knowledge bearing on the question of origins, or this question itself is mean- ingless, since both nature and its processes of develop- ment are eternal. The simultaneous or succe.ssive changes which occur in the world result necessarily from the essential laws of nature, for nature is infi- nitely rich in potencies whose progressive actualization constitutes the endless process of inorganic, organic, and mental evolution. The evolution and differen- tiation of the one substance according to its own laws and without the guiding agency of a transcendent in- telligence is one of the basic assumptions of Monistic and Agnostic Naturalism. Nor is it possible to see how this form of Naturalism can consistently escape the consequences of Materialistic Naturalism. The supernatural is impossible; at no stage can there be any freedom or responsibility; man is but a special manifestation or mode of the common substance, in- cluding in himself the twofold aspect of matter and consciousness. Moreover, since God, or rather "the divine", as some say, is to be found in nature, with which it is identified, reUgion can only be reduced to certain feelings of admiration, awe, reverence, fear, etc., caused in man by the consideration of nature, its laws, beauties, energies, and mysteries. Thus, among the feelings belonging to "natural religion", Haeckel mentions "the astoni.shment with v.-hich we gaze upon the starry heavens and the microscopic life in a drop of water, the awe with which we trace the marvellous working of energj' in the motion of matter, the rever- ence with which we grasp the universal dominance of the law of substance throughout the universe" ("Die Weltrathsel", Bonn, 1899, V, xviii, 396-97; tr. Mc- Cabe, New York, 1900, :J44).

III. For tho.se who admit the existence of a tran- scendent First Cause of the universe, naturalism con- si-sts essentially in an >mdue limitation of God's activity in the world. God is only Creator, not Providence; He cannot, or may not, interfere with the natural course of events, or He never did so, or, at least, the fact of His ever doing so cannot be established. Even if the soul of man is regarded as spiritual and


immortal, and if, among human activities, some are exempted from tlie determinism of physical agents and recognized to be free, all this is within nature, which includes the laws governing sjjirits as well as those gDvcrning matter. But thcs<' laws are sufficient to account for everything that happens in the world of matter or of mind. This form of naturalism stands in close relation with Rationalism and Deism. Once es- tablished by God, the order of nature is unchange- able, and man is endowed bj' nature with all that is required even for his religious and moral development. The conscciuences are clear: miracles, that is, effects produced by tiod him.self and transcending the forces of nature, must be rejected. Prophecies and so-called miraculous events either are explainable by the known, or hitherto unknown, laws of nature or, if they are not thus explainable, their happening itself must be denied, and the belief in their reality attributed to faulty observation. Since, for religious and moral, as well as for scientific truths, human reason is the only source of knowledge, the fact of a Divine Revelation is rejected, and the contents of such supposed revelation can be accepted only in so far as they are rational; to believe in mysteries is absurd. Having no supernat- ural destiny, man needs no supernatural means — neither sanctifying grace as a permanent principle to give his actions a supernatural value nor actual grace to enlighten his mind and strengthen his will. The Fall of Man, the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption, with their implications and conse- quences, can find no place in a Naturalistic creed. Prayers and sacraments have only natural results ex- plainable on psj'chological grounds by the confidence with which they inspire those who use them. If man must have a religion at all, it is only that which his reason dictates. Naturalism is directly opposed to the Christian Religion. But even within the fold of Christianity, among those who admit a Divine Reve- lation and a supernatural order, several naturalistic tendencies are found. Such are those of the Pelagians and Semipelagians, who minimize the necessity and functions of Divine grace; of Baius, who asserts that the elevation of man was an exigency of his nature; of many sects, e.specially among Liberal Protestants, who fall into more or less radical Rationalism; and of others who endeavour to restrict within too narrow limits the divine agency in the universe.

IV. General Consider.\tions. — From the funda- mental principles of Naturalism are derived some im- portant consequences in ajsthetical, political, and ethical sciences. In a-sthetics Naturalism rests on the assumption that art must imitate nature without any idealization, and without any regard for the laws of morality. Social and political Naturalism teaches that "the best interests of public society and civil progress require that in the constitution and govern- ment of human society no more attention should be given to religion than if there were no religion at all, or at least that no distinction should be made between true and false religion" (Pius IX, Eneycl., "Quanta cura", 8 Dec, 1864). Leo XIII lays it down that "the integral profession of the Catholic Faith is in no way consistent with natur.alistic and rationalistic opin- ions, the sum and the substance of which is to do away altogether with Christian institutions, and, dis- regarding the rights of God, to attribute to man the supreme authority in society" (Eneycl., "Immortale Dei", 1 Nov., 1885). Moreover, like individual or- ganisms, social organisms obey fatal laws of devel- opment ; all events are the necessary results of complex antecedents, and the task of the historian is to record them and to trace the laws of their sequences, which are as strict as those of sequences in the physical world.

In ethics, the vague assumption that nature is the supreme guide of human actions may be applied in many difterent ways. Already the principle of the