Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/84

This page has been validated.

and the grave meet in one mystery. It is the putting on and the putting off of consciousness; all that lies between we call life—finite, limited life.

Now, it seems plain that a mind so restricted by the senses can never form a just conception of the infinite. How utterly impossible it is for us to grasp the idea of endless space or endless time! To suppose there is an end to space is to suppose something beyond, and this must be space. To suppose there was a moment when time began is to suppose there was a moment before it began, and this must have been time also. Let us conceive God to be the highest possible ideal of the Infinite; let us assume that he had no beginning, and that he fills with his presence all space. But we cannot conceive of a universal, all-pervading God without all-pervading space; and, consequently, if God had no beginning, neither had space, and if space had no beginning, neither had time. Then, as a sequence, God did not create time or space, for they were prerequisites to his own existence. Hence our highest conceptions of God condition him of necessity.

Now, it may be asked, "Does this line of reasoning prove there is no God?" Not at all. It simply proves that the finite mind is utterly impotent to apprehend God. It proves that we do not and cannot comprehend primary causation; that our perceptive faculties are so limited by the very nature of their constitution that they cannot apprehend the primary nature of the simplest natural law; and if we cannot comprehend the nature of the force called gravity, or heat as a mode of motion, except as physical facts, how can we have any rational conception of any of those matchless qualities of mind that produced these laws? If the rude savage, after examining for the first time a complicated piece of machinery, can form no just conception of the forces that impel it, or even of the purpose it serves, how much less can he understand the peculiar qualities of mind that invented and produced it! If, by dint of deepest research, we cannot analyze the subtile law that connects the molecular movement of the brain with thought, how can we analyze the thoughts of an Infinite mind of which this law was but a thought? Is it not plain that, in attempting this, we attempt the impossible?

Let us give a simple illustration to show how utterly incompetent is the finite mind to grasp the idea, of creation—we mean absolute creation. It must be conceded that matter has either had an eternal existence (whatever that may mean), or it has been called into being—created by a Creator. But it may not have occurred to every one that to the finite rational mind the latter s idea is as incomprehensible as the former, for we cannot conceive of the creation of something out of nothing. "From nothing, nothing can come." The science of geometry is based upon axioms not more self-evident. So far as the finite mind can reason, it is as impossible for God to create something