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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/386

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

that the best will be made of it by studying and conforming to the conditions on which happiness depends—the conditions that make for the general improvement of life, physical and social. To speak plainly, it seems to us a very mean business for those who occupy positions of vantage in this world to preach compensation in another world to their less favorably situated brethren, in order to make them contented with their lot here. The sooner the calculations of all men are placed on a present-world basis, the better it will be for every important human interest.

But we are told that, not infrequently, "with religion morality also disappears"; inasmuch as "science, when reduced to material observation, can only know what is, not what ought to be." What is meant by reducing science to "material observation"? Science, we take it, observes all that can be observed; and we are not aware of any proposition to cut science off from any field in which observation is possible. If science—in the broadest sense—can not teach us what ought to be, what can? The fact is, that "what ought to be" depends in the most intimate manner on what is; so that, the more perfectly one knows what is, the more clearly he discerns what ought to be. Let any intelligent man examine himself, and say whether any sense of obligation he has does not directly result from some knowledge he possesses of what is. "The denial of the spirituality of the soul," says our philosopher, "uproots all reasonable motives for being just and honest." But supposing that one religiously refrains from either affirming or denying a proposition the terms of which he can not understand, is there any obstacle to his being just and honest? We trow not; and this attitude of mind, we fancy, is that which characterizes most thinkers of the Darwinian or evolutionist school. But why any speculative opinion on the nature of "the soul" should stand in the way of anybody's honesty, it is hard to understand. If the opinion, whatever it may be, has been honestly arrived at, and is honestly held, that simple fact will be a guarantee to some extent for honesty in other matters. It is not difficult to find people whose views about "the soul" are quite unexceptionable from the orthodox point of view, but whose daily practice is far from exemplifying a high type of honesty and justice. "Duty without God or a future life," we are sententiously informed, "is a very fine word, but it has no meaning whatever." Alas! what meaning has it with many of those who profess the strongest belief in these doctrines? We should like to ask M. de Laveleye and others who talk in this fashion whether, on the strength of their own experience, they can affirm that theological unbelievers as a class are morally inferior to believers. The fact is, as we believe, that the average of morality in the so-called orthodox world is very