Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/256

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which man is taken is spiritual. Further, from these statements each writer deduces a similar moral. The only difference between them is, that Mr. Spencer puts it positively, and Prof. Huxley negatively. Mr. Spencer says that a consciousness of the unknowable nature of the universe fills the mind with religious emotion. Prof. Huxley says that the same consciousness will preserve from destruction the emotion that already exists in it. We will examine the positive and negative propositions in order, and see what bearing, if any, they have on practical life.

Mr. Spencer connects his religion with practical life thus: The mystery and the immensity of the All, and our own inseparable connection with it, deepen and solemnize our own conception of ourselves. They make us regard ourselves as "elements in that great evolution of which the beginning and the end are beyond our knowledge or conception"; and in especial they make us so regard our "own innermost convictions."

"It is not for nothing," says Mr. Spencer, "that a man has in him these sympathies with some principles, and repugnance to others. . . . He is a descendant of the past; he is a parent of the future; and his thoughts are as children born to him, which he may not carelessly let die. He, like every other man, may properly consider himself as one of the myriad agencies through whom works the Unknown Cause: and when the Unknown Cause produces in him a certain belief, he is thereby authorized to profess and act with this belief."[1]

In all the annals of intellectual self-deception it would be hard to find anything to outdo or even to approach this. What a man does or thinks, what he professes or acts out, can have no effect whatever, conceivable to ourselves, beyond such effects as it produces within the limits of this planet; and hardly any effect, worth our consideration, beyond such as it produces on himself and a few of his fellow-men. Now, how can any of these effects be connected with the evolution of the universe in such a way as to enable a consciousness of the universe to inform us that one set of effects should be aimed at by us rather than another? The positivists say that our aim should be the progress of man; and that, as I have said, forms a standard of duty, though it may not supply a motive. But what has the universe to do with the progress of man? Does it know anything about, it or care anything about it? Judging from the language of Mr. Spencer and Prof. Huxley, one would certainly suppose that it did. Surely, in that case, here is anthropomorphism with a vengeance. "It is not for nothing," says Mr. Spencer, "that the Unknowable has implanted in a man certain impulses." What is this but the old theologic doctrine of design? Can anything be more inconsistent with the entire theory of the evolutionist? Mr. Spencer's argu-

  1. "First Principles," p. 123.