Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/356

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Abbott, be shall be forthwith scientifically excommunicated. I venture to submit, as a mere matter of common sense, that if three persons used one document, it is the height of rashness to conclude that it contained nothing but what they all three quote; that it is not only possible but probable that, while certain parts were used by all, each may have used some parts as suitable to his own purpose which the others did not find suitable to theirs; and, lastly, that the fact of there having been one such document in existence is so far from being evidence that there were no others, that it even creates some presumption that there were. In short, I must beg leave to represent, not so much that Prof. Huxley's conclusions are wrong, but that there is absolutely no validity in the reasoning by which he endeavors to support them. It is not, in fact, reasoning at all, but mere presumption and guess-work, inconsistent, moreover, with all experience and common sense.

Of course, if Prof. Huxley's quibbles against the Sermon on the Mount go to pieces, so do his cavils at the authenticity of the Lord's Prayer; and, indeed, on these two points I venture to think that the case for which I was contending is carried by the mere fact that it seems necessary to Prof. Huxley's position to dispute them. If he can not maintain his ground without pushing his agnosticism to such a length as to deny the substantial genuineness of the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord's Prayer, I think he will be found to have allowed enough to satisfy reasonable men that his case must be a bad one. I shall not, therefore, waste more time on these points, as I must say something on his strange treatment of the third point in the evangelical records to which I referred, the story of the Passion. It is really difficult to take seriously what he says on this subject. He says:

I am not quite sure what Dr. Wace means by this—I am not aware that any one (with the exception of certain ancient heretics) has propounded doubts as to the reality of the crucifixion; and certainly I have no inclination to argue about the precise accuracy of every detail of that pathetic story of suffering and wrong. But if Dr. Wace means, as I suppose he does, that that which, according to the orthodox view, happened after the crucifixion, and which is, in a dogmatic sense, the most important part of the story, is founded on solid historical proofs, I must beg leave to express a diametrically opposite conviction.

Prof. Huxley is not quite sure what I mean by the story of the Passion, but supposes I mean the story of the resurrection! It is barely credible that he can have supposed anything of the kind; but by this gratuitous supposition he has again evaded the issue I proposed to him, and has shifted the argument to another topic which, however important in itself, is entirely irrelevant to the particular point in question. If he really supposed that when I said the Passion I meant the resurrection, it is only another proof of his incapacity for strict argument, at least on these subjects.