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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/563

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MR. MALLOCK ON OPTIMISM.

quins of ecclesiasticism, we must forego those visions; we must look within for our reward. Better to face a sterile universe than submit to a spiritual tyranny. But to us the universe is not sterile, nor is life without meanings which might almost be pronounced "august." The theological solution of the problem is simply an adjournment: the next world is to clear up the mysteries of this. The scientific solution may be summed up in the word "adaptation." There is a law in things which slowly reveals itself to careful observation; and just as that law is read, learned, marked, and obeyed, does human life grow in value and more and more carry its own justification within itself. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be" is a saying very applicable to the future of our race upon the earth. Supposing it possible that religion should in the future take the form of an earnest study of the laws of life and cf morality, personal and social, who can forecast the glory that might yet be revealed in this despised humanity of ours? And who would not feel, in presence of such a transfiguration, that it was "good for us to be here"? If anything will thus transfigure society, we venture to affirm that it will be science pursued in a religious spirit—that is, regarded as a ministry of truth and good to mankind. There is a force available here that is at present little understood. It may possibly never be understood by more than a few: no one can answer for that; but it is impossible not to hope that some day, for a religion based on relics and texts, on myths and traditions, on dogma and ritual, on barren erudition at one end of the scale, boisterous sentiment at the other, and infinite mystification throughout, may be substituted one founded on the truth of nature and directed with undivided aim to the perfecting of humanity. Already we see, here and there, how much of pure happiness the right adjustment of human relations can create; and we do not see why the law, by virtue of which such happiness is produced, should not become more widely known and more faithfully observed. It is the habit of the self-styled orthodox to fling all the failures of the universe at our heads, as if we had produced them, or were at least specially responsible for explaining them. The habit is an idle one: the responsibility is not ours; but now that the light of scientific—that is, of verifiable—truth has come into the world, we do hold ourselves responsible for bearing witness to it, and causing it to shine as widely as possible. And, as we are not answerable for the past, neither do we assume to control or predict the future. We see merely a duty in the present, a duty the performance of which will bring peace, tranquillity, and security. This is not optimism, but it is in every man's power to make it a religion