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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/77

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AGNOSTICISM.

lead him to pay no real attention to the argument lie is attacking, or should betray him into material misquotation, he may at least be sure that scarcely any of his readers will care to refer to the original paper, or will have the opportunity of doing so. I can scarcely hope that Prof. Huxley's obliging reference to the "Official Report of the Church Congress" will induce many of those who are influenced by his answer to my paper to purchase that interesting volume, though they would be well repaid by some of its other contents; and I can hardly rely on their spending even twopence upon the reprint of the paper, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. I have therefore felt obliged to ask the editor of this review to be kind enough to admit to his pages a brief restatement of the position which Prof. Huxley has assailed, with such notice of his arguments as is practicable within the comparatively brief space which can be afforded me. I could not, indeed, amid the pressing claims of a college like this in term time, besides the chairmanship of a hospital, a preachership, and other duties, attempt any reply which would deal as thoroughly as could be wished with an article of so much skill and finish. But it is a matter of justice to my cause and to myself to remove at once the unscientific and prejudiced representation of the case which Prof. Huxley has put forward; and fortunately there will be need of no elaborate argument for this purpose. There is no occasion to go beyond Prof. Huxley's own article and the language of my paper to exhibit his entire misapprehension of the point in dispute; while I am much more than content to rely for the invalidation of his own contentions upon the authorities he himself quotes.

What, then, is the position with which Prof. Huxley finds fault? He is good enough to say that what he calls my "description" of an agnostic may for the present pass, so that we are so far, at starting, on common ground. The actual description of an agnostic, which is given in my paper, is indeed distinct from the words he quotes, and is taken from an authoritative source. But what I have said is that, as an escape from such an article of Christian belief as that we have a Father in heaven, or that Jesus Christ is the Judge of quick and dead, and will hereafter return to judge the world, an agnostic urges that "he has no means of a scientific knowledge of the unseen world or of the future"; and I maintain that this plea is irrelevant. Christians do not presume to say that they have a scientific knowledge of such articles of their creed. They say that they believe them, and they believe them mainly on the assurances of Jesus Christ. Consequently their characteristic difference from an agnostic consists in the fact that they believe those assurances, and that he does not. Prof. Huxley's observation, "Are there then any Christians who say that they