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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/78

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

know nothing about the unseen world and the future? I was ignorant of the fact, but I am ready to accept it on the authority of a professed theologian," is either a quibble, or one of many indications that he does not recognize the point at issue. I am speaking, as the sentence shows, of scientific knowledge—knowledge which can be obtained by our own reason and observation alone—and no one with Prof. Huxley's learning is justified in being ignorant that it is not upon such knowledge, but upon supernatural revelation, that Christian belief rests. However, as he goes on to say, my view of "the real state of the case is that the agnostic 'does not believe the authority' on which 'these things' are stated, which authority is Jesus Christ. He is simply an old-fashioned 'infidel' who is afraid to own to his right name." The argument has nothing to do with his motive, whether it is being afraid or not. It only concerns the fact that that by which he is distinctively separated from the Christian is that he does not believe the assurances of Jesus Christ.

Prof. Huxley thinks there is "an attractive simplicity about this solution of the problem"—he means, of course, this statement of the case—"and it has that advantage of being somewhat offensive to the persons attacked, which is so dear to the less refined sort of controversialist." I think Prof. Huxley must have forgotten himself and his own feelings in this observation. There can be no question, of course, of his belonging himself to the more refined sort of controversialists; but he has a characteristic fancy for solutions of problems, or statements of cases, which have the "advantage of being somewhat offensive to the persons attacked." Without taking this particular phrase into account, it certainly has "the advantage of being offensive to the persons attacked" that Prof. Huxley should speak in this article of "the pestilent doctrine on which all the churches have insisted, that honest disbelief"—the word "honest" is not a misquotation—"honest disbelief in their more or less astonishing creeds is a moral offense, indeed a sin of the deepest dye, deserving and involving the same future retribution as murder or robbery," or that he should say, "Trip in morals or in doctrine (especially in doctrine), without due repentance or retractation, or fail to get properly baptized before you die, and a plebiscite of the Christians of Europe, if they were true to their creeds, would affirm your everlasting damnation by an immense majority." We have fortunately nothing to do in this argument with plebiscites; and as statements of authoritative Christian teaching, the least that can be said of these allegations is that they are offensive exaggerations. It had "the advantage" again, of being "offensive to the persons attacked," when Prof. Huxley, in an article in this review on "Science and the Bishops," in November, 1887, said that "scientific ethics can and does declare