Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/234

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ligion, meaning the religion of our civilization, as well as the religion of evolution and the future.

The evidence is abundant that even in the domains of science and philosophy the word agnosticism does not and can not express in full the idea or system for which it stands representative. Mr. Huxley, the inventor of it, is, as we all know, in a state of constant warfare over it; and as to Mr. Spencer, it is sufficient to refer to his controversy with Frederic Harrison and his "x" as the appropriate symbol "for the religion of the Infinite Unknowable."

With both of these men—the acknowledged leaders among agnostics—and with all their followers, the trouble is that at present they are compelled to seek to accomplish the practically impossible by attempting to read a positive and affirmative meaning into a word that is and can be only indefinite and negative. And the words meta-gnosticism and meta-gnostic are proposed for the purpose of meeting precisely that difficulty, and for the reason that they are positive and affirmative.

Mr. Huxley really found the word agnostic, or its root, already in use in the Greek language, and borrowed and used it for the want of a better one, little thinking, doubtless, how important it would become. It is believed that the time has now arrived for importing another word, cognate in origin and affirmative in meaning, into our language, if it be found by competent authority to meet the requirements of the case.

In his essay entitled Retrogressive Religion, in reply to Harrison, Spencer says (p. 68, Appletons' edition):

"I might enlarge on the fact that, though the name Agnosticism fitly expresses the confessed inability to know or conceive the nature of the Power manifested through phenomena, it fails to indicate the confessed ability to recognize the existence of that Power as of all things the most certain. I might make clear the contrast between that Comtean Agnosticism which says that 'theology and ontology alike end in the Everlasting No with which Science confronts all their assertions' and the Agnosticism set forth in First Principles, which, along with its denials, emphatically utters an Everlasting Yes. And I might show in detail that Mr. Harrison is wrong in implying that Agnosticism, as I hold it, is anything more than silent with respect to the question of personality; since, though the attributes of personality, as we know it, can not be conceived by us as attributes of the Unknown Cause of things, yet 'duty requires us neither to affirm nor deny personality' but 'to submit ourselves with all humility to the established limits of our intelligence' in the conviction that the choice is not 'between personality and something lower than personality' but 'between personality and some-