manifest the existence of such an idea in their minds and its positive influence over them.
Comnte said that science would conduct God to the frontier and then bow him out, with thanks for his provisional services. But Herbert Spencer affirms the existence of a ?Power to which no limit in time or space is conceivable, of which all phenomena as presented in consciousness are manifestations.? The intuition of God, though formally excluded, is implicitly contained in Spencer?s system, in the shape of the ?irresistible belief? in Absolute Being, which distinguishes his position from that of Comte: see H. Spencer, who says: ?One truth must ever grow clearer ? the truth that there is an inscrutable existence everywhere manifested, to which we can neither find nor conceive beginning or end ? the one absolute certainty that we are ever in the presence of an infinite and eternal energy from which all things proceed.? Mr. Spencer assumes unity in the underlying Reality. Frederick Harrison sneeringly asks him: ?Why not say ?forces? instead of ?force??? While Harrison gives us a supreme moral ideal without a metaphysical ground, Soencer gives us a ultimate metaphysical principle without a final moral purpose. The idea of god is the synthesis of the two, ? ?They are but broken lights of Thee, and thou, O Lord, art more than they? (Tennyson, In Memoriam).
Solon spoke of oJ qeo>v and Sophocles of oJ me>gav qeo>v . The term for ?God? is identical in all the Indo-European languages, and therefore belonged to the time before those languages separated; sees Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:201-208. In Virgil?s ^neid, Mezentius is an atheist, a despiser of the gods, trusting only in his spear and in his right arm; but, when the corpse of his son is brought to him, his first act is to raise his hands to heaven. Hume was a skeptic, but he said to Ferguson, as they walked on a starry night: ?Adam, there is a God!? Voltaire prayed in an alpine thunderstorm. Shelley6 wrote his name in the visitors? book of the inn at Montanvert, and added: ?Democrat, philanthropist, atheist?; yet he loved to think of a ?fine intellectual spirit pervading the universe?; and he also wrote: ?The One remains, the many change and pass; Heaven?s light forever shines, earth?s shadow fly.? Strauss worships the Cosmos, because ?order and law, reason and goodness? are the soul of it. Renan trusts in goodness, design, and ends. Charles Darwin, Life, 1:274 ? ?In my most extreme fluctuations, I have never been an atheist, in the sense of denying the existence of a God.?
D. This agreement among individuals and nations so widely separated in time and place can be most satisfactorily explained by supposing that it has its ground, not in accidental circumstances, but in the nature of man as
<- Previous Table of Contents Next ->
Was this article helpful?