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drawn, the processes of life resume their uncontrolled natural direction. In low organisms the guidance seems to be largely automatic, a response to stimuli which can be artificially imitated. Even in man, the more important routine functions of life are performed, asleep and awake, by a subconscious regulation, or, as some hold, a subconscious personality. But in the higher animals there has developed a consciousness or awareness of its individual existence and of the existence of its environment, which intelligently varies and directs the acts of life at will. The mystery is in none of the phenomena of life upon which, perhaps, the most wonder and poetic fervour have been lavished, and which are hardly more wonderful than those that occur in inanimate materials under human guidance. It is in the combination of the intelligent guidance with what, for present purposes, has to be considered a perfectly understandable machine. Separately the two functions are readily comprehensible. Their combination in a single self-contained organism is the real mystery of life.
AN ARGUMENT IN FAVOUR OF THEISM.
It is quite outside my intention or capacity to indulge in any specifically theological argument. But perhaps I may be allowed, in passing, to point out that the argument might be extended in favour of theism. The self-contained organism is not comprehensible, but the combination of an inanimate mechanism and an external will is more intelligible. But there is in man a conscience as well as a consciousness, an ineradicable aspiration towards virtue, which is certainly no less difficult to understand. The combination of the machine and soul is as much a riddle as the combination of machine and
THE PERSONAL DEITY
mind. Theology has striven to separate the two, has abstracted the soul as an independent existence, and regarded it as a projection from and part of a general soul of humanity, existing distinct from and outside of individual men. For the mechanism of Niagara we have the bodily mechanism, and for the personality in control, instead of the humble representative of applied science, the humble individual soul, acting upon orders received from and owing allegiance to an external deity of which it forms a part.
H. G. Wells has defined the main difference between an ordinary, modern, intelligent, welleducated, benevolent and morally right-minded atheist or agnostic and the genuine religious enthusiast, as being in the former's view of his, as I have indicated, very high-minded and unimpeachable personality as a separate isolated existence, independent of all others, and the latter's view that what is benevolent, high-minded and noble in his personality is not a natural consequence of the lifeprocess, but part of a personal God, who responds to and lives in the closest relationship with the individual souls of men.
The engineers in the power-house of Niagara are assuredly not isolated existences actuating their machinery out of their own self-sufficiency. They take their instructions from a superior, and the science and practice embodied in those orders are an accumulation of all that is best in the labours of many men, alive and dead. No single mind could create that knowledge, even if one could be found fully to comprehend it. If you talk to these men at their work, you would find, no doubt, that they were astonishingly self-contained, knowing little of and caring less for the mere theoretical amateurs who, with a few bits of sealing-wax and wire and some
crude home-made machines, created their livelihood. In much the same way the religious philosopher holds that the benevolent atheist attributes to himself and his own innate self-righteousness a very great deal indeed. He prefers to believe himself the humble subordinate of a superior being that combines, in one personality, the best of all beings that ever lived.
There is common ground in the position, that even though a single mind might be able to comprehend all that has gone to the evolution and survival of the essentially humane type of man, no single personality could, if isolated, arrive at it by himself. There is a continuity that endures in the creative achievements of humanity, whether, as the theist believes, in the form of a personal Deity, or whether as a collective memory, engraved in type or ancient saga, and from which, whether we read or not, we can hardly escape. There seems very little between these views worth argument, and among educated modern peoples, were it not for the priests, religious differences would scarcely trouble the world.
THE RUBICON BETWEEN MECHANISM ANd Life.
There is, of course, a danger, since knowledge in these days is of necessity patchy, and first-class minds are rarely content with the known, but are the first to push off into the unknown, and so become specialists, that the mystery of life becomes automatically thrust out from those regions each has independently explored for himself into those known only at second-hand and by hearsay or from books. Thus, as a physicist or chemist, I hold that there is no mystery in the proper sense in the inanimate universe, and I put the Rubicon between mechanism and life. A biologist would probably have a very
MECHANISM ANI) LIFE
great deal to say on this question, and conceivably might totally disagree. But, apart from extreme opinions on such a point, I think there is a growing tendency to distinguish between the mechanism of life and its conscious regulation. I think it would be admitted that a completeness of knowledge, equal to that in the processes of inanimate nature, with regard to the former, and even the artificial generation of life of a simple kind, would not necessarily add anything to the solution of the real mystery.
Once the Rubicon between the most complex non-living mechanism and the simplest living cell is crossed, the doctrine of evolution seems to point clearly to an unbroken road of development up to the higher expressions of life. On this view, the peculiar problems of religion and the human soul are not the most fundamental or incapable of enunciation. In man, it is true, we get hopelessly beyond the range of physical science, but, in comparison with the simplest living organism, it is a difference between magnitudes alike infinite. Mechanism there is as before, and subconscious control for most complicated routine processes, but the mind can hardly be equal to the task of explaining itself to itself. The mechanical and even the animal or vital aspects have been thrust into the background by a developed personality, that consistently acts and tries to act—and therefore, in the language of science, already explained, is—a distinct being, resident in the body as a man may live in a house, and, if real, then by the canons of human thought, immortal. Thought, reasoning power, memory, free-will, the æsthetic perceptions of beauty and harmony, the ethical ideas of virtue, justice, duty, and self-sacrifice, and the spiritual aspirations of holiness and triumph over death, divide him from the simplest form of life. Science, assuredly, has a
long road to travel from the stars to the kingdom of heaven. But there seems to be but the one chasm that cannot be crossed, and which, though the gulf ever narrows, still remains unbridged. As Tennyson has it
"Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
SOME CONSEQUENCES OF PHYSICAL SCIENCE.
The link in the chain that binds man and his destiny with the external universe is as dangerous to ignore as is the link forged by ethics and philosophy that connects man with his fellow-men and with the realm of spiritual things. Physical science divorces power from will, two very important functions that theology in the past has confused to the unutterable discomfiture of mankind. The will to perform, and, in the special sense that concerns human beings, the goodwill to perform good, is in its nature and origin alone an attribute of life. The power to perform is derived in toto from the inanimate world, however many elaborate metamorphoses it may undergo, and through however many organisms, vegetable and animal, it may pass before it reaches
The world that is dead vitally and spiritually is not dead physically. The moon, it is commonly supposed, is a dead world, though since the same sun shines upon it as upon us it cannot be really dead. It is in the present state of physics impossible to conceive of a physically dead world, that is to say, a world without any available source of energy. The discovery of radioactivity has revealed an immense