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judgment of the many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to me that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man's intellect; but man can do his duty."
Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until a considerably later period of my life, I will here give the vague conclusions to which I have been driven. The old argument from design in Nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection than in the course which the wind blows. But I have discussed this subject at the end of my book on the Variation of Domesticated Animals and Plants, and the argument there given has never, as far as I can see, been answered.
But passing over the endless beautiful adaptations which we everywhere meet with, it may be asked how can the generally beneficent arrangement of the world be accounted for? Some writers indeed are so much impressed with the amount of suffering in the world, that they doubt, if we look to all sentient beings, whether there is more of misery or of happiness ; whether the world as a whole is a good or bad one. According to my judgment happiness decidedly prevails, though this would be very difficult to prove. If the
1 From letter written April 2, 1873.
truth of this conclusion be granted, it harmonises well with the effects which we might expect from natural selection. If all the individuals of any species were habitually to suffer to an extreme degree, they would neglect to propagate their kind; but we have no reason to believe that this has ever, or at least often, occurred. Some other considerations, moreover, lead to the belief that all sentient beings have been formed so as to enjoy, as a general rule, happiness.
With respect to immortality, nothing shows me [so clearly] how strong and almost instinctive a belief it is as the consideration of the view now held by most physicists, namely, that the sun with all the planets will in time grow too cold for life, unless indeed some great body dashes into the sun, and thus gives it fresh life. Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.
Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was
strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of Species ; and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker. But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions ?
I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.1
JOHN STUART BLACKIE
The wonder of all men;
Thou mak'st me Christian then;
As many creeds there be:
No Christ he is for me.2
My rule of life is with sure plan to work,
To trust in God and sing a cheerful song;
And catch a side-advantage from a wrong.
1 From part of Autobiography, written in 1876. 2 From the Day-Book of John Stuart Blackie (“ Christ”).
3 lbid. (“Rules of Life”).
Not death is evil, but the way to death,
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
(1809–1892) STRONG Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness : let it grow.2 | From the Day - Book of John Stuart Blackie (“Death "), written in 1894, shortly before his death.
2 From In Memoriam, which was written between 1833 and 1850. The above stanzas are dated 1849.
My own dim life should teach me this,
That life shall live for evermore,
Else earth is darkness at the core, And dust and ashes all that is.
Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will, Defects of doubt, and taints of blood; That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroy'd,
Or cast as rubbish to the void, When God hath made the pile complete; That not a worm is cloven in vain ;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivell'd in a fruitless fire, Or but subserves another's gain. Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last–far off—at last, to all, And every winter change to spring. So runs my dream : but what am I?
An infant crying in the night :
An infant crying for the light: And with no language but a cry.?
The wish, that of the living whole
No life may fail beyond the grave,
Derives it not from what we have The likest God within the soul?
1 From In Memoriam, section xxxiv.
· lbid. section liv.