Chapter III--Erroneous Explanations of the Facts



Any correct explanation of the universe must postulate an intuitive knowledge of the existence of the external world, of self, and of God. The desire for scientific unity, however, has induced attempts to reduce these three factors to one, and according as one or another of the three has been regarded as the all-inclusive principle, the result has been Materialism, Idealism, or Pantheism.

I. Materialism.

Materialism is that method of thought which gives priority to matter, rather than to mind, in its explanations of the universe. Upon this view, material atoms constitute the ultimate and fundamental reality of which all things, rational and irrational, are but combinations and phenomena. Force is regarded as a universal and inseparable property of matter.

The element of truth in materialism is the reality of second causes. Its error is in mistaking these second causes for first causes, and in supposing them able to account for their own existence, and for the existence of the universe.

Herschel says that those atoms, in recognizing each other in order to combine, show a great deal of 'presence of mind.' The monad of Leibnitz - 'parvus in suo genere deus.' Deprive mutter of force (impenetrability, motion, etc.), nnd you have only extension left. This makes matter — space — zero. The impossibility of finding in matter, regarded as mere atoms, any of the attributes of a cause, has led to a general abandonment of this old Materialism of Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius, Condillac, Holbach, Feuerbach, Btlchner; and Materialistic Idealism has taken its place, which instead of regarding force as a property of matter, regards matter as a manifestation of force. See Lunge, History of Materialism: Janet, Materialism: Fabri, Materialismus; Herzog, Encyclopiedie, art.: Materialismus; but esp., Stallo, Modern Physios, 148-170.

In addition to the general error indicated above, we object to this system as follows: ,

1. In knowing matter, the mmd necessarily judges itself to be a substance different in kind, and higher in rank, than the matter which it knows.

We here state simply an intuitive conviction. The mind, in using its physical organism and through it bringing external nature into its service, recognizes itself as different from and superior to matter. Martineau, quoted in Brit. Quar., April, 1882: 173— "The inorganic and unconscious portion of the world, instead of being the potentiality of the organic and conscious, is rather its residual precipitate, formed as the indwelling Mind concentrates an intenser aim on the upper margin of the ordered whole, and especially on the inner life of the natures that can resemble him." Pres. Thos. Hill, in Bib. Sac, April, 1852: 353—"All that is really given by the act of sense-perception is the existence of the conscious self, floating in boundless space and boundless time, surrounded and sustained by boundless power. The material world, which we at lirst think the great reality, is only the shadow of a real being, which is immaterial." Harris, Philosophical Basts of Theism, 317—" Imagine an infinitesimal being- in the brain, watching the action of the molecules, but missing the thought. So science observes the universe, and misses God."

2. Since the mind's attributes of (a) continuous identity, (6) selfactivity, (e) unrelatedness to space, are different in kind and higher in rank than the attributes of matter, it is rational to conclude that the substance underlying mental phenomena is a substance different in kind and higher in rank than that which underlies material phenomena.

This is an argument from specific qualities to the nature of the substance underlying them, (a) Memory proves personal identity. This is not an identity of material atoms, for atoms change. The molecules that come cannot remember those that depart. Some immutable part in the brain? organized, or unorganized? organized decays; unorganized = soul. {b) Inertia shows that matter is not self-moving. It acts only as it is acted upon. A single atom would never move. Two portions are necessary, and these, in order to useful action, require adjustment by a power which does not belong to matter. Evolution of the universe inexplicable, unless matter were first moved by some power outside itself. See Duke of Argyll, Keign of Law, 92. (c) The highest activities of mind are independent of known physical conditions. Mind controls and subdues the body. It docs not cease to grow when the growth of the body ceases. When the body nears dissolution, the mind often asserts itself most strikingly.

See Porter, Human Intellect, 22,131, 132. McCosh, Christianity and Positivism, chap, on Materialism; Divine Government, 71-94; Intuitions, 140-145. Hopkins, Study of Man, 53-56; Morell, Hist. Philos., 318-334; Hickok, national Cosmology, 403; Theol. Eclectic, 6: 555; Appleton, Works. 1: 151-154; Calderwood, Moral Philosophy, 235; I'lrici, Lcib und Seele, (188-725, and synopsis, in Bap. Quar., July, 1873: 380.

3. This common judgment that mind and matter are distinct substances must be regarded as conclusive, until it is scientifically demonstrated that mind is material in its origin and nature. But all attempts to explain the psychical from the physical, or the organic from the inorganic, are acknowledged failures. The most that can be claimed is, that psychical are always accompanied by physical changes, and that the inorganic is the basis and support of the organic. Although the precise connection between the mind and the body is unknown, the fact that the continuity of physical changes is unbroken in times of psychical activity renders it certain that mind is not transformed physical force.

The chemist can produce oryanic, but not itrgamud. substances. The life cannnt be produced from matter. Even in living things progress is secured only by plan. Multiplication of desired advantage, in the Darwinian scheme, requires a selecting thought: in other words the natural selection Is artificial selection after all. John Fiske, Destiny of the Creature, 109—" Cerebral physiology tells us that, during the present life, although thought and feeling are always manifested in connection with a peculiar form of matter, yet by no possibility can thought and feeling be in any sense the product of matter. Nothing could l>e more grossly unscientific than the famous remark of Cabanis, that the brain secre tes thought as the liver secretes bile. It is not even correct to say that t bought goes on in the brain. What goes on the brain is an amazingly complex series of molecular movements, with which thought and feeling are in some unknown way correlated, not as effects or as causes, but as concomitants."

Leibnitz's " pre-established harmony " indicates the difficulty of defining the relation between mind and matter. See British Quarterly, Jan., 1874: art. by Herbert, on Mind and tlie Science of Energy; Spencer, Principles of Psychology, vol. 1, sec. 50: "Two things, mind and nervous action, exist together, but we cannot imagine how they are related." See Review of Spencer's Psychology, in N. Englander, July, 1873. Tyndall, Fragments of Sciences 120—" The passage from the physics of the brain to the facts of consciousness is unthinkable." Bain, Mind and Body, 131: No break In physical continuity. McCe>sh, Intuitions, 145; Talbot, in Bap. Quarterly, Jan., 1871: 1.

4. The materialistic theory, denying as it does the priority of spirit, can furnish no sufficient cause for the higheht features of the existing universe, namely, its personal intelligences, its intuitivo ideas, its moral progress, its beliefs in God and immortality.

Herbert, Modern Realism Examined: "Miiterialisin has no physical evidence of the existence of consciousness in others. As it declares our fellow-men to be destitute of free volition, so it should declare them destitute of consciousness; should call them, us well us brutes, pure automata. If physics arc all, there is no God, but there is also no man. existing." Some of the earls' followers of Descartes used to kick and licat their dogs, laughing meanwhile at their cries and culling: them the " creaking of the machine." Huxley, who calls the brutes " conscious automata," believes in the gradual banishment, from all regions of huinun thought, of what we cull spirit und spontaneity: "A spontaneous ac t is an absurdity; it is simply an effect that is uncaused."

Diuian, Theistic Argument. 34K—" Materialism cun never explain the fact that matter is always combined with force. Coordinate principles? then dualism, instead of monism. Force cause of matter? then we preserve unity, but destroy materialism; for we trace matter to an immaterial source. Behind multiplicity of natural forces we must postulate some single power—which can be nothing- but coordinating' mind." Mark Hopkins sums up Materialism in Princeton Kev., Nov., 1H79: 490- -" 1. Man, who is a persou, is made by a thing*, i.r,. matter. 2. Mutter is to be worshipped as man's maker, if anything' is to be iRom. 1: 25i. 3. Man is to worship himself—his God is his belly." See also Martineau, Religion und Materialism, 25-31; Christlicb, Modern Doubt und Christian Belief, 145-161; Buchanun, Modern Atheism, 247, 248; McCosh, in Internutionu I Rev., Jan., 1H75; Contemp. Rev., Jan., 1875, art.: Mun Transcorporeal; Calderwood, Relations of Mind and Bruin; T.uycock, Mind and Brain; Ditnan, Theistic Argument, 358; Wilkinson, In Present Day Tracts, 3: no. 17.

IX Materialistic Idealism.

Idealism proper is that method of thought which regards all knowledge as conversant only with affections of the percipient mind.

Its element of truth is the fact that these affections of the percipient mind are the conditions of our knowledge. Its error is in denying that through these and in these we know that which exists independently of our consciousness.

The idealism of the present day is mainly a materialistic idealism. It defines matter and mind alike in terms of sensation, and regards both as opposite sides or successive manifestations of one underlying and unknowable force.

Modern idealism is the development of a principle found as fur buck us Locke. Locke derived all our knowledge from sensHtlon. Berkeley said that externally we could be sure only of sensations—could not therefore be sure that the external world exists at all. Hume carried the principle further and held that internally also we cannot be sure of anything but mental phenomena. We do not know mental substance within, any more than we know material substance without. Berkeley's view is to be found in his Principles of Human Knowledge, 8 18 sq. See also Presb. Rev., April, 1885: 301-313; Journ. Spec. Phlloe., 1S84: 24B-2M0, 383-390; Tulloch, Mod. Theories, 380, 361.

The most complete refutation of idealism in all its forms, is thut of Sir Wm. Hamilton, in his Metaphysics, 348-372, and Theories of Sense-Perception—the Reply to Brown. See condensed statement of Humilton's view, with estimate und criticism, in Porter, Human Intellect, 236-240; on Idealism, see also 129, 132. Porter holds thut original perception gives us simply affections of our own sensorium; as euusc of these, we gain knowledge of extended externality. So Sir Wm. Hamilton: "Sensation proper has no object but a subject-object." But both Porter and Hamilton hold that through these sensations we know that which exists Independently of our sensations.

Mill, however, In his Exnmlnution of Sir Wm. Hamilton. 1: 234-253, makes sensations the only objects of knowledge; defines matter as a "permanent possibility of sensution " and mind as a "scries of feelings aware of itself." So Huxley calls matter "only a name for the unknown cause of states of consciousness." Mill and Huxley, with Silencer, Itain, and Tyndall, are Humists. See Fiske. Cosmic Philosophy, 1: 75; 2: 80. All these regard the material atom as a mere centre of force hypothetical cause of sensations. Matter is therefore a manifestation of force, while, to the old materialism, force was a property of matter. See art. on Huxley, In Contemp. Kev., Oct., 1*72: Tyndall, Fragments of Science, 73. But if matter, mind, and (tod are nothing but sensations, then the body itself is nothing but sensations. There is no bo<fj/, to have the sensations, and no »t>irtt, either human or divine, to produce them. See Lowndes, Philos. of Primary Beliefs. 115-143; Atwater (on Ferrier). in Princeton Hev., 1857: 258-280.

To this view we make the following objections:

1. Its definition of matter as a "permanent possibility of sensation" contradicts our intuitive judgment that, in knowing the phenomena of matter, we have direct knowledge of substance as underlying phenomena, us distinct from our sensations, and as external to the mind which experiences these sensations.

Bownc, Metaphysics. 432—" How the possibility of an odor and a flavor can be the cause of the yellow color of an orange is probably unknowable, except to a mind that can see that two and two may make five." See Inverach's Philosophy of Spencer Examined, in Present Day Tracts, 5: no. 29.

2. Its definition of mind as a "series of sensations awaro of itself" contradicts our intuitive judgment that, in knowing the phenomena of mind, we have direct knowledge of a spiritual substance of which these phenomena are manifestations, which retains its identity independently of our consciousness, and which, in its knowing, instead of being the passive recipient of impressions from without, always acts from within by a power of its own.

See, on Bain's Cerebral Psychology, Martineau's Essays, 1: 285. On the physiological method of mental philosophy, see Talbot, in Bap. Quar., 1871: 1; Bowen, on Dualism, Materialism, or Idealism, in Princeton Rev., March, 1*78: 421-430.

3. In so far as this theory regards mind as the obverse side of matter, or as a later and higher development from matter, the mere reference of both mind and matter to an underlying force does not save the theory from any of the difficulties of pure materialism already mentioned; since in this case, equally with that, force is regarded as purely physical, and the priority of spirit is denied.

Herbert Spencer, Psychology, quoted by Fiske, Cosmic Philosophy, 2: 80—" Mind and nervous action are the subjective and objective faces of the same thing. Yet we remain utterly incapable of seeing, or even of imagining, how the two are related. Mind still continues to us a something without kinship to other things." Owen, Anatomy of Vertebrates, quoted by Talbot, Bap. Quar., Jan., 1871: 5—"All that 1 know of matter and mind iu themselves is that the former is an external centre of force, and the latter an internal centre of force." New Englander, Sept., 1883: tiHll—" If the atom be a mere centre of force and not a real thing in itself, then the atom is a supersensual essence, an immaterial being. To make immaterial matter the source of conscious mind is to make matter as wonderful as an immortal soul or a personal Creator." See New Enjflander, July, 1875: 532-535: Martineau, Religion and Modern Materialism, 25—" If it takes mind to construe the universe, how can the negation of mind constitute it?"

4. In so far as this theory holds the underlying force of which matter and mind are manifestations to be in any sense intelligent or voluntary, it leads to the conclusion that second causes, whether material or spiritual, have no proper existence, and that there is but one agent in the universe—a conclusion which involves all the difficulties of pantheism.

Some recent Christian thinkers, as Murphy, Scientific BaBes of Faith, 13 15, 29-36, 42-53, ■would define mind as a function of matter, matter as u function of force, force as a function of will, and therefore as the power of an omnipresent and personal God. All force, except that of man's free will, is the will of (iod. So Herschell, Lectures, 480: Argyll, Hcign of Law, 121-127; Wallace on Xat. Selection, 363-371; Martincau, F-ssays, 1: 03, 121, 145, 265; Bowcn, Mctaph. and Ethics. 14«-lti2. But if man's will exhibits a force distinguishable from the divine, why may there not lw physical forces distinguishable from the divine? If God can disengage from himself the force displayed in living human beings, then he can disengage from himself the force displayed in inanimate nature. The same reasoning which assures us of the existence of the former assures us of the existence of the latter.

To deny second causes is essential idealism, and tends to pantheism. This tendency we find in the recent Metaphysics of Bowne, who regards onb' personality as real. Matter is phenomenal, although it is an activity of the divine will outside of us. Bowne's phenomenalism is therefore an objective idealism, as distinguished from the subjective idealism of Berkeley, who held to God's energizing only within the soul. But since, according to Bowne, space is only a form of our thinking, the difference between God's ceaseless production of phenomena within, and God's ceuseless production of phenomena without, is purely verbal. Koycc, The Religious Aspect of Philosophy, makes man's consciousness a part or aspect of a universal consciousness, and so, instead of making God come to consciousness onlj' in man, as Hegel did, maker* man come to consciousness only in (iod. While this scheme seems. In one view, to save God's personality, it practically identifies man's personality with God's, which is subjective pantheism. On the substantive existence of second causes, see Porter, Human Intellect, 582-588; Hodge, Syst. Theol., 1: 596; Alden, Philosophy, 48-70; Hodgson, Time and Space, 149-218.

III. Pantheism.

Pantheism is that method of thought which conceives of the universe as the development of one intelligent and voluntary, yet impersonal, substance, which reaches consciousness only in man. It therefore identifies God, not with each individual object in the universe, but with the totality of things.

The elements of truth in pantheism are the intelligence and voluntariness of God, and his immanence in the universe; its error lies in denying God's personality and transcendence.

Pantheism denies the real existence of the finite, at the same time that it deprives the Infinite of self-consciousness and freedom. See Hunt, History of Pantheism; Manning, Half-truths and the Truth; Ilnyne, Christian Life, Social and Individual, 21-53; Hutton, on Popular Pantheism, in Essays, 1: 55-76—"The pantheist's ' I believe in God,' is a contradiction. He says: 'I perceive the external as different from myself; hut on further reflection. I perceive that tills external was itself the percipient agency.' So the worshipped is really the worshipper after all." Harris, Philosophical Basis of Theism, 173— "Man is a bottle of the ocean's water, in the ocean, temporarily distinguishable by its limitation within the bottle, but lost again in the ocean, so soon as these fragile limits are broken."

The later Brahmanism is pantheistic. Kowland Williams, Christianity and Hinduism' quoted in Mozlcy on Miracles, 284—"In the final state personality vanishes. You will not, says the Brahman, accept the term ' void' as an adequate descriptidh of the mysterious nature of the soul, but you will clearly apprehend soul, in the final state, to be unseen and ungrasped being, thought, knowledge, joy—no other than very God." Yet this seems to be only the later depravation of an earlier and purer faith. In the London Spectator, Ilbys Davids tells us that "in the Pali Suttas, the earliest Buddhist records, the Buddhist New Testament indeed, Nirvana is only death in the sense of death to trespasses and sins; it Is always the extinction of Sehrmicht, excitement, in its three forms of lust, malice, and delusion. It Is the extinction of selfness or love of individuality, and is to be reached here on earth." Flint, Theism, 69—" Where the will is without energy, and rest is longed for as the end of existence, as among the Hindus, there is marked inability to think of God as cause or will, and constant inveterate tendency to pantheism."

We object to this system as follows:

1. Its idea of God is self-contradictory, since it makes him infinite, yet consisting only of the finite; absolute, yet existing in necessary relation to the universe; supreme, yet shut up to a process of self-evolution and dependent for self-consciousness on man; without self determination, yet the cause of all that is.

Saisset, Pantheism, 148—" An imperfect God, yet perfection arising from imperfection." Shedd, Hist. Doctrine, 1: 13—" Pantheism applies to God a principle of growth and imperfection, which belongs only to the finite." Calderwood, Moral Philos., 245— 1 Its first requisite is moment, or movement, which it assumes, but does not account for." Caro's sarcasm applies here: "Your God is not yet made—he is in process of manufacture." See H. B. Smith, B'alth and Philosophy, 25.

2. Its assumed unity of substance is not only without proof, but it directly contradicts our intuitive judgments. These testify that we are not parts and particles of God, but distinct personal subsistences.

Martineau, Essays, 1:158—" Ev en for immanency, there must be something wherein to dwell, and for life, something whereon to act." Any system of monism contradicts consciousness. "In scripture we never find the universe called »«>•, for this suggests the idea of a self-contained unity: we have everywhere ri n&vra. Instead." The Bible recognizes the element of truth in pantheism—God is 'through all'; also the element of truth in mysticism—God is 'in rou all'; but it adds the element of transcendence which both these fail to recognize—God is 'aboveiir iBph.4:6). See Fisher, Essays on Supernat. Orig. of Christ'y, 539.

3. It assigns no sufficient cause for that fact of the universe which is highest in rank, and therefore most needs explanation, namely, the existence of personal intelligences. A substance which is itself unconscious, and under the law of necessity, cannot produce beings who are self-conscious and free.

Gess, Foundations of our F'aith, 38—"Animal instinet, and the spirit of a nation working out its language, might furnish analogies, if they produced personalities as their result, but not otherwise. Nor were these tendencies self-originated, but received from an external source." McCosh, Intuitions, 215, 393; Christianity and Positivism, 180.

4. It therefore contradicts the affirmations of our moral and religious natures by denying man's freedom and responsibility; by making God to include in himself all evil as well as all good; and by precluding all prayer, worship, and hope of immortality.

Conscience is the eternal witness against pantheism. Conscience witnesses to our freedom and responsibility, and declares that moral distinctions are not illusory. Renouf, Hibbert Leot., 234—" It is only out of condescension to popular language that pantheistic systems can recognize the notions of right and wrong, of iniquity and sin. If everything really emanates from God, there can be no such thing as sin. And the ablest philosophers who have been led to pantheistic views, have vainly endeavored to harmonize these views with what we understand by the notion of sin or moral evil. The great systematic work of Spinoza is entitled 'Ethira'; but for real ethics we might as profitably consult the Elements of Euclid." Hodge, System. Theology, 1: 299-330—"Pantheism is fatalistic. On this theory, duty = pleasure: right = might; sin - good in the making. Satan, as well as Gabriel, is a self-development of God. The practical effects of pantheism upon popular morals and life, wherever it has prevailed, as in Buddhist India and China, demonstrate its falsehood." See also Dove, Logic of the Christian Faith, 118; Murphy, Scientific Bases of Faith, 202; Bib. Sac., Oct., 1867: 603-615; Dix, Pantheism, Introd., 12.

5. Our intuitive conviction of the existence of a God of absolute perfection compels us to conceive of God as possessed of every highest quality and attribute of men, and therefore, especially, of that which constitutes the chief dignity of the human spirit, its personality.

Diman, Thelstic Argument, 328—" We have no right to represent the supreme Cause as Inferior to ourselves, yet we do this when we describe it under phrases derived from physical causation." Mivart, Lessons from Nature, 351—" We cannot conceive of anything as impersonal, yet of higher nature than our own—any being that has not knowledge and will must be indefinitely inferior to one who has them."

6. Its objection to the divine personality, that over against the Infinite there can be in eternity past no non-ego to call forth self-consciousness, is refuted by considering that even man's cognition of the non-ego logically presupposes knowledge of the ego, from which the non-ego is distinguished; that, in an absolute mind, self-consciousness cannot be conditioned, as in the case of finite mind, upon contact with a not-self ; and that, if the distinguishing of self from a not-self were an essential condition of divine self-consciousness, the eternal personal distinctions in the divine nature might furnish such a condition.

Pfleiderer, Die Religion, J: 190 «/.—" Before tho soul distinguishes self from the notself, it must know self—else it could not sec the distinction. Its development Is connected with the knowledge of the non-ego, but this is due, not to the fact of rx riumalitu. but to the fact of finite personality. The mature man can live for a long time upon his own resources. God needs no other, to stir him up to mental activity. Flnitcness is a hindrance to the development of our personality. Inflnitencss is necessary to the highest personality." Lotzc, Microcosmos, vol. 3, chapter 4; transl. in N. Eng., March, 1881: 191-200—" Finite spirit, not having conditions of existence! in itself, can know the ego only upon occasion of knowing the non-ego. The Infinite is not so limited. He alone has an independent existence, neither introduced nor developed through anything not himself, but, in an inward activity without beginning or end, maintains himself in himself."

Dorner, Glaubenslehre: "Absolute Personality = perfect consciousness of self, and perfect power over self. We need something external to waken our consciousness—yet self-consciousness comes [ logically ] before consciousness of the world. It is the soul's act. Only after it has distinguished self from self, can it consciously distinguish self from another." British Quarterly, Jan., 1874: 32, note; July, 1884: 108—"The ego is thinkatiU only in relation to the non-ego; but the ego is liveable long before any such relation." See Julius MUUer, Doctrine of Sin, 2: 122-126; Christlieb. Mod. Doubt and Christ, Belief, 161-190; Hanne, Idee der absoluten Persiinlichkeit; Eichhorn, Die Personlichkcit Gottes.