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nomena; and it demands of the Church the same quality and character of evidence of what that institution claims to be truth as is demanded of science in support of its propositions. The failure to meet this demand is filling the civilized world with materialism; for scientists are prone to hold that whatever is not susceptible of scientific proof by the processes of induction is, ipso facto, disproved. On the other hand, this proposition is offset by many of the clergy by the declaration that questions relating to immortality and the existence of a God are not proper subjects of scientific investigation; that spiritual truths must be discerned by spiritual perception, must be seen by the eye of faith alone, — and are necessarily undemonstrable by scientific induction. Herein lies the fundamental error,
an error which is fast driving the scientific world into the ranks of materialism; for science holds that truth is only sacred in the sense that error should never be allowed to usurp its place, and that anything which man desires to know is a legitimate subject of scientific investigation. In this declaration science is undoubtedly right; and it might well go a step farther, and declare that anything which it is important for man to know can sooner or later be scientifically demonstrated by the processes of inductive reasoning. In making this declaration I make no distinction between physical and spiritual laws. A psychic fact is just as much a fact as a granite mountain. If there is a God, it is important for man to know it; and there are facts which will prove it. If there is a life beyond the grave, it is important for man to know it; and there are facts which will demonstrate it beyond a peradventure. It is to the task of presenting a few of these facts that I address myself in succeeding chapters.
DEFECTIVENESS OF THE OLD ARGUMENTS.
The Four Leading Arguments: 1. Analogical Reasoning inherently Defective. Metamorphosis. Butler's Analogy. — Physical Laws not Identical with Spiritual Laws. - Illustration is not Proof. Averroism. — Emanation and Absorption. 2. Prescriptive Authority. The Hiding-Place of Power. - The Priesthood and Divine Revelation. Inductive Arguments of the New Testament. 3. Philosophical Speculation. — Emerson's Belief. His Despair of Proof. — Plato's Phædo. — His Three Arguments for Reminiscence. Immortality. - The Doctrine of Contraries. Reincarnation. - The Capacity of Great Men for Minute Subdivision. The Soul a Simple Substance.. The Phædo a Promoter of Suicide. 4. Instinctive Desire. A Valid but not Conclusive Argument.
EFORE proceeding with the line of argument which it is proposed to adopt in the discussion of the subjects under consideration, I deem it proper to say a few words regarding the methods of reasoning which have heretofore prevailed, with the view of pointing out a few of the salient defects in the arguments commonly employed, as viewed from a purely scientific and logical standpoint. This will not be done in any spirit of censure or fault-finding; for I cannot be unaware of the difficulties which have heretofore environed the whole subject-matter, and of the practical impossibility of formulating a conclusive argument in the absence of those facts which have come to light only within the last quarter of a century. No one can justly be blamed for failure to reason inductively in the absence of facts per
taining to the subject-matter of his speculation; and no man can be justly censured, except from an ultra-scientific standard of reasoning, for accepting, without too critical an examination, such arguments as were available in support of a doctrine which has given to mankind so much of comfort and consolation as the belief in a future life has afforded to a great majority of the human race. For, much as we may deprecate many of the dogmas of the Church, much as we may deride the crude speculations of men regarding the future destiny of the soul and its rewards and punishments, the fact remains that they have all served their purpose in their day and generation; and it is difficult now to see how the world could have gotten along without them. Their terrors have been a potent means of restraint from wrong-doing among men whom nothing else could restrain; and their promises have filled the human heart with consolation in this life, and placed the iris above the door of the sepulchre. Each dogma, each system of religious belief, has been a step in the evolution of the human mind towards a knowledge of the attributes, the powers, and the destiny of man.
In looking backward, therefore, over the tortuous and difficult pathway which the human mind has been compelled to tread in its search for evidences of the reality of that most important of all the objects of human aspiration, immortal life, it would ill become us to despise, or affect to despise, any one of the gradients by which mankind has been gradually lifted into a purer intellectual atmosphere, and enabled to enjoy a clearer perception of truth. In this spirit it is proposed briefly to examine the arguments which have heretofore been advanced in support of the doctrine of a future life, and to test their validity by the simple but infallible rules of logic which every intelligent reader understands and appreciates. If the old arguments are found invalid or inconclusive from a scientific stand
point, it will then be in order to inquire what science has to offer in their place.
In order that I may not be accused of misstating the fundamental grounds upon which mankind has built its hopes of a life beyond the grave, I quote the following passage from Alger's admirable work, in which is summarized the "suggesting grounds on which the popular belief rests":
"When, after sufficient investigation, we ask ourselves from what causes the almost universal expectation of another life springs, and by what influences it is nourished, we shall not find adequate answer in less than four words: feeling, imagination, faith, and reflection. The doctrine of a future life for man has been created by the combined force of instinctive desire, analogical observation, prescriptive authority, and philosophical speculation. These are the four pillars on which the soul builds the temple of its hopes; or the four glasses through which it looks to see its eternal heritage."
These being the "four pillars" on which the temple is built, it is obvious that if either one of them is found to rest upon an insecure foundation, the whole structure must be in danger; and if all are found to have been built upon logical quicksands, the superstructure must inevitably fall. Dropping the architectural simile, it must be said of the four grounds of belief that some of them embrace valid arguments, but none of them are conclusive. The first in the order named "instinctive desire " - also stands at the head in point of validity. Its discussion, however, will be reserved for the last of the series, for reasons which will be obvious when it is reached.
The question of "analogical observation" will first receive our attention, although a large part of that which comes naturally under the head of "philosophical speculation" must also be included under this head. I cannot sum up the leading analogical arguments in favor of an immortal
1 Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, p. 38.
life in better language than by quoting again from the same author: 1
"Man, holding his conscious being precious beyond all things, and shrinking with pervasive anxieties from the moment of destined dissolution, looks around through the realms of nature, with thoughtful eye, in search of parallel phenomena further developed, significant sequels in other creatures' fates, whose evolution and fulfilment may haply throw light on his own. With eager vision and heart-prompted imagination he scrutinizes whatever appears related to his object. Seeing the snake cast its old slough and glide forth renewed, he conceives so in death man but sheds his fleshy exuvia, while the spirit emerges, regenerate. He beholds the beetle break from its filthy sepulchre, and commence its summer work; and straightway he hangs a golden scarabæus in his temples as an emblem of a future life. After vegetation's wintry deaths, hailing the returning spring that brings resurrection and life to the graves of the sod, he dreams of some far-off spring of humanity, yet to come, when the frosts of man's untoward doom shall relent, and all the costly seeds sown through ages in the great earth-tomb shall shoot up in celestial shapes. On the moaning seashore, weeping some dear friend, he perceives, now ascending in the dawn, the planet which he lately saw declining in the dusk; and he is cheered by the thought that
'As sinks the day-star in the ocean-bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
"Some traveller or poet tells him fabulous tales of a bird which, grown aged, fills his nest with spices, and, spontaneously burning, soars from the aromatic fire, rejuvenescent for a thousand years; and he cannot but take the phoenix for a miraculous type of his own soul springing, free and eternal, from the ashes of his corpse. Having watched the silkworm, as it wove its cocoon and lay down in its oblong grave apparently dead, until at length it struggles forth, glittering with rainbow colors, a winged moth, endowed with new faculties and living a new life
1 Op. cit., pp. 38, 39.