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its effect. Such criticisms, when relevant, are welcomed by none more sincerely than by Mr. Spencer's friends and disciples, for they represent a body of men whose attitude of mind is that of the seeker rather than that of the advocate. If there be defects in this philosophy, surely to those who hold by it will the news be of greatest moment.
It is then from no feeling that Mr. Spencer's philosophy needs defending were I competent to undertake so ambitious a task — but rather from a strong desire that his philosophy shall not be misrepresented that I ask a little space in which to reply to some criticisms which were published in the November issue of EDUCATION. These criticisms, it seemed to me, were extremely misleading, and they were the more apt to prove mischievous from their manifest sincerity. I take it that Mr. Greenwood believed implicitly all that he said. I am not so well persuaded, however, that he has mastered the argument contained in that part of "First Principles" which treats of the Unknowable. His resumé of the different lines of reasoning seems to me very inadequate ground upon which to base conclusions so important as those enunciated in the concluding paragraphs of his criticism. Readers who are familiar with Mr. Spencer's philosophy will probably have no injustice done them by the incompleteness of the outline thus presented, but the case, I think, will be otherwise with those who are as yet unacquainted with "First Principles," but have had sufficient interest in the subject to follow Mr. Greenwood's criticism. It is only fair that they should read that part of the volume which treats of the Unknowable, before they pass judgment on the issue involved, that is, whether Mr. Spencer has or has not satisfactorily reconciled religion and science. With all due courtesy to Mr. Greenwood, I think that it would be an ambitious man who should attempt to condense the elaborate argument contained in those very full pages into the few hundred words of an introductory to a magazine article. It would be much better and much fairer, it seems to me, to take for granted that the volume itself had been read, and so to limit one's ground to criticism. Although this is a very general objection to Mr. Greenwood's treatment of the subject, I think that it is a legitimate one, for it is essential both that Mr. Spencer's reconciliation and his reason for it should be understood intelligently before the reader can reach a position to judge with any degree of propriety whether the reconciliation proposed is satisfactory.
There are, however, more specific objections to the criticism in question, and it is these objections which lead me to believe with some assurance that the critic has not yet mastered Mr. Spencer's argument.
The first point brought forward in the criticism is an exception taken to Mr. Spencer's idea that the majority of our conceptions are symbolic instead of real. If the reader will turn to the second chapter of First Principles, he will find in the opening paragraph of the chapter, which is on ultimate religious ideas, a well-supported argument intended to show that man in attempting to think of such a relatively vast object as the earth cannot recall its many and dissimilar attributes with sufficient vividness and rapidity to form any mental image corresponding to the word. To think of the earth at all, therefore, he is obliged to think of a sphere more easily manageable in thought, such for instance as the globes which form a common object of schoolroom furniture, and by representing such a sphere to his mind, he forms a symbolic conception of the earth as a whole. I need not repeat the argument, which is best read in Mr. Spencer's own words. I think the reader will do well to read this chapter very carefully before accepting Mr. Greenwood's statement, that "here is a fatal mistake at the outset "a statement, by the way, which is unsupported by either argument or explanation beyond the simple assertion that Mr. Spencer fails to distinguish between a complete and an incomplete conception. I do not think, however, that a careful reader will be able to discover this failure.
But one might pass over this objection as altogether unimportant, in view of the much more serious one to be found on the next page. Referring to Mr. Spencer's principles, the amazing statement is made that "summing up his conclusions, we find that evolution is his explanation of the universe, man included.” Now, if there be one thing which Mr. Spencer has never pretended to do, it is to explain the universe. Less eminent evolutionists have been equally modest. The opponents of evolution, a rapidly decreasing company, show a surprising lack of perception in so constantly reiterating a contrary assertion. Mr. Spencer, so far as I know, has absolutely no explanation of the universe to offer. He regards the universe as a fact which is beyond the power of the human intellect to explain. A careful study of the many and varied phenomena manifested in this universe has led
to the perception of an orderly process running through them all. The formulated statement of this process is the law of evolution. Like all other natural laws, it does not explain itself, much less the universe. It is not a doctrine. Evolution has absolutely nothing to say about the cause of things. It is not offered as a substitute for those elaborate and detailed cosmologies to be found in the Scriptures of all historic peoples. On the contrary, and I cannot too strongly emphasize this statement, it is simply our human formulation of the way in which the universal force in Nature operates. Could I persuade even a small number of the host of polemical writers with whom America abounds, that the real purpose of the law of evolution is not to controvert Genesis, or the Vedas, or any other ancient cosmology, but to simply state in precise language the observed order of Nature, or if they prefer, what we believe to be the observed order of Nature, I should feel that I had rendered a service of no small value to the community at large. The perception of this simple fact, the true significance of evolution, would make impossible many a controversy which is now flourishing with the proverbial vigor of a green bay tree.
Whether this law of evolution is sustained by the facts in the case is a legitimate issue, and is open to the same question as any other natural law. But it is not to be disposed of by any metaphysical or outological reasoning. It will not do to say that evolution makes life colorless, and therefore is to be rejected. If it takes away the old color, new and finer colors are to be found. It will not do to say that evolution takes away the ground for a number of former beliefs and is therefore to be rejected. If it does this, finer and more essentially religious conceptions are to be sought. The refutation of evolution must come, if it come at all, from the laboratory and not from the library. It is, however, a significant fact, and one which the opponents of evolution might profitably bear in mind, that there is not today a prominent scientist in any department of research, who does not accept evolution, and utilize it as a working hypothesis. And these scientists are pretty generally admitted to be an honest, truthloving set of giants.
Again, Mr. Greenwood objects that Mr. Spencer has not sufficiently credited the Christian point of view, which by implication is asserted to be non-evolutionary. It could easily be shown, indeed is self-evident, that Christianity is not involved in the law
of evolution any more than it is in the persistence of force, the indestructibility of matter, the law of gravitation, or any other scientific deduction. But Mr. Spencer's method of reaching truth of the highest probability by rejecting from the conception of religion all that appears special or accidental would still hold, even if theologians insisted on adding a scientific supplement to their catechisms. If it could be shown that adherence to the Christian religion meant a rejection of evolution - a view which a majority of cultivated Christians would warmly deny - Mr. Spencer would still be justified in rejecting "the theory of man being created at first with all the mental, moral, and religious faculties that he is possessed of today." He would be justified on two grounds. In the first place, such a theory is at variance with observed social phenomena, and in the second place, he would fail to find such a belief common to the other great religions of the world. Mr. Spencer started out, be it remembered, to find that one undeniable truth which all religions have in common, and surely antagonism to evolution cannot be considered such a truth, for it does not even maintain among a majority of the most truly representative of the Christian communions.
Mr. Greenwood further asserts that evolution fails to account for man's conscience. I do not think that he can have read "The Data of Ethics." The assertion is not strictly germane to the discussion of whether Mr. Spencer's reconciliation of religion and science is satisfactory, for that part of First Principles which treats of the Unknowable has but little to say about evolution. It is an assertion, however, which even in passing, I am not willing should go uncontradicted.
The critic warms to his task, It is in the concluding paragraphs of his criticism that I find what seems to me an unfortunate disregard of careful statement. I read such sentences as this: "Mr. Spencer's system eliminates responsibility and therefore dissipates christianity," a statement which is entirely without foundation. There is nothing in Mr. Spencer's writings which lessens in any way individual responsibility. Whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap is a lesson taught nowhere more emphatically than by evolution, and insisted upon by no one more persistently than by Mr. Spencer. Moreover the majority of his disciples are Christians, not, it is true, dogmatic Christians, with very definite views of the hereafter and assured information in
regard to the purpose and constitution of the universe, but men who are constrained by the deep, spiritual beauty of Christ's life, and are willing imitators of so majestic an example.
And this I read: "For the Christian to accept Mr. Spencer's reconciliation, he must admit that the religious feeling is unknowable," when by turning to page 16 of First Principles, the Christian may read: "We must conclude that the religious sentiment is either directly created, or is created by the slow action of natural causes; and whichever of these conclusions we adopt, requires us to treat the religious sentiment with respect." Perhaps Mr. Spencer does not mean what he says. His words certainly do not agree with what Mr. Greenwood is pleased to report as the conclusions necessary to his philosophy. It is strange that a man so profoundly religious as Mr. Spencer always is, should be so misinterpreted, and so misrepresented. Can it be that his critic wrote from memory and not with a volume of First Principles before him?
Once more. I find some curious juggling with the word "reconciliation." It is implied that religion and science are reconciled by being made to agree. Further, that they are both unknown concepts, and that they are brought into agreement by being swallowed up in "a more comprehensive unknown unknowable." Mr. Greenwood very properly makes merry over this absurdity, but it is not nearly so amusing as the fact that it is Mr. Greenwood and not Mr. Spencer who has originated the absurdity. Nowhere in First Principles, or for that matter nowhere in any other of Mr. Spencer's many volumes will such fogginess as this be found. Mr. Spencer has observed the manifest antagonism between religion and science, and has set about removing it. Such a process he properly designates as a reconciliation. He accomplishes it for himself, and for a host of intelligent readers as well, by pointing out the proper field of religion and of science, and by relegating each to its own field, instead of permitting them to mutually encroach on each other's territory. To science, he assigns the knowable, the region of definite and exact knowledge. To religion, he assigns the Unknowable, the region of faith, and hope, and aspiration. Can man by searching find out God? Both of these regions are equally real to Mr. Spencer, and in all of the phenomena of existence, he distinguishes a religious and a scientific element. The field of religion is not narrowed by the advance