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authority; liberty tending to burst away from all authority, and wreck all social organizations in its centrifugal violence; authority tending incessantly to encroach on the rights of man, to pare off all inequalities, to blunt all angularities, to flatten all originality, and by its strong centripetal power to absorb the individuality of men in order to destroy it.

Next in order to the verities of science, art, morals, and politics, follow the dogmas of Religion.

The existence of an eternal, infinite, all-powerful Being is believed in; but it cannot be proved. Reason can only start from hypotheses, and argue within the circle of things known. It may, by a series of inductions, shew that it is probable that there is a God, but it can never prove that there is one. As Kant has shewn, there is not a single demonstration of God which does not contain a contradiction.

The idea of the supernatural is not a rational verity. It belongs to the sentiment which is the faculty of perceiving the infinite, whereas the reason is, by its nature, finite. God is perceived by the heart, not concluded by the mind. Natural religion is, properly speaking, not a religion at all. It is deficient in a fixed principle, and halts at conjecture. It yields at the point where strength is required. It is nothing but a prolongation of science, necessarily incomplete, always unsatisfactory. Natural religion is based on induction founded on hypothesis. Starting from the reality of the conscious self, or of the exterior world, it is the result of an argument which concludes nothing but supposes something—the existence of a God to explain the enigma of the universe.

Revealed religion is deduced from the existence of God; from which the reality of our own existence and of the material universe and the world of ideas are demonstrated syllogistically.


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Faith must be called into play to furnish the preliminary axiom or axioms, and as reason objects to what is not demonstrable, it at one time assails the basis of the induction, at another time it refuses the basis of the deduction.

Reason may justly ask why is the Cartesian or Sensationalist formula to be accepted? Why is man to be certain that his conscience of his own existence, of the reality of his thoughts and of the world, is not delusive? To this, the only satisfactory answer is that furnished by religion,because God exists as the author of certainty, the beginning and the end of all created reason, the first and last word of all knowledge, the alpha and omega of everything.

Without axioms reason cannot operate. The question between natural religion and a positive religion is simply the question between induction and deduction. But there is this difference: the inductive process

does not lead

up to certainty, whereas the deductive process does. The inductive process dies away in conjecture, whereas the other provides a sound basis for action.

The idea of God, in the inductive process, is not more solid than the last term x in an indefinite progression of known terms. Does this last term exist, or is it only an ideal which we seek to approach, but which always escapes us? This is a question natural religion can never answer.

It accumulates proofs which are not proofs at all, but conjectures; as though a large number of probabilities would make up certainty.

When geometricians have once proved that the three angles of a triangle whose sides are equal are also equal, they pass on to another theorem, and with reason, for it would be waste of time to prove by additional demonstrations that the proposition once established is true.

The learned naturalist Kircher (d: 1680) calculated the


number of proofs of the existence of God, and estimated them at 6561. Every department of natural philosophy has been ransacked for demonstrations. There has been an astrotheology, a lithotheology, a petinotheology, and an insectotheology. The different classes of animals have contributed their proofs. In 1748, vast swarms of locusts covered the land in Germany and France. Rathlef, pastor of Diepholz, profited by the occasion to fabricate an akritotheology; and among other demonstrations occurs the following, “God has organized their head in a marvellous manner, it is long and the mouth is below, so as to save them the trouble of bending to eat, and thus to enable them to eat faster and eat more.' But, as has been shewn repeatedly, such arguments from design are a begging of the whole question.

The argument has sometimes been put in another form. The universe has been likened to a clock, and it has been concluded because the clock has a maker that therefore the world has a Creator. But this argument is not more satisfactory than the other. There is this difference between the clock-maker and the Creator: the latter is supposed to be self-existent; whereas the former is an ordinary man, with father and mother, and is one of the links in the great chain of causes and effects. If, in shewing the clock, the philosopher were to say: There are only two things possible, either it was made by a clock-maker who was his own father and mother, or it made itself, it would not be at all evident which possibility was to be accepted; between two things equally hard to understand, the only situation possible would be one of doubt.

The demonstration of Descartes is no less unsatisfactory.

I have in myself the idea of God, that is to say, the idea of the infinite: how comes it to be there?


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Either because the Infinite exists, and then it is quite natural that I should have the idea; or because, the Infinite not existing, I created the idea for myself.

But how is it possible that I should create that which is in myself? I can only form an idea of that which does not exist, by way of attenuation, by suppressing the qualities of the objects I know to exist, or by way of amplification, by uniting together the qualities of many objects in one idea. But the infinite cannot be an attenuation of the finite, nor can it be a collection of finalities; for a great many finite things do not make one infinite.

Therefore I can only have the idea of the Infinite, because the Infinite really exists.

This demonstration is satisfactory to those alone who allow his first hypothesis,- viz., that we have in us the idea of the infinite, and this is precisely the point assailed by the Sensualists.

If reason has never been able to found a religion which will bear criticism, it is because of this, that it begins with an undemonstrable hypothesis and ends in an hypothesis. Consequently, all attempts to prove the existence of God are convincing only to those already convinced.

The story is told of Diderot, that he heard one day an argument on the existence of God which satisfied and delighted him, and he rushed off to a sceptical friend to retail to him his new faith. He found him in a printer's, told him the argument, proved to him the existence of God, and found his friend unconvinced. The latter at once put his finger on the gratuitous assumption on which the whole structure leaned, withdrew the prop, and it crumbled into dust. Diderot saw his error, and fell again into doubt. His apostolate had lasted just one hour.

Arguments of this sort are all well enough to fortify a


conviction already formed, but they will never serve as the mainstay of a religion. And the reason is simple enough : God cannot be concluded, He can be perceived. Reason cannot act without faith; believe in God, and religion can be deduced from it; believe in a multitude of axioms irrational and without raison d'étre, and religion and philosophy rest on a foundation of sand. The question must always prove sterile, Why am I to believe in the reality of myself, of the world, and of my thought ? unless I admit a God as the cause of the truth of these primitive axioms. But till philosophy recognizes this, the inductive and the deductive methods will maintain internecine war.

There are but two methods, which resume all others. In the one, reason starts from itself to return to itself. All that does not admit of being rationalized, it rejects. It is sovereign ;-its own judge and authority. Scepticism is the inevitable result, if those who trust to this method stand true to their principle. They are bound to dispute every hypothesis and axiom, or to admit that only to be certain which is so demonstrably. And as it is impossible for reason to prove the primary axioms, they are condemned to blank Pyrrhonism. This result may be evaded, but such an evasion is untrue to the principle.

The other method starts from authority divine or luman. Human authority may furnish conviction, but never certainty. Divine authority is immutable and infallible. The method of authority is not vicious in itself, as those who overthrew scholasticism protested, but it is incomplete. As the simplest method for giving elementary instruction, it is unsurpassed, but it is wrong to regard it as the exclusive method, as the sole one admissible.

Philosophy can only be a positive science when it possesses a method truly demonstrative, that is to say, one

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