The Return of God

The materialism of a former generation of scientists is in the melting pot, and a reversion to the metaphysical idealism is becoming very popular and common. Philosophically we can understand and sympathise, though we may not agree with, the distinction, between the idea and the thing, and the logical processes between them. Scien­tifically, however, we can neither understand nor sympathise with the confusion between the matter of the thing and the force or energy it manifests.

Yet it seems to be the purpose of prominent scientists to restate the scientific proposition in terms of a very much qualified materialism. The outcome of the materialistic hypothesis is too revolutionary for our masters, and its disquietening effects have to be scotched at the fountain head.

The immortality of the soul having been shown to be incompatible with a materialistic and evolutionary explanation of life, the power of the Church as a soporific for the under dogs of this world has waned. That power can be revived only by a scientific sanction of the ideas on which the Church rests, even though the whole gamut of the Church’s creed is not in­cluded. So at the British Association, the President, Sir Oliver Lodge, promulgated the opinion that the individual consciousness sur­vived death, and was able to communicate with the living.

The phenomena of spiritualism is thus homologated, and the materialist who has insisted that the mind was of the brain, which was a purely physical organ whose functions, however complicated and obscure, were no more incapable of being understood and explained than is the process of digestion, the circulation of the blood, or any other functions performed by the various organs or collections of organs, of the body.

We do not know whether the discarnate spirit still experiences, over yonder, the inconveniences of, say, a faulty stomach or a gouty toe ; neither does Sir Oliver say that the spirit persists for ever, and is therefore immortal in the theolo­gical sense.

But of even more importance than the ques­tion of survival after death is the reference to the transcendental god as the ruler of the uni­verse. Thus the teleology of the early Victorian era is restated with all the authority of twentieth century science. We had thought God and the ghosts were laid long since, and our spirit that was ordained either to everlastingly burn, or to perpetually twang the celestial harp in the clouds, had passed into the limbo of forgotten peurilities along with our belief in these mythical places.

For science had laid bare the majestic sweep of evolution from the star-dust of the nebula, through the material earth stage, with its atmosphere and water complete, to the burnt out cinder stage, like the moon ; had traced animal life from the amoeba to man ; and generally unravelled the whole cosmic scheme. Evolu­tion is accepted as a fact by all the scientists and most laymen, to such an extent that even the Church has adopted it and interpreted it to fit its own theories, while active opposition to the principles of evolution is practically extinct.

If evolution means anything ; if the data of paleontology and of embryology teach any­thing ; it is surely the unbroken succession of changes from the lower to the higher, culmina­ting in man. There was a great dispute as to whether man was not a special edition by him­self, equipped with something different—not in degree but in kind—from any other living be­ing. That dispute was settled by Huxley by his brilliant and conclusive contribution, “Man’s Place in Nature,” in which the reasons for plac­ing man in a group with the “Primates,” and not in a class alone, are given.

At what stage, then, does the immortal soul appear ? Does the personality of the gorilla survive death, or does the Tasmanian aborigine start the immortals ? Or is it something between these ? In any case, what a fearful—almost hellish—confusion must reign “over there” if the souls of the millions of men and women, for the hundreds of thousands of years men have been on this planet keep on accumulating !

The Ruler of the Universe who made all that therein is, who “shaped the suns and marked their ways upon the ancient deep,” and who finally “created man in His own image,” has hitherto found no justification in science. Rather on the contrary has it been found that man in his different stages of knowledge, has created for himself a god or gods in the image of his knowledge—or want of it. And so to-day, when Sir Oliver Lodge creates for himself a god, He will be in a somewhat different image naturally from that of the Hebrew wise men emerging from the later stage of barbarism, but will have all the indications of being the embodiment of what we do not yet know. For that is what “God” has invariably represented. Backward as far as we may push the limits of our know­ledge, as much as we may discover, if the workings of nature, there ever remain the doubts and questionings of the enquiring mind, and that ignorance is covered by attributing the un­known to “God.” At, best it is a begging of the question.

The fact remains that we who are of the earth earthy, are satisfied that sufficient is known to make a vast difference to our life here—the life of which we are certain and which we know most about the life of which we have tried to picture, and make practicable the realisation of, the possibilities.

It is an attempt of our masters to divert our attention to an imaginary life elsewhere in order to cover up and minimise the shortcom­ings of our life here. We doubt whether at this time of day the eyes of the working class can again be directed heavenward. For centuries they looked that way, and nothing came of it. “No Saviour from on high delivers” us from our slavery here ; it is to ourselves and our fel­low mortals we have to look for deliverance. Science has provided us with sufficient material to afford a solution, and it now requires but the co-operation of the workers in making use of that information to solve once and for ever the social problem, through the overthrow of capitalism, and the construction of a Socialist co­operative commonwealth out of the materials collected by capitalism in its ruthless course.

D. K.

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