1920s >> 1925 >> no-254-october-1925

A scientist on his knees

It is no mere incident that Sir Oliver Lodge in the pulpit finds his views in harmony with those age-long superstitions dealt out to the Workers by the Church. That institution has nobly played its part as hand-maid to the Ruling Class. It continues to do so to-day, despite the fact that scientific advance has banished much of their crude stock-in-trade. The science of a former decade found favour with the rising Capitalist Class because of the need to weaken the power of the clergy and aristocracy who hindered their progress and who claimed privilege by divine right. The Capitalist having won complete power, now seeks to convert the scientist into his paid servant in an endeavour to fight his more formidable enemy, the Working Class. It must be made to appear that the religious soporific of an after life has been approved by science. But the scientist in the pay of the Ruling Class need not expound scientific views. The hope is that his assertions will carry weight and preserve some of the ignorance on which the existence of our masters depends. Sir Oliver, as a bogey man, finds difficulties, so he attempts to meet them thus:—

“It might be said, and had been said: If the world is ruled by an all-seeing Providence infinitely wise, why pray to have anything changed ? . . . But that did not prevent them from asking for help. Could they not ask a friend to help them without interfering with anything.” (Sir Oliver Lodge, at St. Bennett’s Church, Mile End. Reported, East London Advertiser, June 6th, 1925.)

We suggest that the difficulty will be overcome when the workers realise the many absurdities of a system in which prayer is suggested as a remedy for social evils; when they understand with what ease their efforts could provide comfort and leisure for all if used for that purpose. But the Masters wish the Workers to look upward, away from this earth.

“If they found good evidence for a spiritual world let them accept it. … The existence of such a world might not appeal to their senses, but all the important things were detected by the mind, and not by the animal senses.” (Ibid.)

Note the “ifs,” and the “mights,” and the subtle inference separating the mind and the senses.

Science has demonstrated that the evolution of the whole cosmic system is one interminable chain of cause and effect working through ascertainable law. Man’s place in nature has been established, and the death blow given to Gods and superstition. Physiology shows the dependance of intellectual capacities upon the brain as an organ of thought, like other organs the result of age-long development. Not a shred of evidence can be advanced for the existence of any other life but the present one, for only in life can we have consciousness, and the only things we can be conscious of are the sensations and impressions of the material world around us obtained through the senses. Such knowledge is not for the workers—yet. For them the slightly modified superstitions of their primitive ancestors. After generations of mental distortion facts often cause them mental disturbance, but their only hope lies in the removal of ignorance, political and religious. The scientist, when speaking for his masters, wishes to preserve the attitude of mind conducive to such ignorance; says he:—

“They had to approach the subject in the attitude of little children in the presence of wiser and stronger people than themselves.” (Ibid.)

The same old story, trust your masters, and allow them and their sycophants to do your thinking for you. As Socialists we do not fight religion as a separate evil, it is only one of the institutions of the present system which, like poverty, crime, disease, and other evils, will depart with that system. Man’s power over, and control of, nature’s forces will be the end of super-naturalism and the coming of a world in which physical and mental development of the highest order will be the birthright of all.


(Socialist Standard, October 1925)

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