মুখ্য An Idealist View of Life

An Idealist View of Life

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This book explores modern intellectual debate and the vain attempts to find a substitute for religion. He discusses, drawing upon the traditions of the East and West, the nature and validity of religious experience. Finally, he creates a fine vision of man's evolution and the emergence of higher values. The range of subject combined with the author's own faith, undogmatic and free of creed, makes this book a philosophical education in itself.
সাল:
2009
প্রকাশক:
HarperCollins
ভাষা:
english
ISBN 13:
9789351360391
ফাইল:
EPUB, 1.21 MB
ডাউনলোড (epub, 1.21 MB)

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আপনি একটি বুক রিভিউ লিখতে পারেন এবং আপনার অভিজ্ঞতা শেয়ার করতে পারেন. অন্যান্য পাঠকরা আপনার পড়া বইগুলির বিষয়ে আপনার মতামত সম্পর্কে সর্বদা আগ্রহী হবে. বইটি আপনার পছন্দ হোক বা না হোক, আপনি যদি নিজের সৎ ও বিস্তারিত চিন্তাভাবনা ব্যক্ত করেন তাহলে অন্যরা তাদের জন্য উপযুক্ত নতুন বইগুলি খুঁজে পাবে.
AN IDEALIST VIEW OF LIFE

S. Radhakrishnan





HarperCollins Publishers India





To s. R. k.





Contents

Cover Page

Dedication

I. The Modern Challenge to Religion

II. Substitutes for Religion

III. Religious Experience and Its Affirmations

IV. Intellect and Intuition

V. The Spirit in Man

VI. Matter, Life and Mind

VII. Human Personality and Its Destiny

VIII. Ultimate Reality

About the Author





CHAPTER I





THE MODERN CHALLENGE TO RELIGION





1. WHAT IS IDEALISM?


Idealism is an ambiguous word and has been used to signify a variety of views. An ‘idea’ is taken as a particular mental image peculiar to each individual and attempts are made in the Buddhist Vijñānavāda (mentalism) and English empiricism to reduce all knowledge to ideas in this sense. Whatever is real in the universe is such stuff as ideas are made of. Ideas or images are regarded as self-contained existences and not as avenues of the apprehension of a world which is at once more ideal and more real than themselves. The term ‘idea’ has also been used to signify the universal notion, which is not an existent here and now, but a quality of the existent which is shareable by other existents and knowable by other minds. While Berkeley’s first statement is more of a mentalism holding that existence consists either in perceiving or being perceived, his modified view with its emphasis on ‘notions’ brings it under the second type. For Kant, knowledge is an extension of a sense-manifold by means of the categories of thought. While his main intention is to regard the categories as the means by which the world that extends beyond the given datum reveals itself to the finite mind, there is, however, the implication that the categories are only subjective and ideal while reality is an uncategorized, unidealized world with which we are face to face in immediate perception. These different tendencies are developed in later thought. While Hegel and his followers look upon reality as built up out of relations of thought, modern realists are ; more insistent upon the sense-manifold. Though reality for the Hegelian idealists is a dialect of ideas, no modern philosopher believes that the world of experience is constituted by mere ideas. For Croce, however, reality is mental activity. Even the conceptions of a something which is external, mechanical and natural are data furnished to mind by itself.1 Mind is immanent in all cognitive experience as an active process which gives objective form to knowledge. It does not stand in a transcendent relation to an extraneous object which it passively contemplates. There is a third sense in which the term ‘idea’ is used. When we ask with reference to any thing or action, ‘what is the idea?’ we mean, what is the principle involved in it, what is the meaning or the purpose of its being, what is the aim or value of the action? What is it driving at?2 This idea or value is the operative creative force. An idealist view finds that the universe has meaning, has value. Ideal values are the dynamic forces, the driving power of the universe. The world is intelligible only as a system of ends. Such a view has little to do with the problem whether a thing is only a particular image or a general relation. The question of the independence of the knower and the known is hardly relevant to it. Nor is it committed to the doctrine that the world is made of mind, an infinite mind or a society of minds. Idealism in the sense indicated concerns the ultimate nature of reality, whatever may be its relation to the knowing mind. It is an answer to the problem of the idea, the meaning or the purpose of it all. It has nothing in common with the view that makes reality an irrational blind striving or an irremediably miserable blunder. It finds life significant and purposeful. It endows man with a destiny that is not limited to the sensible world. When Touchstone asks Corin in As You Like It, ‘Hast any philosophy in thee, shepherd?’ Shakespeare means by philosophy not a system of abstract thought or a technical discipline of the schools but an attitude of mind which can best be described as ‘idealistic’. Have you that spiritual dimension to your being, that mood of reflective inquiry and self-contemplation, that anxiety of mind to know the things spiritual in which is the true dwelling-place of man? Or do you belong to the race of unreflective people who are satisfied with business or politics or sport, whose life is dull prose without any ideal meaning? Philosophy is understanding, contemplation, insight, and a philosopher can find no rest until he gains a view or vision of the world of things and persons which will enable him to interpret the manifold experiences as expressive, in some sort, of a purpose.

An idealist view of life is not expressed in any one pattern. It is many-coloured and its forms are varied; yet underneath all the variations and oppositions there are certain common fundamental assumptions that show them all to be products of the same spirit. It has had a long and continuous history both in the East and in the West. The fountainheads of the Vedas, including the Upani๣ads, in the East and Socrates and Plato in the West, set forth this creed in broad and flexible terms. The realistic systems of Hindu thought, the Nyāya and the Vaiśesika, the Sāṁkhya and the Yoga, and the Mimāmsā are not in serious disagreement with the fundamental intention of the idealist tradition of the Upaniṣads, viz. the inseparability of the highest value from the truly real. The absolute is reality, consciousness and freedom—sat, cit, and ānanda. In the West, from Socrates and Plato to Bradley and Alexander,3 the idealist outlook of an ultimate connection of value and reality is maintained. For Plato, the meaning of the universe is the realization of Good. The universe exists for that purpose.

In a sense, as Hegel said, all philosophy is idealistic. In contrasting appearance and reality, fact and truth, existence and essence, it is led to admit an ideal world beyond the phenomenal. Even absolute materialism is idealism, though of a crude kind, for the matter to which all existence is reduced is not a concrete actuality but an abstract idea. Modern physics reduces the world of immediate experience to one of shadows and symbols. Ions, electrons, ids are not observable phenomena and yet are posited as real since they fulfil the requirements of thinking. However anxious we may be for a return to the concrete, we find it difficult to reduce the real to the concrete. Ideas are always with us since they are an essential part of the real, and if we interpret them as ideals or values, an idealist view of the universe results. If we are not carried away by the noise of the controversy among the philosophical sects, but watch the deeper currents which are shaping them, we seem to find a strong tendency to insist on the insights of idealism, though, of course, the language and the style are different. Idealism today has to reckon with our problems and help us to face them. The stage seems to be set for a fresh statement.

Such a restatement can have little meaning for those who have not sounded the depths of the difficulties and discrepancies which a changing world is forcing on us. Though they are all too obvious, it is sometimes necessary to insist on the obvious. To know what the problem is, is quite as important as to know the answer to it. In a sense philosophy helps us to solve the problem by making us conscious of it. What are the main factors operative today in our life and thought? It is to a brief consideration of these that I wish to devote this first chapter.


2. SCIENTIFIC METHOD


Among the new forces that have made our world so different from what it was the most important is natural science, which has imposed its methods and conclusions on us and altered the very atmosphere in which we live, move and think. The strict method of science requires us to believe a proposition only when we are in a position to prove it. Whenever statements are made, it is our duty to find out whether they are capable of verification by those who will take the trouble to investigate them. Religion, on the other hand, consists, according to Freud, ‘of certain dogmas, assertions about facts and conditions of external (or internal) reality which tell us something that one has not oneself discovered and which claim that one should give them credence.’4 ‘If we ask on what their claim to be believed is based, we receive three answers which accord remarkably ill with one another. They deserve to be believed, firstly, because our primal ancestors believed them; secondly, because we possess proofs which have been handed down from this period of antiquity; and thirdly, because it is forbidden to raise the question of their authenticity at all. Formerly this presumptuous act was visited with the very severest penalties and even today society is unwilling to see anyone renew it. In other words, religious doctrines are “illusions”; they do not admit of proof and no one can be compelled to consider them as true or to believe in them.’5 If the astronomical arguments of our ancestors of 2000 B.C. are not accepted by us, there is no reason why we should give greater authority to their religious views. The authoritarian method breaks down on critical analysis. When authorities conflict, we are compelled to go beyond authority. The authority is commended to our acceptance on the ground that the author possessed superior opportunities of knowing the truth through other sources of knowledge. But when, for example, the New Testament and the Qu’ran conflict, we cannot assume that the author of one had better opportunities of knowing the truth than the other. We must turn to some other criterion, e.g. the rationality of their contents. The supernatural nature of religious authority will have to be given up.

The spirit of free inquiry and the right to think for oneself, which is not necessarily to think unlike others, have come to stay and the defenders of authority do not openly persecute the critically minded and are often anxious to appeal to reason in support of authority.

If for science truth is something we are getting nearer and nearer to as time goes on, for religion it need not be different. Why should we think that only in religion truth is something handed down from the past which we have to guard jealously lest we should stray further away from it? The golden age is in the future vision, not in a fabled past.

Our scientific theories which supersede earlier ones are only links in a long chain of progressive advances likely in time to be themselves transcended. Their only justification is their adequacy for the relevant facts. They are temporary resting-places in the search for truth and there is nothing absolute about them. Religion on the other hand claims to be absolutistic. Its truths are said to be unalterable and our duty is to defend them. Such truths, if any, belong to heaven; our truths are always provisional and tentative.

Science demands induction from facts and not deduction from dogmas. We must face the facts and derive our conclusions from them and not start with the conclusions and then play with the facts. Reasoning in religion is only a rearrangement of our prejudices. We are Hindus or Christians mainly because we are born Hindus or Christians and our fathers bore those labels. In science, the procedure is different. The modern temper insists that the scientific attitude of veracity and self-detachment must spread to all human affairs. The assumption of religion that God, the author of the universe, is the benevolent father of us all is an open invitation to explain away the difficulties and discomforts of life as delusions of the mind. The tendency of religion to mistake desires for facts, to take the world to be what we should like it to be, to reserve a certain part of life as falling outside the scope of ordinary knowledge is the direct opposite of empirical science.

Science insists on the reign of law. If law works everywhere and through all time, there is nothing mysterious or miraculous about the world. Only the uneducated believe that demons cause diseases and priests cure them. The world is a cosmos, an ordered whole. While in the West this conception was suggested by the astronomical discoveries of the fourth century B.C., in India the order of the universe, the ṛta, is accepted as early as the Vedic Period. We need not be much disturbed by Professor Eddington’s view of the ‘final overthrow of strict causality’ which he infers from the principle of indeterminacy with reference to the quantum theory. Eddington suggests that many of the laws of physics are statistical and no prediction about the behaviour of particular electrons can be made but only about their behaviour in the mass. If natural processes are themselves indeterminate, if something like free will is to be put at the basis of ordinary events of nature, if strict determinism fails us anywhere, then all scientific enterprise will have to be abandoned. The continual search for causes and explanations is decisive proof that causality is the one thing scientists believe in, however formidable the exceptions may seem to be. The appearance of indeterminacy may be due to an element of error in our observations. It may be admitted that scientists are actually using for purposes of predicting phenomena theories which they are not able to reconcile or understand completely. It only means that further work of exploration is necessary, since there are facts whose laws we have not yet been able to discover. But all this does not justify us in saying that there are facts to which no laws apply. For that would mean that there are facts which have no nature of their own. They would be an ultimate exception to the concept of the rationality of the real. For all practical purposes strict determinism is a cardinal feature of natural science. At a time when we were not sure about the orderedness of the universe, when our science was still allied with magic, an animistic interpretation of nature was possible. Today such a view is out of the question. Special providence is the antithesis of order.

The seventeenth century scientists, Descartes, Kepler, Galileo and Newton, who had the vision of the world as a great machine, allowed, however, that the mechanism was one contrived by God and worked in obedience to the precise laws of his mind. The traditional god who reigned in the heavens as never a despot ruled on earth, yielded to one whose sovereignty was bound by well-established laws. The eighteenth century scientists were more rigorous in their logic and so refused to allow any interference from outside with the mechanically ordered universe. Their god was conceived as external to the system, as one who does not function in regard to the world. He reigns but does not govern. In ancient Greece, Epicurus, though he was convinced that nothing that happened on earth, whether in the history of the cosmos or the life of humanity, was due to divine influence, did not abolish the gods altogether. He left them in the empty spaces between the worlds where they took no notice of us, though we in our weakness regarded them as beautiful objects of adoration and mistook their elegant ease for eternal life.6 A god who always works by law is not easily distinguishable from one who never works at all. A non-functioning, ornamental deity cannot remain for long a vital force. Deism lapsed into scepticism. If a god is unnecessary for working the world machine, he does not seem to be quite necessary for starting it.

Besides, the need for religious mystery diminishes as the scope of scientific explanation extends. We generally indent on the hypothesis of God when knowledge reaches its limits. Popular use of expressions like ‘it is an act of God’, ‘God only knows’, shows how ignorance is the source of the knowledge of God. God is the name we tremblingly give to the unseen and the inexplicable. He is the ‘sanctuary of ignorance’, an indication of incomplete knowledge. The realm of mystery before which man feels humble slowly withdraws its frontiers. We can know the world and live our life without feeling our utter dependence on unknown forces.

Modern materialism is not so much the result of rational philosophy as of the startling triumphs of modern science. The view of the universe revealed by modern science—especially mathematics, physics and astronomy—does not seem to be less favourable to a mechanical hypothesis.


3. ACHIEVEMENTS OF SCIENCE


Modern physics is transforming our old conceptions of matter. The ultimate constituents are not atoms but positive and negative electric influences, which are alike in the magnitude of their charge, though differing fundamentally in mass, the positive being 1,845 times heavier than the negative. The ninety-two different elements are determined simply by the difference between the number of positives and negatives that are found in the nucleus. A change in this difference is enough to bring about a transmutation of these elements as in radio-activity. It is sometimes asserted that the new conception of matter has ended the old materialism. If this means that the old atomic theory is impossible, it is quite true; but if it means that the contrast between spirit and matter is diminished in any way, it is altogether untrue. If the mechanical theory is otherwise well-grounded, the analysis of the atom into electric energy does not touch it.

Astronomy has falsified the old little snug universe of Ptolemaic thought with a comfortable chronology of six thousand years. We cannot believe that the earth was brought into existence by a divine fiat on a certain Tuesday in the year 4004 B.C. Astronomy has stretched out space to infinity where distances are measured by light years and brought down the earth from its exalted place as the centre of the universe to the insignificant position of a small planet in a single solar system surrounded by innumerable other systems stretching off without end into cold stellar regions. The universe is far bigger than we ever dreamed of. The great sun on which our earth attends is but a speck among some hundred thousand million stars which form our stellar system and this great system in turn is but one of millions of such systems which fill space, and yet the wonder is that it is not improbable that space itself is finite so that a ray of light can perhaps travel round it and come back to its starting-point.7

A purely mechanical explanation is offered for the whole show. The unity of nature suggests to science a unitary ground of existence, with which all things when fully traced can be connected, but this unitary being need not be regarded as intelligent. Lifeless matter particles careered about for countless millions of years and in their interaction created myriads of nebulae, of suns, and eventually our solar system, including earth, sea, air and land. Sir James Jeans tells us that our solar system is only a cosmic freak due to the chance passage of an inconspicuous star in the neighbourhood of an equally inconspicuous nebula.8

What is life in our solar system? It exists on earth and may possibly exist in Venus and Mars, and yet its great importance on earth seems to distort our general view of the universe. From the cosmic perspective life is a by-product, a minor detail in a large scheme with no definite or direct relations to our hopes and fears. It exists only in our solar system and even there perhaps only on our planet. Life, which is such a merely local and superficial peculiarity, cannot be the end of the universe, as some of us are inclined to believe.9 There must be a relevant relation between purpose and output, end and means. The stars in their courses are plainly about some other business.

It was long held that the mechanical view, while adequate in the realm of matter, fails us when we come to organic life. The delicate adjustments of the bodily organs to the functions they serve, the eye for seeing and the ear for hearing, seem to require a different explanation. But the carefully selected illustrations of design, contrivance and adaptation used by Paley and Butler to prove the reality of God conceived as a gigantic craftsman, are now shown to be the working of the principle of adaptation to environment. Nature in her blind thirst for life has filled the earth with innumerable types. The offspring of living organisms are never exactly alike. They vary slightly both from the parents and from one another. Variations which help the individuals to live more easily tend to survive. Those individuals which do not share these variations pass out. By a continuous piling up of small variations spread over a long period of time, Darwin held, a new species is produced. Though this view has suffered modifications in detail—variations are said to be discontinuous and far from gradual or by minute stages—the general theory is not much disturbed. The story of continuous development through the whole of animate nature suggests the working of an automatic mechanism. No principle outside the natural world is needed to account for it. In a closed world governed by uniform laws, no spiritual principle can interfere. The elaborate pictures given in our ancient scriptures of the defeat of God’s original intention by a host of fallen angels or the attribution of the countless woes of ages to the erroneous choice of an imaginary chief which involved the whole of posterity in ruin and corruption do not have any semblance of truth for those familiar with the larger concepts of development through countless centuries. We cannot be sure that species move on to higher stages of development in orderly sequence. Ever so many degenerate and some die out altogether. No sooner has some form of existence perfected itself than it proceeds to decay. The progress we have achieved is the result of the terrible method of trial and error. Struggle and suffering, disease and death are such pregnant facts that if there is any ruling power in the universe, it may be fate or chance or careless gods, but in no case a beneficent providence. Man is nothing more than the latest of a long series of living creatures, and he did not arrive on this planet faultless and finished but is being slowly ground into shape by the shocks of circumstances. The half men of the Paleolithic age, the Neanderthal and the Piltdown bones show how near the apes primitive men were. Anthropomorphism loses its point when the rise of humanity is seen to be a curious accident and its career a mere episode in cosmic history. The history of humanity measured against the inconceivably long vista of time is but the twinkling of an eye. Human beings confined to an infinitesimal part of space seem so far removed from the main plan of the universe. We cannot be certain that man is the last and the supreme utterance of life. The chain may well extend to other links which may be as different from him as he is different from the amoeba. Man is a relatively recent arrival on earth. He has possessed and governed it for less than a thousandth part of its existence. Gigantic reptiles and dinosaurs ruled it for millions of years and might have thought that they would continue for ever. Man today regards himself as the final triumph of biological evolution and has come to stay!

Man may be another unsuccessful experiment which the Unknowable, not quite certain of its direction, is making. Even if the evolution of life on earth does not proceed higher than the human species, science threatens us with a possibility of its extinction. The solar system, we are told, is like a clock which is running down and its processes are irreversible. Though it may not stop in our own day, its eventual doom can hardly be averted.10 Scientific evidence seems to suggest that the universe which has crawled by slow stages into its present shape is making for a condition of universal death.

The values for which we struggle are only a flash in the pan and will disappear sooner or later. The cosmic process is but a weaving and unweaving of forms in which the values we cherish find precarious and brief embodiment. Ethical principles are but general rules for the guidance of human conduct and owe their significance to the developing society in which they arise. Our sense of duty is at bottom the ‘herd instinct’ which is found even among animals. In obedience to this instinct the interests of the individual are subordinated to those of the group. The authority of conscience is of purely social origin and does not require any reference to a supernatural power. There is not a single human act which society has not at one time approved and at another condemned. Though standards change, life seems to be meaningless without them and so the myth or morality is invented. And science tells us how the illusion is born. Morality is a working arrangement and its sanction is social necessity. As morality is a matter of convention, society has a right to alter or amend it, if it judges such modifications in the line of its interests. There is no God commanding us into a prescribed mode of behaviour. Ethical rules are objective only in the sense that they are independent of this or that individual and not in the sense that they are unconditional commands or that they assume that ‘good’ is an unanalysable and ultimate quality.

The case for theism from the moral side is questioned. If we argue from our moral aspirations to their ultimate fulfilment, we assume as a premise what requires to be proved, viz. that the world is reasonable, that it is teleologically ordered, and that is the very proposition we wish to prove. Man’s sense of duty as revealed in his conscience or his idea of a perfect being does not warrant the necessity for a moral being or God.

Spengler tells us that cultural units are comparable to plant growths. They pass through the stages of growth, blossoming and decay. Call it destiny or collective soul, an immutable law governs the rise and fall of races and cultures. History circles in as fixed orbits and with as predetermined a movement as the stars themselves.

In the light of our present knowledge of man’s history and the vastness of the cosmos it seems anomalous, if not absurd, to imagine that the earth or the human species or any historic individuals in it form the centre of things. Our earth is parochial and our citizenship on it a triviality. Geocentrism in cosmology and anthropocentrism in philosophy and Buddhocentrism or Christocentrism in religion are on a par.11 Man is the centre of all things only in the sense, as Professor Eddington has pointed out, that he stands midway in size between an atom and a star. He is almost exactly as much larger than an atom as a star is larger than a man. To those whose minds are dazed by the new knowledge of science, the orthodox theologians seem to be like men talking in their sleep.

The detailed structural affinities between man and the higher apes and the astounding evidence of the blood test prove a close consanguinity between man and the anthropoids. The animal character of man is clear from the facts of his origin, prenatal development, birth, growth, decline and death. We cannot dismiss these facts as an elaborate jest on the part of nature simply to pull the legs of biologists. It is fairly certain that we are descended from the apes or their cousins.

That man is an animal among animals is neither new nor profound. But what is new is that he is nothing more than an animal. Professor Watson’s behaviourist psychology affirms it. For him, psychology is only physiology with this difference, that while physiology is interested in the functioning of parts of the animal—for example, its digestive system, its circulatory system, its nervous system—behaviourism is intensely interested in what the whole animal will do from morning to night and from night to morning.12 Man is an ‘assembled organic machine ready to run.’13 As for the soul and consciousness of traditional psychology Watson has no patience with them.14 Language is a series of muscle twitchings. Thought happens as any other event does. It is a motor organization just like tennis playing, a form of behaviour consisting of subvocal movements of speech muscles. It is only silent speaking, ‘talking with concealed musculature’. Thorndike’s experiments on rats in mazes claim to show ‘scientifically’ that intelligence is nothing more than stimulus and response. Emotions are visceral reactions. There is no such thing as will. Man’s capacity is confined to the reception of sensory stimuli and automatic reactions to them. The latter are determined entirely by the strength of the stimuli and the powers of the muscles and nerves they control. Man is merely a nexus between stimuli and responses. He is the most cunning of the animals. Mind is the body and man is a machine. Our thoughts have no consequence, our wills no efficacy.

Watson’s behaviourism is immensely popular with the ordinary mind since it offers a scientific confirmation of its favourite prejudice, that all men are created equal. The distinction of superior and inferior men is declared to be untenable and everything is now a question of social and cultural enviroment.15 All modification of inborn nature is due to the acquiring of conditioned reflexes. Moral determinism appeals to all since it gives an excuse for whatever we want to do. Personality is a thing we can see and shape into whatever form we please. Man the unpredictable, the free soul is a myth. We can make a god out of glands, if only we set about it.

Though we have a different emphasis in the new psychology associated with the names of Freud and Jung, it also upholds a kind of psychological determinism. Watson complains that Freud has ‘resorted to Voodooism instead of falling back upon his early scientific training’. Freud’s fault is that he sets up great claims for psychology as a study of consciousness. At any given moment of our waking life we are aware of a steady stream of stimuli of great variety which reach us by means of different sense-organs. These sense impressions along with their associated thoughts and images make up our consciousness. Beyond the threshold of this consciousness we have the store of facts and impressions from which we can select any at our pleasure. Some parts of this are more accessible than others but with effort even the most concealed can be revived. This is called the fore-conscious region as distinct from the first, which is the conscious. There is also a third region of the mind, called the unconscious, where the apparently lost experiences of our lives, the impressions received in our childhood and infancy, are stored up. Though we cannot lift them into the region of the conscious by any effort of ordinary thinking, they yet profoundly modify our behaviour. Psychoanalysts attempt to get information about the buried complexes in the unconscious region by means of free association and dream study. For the psychoanalysts the unconscious is the real mind. The buried complexes and the repressed factors are the dynamic elements, the driving forces of the mind.16

The bearing of these doctrines on the religious issue is profound. If ‘the mind, the spirit and the soul are manifestations of the living brain just as the flame is the manifest spirit of the burning candle’, when the brain is destroyed there is an end of it all. The gradual evolution of the human species under the influence of natural forces shows that man is of a piece with the rest of nature. His religious intuitions are only the dreams of a being with an ape pedigree. So cautious a thinker as Darwin observed in his Autobiography (1887): ‘But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?’ The human mind is a product of the struggle for existence. It is a tool-making, food-seeking instrument which learns the right adjustment by a process of trial and error. Its working is experimental, its devices are utilitarian and its views tentative.

According to psychoanalysis, conscious reasoning plays an inconsiderable part even in highly advanced beings. And the most fundamental activities of the human mind are non- rational. Thinking is more rationalization than reasoning. We adduce reasons in support of opinions held on grounds other that the reason adduced. The personality of man is the playground of instincts which are kept in check by repressive influences arising partly from the illusions of religious beliefs. If the depths of the unconscious contain the dynamic drives, then ethical striving and religious aspiration are only illusions.

Reason is, in many cases, used to defend the action of deep-seated instincts and desires. Religious reactions to imaginary beings are psychological functions of our irrational nature. Religious ideas are consoling devices produced by the mechanisms of projection and regression and do not refer to any objective reality. God is but a function of the unconscious. Quite in conformity with the doctrine of pan-sexualism, it is argued that religion in its beginning is ‘a mere misrepresentation of sex ecstasy’, and even higher religions are full of idealized sex emotions. The mystic experiences are the projections of the morbid cravings of the psychologically perverted. When we look upon God as a loving father, we have a regressive idea. In infancy and childhood we look to our parents to supply our wants and protect us from harm. When we grow to maturity we imagine that, as the parental providence governs the home, a patriarch king who knows and cares for us all paternally provides that things shall ultimately end happily for his children.17 So even when we are faced by the stern facts of life, we delude ourselves into a state of sentimental security. Though you slay me, yet will I trust in you. We are grown-up infants and God is a sort of ‘wet-nurse’ to humanity.

The idea of God, which, the anthropologists say, has had an unbroken sway from the most primitive ages of human history, is thus given a psychological explanation. Religious phenomena like the dread of God, the shame of the sinner and the feeling for salvation are similarly explained. Freud is definite that religion is an illusion incident to a particular stage in the psychological development of mankind. Society is in the process of casting it off, as its men of intelligence are rapidly outgrowing the stage of intellectual immaturity to which it belongs.18

At the moment there is great insistence on the psychological approach to religion. Though Wundt was the founder of the modern study of the psychology of religion, its chief representatives are from America, William James and Stanley Hall, Starbuck and Leuba, Coe and Pratt. Contributions of considerable value have come from Britain also.19 Conclusions hostile to the reality of the religious object are asserted especially by those who are under the influence of the Freudian School. Leuba in his A Psychological Study of Religion contends that religious experience is a mere subjective state and its implication is an illusion very insistent, perhaps, but nevertheless an illusion. The aberrant and the uneducated mistake the dreams which spring from below for the voice from above. The voice that reaches us from the heavens is obviously a human voice.20 Its utterances are not messages from visiting angels but clearly human postulates made by despairing souls for sheer self-preservation. When life around chills native zeal and integrity, supernatural assurances become popular. The feeling of certainty accompanying mystic visions is of doubtful value when the visions often conflict with one another. If the function of religion is to restore confidence when we are face to face with grave crises and are afraid of what is in store for us, then it works through suggestion and imagination. In the East and the West techniques calculated to develop the sensorial imagination have been fairly common among religious groups of a type.21 If we fix our attention on the thought of a particular object, say the flames of hell, we actually feel after a time the scorching heat on the palms of our hands. It is through this method that we have seen in the course of our progress not only God but his enemy the Devil with his brood of witches and ghosts. ‘All things are possible to him that believeth.’ We can work ourselves up to the pitch of enlightenment.

Psychologists are interested in the discovery of the conditions that lead to the acceptance of fancies as facts but not in their truth value. We do not debate the truth of a detected illusion. As we describe the conditions by which sati or witchcraft was once believed in by detailing scriptural authority, the weight of great names, the credulity of the common mind, etc., so do psychologists tell us about the conditions which favoured the acceptance of religion.22

Religion offers some compensation for the natural defects of the human spirit in the world and is an escape from the transiency, the uncertainty, the meaninglessness of a world to one where these defects are overcome by the presence of a God. In essence and actuality religion is the attempt of man to express his notion of a perfect being, a perfect world and the means by which he can be redeemed from the fact to experience of pure ideality. Gods are human beings as they would wish themselves to be.

Man’s helplessness in the presence of nature makes him look up to supernatural sources of power and blessing. We adopt religion for its practical efficiency and not for getting into relation with the supreme spirit as the embodiment of the highest perfection.23

The French School of sociologists under the lead of Emile Durkheim emphasizes the part played by the social group in the origin and growth of religious conceptions. Religion has been used from the beginning for carrying on the social organization and conserving the secular values, for religious sanctions seem to be more effective for keeping men loyal and law-abiding than prisons and police courts. Religion is the device to give an emotional stimulus to the socially beneficent activities. As the social group is something over and beyond the individuals whom it includes, its forms possess for the individual a relatively independent or objective character. A typically social product like language is not framed by the individual but is absorbed by him and yet language is only a human product. Similarly religious belief arises from the interaction of many minds and is only as objective or as illusory as language itself. God, according to this view, is not so much the projection of the cravings of the individual as the product of society. Our sense of God is due to the pressure of society on us.24 An unapprehended God is invoked in support of current ethics.


4. COMPARATIVE RELIGION


As if the disorganization were not sufficiently decisive, comparative religion and higher criticism which are relatively recent growths are making their own contributions. Comparative religion enables us to study faiths other than our own without condescension or contempt. It traces the history of our ideas of God from the simple conceptions of our remote ancestors who first formulated the experience of the great environing mystery down to the living faiths. Every mortal thing seems to have been deified. Powers of nature, sun, stars, fire, water and earth, generative energies were all made into gods. Hero-worship and human apotheosis added to the number. Our mental pictures of God are as varied as we are. The scepticism of Xenophanes, the first great student of comparative religion in Europe, is receiving daily confirmation.25

Anthropology, which moves with delight among golden boughs and totems, divine kings and heavenly twins, proves the lowly ancestry of many of our living gods. Some of the practices that have come down to us in the name of religion anthropology traces to primitive ritual. The primitive peoples used to eat their gods in order to strengthen themselves and perhaps the Christian practice of eating Christ’s body and drinking his blood is not unrelated to this old ritual. The stories recorded in religious literature are by no means divinely revealed, and if we still cling to them it only shows that errors die hard.

No god seems to be final and no religion perfect. There was a time when vast temples were built for Moloch and Baal, mighty in their own day with crowds of worshippers, gods who uttered commands and prohibitions intepreting which numerous priests spent their long lives. To doubt their power and presence was to be condemned as a heretic and thousands suffered death and persecution, but who is so poor today as to recognize them, much less do them reverence? What has happened to the Egyptian Ra and the Babylonian Shamash, to Isis and Ashtoreth, Zeus and Athene, Janus and Vesta, who ranked a few millenniums back with Yahveh himself, gods mentioned with fear and trembling and believed in by millions? Their day is done and their altars smoke no more. We can only smile at the naïveté of those who assume that while all other gods will pass away their own will abide for ever. The broken idols of the past seem to have no lessons for them. The history of religion is the record of the conflicts of contradictory systems, each of them claiming dogmatic finality and absolute truth, a claim made apparently absurd by the plurality of claimants.

If comparative religion tells us anything it is that every religion is moulded by fallible and imperfect human instruments, and so long as it is alive it will be changing. Spirit is growth, and even while we are observing one side of its life, the wheel is turning and the shadow of the past is twining itself into it.

A pathetic confidence in man as the type and exemplar of the universe led to the crude theories of animism which endowed almost anything animate and inanimate with human attributes. We credited stones with life and trees with passion. Even when we rose to clearer conceptions of human personality, the anthropomorphic tendency did not desert us. We endowed our gods with human passions and made them thunder forth wrath and vengeance for every trumpery misdeed. There is an assumption that the mind of man corresponds to cosmic reality.


5. HIGHER CRITICISM


The scriptures which affirm the absolutism of religions and announce themselves as infallible, such as the Vedas and the Tipitaka, the Bible and the Qu’ran, are treaṭed today in the same critical and historical spirit as the Dialogues of Plato or the Inscriptions of Aṥoka. They are all human documents written by human hands and liable to error. Not merely religious scriptures but codes of custom and laws of society, all these are supposed to have come from the gods. Every people, Jew and Gentile, Greek and barbarian, attribute the first institution of their laws to the gods. We know now that they all originated in the discordant passions and the groping reason of human beings. Religious scriptures are no exception. They are the conventions and devices which seers of insight found it necessary to lay down to enable men to live and live more abundantly. The scriptures are products of history and some of their parts are forgeries, or at least not so old as they were supposed to be. The case for verbal inspiration is not seriously put forward. We cannot bring ourselves to believe that any of these scriptures is the word of god. The higher and lower criticism of the Christian scriptures tells us that the Bible contains elements of myth, legend and floating tradition and exhibits a process of growth with many levels of development. It is not to be mistaken for an historical narrative. A critical attitude is fairly common among the thoughtful Hindus and Buddhists. Their sacred books are analysed and their parts related to their epochs. The Vedas are a literature rather than a single book, containing writings of varied style, date and value. Their inspired character does not imply divine dictation or the supersession of the writer’s normal powers. The different sections are held to contain the hopes and beliefs, the fears and the imaginations of successive generations of men. Their value is not determined by their hoary antiquity or alleged divine dictation, but only by the nature of their contents. Kang Yu We startled the Chinese world by proclaiming that the entire texts which tradition declared that Confucius arranged and published as a holy inheritance for the future were deliberate forgeries. His work on The Reform of Confucius attempts to prove that the old writings of Confucius were not traditional and were not edited by him, but that he had invented them all himself in order to lend an historical background to his teachings, which were revolutionary for his time.26 Every revealed scripture seems to contain in it a large mass of elements which scientific criticism and historical knowledge require us to discard and there is no reason why we should accept it at all. Truth is greater than any revelation.


6. PROOFS FOR THEISM


The so-called proofs for the existence of God are all defective, if we mean by proof a demonstration as compelling to a rational being as the proof of a mathematical proposition. The ontological argument starts from the idea of God as an absolutely perfect being. Such an absolutely perfect being must exist, for non-existence would be an imperfection and a more perfect being which exists could be imagined. But such a proposition is opposed to the first principle with which the argument started. Therefore God exists. Kant points out that existence is not an attribute like goodness or wisdom and cannot be involved in the conception of any idea in our minds. There are many things which exist only in our imagination. We have an idea of a perfect circle, but that does not mean that a perfect circle exists. The idea of God is no exception and God’s existence cannot be deduced from the conception of God.

The causal argument is not more satisfactory. It proceeds on a series of untenable assumptions: that the causal concept is valid, that it applies not merely to parts of the world but to the world as a whole, that we can have a first cause, which somehow is an exception to the law of succession and that the first cause is God. An infinite series of causes and effects is not impossible to conceive. If causality is interpreted as meaning that the contingent implies the necessary, it begs the whole question. We take the world as created and then argue that it must have had a creator. If God is conceived as infinite, eternal and necessary, it is possible to look upon the world itself as infinite, eternal and necessary. Again, causality relates happenings in nature and we cannot by means of it go outside of nature and reach the creative source of things. The given world is a contingent fact. It is conceivable that there may be no world at all or only an irrational and fortuitous one. It is therefore conceivable that there may be no God. At best, for causality, God is only a contingent being. But the God of religion is an absolute being in no sense fortuitous. We have already seen that the moral argument fails since attempts are made to account for the development of the moral sense by a process of natural selection.

The argument from design is profoundly affected by the development of the theory of biological evolution. The question of the purpose of human life is irrelevant. Why should human life alone have a purpose and not animal life? The universe does not seem to have any definite purpose which it is attempting to realize. To be born, to live, to die and to begin all over again, until all things have disappeared as though nothing had ever been accomplished, such is the process of the universe, such its destiny. Even if the world lends itself to the realization of purposes, we cannot infer the reality of a purposing mind. We are thrown back on a naturalistic view with its insistence on mechanical determination, the insignificance of man, the irrelevance of personal immortality, the repudiation of personal freedom and the cosmic sanctions for moral standards and indifference to a responsive spirit. While the intellectuals question the foundations of religion and make it difficult even for the religious-minded to entertain the larger hope, the idealists dispute its practical value and efficiency.


7. PRACTICAL INEFFICIENCY OF RELIGION


By postulating a perfect god who is responsible for the government of the universe, religion seems to take away the edge from ethical striving. For Plato, the Good which is the True and the Real shines everlastingly like the sun in the high heaven. Man, dwelling in the cave of his ignorance, bound in the chains of his stupidity and selfishness, takes the shadows thrown upon the farthest walls by the light of his own passions as realities, knows not that the Good is there, the eternal source of all light and life. If his eyes are cleared up, he will see the Real. There is nothing to fight against except the doubts in his mind and the shadows of his errors. What ought to be already is. ‘The consummation of the infinite end,’ says Hegel, ‘consists merely in removing the illusion which makes it seem yet unaccomplished. The good, the absolutely good, is eternally accomplishing itself in the world; and the result is that it need not wait upon us, but is already by implication as well as in full actuality accomplished.’27 Religion is an isness and not an oughtness, as Baron von Hügel loved to repeat. It is concerned with what is actually environing and penetrating us and we are saved if we recognize it. Religion insists on the apprehension of what already is and not on the achievement of what is not. The realization of goodness is not a future contingency but an eternal and necessary reality. Such a view of religion as adoration and not creativity makes us insensitive to the woes of the world in which we live. By divorcing eternity from time, spiritual realization from earthly life, we kill the only eternity of which we have knowledge, the eternity characteristic of intense living.

Salvation is interpreted as having a reference to the next world and not the building of the kingdom of God on earth. Religion is more world-fleeing than world-seeking or world- penetrating.

Religion asks us to separate the things of God from those of Caesar. Its principles should not be allowed to interfere with the free play of selfish impulse in a secular order. If religion asks us to adopt brotherly love, avoid force, disregard wealth, the religious people seem to emphasize war, success and efficiency. Such a judicial separation between the two means the degrading of both the secular and the sacred. Religion is not doctrinal obedience or ritualistic display, but is self-sacrificing love and redemptive might. Those who tell us that we are not a nation of Christs and it is no use trying to imitate his example and seek martyrdom by disbanding our armies and scrapping our navies, that religion is not meant for practice, are helping to destroy religion altogether.

In the depths of religion there is ever a negation of life, a renunciation carried to the point of death itself. Great gods—a number of them and in all parts of the world—are said to have died for us and we are now called upon to die for them.28 ‘Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized unto Jesus Christ were baptized unto his death.’ Paul’s strictures on sex, expressed in the well-known words, ‘For I would that all men were even as I myself’, that is, celibate and continent, finds its parallel in other religious scriptures. Religious teachers the world over seem to reproach God for making us warm-blooded and not simply sexless neuters, bodiless ghosts. Human nature is regarded as a vile thing that must be hacked and twisted out of its shape in order to become endurable in the eyes of God. Religious men seem to have developed unduly the instinct for being unhappy. They seem to have a perverted ingenuity for finding out new contents for sin.29 Religion with its ‘Thou shalt renounce’ is the direct opposite of the new commandment, ‘Thou shalt enjoy’, on which all our major and minor prophets are agreed.30

Religion believes that all needful truth is given to man and there is no need for further enquiry and search. It breeds the delusion that could inspire Tertullian’s boast that the Christian mechanic will give a ready answer to problems that puzzled the wisest philosophers. Religion is suspicious of enquiry and criticism. The fear of knowledge is as old as the Garden of Eden. Prometheus who dared to steal knowledge and reveal it to men was chained to a rock. The story of Faust testifies to the widespread belief in the alliance between the men of knowledge and the powers of darkness. When we assume that we have the beginning and the end of all spiritual wisdom and direction for all time and all mankind, it becomes our duty to impose it on others by force of arms or its subtler substitutes. In the name of religion men and women were put to death for not believing that evil spirits inhabit human bodies, for misunderstanding the mystery of the Trinity, for doubting the verbal inspiration of the scriptures and such other innocent departures from orthodox doctrines. Spiritual absolutism is responsible for the judicial murders of some of the divinest figures of antiquity. It exalts orthodoxy above holiness of life.

While the economic and political forces are bringing people closer together, religions are doing their utmost to maintain the inner barriers that divide and antagonize peoples. To the Hindus the Buddhists are heretics, even as the early Christians were atheists to the polytheistic Romans. Catholics would sooner see one an atheist than an Anglican. Religion engenders a great love for a great hate. Every religion has its popes and crusades, idolatry and heresy-hunting. The cards and the game are the same, only the names are different. Men are attacked for affirming what men are attacked for denying. Religious piety seems to destroy all moral sanity and sensitive humanism. It is out to destroy other religions, not for the sake of social betterment or world peace, but because such an act is acceptable to one’s own jealous god. The more fervent the worship the greater seems to be the tyranny of names. By a fatal logic, the jealous god is supposed to ordain the destruction of those who worship him under other names. The view that God has entrusted his exclusive revelation to any one prophet, Buddha, Christ, or Mohammad, expecting all others to borrow from him or else to suffer spiritual destitution, is by no means old-fashioned.31 Nothing is so hostile to religion as other religions. We have developed a kind of patriotism about religion, with a code and a flag, and a hostile attitude towards other men’s codes and creeds. The free spirits who have the courage to repudiate the doctrine of chosen races and special prophets and plead for a free exercise of thought about God are treated as outcasts. No wonder that even the sober are sometimes tempted to think that the only way to get rid of religious fear, conceit and hatred is to do away with all religion. The world would be a much more religious place if all religions were removed from it.32


8. RELIGION AND POLITICS


The political side of modern civilization is derived from the Greek City State. With all its incomparable values the Greek mind had not a clear perception of the distinction between politics and religion, public duty and individual perfection. To it, Athens and Athene, later Caesar and God, were identical terms. The individual’s highest good is in the service of the State. The Greek thinkers tried to distinguish between the good man and the good citizen and struggled to base the State on moral foundations. But they did not realize fully the claims of the individual soul and so identified the Church and the State. It is true that Socrates met his death in obedience to conscience and Aristotle allowed a few favoured individuals an inner life remote from the concerns of the City State. But all these fade into insignificance by the side of the great tradition that a man who does not participate in the civic life is either a god or a beast. When the Greek tradition got mixed up with the Eastern ideals of loving enemies, despising riches, taking no thought for the morrow and paying more attention to another world than this, confusion resulted which has not yet cleared up.

Religion today is a branch of statecraft, a plaything of politics. Our sense of worship is shifted to our country, which to most of us is a sacred symbol with its own creeds and ritual, demanding sacrificial living. The last war gave a pointed demonstration of the feeble claims of religion as compared with the imperious demands of patriotism.33

Where religion has not been herself the oppressor upholding darkness by violence, she lends her authority to the oppressors and sanctifies their pretences. That religion is worth little, if the conscience of its followers is not disturbed when war clouds are hanging over us all and industrial conflicts are threatening social peace. Religion has weakened man’s social conscience and moral sensitivity by separating the things of God from those of Caesar. The socially oppressed are seduced by hopes of final adjustment in a celestial fatherland, a sort of post-mortem brotherhood. No wonder religion is condemned as a piece of capitalistic propaganda. The workers and wage- earners have come to discover themselves and are demanding an opportunity for a fuller and deeper life. Anxious as they are for a new social order based on justice and creative love, they stand out of religious organizations which preach contentment and status quo. The social revolutionaries contend that religion blocks the way to all progress. It is a bourgeois prejudice and superstition which must be rooted out at any cost.34 Spiritually an external or ceremonial religion is good for nothing; materially it has failed to stop the strong man from exploiting his weaker brother; psychologically it has developed traits which are anti-social and anti-scientific. As for its aesthetic and metaphysical satisfactions, they can easily be fostered by the spread of science and art, morality and social service and a living faith in human brotherhood. Communism is the new religion; Lenin is its prophet and science its holy symbol.35 Karl Marx’s theory of communism transplanted into the mystic soil of Russia has become a religion practising sanctified methods for its propagation. The active agencies of the communistic parties, the Red Army, the schools, the press and the platform, are struggling to rid the country of all religion. The driving force of Bolshevism is faith, mysticism and willingness to sacrifice even unto death. It is moved by dreams of a new heaven and a new earth even as were the believers in Jewish apocalypse. If the socialist declares, ‘We are not opposed to religion. Neither are we supporting it. We are simply cutting out religion. Our socialist idea of a universal brotherhood is more important than God or Jesus Christ or any religion,’36 we must confess that he is more truly religious than most worshippers of God or Christ. It is no answer to say that these admirable ideas are found in ancient scriptures, for it is equally beyond doubt that the official exponents of religion dismissed them as too ideal for an unideal world. Religion has been given a fairly long trial and the socialist seeks for an opportunity to experiment with his new creed. He asks for a fair chance before he is judged. When he argues that if only socialism had, as organized religion has, huge establishments, temples, mosques and churches—whole-time paid agents, thousands of honorary workers, millions of rank and file, it would put to shame the leaders of religion by making the world ring from end to end with the courageous gospel of fight against poverty and disease, war and crime, oppression and exploitation of every kind, we may or may not agree with his hope, we may dissent from his drastic methods of reform, but we cannot deny the force of the accusation that organized religion with all its resources, actual and potential, has failed. If it is still tolerated, it is due to ignorance and indifference, and we cannot afford any more to be either ignorant or indifferent.37

The age has lost the living sense of the truth which it once held. The spirit which revolted against divine rights and sanctified tyrannies in politics, which protested against the iniquity of social abuses and established conventions, which, in the Reformation, expressed itself in the claim to determine the sense of the scripture and ritual, which gave to modern Europe in the Renaissance the free curiosity and the intellectual scrutiny of the Greek mind and the practical sense of equity of the Roman, is today expressing itself in the demand for the sway of science and social idealism. Here is the truth of things which does not depend on any doubtful scripture or fallible human authority but which all who have the intellectual power to observe and honesty to judge will accept. A life of joy and happiness is possible only on the basis of knowledge and science.


9. GENERAL UNREST


The present confusion and disorganization are not confined to Europe and America. Though there are fundamental distinctions between the East and the West, the striking feature at the moment is the extent to which the cultural life of the peoples is getting unified. Turkey is turning its back on Islam for the sake of national efficiency and progress.38 What is true of Turkey is more or less true of other Moslem states, Persia, Egypt and Afghanistan. In China and India venerable structures built by the patience and effort of unnumbered generations are attacked from all sides. Religion is set down as the cause of our intellectual and national bondage, of our failure and lack of vitality. Many of the Indian leaders are convinced that orthodox fundamentalism, which is still the creed of the majority of the people, has cost us a lot in struggle and suffering, in stunted manhood and deformed spiritual growth. When we find men of undoubted piety range themselves against common sense and scientific knowledge, against the dictates of humanity and the demands of justice, all in blind obedience to laws whose infallibility is a myth, our leaders are getting tired of religion and think it is time we part with it. The country wants today not so much salvation from sin as social betterment which will transform the mass of people who are ill-fed, ill-clothed and ill-housed into a free community of well-regulated families, living not in luxury, but in moderate comfort with no fierce or unhealthy competition. Freedom is the rallying cry. It is inevitable that the challenge of freedom means often a rude handling of old loyalties and a hasty dismissal of venerable beauty in symbol and ceremony. But freedom asks for its price.


10. THE PRESENT NEED


The present unrest, it is clear, is caused as much by the moral ineffectiveness of religion, its failure to promote the best life, as by the insistent pressure of new knowledge on traditional beliefs. There are a few intellectual snobs with whom it is a sign of accomplishment to ridicule religion. To care for religion is to be old-fashioned; to be critical of it is to be in the movement. A reading democracy which is necessarily imperfectly educated feels it its duty to reject traditional control when it does not understand the reasons for its claims. Scepticism does not cost us much. It is faith that requires courage nowadays. Besides these denying spirits we have the much larger number who have outgrown the faith but are unwilling to break away for fear of the pharisees. Our concern, however, is with those who find themselves while willing, yet incapable of belief. Their souls have grown more sensitive and so their difficulties are deeper and their questions more insistent. Their doubt is an expression of piety, their protest a kind of loyalty. In the depths of the human soul lies something which we rationalize as the search for truth, a demand for justice, a passion for righteousness. This striving for truth and justice is an essential part of our life. We do not need an Aristotle to tell us that the pursuit of knowledge is our highest duty and the only permissible excesses are the excesses of the intellect. The disorders due to the disturbance of our minds are preferable to the bondage of the human spirit. This is not the first time in the history of the world that the age was felt to be transitional and religion held to be untenable. It is said—though I cannot vouch for its authenticity—that the first words uttered by Adam to Eve as they stepped out of the gate in the garden of Eden were, ‘We live in times of transition.’ Every period is one of transition. Through discord and confusion lies progress. It happens in the sub-human level; it is willed in the human. The spirit of man can change the direction of the march. The invention of what is needful at a particular moment, of the device which will help us to adapt ourselves to the new situation has the same significance as the development at the right time of the new variation which alone is adapted to the altered conditions. At a time when humanity is struggling to rise from a state of subjection to authority to one in which perfect self-determination is possible, we need the assistance of creative minds. The prophet souls and not the priest minds, the original men of understanding and not the mechanical imitators of the inherited habits are needed to help our wandering generation to fashion a goal for itself. Prophecy is insight. It is vision. It is anticipating experience. It is seeing the present so fully as to foresee the future.





CHAPTER II





SUBSTITUTES FOR RELIGION





Those who are assailed by religious doubts are devising several ways to escape from the present confusion. In the absence of any definite direction from the leaders, they are taking to crude and amazing cults. They are finding substitutes for religion in Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Christian Science, New Thought and such other adventures of the human mind. But the more thoughtful are not satisfied with these sentimental substitutes and their constructive proposals range from dogmatic denial to dogmatic affirmation.


1. NATURALISTIC ATHEISM


Lucretius, who took refuge in the high indifference of atoms storming through the void according to eternal law, has many followers today.1 It is no use exaggerating the extent of the reaction against crude materialism. It still remains the belief to which most people tend when they begin to reflect, and many who are fascinated by the conquests of science do not leave it.2 For the emancipated intellectuals—I hate the word highbrows — the universe is the product of unconscious, mechanistic energy towards which we cannot have any feeling of reverence or worship. Man is essentially a part of nature, and though his peculiarity is that he thinks, it does not make him a privileged being. He is but a specific type among living forms, and it is quite possible that nature may produce a more exciting type with vastly superior powers, or extinguish all life. Whatever may happen, nature is not likely to be deeply stirred. Human beings are an accident, and they will shortly disappear in the cosmic upheaval which is destined to destroy this universe. We have felt in our pulses the pain and misery of the world, but the love and grace of God are only our dreams. The silence that answered Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane to spare the cup of sorrow and shame is all that the noblest of us can expect in the hour of doom. We are in the grip of nature, which did not ask us whether we would like to be. It gave us corruptible bodies and suffering hearts without asking whether or not we would like to have them. It selected for us the scene of our existence, the conditions of our life, and left us to discover what they are, but yet is quite ready to crush us if we ignorantly cross its purposes. If we scrutinize the truth of religion, this central fact comes out. In Christianity, for example, the salvation of man is mythical. The human individual, who is a victim at once of his own blindness and order of nature, cannot be saved. Since man cannot face this truth, he invents a divine force transcending the careless chaos, from whom salvation comes as an act of grace on the ground of pity. Strictly speaking, we cannot and do not deserve to be saved. In the spirit of Lucretius, Bertrand Russell exhorts us to give up the gorgeous consolations of religion and those dreadful thoughts of the invisible which had incited men to kill themselves and kill others. According to him, the future religion will consist of two parts: a worship of the ideal conceived merely as the ideal, and a worship of the actual merely as actual or existent. The first involves the goodness, but not the existence, of its object, and the second involves the existence, but not the goodness, of its object.3 We must accept the universe as it is and expect nothing from it. It is more manly to believe in the actual and suffer it than revel in the absurd.

We cannot deny that there is an element of sublimity in this stoicism, which submits to the great laws of existence, necessity or chance, without inventing trivial consolations. But it is difficult to maintain an attitude of noble despair to an uncaring universe. From sublime stoicism to neo-paganism the transition is easy. If the universe is a huge machine, which goes on its way regardless of the hopes and fears of humanity, and if the human individual is but a sorry accident looked at from the cosmic perspective, there is no reason why we should add to the sum of human misery by denying ourselves the few precarious joys which life offers. While the stoic teaching is too modest in its promises and too difficult in its practice to attract large numbers, neo-paganism, which justifies and encourages the major temptations of the age, has multitudes of followers. But both stoicism and neo-paganism are ways of escape, devices adopted when we lose our faith in life. The one saving grace of life is, as Seneca said, though it has but a single entrance it has many exits and one can always choose the time and manner of one’s going out.4 Any moment we feel that the game is not worth the candle, we may return God, in the words of Ivan Karamazov, ‘the entrance ticket’. In darkness there will be no disappointment. Pessimism is a strangely powerful creed, whose immense vogue is an indication that we are sick with despair. When Diogenes found the Greek liberties disappear under the Macedonians, he warned his compatriots to fear nothing, desire nothing, possess nothing, for then no malicious ingenuity of life can disappoint us.

Art and reflection are sometimes suggested as substitutes for religion. Russell exhorts us to ‘cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble our little day’. In the age of Buddha in India and the past days of paganism in Europe, when the old sanctions and faiths were attacked, men sought and found in philosophy the consolations which traditional religion could no longer offer. If disinterested reflection reveals to us the hideous thing life is, we may at least dream a little and build within ourselves a shrine where we can worship our ideals. We can thus find imaginary satisfactions for our unfulfilled desires, and play in fancy the roles we have missed in life. Art becomes a sort of mental self-indulgence, a distraction that takes away the horrid taste of the real. The intellectual aristocrats of our time profess a creed which is a blend of the different views of naturalism, stoicism, paganism and pessimism.

As a substitute for religion the stoic-pagan creed is rather weak. We cannot live if we do not recover our faith in life and the universe. It is true that we should oppose a passionless disillusion to the lies which cripple our minds. Rationality is essential, but so is religion if disintegration is to be averted. It may be that religion does not rest on purely speculative grounds. But it is not enough to be logical. We have also to be reasonable. Loyalty to life requires us to know the creative mystery and serve it to the best of our power. If we feel ourselves to be unwanted in the universe, we may try to cover up our inner crisis by family attachments or civic duties, but the essential loneliness of the soul is worse than solitary confinement. The felt solitude of the human soul, its strange isolation in an incomprehensible world, breaks the vital rhythm that sustains the world. The prophets of disillusion call upon us to seek truth, create beauty and achieve goodness. We cannot strive for these ideals if we are convinced that we are unimportant accidents in a universe which is indifferent, if not hostile, to them. If the nature of the world is malign, our duty is to defy.

It is only fair to ask where the urge to do these noble things comes from. If the strivings after truth, goodness and beauty are a part of the cosmic plan, then it is not unfriendly to us. Russell admits, ‘It is a strange mystery that nature, omnipotent but blind, in the revolution of her secular hurryings through the abysses of space has brought forth at last a child, subject to her power, but gifted with sight and knowledge of good and evil, with the capacity of judging all the works of his unthinking mother.’5 We cannot leave this stupendous fact as a ‘strange mystery’. We set apart nature as a flat and lifeless background of irresponsible energy against which the drama of human life is played, and then insist on the contrast. If science teaches us anything, it is the organic nature of the universe. We are one with the world that has made us, one with every scene that is spread before our eyes. In a metaphor common to the Upaniṣads and Plato every unit of nature is a microcosm reflecting in itself the entire all-inclusive macrocosm. If there is law, if there is order in the universe, our life and consciousness are not accidents. We are solid with the world and are deeply rooted in it. We are not merely spectators of the universe but constituent parts of it.

Besides, the real is not so unsatisfying as we are asked to believe. It is not fair to blot out the lights and deepen the shadows. The world contains wonderful achievements of man, his heroisms and beauties, his imaginations and inventions. Even if the order of the world is created by our minds, our minds are a part of the universe. The ideals we cherish may be still remote and unaccomplished, but the fact is we possess the ideals, and love them so much as to condemn the world because it does not conform to them.6 Our judgments of value, our convictions of truth, our appreciations of beauty, our experiences of love are the proof that we are not the products of merely physical forces. Those who plead eloquently for the maintenance of values cherish the dim hope that, after all, man is not a victim of the massive necessities, physical and economic, bound to their routine and entangled in their conflicts. He is an actor in the drama capable of forcing destiny and controlling the compulsion of things. The man who, even when conquered by the caprice of the world, remains unconvinced, points to his own innate dignity and superiority to nature.

The judgment on the world is passed on the unconscious assumption that the pleasure of man is the end of life. Egotism, legitimate when kept within bounds, is highly misleading when it produces the habit of taking oneself too seriously, as a sort of self-appointed judge of the universe. In complaining against the world, we are not seeking truth, and are lacking in the larger charity of the universe. If we look at life as it is, without ignoring or exaggerating any of its tendencies, we shall see that this stupendous movement is not at work for our private benefit. It has its own vast design, which it is seeking to fulfil, compared with which our highest aims are petty.

That the world is not a pleasure garden, but is full of pain and suffering, is not a new discovery. The prophets of religion admit this fact and account for it by avidyā or ignorance or original sin, in which humanity is said to be somehow implicated. They also imply that happiness can be attained by the right use of human personality. Happiness is not to be confused with pleasure. It consists in harmony, in unity with oneself, in the consciousness of an affirmative attitude to life, in the peace resident in the soul. Nature tends to perfect each thing or each species after its kind. Pain and suffering may be in the process, but if we are wise we will accept it all with joy and work for the consummation of each one’s real nature. When a man seeks pleasure and avoids pain, he is on a lower level. The pursuit of truth and the striving after goodness may entail penalties and sufferings, even death of the body, and yet they may contribute to the greatness of the spirit which is real happiness.

After all, it does not seem to be a lonely or a love-starved universe. Even those engaged in the grim struggle of life may build up a sense of comradeship on the basis of respect for each other’s suffering. Fellowship in suffering redeems the suffering as well.

Russell tells us that fear is the source of all religion. It only means that there is a lack of understanding between man and the universe around him. To understand life is to possess it as a whole in the unity of thought. Primitive man lived in vital unself-conscious union with nature. When his critical intelligence develops, a dualism is set up between man and the rest of reality. This dualism is the source of fear. Religion tries to remove fear, give us fearlessness, by restoring the lost unity between man and nature, the sense of communion with the All. Naturalism asks us to endure truth and reverence reality, but we cannot do so if there is a cleft between man and nature. Religion, by insisting on an organic connection between the world of nature and the world of values, delivers us from our isolation and transiency. It therefore takes us deeper than intellect, and re-establishes the vital relationship already at work between man and nature.

Atheism belongs to the intellect. When we sink back into the inmost core of our lives, we are compelled, whether we like it or not, to accept the universe. Atheism is contrary to the ultimate instinct of life. That life is good and is to be made the most of is the act of faith, the unanalysable ultimate for which no reasons could be given. All degrees of atheism belong to the surface of the mind. Life is much more exultant and mysterious than our intellects can comprehend. Russell’s philosophy does not prove the failure of man, but only the inadequacy of intellect as against the truth that is proved in our pulses. The animal instinct which urges man to live and accept the world becomes a reasoned faith in him, that the nature around us is trustworthy and will respond to our efforts.

Russell and his followers protest against a supernatural world. If it is conceived as existent and not merely logically thought, then it must have active relations with the world in which we live. Miracles, incarnations, ascensions are invoked to bring the natural and the supernatural worlds into intimate union. If the two are bound together according to fixed laws, there is no reason why we should break up reality into the two opposite camps of nature and supernature. It is all nature; only we should not confine the term to the obvious facts and forces noticed by our imperfect science. The natural and the supernatural are a distinction within reality, and not between a world we know and another we do not know. If the supernatural is opposed to the natural, it is sometimes confused with the chaotic as distinct from the ordered. It is full of chance novelties and incalculable accidents. Such a kind of supernatural is repudiated by science. The true conception of the supernatural is however different. Nature has an order of its own. The supernatural is the natural in her true depths and infinity. It is not anything different from nature.


2. AGNOSTICISM


Agnosticism admits the mystery and holds that we do not know and we cannot know. That which transcends us is none of our affair. Life has been compared in an old allegory to a bird that flies out of the darkness into a lighted chamber and, after flitting about there for some time, disappears into the darkness again. We know not the beginning of things, we know not whither they tend, we know just a part of their middle course. Why, then, should we worry about it all?7 Even if the cosmic process has a purpose, we cannot know what it is. The agnostic does not deny that there is a reality behind the phenomena. If he does, then he is not an agnostic, for he knows that we know all the reality there is. If, on the other hand, he holds that there is something behind the phenomena, though we cannot be certain of its nature, even this is inconsistent with agnosticism, for he knows that there is something whose nature is such that it can never be known by us. We cannot be certain that we could not know any more of that of which we admittedly know so much that it is unknowable. To be ignorant is not the special prerogative of man; to know that he is ignorant is his special privilege. The latter implies an ideal of knowledge which sets limits to one’s ignorance as well as to knowledge. Besides, it is vain to urge men to turn away from the pursuit of the real.


3. SCEPTICISM


Some of those who are impressed by the variety of philosophical opinions are inclined to scepticism. They find all opinions interesting, and they are too cultured to have any convictions. Nothing is serious to them, neither art nor philosophy, neither politics nor religion. The world does not seem to have any purpose for the many little purposes that we may discover are so much in conflict with one another that we may well regard the world in its entirety as devoid of any purpose. The part of wisdom is to drift along confusedly, hoping for the best, expecting little and believing in nothing very much.

Scepticism thrives most in periods of transition. When the Hellenic culture and morality were breaking up under the impact of a wider civilization, the Sophists appeared. The age of the Buddha and the period of Śamkara in India were most friendly to the growth of scepticism.

Scepticism brings out the sense of loneliness in a world which is robbed of all point. Consistent scepticism is an impossible attitude. Hume tells us how he left his scepticism in his study at a safe distance from life. Though a sceptic is expected to doubt the possibility of knowledge, he always admits the truth of his own position. A scepticism which is in earnest with itself cannot rest in mere scepticism. It affirms the doubter and the doubt. It doubts because it has an ideal of certainty. As a method, scepticism is one thing, as a metaphysics, quite another. The famous sceptics of the world adopted it only as a method. Descartes travelled from doubt to dogma. Hume did not impugn knowledge. Balfour defended ‘philosophical doubt’ only to establish the ‘foundations of belief’. Russell has faith in the method of science.8 It is difficult to find a sceptic who has not his superstitions. Protestantism which began as a protest ended as a religion. Today, many of those who deny God are unable to dispense with ghosts. Negation is never mere negation. We deny a thing because we believe something else with which it is inconsistent. We discover the illusory character of knowledge only by reference to something else of which we claim to have knowledge. Generally, the sceptic is at war with the faith of his generation. The function of scepticism is in relation to the dogmatism which it criticizes.9 But scepticism cannot be the final resting-place of human thought. If the old faith has become impossible, a new must be found. The sceptic is seeking for a way of life which is worth following, a belief that might be honestly held, and a social order in which we can find shelter. The deepening of doubt is a sign of spiritual growth.


4. HUMANISM


A more positive attitude is adopted by what is sometimes called humanism. It holds that it does not matter what we think about the ultimate nature of reality if only we are prepared to do the proper thing. Religious theories may be mere speculations. We cannot be sure what is true, or whether anything is true at all. Life at any rate is something certain and definite, and so let us occupy ourselves with the improvement of life. Humanism is a protest against naturalism on the one side and religion on the other. The soul of man is not a thing of nature; nor is it a child of God. Devotion to values would be inexplicable, if men were entirely products of nature. As against religion, humanism contends that this world is our chief interest and perfection of humanity our one ideal. The ultimate harmonious interrelation of all individuals with one another is the aim of humanism. Loyalty to the great community, as Royce said, is our highest duty. The humanist has no sympathy with all religious taboos which tend to drive away the blood from our veins. Morality is not meaningless self-mutilation. While excessive asceticism is encouraged by religion, humanism believes in balance and proportion. It is based on the Greek doctrine of harmony and the Roman sense of decorum.

Humanism is not to be confused with what is sometimes called the gospel of a good time. It does not admit that all modes of thought and activity are equally valid or justified by the mere fact of their existence. The composite self which is an unstable collection of diverse elements requires to be worked into a full and balanced whole. In the nature of things some propensities cannot be allowed full play, for when let go they create conditions in which the freedom of self-expression is curtailed. Besides, man is planted in a social environment which imposes limitations on his life. And these are not felt as a restriction, as the individual gets in return a sense of peace and satisfaction. Professor Irving Babbitt, of Harvard University, the leading representative of the American type of humanism, in his book on Rousseau and Romanticism (1919), admits that human society and its progress depend on the control which men exercise by means of the will over the natural human instincts. He recognizes an inner check which is the principle of inhibition. His quarrel with religion is due to his reading of religion as something which puts the principle of control outside man, while humanism places it within man. We can realize the humanist’s ideal by means of the inner discipline without reference to any supernatural power.

Humanism, which is more a tendency than a system, has had a long history. In the East, Confucius held that the highest good was the proper maintenance of a well-balanced system of human relationships. ‘Our moral being is the great reality (literally “the great root”) of all existence, and the moral order is the universal law of the world.’10 When the Brahmanical faith was undermined by its own ascetic excesses, Buddha insisted on the majesty of the moral law and mercy to all creation. The Greek view of life was essentially humanistic, with its insistence on measure, order and proportion. In the Renaissance we had a widespread revival of humanism. Kant defends a rational and ethical life as against a mystical religion.11 Morality is, for him, a categorical imperative, a command about which there is nothing contingent or conditional. Our consciousness of moral obligation is something absolutely different from any other experience, and is ultimate and self-explanatory. The obligation of duty is one and the same for all rational beings. The absolute claim of the moral law on our obedience results in the recognition of the equality of all who are aware of a like claim upon them, who constitute a kingdom of ends, a spiritual commonwealth, in which the moral law is supreme. Kant’s attitude to moral law is deeply religious, full of that feeling of awe and self-abasement, but it is not religion. The positivists identify religion with the service of humanity. The ethical movement is inclined to equate God with the moral ideal. The French school of Emile Durkheim and his followers treats religion as a social phenomenon.12 Many of our sceptical thinkers today adopt humanism as the creed of common sense. It has a natural appeal to the human mind when it is uncertain of the source of life and its nature. It has its strongest representatives in America, where it is felt to be the only hope of salvation for a world dominated by the tyranny of scientific ideas and threatened by a mechanization of spirit. American humanism draws upon the Greek, the Buddhist and the Confucian traditions.’13

Humanism seems to be religion secularized. The selfsuf-ficiency of the natural man, the belief that the only values that matter are human values is the central faith of the humanists. Plato and Aristotle, from whom this faith derives its inspiration, are clearly aware that the deeper needs of the soul require to be satisfied.14 We are not really human if we do not feel that we are related to something that transcends the finite and the conceivable. We want not a mere improvement of the world, but an ideal transfiguration of it. If the humanists regard the enhancement of personality as the chief end of life, our personality cannot be reduced to either physical manhood or economical well-being, or instructed mind, or sensitive conscience. We cannot live up to the full height of our potential being without drawing upon the deeper resources of spirit. The roots of man’s being are in the unseen and eternal, and his destiny is not limited to the duration of his life on earth.15 Humanism is confessedly rationalistic, and ignores elements in life which cannot be dealt with in intellectual terms. There is a story about the visit of an Indian philosopher to Socrates. Aristoxenes reports that Socrates told the Indian stranger that his work consisted in enquiries about the life of men, and the Indian smiled and said that none could understand things human who did not understand things divine.

Humanism demands a disciplined life and insists on wholeness and harmony. But it sets the moral and natural elements of man in sharp opposition. It is the essence of the moral will to check the free play of natural impulses and desires. If the dualism between man and nature is radical, the ideal of harmony cannot be attained. Besides, is the controlling will a mere negative check or has it any positive content? If it is the former, it has no content: if it is the latter, whence is its content derived? The higher will in man becomes identified with the spirit in him. Without the recognition of such a spiritual centre, which will help us to co-ordinate the variety of unlike elements of which human nature consists, our life will have no integrity.

In his Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle lays down the golden mean, a balance between two extremes as the rule of life. He promises a fair share of earthly pleasures for a life of virtuous activity. And modern humanists adopt a similar view. It is not easy to determine what exactly is the mean between too much and too little. What is the course of self-respect which steers clear of slavish obsequiousness and arrogant airs? Where does decency lie between ascetic purity and sensual indulgence? When is violence not strength? Between the right and wrong it is not a mere quantitive difference. Aristotle himself admits that it is difficult to hit the mean though easy to miss it. We cannot apply a mere mechanical rule. We must develop a living adjustment, a sure taste in any concrete case. The difference between mechanical morality and true virtue is determined by the delicate insight into the realities of the situation. Aristotle recognizes that it is only the sense of something stable and unitary beneath the shifting experiences of life that can help us in seeing the right in any context. We must first gain entrance into the kingdom which is not of this world if we want to build it on earth. Enlightened humanism seems to ignore this essentially non-wordly character of a truly spiritual life. Durkheim is not quite fair when he identifies religion with social morality. In all religions there is a trans-social reference. No religion can fulfil its social functions adequately if it is only social.

Virtue is not a mere balancing or nice calculation. An ancient critic spoke of Aristotle as ‘moderate to excess’. He gives us good form and not a holy fervour, cold efficiency and not constructive passion. For a balanced humanist, non-violence is as much anti-social and unpractical as an indiscriminate use of violence. The middle course may perhaps be the law of retaliation. Moral heroism is a jealous god and not a judicious compromise. The saints aim at righteousness, not respectability. They burn with a passion, an adventurous enthusiasm that is reckless of life. Humanism lacks that indefinable touch, that élan of religion which alone can produce that majestic faith whose creativity is inexhaustible, whose hope is deathless, and whose adventures are magnificent. Those who keep their eyes close to the ground and accept the counsel of the Delphic oracle to follow ‘the usage of the city’ may conform to the code of humanism, but they are not moral heroes. It is all the difference between being a gentleman and being a religious man. It is more easy to be a gentleman than to be a Christian, to have sufficient self-respect and self-control, to be decent and good than to hunger and thirst after righteousness.16 The saints invariably overstep the boundaries. Their saintliness consists in overstepping. Socrates and Jesus overstepped the boundaries. Though they died for their love of truth and justice, they live for ever, echoes and lights unto eternity. They change the minds of men and illumine the otherwise dark pages of human history. Real love or will to good expresses itself in various forms, from sacrifice of oneself for one’s neighbour to the acceptance of even those who offend us cruelly. All this is possible only if we do not sacrifice the mystical to the moral. The truly religious live out of a natural profundity of soul; their effortless achievements are not primarily directed to a refashioning of this world. Their faith is essentially life-transcending, and as a result, life-transforming.

However ingeniously we might plan and organize our society and adjust human relationships, so long as the world is what it is, the best of us cannot escape sorrow and suffering. Socialism cannot remove human selfishness. Even if we by some stroke of good fortune escape from the usual annoyances of life, we cannot free ourselves from death. Our bodily organism has in it seeds of dissolution. Mortality seems to be native to our world. Can humanism make death trivial and service significant? It is easy to ask us to draw on our capacity for endurance and heroism and go down into the valley, strong, alone and conquering, but when we are uncertain of the meaning of the world such advice is stupid. In the second book of the Republic, Plato tells us of an absolutely just man who yet passes for an unjust one, and suffers the most severe penalties with no hope of relief in this life and no expectation of reward in the next. When Socrates is asked whether such a one tortured on the rack and crucified can yet be happy, he answered in the affirmative, simply because he was not a mere humanist, but believed in the spirit in man and the significance of the world. Humanism has no consolation for those who bear in pain the burden of defeated hopes and suffer sorrow and contempt. Kant’s chief argument for theism is that since the good man is often defeated on earth, we require a superhuman power to adjust virtue and happiness. When the foundations of life are shaken, when the ultimate issues face us demanding an answer, humanism does not suffice. Life is a great gift, and we have to bring to it a great mood; only humanism does not induce it.

When the humanist admits the ultimateness of the values, he is implicitly accepting the spiritual view of the universe. For him the ethical self is a power above the ordinary self in which all men may share, in spite of the diversity of personal temperament and to which our attitude must be one of subjection. The question is inevitable whether the ethical ideal is a mere dream or has the backing of the universe. Is man ploughing his lonely furrow in the dark or is there a transcending purpose that is co-operating with him in his quest for ideals, securing him against the ultimate defeat of his plans? Are the values mere empirical accidents, creations at best of the human mind, or do they reveal to us an order of being which is more than merely human, a spiritual reality which is the source of the significance of what happens in the temporal process? Does human life point beyond the contingent to another world, absolute and eternal though in contact with the human, and exerting a transforming influence on it? Professor Alexander is of opinion that the world of values arises as a secondary emergent product out of a simpler ultimate existent. For him values are ‘incidents in the empirical growth of things, within what is really the primary reality of space-time’.17 Alexander denies priority to value, but finds it difficult to account for the development of space-time without the postulation of a nisus. The nisus is not space-time. If it were it could not serve the purpose for which it is assumed; if, on the other hand, it is something that makes space-time move on to higher forms, it is something different from space-time and prior to it. The principle of explanation seems to be space-time and the nisus, the void and God, to use Old Testament terminology. Kant’s ethical theory shows that we glimpse the spiritual reality superior to the human by means of the ethical consciousness. Though Kant distinguishes religion from ethics as an independent activity of the human spirit, somewhat subordinate to the ethical, his system as a whole sets right the balance. While virtue is good in its own right, it is not the whole good, which is virtue combined with happiness. Perfect virtue and perfect happiness are two sides of the unconditioned good which the practical reason sets before itself. Our moral consciousness is offended if there is a divorce between the two. Perfect happiness, however, is dependent on natural causes which do not seem to have any direct relation with virtue. A proper adjustment of happiness to virtue is possible only if we assume a divine being who is able to bring the cosmic into conformity with the moral and regulate the combination of happiness and virtue. Our moral consciousness postulates God, who is adequate to the realization of the summum bonum. Kant is convinced that this world is not all, and that the disproportion between the claims of virtue and the rewards of life will be set right. If we do not accept the postulate of God, we shall be faced by a dualism between the moral law which claims our allegiance and a universe which is apparently indifferent if not hostile to the demands of morality. If the authority of the moral law is to be justified, if the ultimateness of man as a moral being is to be vindicated, then the world process which has resulted in the formation of human personalities has significance and the structure of things is spiritual. Humanism thus leads to a view of itself as rooted in a reality deeper and more comprehensive, in which it finds its completion. Humanism is concerned with value; religion relates value to reality, human life to the ultimate background against which it is set. However crude and misconceived the savage’s religion may be, it gives him the security that the real is friendly to his values, and is not indifferent to his welfare. From the totemic principle of the savage to the absolute spirit of the philosopher, there is right through a confident belief that man is a fragment of the larger scheme of things which contains the secret of his life and his surroundings and exerts a mysterious power over his destiny.

The great humanists see the abiding element of the one in the infinite flux of the many. Plato admits the Immutable Idea and Aristotle the last Immaterial Form. In early Buddhism we have a religion which does not insist on an eternal God, and yet makes a strong appeal to the consciousness of evil, the need for holiness and the conquest of greed and sensuality. Early Buddhism had implicit trust in an eternal right that dwells in the constitution of things. The structure of the universe is ethical. It is dharmabhūta. Even Matthew Arnold, for whom religion was morality tinged with sentiment, believed in some kind of relation and response to ‘the more than ourselves that makes for righteousness’, the more than the finite and the finished, in submission to which is our peace. For the American humanists, Babbitt and More, humanism and religion are two stages on the same path. Naturalism is right in its insistence on man as body; humanism is right when it exalts man as mind; but man is not merely body or mind, but it is spirit as well. So humanism cannot do duty for an adoring life which is identified with the mind of God, and manifests itself in service