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IV. By virtue of these distinctive characteristics, man, though implicated in nature through his bodily organization, is in his personality supernatural; the brute is wholly submerged in nature. Man in the use of reason can lift himself above the plane of his own nature, can survey and measure it, and determine his course; he can put himself in opposition to his natural impulses and regulate, develop or subdue them. He is in nature like a ship in the sea, in it, yet above it, guiding his course by observing the heavens even against wind and current. A brute has no such power; it is in nature like a balloon wholly immersed in the air and driven by its currents with no power of steering.
1. To this it may be objected that the sensitivity of the brute cannot be correlated and identified with motion any more than the personality of man can be; that, therefore, if brutes are not supernatural man cannot be; but if man is supernatural then brutes must be so.
The fact alleged in the objection is admitted, but the inference is not justified. The fact that conscious sensitivity cannot be identified with motion does not prove personality either in men or beasts. It simply proves that animated life is more than a mode of motion and cannot be explained by mechanism. It proves the same of personality. But the existence of personal beings is proved by the evidence of the facts of personality known to man in his consciousness of himself and his acquaintance with other men. The line of demarkation between the supernatural and nature does not lie between the living organism and the inorganic, nor between the animate and the inanimate vital organisms, but between the personal and the impersonal. Brutes may have organic life and sensitivity, and yet remain submerged in nature. It is not life and sensitivity which lift men above nature, but it is the distinctive characteristics of personality.
The objection, therefore, avails nothing either in identifying personality with animate life or in identifying either these or inanimate organic life with motion and mechanism.
2. There are three reasons why it is unscientific to affirm that life is merely a mode of motion. One is that no fact of abiogenesis or the origination of organic life has ever been discovered. The second is, it is impossible to identify consciousness or sensitivity with motion, and, it seems to be proved that it is never transformed into motion, nor motion into it. The third is that it involves the incredible doctrine that brutes and men are mere machines or automata. It rests on the materialistic assertion that the universe is a machine and all the processes and powers in it are mechanical. Brutes and men therefore are merely machines. The materialistic scientists of the present day do not avow the old doctrine that brutes are automata, and that a dog's
howling is only the noise of the running machinery. But in affirming that no force exists except the lowest, which is mechanical or motorforce, they leave themselves no explanation of the action of brutes except the mechanical; and mechanical action is the action of a machine. They speak of organic molecules. Inorganic changes they explain by a greater complexity of the molecule; but an organic molecule can be nothing else but a more complex molecule, because they have left themselves nothing but the differing number and relative position of atoms and molecules by which to distinguish the organic molecule from the inorganic. Mr. Huxley, in his lecture on “The Hypothesis that Animals are Automata,” calls them conscious automata. But a conscious automaton or machine is a self-contradictory phrase. Consciousness is not essential to a machine. A machine is complete without it. If consciousness is added to a machine it is something which is not mechanical. If it is a reality it must be accounted for by some power not mechanical. But by the supposition there is no power except the mechanical force in the universe. Nothing then is accomplished by Mr. Huxley except to affix biological terms to mechanical processes and energies. But to call the parts and processes of a machine by biological names does not annul their character as mechanism, it only disguises it. It has become common in discussing sociology to treat society as a living organism. But according to crude materialism, this social organization itself would be only an automaton called by a biological name.
I have already pointed out some of the difficulties involved in the materialism which begins with the lowest instead of the highest and attempts to explain the universe as the evolution of matter and motorforce. And here, again, the exceedingly complicated and fanciful contrivances resorted to in order to explain observed facts in accordance with this theory remind us of the Ptolemaic astronomers who
“Gird the sphere
and when a new discovery was made, were obliged to feign a few more “eccentrics and epicycles, and such engines of orbs," as Lord Bacon calls them, in the already intricate diagram of the heavens. But when the true conception was attained all these complex figures gave place to simplicity. The very fancifulness and complexity of the motions supposed to account for observed facts on the theory that every energy is transformed motion, is a presumption against the truth of the theory and will some day give place to some theory more simple and reasonable
3. All is explained by the true evolution: absolute being evermore individuating and revealing its inexhaustible potential powers and resources in the limitations and conditions of space and time; and immanently active in the universe by which it is revealed. In whatever form matter is known to us, whether as the gross matter which we see and handle, or the finer stuff which by inference we dimly apprehend, we cannot suppose it to be in its primitive form, but only to have come into that state through we know not what changes. So the evolution goes always on, in the progress of time revealing higher and more varied powers and perfections, and it may be in remote space revealing new worlds and systems, of which already science notes intimations in the dissipation into depths of space beyond our system, we know not whither, of never returning energy. Thus the creative process which in the Absolute is the continuous limitation and individuation of its power, in the finite is its continuous enlargement and evolution. And far beyond this earth, beyond this solar system, beyond this Milky-Way of stars, the world-spirit works, revealing God.
“ In the tides of life, in the storms of motion,
I toss up and down,
A life all-glowing,
And in view of spheres beyond our imaginings supernatural intelligences may sing,
“And swift and swift beyond conceiving
The splendor of the world goes round,
The awful night's intense profound;
Against the rock's deep bases hurled,
Eternal, swift, are onwards whirled.”
There is nothing unreasonable or unscientific in the supposition that in animated organisms there is the manifestation of mechanical force and something more; and yet that the "something more” does not attain to the self-conscious rational freedom distinctive of personality. I have classed as mechanical force, or force in its lowest plane as manifested to us, attraction, repulsion, momentum and the forces known to us as light, heat and electricity. Some scientists hold that attraction
causes motion, others that the momentum of moving corpuscles causes attraction. Each supposition involves apparently insuperable difficulties. It is sufficient to know that these forces seem always to act in connection with matter as perceptible by us, and may be classed together as mechanical. Thence in successive stages the absolute being reveals higher powers as matter is brought into receptivity for them, till personality appears in man; and probably what we call death is the revelation of that same personality in a medium of action and conditions of existence transcending our senses. It is, then, reasonable to suppose that the life of a brute, though its organization has become adequate to be a medium of sensitivity, is not yet capable of revealing personality, and the life remains completely immerged in nature. But when man appears the individuation has reached a point in which he rises above nature though still in it, distinguishes himself from nature, and knows himself as self-directing, self-conditioning, self-exerting and free. Thus in the whole evolution God is the Alpha and the Omega ; it comes from God, it reveals God, and at last brings forth beings who rising out of unreasoning nature know God and, distinct from him in being, reunite themselves to him by faith and love in the unity of a moral system.
Physical science, confining itself within its own sphere, rightly notes only facts observed or inferred, and their classification by resemblance and their co-ordination in uniform sequence. But it has no right to declare as a fact of physical science that the universe consists only of matter and mechanical force. It has no concern with the first cause and absolute ground of all that exists. It therefore properly confines itself to what it observes, it treats the forces which come under its observation as resident in or inseparable from nature, without asking how they came to be there and what sustains them in action. Brought at every turn of investigation to confront the fact that there is a power immanently active in the universe transcending all which by its empirical methods it can weigh, or measure, or define, it may assume one supreme, inexhaustible force, everywhere acting, the source of all change, revealing itself in many forms, incapable of absolute increase or diminution. And because this force transcends its empirical methods, it may call it unknowable. But it has no right to say that this unknowable is only mechanical force; it has no right to say that nothing exists but matter and mechanical force, and that the universe is merely a machine. Because in so doing it sets aside facts empirically known, that other forces, chemical, vital, personal, exist; and in trying to identify these with mechanism it is driven to such violent theorizing that thought well nigh strangles itself in its own contortions; because, also, if the universal force is mechanical it is no
longer unknown, but science by empirical methods has found and exactly ascertained and defined the first cause and absolute ground of all things; and, finally, because it arbitrarily shuts out all philosophical and theological inquiry, and not only affirms that all knowledge is limited to the empirical, but proceeds to declare dogmatically that physical science within its empirical limits includes knowledge of every thing that exists, or ever has existed.
V. Man is spirit; the brute is not. A personal being considered abstractly from all connection with matter or nature is called spirit. It may exist in and act through a bodily organization.
The reasons for belief in the existence of spirit have been already set forth. The objection now arises that if man is spirit we must attribute a spirit or soul to every brute; not to the more intelligent only, but to the lowest, to the infusoria, to every organic cell or mass of tissue which has sensitivity in the slightest degree. And in fact the argument to prove that there is a spirit in man has often been presented so as to make this a necessary inference.
On this question it is impossible to dogmatize. But from the positions already secured it is evident that the assumption of individuated brute souls is unnecessary. The phenomena of animated life are adequately accounted for by the integral and absolute power immanently active in nature, evolving matter into more complex and more highly elaborated forms, and revealing itself through energies of higher and higher orders as matter becomes capable of being a medium for their manifestation. It is no more necessary to refer the vitality of every brute to an individuated soul than it is to refer the vitality of every plant, or the chemical force in water, or the mechanical force of a machine to an individuated soul. We have seen that the absolute power reveals itself by limiting and conditioning and thus individuating its inexhaustible energy. Conditioning its energy in time and space, matter appears; conditioning its energy in space, time and matter, mechanical force and mechanical structures appear; conditioning its energy in space, time, matter and mechanical force, elemental force and chemical compounds appear; conditioning its energy in all these, organic but inanimate life appears; and continuing to exert its energy individuated under all these conditions, animated life appears. But in none of these is the, as it were, imprisoned energy so individuated that it rises at any point out of the fixed course of nature, or distinguishes itself from the conditions which determine it from without. But as the divine energy continues active under these conditions it pushes forth into man, and in him is so far individuated that the man knows himself as an individual persisting through all changes in unchanging identity, endowed with reason, rational sensibility and free-will, dis