The Ninth Age - Eventide - Part One - The Stranger of Holthaven


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The details of this scheme of atonement we have already seen.

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How powerfully these two affirmations man's fall and Christ's atoning sac- rifice have affected the human mind for the past nineteen centuries is reflected in the arts, the sciences, the institutions, the religions, and the philosophies of Christendom. Christian literature abounds with able and ingenious expositions, de- 1 See ante, vol.

If, now, regarding the origin of man with his rational mind, we turn to the revelations of science down to the middle period of the last century, we find a very different story from that told by theol- ogy. As we acquaint ourselves with the researches of the palaeontologic, biologic, psychologic, and sociologic sciences, we see the accumulation of a vast body of harmonious evidence, all affirming the development through vast expanses of time of man's physical organism from an animal ancestry; while in regard to his rational mind, the evidence was equally clear that it had been developed out of the egoistic and nascent socialistic feelings or pro- pensities of his animal progenitors; and that in the struggle for existence against environing conditions during the progress from brute to primitive man, these inherited animal feelings or propensities had been developed into psychical powers of a more or less rational, and with a tinge of moral, character.

From primitive man to civilized man, the develop- ment of intellectual, moral, and spiritual conscious- ii John Fiske ness, pari passu with the development of the human physical organism through contact with environing cosmic conditions, was clearly shown by archaeologic remains, by historic records, and by contemporary anthropologic researches. More important still, in the court of reason, he was forever freed from the awful doom of theology, and given a pro- gressive development in intellectual, moral, and spiritual consciousness, the full import of which the human mind could not conceive, much less measure.

And now, as to the Ultimate Cause, the Power back of all cosmic phenomena and of human con- sciousness, which must be posited as a causal basis 1 These wide and varied researches culminated in in the pro- found discovery by Charles Darwin of the cosmic truth that by a process of natural selection that is, through the interrelated work- ing of the cosmic elements during vast periods of time there had been differentiated and developed from some simple form of life the infinite variety of organic life with which the terrestrial world had been filled; and it was seen that this cosmic truth applied to the origin and development of man as well as to all other forms of life.

In fact, the great antiquity of primitive man was distinctly affirmed by palaeontologic and palaeolithic discoveries. Also, the geologic, the biologic, the psychologic sciences all affirmed that, as compared with the animals immediately below him in the organic scale, primitive man was identical with them in the physical processes of his ori- gin, in his embryonic development, in his mode of nutrition before and after birth; while in his adult state he exhibited a marvellous likeness to them in his physical organization, as well as in his psychi- cal powers.

Here, theology, basing its affirmations wholly on the Bible as comprising a body of divinely revealed truth, positively affirmed the existence of a Divine Creator, to whom was given distinctly human char- acteristics or limitations. He was presented as the prototype of man man being created in His image and His manner of creating the universe and man was after man's ways of willing and doing things. And then, His work was so imperfect in its nature as to need His constant personal supervision, with much mending or adjusting to keep it in order.

In short, the God of Christian theology was presented as a distinctly anthropomorphic Being; and the work of His hand the geocentric universe and fallen man reflected, in its limitations, its want of order, unity, and harmony, His anthropomorphic character. On the other hand, science, or organized human experience, confessing the subjective origin and con- ditioned development of the human mind, frankly admitted its impotence to affirm anything positive transcending experience.

It saw in the phenomena of the cosmic universe "Boundless inward toward the atom, Boundless outward toward the stars," the exhibition of Infinite intelligence, wisdom, and power, the ultimate sources and nature of which it could not comprehend.

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It saw, in the phenomena of mind, ranging through the whole animal kingdom 13 John Fiske and finding its culmination in man's arts, sciences, institutions, conduct, and ideals, a vast display of consciousness the ultimate source and nature of which were alike incomprehensible. And of these two orders of phenomena it could only affirm that they appeared to be persistent, to be harmoniously interrelated, and to be forever developing into more complex and higher forms of phenomenal manifes- tation, in conformity to immutable cosmic law.

In the presence of this vast, orderly display of per- sistent, interrelated physical and psychical phenom- mena, science could only reverently postulate, as Source and Sustainer of it all, an Infinite Eternal Power from which all things proceed: an Omnis- cient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent Reality, transcend- ing, in the nature of its existence, the comprehen- sion of the conditioned, finite, human mind. And one point more. Contemporaneously with the establishment through science of the funda- mental cosmic truths we have been considering, there came the result of a century of reverent in- quiry into the truth of the theologic affirmation that the Bible was a special Divine revelation from the Divine Creator to man, and hence that it was the embodiment of ultimate truth regarding the cosmic universe and man ; and as such transcended all other knowledge all knowledge derived from experience.

In this inquiry the various books of the Bible were subjected to the ripest critical learning of the 14 Biblical Criticism time: as to their authorship and dates of com- position; the accuracy of their texts and transla- tions ; their mythical and philological characteristics and relationships ; their cosmological, biological, and physical affirmations ; their diversities and their uni- ties, and how they had been preserved, selected, and collated so as to form a body of ultimate Divine truth.

This was, of course, subjecting the Bible to the same kind of impartial criticism that was given to the sacred books of all other religions as well as to all the literary remains of antiquity. Much con- trariety of opinion was brought forth on various points by the inquiry. The rational conclusion de- rived from it was adverse to the affirmations of the- ology.

This conclusion was to the effect that the Bible was no special revelation from the Divine Creator to man; rather, that it was simply a collec- tion of sociologico-religious literature which re- flected with great clearness the life of a primitive, tribal people, surrounded by powerful and more cultured enemies from whom they learned much ; a people, ignorant and superstitious, yet gifted with an exceptional degree of ethical and religious feeling, who, in their struggles against their physical and their political environments through an indefinite period of time, slowly advanced along a normal line of intellectual, moral, and spiritual develop- ment, which had its culmination in the ethical and religious teachings of Christ and his apostles.

In 15 John Fiske short, that the Bible was but one among several collections of sacred writings, all encrusted with error and superstition, and all attesting to the in- herence in the human mind of ethical and religious ideas which had their development in conformity to environing physical and political conditions. And thus, in the middle period of the last century, there came a profound crisis in human thinking; a crisis wherein, on the one side, it appeared that the claims of theology for the ultimate truth of its 1 As evidence on this point we have only to refer to the memorable contests that followed the publication, in , of " Essays and Reviews," a work written by seven distinguished English church- men, holding influential positions in the English universities and pub- lic schools; and the publication in of a work by Bishop Colenso on "The Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua critically examined.

Both were violently attacked by the theologians as undermining all religious truth. The wide discussion that followed brought under review the whole question of dogma vs. While on the other side there was presented a series of cosmic truths fully verified in human ' experience truths which yielded conceptions of the cosmic universe, its origin, its vastness, its sus- tentation; of man, his origin, his conscious endow- ment, his destiny, as well as of the Infinite Eternal Power from whom all things proceed far nobler than was presented by Christian theology, or any philosophy based on that theology.

Hence, in , following the publication of Dar- win's " Origin of Species," there came a demand for a new philosophy, one which should recognize the verified truths of modern science as transcend- ing the affirmations of dogmatic theology; which should endeavor to bring the ever-developing phys- ical phenomena of the cosmic universe into har- mony with the ever-developing psychical phenom- ena of conscious mind ; and which should present both orders of phenomena as interrelated and as reflecting, in their interrelated ness, the existence of an underlying Reality or Ground as the Source from which all things proceed in short, a phil- osophy which should present as its fundamental truth an objective Divine Reality, which in the form of its existence transcends the comprehension of the subjective human mind.

To Herbert Spencer this demand for a philosophy of the cosmic universe based upon the verified rev- elations of science a philosophy which should 17 John Fiske bring the whole universe with man's place in it into order and unity with its source and sustaining power made a strong appeal. Spencer possessed an unsurpassed knowledge of the acquisitions of science, and he was one of the profoundest thinkers of his time. Then, too, he was singularly independent in his thought.

He would not accept any important proposition without due verification. His fundamental conception of the cosmic universe was that of a unity held in order by immutable law.

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Much brooding over cosmic phenomena had led him to question the universal belief that these phenomena were special creations. At the same time there was generated in his mind the conviction that the cosmic universe in all its parts was the outcome of a process of development, and that this process was still going on. Notwithstanding that science was daily bringing forth facts discrediting the theory of special crea- tions and confirming the theory of development, Spencer was baffled in applying the theory to the phenomena of organic life.

In this department of science biology the theory of special creations was thoroughly entrenched with the support of phil- osophy and religion. While Spencer had collected a mass of evidence tending to support the theory of development throughout the organic world, he was yet without a natural vera causa which would answer for a positive scientific explanation of the origin of the infinite varieties of species in the floral and 18 The Doctrine of Evolution faunal kingdoms and their geographical distribu- tion.

How influential Darwin's work was in bringing Spencer's evolutionary thought to focus we cannot say. We know that he welcomed Darwin's views as most significant and as giving him important data for the application of his theory of Evolution to the organic world; and that four months after the publication of the " Origin of Species" -March, Spencer announced his purpose of engaging in the preparation of a system of philosophy based on the doctrine of Evolution, the scope and aim of which he set forth with much detail.

Hooker, G. Lewes, John Tyndall, W. Carpenter, Augustus De Morgan, J. Morell, R. Thus we are brought directly to the consideration of Spencer's doctrine of Evolution which has had such a mighty influence upon all subsequent think- 19 John Fiske ing, and to the interpretation of which, in its bear- ing upon the spiritual well-being of man, Fiske gave the better portion of his life.

And now, what were the distinctive character- istics of Spencer's projected philosophic undertak- ing so significantly encouraged by representatives of the highest scientific and philosophic thought of the time? Briefly summarized, its chief points were as follows : I.

The Ninth Age - Eventide - Part One - The Stranger of Holthaven - Kindle edition by August Hellwig. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC. August Hellwig is the author of The Ninth Age - Eventide - Part One - The Stranger of Holthaven ( avg rating, 1 rating, 0 reviews, published ), T.

An Infinite Unknowable. Spencer postulated the existence of an Infinite Unknowable Power as the Source and Sustainer of all things, the nature and form of whose existence transcends the comprehension of the human mind.

The existence of 'such an Infinite Power he found an inexpugnable dictum of consciousness, without which there could be no causal basis for rational thinking, for the human mind cannot rest its fun- damentals of thought upon a negation. The cosmic universe a revelation of an Infinite Unknowable Power.

Spencer accepted the cosmic universe, with its multiform phenomena including man with his rational mind as a positive revelation of an In- finite Power from whom all things proceed, a revela- tion which it is the highest duty of man reverentially to study in the light of his experiential knowledge arxd his rational consciousness.

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The greater man's knowledge of the nature, unity, and relativity of cosmic phenomena, pari passu the higher his con- ception of the Infinite Power, the Source and Sus- 20 The Doctrine of Evolution tainer of the cosmic universe, as well as his concep- tion of the meaning and purpose of human life.

The knowledge of the cosmic universe that had been established through science. Through the investigations of science the phe- mena of the cosmic universe had been mapped out into five divisions of phenomenal manifestations more or less interrelated : 1.

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Astronomy: the phenomena of the stellar and planetary systems. Geology: the phenomena of the terrestrial world. Biology: the phenomena of living organisms. Psychology : the phenomena of adjusting organic life to environing conditions. Sociology : the phenomena arising from so- cial aggregation. Scientific analyses of the varied phenomena of these five divisions revealed certain cosmic truths as well as some profound mysteries : that notwithstand- ing the infinite variety of forms in which these phe- nomenal manifestations appear, they all had their base in, and were conditioned by, matter and mo- tion; that through the constant redistribution and integration of matter and motion they were ever in a process of transformation into more complex forms of phenomenal manifestations, many of which are wholly inexplicable.

It was also revealed that matter was indestructible ; that motion was contin- uous; and that the intrinsic natures of both were unknown ; while there was brought to light a truth of still greater significance: that matter and motion 21 John Fiske in all their redistributions and integrations were conditioned by an underlying unknown force or energy which eternally persists throughout the cos- mos, and is never increased or diminished. Thus Spencer found that the human mind, in its searchings of the phenomena of the cosmic uni- verse for their ultimate reality, was brought face to face with several insoluble mysteries for which it could find no solution whatsoever: a condition of things which confirmed the inexpugnable dictum of rational consciousness, that the cosmic universe was in its totality and its sustentation a revelation of an order of Being transcending the comprehen- sion of the human mind.

The truths of the cosmic universe yielded by science implied the existence of a further truth of great importance to man. From his wide survey of cosmic phenomena as presented by science, Spencer felt that man was far from possessing all that is to be known of the mani- festations of the Infinite Unknowable in the phe- nomena of the cosmic universe.

He saw that man's present knowledge of these phenomena was greatly limited was principally confined to them in their disparateness. But in his mind there was shaping the idea that the cosmic universe was a related unity, and that these five divisions of its phenom- ena were its components. Hence he was feeling his way to the logical conclusion, that underlying all the varied phenomena of these components there must be some common dynamic principle which was holding them all in order and unity as a con- sistently rounded whole, while each was undergo- 22 The Doctrine of Evolution ing a ceaseless change or development.

The dis- covery of this principle appeared to Spencer as the highest quest of scientific research, and its es- tablishment could not fail to throw much needed light upon the problems which exist in the relations between inorganic and organic phenomena, as well as in the relations between organic phenomena and psychical phenomena. In short, in Spencer's mind, to have positive knowledge of a cosmic principle underlying all cosmic phenomena, and which uni- fies them into a cosmic universe as an interrelated whole, would not only add immensely to man's knowledge of the cosmic universe and his own place in it, but would also greatly heighten his concep- tion of the Infinite Unknowable Power, the Source and Sustainer of it all.

Spencer propounded a law of universal cosmic evolution which he set out to verify in the five divisions of cosmic phenomena.

In the widest survey of cosmic phenomena as revealed by analytic science, Spencer found two knowable factors common to them all, and with- out which none of the phenomena of the cosmos as we know them could exist: these were matter and motion. Having found, further, "that absolute rest and permanence do not exist within the cosmic universe, that every object, no less than the aggre- gate of all objects, undergoes from instant to instant some alteration of state, that gradually or quickly it is receiving motion or losing motion, while some or all of its parts are simultaneously changing their relations to one another, " he was led to the conclu- sion that the principle he was seeking, a princi- John Fiske pie which would express the truth regarding these universal, ever-changing phenomenal activities and relations, must be found in the continuous redis- tribution and integration of matter and motion.

Accordingly Spencer hypothesized the existence of a dynamic law of cosmic evolution answering to these conditions, and this law he formulated in the following very abstract terms: " Evolution is an integration of matter and con- comitant dissipation of motion during which the matter passes from a relatively indefinite, incoher- ent homogeneity to a relatively definite, coherent heterogeneity, and during which the retained mo- tion undergoes a parallel transformation.

This is not the place to discuss Spencer and his philosophy. We are too near him to appreciate the full significance of his life-work.

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His conception of the cosmic universe as a unity, with its phenomena ever in a process of development or transformation into more complex or higher forms of phenome- nal existences, the whole a manifestation of an Infinite Unknowable Power whose form of exist- ence transcended the comprehension of the human mind, was too sublime a conception to be read- ily grasped by the mind untrained in science.

While his hypothesis of a law of Evolution, whereby all the 24 Spencer's Work Completed varied phenomena of the cosmic universe were held in order and unity while undergoing their ceaseless transformations, was so opposed to the universally accepted doctrine of special Divine creations as to be regarded, even in some scientific quarters, as the height of speculative absurdity. Nevertheless, as he proceeded in the development of his thought through his analyses of the phenomena of the or- ganic sciences, it became evident that a thinker of no ordinary capacity had come ; a thinker who was finding the sources of truth not so much in the Bibles and dogmas of primitive peoples, as in the reverent study of the cosmic universe with man's place in it, in the light of modern knowledge.

Spencer lived to see the completion of his great undertaking substantially as planned. It was com- pleted in I Whether his formula of the law of Evolution is complete, whether or not it expresses all the truths involved, particularly in regard to psychical phenomena, may be open to question ; but that there is a law of Evo- lution at the bottom of things, a law which holds the varied phenomena of the cosmic universe in order and unity, while ever in a process of devel- 1 See the congratulatory letter sent to Spencer on the com- pletion of his philosophy and asking him to sit for his portrait, signed by over eighty of the most distinguished scientists and thinkers of Great Britain.

David Duncan, LL.