King's Chapel, Boston
Alfred North Whitehead
book consists of four lectures on religion delivered in King’s Chapel,
Boston, during February, 1926. The train of thought which was applied to
science in my Lowell Lectures of the previous year, since published under
the title, Science and the Modern World, is here applied to
religion. The two books are independent, but it is inevitable that to
some extent they elucidate each other by showing the same way of thought
in different applications.
aim of the lectures was to give a concise analysis of the various factors
in human nature which go to form a religion, to exhibit the inevitable
transformation of religion with the transformation of knowledge, and more
especially to direct attention to the foundation of religion on our
apprehension of those permanent elements by reason of which there is a
stable order in the world, permanent elements apart from which there could
be no changing world.
I: RELIGION IN
The Emergence of Religion
Ritual and Emotion
The Ascent of Man
The Final Contrast
Religious Consciousness in History
Description of Religious Experience
Quest of God
III: BODY AND
Religion and Metaphysics
Contribution of Religion to Metaphysics
and the Moral Order
and the Purpose of God
IV: TRUTH AND
Development of Dogma
Experience and Expression
Nature of God
I: RELIGION IN HISTORY
1. Religion Defined
my purpose in the four lectures of this course to consider the type of
justification which is available for belief in doctrines of religion.
This is a question which in some new form challenges each generation. It
is the peculiarity of religion that humanity is always shifting its
attitude towards it.
contrast between religion and the elementary truths of arithmetic makes my
meaning clear. Ages ago the simple arithmetical doctrines dawned on the
human mind, and throughout history the unquestioned dogma that two and
three make five reigned whenever it has been relevant. We all know what
this doctrine means, and its history is of no importance for its
have the gravest doubt as to what religion means so far as doctrine is
concerned. There is no agreement as to the definition of religion in its
most general sense, including true and false religion; nor is there any
agreement as to the valid religious beliefs, nor even as to what we mean
by the truth of religion. It is for this reason that some consideration
of religion as an unquestioned factor throughout the long stretch of human
history is necessary to secure the relevance of any discussion for its
is yet another contrast. What is generally disputed is doubtful, and what
is doubtful is relatively unimportant––other things being equal. I am
speaking of general truths. We avoid guiding our actions by general
principles which are entirely unsettled. If we do not know what number is
the product of 69 and 67, we defer any action presupposing the answer,
till we have found out. This little arithmetical puzzle can be put aside
till it is settled, and it is capable of definite settlement with adequate
between religion and arithmetic, other things are not equal. You use
arithmetic, but you are religious. Arithmetic of course enters
into your nature, so far as that nature involves a multiplicity of
things. But it is there as a necessary condition, and not as a
transforming agency. No one is invariably “justified” by his faith in the
multiplication table. But in some sense or other, justification is the
basis of all religion. Your character is developed according to your
faith. This is the primary religious truth from which no one can escape.
Religion is force of belief cleansing the inward parts. For this reason
the primary religious virtue is sincerity, a penetrating sincerity.
religion, on its doctrinal side, can thus be defined as a system of
general truths which have the effect of transforming character when they
are sincerely held and vividly apprehended.
long run your character and your conduct of life depend upon your intimate
convictions. Life is an internal fact for its own sake, before it is an
external fact relating itself to others. The conduct of external life is
conditioned by environment, but it receives its final quality, on which
its worth depends, from the internal life which is the self-realization of
existence. Religion is the art and theory of the internal life of man, so
far as it depends on the man himself an on what is permanent in the nature
doctrine is the direct negation of the theory that religion is primarily a
social fact. Social facts are of great importance to religion, because
there is no such thing as absolutely independent existence. You cannot
abstract man society from man; most psychology is herd-psychology. But all
collective emotions leave untouched the awful ultimate fact, which is the
human being, consciously alone with itself, for its own sake.
Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness. It runs
through three stages, if it evolves to its final satisfaction. It is the
transition from God the void to God the enemy, and from God the enemy to
God the companion.
religion is solitariness; and if you are never solitary, you are never
religious. Collective enthusiasms, revivals, institutions, churches,
rituals, bibles, codes of behaviour, are the trappings of religion, its
passing forms. They may be useful, or harmful; they may be
authoritatively ordained, or merely temporary expedients. But the end of
religion is beyond all this.
Accordingly, what should emerge from religion is individual worth of
character. But worth is positive or negative, good or bad. Religion is
by no means necessarily good. It may be very evil. The fact of evil,
interwoven with the texture of the world, shows that in the nature of
things there remains effectiveness for degradation. In your religious
experience the God with whom you have made terms may be the God of
destruction, the God who leaves in his wake the loss of the greater
considering religion, we should not be obsessed by the idea of its
necessary goodness. This is a dangerous delusion. The point to notice is
its transcendent importance; and the fact of this importance is abundantly
made evident by the appeal to history.
2. The Emergence of
Religion, so far as it receives external expression in human history,
exhibits four factors or sides of itself. These factors are ritual,
emotion, belief, rationalization. There is definite organized procedure,
which is ritual: there are definite types of emotional expression: there
are definitely expressed beliefs: and there is the adjustment of these
beliefs into a system, internally coherent and coherent with other
all these four factors are not of equal influence through all historical
epochs. The religious idea emerged gradually into human life, at first
barely disengaged from other human interests. The order of the emergence
of these factors was in the inverse order of the depth of their religious
importance: first ritual, then emotion, then belief, then
dawn of these religious stages is gradual. It consists in an increase of
emphasis. Perhaps it is untrue to affirm that the later factors are ever
wholly absent. But certainly, when we go far enough back, belief and
rationalization are completely negligible, and emotion is merely a
secondary result of ritual. Then emotion takes the lead, and the ritual
is for the emotion which it generates. Belief then makes its appearance
as explanatory of the complex of ritual and emotion, and in this
appearance of belief we may discern the germ of rationalization.
not until belief and rationalization are well-established that
solitariness is discernible as constituting the heart of religious
importance. The great religious conceptions which haunt the imaginations
of civilized mankind are scenes of solitariness: Prometheus chained to
his rock, Mahomet brooding in the desert, the mediations of the Buddha,
the solitary Man on the Cross. It belongs to the depth of the religious
spirit to have felt forsaken, even by God.
3. Ritual and Emotion
goes back beyond the dawn of history. It can be discerned in the animals,
in their individual habits and still more in their collective evolutions.
Ritual may be defined as the habitual performance of definite actions
which have no direct relevance to the preservation of the physical
organisms of the actors.
of birds perform their ritual evolutions in the sky. In Europe rooks and
starlings are notable examples of this fact. Ritual is the primitive
outcome of superfluous energy and leisure. It exemplifies the tendency of
living bodies to repeat their own actions. Thus the actions necessary in
hunting for food, or in other useful pursuits, are repeated for their own
sakes; and their repetition also repeats the joy of exercise and the
emotion of success.
this way emotion waits upon ritual; and then ritual is repeated and
elaborated for the sake of its attendant emotions. Mankind became artists
in ritual. It was a tremendous discovery––how to excite emotions for
their own sake, apart from some imperious biological necessity. But
emotions sensitize the organism. Thus the unintended effect was produced
of sensitizing the human organism in a variety of ways diverse from what
would have been produced by the necessary work of life.
Mankind was started upon its adventures of curiosity and of feeling.
evident that, according to this account, religion and play have the same
origin in ritual. This is because ritual is the stimulus to emotion, and
an habitual ritual may diverge into religion or into lay, according to the
quality of the emotion excited. Even in comparatively modern times, among
the Greeks of the fifth century before Christ, the Olympic Games were
tinged with religion, and the Dionysiac festival in Attica ended with a
comic drama. Also in the modern world, a holy day and a holiday are
Ritual is not the only
way of artificially stimulating emotion. Drugs are equally effective.
Luckily the range of drugs at the command of primitive races was limited.
But there is ample evidence of the religious use of drugs in conjunction
with the religious use of ritual. For example Athenćus tells us that
among the Persians it was the religouis duty of the King, once a year, at
some stated festival in honour of Mithras, to appear in the temple
Deipnosophistć of Athens, Book X. I am indebted to my friend
Professor J. H. Woods for this reference.]
A relic of the religious
awe at intoxication is the use of wine in the communion service. It is an
example of the upward trend of ritual by which a widespread association of
thought is elevated into a great symbolism, divested of its primitive
this primitive phase of religion, dominated by ritual and emotion, we are
dealing with essentially social phenomena. Ritual is more impressive, and
emotion more active, when a whole society is concerned in the same ritual
and the same emotion. Accordingly, a collective ritual and a collective
emotion take their places as one of the binding forces of savage tribes.
They represent the first faint glimmerings of the life of the spirit
raised beyond concentration upon the task of supplying animal
necessities. Conversely, religion in its decay sinks back into
ritual and emotion cannot maintain themselves untouched by
intellectuality. Also the abstract idea of maintaining the ritual for the
sake of the emotion, though it may express the truth about the
subconscious psychology of primitive races, is far too abstract to enter
into their conscious thoughts. A myth satisfies the demands of incipient
rationality. Men found themselves practicing various rituals, and found
the rituals generating emotions. The myth explains the purpose both of
the ritual and of the emotion. It is the product of the vivid fancy of
primitive men in an unfathomed world.
primitive man, and to ourselves on our primitive side, the universe is not
so much unfathomable as unfathomed––by this I mean undiscriminated,
unanalyzed. It is not a complex of definite unexplained happenings, but a
dim background shot across by isolated vivid effects charged with
emotional excitements. The very presuppositions of a coherent rationalism
are absent. Such a rationalism presusupposes a complex of definite facts
whose interconnections are sought. But the prior stage is a background of
indefiniteness relieved by vivid acts of definition, inherently isolated.
One exception must be made in favour of the routine of tribal necessities
which are taken for granted. But what lies beyond the routine of life is
in general void of definition; and when it is vivid, it is disconnected.
myth which meets the ritual is some exceptional fantasy, or recollection
of some actual vivid fact––probably distorted in remembrance––which
appears not only as explanatory both of ritual and emotion, but also as
generative of emotion when conjoined with the ritual. Thus the myth not
only explains but reinforces the hidden purpose of the ritual, which is
rituals and emotions and myths reciprocally interact; and the myths have
various grades of relationship to actual fact, and have various grades of
symbolic truth as being representative of large ideas only to be
apprehended in some parable. Also in some cases the myth precedes the
ritual. But there is the general fact that ritualism precedes mythology.
For we can observe even among animals, and presumably they are destitute
of a mythology.
will involve special attention to some persons or to some things, real or
imaginary. Thus in a sense, the ritual, as performed in conjunction with
the explanatory purpose of the myth, is the primitive worship of the
hero-person or the hero-thing. But there can be very little disinterested
worship among primitive folk––even less than now, if possible.
Accordingly, the belief in the myth will involve the belief that something
is to be averted in respect to the evil to be feared from him or it. Thus
incarnation, prayer, praise, and ritual absorption of the hero deity
hero be a person, we call the ritual, with its myth, “religion”; if the
hero be a thing, we call it “magic.” In religion we induce, in magic we
compel. The important difference between magic and religion is that magic
is unprogressive and religion sometimes is progressive; except in so far
as science can be traced back to the progress of magic.
Religion, in this stage of belief, marks a new formative agent in the
ascent of man. For just as ritual encouraged emotion beyond the
mere response to practical necessities, so religion in this further stage
begets thoughts divorced from the mere battling with the pressure
of circumstances. Imagination secured in it a machinery for its
development; thought has been thereby led beyond the immediate objects in
sight. Its concepts may in these early stages be crude and horrible; but
they have the supreme virtue of being concepts of objects beyond immediate
sense and perception.
is the stage of uncoördinated beliefs. So far as this is the dominant
phase there can be a curious tolerance, in that one cult does not war upon
another cult. Since there is a minimum of coördination, there is room for
all. But religion is still a thoroughly social phenomenon. The cult
includes the tribe, or at least it includes some well-defined body of
persons within the social organism. You may not desert your own cults,
but there need be no clash between cults. In the higher stages of such a
religion there are tribal gods, or many gods within a tribe, with the
loosest coördination of cults and myths.
religion can be a source of progress, it need not be so, especially when
its dominant feature is this stage of uncriticized belief. It is easy for
a tribe to stabilize its ritual and its myths, and there need be no
external spur to progress. In fact, this is the stage of religious
evolution in which the masses of semi-civilized humanity have halted––the
stage of satisfactory ritual and of satisfied belief without impulse
towards higher things. Such religion satisfies the pragmatic test: It
works, and thereby claims that it be awarded the prize for truth.
age of martyrs dawns with the coming of rationalism. The antecedent
phases of religion had been essentially sociable. Many were called, and
all were chosen. The final phase introduces the note of solitariness:
“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way . . . and few there be that
find it.” When a modern religion forgets this saying, it is suffering
from an atavistic relapse into primitive barbarism. It is appealing to
the psychology of the herd, away from the intuitions of the few.
religious epoch which we are now considering is very modern. Its past
duration is of the order of six thousand years. Of course exact dates do
not count; you can extend the epoch further back into the distant past in
order to include some faint anticipatory movement, or you can contract its
duration so as to exclude flourishing survivals of the earlier phase. The
movement has extended over all the civilized races of Asia and Europe. In
the past Asia has proved the most fertile in ideas, but within the last
two thousand years Europe has given the movement a new aspect. It is to
be noted that the two most perfect examples of rationalistic religions
have flourished chiefly in countries foreign to the races among which they
had their origin.
Bible is by far the most complete coming of rationalism into religion,
based on the earliest documents available. Viewed as such an account, it
is only relevant to the region between the Tigris and the Nile. It
exhibits the note of progressive solitariness in the religious idea:
first, types of thought generally prevalent; then protesting prophets,
isolated figures of denunciation and exhortation stirring the Jewish
nation; then one man, with twelve disciples, who met with almost complete
national rejection; then the adaptation for popular survival of this
latter doctrine by another man who, very significantly, had no first-hand
contact with the original teaching. In his hands, something was added and
something was lost; but fortunately the Gospels also survive.
evident that I have drawn attention to the span of six thousand years
because, in addition to being reasonable when we have regard to all the
evidence, it corresponds to the chronology of the Bible. We––in Europe
and America––are the heirs of the religious movements depicted in that
collection of books. Discussion on the methods of religion and their
justification must, in order to be relevant, base itself upon the Bible
for illustration we must remember, however, that Buddhism and
Mahometanism, among others, must also be included in the scope of general
statements, even if they are not explicitly referred to.
Rational religion is religion whose beliefs and rituals have been
reorganized with the aim of making it the central element in a coherent
ordering of life––an ordering which shall be coherent both in respect to
the elucidation of thought, and in respect to the direction of conduct
towards a unified purpose commanding ethical approval.
peculiar position of religion is that it stands between abstract
metaphysics and the particular principles applying to only some among the
experiences of life. The relevance of its concepts can only be distinctly
discerned in moments of insight, and then, for many of us, only after
suggestion from without. Hence religion bases itself primarily upon a
small selection from the common experiences of the race. On this side,
religion ranges itself as one among other specialized interests of mankind
whose truths are of limited validity. But on its other side, religion
claims that its concepts, though derived primarily from special
experiences, are yet of universal validity, to be applied by faith to the
ordering of all experiences.
Rational religion appeals to the direct intuition of special occasions, ad
to the elucidatory power of its concepts for all occasions. It arises
from that which is special, but it extends to what is general. The
doctrines of rational religion aim at being that metaphysics which can be
derived from the supernormal experience of mankind in its moments of
finest insight. Theoretically, rational religion could have arisen in
complete independence of the antecedent social religions of ritual and
mythical belief. Before the historical sense had established itself, that
was the way in which the apologetic theologians tended to exhibit the
origins of their respective religions. But the general history of
religion, and in particular that portion of its history contained in the
Bible, decisively negatives that view. Rational religion emerged as a
gradual transformation of the preëxisting religious forms. Finally, the
old forms could no longer contain the new ideas, and the modern religions
of civilization are traceable to definite crises in this process of
development. But the development was not then ended; it had only acquired
more suitable forms for self-expression.
emergence of rational religion was strictly conditioned by the general
progress of the races in which it arose. It had to wait for the
development in human consciousness of the relevant general ideas and of
the relevant ethical intuitions. It required that such ideas should not
merely be casually entertained by isolated individuals, but that they
should be stabilized in recognizable forms of expression, so as to be
recalled and communicated. You can only speak of mercy among a people
who, in some respects, are already merciful.
language is not a universal mode of expressing all ideas whatsoever. It
is a limited mode of expressing such ideas as have been frequently
entertained, and urgently needed, by the group of human beings who
developed that mode of speech. It is only during a comparatively short
period of human history that there has existed any language with an
adequate stock of general terms. Such general terms require a permanent
literature to define them by their mode of employment.
result is that the free handling of general ideas is a late acquirement.
I am not maintaining that the brains of men were inadequate for the task.
The point is that it took ages for them to develop first the appliances
and then the habits which made generality of thought possible and
prevalent. For ages, existing languages must have been ready for
development. If men had been in contact with a superior race, either
personally or by a survival of their literature, a process which requires
scores or even hundreds of generations might have been antedated, so as
to have been effected almost at once. Such, in fact, was the later
history of the development of the races of Northern Europe. Again, a
social system which encourages developments of thought can procure the
advent. This is the way in which the result was first obtained. Society
and language grew together.
influence of the antecedent type of religion, ceremonial, mythical, and
sociable, has been great; and the estimates as to its value diverse.
During the thousand years preceding the Christian era, there was a
peculiarly intense struggle on the part of rationalism to transform the
more primitive type. The issue was a new synthesis which, in the forms of
the various great religions, has lasted to the present day. A rational
generality was introduced into the religious ideas; and the myth, when
retained, was reorganized with the intention of making it an account of
verifiable historical circumstances which exemplified the general ideas
with adequate perfection.
rational criticism was admitted in principle. The appeal was from the
tribal custom to the direct individual intuition, ethical, metaphysical,
or logical: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of
God more than burnt offerings,” are words which Hosea ascribes to Jehovah;
and he thereby employs the principles of individual criticism of tribal
custom, and bases it upon direct ethical intuition.
this way the religions evolved toward more individualistic forms, shedding
their exclusively communal aspect. The individual became the religious
unit in the place of the community; the tribal dance lost its importance
compared to the individual prayer; and, for the few, the individual prayer
merged into justification through individual insight.
to-day it is not France which goes to heaven, but individual Frenchmen;
and it is not China which attains nirvana, but Chinamen.
this epoch of struggle––as in most religious struggle––the judgments
passed by the innovators on the less-developed religious forms were very
severe. The condemnation of idolatry pervades the Bible; and there are
traces of a recoil which go further: “I hate, I despise your feast days,”
writes Amos, speaking in the name of Jehovah.
criticism is wanted. Indeed history, down to the present day, is a
melancholy record of the horrors which can attend religion: human
sacrifice, and in particular the slaughter of children, cannibalism,
sensual orgies, abject superstition, hatred as between races, the
maintenance of degrading customs, hysteria, bigotry, can all be laid at
its charge. Religion is the last refuge of human savagery. The
uncritical association of religion with goodness is directly negatived by
the plain facts. Religion can be, and has been, the main instrument for
progress. But if we survey the whole race, we must pronounce that
generally it has not been so: “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
6. The Ascent of Man
different epochs in history new factors emerge and successively assume
decisive importance in their influence on the ascent, or the descent, of
the races of mankind. Within the millennium preceding the birth of
Christ, the communal religions were ceasing to be engines of progress. On
the whole, they had served humanity well. By their agency, the sense of
social unity and of social responsibility had been quickened. The common
cult gave expression to the emotion of being a hundred per cent tribal.
The explicit emotions of a life finding its interest in activities not
directed to its own preservation were fostered by them. Also they
produced concrete beliefs which embodied, however waveringly, the
justification for these emotions.
a certain stage in history, though still elements in the preservation of
the social structure, they ceased to be engines of progress. Their work
were salving the old virtues which had made the race the greatest society
that it had been, and were not straining forward towards the new virtues
to make the common life the City of God that it should be. They were
religions of the average, and the average is at war with the ideal.
thought had broken through the limited horizon of the one social
structure. The world as a whole entered into the explicit consciousness.
The facility for individual wandering in comparative safety produced this
enlargement of thought. A tribe which is wandering as a unit amid dangers
may pick up new ideas, but it will strengthen its sense of tribal unity in
the face of a hostile environment.
individual who travels meets strangers on terms of kindliness. He returns
home, and in his person and by his example promotes the habit of thinking
dispassionately beyond the tribe. The history of rational religion is
full of tales of disengagement from the immediate social routine. If we
keep to the Bible: Abraham wandered, the Jews were carried off to Babylon
and after two generations were allowed to return peacefully, St. Paul’s
conversion was on a journey, and his theology was elaborated amid
travels. This millennium was an age of travel; among the Greeks,
Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, exemplify their times.
The great empires and trading facilities made travelling easy; everyone
travelled and found the world fresh and new. A world-consciousness was
India and China the growth of a world-consciousness was different in its
details, but in its essence depended from their immediate social setting
in ways which promoted thought.
so far as concerns religion, the distinction of a world-consciousness as
contrasted with a social consciousness is the change in emphasis in the
concept of rightness. A social consciousness concerns people whom you
know and love individually. Hence, rightness is mixed up with the notion
of preservation. Conduct is right which will lead some god to protect you;
and it is wrong if it stirs some irascible being to compass your
destruction. Such religion is a branch of diplomacy. But a
world-consciousness is more disengaged. It rises to the conception of an
essential rightness of things. The individuals are indifferent, because
unknown. The new, and almost profane, concept of the goodness of God
replaces the older emphasis on the will of God. In a communal religion
you study the will of God in order that He may preserve you; in a purified
religion, rationalized under the influence of the world-concept, you study
his goodness in order to be like him. It is the difference between the
enemy you conciliate and the companion whom you imitate.
7. The Final Contrast
survey of religious history has disclosed that the coming of rational
religion is the consequence of the growth of a world-consciousness. The
later phases of the antecedent communal type of religion are dominated by
the conscious reaction of human nature to the social organization in which
it finds itself. Such reaction is partly emotion clothing itself in
belief and ritual, and partly reason justifying practice by the test of
social preservation. Rational religion is the wider conscious reaction of
men to the universe in which they find themselves.
Communal religion broadened itself to the verge of rationalism. In its
last stages in the Western World we find the religion of the Roman Empire,
in which the widest possible view of the social structure is adopted. The
cult of the Empire was the sort of religion which might be constructed
to-day by the Law School of a University, laudably impressed by the notion
that mere penal repression is not the way to avert a crime wave. Indeed,
if we study the mentality of the Emperor Augustus and of the men who
surrounded him this is not far off from the true description of its final
step in evolution.
Another type of modified communal religion was reached by the Jews. Their
religion embodied general ideas as to the nature of things which were
entirely expressed in terms of their relevance to the Jewish race. This
compromise was very effective, but very unstable. It is a type of
religious settlement to which communities are always reverting. In the
modern world it is the religion of emotional statesmen, captains of
industry, and social reformers. In the case of the Jews the crises to
which it led were the birth of Christianity, and the forcible dispersion
of the Jews by the military might of Rome. The same type of religion in
our generation was one of the factors which led to the great war. It
leads to the morbid exaggeration of national self-consciousness. It lacks
the element of quietism. Generality is the salt of religion.
Christianity had established itself throughout the Roman Empire and its
neighbourhood, there were before the two main rational religions, Buddhism
and Christianity. There were, of course, many rivals to both of them in
their respective regions; but if we have regard to clarity of idea,
generality of thought, moral respectability, survival power, and width of
extension over the world, then for their combination of all these
qualities these religions stood out beyond their competitors. Later their
position was challenged by the Mahometans. But even to-day, the two
Catholic religions of civilization, Christianity and Buddhism, and––if we
are to judge by the comparison of their position now with what it has
been––both of them are in decay. They have lost their ancient hold upon
II: RELIGION AND DOGMA
1. The Religious
Consciousness in History
great rational religions are the outcome of the emergence of a religious
consciousness which is universal, as distinguished from tribal, or even
social. Because it is universal, it introduces the note of solitariness.
Religion is what the individual does with his solitariness.
reason of this connection between universality and solitariness is that
universality is a disconnection from immediate surroundings. It is an
endeavour to find something permanent and intelligible by which to
interpret the confusion of immediate detail.
element of detachment in religion is more particularly exhibited in the
great reflective books of the Old Testament.
element of detachment in religion is more particularly exhibited in the
great reflective books of the Old Testament. In this group of books we
find a conscious search after general principles. In other books, current
ideas are assumed and are applied to the troubles of what was then the
immediate present. Such books exemplify the state of thought of their
times as in controversy, but they do not exhibit a process of reflective
reflective books the effort is not to reform society, or even to express
religious emotion. There is a self-conscious endeavour to apprehend some
book of Job we find the picture of a man suffering from an almost
fantastic array of the evils characteristic of his times. He is tearing to
pieces the sophism that all is for the best in the best of possible
worlds, and that the justice of God is beautifully evident in everything
that happens. The essence of the book of Job is the contrast of a general
principle, or dogma, and the particular circumstances to which it should
apply. There is also throughout the book the undercurrent of fear lest an
old-fashioned tribal god might take offence at this rational criticism.
religion which faces facts can minimize the evil in the world, not merely
the moral evil, but the pain and the suffering. The book of Job is the
revolt against the facile solution, so esteemed by fortunate people, that
the sufferer is the evil person.
the great religions, Christianity and Buddhism, have their separate set of
dogmas which deal with this great question. It is in respect to the
problem of evil that one great divergence between them exists. Buddhism
finds evil essential in the very nature of the world of physical and
emotional experience. The wisdom which it inculcates is, therefore, so to
conduct life as to gain a release from the individual personality which is
the vehicle for such experience. The Gospel which it preaches is the
method by which this release can be obtained.
metaphysical fact about the nature of things which is presupposes is that
this release is not to be obtained by mere physical death. Buddhism is the
most colossal example in history of applied metaphysics.
Christianity took the opposite road. It has always been a religion seeking
a metaphysic, in contrast to Buddhism which is a metaphysic generating a
religion. The defect of a metaphysical system is the very fact that it is
a neat little system of thought, which thereby over- simplifies its
expression of the world. Christianity has, in its historical development,
struggled with another difficulty, namely, the fact that it has no
clear-cut separation from the crude fancies of the older tribal religions.
Christianity has one advantage. It is difficult to develop Buddhism,
because Buddhism starts with a clear metaphysical notion and with the
doctrines which flow from it. Christianity has retained the easy power of
development. It starts with a tremendous notion about the world. But this
notion is not derived from a metaphysical doctrine, but from our
comprehension of the sayings and actions of certain supreme lives. It is
the genius of the religion to point at the facts and ask for the their
systematic interpretation. In the Sermon on the Mount, in the Parables,
and in their accounts of Christ, the Gospels exhibit a tremendous fact.
The doctrine may, or may not, lie on the surface. But what is primary is
the religious fact. The Buddha left a tremendous doctrine. The historical
facts about him are subsidiary to the doctrine.
respect to its treatment of evil, Christianity is, therefore, less clear
in its metaphysical ideas, but more inclusive of the facts. In the first
place, it admits the evil as inherent throughout the world. But it holds
that such evil is not the necessary outcome of the very fact of individual
personality. It derives the evil from the contingent fact of the actual
course of events; it thus allows of an ideal as conceivable in terms of
what is actual.
Christianity, like Buddhism, preaches a doctrine of escape. It proclaims a
doctrine life is placed on a finer level. It overcomes evil with good.
Buddhism makes itself probable by referring to its metaphysical theory.
Christianity makes itself probable by referring to supreme religious
moments in history.
in respect to this crucial question of evil, Buddhism and Christianity are
in entirely different attitudes in respect to doctrines. Buddhism starts
with the elucidatory dogmas; Christianity starts with the elucidatory
problem of evil is only one among the interests of rational religious
thought. Another is the search after wisdom. In the Book of Proverbs, in
Ecclesiastes, and among the books of the Apocrypha, in the Wisdom of
Solomon, and in Ecclesiasticus, we find the record of the reflection upon
general principles embodied in proverbs, reflective, witty, and homely.
search after wisdom has its origin in generalizations from experience:
things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with food convenient for me:
Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord?
or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain!
(Proverbs xxx. 7,8,9.)
habit of reading the more exciting denunciations of the prophets is apt to
conceal from us the amount of detached, middle-class common sense, which
also contributed to the religious tradition of the Jews> There is a keen
appreciation of actual fact, even when the moral is not over-clear. For
returned, and saw under the sun,
that the race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong,
neither yet bread to the wise,
nor yet riches to men of understanding,
nor yet favour to men of skill,
but time and chance happeneth to them all.
(Ecclesiastes ix. 11.)
two quotations express incontestable general truths, verified by the
cynical wisdom of ages; and yet they are religion at a very low
temperature. The point, thus illustrated, is that a rational religion must
not confine itself to moments of emotional excitement. It must find its
verification at all temperatures. It must admit the wisdom of the golden
mean, in its season and for those whom it can claim by right of
possession; and it must admit "that time and chance happeneth to them
collection of Psalms is not properly a reflective book. It is an
expressive book. It expresses the emotions natural to states of mind
hovering between a universal and a tribal religious conception. There is
joy in the creative energy of a supreme ruler who is also a tribal
champion. There is the glorification of power, magnificent and barbaric:
earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that
Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.
Magnificent literature! But there is no solution here of the difficulties
which haunted Job. This worship of glory arising from power is not only
dangerous: it arises from a barbaric conception of God. I suppose that
even the world itself could not contain the bones of those slaughtered
because of men intoxicated by its attraction. This view of the universe,
in the guise of an Eastern empire ruled by a glorious tyrant, may have
served as purpose. In its historical setting, it marks a religious ascent.
The psalm quoted gives us its noblest expression. The other side comes out
in the psalms expressing hate, psalms now generally withdrawn from public
worship. The glorification of power has broken more hearts that it has
Buddhism and Christianity find their origins respectively in two inspired
moments of history: the life of the Buddha, and the life of Christ. The
Buddha gave his doctrine to enlighten the world. Christ gave his life. It
is for Christians to discern the doctrine. Perhaps in the end the most
valuable part of the doctrine of the Buddha is its interpretation of his
not possess a systematic detailed record of the life of Christ; but we do
possess a peculiarly vivid record of the first response to it in the minds
of the first group of his disciples after the lapse of some years, with
their recollections, interpre-tations, and incipient formularizations.
we find depicted is a thoroughgoing rationalization of the Jewish religion
carried through with a boundless naďveté and motived by a first-hand
intuition into the nature of things.
reported sayings of Christ are not formularized thought. They are
descriptions of direct insight. The ideas are in his mind as immediate
pictures, and not as analysed in terms of abstract concepts. He sees
intuitively the relations between good men and bad men; his expressions
are not cast into the form of an analysis of the goodness and badness of
man. His sayings are actions and not adjustments of concepts. He speaks in
the lowest abstractions that language is capable of, if it is to be
language at all and not the fact itself.
Sermon on the Mount, and in the Parables, there is no reasoning about the
facts. They are seen with immeasurable innocence. Christ represents
rationalism derived from direct intuition and divorced from dialectics.
life of Christ is not an exhibition of over-ruling power. Its glory is for
those who can discern it, and not for the world. Its power lies in its
absence of force. It has the decisiveness of a supreme ideal, and that is
why the history of the world divides at this point of time.
2. Description of
The dogmas of
religion are the attempts to formulate in precise terms the truths
disclosed in the religious experience of mankind. In exactly the same way
the dogmas of physical science are the attempts to formulate in precise
terms the truths disclosed in the sense-perception of mankind.
previous section we have been considering religious experience in the
concrete; we have now to define its general character. Some general
descriptions of religion were given in the former lecture. It was stated
that "Religion is force of belief cleansing the inward parts"; and again,
that "Religion is the art and theory of the internal life of man, so far
as it depends on the man himself, and on what s permanent in the nature of
things": and again, "Religion is what the individual does with his own
point of the origin of rational religion in solitariness is fundamental.
Religion is founded on the concurrence of three allied concepts in one
moment of self-consciousness, concepts whose separate relationships to
fact and whose mutual relations to each other are only to be settled
jointly by some direct intuition into the ultimate character of the
That of the value of an
individual for itself.
2. That of the value of the
diverse individuals of the world for each other.
3. That of the value of the
objective world which is a community derivative from the interre-lations
of its component individuals, and also necessary for the existence of each
of these individuals.
The moment of religious consciousness starts from self-valuation, but it
broadens into the concept of the world as a realm of adjusted values,
mutually intensifying or mutually destructive. The intuition into the
actual world gives a particular definite content to the bare notion of a
principle determining the grading of values. It also exhibits emotions,
purposes, and physical conditions, as subservient factors in the emergence
solitariness the spirit asks, What, in the way of value, is the attainment
of life? And it can find no such value till it has merged its individual
claim with that of the objective universe. Religion is world-loyalty.
spirit at once surrenders itself to this universal claim and appropriates
it for itself. So far as it is dominated by religious experience, life is
conditioned by this formative principle, equally individual and general,
equally actual and beyond completed act, equally compelling recognition
and permissive of disregard.
principle is not a dogmatic formulation, but the intuition of immediate
occasions as failing for succeeding in reference to the ideal relevant to
them. There is a rightness attained or missed, with more or less
completeness of attainment or omission.
is a revelation of character, apprehended as we apprehend the characters
of our friends. But in this case it is an apprehension of character
permanently inherent in the nature of things.
is a large concurrence in the negative doctrine that this religious
experience does not include any direct intuition of a definite person, or
individual. It is a character of permanent rightness, whose inherence in
the nature of things modifies both efficient and final cause, so that the
one conforms to harmonious conditions, and the other contrasts itself with
an harmonious ideal. The harmony in the actual world is conformity with
not true that every individual item of the universe conforms to this
character in every detail. There will be some measure of conformity and
some measure of diversity. The whole intuition of conformity and diversity
forms the contrast which that item yields for the religious experience. So
far as the conformity is incomplete, there is evil in the world.
evidence for the assertion of general, though not universal, concurrence
in the doctrine of no direct vision of a personal God, can only be found
by a consideration of the religious thought in the civilized world. Here
the sources of the evidence can only be indicated.
Throughout India and China religions thought, so far as it has been
interpreted in precise form, disclaims the intuition of any ultimate
personality substantial to the universe. This is true for Confucian
philosophy. There may be personal embodiments, but the substratum is
Christian theology has also, in the main, adopted the position that there
is no direct intuition of such an ultimate personal substratum for the
world. It maintains the doctrine of the existence of a personal God as a
truth, but holds that our belief in it is based upon inference. Most
theologians hold that this inference is sufficiently obvious to be made by
all men upon the basis of their individual personal experience. But, be
this as it may, it is an inference and not a direct intuition. This is the
general doctrine of those traditionalist churches which more especially
claim the title of Catholic; and contrary doctrines have, I believe, been
officially condemned by the Roman Catholic Church: for example, the
religious philosophy of Rosmini.
thought, when it began to scrutinize the traditional cults, took the same
line. In some form or other all attempts to formulate the doctrines of a
rational religion in ancient Greece took their stand upon the Pythagorean
notion of a direct intuition of a righteousness in the nature of things,
functioning as a condition, a critic, and an ideal. Divine personality was
in the nature of an inference from the directly apprehended law of nature,
so far as it was inferred. Of course, there were many cults of divine
persons within the nature of things. The question in discussion concerns a
divine person, substrate to the nature of things.
question of the ultimate nature of direct religious experience is very
fundamental to the religious situation of the modern world. In the first
place, if you make religious experience to be the direct intuition of a
personal being substrate to the universe, there is no widespread basis of
agreement to appeal to. The main streams of religious thought start with
direct contradictions to each other. For those who proceed in this way,
and it is a usual form of modern appeal, there is only one hope-to
supersede reason by emotion. Then you can prove anything, except to
reasonable people. But reason is the safeguard of the objectivity of
religion: it secures for it the general coherence denied to hysteria.
Another objection against this appeal to such an intuition, merely
experienced in exceptional moments, is that the intuition is thereby a
function of those moments. Anything which explains the origin of such
moments, in respect to their emotional accompaniments, can then fairly be
taken to be an explanation of the intuition. Thus the intuition becomes a
private psychological habit, and is without general evidential force. This
is the psychological interpretation which is fatal to evidence unable to
maintain itself at all emotional temperatures amid great variety of
distinction must be drawn. Intuitions may first emerge as distinguished in
consciousness under exceptional circumstances. But when some distinct idea
has been once experienced, or suggested, it should then have its own
independence of irrelevancies. Thus we may not know some arithmetical
truth, and require some exceptional help to detect it. But when known,
arithmetic is a permanent possession. The psychological interpretation,
assigning a merely personal significance, holds when objective validity is
claimed for an intuition which is only experienced in a set of discrete
circumstances of definite specific character. The intuition may be clearer
under such circumstances, but it should not be confined to them.
wisdom of the main stream of Christian theology in refusing to countenance
the notion of a direct vision of a personal God is manifest. For there is
no consensus. The subordinate gods of the unrationalized religions the
religions of the heathen, as they are called are not to the point; and
when the great rationalized religions are examined, the majority lies the
other way. As soon, however, as it comes to a question of rational
interpretation, numbers rapidly sink in importance. Reason mocks at
there is a large consensus, on the part of those who have rationalized
their outlook, in favour of the concept of a rightness in things,
partially conformed to and partially disregarded. So far as there is
conscious determination of actions, the attainment of this conformity is
an ultimate premise by reference to which our choice of immediate ends is
criticised and swayed. The rational satisfaction or dissatisfaction in
respect to any particular happening depends upon an intuition which is
capable of being universalized. This universalization of what is discerned
in a particular instance is the appeal to a general character inherent in
the nature of things.
intuition is not the discernment of a form of words, but a type of
character. It is characteristic of the learned mind to exalt words. Yet
mothers can ponder many things in their hearts which their lips cannot
express. These many things, which are thus known, constitute the ultimate
religious evidence, beyond which there is no appeal.
Today there is but
one religious dogma in debate: What do you mean by "God"? And in this
respect, today is like all its yesterdays. This is the fundamental
religious dogma, and all other dogmas are subsidiary to it.
are three main simple renderings of this concept before the world:
The Eastern Asiatic concept
of an impersonal order to which the world conforms. This order is the
self-ordering of the world; it is not the world obeying an imposed rule.
The concept expresses the extreme doctrine of immanence.
The Semitic concept of a
definite personal individual entity, whose existence is the one ultimate
metaphysical fact, absolute and underivative, and who decreed and ordered
the derivative existence which we call the actual world. This Semitic
concept is the rationalization of the tribal gods of the earlier communal
religions. It expresses the extreme doctrine of transcendence.
The Pantheistic concept of
an entity to be described in the terms of the Semitic concept, except that
the actual world is a phase within the complete fact which is this
ultimate individual entity. The actual world, conceived apart from God, is
unreal. Its only reality is God's reality. The actual world has the
reality of being a partial description of what God is. But in itself it is
merely a certain mutuality of "appearance," which is a phase of the being
of God. This is the extreme doctrine of monism.
will be noticed that the Eastern Asiatic concept and the Pantheistic
concept invert each other. According to the former concept, when we speak
of God we are saying something about the world; and according to the
latter concept, when we speak of the world we are saying something about
God. The Semitic concept and the Eastern Asiatic concept are directly
opposed to each other, and any mediation between them must lead to
complexity of thought. It is evident that the Semitic concept can very
easily pass over into the Pantheistic concept. In fact, the history of
philosophical theology in various Mahometan countries such as Persia, for
instance shows that this passage has often been effected.
main difficulties which the Semitic concept has to struggle with are two
in number. One of them is that it leaves God completely outside
metaphysical rationalization. We know, according to it, that He is such a
being as to design and create this universe, and there our knowledge
stops. If we mean by his goodness of daily life. He is undeniably useful,
because anything baffling can be ascribed to his direct decree.
second difficulty of the concept is to get itself proved. The only
possible proof would appear to be the "ontological proof" devised by
Anselm, and revived by Descartes. According to this proof, the mere
concept of such an entity allows us to infer its existence. Most
philosophers and theologians reject this proof: for example, it is
explicitly rejected by Cardinal Mercier in his Manual of Scholastic
proof which commences with the consideration of the character of the
actual world cannot rise above the actuality of this world. It can only
discover all the factors disclosed in the world as experienced. In other
words, it may discover an immanent God, but not a God wholly transcendent.
The difficulty can be put in this way: by considering the world we can
find all the factors required by the total metaphysical situation; but we
cannot discover anything not included in this totality of actual fact, and
yet explanatory of it.
Christianity has not adopted any one of these clear alternatives. It has
been true to its genius for keeping its metaphysics subordinate to the
religious facts to which it appeals.
first place, it inherited the simple Semitic concept. All its founders
naturally expressed themselves in those terms, and were addressing
themselves to an audience who could only understand religion thus
even here important qualifications have to be made. Christ himself
introduces them. How far they were then new, or how far he is utilizing
antecedent thoughts, is immaterial. The point is the decisive emphasis the
notions receive in his teaching. The first point is the association of God
with the Kingdom of Heaven, coupled with the explanation that "The Kingdom
of Heaven is within you." The second point is the concept of God under the
metaphor of a Father. The implications of this latter notion are expanded
with moving insistence in the two Epistles by St. John, the author of the
Gospel. To him we owe the phrase, "God is love."
Finally, in the Gospel of St. John, by the introduction of the doctrine of
the Logos, a clear move is made towards the modification of the notion of
the unequivocal personal unity of the Semitic God. Indeed, for most
Christian Churches, the simple Semitic doctrine is now a heresy, both by
reason of the modification of personal unity and also by the insistence on
notion of immanence must be discriminated from that of omniscience. The
Semitic God is omniscient; but, in addition to that, the Christian God is
a factor in the universe. A few years ago a papyrus was found in an
Egyptian tomb which proved to be an early Christian compilation called
"The Sayings of Christ." Its exact authenticity and its exact authority do
not concern us. I am quoting it as evidence of the mentality of many
Christians in Egypt during the first few Christian centuries. At that date
Egypt supplied the theological leaders of Christian thought. We find in
these Logia of Christ the saying, "Cleave the wood, and I am there." This
is merely one example of an emphatic assertion of immanence, and shows a
serious divergence from the Semitic concept.
Immanence is a well-known modern doctrine. The points to be noticed are
that it is implicit in various parts of the New Testament, and was
explicit in the first theological epoch of Christianity. Christian
theology was then Platonic; it followed John rather than Paul.
4. The Quest of God
The modern world has
lost God and is seeking him. The reason for the loss stretches far back in
the history of Christianity. In respect to its doctrine of God the Church
gradually returned to the Semitic concept, with the addition of the
threefold personality. It is a concept which is clear, terrifying, and
unprovable. It was supported by an unquestioned religious tradition. It
was also supported by the conservative instinct of society, and by a
history and a metaphysic both constructed expressly for that purpose.
Moreover, to dissent was death. On the whole, the Gospel of love was
turned into a Gospel of fear. The Christian world was composed of
fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge," said the Proverb (i. 7).
Yet this is an odd saying, if it be true that "God is love." In flaming
fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; says Paul.
shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the
Lord, and from the glory of his power. (II Thessalonians i. 8, 9.)
populations did well to be terrified at such ambiguous good tidings, which
lost no emphasis in their promulgation.
modern world is to find God, it must find him through love and not through
fear, with the help of John and not of Paul. Such a conclusion is true and
represents a commonplace of modern thought. But it is only a very
superficial rendering of the facts.
rebound from dogmatic intolerance, the simplicity of religious truth has
been a favourite axiom of liberalizing theologians. It is difficult to
understand upon what evidence this notion is based. In the physical world
as science advances, we discern a complexity of interrelations. There is a
certain simplicity of dominant ideas, but modern physics does not disclose
a simple world.
reduce religion to a few simple notions seems an arbitrary solution of the
problem before us. It may be common sense; but is it true? In view of the
horrors produced by bigotry, it is natural for sensitive thinkers to
minimize religious dogmas. But such pragmatic reasons are dangerous
procedure ends by basing religion on those few ideas which in the
circumstances of the time are most effective in producing pleasing
emotions and agreeable conduct. If our trust is in the ultimate power of
reason as a discipline for the discernment of truth, we have no right to
impose such a priori conditions. All simplifications of religious dogma
are shipwrecked upon the rock of the problem of evil.
particular application, we may believe that the various doctrines about
God have not suffered chiefly from their complexity. They have represented
extremes of simplicity, so far as they have been formulated for the great
rationalistic religions. The three extremes of simple notions should not
represent in our eyes mutually exclusive concepts, from among which we re
to choose one and reject the others.
cannot be true that contradictory notions can apply to the same fact. Thus
reconcilement of these contrary concepts must be sought in a more
searching analysis of the meaning of the terms in which they are phrased.
man who refused to admit that two and two make four, until he knew what
use was to be made of this premise, had some justification. At a certain
abstract level of thought, such statements are absolutely true. But once
you desert that level, you admit fundamental transformations of meaning.
Language cloaks the most profound ideas under its simplest words. For
example, in "two and two make four," the words "and" and "make" entirely
depend for their meaning upon the application which you are giving to the
Analogously, in expressing our conception of God, words such as "personal"
and "impersonal," "entity," "individuality," "actual," require the closest
careful watching, lest in different connections we should use them in
different sense, not to speak of the danger o failing to use them in any
is impossible to fix the sense of fundamental terms except by reference to
some definite metaphysical way of conceiving the most penetrating
description of the universe.
rational religion must have recourse to metaphysics for a scrutiny of its
terms. At the same time it contributes its own independent evidence, which
metaphysics must take account of in framing its description.
mutual dependence is illustrated in all topics. For example, I have
mentioned above that in modern Europe history and metaphysics have been
constructed with the purpose of supporting the Semitic concept of God. To
some extent this is justifiable, because both history and metaphysics must
presuppose some canons by which to guide themselves.
result is that you cannot confine any important reorganization to one
sphere of thought above. You cannot shelter theology from science, or
science from theology; nor can you shelter either of them from
metaphysics, or metaphysics from either of them. There is no short cut to
Religion, therefore, while in the framing of dogmas it must admit
modifications from the complete circle of our knowledge, still brings its
own contribution of immediate experience.
contribution is in the first place the recognition that our existence is
more than a succession of bare facts. We live in a common world of mutual
adjustment, of intelligible relations, of valuations, of zest after
purposes, of joy and grief, of interest concentrated on self, of interest
directed beyond self, of short-time and long-time failures or successes,
of different layers of feeling, of life-weariness and life-zest.
is a quality of life which lies always beyond the mere fact of life; and
when we include the quality in the fact, there is still omitted the
quality of the quality. It is not true that the finer quality is the
direct associate of obvious happiness or obvious pleasure. Religion is the
direct apprehension that, beyond such happiness and such pleasure, there
remains the function of what is actual and passing, that it contributes
its quality as an immortal fact to the order which informs the world.
III: BODY AND SPIRIT
Religion requires a metaphysical backing; for its authority is endangered
by the intensity of the emotions which it generates. Such emotions are
evidence of some vivid experience; but they are a very poor guarantee for
its correct interpretation.
dispassionate criticism of religious belief is beyond all things
necessary. The foundations of dogma must be laid in a rational metaphysics
which criticises meanings, and endeavours to express the most general
concepts adequate for the all-inclusive universe.
position has never been seriously doubted, though in practice it is often
evaded. One of the most serious periods of neglect occurred in the middle
of the nineteenth century, through the dominance of the historical
a curious delusion that the rock upon which our beliefs can be founded is
an historical investigation. You can only interpret the past in terms of
the present. The present is all that you have; and unless in this present
you can find general principles which interpret the present as including a
representation of the whole community of existents, you cannot move a step
beyond your little patch of immediacy.
history presupposes a metaphysic. It can be objected that we believe in
the past and talk about it without settling our metaphysical principles.
That is certainly the case. But you can only deduce metaphysical dogmas
from your interpretation of the past on the basis of a prior metaphysical
interpretation of the present.
far as your metaphysical beliefs are implicit, you vaguely interpret the
past on the lines of the present. But when it comes to the primary
metaphysical data, the world of which you are immediately conscious is the
criticism applies equally to a science or to a religion which hopes to
justify itself without any appeal to metaphysics. The difference is that
religion is the longing of the spirit that the facts of existence should
find their justification in the nature of existence. "My soul thirsteth
for God," writes the Psalmist.
science can leave its metaphysics implicit and retire behind our belief in
the pragmatic value of its general descriptions. If religion does that, it
admits that its dogmas are merely pleasing ides for the purpose of
stimulating its emotions. Science (at least as a temporary methodological
device) can rest upon a naive faith; religion is the longing for
justification. When religions ceases to seek for penetration, for clarity,
it is sinking back into its lower forms. The ages of faith are the ages of
2. The Contribution of
Religion to Metaphysics
In the previous
lectures religious experience was considered as a fact. It consists of a
certain widespread, direct apprehension of a character exemplified in the
actual universe. Such a character includes in itself certain metaphysical
presuppositions. In so far as we trust the objectivity of the religious
intuitions, to that extent we must also hold that the metaphysical
doctrines are well founded.
for this reason that in the previous lecture the broadest view of
religious experience was insisted on. If, at this stage of thought, we
include points of radical divergence between the main streams, the whole
evidential force is indefinitely weakened. Thus religious experience
cannot be taken as contribution to metaphysics any direct evidence for a
personal God in any sense transcendent or creative.
universe, thus disclosed, is through and through independent. The body
pollutes the mind, the mind pollutes the body. Physical energy, sublimates
itself into zeal; conversely, zeal stimulates the body. The biological
ends pass into ideals of standards, and the formation of standards affects
the biological facts. The individual is formative of the society, the
society is formative of the individual. Particular evils infect the whole
world, particular goods point the way of escape.
world is at once a passing shadow and final fact. The shadow is passing
into the fact, so as to be constitutive of it; and yet the fact is prior
to the shadow. There is a kingdom of heaven prior to the actual passage of
actual things, and there is the same kingdom finding its completion
through the accomplishment of this passage.
just as the kingdom of heaven transcends the natural worlds, so does this
world transcend the kingdom of heaven. For the world is evil, and the
kingdom is good. The kingdom is the in the world, and yet not of the
actual world, the world of experiencing, and of thinking, and of physical
activity, is a community of many diverse entities; and these entities
contribute to, or derogate from, the common value of the total community.
At the same time, these actual entities are, for themselves, their own
value, individual and separable. They add to the common stock and yet they
suffer alone. The world is a scene of solitariness in community.
individuality of entities is just as important as their community. The
topic of religion is individuality in community.
3. A Metaphysical
A metaphysics is a
description. Its discussion so as to elucidate its accuracy is necessary,
but it is foreign to the description. The tests of accuracy are logical
coherence, adequacy, and exemplification. A metaphysical description takes
its origin from one select field of interest. It receives its confirmation
by establishing itself as adequate and as exemplified in other fields of
interest. The following description is set out for immediate comparison
with the deliverances of religious experience.
are many ways of analyzing the universe, conceived as that which is
comprehensive of all that there is. In a description it is thus necessary
to correlate these different routes of analysis. First, consider the
analysis into (1) the actual world, passing into time; and (2) those
elements which go to its formation.
formative elements are not themselves actual and passing; they are the
factors which are either non-actual or non-temporal, disclosed in the
analysis of what is both actual and temporal.
constitute the formative character of the actual temporal world. We know
nothing beyond this temporal world and the formative elements which
jointly constitute its character. The temporal world and its formative
elements constitute for us the all-inclusive universe.
formative elements are:
creativity whereby the actual world has its character of temporal passage
realm of ideal entities, or forms, which are in themselves not actual, but
are such that they are exemplified in everything that is actual, according
to some proportion of relevance.
actual but non-temporal entity whereby the indetermination of mere
creativity is transmuted into a determinate freedom. This non-temporal
actual entity is what men call God––the supreme God of rationalized
further elucidation of the status of these formative elements is only to
be obtained by having recourse to another mode of analysis of the actual
world. The actual temporal world can be analyzed into a multiplicity of
occasions of actualization. These are the primary actual units of which
the temporal world is composed. Call each such occasion an "epochal
occasion." Then the actual world is a community of epochal occasions. In
the physical world each epochal occasion is a definite limited physical
event, limited both as to space and time, but with time-duration as well
as with its full spatial dimensions.
epochal occasions are the primary units of the actual community, and the
community is composed of the units. But each unit has in its nature a
reference to every other member of the community, so that each other
member of the community, so that each unit is a microcosm representing in
itself the entire all-inclusive universe.
epochal occasions are the creatures. The reason for the temporal character
of the actual world can now be given by reference to the creativity and
the creatures. For the creativity is not separable from its creatures.
Thus the creatures remain with the creativity. Accordingly, the creativity
for a creature becomes the creativity with the creature, and thereby
passes into another phase of itself. It is now the creativity for a new
creature. Thus there is a transition of the creative action, and this
transition exhibits itself, in the physical world, in the guise of routes
of temporal succession.
protean character of the creativity forbids us from conceiving it as an
actual entity. For its character lacks determinateness. It equally
prevents us from considering the temporal world as a definite actual
creature. For the temporal world is an essential incompleteness. It has
not the character of a definite matter of fact, such as attaches to an
event in past history, viewed from a present standpoint.
epochal occasion is a concretion. It is a mode in which diverse elements
come together into a real unity. Apart from that concretion, these
elements stand in mutual isolation. Thus an actual entity is the outcome
of a creative synthesis, individual and passing.
various elements which are thus brought into unity are the other creatures
and the ideal forms and God. These elements are not a mere unqualified
aggregate. In such a case there could only be one creature. In the
concretion the creatures are qualified by the ideal forms, and conversely
the ideal forms are qualified by the creatures. Thus the epochal occasion,
which is thus emergent, has in its own nature the other creatures under
the aspect of these forms, and analogously it includes the forms under the
aspect of these creatures. It is thus a definite limited creature,
emergent in consequence of the limitations thus mutually imposed on each
other by the elements.
4. God and the Moral
The inclusion of God
in every creature shows itself in the determination whereby a definite
result is emergent. God is that non-temporal actuality which has to be
taken account of in every creative phase. Any such phase is determinate
having regard to its antecedents, and in this determination exhibits
conformity to a common order.
boundless wealth of possibility in the realm of abstract form would leave
each creative phase still indeterminate, unable to synthesize under
determinate conditions, the creatures from which it springs. The definite
determination which imposes ordered balance on the world requires an
actual entity imposing its own unchanged consistency of character on every
creative indetermination attains its measure of determination. A simpler
metaphysic would result if we could stop at this conclusion. A complete
determinism would thus mean the complete self-consistency of the temporal
world. This is the conclusion of all thinkers who are inclined to trust to
the adequacy of metaphysical concepts.
difficulty of this conclusion comes when we confront the theory with the
facts of the world. If the theory of complete determinism, by reason of
the necessity of conformation with the nature of God, holds true, then the
evil in the world is in conformity with the nature of God.
evil is exhibited in physical suffering, mental suffering, and loss of the
higher experience in favour of the lower experience. The common character
of all evil is that its realization in fact involves that there is some
concurrent realization of a purpose towards elimination. The purpose is to
secure the avoidance of evil. The fact of the instability of evil is the
moral order in the world.
triumphant in its enjoyment, is so far good in itself; but beyond itself
it is evil in its character of a destructive agent among things greater
than itself. In the summation of the more complete fact it has secured a
descent towards nothingness, in contrast to the creativeness of what can
without qualification be termed good. Evil is positive and destructive;
what is good is positive and creative.
instability of evil does not necessarily lead to progress. On the
contrary, the veil in itself leads to the world losing forms of attainment
in which that evil manifests itself. Either the species cease to exist, or
it sinks back into a stage in which it ranks below the possibility of that
form of evil. For example, a species whose members are always in pain will
either cease to exist, or lose the delicacy of perception which results in
that pain, or develop a finer and more subtle relationship among its
evil promotes its own elimination by destruction, or delegation, or by
elevation. But in its own nature it is unstable. It must be noted that the
state of degradation to which evil leads, when accomplished, is not in
itself evil, except by comparison with what might have been. A hog is not
an evil beast, but when a man is degraded to the level of a hog, with the
accompanying atrophy of finer elements, he is no more evil than a hog. The
evil of the final degradation lies in the comparison of what is with what
might have been. During the process of degradation the comparison is an
evil for the man himself, and at its final stage it remains an evil for
this last point respecting the evil for others, it becomes plain that,
with a sufficiently comprehensive view, a stable state of final
degradation is not reached. For the relationships with society and the
indirect effects have to be taken into account. Also destruction when
accomplished is not an evil for the thing destroyed. For there is no such
thing. Again the evil lies in the loss to the social environment. There is
evil when things are at cross purposes.
contrast in the world between evil and good is the contrast between the
turbulence of evil and the "peace which passeth all understanding." There
is a self- preservation inherent in hat which is good in itself. Its
destruction may come from without but not from within. Good people of
narrow sympathies are apt to be unfeeling and unprogressive, enjoying
their egotistical goodness. Their case, on a higher level, is analogous to
that of the man completely degraded to a hog. They have reached a state of
stable goodness, so far as their own interior life is concerned. This type
of moral correctitude is, on a larger view, so like evil that the
distinction is trivial.
if God be an actual entity which enters into every creative phase and yet
is above change, He must be exempt from internal inconsistency which is
the note of evil. Since God is actual, He must include in himself a
synthesis of the total universe. There is, therefore, in God's nature the
aspect of the realm of forms as qualified by the world, and the aspect of
the world as qualified by the forms. His completion, so that He is exempt
from transition into something else, must mean that his nature remains
self-consistent in relation to all change.
God is the measure of the aesthetic consistency of the world. There is
some consistency in creative action, because it is conditioned by his
trace the evil in the world to the determinism derived from God, then the
inconsistency in the world is derived from the consistency of God. Also
the incompletion in the world is derivative from the completion of God.
temporal world exhibits two sides of itself. On one side it exhibits an
order in matter of fact, and a self-contrast with ideals, which show that
its creative passage is subject to the immanence of an unchanging actual
entity. On the other side its incompletion, and its evil, show that the
temporal world is to be construed in terms of additional formative
elements which are not definable in the terms which are applicable to God.
5. Value and the
Purpose of God
The purpose of God is
the attainment of value in the temporal world. An active purpose is the
adjustment of the present for the sake of adjustment of value in the
future, immediately or remotely.
is inherent in actuality itself. To be an actual entity is to have a
self-interest. This self-interest is a feeling of self-valuation; it is an
emotional tone. The value of other things, not one's self, is the
derivative value of being elements contributing to this ultimate
self-interest. This self-interest is the interest of what one's existence,
as in that epochal occasion, comes to. It is the ultimate enjoyment of
the actuality is the enjoyment, and this enjoyment is the experiencing of
value. For an epochal occasion is a microcosm inclusive of the whole
universe. This unification of the universe, whereby its various elements
are combined into aspects of each other, is an atomic unit within the real
an ultimate concrete fact is of the nature of an act of perceptivity. But,
if we are speaking of the non-mental facts, such perceptivity is blind. It
is without reflective consciousness; it is the self-value of its own
microcosmic apprehension. The self-value is the unit fact which emerges.
In calling it a perceptivity, or an apprehension, we are already analyzing
it into the separate ingredients which go to form the one emergent thing.
Each actual entity is arrangement of the whole universe, actual and ideal,
whereby there is constituted that self-value which is the entity itself.
the epochal occasion has two sides. On one side it is a mode of creativity
bringing together the universe. This side is the occasion as the cause of
itself, its own creative act. We are here conceiving the creation as the
reverse of our analysis. For in our description we are holding the
elements apart; whereas in the creation they are put together.
other side, the occasion is the creature. This creature is that one
emergent fact. This fact is the self-value of the creative act. But there
are not two actual entities, the creativity and the creature. There is
only one entity which is self-creating creature.
description of the variety of aspects, under which the various actual
occasions enter into each other's natures, is the description of the
various relationships within the real physical and spiritual worlds.
mental occasion is derivative from its physical counterpart. It is also
equally of the character of a perceptivity issuing into value-feeling, but
it is a reflective perceptivity.
are two routes of creative passage form a physical occasion. One is
towards another physical occasion, and the other is towards the derivative
reflective occasion. The physical route links together physical occasions
as successive temporal incidents in the life a body. The other route links
this bodily life with a correlative mental life. A mental occasion is an
ultimate fact in the spiritual world, just as a physical occasion of blind
perceptivity is an ultimate fact in the physical world. There is an
essential reference from one world to the other.
is no such thing as bare value. There is always a specific value, which is
the created unit of feeling arising out of the specific mode of concretion
of the diverse elements. These different specific value-feelings are
comparable amid their differences; and the ground for this comparability
is what is here termed "value."
comparability grades the various occasions in respect to the intensiveness
of value. The zero of intensiveness means the collapse of actuality. All
intensive quantity is merely the contribution of some one element in the
synthesis to this one intensiveness of value.
Various occasions are thus comparable in respect to their relative depths
of actuality. Occasions differ in importance of actuality. Thus the
purpose of God in the attainment of value is in a sense a creative
purpose. Apart from God, the remaining formative elements would fail in
their functions. There would be no creatures, since, apart from harmonious
order, the perceptive fusion would be a confusion neutralizing achieved
feeling. Here "feeling" is used as synonym for "actuality."
adjustment is the reason for the world. It is not the case that there is
an actual world which accidentally happens to exhibit an order of nature.
There is an actual world because there is an order in nature. If there
were no order, there would be no world. Also since there is a world, we
know that there is an order. The ordering entity is a necessary element in
the metaphysical situation presented by the actual world.
line of thought extends Kant's argument. He saw the necessity for God in
the moral order. But with his metaphysics he rejected the argument from
the cosmos. The metaphysical doctrine, here expounded, finds the
foundations of the world in the aesthetic experience, rather than as with
Kant in the cognitive and conceptive experience. All order is therefore
aesthetic order, and the moral order is merely certain aspects of
aesthetic order. The actual world is the outcome of the aesthetic order,
and the aesthetic order is derived from the immanence of God.
6. Body and Mind
his philosophy on an entirely different metaphysical description of the
actual world. He started with cogitating minds, and with extended bodies
which are the organic and inorganic bits of matter.
some sense no one doubts but that there are bodies and minds. The only
point at issue is the status of such bodies and minds in the scheme of
things. Descrates affirmed that they were individual substances, so that
each bit of matter is a substance, and each mind is a substance. He also
states what he means by a substance. He says:
when we conceive of substance, we merely conceive and existent thing which
requires nothing but itself in order to exist. To speak truth, nothing but
God answers to this description as being that which is absolutely
self-sustaining, for we perceive that there is no other created thing
which can exist without being sustained by his power. . . .
Created substances, however, whether corporeal or thinking, may be
conceived under this common concept; for they are things which need only
the concurrence of God in order to exist. . . . When we perceive any
attribute, we therefore conclude that some existing thing or substance to
which it may be attributed, is necessarily present.
sentences are a summary of the presupposition of scientific thought in
recent centuries: that the world is composed of bits of stuff with
attributes. There are insuperable difficulties in Descartes' view which
have led to attempts at simplification, keeping his general supposition of
stuff with attributes.
that Descartes proof presupposes three types of substance namely, God,
bits of matter, minds. Descartes' proof of the existence of God is
accepted by very few philosophers, religious or otherwise. Indeed, given
his starting point, it is difficult to see how any proof can be found.
simplifications all concern dropping either one or two of these types of
substances. For example, dropping God, and retaining only matter and mind;
or dropping God and minds, and retaining the matter, as with Hobbes; or
dropping matter, and retaining God and minds, as with Berkeley; or
dropping matter and minds, and retaining God alone. In this latter case,
the temporal world becomes an appearance forming an attribute of God.
the main point of all such philosophies is that they presuppose individual
substance, either one or many individual substances, "which requires
nothing but itself in order to exist." This presupposition is exactly what
is denied in the more Platonic description which has been given in this
lecture. There is no entity, not even God, "which requires nothing but
itself in order to exist."
According to the doctrine of this lecture, every entity is in its essence
social and requires the society in order to exist. In fact, the society
for each entity, actual or ideal, is the all inclusive universe, including
its ideal forms.
Descartes has the great merit that he states facts which any philosophy
must fit into its scheme. There are bits of matter. and there are minds.
Both matter and mind have to be fitted into the metaphysical scheme.
according to the doctrine of this lecture, the most individual actual
entity is a definite act of perceptivity. So matter and mind, which
persist through a route of such occasions, must be relatively abstract;
and they must gain their specific individualities from their respective
routes. The character of a bit of matter must be something common to each
occasion of its route; and analogously, the character of a mind must be
something common to each occasion of its route. Each bit of matter, and
each minds, is a subordinate community in that sense analogously to the
each occasion, in its character of being a finished creature, is a value
of some definite specific sort. Thus a mind must be a route whose various
occasions exhibit some community of type of value. Similarly a bit of
matter or an electron must be a route whose various occasions exhibit some
community of type of value.
in such a route material or mental the environment will also partially
determine the forms of the occasions. But that which the occasions have in
common, so as to form a route of kind or a route of matter, must be
derived by inheritance from the antecedent members of the route. The
environment may favour this inheritance must be in the background so that
there is a real transmission of the common element along the route.
case of men and animals, there are obviously routes of mind and routes of
matter in the very closest connection, which we will consider more
particularly in a moment. In the case of a bit or inorganic matter, any
associate route of mentality seems to be negligible.
belief in purely spiritual beings means, on this metaphysical theory, that
there are routes of mentality in respect to which associate material
routes are negligible, or entirely absent. At the present moment the
orthodox belief is that for all men after death there are such routes, and
that for all animals after death there are no such routes.
at present it is generally held that a purely spiritual being is
necessarily immortal. The doctrine here developed gives no warrant for
such a belief. It is entirely neutral on the question of immortality, or
on the existence of purely spiritual beings other than God. There is no
reason why such a question should not be decided on more special evidence,
religious or otherwise, provided that it is trustworthy. In this lecture
we are merely considering evidence with a certain breadth of extension
throughout mankind. Until that evidence has yielded its systematic theory,
special evidence is indefinitely weakened in its effect.
7. The Creative
This account of what
is meant by the enduring existence of matter and of mind explains such
endurance as exemplifying the order immanent in the world. The solid earth
survives because there is an order laid upon the creativity in virtue of
which second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after
day, year after year, century after century, age after age, the creative
energy finds in the maintenance of that complex form a center of
experienced perceptivity focusing the universe into one unity.
survives because the universe is a process of attaining instances of
definite experience out of its own elements. Each such instance embraces
the whole, omitting nothing, whether it be ideal form or actual fact. But
it brings them into its own unity of feeling under gradations of relevance
and of irrelevance, and thereby by this limitation issues into that
definite experience which it is.
Accordingly, any given instance of experience is only possible so far as
the antecedent facts permit. For they are required in order to constitute
it. The maintenance, throughout ages of life history, of a given type of
experience, in instance after instance of its separate occasions,
requires, therefore, the stable order of the actual world.
creative process is thus to be discerned in that transition by which one
occasion, already actual, enters into the birth of another instance of
experienced value. There is not one simple line of transition from
occasion to occasion, though there may be a dominant line. The whole world
conspires to produce a new creation. It presents to the creative process
its opportunities and its limitations.
limitations are the opportunities. The essence of depth of actuality––that
is of vivid experience––is definiteness. Now to be definite always means
that all the elements of a complex whole contribute to some one effect, to
the exclusion of others. The creative process is a process of exclusion to
the same extent as it is a process of inclusion. In this connection "to
exclude" means to relegate to irrelevance in the aesthetic unity, and "to
include" means to elicit relevance to that entity.
birth of a new instance is the passage into novelty. Consider how any one
actual fact, which I will call the ground, can enter into the creative
process. The novelty which enters into the derivative instance is the
information of the actual world with anew set of ideal forms. In the most
literal sense the lapse of time is the renovation of the world with ideas.
A great philosopher CF. Alexander, has said that time is the mind of
space. In respect to one particular new birth of one centre of experience,
this novelty of ideal forms will be called the "consequent." Thus we are
now considering the particular relevance of the consequent to the
particular ground supplied by one antecedent occasion.
derivative includes the fusion of the particular ground with the
consequent, so far as the consequent is graded by its relevance to that
this fusion of ground with consequent, the creative process brings
together something which, at its entry into that process, is not actual.
The process is the achievement of actuality by the ideal consequent, in
virtue of its union with the actual ground. In the phrase of Aristotle,
the process is the fusion of being with not-being.
birth of a new aesthetic experience depends on the maintenance of two
principles by the creative purpose:
The novel consequent must
be graded in relevance so as to preserve some identity of character with
The novel consequent must
be graded in relevance so as to preserve some contrast with the ground in
respect to that same identity of character.
two principles are derived from the doctrine that an actual fact is a fact
of aesthetic experience. All aesthetic experience is feeling arising out
of the realization. Thus the consequent must agree with the ground in
general type so as to preserve definiteness, but it must contrast with in
respect to contrary instances so as to obtain vividness and quality. In
the physical world, this principle of contrast under an identity expresses
itself in the physical law that vibration enters into the ultimate nature
of atomic organisms. Vibration is the recurrence of contrast within
identity of type. The whole possibility of measurement in the physical
world depends on this principle. To measure is to count vibrations.
physical quantities are aggregates of physical vibrations, and physical
vibrations are the expression among the abstractions of physical science
of the fundamental principle of aesthetic experience.
Another example of this same principle is to be found in the connection
between body and mind. Both mind and body refer to their life-history of
separate concrete occasions. So the connection which we seek is to be
found in the creative process relating a physical occasion, in the life of
the body, to its corresponding mental occasion in the life of the mind.
physical occasion enters into the mental occasion, as already actual, and
as contributing to its ground. The reversion from its ground, which the
consequent of ideal novelty must exhibit, is now of the most fundamental
character. The reversion is the undoing of the synthesis exhibited in the
ground. Thus the transition from bodily occasion to mental occasion
exhibits a new dimension of transition from that exhibited in the
transition from bodily occasion to bodily occasion. In the latter
transition there is the novelty of contrast within the one concept of
synthesis. In the former, the contrast is the contrast of synthesis itself
with its opposite, which is analysis.
in the birth of the mental occasion the consequent of ideal novelty enters
into reality, and possesses an analytic force over against the synthetic
ground. Ideal forms thus synthesized into a mental occasion are termed
concepts. Concepts meet blind experience with an analytic force. Their
synthesis with physical occasion, as ground, is the perceptive analysis of
the blind physical occasion in respect to its degree of relevance to the
phrase "immediate experience" can have either of two meanings, according
as it refers to the physical or to the mental occasion. It may mean a
complete concretion of physical relationships in the unity of a blind
perceptivity. In this sense "immediate experience" means an ultimate
a secondary, and more usual, sense it means the consciousness of physical
experience. Such consciousness is a mental occasion. It has the character
of being an analysis of physical experience by synthesis with the concepts
involved in the mentality. Such analysis is incomplete, because it is
dependent on the limitations of the concepts. This limitation arises from
the grading of the relevance of the concepts in the mental occasion. The
most complete concrete fact is dipolar, physical and mental. But, for some
specific purpose, the proportion of importance, as shared between the two
poles, may vary form negligibility to dominance of either pole.
value realized in the mental occasion is knowledge-value. This
knowledge-value is the issue of the full character of the creativity into
the creature world. There is nothing in the creativity which fails to
issue into the actual world. Thus the creativity with a purpose issues
into the mental creature conscious of an ideal Also God, as conditioning
the creativity with his harmony of apprehension, issues into the mental
creature as moral judgement according to a perfection of ideals.
order of the world is no accident. There is nothing actual which could be
actual without some measure of order. The religious insight is the grasp
of this truth: That the order of the world, the depth of reality of the
world, the value of the world in its whole and in its parts, the beauty of
the world, the zest of life, the peace of life, and the mastery of evil,
are all bound together––not accidentally, but by reason of this truth:
that the universe exhibits a creativity with infinite freedom, and a realm
of forms with infinite possibilities; but that this creativity and these
forms are together impotent to achieve actuality apart from the completed
ideal harmony, which is God.
IV: TRUTH AND
1. The Development of
In human nature there
is no such separate function as a special religious sense. In making this
assertion, I am agreeing with the following quotation:
who tend to identify religious experience with the activity of some
peculiar organ or element of the mental life have recently made much of
the subconscious. Here there seems to be a safe retreat for the
hard-pressed advocates of the uniqueness of religious experience.
Religious truth must be developed from knowledge acquired when our
ordinary senses and intellectual operations are at their highest pitch of
discipline. To move one step from this position towards the dark recesses
of abnormal psychology is to surrender finally any hope of a solid
foundation for religious doctrine.
Religion starts from the generalization of final truths first perceived as
exemplified in particular instances. These truths are amplified into a
coherent system and applied to the interpretation of life. They stand or
fall, like other truths, by their success in this interpretation. The
peculiar character of religious truth is that it explicitly deals with
values. It brings into our consciousness that permanent side of the
universe which we can care for. It thereby provides a meaning, in terms of
value, for our own existence, a meaning which flows from the nature of
not true, however, that we observe best when we are entirely devoid of
emotion. Unless there is a direction of interest, we do not observe at
all. Further, our capacity for observation is limited. Accordingly, when
we are observing some things, we are in a bad position for observing other
there are certain emotional states which are most favourable for a
peculiar concentration on topics of religious interest, just as other
states facilitate the apprehension of arithmetical truths. Also, emotional
states are related to states of the body. Most people are more likely to
make arithmetical slips when they are tired in the evening. But we still
believe that arithmetic holds good from sundown to cockcrow.
it is not true that all people are on a level in respect to their
perceptive powers. Some people appear to realize continuously, and at a
higher level, types of emotional and perceptive experience, which we
recognise as corresponding to those periods of our own lives most worthy
of confidence for that sort of experience. In so far as what they say
interprets our own best moments, it is reasonable to trust to the
evidential force of their experience.
considerations are all commonplaces, but it is necessary to keep them
clearly in mind when we endeavour to form our philosophy of religious
dogma is the precise enunciation of a general truth, divested so far as
possible from particular exemplification. Such precise expression is in
the long run a condition for vivid realization, for effectiveness, for
apprehension of width of scope, and for survival.
example, when the Greeks, such as Pythagoras or Euclid, formulated
accurately mathematical dogmas, the general truths which the Egyptians had
acted upon for more than thirty generations became thereby of greater
not the case, however, that our apprehension of a general truth is
dependent upon its accurate verbal expression. For it would follow that we
could never by dissatisfied with the verbal expression of something that
we had never apprehended. But this consciousness of failure to express our
accurate meaning must have haunted most of us.
example, the notion of irrational number had been used in mathematics for
over two thousand years before it received accurate definition in the last
quarter of the nineteenth century. Also, Newton and Leibnitz introduced
the differential calculus, which was the foundation of modern mathematical
physics. But the mathematical notions involved did not receive adequate
verbal expression for two hundred and fifty years.
recondite examples are quite unnecessary. We know more of the characters
of those who are dear to us than we can express accurately in words. We
may recognize the truth of some statement about them. It will be a new
statement about something which we had already apprehended but had never
example brings out another fact: that a one-sized formulation may be true,
but may have the effect of a lie by its distortion of emphasis. Such
distortion does not stand in its character of a truth, but depends upon
those who are affected by it. So far as the make-up of an individual mind
is concerned, there is a proportion in truth as well as in art.
an ill-balanced zeal for the propagation of dogma bears witness to a
certain coarseness of aesthetic sensitiveness.
shows a strain of indifference––due perhaps to arrogance, perhaps to
rashness, perhaps to mere ignorance––a strain of indifference to the fact
that others may require a proportion of formulation different from that
suitable for ourselves. Perhaps our pet dogmas require correction: they
may even be wrong.
fate of a world has to the historian the value of a document. The modern
unfavourable implications of the kindred words, dogma, dogmatic,
dogmatist, tell the story of some failure in habits of thought. The word
"dogma" originally means an "opinion," and thence more especially a
"philosophic opinion." Thus, for example, the Greek physician, Galen, uses
the phrase "dogmatic physicians" to mean "physicians who guide themselves
by general principles"––surely a praiseworthy practice. The nearest Greek
Dictionary will give this elementary information. But the dictionary––and
this is why I have quoted it––gives an ominous addition to the information
about Galen. It says that Galen contrasts "dogmatic physicians" with
"empiric physicians." If you then refer to the word "empiric," you will
find that "empiric physicians" contended that "experience was the one
thing needful." In this lecture we have to investigate the application to
religion of this contrast between "dogmatic" and "empiric."
philosophy of expression is only now receiving its proper attention> In
the framing of dogmas it is only possible to use ideas which have received
a distinct, well-recognized signification. Also, no idea is determinate in
a vacuum: It has its being as one of a system of ideas. A dogma is the
expression of a fact as it appears within a certain sphere of thought. You
cannot convey a dogma by merely translating the words; you must also
understand the system of thought to which it is relevant. To take a very
obvious example. "The Fatherhood of God" is a phrase which would have a
significance for Roman citizen of the early Republic different from that
which it has for a modern American––stern for the one, tender for the
estimating the validity of a dogma, it must be projected against the
alternatives to it within that sphere of thought. You cannot claim
absolute finality for a dogma without claiming a commensurate finality for
the sphere of thought within which it arose. If the dogmas of the
Christian Church from the second the sixth centuries express finally and
sufficiently the thoughts concerning the topics about which they deal,
then the Greek philosophy of that period had developed a system of ideas
of equal finality. You cannot limit the inspiration to a narrow circle of
dogma––in the sense of a precise statement––can never be final; it can
only be adequate in its adjustment of certain abstract concepts. But the
estimate of the status of these concepts remains for determination.
cannot rise above the adequacy of the terms you employ. A dogma may be
true in the sense that it expresses such interrelations of the subject
matter as are expressible within the set of ideas employed. But if the
same dogma be used intolerantly so as to check the employment of other
modes of analyzing the subject matter, then, for all its truth, it will be
doing the work of a falsehood.
Progress in truth––truth of science and truth of religion––is mainly a
progress in the framing of concepts, in discarding artificial abstractions
or partial metaphors, and in evolving notions which strike more deeply
into the root of reality.
2. Experience and
Expression is the one fundamental sacrament. It is the outward and visible
sign of an inward and spiritual grace. It follows that, in the process of
forming a common expression of direct intuition, there is first a stage of
primary expression into some medium of sense- experience which each
individual contributes at first hand. No one can do this for another. It
is the contribution of each to the knowledge of all.
primary expression mainly clothes itself in the media of action and of
words, but also partly of art. Their expressiveness to others arises from
the fact that they are interpretable in terms of the intuitions of the
recipients. Apart from such interpretation, the modes of expression remain
accidental, unrationalized happenings of mere sense-experience; but with
such interpretation, the recipient extends his apprehension of the ordered
universe by penetrating into the inward nature of the originator of the
expression. There is then a community of intuition by reason of the
sacrament of expression proffered by one and received by the other.
the expressive sign is more than interpretable. It is creative. It elicits
the intuition which interprets it. It cannot elicit what is not there. A
note on a tuning fork can elicit a response from a piano. But the piano
has already in it the string tuned to the same note. In the same way the
expressive sign elicits the existent intuition which would not otherwise
emerge into individual distinctiveness. Again in theological language, the
sign works ex opere operato, but only within the limitation that
the recipient be patient of the creative action.
is very little really first-hand expression in the world. By this I mean
that most expression is what may be termed responsive expression, namely,
expression which expresses intuitions elicited by the expressions of
others. This is as it should be; since in this way what is permanent,
important, and widely spread, receives more and more a clear definition.
there is need for something more than this responsive expression. For it
is not true that there is easy apprehension of the great formative
generalities. They are embedded under the rubbish of irrelevant detail.
Men knew a lot about dogs before they thought of backbones and of
vertebrates. The great intuitions, which in their respective provinces set
all things right, dawn but slowly upon history.
this prevalence of responsive expression, we are used to a learned
literature and to imitative conduct. When we get anything which is neither
learned or imitative, it is often very evil. But sometimes it is genius.
history of culture shows that originality of expression is not a process
of continuous development. There are antecedent periods of slow evolution.
Finally, as if touched by a spark, a very few persons, one, two, or three,
in some particular province of experience, express completely novel
intuitions. Such intuitions can be responded to, analyzed in terms of
their relationships to other ideas, fused with other forms of experience,
but as individual primary intuitions within their own province of
experience they are not surpassed.
world will not repeat Dante, Shakespeare, Socrates, or the Greek
tragedians. These men, in connection with the tiny groups forming their
immediate environments of associates and successors and perhaps of equals,
ad something once and for all. We develop in connection with them, but not
beyond them, in respect to those definite intuitions which they flashed
upon the world. These examples are taken from the circle of literature
merely for the sake of easy intelligibility.
are two points to be notices about them. In the first place, they are
associated with a small stage fitted for their peculiar originality.
Standardized size can do almost anything, except foster the growth of
is the privilege of the tiny oasis. Goethe surveyed the world, but it was
from Weimar; Shakespeare is universal, but he lived in Elizabethan
England. We cannot think of Socrates outside Athens.
second characteristic is that their peculiar originality is the very
element n their expression which remains unformularized. They deal with
what all men know, and they make it new. They do not bring to the world a
new formula nor do they discover new facts, but in expressing their
apprehensions of the world, they leave behind them an element of
novelty––a new expression forever evoking its proper response.
original men do express themselves in formulae: but the formula then
expresses something beyond itself. The formula is then secondary to its
meaning; it is, in a sense, a literary device. The formula sinks in
importance, or even is abandoned; but its meaning remains as fructifying
in the world, finding new expression to suit new circumstances. The
formula was not wrong, but it was limited to its own sphere of thought.
particular, the view that there are a few fundamental dogmas is arbitrary.
Every true dogma which formulates with some adequacy the facts of a
complex religious experience is fundamental for the individual in question
and he disregards it at his peril. For formulation increases vividness of
apprehension, and the peril is the loss of an aid in the difficult task of
every individual suffers from invincible ignorance; and a dogma which
fails to evoke any response in immediate apprehension stifles the
religious life. There is no mechanical rule and no escape from the
necessity of complete sincerity either way.
religion is primarily individual, and the dogmas of religion are
clarifying modes of external expression. The intolerant use of religious
dogmas has practically destroyed their unity for a great, if not the
greater part, of the civilized world.
Expression, and in particular expression by dogma, is the return from
solitariness to society. There is no such thing as absolute solitariness.
Each entity requires its environment. Thus man cannot seclude himself from
for individual intuitions outward expression is necessary, as a sacrament
in which the minister and recipient are one. But further, what is known in
secret must be enjoyed in common, and must be verified in common. The
immediate conviction of the moment in this way justifies itself as a
rational principle enlightening the objective world.
great instantaneous conviction in this way becomes the Gospel, the good
news. It insists on its universality, because it is either that or a
passing fancy. The conversion of the Gentiles is both the effect of truth
and the test of truth.
the simplicity of inspiration has passed from its first expression into
responsive experience. It then disengages itself from particular
experience by formulation in precise dogmas, and so faces the
transformations of history.
this passage a religion coalesces with other factors in human life. It is
expanded, explained, modified, adapted. If it was originally founded upon
truth, it maintains its identity by its recurrence to the inspired
simplicity of its origin. The dogmas are statements of how the complex
world is to be expressed in the light of the intuitions fundamental to the
religion. They are not necessarily simple in character or limited in
3. The Three
The divergence in the
expression of dogmas is most clearly shown in the two traditions of
Buddhism and Christianity. This divergence is important because it reaches
down to the most fundamental religious concepts, namely the nature of God,
and the aim of life.
are close analogies between the two religions. In both there is, in some
sense, a saviour––Christ in the one, and the Buddha in the other. But
their functions differ, according to the theologies of the two religions.
In both, the souls of the blessed return to God. Again, this analogy
cloaks a wide divergence; for the respective concepts of God, and the
respective concepts of the meaning of the return of the soul, differ in
moral codes have striking analogies. But again there are divergences which
flow naturally from the theological differences. To put it briefly,
Buddhism, on the whole, discourages the sense of active personality,
whereas Christianity encourages it. For example, modern European
philosophy, which had its origin in Plato and Aristotle, after sixteen
hundred years of Christianity reformulated its problems with increased
attention to the importance of the individual subject of experience,
conceived as an abiding entity with a transition of experiences. If
Europe, after the Greek period, had been subject to the Buddhist religion,
the change of philosophical climate would have been in the other
reformation of philosophy has emphasized the divergence. For the abiding
individual substance, mind or matter, is now conceived as the subject
supporting the transition of experiences. Thus, according to prevalent
Western notions, the moral aims of Buddhism are directed to altering the
first principles of metaphysics.
absolute idealism, so influential in Europe and America during the last
third of the nineteenth century, and still powerful notwithstanding the
reaction from it, was undoubtedly a reaction towards Buddhistic
metaphysics on the part of the Western mentality. The multiplicity of
finite enduring individuals were relegated to a world of appearances, and
the ultimate reality was centred in an Absolute.
meanwhile science had appeared as a third organized system of thought
which in respects played the part of a theology, by reason of the answers
which it gave to current theological questions. Science suggested a
cosmology; and whatever suggests a cosmology, suggest a religion.
its very beginning in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, science
emphasized ideas which modified the religious picture of the world. As the
medieval picture dissolved, religion and philosophy equally received shock
after shock, with a final culmination in the middle of the nineteenth
Philosophy, by its nature was less wedded to its aboriginal picture of the
world than was religion. Accordingly it divided itself into two streams of
thought One stream subordinated itself entirely to science, and has
asserted its mission to be the discussion of the proper coordination of
notions employed in current scientific practice. The other stream, which
is that of absolute idealism, side-tracked science by proclaiming that
science dealt with finite truths respecting a world of appearances; and
that these appearances were not very real, and that these truths were not
very true. It reserved for philosophy the determination of all that was to
be known concerning the ultimate reality, and concerning our own
participation in that final absolute fact.
importance of rational religion in the history of modern culture is that
it stands or falls with its fundamental position, that we know more than
can be formulated in one finite systematized scheme of abstractions,
however important that scheme may be in the elucidation of some aspect of
the order of things.
final principle of religion is that there is a wisdom in the nature of
things, from which flow our direction of practice, and our possibility of
the theoretical analysis of fact. It grounds this principle upon two
sources of evidence, first upon our success in various special theoretical
sciences, physical and otherwise; and secondly, upon our knowledge of a
discernment of ordered relationships, especially in aesthetic valuations,
which stretches far beyond anything which has been expressed
systematically in words.
According to religion, this discernment of relationships forms in itself
the very substance of existence. The formulations are the froth upon the
surface. Religion insists that the world is mutually adjusted disposition
of things, issuing in value for its own sake. This is the very point that
science is always forgetting.
Religions commit suicide when they find their inspirations in their
dogmas. The inspiration of religion lies in the history of religion. By
this I mean that it is to be found in the primary expressions of the
intuitions of the finest types of religious lives. The sources of
religious belief are always growing, though some supreme expressions may
lie in the past. Records of these sources are not formulae. They elicit in
us intuitive response which pierces beyond dogma.
dogmatic expression is necessary. For whatever has objective validity is
capable of partial expression in terms of abstract concepts, so that a
coherent doctrine arises which elucidates the world beyond the locus of
the origin of the dogmas in question.
exact statements are the media by which identical intuitions into the
world can be identified amid a wide variety of circumstances.
the dogmas, however true, are only bits of the truth, expressed in terms
which in some ways are over-assertive and in other ways lose the essence
of truth. When exactly understood in relation to an exact system of
philosophic thought, they may––or may not––be exactly true.
respect to this exact truth, they re very abstract––much more abstract
than the representations of them in popular thought. Also in fact, there
never has been any exact, complete system of philosophic thought, and
there never has been any exact understanding of dogmas, an understanding
which has been properly confined to strict interpretation in terms of a
philosophic system, complete or incomplete.
Accordingly, though dogmas have their measure of truth, which is
unalterable, in their precise forms they are narrow, limitative, and
alterable: in effect untrue, when carried over beyond the proper scope of
system of dogmas may be the ark within which the Church floats safely down
the flood-tide of history. But the Church will perish unless it opens its
window and lets out the dove to search for an olive branch. Sometimes even
it will do well to disembark on Mount Ararat and build a new altar to the
divine Spirit––an altar neither in Mount Gerizim nor yet at Jerusalem.
decay of Christianity and Buddhism, as determinative influences in modern
thought, is partly due to the fact that each religion has unduly sheltered
itself from the other. The self- sufficient pedantry of learning and the
confidence of ignorant zealots have combined to shut up each religion in
its own forms of thought. Instead of looking to each other for deeper
meanings, they have remained self-satisfied and unfertilized.
have suffered from the rise of the third tradition, which is science,
because neither of them had retained the requisite flexibility of
adaptation. Thus the real, practical problems of religion have never been
adequately studied in the only way in which such problems can be studied,
namely, in the school of experience.
most obvious problem is how to save the intermediate imaginative
representations of spiritual truths from loss of effectiveness, if the
possibility of modifications of dogma are admitted. The religious spirit
is not identical with dialectical acuteness. Thus these intermediate
representations play a great part in religious life. They are enshrined in
modes of worship, in popular religious literature, and in art. Religions
cannot do without them; but if they are allowed to dominate, uncriticised
by dogma or by recurrence to the primary sources of religious inspiration,
they are properly to be termed idols. In Christian history, the charge of
idolatry has been bandied to and fro among rival theologians. Probably, if
taken in its wide sense, it rests with equal truth on all the main
churches, Protestant, and Catholic. Idolatry is the necessary product of
the problem of so handling popular forms of thought as to keep their full
reference to the primary sources, and yet also to keep them in touch with
the best critical dogmas of their times, is no easy one. The chief figures
in the history of the Christian Church who seem to have grasped explicitly
its central importance were, Origen in the Church of Alexandria, in the
early part of the third century, and Erasmus in the early part of the
sixteenth century. Their analogous fates show the wavering attitude of the
Christian Church, culminating in lapses into dogmatic idolatry. It must,
however, be assigned to the great credit of the Papacy of his time, that
Erasmus never in his lifetime lost the support of the court of Rome.
Unfortunately Erasmus, though a good man, was no hero, and the moral
atmosphere of the Renaissance Papacy was not equal to its philosophic
insight. In the phrase of Leo X, the quarrel of monks began; and yet
another golden opportunity was lost, while rival pedants cut out neat
little dogmatic systems to serve as the unalterable measure of the
4. The Nature of God
The general history of religious thought, of which the Reformation period
is a particular instance, is that of the endeavour of mankind to interpret
the great standard experiences as leading to a more definite knowledge
than can be derived from a metaphysic which founds itself upon general
can be nothing inherently illegitimate in such an attempt. But if we
attend to the general principles which regulate all endeavours after clear
statement of truth, we must be prepared to amplify, recast, generalize,
and adapt, so as to absorb into one system all sources of experience.
earlier statements will be not so much as wrong, as obscured by trivial
limitations, and as thereby implying an exclusion of complementary truths.
The growth will be in the proportion of truth.
doctrines––fundamental to religion––of the nature of God must be construed
in this sense. It is in respect to this doctrine that the great cleavages
of religious thought arise. The extremes are the doctrine of God as the
impersonal order of the universe, and the doctrine of God as the one
person creating the universe.
general concept has to be construed in terms of a descriptive metaphysical
system. In this concluding section of this course, we ask what can be said
of the nature of God in terms of the metaphysical description which has
been adopted as the basis of thought in this course of lectures, and which
was more particularly described in the previous lecture.
an actual thing is to be limited. An actual thing is an elicited
feeling-value, which is analyzable as the outcome of a graded grasping of
the elements of the universe into the unity of one fact. This grasping
together may be called a perception The grading means the grading of
relevance of the various elements, so far as concerns their contribution
to the one actual fact.
synthesis is the union of what is already actual with what is, for that
occasion, new for realization. I have called it the union of the actual
ground with the novel consequent. The ground is formed by all the facts of
the world, already actual and graded in their proportion of relevance. The
consequent is constituted by all the ideal forms of possibility, graded in
their proportion. The grading of the actual ground arises from the
creativity of some actual fact passing over into a new form by reason of
the fact itself. The new creativity, under consideration, has thus already
a definite status in the world, arising from its particular origin. We can
indifferently say that the grading arises from the status, or the status
from the grading. They are different ways of saying the same thing.
grading of the ideal forms arises from the grading of the actual facts. It
is the union of the forms with the facts in such measure as to elicit a
renewed feeling-value, of the type possible as a novel outcome from the
of value is only possible if the antecedent facts conspire in unison. Thus
a measure of harmony in the ground is requisite for the perpetuation of
depth into the future. But harmony is limitation. Thus rightness of
limitation is essential for growth of reality.
Unlimited possibility and abstract creativity can procure nothing. The
limitation, and the basis arising from what is already actual, are both of
them necessary and interconnected.
the whole process itself, viewed at any stage as a definite limited fact
which has issued from the creativity, requires a definite entity, already
actual among the formative elements, as an antecedent ground for the entry
of the ideal forms into the definite process of the temporal world.
such a complete aboriginal actuality must differ from actuality in process
of realization in respect to the blind occasions of perceptivity which
issue from process and require process. These occasions build up the
physical world which is essentially in transition.
who is the ground antecedent to transition, must include all possibilities
of physical value conceptually, thereby holding the ideal forms apart in
equal, conceptual realization of knowledge. Thus, as concepts, they are
grasped together in the synthesis of omniscience.
limitation of God is his goodness. He gains his depth of actuality by h is
harmony of valuation. It is not true that God is in all respects infinite.
If He were, He would evil as well as good. Also this unlimited fusion of
evil as well as good. Also this unlimited fusion of evil with good would
mean mere nothingness. He is something decided and is thereby limited.
complete in the sense that his vision determines every possibility of
value. Such a complete vision coordinates and adjusts every detail. Thus
his knowledge of the relationships of particular modes of value is not
added to, or disturbed, by the realization in the actual world of what is
already conceptually realized in his ideal world. This ideal world of
conceptual harmonization is merely a description of God himself. Thus the
nature of God is the complete conceptual realization of the realm of ideal
forms. The kingdom of heaven is God. But these forms are not realized by
him in mere bare isolation, but as elements in the value of his conceptual
experience. Also, the ideal forms are in God's vision as contributing to
his complete experience, by reason of his conceptual realization of their
possibilities as elements of value in any creature. Thus God is the one
systematic, complete fact, which is the antecedent ground conditioning
every creative act.
depths of his existence lie beyond the vulgarities of praise or of power.
He gives to suffering its swift insight into values which can issue from
it. He is the ideal companion who transmutes what has been lost into a
living fact within his own nature. He is the mirror which discloses to
every creature its own greatness.
kingdom of heaven is not the isolation of good from evil. It is the
overcoming of evil by good. This transmutation of evil into good enters
into the actual world by reason of the inclusion of the nature of God,
which includes the ideal vision o f each actual evil so met with a novel
consequent as to issue in the restoration of goodness.
has in his nature the knowledge of evil, of pain, and of degradation, but
it is there as overcome with what is good. Every fact is what it is, a
fact of pleasure, of joy, of pain, or of suffering. In its union with God
that fact is not a total loss, but on its finer side is an element to be
woven immortally into the rhythm of mortal things. Its very evil becomes a
stepping stone in the all-embracing ideals of God.
event on its finer side introduces God into the world. Through it his
ideal vision is given a base in actual fact to which He provides the ideal
consequent, as a factor saving the world from the self-destruction of
evil. The power by which God sustains the world is the power of himself as
the ideal. He adds himself to the actual ground from which every creative
act takes its rise. The world lives by its incarnation of God in itself.
transcends the temporal world, because He is an actual fact in the nature
of things. He is not here as derivative from the world; He is the actual
fact from which the other formative elements cannot be torn apart.
equally it stands in his nature that He is the realization of the ideal
conceptual harmony by reason of which there is an actual process in the
total universe––an evolving world which is actual because there is order.
abstract forms are thus the link between God and the actual world. These
forms are abstract and not real, because in themselves they represent no
achievement of actual value. Actual fact always means fusion into one
perceptivity. God is one such conceptual fusion, embracing the concept of
all such possibilities graded in harmonious, relative subordination. Each
actual occasion in the temporal world is another such fusion. The forms
belong no more to God than to any one occasion. Apart from these forms, no
rational description can be given either of God or of the actual world.
Apart from God, there would be no actual world; and apart from the actual
world with its creativity, there would be no rational explanation of the
ideal vision which constitutes God.
actual occasion gives to the creativity which flows from it a definite
character in two ways. In one way, as a fact, enjoying its complex of
relationships with the rest of the world, it contributes a ground––partly
good and partly bad––for the creativity to fuse with a novel consequent,
which will be the outcome of its free urge. In another way, as transmuted
in the nature of God, the ideal consequent s its stands in his vision is
also added. Thus God in the world is the perpetual vision of the road
which leads to deeper realities.
that function in the world by reason of which our purposes are directed to
ends which in our own consciousness are impartial as to our own interests.
He is that element in life in virtue of which judgement stretches beyond
facts of existence to values of existence. He is that element in virtue of
which our purposes extend beyond values for ourselves to values for
others. He is that element in virtue of which the attainment of such a
value for others transforms itself into value for ourselves.
the binding element in the world. The consciousness which is individual in
us, is universal in him: the love which is partial in us is all-embracing
in him. Apart from him there could be no world, because there could be no
adjustment of individuality. His purpose is always embodied in the
particular ideals relevant to the actual state of the world. Thus all
attainment is immortal in that it fashions the actual ideals which are God
in the world as it is now. Every act leaves the world with a deeper or a
fainter impress of God. He then passes into his next relation to the world
with enlarged, or diminished, presentation of ideal values.
not the world, but the valuation of the world. In abstraction from the
course of events, this valuation is a necessary metaphysical function.
Apart from it, there could be no definite determination of limitation
required for attainment. But in the actual world, He confronts what is
actual in it with what is possible for it. Thus He solves all
passage of time is the journey of the world towards the gathering of new
ideas into actual fact. This adventure is upwards and downwards. Whatever
ceases to ascend, fails to preserve itself and enters upon its inevitable
path of decay. It decays by transmitting its nature to slighter occasions
of actuality, by reason of the failure of the new forms to fertilise the
perceptive achievements which constitute its past history. The universe
shows us two aspects: on one side it is physically wasting, on the other
side it is spiritually ascending.
thus passing with a slowness, inconceivable in our measures of time, to
new creative conditions, amid which the physical world, as we at present
know it, will be represented by a ripple barely to be distinguished from
present type of order in the world has arisen from an unimaginable past,
and it will find its grave in an unimaginable future. There remain the
inexhaustible realm of abstract forms, and creativity, with its shifting
character every determined afresh by its own creatures, and God, upon
whose wisdom all forms of order depend.