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character of our knowledge of their movements, and the impossibility of knowing what these movements are when the molecules are combined in the unknown but doubtless complex manner in which they are combined in protoplasm. This is a very excellent reason for not accusing the investigators of negligence; but, as it is not evidence for the molecular theory, but an apology for the lack of it, it is one of the worst possible reasons for accepting their conclusions. We are then assured that evidence will be hereafter forthcoming. Forthcoming evidence, however, is not evidence until it comes. And what ground can there possibly be for believing that evidence will hereafter be forthcoming, except present evidence looking the same way? If this present evidence is not conclusive, or if no evidence at present exist, this state of things is not altered by predictions, which, if they have any weight at all, have weight only from present evidence. And by the time that we are, in the last resort, informed that there are privileged spirits who can investigate Nature by imagination, and explain her hitherto hidden mysteries by a process of divination, it has become plain to the meanest understanding that nonsense is being substituted for science. "Has Science," very pertinently asks Dr. Beale, "has Science, with her observation, her experimental method, and her facts, really been brought to this?" "The formation of tissue," he says in another place,* "has been attributed to 'vacuolation' and 'differentiation,' and these polysyllables have lately been superseded [?] by the still more vague terms, subtle influences,' and 'external conditions,' and 'sundry circumstances.' And it has been affirmed that to the 'primitive properties of the molecules,' and 'natural selection 't may be referred all the varying forms and structures known to us, as well as all the phenomena of the living world. But such terms explain nothing. By their use further enquiry is discouraged, and the mind bent upon investigating the secrets of nature is misled at the very outset." Declarations that the tissues of living beings are formed by "subtle influences" and "sundry circumstances" would be invaluable, no doubt, if the persons making them could tell us any more than other men of science can as to what the "subtle influences" and "sundry circumstance" are. But the idea that any information is conveyed by statements so trivial as that vital phenomena are produced by "sundry circumstances" and "subtle influences," or that such statements are capable of supporting any theory of life whatever, only shows how even those whose mental training might be supposed to have put them out of the reach of such a danger, are liable to be imposed upon by mere words and phrases, and to confound verbal with real explanation. Again, the history of the formation of tissue is, according to Van Baer's law, a history of differentiations; so that tissue is formed by differentiation, not in the sense that differentiation is the cause of tissue formation, but that it is the manner of it. It is, however, the cause that is in question when we are examining theories on the nature of the agency which produces vital phenomena; and in the sense of

* Page 58.

+ Natural selection is, however, a causa vera. The question is about the extent of its operation, and the presence in this or that case of the conditions of its operation.

VOL. XX. NO. XXXIX.-[New Series.]


cause, it is as ridiculous to say that tissue is formed by differentiation as it would be to say that the earth's annual revolution round the sun is the cause of its going round that body once a year.

The character of the arguments-if arguments they can be called-used to support the physical theory of life are thus insufficient even appreciably to diminish the initial presumption against it. It is Dr. Beale's object in his Essay to supplement this presumption by a variety of special facts and arguments into which we cannot enter, but the general character of "The Mystery of Life" will have been abundantly evident from the above observations.

The Scripture Doctrine of Creation: with reference to Religious Nihilism and Modern Theories of Development. By the Rev. T. R. Birks. London: The Christian Evidence Committee of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1872.


N this little volume (which we notice partly on account of the magnitude of the interests involved, and partly as a fair sample of the manner in which the conflict with unbelief is being carried on by its non-Catholic opponents) the Author, the fact, and the manner of creation are treated of, the speculations of Mr. Herbert Spencer being attacked under the first two heads, the Darwinian theory and the hypothesis of creation by law under the third. As Mr. Spencer also holds the Darwinian theory, and as it is in the form in which it is propounded by him that it is attacked in "The Scripture Doctrine of Creation," we may indeed say that it is to certain of Spencer's speculations as are dangerous to religion that the volume before us purports to be a popular answer.

To begin with, why does Mr. Birks take the Scripture doctrine of Creation as the keynote of his opposition to Herbert Spencer? This he himself explains at the commencement of his fourth chapter :

"In the beginning God created heaven and earth. These words are the simple and sublime fountain-head of the mighty river of divine revelation. They claim, then, the deepest attention and the most careful study from wery thinking Christian. In their original order they teach in sucession for great truths, a beginning, an act of creation, a Divine Creator, and the reaity of a created universe. And they exclude five speculative falsehoods: that othing can be known of God or the origin of things; that there is nothing but created matter; that there is no God distinct from His creatures; that creatia is a series of acts without a beginning; and that there is no real univers; or, more briefly, Nihilism, Materialism, Pantheism, Evolutionism, and Negtive Idealism." (p. 78.)

But Hrbert Spencer's speculations can be called Nihilism only if an extremely dd signification be given to the word Nihil.. He does not, any more than ay one else, deny that anything exists; and therefore Nihilism is not a fitting rm whereby to designate either his speculations or those of any other person. What he asserts is that clear and definite knowledge, know

ledge properly so called, is of the phenomenal alone, and that although a dim, underlying, all-mysterious something manifests itself to us in all phenomena whether of our own minds or of the material universe, this something is, strictly speaking, unknowable, inasmuch as only a vague and indistinct apprehension of it, which cannot properly be called knowledge, is attainable. The whole bearing of these declarations manifestly depends on the sense in which the word phenomenon is taken. Derived from paívw, its natural meaning would seem to be that which shows or reveals itself, a premiss, a datum, a material of knowledge. In this meaning of the word it is plain that we can know only phenomena, i. e. things appearing, and whatever can be legitimately concluded from them; and it is also evident, not only that we can have no knowledge of the ultra-phenomenal, but also that we can have no reason for asserting that anything beyond the phenomenal exists. But then in this sense the Divine Nature would be mediately a phenomenon ; which everyone would feel to be a strange way of speaking. And in this signification phenomenon is not so commonly used; it is usually taken to denote quantities, qualities, and relations, as distinguished from the substance or substances in which they inhere. It is in this second sense that the term is employed by Herbert Spencer; and the gist of this part of his philosophy therefore is that our knowledge extends only to quantities, qualities, and relations, and that although a mysterious something lies beyond these, it lies also beyond the limits of our knowledge. In other words, his philosophy is a philosophy of knowledge of the phenomenal and nescience of the ultraphenomenal, and may, therefore, with reference to the distinctive part of it, be called a Philosophy of Nescience.

Mr. Birks's little book consists of three parts. In the first, which is composed of three chapters, two on "Religious Nescience," and a third on "The Alleged Law of Scientific Progress," he attacks the position that God cannot be known. By the alleged law of scientific progress he means Auguste Comte's celebrated fancy that every science starts from a theological stage in which it supposes that the phenomena with which it deals are effects of the volitions of some conscious being or beings; passes through a metaphysical stage in which it refers them to metaphysical abstractions such as force, the powers of nature, etc.; and rests in a positive stage, in which it confines itself to the phenomena themselves, and declares it unscientific to refer them to any non-phenomenal cause whatsoever. This idea he supposes to be held also by Herbert Spencer; but erroneously; for Mr. Spencer has in his essay on the classification of the sciences condemned it as a faulty generalization, and given some very excellent reasons for dissenting from it. However, in the latter part of the chapter he successfully attacks Herbert Spencer's own hasty and equally faulty generalization that the religious history of man is the history of a progress towards complete recognition of the fact that the office of religion is to contemplate "the Unknowable." But the value of his criticisms is considerably diminished by the circumstance that he has not used the last (third) edition of "First Principles," in which some of the passages he objects to are suppressed.

What Mr. Birks calls Religious Nihilism we should prefer to call

Religious Nescience,-meaning by Nescience a dim and vague apprehension as distinguished on the one hand from entire and complete ignorance, and on the other from knowledge in the strict sense of the word. Mr. Spencer's "Unknowable" is the nearest approach he ever makes to the idea of a God, and, in fact, his opinion as to this Unknowable in parts remind one of the opinions held by some of the less orthodox Scholastics, that our concepts of the Divine Attributes in no wise resemble the Divine Attributes themselves [conceptus æquivocus Dei], e.g., that we call God wise not because there is in Him anything in any way corresponding to the most perfect wisdom which can be conceived by us, but because He produces the effects which would be produced by the most perfect wisdom. Nay, some of the arguments which Mr. Spencer employs are even the same as were formerly used by these Scholastics, whose opinion has long ago been exploded. And the state of mind in which his speculations about this "Unknowable" would leave a perfectly docile disciple, is one very far removed from a state of entire and complete ignorance. Such a condition would be, for instance, that in which a person would find himself, who, for the first time, and without any knowledge of Latin, beheld the word homo. In the first place, he would not know whether it meant anything at all; and in the second place, supposing it to mean something, he would have not the slightest idea what it did or did not mean it might signify, for anything he knew to the contrary, dirty water, first love, howsoever, or a bean-stalk. In like manner complete ignorance about the Unknowable would be not to have the least notion whether it existed or not, or, if it existed, what it was like. But according to Mr. Spencer, we know of this Unknowable at least that it exists; and this, if not much, is at any rate something; we also know that it is mysterious, which is something more; and we are told + that the contemplation of it is an essentially religious act, so that whatever its nature is, its nature must be such that it is religious to contemplate it. We learn from the same teacher that it is "the Absolute," "the Ultimate Reality," "the Ultimate Cause," an "Incomprehensible Power," to the presence of which we are unable to think of limits,§ and that if it does not possess personality, the assumption that the choice is between personality and something lower is erroneous, for the choice is rather between personality and something higher. It would also appear that if what we call consciousness is not predicable of it, the choice is in like manner not between consciousness and something lower, but rather between consciousness and something higher; for Mr. Spencer informs us that it puts thoughts into people's minds, and more than that, that "when the unknown cause produces in" a man "a certain belief, he is thereby authorized to profess and act out that belief." ¶ And if he said, in his "Principles of Biology," "** that an enormous mass of the provisions of organic nature "imply malevolence rather than benevolence," we are happy to say that he

Compare "First Principles" (Williams & Norgate, 1870), pp. 109113, with Occam, In Sententias, 1. 1, d. 3, &c. "First Principles," p. 96, &c. || p. 109. | p. 123.

"First Principles," p. 99, &c. §"First Principles,” p. 99.


p. 344.

has apparently changed his opinion, for he tells us in his "First Principles" * that he is "convinced that all punishment, as we see it wrought out in the order of nature, is but a disguised beneficence :" which is obviously enough a sufficient basis for the ordinary argument for the continuance of our existence in another life. Now, whatever this theory may be,t it is certainly most inappropriate to call it Religious Nihilism; and if it is called Religious Nescience, and the Being of whom Mr. Spencer makes the declaration which we have quoted is denominated the Unknowable, it must not be forgotten that Nescience is not taken to mean absolute ignorance, and that knowledge is used in a special and peculiar sense in which it signifies a knowledge more clear, exact, and complete than these declarations imply.

The conclusion, that the ultra-phenomenal somewhat of which so much is made in the Philosophy of Nescience is unknowable, is arrived at by means of two lines of argument, of which the first is that knowledge is only of the relative, and that the Ultimate Cause is absolute. But if the validity of this argument, which is in reality only a jumble of words, be conceded, much more than the Ultimate Cause will have to be excluded from knowledge; for we must hold ourselves incapable of knowing not only the supposedly non-relative Ultimate Reality,§ but also anything else which may be absolute. This, consequently, Mr. Spencer admits; and supports his conclusion by a second line of argument, that whenever we attempt to realize the nonrelative in thought we fall necessarily into insoluble contradictions.

"First Principles," p. 120.

+ Mr. Spencer's "Unknowable" which he prints with a capital letter, as he does its congeners, "the Ultimate Reality," etc., often reminds us of the Tò "Ev Kai Пav of the Pantheists, which underlies all phenomena: e.g., "First Principles," p. 113, speaks of the "indefinite sense of an Ultimate Existence, which forms the basis of our intelligence."

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"The relativity of human knowledge," says Mr. Mill in his "Examination of Hamilton's Philosophy," chap. ii, "like most other phrases into which the word relative or relation enters, is vague, and admits of a great variety of meanings. When, therefore, a philosopher lays great stress upon the relativity of our knowledge, it is necessary to cross-examine his writings and compel them to disclose in which of its many degrees of meaning he understands the phrase.”— -An observation very useful to anyone who should undertake an examination of Herbert Spencer's Philosophy. It may be added that while Mr. Spencer declares that we have definite consciousness only of the relative, he admits a vague and indefinite consciousness of the non-relative also.-(F. P. p. 87.)

§ The "Ultimate Reality” will often remind the reader of Substance; and the assertions about its unknowableness of the declarations which have been current since the time of Locke respecting the unknowableness of substance. As a matter of fact, however, we know substance just as much as we know attribute, as any one may convince himself by a little reflection. It is true we cannot know substance apart from attribute, but then just as little can we know attribute apart from substance; we know both only in conjunction, and so we know both. But although we cannot know the one aloof from the other, yet when the two are presented together in apprehension we can attend to the one while we pay but little attention to the other, although we are conscious of its presence. And if we thus isolate some simple attribute,

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