4. Revelation and Nature
God, the world, and man are the three realities with which all science and all philosophy occupy themselves. The conception which we form of them, and the relation in which we place them to one another, determine the character of our view of the world and of life, the content of our religion, science, and morality.79
But at the very outset there emerges a profound difference of opinion in regard to the sciences which are devoted to these important subjects. It is often represented as if only the special science of theology concerned itself with God and divine things, and as if all the other sciences, particularly the natural sciences, have nothing whatever to do with God; nay, as if they would even forfeit their scientific character and become disloyal to their task, should they refer to him or take account of him. A chasm is thus created, objectively, in the sphere of reality, between God and the world, and, subjectively, in man, between his intellect and heart, between his faith and knowledge; even if the very existence of God be not denied and all right of existence be refused to faith.
But such a dualism is impossible. God does not stand apart from the world, much less from man, and therefore the knowledge of him is not the peculiar domain of theology. It is true, theology especially occupies itself with his revelation, in order that its nature and contents may be, so far as possible, scientifically understood. But this revelation addresses itself to all men; the religion which is founded on it is the concern of every man, even of the man of science and the investigator of nature; for all men, without exception, the knowledge of God is the way to eternal life. Moreover, the man who devotes himself to science cannot split himself into halves and separate his faith from his knowledge; even in his scientific investigations he remains man,—not a purely intellectual being, but a man with a heart, with affections and emotions, with feeling and will. Not only mankind, but also every individual, finds, as he grows to full consciousness, a view of the world already prepared for him, to the formation of which he has not consciously contributed.80 And the demand which truth and morality make on him is not, and cannot be, that he shall denude himself of himself, but that he shall be, a man of God, furnished completely unto every good work. The thinker and philosopher, as well as the common citizen and the day laborer, have to serve and glorify God in their work.
This leads immediately to the conclusion that natural science is not the only science, and cannot be. The French and English use of the word “science” might, unfortunately, lead us to think so,81 and gives support to the idea of Comte that humanity has successively traversed the three stadia of theology, metaphysics, and positivism, and only now has reached the standpoint of true science. But history knows nothing of such a progression; the sciences do not develop successively one after the other, but more or less side by side and in connection with one another. By all sorts of interrelations they exercise an influence on each other, and thus support and promote each other. Nor, in the development of science, do all things move on as simply as is postulated in the easy and aprioristic scheme of the, doctrine of evolution. No universal formula, which endeavors to embrace the entire course of history, is true; and Comte’s law also fails in the face of the criticism of life in its richness. Not uniformity, but differentiation and totality, are everywhere the distinctive marks of life.82
To the sciences of nature, therefore, there belongs in the circle of the sciences the same liberty of movement and work which is the right of every other science. They have their own object, and therefore their own method and aim. In their effort to know and to explain natural phenomena they have no need to call in the aid of a Deus ex machina. and make of faith an asylum ignorantiae. As a science, natural science busies itself not only with the succession, but also with the causes, of phenomena. In searching after these causes the conception of evolution, as a working hypothesis, has done eminent service. Analogies and relations have been traced out and discovered, which otherwise would not so easily have been found and investigated. But here the mistake has been made that evolution, which has proved, like, for instance, the physical atom, useful as a working hypothesis, has been elevated to the rank of a formula of world-explanation and elaborated into a system of world-conception. Thus natural science leaves her own domain and passes over to that of philosophy. It must acquiesce in the other sciences, of religion and ethics, of jurisprudence and Aesthetics, coming also to their rights and incorporating the results of their investigations too into the structure of an all-embracing view of the world.
The representation is therefore wrong, that faith in the existence and providence of God finds its home exclusively in the chasms of our knowledge, so that as our investigations proceed, we must be continually filled with anxiety, and steadily lose the territory of our faith in proportion as more and more problems are solved. For the world is itself grounded in God; witness its law and order.83 Faith naturally insists,—how could it fail to do so? —that it shall retain a place in the world. It maintains its demand that natural science shall retain consciousness of its limitations and that it shall not form a conception, out of the narrow sphere in which it works, in which no room is left for the soul and immortality, for intelligence and design in the world, for the existence and providence of God, for religion and Christianity. Natural science remains, therefore, perfectly free in its own sphere ; but it is not the only science, and must therefore cease striving to construe religious and ethical phenomena after the same physico-chemical and mathematico-mechanical fashion as is warranted and required in the case of numberless natural phenomena. In principle what faith demands is that science shall itself maintain its ethical character, and shall not put itself at the service of the evil inclination of the human heart in its endeavor to explain the world without God and to erect itself into a self-supporting and self-sufficient divinity.
No barrier is thus erected around natural science which it cannot respect; but rather a boundary is assigned to its sphere of labor which is demanded by its own object and character. For whereas formerly the concept “nature” frequently embraced all creation, and, as naturata, was distinguished from God as the natura naturans, it is nowadays usually limited to sensible objects and phenomena, so far as they are not produced by human art. In this sense nature stands, then, as the non-ego, in antithesis with the human psyche, as the observing and knowing subject. But because the mechanical view has a perfect right of existence in a part of the territory which history has gradually assigned to natural science, and has indeed led in it to various valuable results, many have drawn the conclusion that natural science is the only true science, and that the mechanical solution is the only true solution of all phenomena. Haeckel goes even so far as to claim that every one who still believes in a soul, or a principle of life, deserts the domain of science, and seeks refuge in miracles and supernaturalism.84 On the other hand, von Hartmann justly maintains that whosoever, as a scientist, deems the mechanical explanation of the phenomena of life, for instance, insufficient, and endeavors to explain them in another way, namely, by a principle of life, deals with the matter just as scientifically as any other.85 And Ostwald has even called the mechanical view of the world “a mere delusion,” which cannot be utilized even as a working hypothesis.86 In fact, the conception that the world as a whole and in all its parts is one vast machine is so absurd and self-contradictory that it is difficult to understand how it could even for one moment have satisified and dominated the human mind. For aside from the fact that even a machine would postulate an intelligent maker87 the other fact remains that a machine which is eternally self-moving, and never has ceased to work and never will cease to do so, is in conflict with all our experiences and all our thinking. In point of fact the world, far from being intelligible as a machine, is “in no respect self-explaining, but in every respect mysterious.” Its very existence is a riddle. The great miracle before which we stand is, that there is something which is, that there is an existence of which we are unable to point to the ground.88 To the world, as a whole and in all its parts, we ascribe only a contingent existence, so that its explanation is not found in itself. Physics points back to and is founded in metaphysics.
This is already evident from the fact that the science of nature, although it has in many respects the advantage over the mental sciences, still utilizes, and is compelled to utilize, all sorts of ideas which are not derived from experience, but are present from the very start. Ideas like “thing” and “property,” “matter” and “force,” “aether” and “movement,” “space” and “time,” “cause” and “design,” are indispensable to natural science; but they are derived from metaphysics. They serve as logical apparatus which precedes all observation; and yet they are so far from plain and clear that they, each in itself and all together, contain a world of mysteries. Naturally this does not satisfy the human mind. It endeavors, whether successfully or not makes no difference, to apprehend the meaning and the truth, the principle and the cause, of these ideas. Natural science may for a time despise philosophy; by and by it must return to it, because it has itself proceeded from it.89 When the “thirst for facts” has been in a way satisfied, “the hunger for causes” will come to the surface.90
The proof of this is found herein, that no one is able to banish from his heart or to remove from his lips the question of the origin of things. Haeckel justly observes, however, that this question lies outside of the domain of natural science. If creation ever took place, “it lies entirely beyond the scope of human knowledge, and hence can never become the object of scientific investigation.” But he does not stop there, but immediately proceeds—“Natural science regards matter as eternal and imperishable , because the origination or annihilation of the smallest of its particles has never yet been proved by experience.” In announcing this dogma of the eternity of matter, however, it is not the student of nature but the philosopher, not science but faith, that speaks; for what he objects against faith is of force against himself : “where faith begins, there science ceases.”91 And this is all the more forcible because elsewhere he is compelled to admit: “We nowhere reach a knowledge of ultimate causes” ; even if all the riddles of the world and of life were solved, the one great riddle of substance would confront us like a sphinx.92 Physics, then, is not the only science solving all riddles, but before it and above it stands metaphysics. if, nevertheless, it wishes an explanation of the origin of all things, it commits itself to what, scientifically considered, as Lodge says, “must be viewed as guess-work, being an overpressing of known fact into an exaggerated and over-comprehensive form of statement.”93
Not less great are the difficulties which confront natural science when it investigates the essence of things. Here we have to deal with three factors,—space, time, and a quale, howsoever we may further define it, which in space and time makes their mutual relations possible. These factors, too, the science of nature does not find by its own investigations, but rather postulates from the start. And these ideas again embrace a whole array of difficulties. We do not know what space and time are in themselves. We do not know the relation which they sustain to matter and force; and of their finiteness or infinity we can form not the slightest notion.94 Kant points out in his antinomies of reason that with these ideas we confront difficulties which are insoluble to our thought. The affirmation that the world has had no beginning and has no limits, involves us in the self-contradictions of an infinite time and an infinite space, for the sum total of finite parts, however many they may be, can never equal infinitude.95 Time and space are therefore the existence-form of the world and the conception-form of our consciousness; but they cannot be identified with that which is the absolute ground and cause of all existence. In this sense they belong not to “reality,” but to “appearance,” or rather, they appertain only to creation, but not to the Creator. And since an eternal time and a boundless space are like a wooden iron, our thinking forces us to distinguish the absolute from the relative. Monism does not exist here, and if it nevertheless be sought here, it can bring us nothing but confusion. Eternity and time, immensity and space, do not differ quantitatively but qualitatively. And since the words “absolute,” “eternal,” “immense,” “infinite,” are predicates, and, when substantivized, form only empty abstractions, they presuppose a transcendent subject, differentiated from the world, to whom they belong. That is to say, physical science, which thinks through its own conceptions, and fathoms its own nature, issues in metaphysics and rises straight to God.
Not less involved is the problem presented by the third conception, of which the science of nature makes use, namely, the idea of some sort of substance which exists in the forms of time and space and makes their interrelation possible. In a formal sense natural science is “the exhibition of the coherence of reality as a unified system of regulated relations of dependence between elements of space, time, and number.”96 Its aim is—whether rightly or wrongly—to comprehend all change and movement in a mathematical formula and to reduce all qualitative differences to quantity. So far as it strives after this aim, it is a formal science. But it is self-evident that reality is not comprehended in these formal defintions. Reality is something else and something more than a complex of quantitative relations. These presuppose precisely a quale, which exists in those relations. Even if we knew all the laws of motion and of change to which matter is subject, with all that its essence would still remain a mystery. Astronomy maybe able to compute the movements of celestial bodies, but this does not enlighten us in regard to their nature and composition.
Now, ideas concerning the substance of things, even among the votaries of natural science, diverge very widely. But even the very first question, whether such a substance exists, or whether the psychic sensations are the ultimate elements of reality, falls entirely outside of the bounds of physics and brings us again into the domain of philosophy. When Max Verworn attacks materialism and “energetism” in the name of monism, he no longer speaks as a physiologist, but as a philosopher. But even he, although he repels the antithesis of subject and object, of spirit and matter, of soul and body, does not find monism. For when he says that the entire physical world is only “a content of the psyche,” he begins, without admitting it, with the reality of the psyche, that is of substance, and differentiates between it and its contents. As long, therefore, as science believes in itself, it cannot escape the necessity of postulating in and above experience a unity, a bond, a subject, which tests and orders this experience.97 And as the experience subjectively presupposes a subject which experiences, it also objectively points to a reality, which just as little as the subject is exhausted in relations. In the subject there is a difference between a Beziehendes and a Bezogenes; and in the object there is a difference between the relations and the reality of which they are predicated. Very truly Fechner says : “Not merely the detailed phenomena, but also that which holds them together, has reality; nay, to the latter belongs the highest reality.”98 But whatever we may think of this, the question of the reality of the soul and the world belongs to metaphysics; it is not answered by empirical investigations, but by metaphysics, that is to say, in other words, by faith.
The same is true with reference to the problem of the ultimate nature of that reality which must be accepted unless we are willing to sink into solipsism. Whether we take the theistic standpoint here, or accept some one of the different forms of monism, we do not attain to our conception of the nature of reality by the way of experience, but must permit ourselves to be led by metaphysical reasoning on the basis of observation. And it is not exact science, but faith and the character of our personality, which decides the matter here. It is not presumable that physics and chemistry, however far they may extend their researches, will ever change this state of affairs. Chemistry still has some seventy elements, whose resolution or composition it cannot effect and which differ from one another in qualities. And although physics reduces the phenomena of light, heat, and electricity to vibrations, it has not yet succeeded in reducing the qualitative differences, which manifest themselves in these phenomena, to quantitative relations. The nature of the ultimate element of things is still utterly unknown. Whether these elements are atoms, which differ only in size, form, and weight, or even in quality, or whether these ultimate elements of existence are rather “monads” or “reales,” matter or energy, or both together—all this is a fit subject for philosophic speculation, but must per se far transcend all observation. In our day natural science, in order to explain the phenomena of light and electricity, assumes the existence of an ether, which fills all space. But this ether has never been observed, and its nature is unknown. A great effort is being made to discover an original stuff, which lies at the base of all matter, especially since Sir William Ramsay’s announcement that radium can be transmuted into helium and lithium; and hypotheses have already been constructed which see such an original stuff in hydrogen or in the electron or in the ether. But for the time being W. A. Shenstone is perfectly justified in saying, “that we are still very far from knowing definitely that atoms are composed entirely of electrons, or that electrons are nothing but electric changes; and though electrons have been shown to exhibit electric inertia, it has not been proved that the inertia of atoms is also electrical.”99
And just as little as all matter has been reduced to one original stuff, have the different forces been as yet shown to be only forms of one original force. Force in itself is a mysterious phenomenon. When Ostwald seeks to reduce all matter to energy, he can only hypostatize and personify a conception which has been derived from matter by abstraction, and mistakenly imagines that he has thus eliminated matter.100 Similarly every specific force is an unexplained mystery; the force of gravitation, for instance, is not an explanation, but only the name of a phenomenon, and it is even questionable whether the name is exact.101 Especially in regard to the vital force, differences of opinion assert themselves. Mechanism and vitalism here stand in bitter opposition, and the neovitalists are at war among themselves on the question whether the cause of life is to be sought in a special force of the organism, or rather in an idea or form dominating and governing this organism. And thus the riddles increase step by step, as science penetrates more deeply into the essence of things or rises higher in the ascending scale of creation. The cell is the last and lowest form of life, but the cell-core and proto-plasm, which form the cell, are not homogeneous, and point to different compositions; the original individua of bioplasts are not of one kind; plants, animals, and man do not yet form an uninterrupted ascending chain of creatures; even the animals have not been reduced to one primordial type, and are nowadays usually divided into eight classes. Everywhere in creation we face an endless differentiation, an inconceivable multiformity of creatures, an inexhaustible wealth of essence and life.
Beyond question it is the duty of science to reduce this chaos of phenomena to order. It has to give us the thread, following which we may not lose our way in this labyrinth, but find the right path. But, as has already been said, it is an aprioristic and wholly unjustified assumption that this path through the labyrinth of the world must lead to monism,—particularly when monism itself has been erected on an utterly aprioristic view of the world; namely, on the conception that this world must find its explanation in itself. But unity, true unity, a unity which does not destroy differentiation, but rather includes and enfolds it, may come, and can come, only when the entire world is conceived as the product of the wisdom and power which reveal God’s eternal plan. Only a personal God, who is both will and intelligence, can call a world into existence, which is one and yet differentiated; just as man alone, who has been created in his image, is a knowing and willing being, a knowledge-making and tool-making animal.
But suppose for a moment that all matter and all force, all existence and all life, could be reduced in our thinking to one ultimate principle; even so nothing is gained for the truth of monism or for the explanation of the world. For first of all the old logical rule is still in force—a posse ad esse non valet consequentia. The mere fact that in our thought we can form the conception of a world which has produced itself from one substance through the action of one force, would not prove at all that this conception is the true one and that reality corresponds to this conception. For instance, it is well known that the elements which constitute the bodies of living beings are, besides oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulphur. But these four elements are never found in a free state, but always in combination with oxygen (oxidized), especially in the form of carbonic acid, water, sulphuric acid, and saltpetre. In order, therefore, that they may be serviceable for the formation of albumen and other organic compounds, they must first be separated from the oxygen (deoxidized). To the question whether, in earlier periods of this world’s existence, free carbon, hydrogen and sulphur existed, an answer could be given by experience alone; but in the nature of the case this is not available. Logical analysis is thus something different from real decomposition. Even if chemistry should ultimately discover a single original element, even that would not at all prove that this original element existed in the beginning separately, and has slowly and gradually, through a variety of mechanical combinations, brought into being the several existing elements.102 Physics never is empowered to conclude from the posse to the esse, from the conception to the reality; it is not limited by any extraneous power, but by its own character.
Still, for the sake of argument let us also admit that there was originally only one element and one force, from which by slow degrees everything has developed. Then natural science would be simplified, but the riddle of the multiformity of the world would continue undiminished.103 It would be merely transferred and moved backwards; transferred to the one substance and moved back to an endless past. And by this it would even be increased in intensity. For the question thus becomes: how, from one single uniform original element, by any possibility, this world, with its endless differentiations, could have been produced. The answer to the atomists used to be that the Iliad could not have been produced by an accidental collocation of a font of type. But there is nothing here to compare to the difficulty of the monists in explaining the world. For an alphabet at least consists of different letters, and language may illustrate how the human mind can from a few sounds form tens of thousands of words. But the new monism lets the Iliad of the world arise out of the collocation of the same letter and the same sound. Such a process is possible only if the one world-substance is elevated to deity and invested with the attributes of omniscience and omnipotence, which, according to theism, belong to the personal God alone. Without metaphysics, without faith, without God, physics does not reach its mark. But the deity which is finally invoked is a Deus ex machina; the faith in which it hides itself is an asylum ignorantiae; and the divinity which it conceives is one of its own making.
In the conflict which nowadays rages on all sides, and which is frequently represented as a conflict between science and faith, physics and theology, the principal difference, therefore, does not concern the question, What is nature? but rather this other one, What is God? If possible, this will be still more clearly seen if we call attention finally to the problem, of motion. Nothing proves more clearly that this problem cannot be solved than the fact that philosophy throughout the ages and among all nations and down to the present day divides itself into two tendencies. With Zeno, “becoming” is sacrificed to “being,” or with Heraclitus, “being” to “becoming.” In point of fact, we can spare neither, for “becoming” presupposes “being.” There can be no question of change if there is no identity and continuity of the subject.104 But monism cannot accept this differentiation, endeavors to reduce motion to rest or rest to motion, and thus once again sacrifices the facts of reality to a play of ideas. And by this endeavor it gets, at every subordinate point which is raised by the problem of motion, in an impasse which has no outlet.
For whether motion is reality or appearance, the questions of its cause and nature, its laws and aim, can never be suppressed. If now there is no primum movens, no “being” which gives existence to the “becoming,” nothing is left but to think of motion as eternal. And Haeckel accordingly affirms that the substance of the universe, with its two attributes, matter and energy, fills infinite space and is in an eternal motion, and that this motion thus proceeds in an endless time.105 But such words, though no doubt they endure to be set side by side on paper, form in thought an intolerable antinomy. Eternity and motion can be just as little correlated in one and the same subject as infinitude and space (or time), as the absolute and the relative, as God and the world. And this is all the less possible if the world, according to Haeckel’s notion, is a vast machine. For a machine which keeps on working forever, without ever coming to a stop, is an inconceivable and impossible perpetuum mobile. If the world is eternal, it is no machine; if it is a machine, it cannot be eternal.
A similar difficulty arises with respect to the nature of motion. Man has always lived in the conviction that there is no effect without a cause. Even if in earlier times numerous phenomena or occurrences were explained by the operation of divinities, of spirits, or of mysterious powers, this is merely a proof that the law of causality is not an invention of modern times, but is a category of the human mind. Neither did men in early times ascribe all phenomena to supernatural operations, nor is this done to-day among the so-called “nature-peoples.” For everywhere and always there has been quite an extended sphere in which things were referred to natural causes. From his origin man has worked in order to eat; has applied himself to fishing and to the chase, to agriculture and stockraising, and, in a primitive way, also to knowledge and art. By the aid of the means at hand he has obtained food and clothing and shelter. The conception of natural causes has never been wholly lacking in man. But no doubt this domain of natural causes was much more limited than at the present day. Science has gradually expanded the idea of nature and of the natural. And every reasonable man rejoices in this expansion of our knowledge, which is at the same time power and domination of spirit over matter.
But when science seeks to apply the law of causality in such sense as to permit only a mechanical relation between cause and effect, it not only passes beyond its competence, but also cuts itself off from explaining the phenomena. For just as motion presupposes no less continuity than change, causality implies both that cause and effect stand in relation to one another, and that the effect is something more than, or at least something different from, the cause. For if this were not so, everything would remain where it is, or at least at the same level; everything would revolve in a circle, and there could be no possible question of progress, ascent, or development. Now reality teaches us certainly to recognize such progress and development; there is a great differentiation of being. And even in the sphere where we speak, and justly so, of mechanical causality, causality is not at all exhausted by mechanism. We call it by that name, no doubt, but this name does not cover the much richer reality.
Lodge has said very truly: “There is no necessary justification for assuming that a property exhibited by an aggregate of particles must be possessed by the ingredients of which it is composed; on the contrary, wholly new properties may make their appearance simply by aggregation.”106 The simplest combinations of elements already manifest properties different from those of the elements themselves. Water differs in nature from each of its two components,—oxygen and hydrogen; vitriol is different from any of its three components,—iron and sulphur and oxygen.107 And in a much higher measure this is true of organic beings. Heredity has been for years the object of keen investigation, but no one will affirm that its secret has been disclosed and that its explanation has been accomplished. The variety of the theories which have been framed concerning it—those of Lamarck and Darwin, Erlsberg and Haeckel, Nägeli and de Vries, Weismann and Hertwig—is enough to show that not one of them is satisfactory. For the present we can only say that there is such a thing as heredity, and that there is such a thing as variability, as certainly we might very well have expected from the beginning. But of its cause and relations we thus far know nothing. All change seems, in varying degrees, to be a sort of generation which produces something newer and higher. Thus change, progress, and development are possible, but thus also it becomes manifest that the attempt to transmute all causality into mechanical relationship is doomed from the very start. In causality other forces are at work than those which can be expressed by figures.
This being so, the laws of nature also assume an aspect different from that which still is often ascribed to them. Really we can speak of natural laws only from the standpoint of theism. Natural laws exist only when there is a lawgiver, who stands above nature and who has decreed that seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease while the earth remains. Abstracted from God as the law-giver, the laws of nature are nothing but a human and ever fallible description of the way in which things operate. Like substance and force and motion, these natural laws are frequently no doubt hypostatized and elevated to the rank of powers and rulers over things. But against this the words of von Hartmann are pertinent, that “Of all entities created by hypostatizing abstractions probably that of (natural) law as a power antedating the existence of things, hovering over them and controlling them, is the most fictitious.”108 Our natural laws are only a formula for the method of work and of motion of the things.
Therefore they are far from fixed, are anything but unchangeable; on the contrary they are changed, modified, restricted, enlarged, according as we learn to know the things better. Robert Mayer, for instance, the discoverer of the law of the conservation of energy, completely excluded from this law the entire domain of psychical life, and considered it a great error to identify things physical and psychical.109 And although Wundt in the first edition of his Lectures on the Human and Animal Soul, published in 1863, applied this law in the psychical domain too, he expressly receded from this position in the second edition of his work, published in 1892, and has since defended the theory of psychophysical parallelism,—a change of opinion which brought upon him the gibe of Haeckel, that it was usual in old age for “a gradual degeneration to set in, in the brain as well as in the outer organs.”110 Similarly Lodge offers very serious objections to the laws of the constancy of matter and energy, since at best they are applicable only to the forces which we know at present and as we now know them. But in case that matter should prove the phenomenal form of a complex of ether, production and dissolution of matter would be possible. And in case that life should prove to be more than a phiysico-chemical force, we would have to modify the law of the constancy of energy, as some have already proposed to do, since the discovery of radium. So long, therefore, as matter in its essence is unknown, and the resident forces of creation are not exhausted by us, all formulation of laws is necessarily tentative, and a large degree of modesty is the proof of a scientific spirit.111 For in the last analysis all laws of nature, whatever philosophical standpoint we may occupy, are determined by the nature of that being which is the ground and origin of all things and the force of all forces. Laws, ordinances they are, therefore, then only, and in so far only, as they may have a metaphysical character.
And, moreover, only in that case can there be any question, in the development of the world, of a meaning and an aim. Darwin rejoiced in the discovery of natural selection, because he thought that by its aid he could explain the adaptations of nature without a divine intelligence.112 Helmholtz found the novelty of the doctrine of descent, in its exhibition how “adaptation in the formation of organisms can be produced by the blind reign of natural law without the interference of any intelligent factor.”113 And notwithstanding his mechanical view of the world, Haeckel continues to talk about means and aim, about egoistic and altruistic duties, about a “fundamental law of ethics,” and about ethics as “the science of norms.”114 The attack of the evolutionary hypothesis is really not directed against adaptation in nature. On the contrary, although it proceeds from a mechanical causality, it lays all its stress on the tendency and aim of the development. It loves to pose as the theory of progress, and to tell us that evolution has successively originated life, consciousness, will, and all that is true, and good, and beautiful; that it has gradually ennobled the struggle for existence, and has made it a “battle of the spirit,” for that which is noblest and best. Causality in the doctrine of evolution does not antagonize teleology, but is only a means and an element in the process of development. By the one it ascribes to nature compulsion; by the other, will and fitness (sollen).115
But as soon as this adaptation in the world is taken as a teleological proof of the existence and providence of an intelligent power, opposition is aroused, and all monstrosities and rudimentary organs, all disasters and mishaps are called to the witness-stand, to break down the force of this proof. There may be an unconscious and blind adaptation, but no conscious and intelligent one. Haeckel once said that the eye and the ear are so marvellously constructed that they might seduce us into believing in a creation according to a definitely thought-out plan of construction. But he steels himself against the “seduction.” And thus he betrays the fact that the so-called conflict between science and faith lies not in the realm of the physical, but in that of the metaphysical; concentres not in nature, but in God. What nature is to us is determined by what we think of God and who he is for us.
It is, therefore, by no means an indifferent matter for science, and especially for physics, what ground we occupy in metaphysics. We may not think as we please; even scientific work has a moral character, and we have to render an account of it as well as of every idle word. When we sever nature from God, and do not consider nature as a work and revelation of God, but look on it in the completest sense as atheos, this unbelief immediately turns into superstition. Without God all things go wrong, both in our living and in our thinking. The denial of the existence of God includes, in the same moment, the elevation of the creature into the place of God. This is manifested in the materialism of Haeckel, when he openly avows his atheism, but at once invests his substance with the predicates of eternity, omnipresence, omnipotence, etc., which belong to God alone. It comes even more clearly into evidence in the energetic-psychical and logical monism. For there is bound up with this the acknowledgment that the world is no machine, which man can take apart and put together again, but an unconscious, mysterious power, which produces and directs everything. The intelligibility of nature, which was so long believed in by science, is therefore more and more giving place to the confession of its unknowableness. Some years ago Fechner preached his hylozoism and, as many Greek philosophers had done, conceived of the universe literally as a living organism, and this conception has of late found acceptance with many. In 1889 Vogt ascribed to atoms a sense of pain. Haeckel not only sees in the attraction and repulsion of atoms the forces of love and pain, but he animates all plastidules and replaces the wood—and water—nymphs of the Greeks by countless elementary souls and spirits, which are the properties of cells.116 The laws of nature—although they are only a defective formulation of the way in which forces, which are but imperfectly known, are working—are elevated to the rank of mythical beings, like the abstracta of the Romans.117 All investigators of nature apply to nature the conceptions of power, force, industry, labor, resistance, tension, etc., without stopping to consider that all these things are borrowed from human personality, have a psychological content, and are therefore, when robbed of it, nothing but empty forms. In the essence of the thing, what is done is what is ascribed as a naive error to primitive man: nature is explained by animistic, or anthropomorphic conceptions.118 The issue of science in our day, in a remarkable manner, reaches out the hand of fellowship to man, such as he existed, according to the common idea, in his infancy.119
Recent literature and art afford even more startling proof of this deification of nature than science. For without in the least belittling its value, it may be said, on good grounds, that recent art, as a whole, has as its aim to represent man as powerless over against nature. Its revival in the last century was a reversion to mysticism. The essence of things did not exist in material atoms, but it was life, infinitely deep life, eternally operative force. From this principle advance could be made to symbolism, which sees in art an attempt to give a suggestion, in sound or color, in line or arabesque, of the inexpressible; and then further to a glorification of the mystici, and an aesthetic prizing of religion, especially of the Romish worship, as happened with the “néo-Chrétiens” of France. But from the pantheistic and agnostic conception of the universe, the conclusion could just as well be drawn that the everywhere operative force is a mysterious blind fate, of which man is the plaything and against which nothing can prevail. It is thus that in the art of the present day nature is pictured. It is provided with secret powers, dark operations, soft moods, and over against it man is degraded to the point of a mere natural being, which, borne down by heredity, is abandoned to the play of his lusts and passions, stripped of his spontaneity, liberty, and personality, and left incapable of aught but living himself out, like a plant in the field.120 Thus the relation of man to nature, notwithstanding the victories of science, becomes the very opposite of what it was before. The Christian view of nature is gradually giving place to that of the heathen peoples; and the widely spread movements of theosophy and spiritism, of telepathy and astrology, assist in this degradation of man under nature. The un-deification of nature turns into deification of nature, the royal liberty of man into fatalistic subjection.
Man can attain to a true, free relation to nature only when bestands in his true relation to God. And this we owe to Christianity alone. In the polytheistic religions of India and China, Babylon and Egypt, Greece and Rome, man cannot obtain his freedom over against nature, because all creatures, plants and animals, woods and trees, mountains and brooks, stars and suns, are conceived as inhabited by gods or spirits. Over against all this man is tortured by a continuous fear and unbroken anxiety. But this relation is utterly changed when we listen to Moses and the prophets, to Christ and the apostles. They are all free over against nature, because, through communion with God, they are elevated above nature. Deification of nature is here just as inconceivable as contempt of nature. “Paganism oscillates between overbearing abuse of the world and childish dread of its powers.” But in Israel this is wholly different. “With sovereign self-consciousness the Hebrew faces the world and nature. Fear of the world is unknown to him; nevertheless he meets it with a sense of the highest responsibility. As God’s representative man rules the world, but in that capacity only. He may not obey his caprice, but only the revealed will of God.”121
Man owes this free and royal relation to nature first of all to the fact that all the world is recognized as created by God. Here at once the truth is found for which monism seeks in vain. There must be a unity, which lies at the bottom of all diversity. But this unity cannot be found within the world, for matter and force, spirit and matter, the physical and the psychical, the psychical and the ethical, personality and association cannot be reduced to one another; they do not exist after each other, but each with its own concept and valuation, side by side with each other. Whosoever, within the world, tries to reduce unity to multiformity, being to becoming, spirit to matter, man to nature, or the reverse, always plays false with the other half of the distinction. Thus physics calls for metaphysics; nature itself shows, in the core of its existence, that it does not exist of itself, has not been originated by evolution, but is grounded in revelation.
And revelation, by the word of prophets and apostles, confirms this and gives us, in the wisdom and omnipotence of God, in his sovereignty and counsel, that unity for which the human spirit thirsts. So soon, therefore, as this theistic monism is surrendered, after a brief and unsatisfactory trial of materialism and pantheism, polytheism in different forms returns.122 The power of nature and the power of the morally good fall asunder as in Manichaeism; to man and nature, nations and religions, different origins are ascribed; and since the forces at work in the world cannot be reduced to unity, each of them in its own sphere is hypostatised, and first in the conception, but later also in the imagination, they are made gods. But the revelation which comes to us in Christ protects us from all this. It joins itself to the revelation, which nature itself makes known to us; it elevates this to its fullest right, and maintains it in its real value, and by its doctrine of creation cuts all polytheism and all dualism up by the roots. Not only mind but also matter, not only man but also nature, is of divine origin, and has lain in the thought of God before it came into being.
The doctrine of creation maintains the divinity, the goodness and sacredness of all created things. In this world man now receives his own independent place. He is of kin to all the world, formed out of matter, earthy of the earth; nothing natural is strange to him. But in one respect he is different from all creatures; he is the son, the image, the similitude of God, his offspring. Thereby he is elevated above animal and angel, and destined and fitted for dominion over all the world. In this relation of man to God and to the world is the foundation laid and the origin given of all science and art. For how can it be explained that man through his senses can observe the world, and through his intelligence can know and understand it? Whence this wonderful correspondence of knowing and being? What is the basis of the belief that the conception and the thought in the human brain are no imagination and no hallucination, but correspond with the reality? What is the ground for the harmony between subject and object, the ego and the non-ego? What is the root from which springs the unity of the laws of existence, the ideas of our thinking, the norms of our actions? In what do physis, gnosis, and ethos find their common systema? What is the foundation of the symbolism of nature, not in the sense of an unfounded nature-theosophy, but in the sense in which Christ saw in the world a parable of the kingdom of heaven; in the sense in which Goethe, said that “all transitory things are but a parable”; in the sense in which Drummond in “the natural law” detected an analogy of the law of the spirit? On what, in a word, are founded comparison, metaphor, poetry, art, and all science and all culture? On what else do they rest but on the confession that one word, one spirit, one divine, intelligence lies at the foundation of all things and maintains their unity and mutual relations?
And thus finally place is found for the acknowledgment of the diversity of the world. Nothing is simpler than to allow, according to the scheme of emanation, all things gradually to descend from above; or, according to the scheme of evolution, all things gradually to ascend from below. In a museum, and equally in the mind, it is a very easy matter to place one creature by the side of another and to fill in the missing links by some hypothesis or individual construction. It is just as easy as—to use a humorous example—to explain the origin of the English fox, from the Greek word alopex, by assuming that the transitional forms, lopex, pex, fex, have disappeared.123 But reality laughs at this system just as it laughs at the aprioristic world-construction in Hegel’s philosophy. Creatures do not exist in succession to one another, in a straight line of development, but side by side; they thus live out their lives and hold continually with one another a living, organic, diversified, reciprocal relation. So it was throughout all the ages, and so it is yet, in our day. The constancy of the species is an undeniable fact, in the face of all variability of which we are cognizant in the historical period which we know. The weaker specimens and species do not die out, according to the law of “natural selection,” but continue to exist, side by side with the stronger, to this day. Existence is not simply and alone a battle of all against all, but also a continuous mutual supporting and aiding. There is much hatred, but there is also much love in the world. The diversity of the world is a fact which, taken in connection with its harmony, can find its explanation only transcendently in a personal God. For F. A. Lange has said very correctly: “When after a free and grand fashion we ascribe to the one God a unified plan of operation on a large and comprehensive scale, then the coherence of all things according to the principle of law and effect, not only becomes conceivable, but even appears a necessary consequence of this assumption.”124
Against this organic view of the world only one argument is advanced. But it is an argument which is of very great weight, for it is drawn from the awful misery of the world. And this misery, viewed both as sin and suffering, is a touching and heart-breaking fact. The whole creation is in travail. Anguish is the fundamental trait of all living things. A great secret pain throbs through nature. Everywhere the lawless, the chaotic, lies at the base of the orderly; there is an inexplicable restlessness in all things. Vanity, change, death are written on all existing things. Humanity walks by the margin of an abyss of guilt. It perishes under the anger of God and is troubled by his wrath. How can such a world be reconciled with the wisdom, the goodness, the omnipotence of God? Both philosophy and theology have made many attempts to solve this problem. It has been sought to find the explanation of misery, metaphysically, in the finite, or to give it, aesthetically, a part in the harmony of the world as a whole, or to interpret it, paedagogically, as a strengthening of man’s spiritual life. The infralapsarians have deduced it from the justice of God. Others, with Lotze, have despaired of finding any explanation, or have even taken refuge in a limitation of God’s omnipotence and wisdom, and have found in matter or in the laws of nature a limit to his working.125
But even if there is a measure of truth in each of these various theories, the misery of the world is too great and too diversified to be explained from any single cause, or to be subsumed under any single formula. And it is not lessened by it all. What profit is there, for instance, in saying, “Who to-day thinks of the San Francisco earthquake as an act of God and not as a mechanical occurrence?”126 Is God then no longer the God whose providence extends over all? Pragmatism is so far within its right that it finds all these explanations insufficient and misleading, and calls attention once more to realities. It breaks mere appearance, it snatches the blindfolding from our eyes, and it avows openly that this world is a chaos, which can become good and true only through the hands of men.
But in so doing it forgets that, in its deepest sense, the struggle lies not between man and nature, but is fought out in the heart of man himself, between his what is and his what ought to be. The struggle is primarily of an ethical rather than of a physical nature. This is proved first of all by the fact that all the acquisitions of culture, however rich they may be, do not quiet the restlessness of the heart and are unable to silence the voice of conscience. Moreover, according to the testimony of the heroes of our race, all the misery of the world can be overcome by faith. And that is the only way which revelation—that in nature already, but far more plainly that in the Scriptures—points out to us for the reconciliation of the discord. It makes no effort to explain all the suffering of the world. It allows it to remain where it is and accepts it: accepts it so fully that no pessimistic literature can surpass the pathos of its complaint. But revelation does not incite man to resistance and rebellion, but lays bare to his consciousness the guilt in his own life. It casts him down in his littleness, and says to him, Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? But then, also, it immediately raises him from his humiliation; it preaches to him no stoical apathy or fatalistic, acquiescence in things, but it makes him through the Word to know the will of God to save the world notwithstanding all its misery, and it fills his soul through the Spirit with the patience of faith, so that weak man can endure all his pain, can glory in tribulation, and, with God, can overcome the world. If God is for us, who can be against us? And this is the only victory which overcomes the world, even our faith.
79A. C. Fraser, Philosophy of Theism, 1899, pp.24-34.
80Mach, Erkenntniss und Irrtum., p.5.
81Ladd, The Philosophy of Religion, I, 1906, p.11. Gwatkin, The Knowledge of God, I, 1906.
82Frischeisen-Köhler, Moderne Philosophie, Stuttgart, 1907, pp.18-37. L. Stein, Der Sinn des Daseins, pp.225-239.
83Otto, Natural. und relig. Weltansicht, p.44.
84Haeckel, Die Welträthsel, p.209. Id., Der Kampf um den Entwicklungsgedanken, p.23. Comp. Otto, op. cit., pp.78, 112 ff, 200 ff.
85Ed.. von Hartmann, Mechanismus und Vitalismus in der modernen Biologie, Archiv f. syst. Philos., 1903, p.345. Id., Philos. des Unbew., III, 1904, p.vi.
86Ostwald, Die Ueberwindung des wissensch. Materialismus., 1895, in Dennert, op. cit., pp.235-236.
87Reinke, Die Welt als That, pp.464 ff.
88Otto, op. cit., pp.39, 46, 47.
89Alfred Dippe, Naturphilosophie, München, 1907, pp.3-14.
90L. Stein, Der Sinn des Daseins, p.24.
91Haeckel, Schöpfungsgeschichte. 1874, p.8. Comp. Die Welträthsel, p.15.
92Haeckel, Schöpfungsgesch., p.28. Welträthsel, p.18.
93Lodge, Life and Matter, p.23.
94Bradley, Appearance and Reality, ch. IV, pp.35 ff.
95Otto, op. cit., pp.50-57.
96Lipps, Naturwissenschaft und Weltanschauung, 1906, p.13.
97Ed. von Hartmann, Die Weltanschauung der modernen Physik, pp.195, 197 ff., 204 ff. Dennert, Die Weltanschauung des mod. Naturforschers, p.143.
98Fechner, Ueber die Seelenfrage, 1907, p.214. Comp. also Bradley, op. cit., ch. II, pp.25 ff.
99Shentone, The Electric Theory of Matter, in Cornhill Magazine, quoted in The Literary World, Aug., 1907, p.381. Comp. also A. J. Balfour, Unsere heutige Weltanschauung. Einige Bemerkungen zur modernen Theorie der Materie. Deutsch von Dr. M. Ernst, Leipzig, 1904. M. Shoen, Bestaat er een oer-grondstof? Wet. Bladen, May, 1908, pp.249-259, after an essay in Naturwiss. Wochenschrift, 2 Febr., 1908. Reinke, Die Natur und Wir. Berlin, 1908, p. 38.
100Dippe, Naturphilosophie, pp.86, 89.
101Rethwisch, in Dippe, pp.79 ff. Reinke, op. cit., pp.40-50. Th. Newest, Die Gravitationslehre ein Irrtum. Wien, 1905. For the various views on Vital Force the reader is referred to the article by von Hartmann, quoted above in note 7, and f urther to Karl Braeunig, Mechanismus und Vitalismus in der Biologie des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1907.
102W. von Schnehen, Die Urzeugung, Glauben und Wissen. Dec., 1907, pp.403-415.
103Otto, op. cit., p.37.
104Kant, in Eisler, Wörterbuch, p.618.
105Haeckel, Die Welträthsel, pp.15-16.
106Lodge, Life and Matter, p.49. Reinke, Die Natur und Wir, pp.25, 26, 33.
107Kleutgen, Die Philosophie der Vorzeit, II, pp.314-335.
108Von Hartmann, Die Weltanschauung, etc., p.203.
109E. Schmid, Das naturwiss. Glaubensbekenntnis eines Theologen, Stuttgart, 1906, p.87.
110Haeckel, Welträthsel, pp.117-118.
111Lodge, Life and Matter, pp.54 ff. Comp. also J. Froehlich, Das Gesetz von der Erhaltung der Kraft in dem Geist des Christ, Leipzig, 1903.
112Bruno Wille, Darwins Weltanschauung, etc. Comp. Lect. I, note 16 ff.
113In K. Dieterich, Philosophie und Naturwissenschaft, Freiburg, 1885, p.9.
114Haeckel, Welträthsel, pp.342, 404, 405.
115Haeckel, op. cit., pp.388 ff., 439. Nat. Schöpf., pp.156, 656. L. Stein, An der Wende des Jahrh., p.51. Id., Der Sinn des Daseins, pp.42 ff. Dippe, Naturphilos, p.153. Reinke, Die Natur und Wir, pp.209 ff.
116Dr. W. H. Nieuwhuis, Twee vragen des Tijds, Kampen, 1907, pp.39, 66.
117Ed. von Hartmann, Die Weltanschauung, etc., p.203.
118Lipps, Naturwiss. und Weltanschauung, p.19.
119Ritter, Schets eener critische geschiedenis van het Substantiebegrip in de nieuwere wijsbegeerte, Leiden, 1906, p.471.
120Natur und Christenthum, Vier Vorträge von D. Lasson, Lüttgert, Schäder, Bornhäuser. Berlin, 1907, pp.49 ff. Richard Hamann, Der Impressionismus in Leben und Kunst, Köln, 1907.
121Smend, Lehrbuch der altt. Religionsgeschichte, 1893, p.458. Martensen Larsen, Die Naturwiss. in ihrem Schuldverhältnis zum Christenthum, Berlin, 1897. Lange, Gesch. des Materialismus, 1882, pp.129 ff. Sellin, Die alttest. Religion und die Religionsgeschichte, pp.28-34.
122James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, 1906, p.525. Id., Pluralism and Religion, Hibbert Journal, July, 1908. Wundt, Völkerpsych., II, 2, p.223. McTaggart, Some Dogmas of Religion, pp.257 ff. Rogers, according to Hibbert Journal, Jan., 1908, p.445. Comp. Dr. Rashdall, who denies to God omnipotence; Dr. Harrison, who denies him even creation (in McTaggart, p.221, note), and the so- called “ethical modernists” in the Netherlands, who distinguish between God as nature-power and as ethical power. Hooijkaas, God in de geschiedenis, Schiedam, 1870, p.35. Goethe already said: “I cannot satisfy myself in the manifold tendencies of my being with one mode of thinking : as poet and artist I am a polytheist, but on the other hand a pantheist as a student of nature, and one just as decisively as the other. If I need a God for my personality as a moral being, this also is already provided for.”
123In Nieuwhuis, op. cit., p.82.
124Lange, Gesch. des Material., p.130.
125Paul Grunberg, Das Uebel in der Welt und Gott, Lichterfelde, 1907. Bruining, Het geloof aan God en het kwaad in de wereld, Baarn, 1907.
126Hibbert Journal, Oct., 1907, p.9.