Luther A Fox.

Evidence of a future life : from reason and revelation online

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great body of our knowledge is, in the philosophic
sense of the word, probable. This is the law of our
present condition, and we cannot get above it.
Since the time of Bacon, great importance is at-
tached to induction, and no one doubts that by the
faithful application of his rules we get truth; but
inductive reasoning is only probable reasoning.
Historical and Geographical facts beyond our own
personal sphere are known by probable proof.
Reasoning from personal experience belongs to the
probable. It is only by probable proof that we
know that water will on to-morrow relieve thirst,
or that there will be a to-morrow. We are gov-
erned continually by probable reasoning. It is
upon these probable proofs we must rest our faith
in our immortality.

We may recognize this fact, but still want the
evidence brought within the reach of our senses.
We think that if we could see a disembodied soul
or have some sensible proof of its existence after
the death of the body we would be above doubt.



26 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

We can conceive the possibility of sucli evidence,
but we must recognize it as something outside of
the established order of facts. It can not be re-
alized and it is useless to wish for it. We must
accommodate ourselves to the world as it exists.
But if gratified we might not find all we antici-
pate. The Great Teacher, who has uncovered so
man}^ of the principles of our nature and revealed
to us so much of ourselves, said, "If they hear not
Moses and the Prophets neither will they be per-
suaded, though one rose from the dead." We
might be like the Sadducees who knew of the
resurrection of at least three persons but still
denied that there are angels and spirits. If we
may trust the wisdom of Him who has done so
much for us, it is better that we should not have
these sensible proofs else He would have given
them to us.



CHAPTER II.
ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY.

ANALOGICAL reasoning is based on resemb-
lance. When one thing resembles another in
known particulars, we conclude that it resembles it
also in the unknown. Logicians differ as to the exact
subjects of resemblance. Some say that it does not
imply the similarity of two things, but of two rela-
tions. Thompson says, "But in popular language
we extend the word analogy to resemblance of
things as well as relations. " With this Mill agrees :
"We extend the name of analogical evidence to
arguments from any sort of resemblance, provided
they do not amount to a complete induction ;
without peculiarly distinguishing resemblance of
relations." Whether we place the resemblance in
relations or in objects, the argument implies that
the resemblance originates in some common cause
not yet known.

Analogy is like induction in several important
particulars. Both are based upon resemblance, and
both proceed upon the uniformity of nature. If the
proof stops short of complete induction, it is called

(27)



28 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

analogy. It produces every degree of belief, from
that of slight probability up to a very strong con-
viction ; but it can never, from its nature, give us
certainty. It has been of great service in several
directions. It has led science to experiment and
thus beeA the means of discovering very important
facts. It has guided philosophy to profound prin-
ciples. It is often very useful in answering objec-
tions. It offers support to other methods of prob-
able reasoning.

Analogical reasoning is exposed to many falla-
cies. There are metaphorical analogies which are
always either false or worthless. Logicians have
given us canons which must be carefully observed.
Thompson states the most important in this way :
^'The same attributes may be assigned to distinct
but similar things, provided they can be shown to
accompany the points of resemblance in the things
and not the points of difference." The points of
resemblance must be compared with the known
points of difference and with the probable qualities
not yet known. The greater the number of points
of resemblance among the known, the stronger is
the probability of agreement among the unknown,
A radical difference destroys the argument drawn
from a number of agreements.



ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY. 29

All analogical reasoning assumes the fact that
nature is uniform. Without this principle neither
analogy nor induction would be possible. It is
not necessary to defend the principle, but it may be
important to call attention to the fact that it is not
itself a primary truth. We can, without a feeling
of absurdity, imagine the whole order of nature
changed. The uniformity of nature is an inference
from the primary principle that the same forces
under the same conditions must produce the same
results ; or, in other words, the same causes must
produce the same effects. Resemblances imply the
same or similar causes, and from known effects we
infer others not known.

Resemblance may be produced by different prox-
imate causes, and may seem at first to be worthless
as proof, but sometimes the common result may be
traced back to the same remote cause. The same
power operates through different agents. Carbon
is brought as a nourishment in very different arti-
cles of food. Until chemistry discovered the com-
mon constituent, very different causes seemed to
produce the same effect. It is a well-known fact
that the world is made up of a few elements, and
there are indications that the number will be still
further reduced. Philosophy, centuries ago, guessed



30 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

at this result. The ancient Greek philosophers
thought that there were only four elements. An-
aximander thought that the infinite was reduced to
order by condensation and rarefaction. Others
thought that there was only one thing, as water,
fire, air or ether, which was both the material and
efficient principle. Within recent centuries New-
ton's law of gravitation has brought into unity a
great diversity of phenomena. Further discoveries
will find one law controlling facts which are now
never thought of together. Monistic philosophies,
which to-day dominate so large a portion of the
speculative world, are efforts to reduce the entire
universe to unity. Analogy may obtain a wider
range than is thought of in the present stage of
science. The force in metaphors and illustrations
may yet be shown to be a half-conscious recogni-
tion of the hidden relations of causes.

Theism believes that all causes originate in a
Great First Cause — a personal God — who is author
of all things. Materialistic science, as soon as it
begins to account to itself for its faith and look for
ultimate principles, is compelled to recognize a
great first force, the source and centre of all forces.
Atheism knows nothing behind it, but Theism
recognizes a Being to whom the force belongs.



ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY. 31

We know force in will, but we know of no force
that is certainly independent of will, and Theism
starts from the known while Atheism proceeds
from the unknown. The great world force pro-
duces intelligible results. It has built up a world
full of beauty and order. It has brought into ex-
istence intelligent beings. It must therefore be
itself intelligent, for no effect can rise higher than
its cause. This intelligent force we call God. He
established the laws of the universe, and in him we
have a unifying principle for all diversity. In God
analogy and induction find their highest and only
sufficient ground. Natural forces working blindly
may produce resemblances, but these facts cannot
furnish a basis for reasoning, for causes which have
no thought cannot give rise to thought in others.
The fact that mind can understand the operations
of matter shows that there are some laws common
to mind and the physical world ; the inter-depend-
ence of the religious, moral, intellectual and physi-
cal powers shows that there are laws that compre-
hend all of them. Theism best explains the world
as it is by saying God created all things and rules
them by the highest laws, making the lower and
more familiar things means of revealing the higher
and more hidden truths. But even if we stop in



32 RVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

our conclusion short of a personal God, the har-
mony which we are compelled to admit points back
to some great principles which hold the world in
unity. Thus, according to either scheme. Atheistic
or Theistic, the fact of these higher laws warrants
us in reasoning from the resemblances between
physical and spiritual in the known to still further
agreements. Analogy strengthens our belief in
revealed doctrines. When we find these agree-
ments between the facts of nature and scriptural
teachings increasing under profounder studies, we
are confirmed in our faith in those where no special
analogy has been, or can be, discovered. Indi-
rectly, at least, analogy furnishes a proof of a future
life.

Recently Prof. Drummond has called attention
to some remarkable correspondences between the
laws of the natural world and the teachings of the
Bible. He has perhaps misnamed his principle by
calling it natural law in the spiritual world. So
far as he has pointed out laws, they were not physi-
cal laws that reached up to the spiritual, but great
laws lying behind both, ruling them in common.
The spiritual and natural are distinct, and every
effort to lift up the physical to the spiritual, or
bring the spiritual down to the physical, must fail.



ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY. 33

But having one common Author they are ruled by
the same ulterior common laws, and there are many
striking resemblances. The one illustrates , the
other because the one exhibits in well-known facts
the law that rules in the other. This is seen in re-
gard to life. Physical and spiritual life are of very
different natures, but the law of all life manifests
itself in both, and the natural life illustrates to us
the movements of the more hidden spiritual life.

The Paracelsians in the seventeenth century
caught a glimpse of the unity of the universe.
They taught that God operates in the kingdom of
grace and the kingdom of nature by the same laws,
and that those who understand how natural bodies
are changed, understand the changes of the soul
in regeneration. Robert Fludd, whom Mosheim
pronounces a man of uncommon genius, and whose
works Kepler answered; Jacob Boehm, the great
mystical philosopher, and John Arndt, belonged to
this school. But the truth was not clearly con-
ceived nor faithfully applied, and mixed with
cabalistic doctrines, was carried into Pantheism.

Jesus Christ puts the matter of great common'
laws beyond question. His masterly power of
parabolic teaching is universally acknowledged;.
His parables carry the force of argument. They



34 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

are not merely illustrations, but proofs. He shows
us the spiritual world by holding up before us the
natural world. He does not point out the hidden
forces or name the great laws, but we see that there
is a common bond between the movements of the
natural and the spiritual. These laws are the great
major premises which control the conclusions but
do not appear in the argument. God feeds the
fowls of the air; he will, therefore, feed you. I am
the vine, ye are the branches, therefore ye must
bear my fruits. The rich man died and lifted up
his eyes in hell. These parables are not metaphors,
but the wonderful grouping of facts under great
principles; and no one has been able to duplicate
them because no one has had the profound insight
of the Master into the laws of both worlds.

The proof of a future life from analogy is not
based upon direct resemblances. We have no
sensible evidence of the continued existence of any
individual life after the death of the organism.
The argument can not be put in this form: A.
lives after death. The soul is like A. in several
other respects. Therefore the soul, like A., lives
after death. But the analogy is based on some
great laws, and thus furnishes a proof. The possi-
ibilities of analogy have not been exhausted, and



ARGUMENT FROM ANAI.OGY. 35

some great philosophic mind may yet give it the
force of which we now only faintly conceive.

Bishop Butler has presented the argument in its
strongest form, and the remaining part of this
chapter will be devoted mainly to the reproduction
of the leading points in that argument.

Assuming the fact of personal identity or the
spiritual nature of the soul, the change from the
present to a future life is analogous to changes in
nature and in ourselves. Prior to experience, we
would have found a statement of the changes from
infancy to manhood, from embryotic to separate
life, from the crawling worm to the flying insect,
as difficult to believe as we now do the promise of
a life after death. If the unborn infant could be
told of the changes at birth, he would be as in-
credulous as we are as to those at death.

With the assumption of a personal identity,
independent of the bodily organism, we may reason
from the great law of continuity to a future life.
That law is: Everything which is now in ex-
istence will continue to exist until some greater
power destroys it. Nothing originates itself;
nothing can destroy itself. The suicide only puts
himself under the influence of powers which
destroy his physical life. The law of continuity



36 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE UFE.

is a law of the universe, as comprehensive as ex-
istence itself. We constantly reason and act upon
it. No one doubts it. We have the powers of
thought now, and upon the law of continuity will
have them after death, unless death destroys
them. We must believe that they continue after
death, unless there is a reason for believing that
death destroys them. But there is no such reason,
(i) because we do not know what death is and there-
fore cannot know its effects further than they are
sensibly manifested. These sensible effects do not
extend to the destruction of the soul. (2) We can
have no evidence that death destroys the soul,
because we do not know upon what the exercise
of the powers of the soul depends. In sleep and
especially in swoons, the very capacity to exercise
them seems to be suspended. Why it is sus-
pended or how it is restored, we do not know. If
we are ignorant of that upon which its activities
are dependent, we are more ignorant as to that
upon which the soul itself rests. Nothing known
to us warrants us in saying that death interferes
with the law of continuity.

These arguments are of force only when the
distinct existence of the mind and body are
admitted. Butler carries his analogy back to



ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY. 37

prove what had been assumed. His first argu-
ment is metaphysicah The unity of the soul is
inferred from the unity of consciousness. We can
not divide the consciousness of self, and therefore
the substance in which it inheres, the subject of
which it is the phenomenon, is indivisible and
indestructible. From its unity is inferred its dis-
tinct existence.

This conclusion is confirmed by the facts of ob-
servation. The limbs and senses may all be lost
without affecting the soul. The limbs and senses
even of the infant may be lost, and yet its soul ex-
ists. The particles of our body change, but the
soul maintains its identity. That which is con-
stant in the midst of so much fluctuation must be
distinguished from the particles which are being
changed. The members of the body are only in-
struments of the soul. The eye may be assisted by
glasses, the ear by tubes, the lost limb replaced by
an artificial one. That the one is in organic rela-
tion to the soul does not invalidate the inferences
that both are only instruments, and that the soul
is distinct from them. The soul furnished with
facts through the senses is by its memory and re-
flection and imagination independent of these
senses, and could carry on its work without them.



38 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

Mortal diseases do not destroy the soul, for it often
retains its powers in undiminished vigor up to the
very moment of death. Even if mortal disease did
always diminish the activities of the mind, we
could not infer that death destroyed them, because
sleep and swoons always affect them, but do not
destroy them. We do not know and have no rea-
son for believing that death suspends the present
powers of the soul, and much less therefore for be-
lieving that it destroys them.

The argument seems to prove too much, and
therefore proves nothing. It seems to prove that
the instinct of the animal and the life of the vege-
table are immortal as well as the soul of man; but
as these are known to perish, it does not prove that
man is immortal. This objection assumes as true
what is not known and what is not universally
admitted. We do not know that either animal or
plant life ends at death. But if we did, we could
not infer from their fate the destiny of man. The
soul of man has far higher powers than the vege-
table life, and higher also than the mind of the
most intelligent brutes. The differences are more
important than the agreements, and no legitimate
conclusion can be drawn. We are wholly ignorant
as to their future, and we have no analogy. The
objection, therefore, is without force.



ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY. 39

Bishop Butler's argument rests upon two great
laws. The first — the law of continuity — is clearly
announced. The other is only implied. It is this:
distinct phenomena imply distinct substances, and
different effects imply distinct causes. A large
part of his argument is devoted to the evidence of
distinct effects in human life, phenomena that can-
not be accounted for on the supposition of only one
substance in human nature. The phenomena of
life lead us to believe that the soul is a distinct
essence, and the law of continuity that it survives
the body.

The law of phenomena and substance governs us
in our practical thinking. It is only through it we
distinguish one object from another. It has in-
fluenced the thought of the world in regard to the
natures of the mind and body. The facts of con-
sciousness are wholly diverse. Two contrary series
of phenomena come into view. The one belongs
to the body, and the other is ascribed to self. The
distinction between self and the body may be an
original datum of consciousness. The child seems
to learn by experience that its limbs belong to it.
The savage distinguishes between the man and his
body, and while the body is in the grave he thinks
of the man as living in some other sphere. We



40 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE I.IFE.

seem to make the distinction spontaneously, for it
is implied in much of our thought about ourselves.

Self in its own movements recognizes itself as
distinct from that material organism with which it
finds itself united and which it employs as its in-
strument.

This distinction, which is enveloped in the unre-
flecting minds of the masses is easily drawn out
into clear consciousness. Plato gives a dialogue
between Socrates and Alcibiades in which is illus-
trated the process of reflection, and it may be used
as a supplement to the argument of Butler:

Socrates. — Does not he who uses a thing seem to you always
different from the thing used ?

Alcibiades. — Very different.

Soc. — Does the currier cut with his instruments alone or also
with his hands ?

Ale. — Also with his hands.

Soc. — He then uses his hands ?

^/^.— Yes.

Soc. — And in his work he uses also his eyes ?

^/^.— Yes.

Soc. — We are agreed, then, that he who uses a thing and the
thing used are different ?

Alc.—W^ are. /

Soc. — The currier and lyrist are therefore different from the
hands and eyes with which they work ?

Ale. — So it seems.



ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY. 4 1

Soc. — Now then, does not a man use his whole body ?
Ale. — Unquestionably.

Soc. — A man is therefore different from his body ?
Ale— So I think.
Soc. — What then is the man ?
Ale. — I cannot say.

Soc. — You can at least say that the man is that which uses
the body ?
Alc.—X&s.

Soc. — Now, does anything use the body but the mind ?
-^/


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Online LibraryLuther A FoxEvidence of a future life : from reason and revelation → online text (page 2 of 19)