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indispensable, and could not be replaced by a mere Goddess of Reason. If
these two opinions were quoted at all, they were quoted as jokes at the
expense of Nobodaddy. We were quite sure for the moment that whatever
lingering superstition might have daunted these men of the eighteenth
century, we Darwinians could do without God, and had made a good
riddance of Him.


Now in politics it is much easier to do without God than to do without
his viceroys and vicars and lieutenants; and we begin to miss the
lieutenants long before we begin to miss their principal. Roman
Catholics do what their confessors advise without troubling God; and
Royalists are content to worship the King and ask the policeman. But
God's trustiest lieutenants often lack official credentials. They may be
professed atheists who are also men of honor and high public spirit.
The old belief that it matters dreadfully to God whether a man thinks
himself an atheist or not, and that the extent to which it matters can
be stated with exactness as one single damn, was an error: for the
divinity is in the honor and public spirit, not in the mouthed _credo_
or _non credo_. The consequences of this error became grave when the
fitness of a man for public trust was tested, not by his honor and
public spirit, but by asking him whether he believed in Nobodaddy or
not. If he said yes, he was held fit to be a Prime Minister, though,
as our ablest Churchman has said, the real implication was that he was
either a fool, a bigot, or a liar. Darwin destroyed this test; but when
it was only thoughtlessly dropped, there was no test at all; and the
door to public trust was open to the man who had no sense of God because
he had no sense of anything beyond his own business interests and
personal appetites and ambitions. As a result, the people who did
not feel in the least inconvenienced by being no longer governed by
Nobodaddy soon found themselves very acutely inconvenienced by being
governed by fools and commercial adventurers. They had forgotten not
only God but Goldsmith, who had warned them that 'honor sinks where
commerce long prevails.'

The lieutenants of God are not always persons: some of them are
legal and parliamentary fictions. One of them is Public Opinion. The
pre-Darwinian statesmen and publicists were not restrained directly by
God; but they restrained themselves by setting up an image of a Public
Opinion which would not tolerate any attempt to tamper with British
liberties. Their favorite way of putting it was that any Government
which proposed such and such an infringement of such and such a British
liberty would be hurled from office in a week. This was not true: there
was no such public opinion, no limit to what the British people would
put up with in the abstract, and no hardship short of immediate and
sudden starvation that it would not and did not put up with in the
concrete. But this very helplessness of the people had forced their
rulers to pretend that they were not helpless, and that the certainty of
a sturdy and unconquerable popular resistance forbade any trifling with
Magna Carta or the Petition of Rights or the authority of parliament.
Now the reality behind this fiction was the divine sense that liberty
is a need vital to human growth. Accordingly, though it was difficult
enough to effect a political reform, yet, once parliament had passed it,
its wildest opponent had no hope that the Government would cancel it,
or shelve it, or be bought off from executing it. From Walpole to
Campbell-Bannerman there was no Prime Minister to whom such renagueing
or trafficking would ever have occurred, though there were plenty who
employed corruption unsparingly to procure the votes of members of
parliament for their policy.


The moment Nobodaddy was slain by Darwin, Public Opinion, as divine
deputy, lost its sanctity. Politicians no longer told themselves that
the British public would never suffer this or that: they allowed
themselves to know that for their own personal purposes, which are
limited to their ten or twenty years on the front benches in parliament,
the British public can be humbugged and coerced into believing and
suffering everything that it pays to impose on them, and that any false
excuse for an unpopular step will serve if it can be kept in countenance
for a fortnight: that is, until the terms of the excuse are forgotten.
The people, untaught or mistaught, are so ignorant and incapable
politically that this in itself would not greatly matter; for a
statesman who told them the truth would not be understood, and would in
effect mislead them more completely than if he dealt with them according
to their blindness instead of to his own wisdom. But though there is no
difference in this respect between the best demagogue and the worst,
both of them having to present their cases equally in terms of
melodrama, there is all the difference in the world between the
statesman who is humbugging the people into allowing him to do the
will of God, in whatever disguise it may come to him, and one who is
humbugging them into furthering his personal ambition and the commercial
interests of the plutocrats who own the newspapers and support him on
reciprocal terms. And there is almost as great a difference between
the statesman who does this naively and automatically, or even does it
telling himself that he is ambitious and selfish and unscrupulous, and
the one who does it on principle, believing that if everyone takes the
line of least material resistance the result will be the survival of the
fittest in a perfectly harmonious universe. Once produce an atmosphere
of fatalism on principle, and it matters little what the opinions or
superstitions of the individual statesmen concerned may be. A Kaiser
who is a devout reader of sermons, a Prime Minister who is an emotional
singer of hymns, and a General who is a bigoted Roman Catholic may be
the executants of the policy; but the policy itself will be one of
unprincipled opportunism; and all the Governments will be like the tramp
who walks always with the wind and ends as a pauper, or the stone that
rolls down the hill and ends as an avalanche: their way is the way to


Within sixty years from the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species
political opportunism had brought parliaments into contempt; created
a popular demand for direct action by the organized industries
('Syndicalism'); and wrecked the centre of Europe in a paroxysm of that
chronic terror of one another, that cowardice of the irreligious, which,
masked in the bravado of militarist patriotism, had ridden the Powers
like a nightmare since the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. The sturdy
old cosmopolitan Liberalism vanished almost unnoticed. At the present
moment all the new ordinances for the government of our Grown Colonies
contain, as a matter of course, prohibitions of all criticism, spoken or
written, of their ruling officials, which would have scandalized George
III and elicited Liberal pamphlets from Catherine II. Statesmen are
afraid of the suburbs, of the newspapers, of the profiteers, of the
diplomatists, of the militarists, of the country houses, of the trade
unions, of everything ephemeral on earth except the revolutions they
are provoking; and they would be afraid of these if they were not too
ignorant of society and history to appreciate the risk, and to know that
a revolution always seems hopeless and impossible the day before it
breaks out, and indeed never does break out until it seems hopeless and
impossible; for rulers who think it possible take care to insure the
risk by ruling reasonably. This brings about a condition fatal to all
political stability: namely, that you never know where to have the
politicians. If the fear of God was in them it might be possible to come
to some general understanding as to what God disapproves of; and Europe
might pull together on that basis. But the present panic, in which Prime
Ministers drift from election to election, either fighting or running
away from everybody who shakes a fist at them, makes a European
civilization impossible. Such peace and prosperity as we enjoyed before
the war depended on the loyalty of the Western States to their own
civilization. That loyalty could find practical expression only in an
alliance of the highly civilized Western Powers against the primitive
tyrannies of the East. Britain, Germany, France, and the United States
of America could have imposed peace on the world, and nursed modern
civilization in Russia, Turkey, and the Balkans. Every meaner
consideration should have given way to this need for the solidarity of
the higher civilization. What actually happened was that France and
England, through their clerks the diplomatists, made an alliance with
Russia to defend themselves against Germany; Germany made an alliance
with Turkey to defend herself against the three; and the two unnatural
and suicidal combinations fell on one another in a war that came nearer
to being a war of extermination than any wars since those of Timur the
Tartar; whilst the United States held aloof as long as they could, and
the other States either did the same or joined in the fray through
compulsion, bribery, or their judgment as to which side their bread was
buttered. And at the present moment, though the main fighting has ceased
through the surrender of Germany on terms which the victors have never
dreamt of observing, the extermination by blockade and famine, which
was what forced Germany to surrender, still continues, although it is
certain that if the vanquished starve the victors will starve too, and
Europe will liquidate its affairs by going, not into bankruptcy, but
into chaos.

Now all this, it will be noticed, was fundamentally nothing but an
idiotic attempt on the part of each belligerent State to secure
for itself the advantage of the survival of the fittest through
Circumstantial Selection. If the Western Powers had selected their
allies in the Lamarckian manner intelligently, purposely, and vitally,
_ad majorem Dei gloriam_, as what Nietzsche called good Europeans,
there would have been a League of Nations and no war. But because the
selection relied on was purely circumstantial opportunist selection, so
that the alliances were mere marriages of convenience, they have turned
out, not merely as badly as might have been expected, but far worse than
the blackest pessimist had ever imagined possible.


How it will all end we do not yet know. When wolves combine to kill a
horse, the death of the horse only sets them fighting one another for
the choicest morsels. Men are no better than wolves if they have no
better principles: accordingly, we find that the Armistice and the
Treaty have not extricated us from the war. A handful of Serbian
regicides flung us into it as a sporting navvy throws a bull pup at a
cat; but the Supreme Council, with all its victorious legions and all
its prestige, cannot get us out of it, though we are heartily sick and
tired of the whole business, and know now very well that it should never
have been allowed to happen. But we are helpless before a slate scrawled
with figures of National Debts. As there is no money to pay them because
it was all spent on the war (wars have to be paid for on the nail) the
sensible thing to do is to wipe the slate and let the wrangling States
distribute what they can spare, on the sound communist principle of from
each according to his ability, to each according to his need. But no:
we have no principles left, not even commercial ones; for what sane
commercialist would decree that France must not pay for her failure to
defend her own soil; that Germany must pay for her success in carrying
the war into the enemy's country; and that as Germany has not the money
to pay, and under our commercial system can make it only by becoming
once more a commercial competitor of England and France, which neither
of them will allow, she must borrow the money from England, or America,
or even from France: an arrangement by which the victorious creditors
will pay one another, and wait to get their money back until Germany is
either strong enough to refuse to pay or ruined beyond the possibility
of paying? Meanwhile Russia, reduced to a scrap of fish and a pint of
cabbage soup a day, has fallen into the hands of rulers who perceive
that Materialist Communism is at all events more effective than
Materialist Nihilism, and are attempting to move in an intelligent and
ordered manner, practising a very strenuous Intentional Selection of
workers as fitter to survive than idlers; whilst the Western Powers are
drifting and colliding and running on the rocks, in the hope that if
they continue to do their worst they will get Naturally Selected for
survival without the trouble of thinking about it.


When, like the Russians, our Nihilists have it urgently borne in on
them, by the brute force of rising wages that never overtake rising
prices, that they are being Naturally Selected for destruction, they
will perhaps remember that 'Dont Care came to a bad end,' and begin to
look round for a religion. And the whole purpose of this book is to
shew them where to look. For, throughout all the godless welter of the
infidel half-century, Darwinism has been acting not only directly but
homeopathically, its poison rallying our vital forces not only to resist
it and cast it out, but to achieve a new Reformation and put a credible
and healthy religion in its place. Samuel Butler was the pioneer of the
reaction as far as the casting out was concerned; but the issue was
confused by the physiologists, who were divided on the question into
Mechanists and Vitalists. The Mechanists said that life is nothing but
physical and chemical action; that they have demonstrated this in many
cases of so-called vital phenomena; and that there is no reason to doubt
that with improved methods they will presently be able to demonstrate it
in all of them. The Vitalists said that a dead body and a live one are
physically and chemically identical, and that the difference can be
accounted for only by the existence of a Vital Force. This seems simple;
but the Anti-Mechanists objected to be called Vitalists (obviously the
right name for them) on two contradictory grounds. First, that vitality
is scientifically inadmissible, because it cannot be isolated and
experimented with in the laboratory. Second, that force, being by
definition anything that can alter the speed or direction of matter
in motion (briefly, that can overcome inertia), is essentially a
mechanistic conception. Here we had the New Vitalist only half
extricated from the Old Mechanist, objecting to be called either, and
unable to give a clear lead in the new direction. And there was a deeper
antagonism. The Old Vitalists, in postulating a Vital Force, were
setting up a comparatively mechanical conception as against the divine
idea of the life breathed into the clay nostrils of Adam, whereby he
became a living soul. The New Vitalists, filled by their laboratory
researches with a sense of the miraculousness of life that went far
beyond the comparatively uninformed imaginations of the authors of the
Book of Genesis, regarded the Old Vitalists as Mechanists who had tried
to fill up the gulf between life and death with an empty phrase denoting
an imaginary physical force.

These professional faction fights are ephemeral, and need not trouble us
here. The Old Vitalist, who was essentially a Materialist, has evolved
into the New Vitalist, who is, as every genuine scientist must be,
finally a metaphysician. And as the New Vitalist turns from the disputes
of his youth to the future of his science, he will cease to boggle at
the name Vitalist, or at the inevitable, ancient, popular, and quite
correct use of the term Force to denote metaphysical as well as physical
overcomers of inertia.

Since the discovery of Evolution as the method of the Life Force the
religion of metaphysical Vitalism has been gaining the definiteness and
concreteness needed to make it assimilable by the educated critical man.
But it has always been with us. The popular religions, disgraced by
their Opportunist cardinals and bishops, have been kept in credit by
canonized saints whose secret was their conception of themselves as the
instruments and vehicles of divine power and aspiration: a conception
which at moments becomes an actual experience of ecstatic possession by
that power. And above and below all have been millions of humble and
obscure persons, sometimes totally illiterate, sometimes unconscious of
having any religion at all, sometimes believing in their simplicity
that the gods and temples and priests of their district stood for their
instinctive righteousness, who have kept sweet the tradition that good
people follow a light that shines within and above and ahead of them,
that bad people care only for themselves, and that the good are saved
and blessed and the bad damned and miserable. Protestantism was a
movement towards the pursuit of a light called an inner light because
every man must see it with his own eyes and not take any priest's word
for it or any Church's account of it. In short, there is no question
of a new religion, but rather of redistilling the eternal spirit
of religion and thus extricating it from the sludgy residue of
temporalities and legends that are making belief impossible, though they
are the stock-in-trade of all the Churches and all the Schools.


It is the adulteration of religion by the romance of miracles and
paradises and torture chambers that makes it reel at the impact of every
advance in science, instead of being clarified by it. If you take an
English village lad, and teach him that religion means believing that
the stories of Noah's Ark and the Garden of Eden are literally true on
the authority of God himself, and if that boy becomes an artisan and
goes into the town among the sceptical city proletariat, then, when the
jibes of his mates set him thinking, and he sees that these stories
cannot be literally true, and learns that no candid prelate now pretends
to believe them, he does not make any fine distinctions: he declares at
once that religion is a fraud, and parsons and teachers hypocrites and
liars. He becomes indifferent to religion if he has little conscience,
and indignantly hostile to it if he has a good deal.

The same revolt against wantonly false teaching is happening daily
in the professional classes whose recreation is reading and whose
intellectual sport is controversy. They banish the Bible from their
houses, and sometimes put into the hands of their unfortunate children
Ethical and Rationalist tracts of the deadliest dullness, compelling
these wretched infants to sit out the discourses of Secularist lecturers
(I have delivered some of them myself), who bore them at a length now
forbidden by custom in the established pulpit. Our minds have reacted so
violently towards provable logical theorems and demonstrable mechanical
or chemical facts that we have become incapable of metaphysical truth,
and try to cast out incredible and silly lies by credible and clever
ones, calling in Satan to cast out Satan, and getting more into his
clutches than ever in the process. Thus the world is kept sane less by
the saints than by the vast mass of the indifferent, who neither act nor
react in the matter. Butler's preaching of the gospel of Laodicea was a
piece of common sense founded on his observation of this.

But indifference will not guide nations through civilization to the
establishment of the perfect city of God. An indifferent statesman is a
contradiction in terms; and a statesman who is indifferent on principle,
a Laisser-faire or Muddle-Through doctrinaire, plays the deuce with us
in the long run. Our statesmen must get a religion by hook or crook; and
as we are committed to Adult Suffrage it must be a religion capable of
vulgarization. The thought first put into words by the Mills when they
said 'There is no God; but this is a family secret,' and long held
unspoken by aristocratic statesmen and diplomatists, will not serve now;
for the revival of civilization after the war cannot be effected by
artificial breathing: the driving force of an undeluded popular consent
is indispensable, and will be impossible until the statesman can appeal
to the vital instincts of the people in terms of a common religion. The
success of the Hang the Kaiser cry at the last General Election shews
us very terrifyingly how a common irreligion can be used by myopic
demagogy; and common irreligion will destroy civilization unless it is
countered by common religion.


And here arises the danger that when we realize this we shall do just
what we did half a century ago, and what Pliable did in The Pilgrim's
Progress when Christian landed him in the Slough of Despond: that is,
run back in terror to our old superstitions. We jumped out of the
frying-pan into the fire; and we are just as likely to jump back again,
now that we feel hotter than ever. History records very little in the
way of mental activity on the part of the mass of mankind except a
series of stampedes from affirmative errors into negative ones and back
again. It must therefore be said very precisely and clearly that the
bankruptcy of Darwinism does not mean that Nobodaddy was Somebodaddy
_with_ 'body, parts, and passions' after all; that the world was made
in the year 4004 B.C.; that damnation means a eternity of blazing
brimstone; that the Immaculate Conception means that sex is sinful and
that Christ was parthenogenetically brought forth by a virgin descended
in like manner from a line of virgins right back to Eve; that the
Trinity is an anthropomorphic monster with three heads which are yet
only one head; that in Rome the bread and wine on the altar become flesh
and blood, and in England, in a still more mystical manner, they do
and they do not; that the Bible is an infallible scientific manual, an
accurate historical chronicle, and a complete guide to conduct; that we
may lie and cheat and murder and then wash ourselves innocent in the
blood of the lamb on Sunday at the cost of a _credo_ and a penny in the
plate, and so on and so forth. Civilization cannot be saved by people
not only crude enough to believe these things, but irreligious enough
to believe that such belief constitutes a religion. The education of
children cannot safely be left in their hands. If dwindling sects like
the Church of England, the Church of Rome, the Greek Church, and the
rest, persist in trying to cramp the human mind within the limits of
these grotesque perversions of natural truths and poetic metaphors, then
they must be ruthlessly banished from the schools until they either
perish in general contempt or discover the soul that is hidden in every
dogma. The real Class War will be a war of intellectual classes; and its
conquest will be the souls of the children.


The test of a dogma is its universality. As long as the Church of
England preaches a single doctrine that the Brahman, the Buddhist, the
Mussulman, the Parsee, and all the other sectarians who are British
subjects cannot accept, it has no legitimate place in the counsels of
the British Commonwealth, and will remain what it is at present, a
corrupter of youth, a danger to the State, and an obstruction to the
Fellowship of the Holy Ghost. This has never been more strongly felt
than at present, after a war in which the Church failed grossly in the
courage of its profession, and sold its lilies for the laurels of the
soldiers of the Victoria Cross. All the cocks in Christendom have been
crowing shame on it ever since; and it will not be spared for the sake
of the two or three faithful who were found even among the bishops. Let
the Church take it on authority, even my authority (as a professional
legend maker) if it cannot see the truth by its own light: no dogma can
be a legend. A legend can pass an ethnical frontier as a legend, but not
as a truth; whilst the only frontier to the currency of a sound dogma as
such is the frontier of capacity for understanding it.

This does not mean that we should throw away legend and parable and
drama: they are the natural vehicles of dogma; but woe to the Churches
and rulers who substitute the legend for the dogma, the parable for the
history, the drama for the religion! Better by far declare the throne

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