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about 22 years, after the event. We have record of his
teaching in the same strain earlier. All four gospels
were probably extant during the first century, the bulk
of the synoptics certainly during the life of the original
disciples. There is no serious doubt of the authenticity
of the majority of the Pauline Epistles, the Gospels,
the Acts and the first Epistle of St Peter. The
Johannine Epistles undoubtedly came from the same
pen as the fourth gospel, and the Diatessaron makes
it highly probable that that gospel was issued with
apostolic authority during St John's lifetime.

The strength of this combined evidence may be
estimated by the extraordinary difficulties met with in
proposing an alternative explanation of the apostles'
change of attitude and indisputable conviction.

Lastly, we have the evidence of the Christian life
of others and our own. This is the final testimony ;
other testimony merely serves to justify our interpreting
this experience as evidence for things unseen.

To me these three lines of evidence, metaphysical,
historical and experimental, form a very strong argu-
ment for the truth of Christianity ; the one furnishing
a presumption to prepare for the second, and these
together interpreting the third. Each by itself can be
attacked. We have seen that metaphysics leaves gaps
in our conclusions; we can reach "probability" or

62



84 OPINION AND CONDUCT [CH.

"validity"; history coming alone is strictly speaking
inconclusive; personal experience may be susceptible
of other interpretations than that of the reality of the
objects of our subjectivity. But if Christianity be not
true, each of these requires a separate explanation.
The moral progress of the universe is unexplained, the
origin of the gospel story is attributed to some form of
illusion, and Christian experience to some other form
of illusion. If the truth of Christianity be admitted,
all three find one explanation ; and " parsimony of
causes" is a prime rule of reasoning; that is, that
when one cause will suffice to explain phenomena, it is
probably wrong to hypostatise more than one.

I cannot pursue the subject further. It is no part
of my programme to " prove Christianity," but only to
show its reasonableness, and to indicate the lines along
which an opinion favourable to Christianity may be
reached. I have made several assertions of fact which
really fall within the province of experts. Till you
have investigated these for yourself the opinion ex-
pressed here is not yours but mine; and if on such
investigation my statements or my logic are found
faulty, then your opinion will be different, or, if the
same, held on different grounds. It may perhaps be
not out of place here just to state what degree of
expert knowledge of fact I may claim for statements
made in these Essays. My education has taken me
into those regions of mathematics where infinity is used



IX] OPINION AND CONDUCT 85

in calculation, but to make sure that in statements of
mathematical fact I have not blundered I have sub-
mitted all these to a professional mathematician. In
theology and the history of the New Testament and all
those controversies about authorship I have also taken
a deep layman's interest, but the whole of these Essays
have been revised from a theological standpoint by a
professional theologian. This is to be held to authen-
ticate my expressions of Christian doctrines as being
within the limits of orthodoxy. The logic the reader
himself must judge of and accept nothing on my bare
assertion. My only claim to any degree of expertness
lies in a twelve years' familiarity with natural science
and its ideas ; for in addition to the Natural Sciences
course at Cambridge and qualification and practice in
medicine, I have spent two years in the study and
practice of the methods of scientific research and
attended conferences of scientists, and know what are
the methods of extension of knowledge and the criteria
and standards of certainty required in scientific circles
for the establishment of facts. In philosophy my
interest again is that of an amateur, but I make few
philosophical or metaphysical statements without giving
the reasons for them, and in the following Essays my
aim is not to give any final opinion on the systems
discussed but to suggest considerations which may be
followed up. I wish only to remove from the reader's
mind any obsession by their prima fade plausibility or



86 OPINION AND CONDUCT [CH.

widespread reputation; to show that they too have
objections to meet even as Christianity has.

However, before passing on to these, I want to say
a little first about assertion and conviction and kindred
subjects. To some readers it may seem that before
they can attain to an opinion on Christianity there is a
long road of research and argument and discussion to
be traversed, and meanwhile can they act as "believers,"
can they take part in teaching or preaching or any such
Christian services ? Especially does this question press
on those who wish to be ordained.

Act as believers, most certainly they can. Belief is
independent of opinion to a large extent, and if the
first part of these Essays has been sound, then it is
open to anyone truly desirous of following the highest
to call himself Christian. And here I would urge the
importance of " practical " conviction as an adj a vant ;
I mean conviction for purposes of conduct. I think
one who has chosen to live according to our faith should
resolutely banish the consciousness of intellectual doubt
from times of devotion and action. Intellectually his
mind may be open, but having decided that a certain
course of action is right, no good can be done by dwell-
ing on the possibility of mistake. This indeed is a
general rule of all life, that the most efficient man is
he who while seeing the force of his opponent's view is
able to make up his own mind with decision. This
warning, though obvious, is certainly necessary in actual



IX] OPINION AND CONDUCT 87

life, where too often it is left to the " cocksure " to do
all the work and the talking, sometimes with disastrous
results. And if you are not ever able to form a sound
judgment of your own, no matter. It would be a
calamity to be paralysed thereby. " If thine eye offend
thee, pluck it out." It need not, and should not offend,
but we must see to it that it does not.

When we come to teaching and asserting, matters
are a little different, but I offer the following considera-
tions. Everyone has a right to assert his own opinion,
provided that he does not assert as matters of personal
knowledge things that really are not so. Under
ordinary circumstances people understand that a man's
assertions represent his own opinion, and attach as
much or little weight to them as they think he
deserves. It is when he claims special knowledge and
authority that his opinions have special weight ; in
other words, when he sets up to be a teacher. Here
again he is still at liberty to assert his opinions, they
will be understood as such ; but he must not try to
assume a special degree of authority on a disputed
point, unless personal investigation has qualified him
to do so. He should frankly acknowledge what uncer-
tainty he may have, with the exception of occasions of
two kinds ; when teaching elementary classes, and when
preaching. In teaching elements it is always under-
stood that you are providing a framework for the
acquisition of formed knowledge later. No chemist



88 OPINION AND CONDUCT [CH.

teaching the atomic theory to students new to the
subject would enter into abstruse discussions of the
various objections to it. To do so would produce an
impression further from the truth than the theory itself.
To elementary classes, therefore, I hold one may teach
what one opines to be religious truth under the forms
that convey it best without insistence on the possible
objections to those forms. In preaching in a church a
man and his audience are met on the understanding
that the doctrine of that church is to be assumed as
the basis of his discourse. Many of them have settled
their difficulties years ago ; no one wants to hear about
his. They require that the preacher apply that doctrine
to practical life, not that he begin to talk about his
opinions on it. And at any rate it is always open to
him to carry out what I believe was the original idea
of a sermon, to tell the stories of the good men of old
and exhort his hearers to follow their examples. And
so too in the various mission services, etc., that a
student may wish to take part in ; even during the
interregnum it will go hard but he can find something
in his faith that he can wholeheartedly proclaim, the
beauty of holiness, the disaster of sin, the practical
experience of salvation.

It comes to this, then, that if a man wishes to
become a teacher, he should strive, by personal investi-
gation, to fit himself for the post ; this done, he may
teach what he opines. In preaching he should respect



IX] OPINION AND CONDUCT 89

the assumptions under which he has his opportunity
and avoid subjects where he cannot honestly express
his opinion, in accordance with those conventions.
Within those limits I think he may certainly assert
without challenging himself any such opinion even
though he be not very definitely decided on it. But of
primary importance is it that he who sets out to
teach about Christian experience should have first hand
knowledge of it, and in this especially should there be
no pretence to an authority which is not his.

One or two considerations as to the nature of
opinion may help to make this matter clearer. An
opinion is often the balance of two uncertainties. The
objections to one opinion may be formidable, but those
to an opposite opinion still more formidable. In this
case the former should be reckoned as one's opinion;
and it must be remembered that if " cocksureness " is
giving undue weight to an ill-grounded opinion, then
to give undue want of weight to a well investigated
opinion is in truth cocksureness also, of a negative kind.
A decision after careful investigation, even though the
balance may seem but slight in its favour, is still a
greater probability than the opposite, and to refuse to
assert it is to over-assert its negative, or at least is
often equal to allowing it to be over-asserted by other
less conscientious people. Secondly it must be remem-
bered that by strict logical principles the degree of
uncertainty affecting religious matters is also inherent



90 OPINION AND CONDUCT [CH. IX

in most matters of history and everyday life, and it is
unreasonable to suffer oneself to feel in one class an
uncertainty we should scorn as pedantic in another.
The tendency of the thoughful man is usually to give
undue weight to uncertainties in religion. If these
facts be kept in mind, and a systematic effort be made
to keep the psychological sense of assurance duly
proportioned to the evidence obtained and the certainty
attained, there will be no reasonable difficulty about
teaching in most cases. These remarks of course cover
the case of those wishing to take orders; if on due
investigation they form an opinion distinctly unfavour-
able to Christianity they should not take them ; though
a man should always wait and consider fully his
grounds of objection before deciding that they are fatal
to a favourable opinion. Especially is this so when
new facts crop up that threaten to upset old convictions.
New facts take time to get into perspective, and the
very fact that our opinions seem in need of correction,
should make us slow to consider the newly acquired
opinion final.

I now consider some typical objections, on logical
grounds, to Christianity, but only with a view to
showing that they are at least not conclusive. First
I will deal with those attacking the more specific
elements of historical Christianity, then with those
opposed to its fundamental metaphysical and philo-
sophical conceptions.



CHAPTER X

OPINION AND CHRISTIANITY

Most can raise the flowers now
For all have got the seed.

TENNYSON. The Flower.

IN this Essay I consider the supposed opposition
between scientific facts and Christianity.

The first form in which this objection meets us
is usually a broad assertion that most scientists of
repute are anti-Christian. This is not true. The
Rev. G. T. Manley published the result of an enquiry
into this question in a pamphlet called The Views of
Modern Science 1 . This pamphlet is well worth study.
He quotes statistics, supplied to him by a Fellow of
the Royal Society, of the religious position of all who
had held office in that Society living at a certain date
142 in all. The figures are :

Unknown... ... ... ... ... 71

Publicly professed Christians ... ... 33

From personal knowledge believed to be

Christian 27

Professed sceptics or agnostics ... ... 6

From personal knowledge thought to be

non-Christian ... ... ... 5

1 Published by the Church Missionary Society, 1901.



92 OPINION AND CHRISTIANITY [CH.

Thus out of 71 men, 60 were known or believed to
be Christian, 11 non-Christian, and so the objection as
commonly made is not true to fact. If then it be
asserted that the most eminent scientists have usually
been anti~Christian, this again is not true; for
publicity is no evidence of eminence. Without de-
traction from their merits as scientists, it must be
admitted that Haeckel, Buchner, Huxley, Tyndall and
others owe their fame chiefly to their popular anti-
Christian writings. There are many names held in
equal and higher estimation by the scientific world
which are almost unknown to the general public.
Again, anyone writing on the orthodox side will
attract far less attention than a less able writer with
something new and sensational to propound. Thus
the names of Strauss, Baur and Renan are known
widely though their theories are untenable at the
present day, but the sound scholars who refuted them
are known only to the specialist. Probably those who
have heard of Robert Blatchford are many more than
those who know the names of Westcott, Lightfoot,
Whewell, Whately and others.

Whether or no the systems of Huxley, Haeckel,
etc. are sound is another matter. They will be dis-
cussed later ; my point now is that their reputations
do not rest upon their scientific eminence, and they
are therefore no proof of the truth of this objection.
There remains however one name of a man pre-



X] OPINION AND CHRISTIANITY 93

eminent in science, and a non-Christian, Darwin.
Darwin professes himself to waver between Theism
and Agnosticism, but he repeatedly maintains that the
philosophical principle propounded by him and sup-
ported by his classical observations of nature in no way
militates against religion 1 ; indeed he says, " our minds
refuse to accept... the grand sequence of events as the
result of blind chance 2 ."

Seeing then that there is anything but a con-
sensus of opinion against Christianity among eminent
scientists, and that the one pre-eminent scientist who
was a non-Christian does not ascribe his unbelief to
the theory on which his fame rests 3 , or indeed to
science at all, it is hardly true to say that Science has
spoken decisively against Christianity. The reasons of
the conflict between religion and science are mainly
that philosophers have claimed the authority of science
for anti-Christian systems, and theologians have claimed
the authority of religion for theories on scientific sub-
jects, and asserted that these theories were essential to
religion. Every one (except the Zetetic astronomers)

1 Descent of Man, Pt I. Chap. m. p. 143. Murray's edition, 1901.

2 Ibid., Pt III. Chap. xxi. p. 937. Murray's edition, 1901.

3 This is not to say that his theory may not be opposed to
religion ; no man has a private property in his theory, and subse-
quent writers are at liberty to extend the principle if they can ; only
Darwin's fame must not be held to give weight to their applications.
I add this because one often hears it said that since Darwin did not
think his theory anti-Christian no one else has a right to make it
so a wholly false conclusion.



94 OPINION AND CHRISTIANITY [CH.

recognises that the theologians were mistaken in their
opposition to Galileo's views, and most people recognise
that a similar mistake was made in regard to Darwin.
And the assertions of philosophers speaking in the
name of science must be judged by the philosophic,
not the scientific, qualifications of the authors. None
of the scientist-philosophers is considered important in
the philosophic world except perhaps Herbert Spencer ;
and of him a " leading Science Professor in Cambridge "
is reported to have said, "Professor Ward 1 tells me
that his philosophy is worse than his science; but I
think that is impossible 2 ."

Let it once more be clearly understood that my
sole object here is to remove the unwarranted prejudice
against Christianity created by the popular reputation
of these men. I do not profess to have wiped them off
the slate by these statements, nor that the numbers
quoted in favour of Christianity tend to establish it;
they only go to prove that the decisive rejection of
Christianity by Modern Science is simply a bogey
which should impose on us no longer. The views of
philosophers will be discussed in the next Essay, but
here I will say that they by no means favour the
materialistic theories put forward in the name of
science.

I will now discuss briefly one typical instance of a

1 Professor of Philosophy in Cambridge.

2 Views of Modern Science, p. 11.



X] OPINION AND CHRISTIANITY 95

supposed clashing between the results of Christianity
and science. I cannot go into any more in these Essays,
but this one is typical of so many that it is worth while
glancing at it. It is a type of conflict between opinion
and creed ; I refer to the doctrine of the Fall of Man,
and the story of Adam. Their importance lies not in
the fact of their inclusion in the Bible, but in the fact
that St Paul and others appear to regard them as
fundamental in the Christian creed and base important
arguments on them.

Faced with such a problem we must ask :

1. Whether the argument is really important.

2. Whether it would not be equally valid if the
writer had consciously referred to the incident as
legendary.

3. Whether the true basis of the argument is not
after all real. This basis is commonly the spiritual
significance of the legend.

In this instance I think all three considerations are
applicable. The argument, though important, cannot
be said to be of fundamental importance. The essential
thing is the fact of sin and its need of redemption
rather than its origin. Secondly, if dramatic fitness is
alone intended, it is clear that this is in no way im-
paired by the legendariness of the story. If this
dramatic fitness, however, is intended to explain Christ's
work, it becomes necessary to see whether the elements
of it do not inhere in the facts underlying the legend.



96 OPINION AND CHRISTIANITY [CH.

St Paul's argument is that " By Man came Death,"
"In Adam all die," and that the bringing of life by
Christ is parallel to the introduction of death " by one
man " and made comprehensible by the comparison.

As an indisputable fact, the Fall has its counterpart
in our own lives. Each of us awakes to a moral sense
and finds that he is at fault, losing an elementary
innocence, but even in our fall approaching to a state
nearer the Divine 1 . Thus Adam may be well taken to
be representative of the human race, and " in Adam all
die " has a genuine meaning. For St Paul " death "
does not mean physical death, even supposing that he
believed that no physical death occurred before man's
sin. Compare his words 2 " I was alive apart from the
law once; but when the commandment came, sin
revived, and I died." The very spiritual progress
involved in the fall, the increase of spiritual perception
and horizon, introduced the germs of a permanent
dissatisfaction with a finite life, and thus death became
a " thing that mattered " from the time of the intro-
duction of a moral sense.

If it be further maintained that the argument
depends on the introduction of sin by one man, I
would point out that this too is, even on evolutionary
principles, probable, or at least not impossible 3 . I do

1 Genesis iii. 22. - Romans vii. 9.

3 Since this was written I find the following sentence in Evolution,
a volume of the Home University Library Series, by Professors J. A.



X] OPINION AND CHRISTIANITY 97

not wish to urge this point, but I give it as an example
of a case in which the wholesale rejection of an old
legend has been a little too hasty, also because the idea
here expressed is one which is commonly overlooked;
but the method of meeting these difficulties is the
important point, not the actual argument I use. I say
that sin was probably introduced by one man, for this
reason, that the essential feature of manhood is a
developed moral .sense, conscious of sin. Even in
Genesis a rudimentary moral sense is presupposed
before the fall, but the fall introduced the knowledge
of good and evil. Precisely so in the race history, of
which the individual history is usually a resume, there
must have come a point at which the degree of
development of the moral sense was enough to
differentiate its possessors from other animals. And
it is highly probable, to my mind, that this occurred
first as the result of failure at some moral crisis in one
outstanding individual, from whom the consciousness
spread to his fellows, who thus became his spiritual
posterity, and, in the sense continually used in
Scripture, his " sons." This " spiritual pioneering " is
an exceedingly important and common phenomenon,
and produces nearly all the eras of importance, at least
in religion. One man sets a fashion, which awakens

Thomson and P. Geddes: "It is possible that man arose as a
mutation, as an anthropoid genius in short, but the factors that led
to his emergence are all unknown. " The italics are mine.



E.



98 OPINION AND CHRISTIANITY [CH.

dormant ideas in his successors' minds, and from that
time forth things become possible that were before
unknown. When Pope's couplets were published,
scores of men, who else would not have written a word,
found themselves able to turn out verses like his ; and
so too in music and painting. In the Old Testament
the idea of a life of faith was introduced by Abraham ;
in the New Testament those who follow his example
are reckoned his true sons. In this same sense too
most truly is Jesus the pioneer of a life which He
"brought to light through the gospel." And it is
well seen that this is no figure of speech when one
realises that for lack of such a pioneer the non-
Christian races have never attained to the conception
of this life. Even Buddhism in its best forms has not
got beyond the idea that "He that hath died is justified
from sin 1 ." It has no life beyond such death ; no
sanctification and right use for the activities of men.
It seems to me therefore far from improbable that so
important a revolution as the marked development of
the moral sense should have originated with an in-
dividual, the first man ; and my point is that if this be
considered essential to the truth of the fundamentals
of Christianity, it is certainly not contested by the
theory of evolution. Personally I do not think it
necessary to insist on this argument.

It may perhaps be useful to say that very many

1 Romans vi. 7.



X] OPINION AND CHRISTIANITY 99

hold that the doctrine of Kenosis (founded on Philip-
plans ii. 7 and the many phrases expressing ignorance
and surprise used hy Jesus) must be extended to cover
ignorance of all historical and scientific fact to which
He had no natural access, at any rate as a general rule.
Thus the words attributing Psalm ex. to David need
not commit us to a Davidic authorship for that psalm
(though the contrary is not proved) ; it is enough that
the appeal is to an element in the current idea of
Messiah evidenced by this psalm's place among those
ascribed to David.

I cannot here enter into discussions of other
difficulties. Suffice it if these examples show that a
little patient and sympathetic examination will often
remove them, especially if carried down to the funda-
mental spiritual import of the matter.



72



CHAPTER XI

CHRISTIANITY AND PHILOSOPHY

They are but broken lights of Thee,
And Thou, Lord, art more than they.

TENNYSON. In Memoriam.

BEFORE examining the various anti- Christian
systems in particular, let us consider the relation of


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