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To which the answer is that a desire's morality is
gauged by its object; to take pleasure in pleasing
others is better than to take pleasure in pleasing one-
self. And it must be remembered that Christianity
nowhere makes claim of merit for the doer of righteous-
ness.

These few remarks must not be supposed to be an
attempt to confute all the anti-Christian systems in
a few pages. To these replies there are counter-replies
on both sides ; but they may serve to show that there
are weak spots in walls that at first sight appear im-
pregnable. I have set them down here because I
personally believe them to express the gist of a real
fallacy in each system, but the reader will not be
justified in claiming that opinion as his own without
much further investigation.



CHAPTEE XII

CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM

The mechanical theory too must postulate a primitive collocation
of atoms which its laws can never explain.

WABD. The Realm of Ends.

Let psychology frankly admit that for her scientific purposes
determinism may be claimed, and no one can find fault. Now ethics
makes a counter-claim; and the present writer, for one, has no
hesitation in regarding her claim as the stronger, and in assuming
that our wills are "free." For him, then, the deterministic assump-
tion of psychology is merely provisional and methodological.

WILLIAM JAMES. Psychology.

THE problem of Determinism for religion is identical
with the problem of evil. The problem of evil vanishes
if moral freedom be admitted, and Determinism would
raise no difficulty but for the existence of evil. It will
have been seen that to me the real crux of religion
lies in this question, and several times I have referred
to this Essay for the completion of a discussion. It
must be understood from the outset that I do not
propose to solve these age-long questions in a few
pages. The scope of these Essays is strictly limited
to an attempt to show that the question has not been
finally closed against Christianity by the existence of
these difficulties that they do not make an opinion in



CH. XII] CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM 119

favour of Christianity once and for all unreasonable.
For this reason I do not confine myself to one line of
reply but try to point out all the weak spots in the
formidable attack. My work is done if I can open for
the reader a door supposed to be closed for ever and
let in light enough for him to look round in tranquillity.
I begin, then, as indicated in the last Essay, by
asking if Determinism is by universal admission
necessarily opposed to Christianity ; and to this the
answer must surely be, No. A blind Necessity is
certainly an anti-Christian conception, but whole
schools of philosophic Christianity have been at the
same time not only believers in Determinism but even
supporters of it as an important element in Christianity.
In view of this, Determinism cannot be said to be
obviously fatal to Christianity. These schools may be
illogical, or their doctrine may be founded on a false
basis, but they are intelligent enough to make it wise
to suspend a verdict against them until we know what
their arguments are. On the other hand we have seen
how the mechanical Determinism involved in material-
istic schemes does prove fatal to them by depriving
them of a theory of knowledge; and I think it is
equally fatal to Pantheism, since on determinist lines
all that is actual was potential from the beginning,
and thus the one Substance must eternally have con-
tained the various characteristics since developed.
This however is only by the way, to show that



120 CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM [CH.

Determinism embarrasses other systems as much as
Christianity.

Secondly, we might take the " short way " outlined
in Essay VIII, and argue that any system based on
reasoning that undercut the foundations of morality
had thereby undercut its own foundations, and that
an equally probable system might be erected based on
morality and invalidating reason. This line of argument
is perfectly valid, the more so as it does not in fact
prove necessary to invalidate reason in this case, but
only to show that there is a considerable possibility
that Determinism is based on an unwarrantable ex-
tension of an analogy.

However, I do not think this attitude is essential
to our whole position, so I purpose to take the
arguments of determinists in more detail; and first
we will assume it proved absolutely beyond question
that every act, thought, and volition of man is pre-
destined and that God is responsible for this pre-
destination.

The first result of this admission is the assertion
that since I am predestined I cannot choose and
therefore it is no matter what I do. Responsibility is
an illusion, choice is an illusion ; what I am fated to
do will be done apart from any volition or effort of
mine. This is the fatalist position.

It is scarcely necessary to say that it is wholly
illogical. Granted that the ends are determined, yet



XII] CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM 121

they are not determined apart from the means which
are an integral part of them. The phenomenon we
call " choice " is an integral part of the act ; and in
taking up the position suggested, we are displaying
this phenomenon, we are " choosing." The fact is that
choice, volition, etc., belong to the sphere of conduct,
and in this sphere that which is unknown, is not.
Freedom, within this sphere, is real whatever it may
be actually; more than this, it is inevitable. We
cannot abrogate our choice and volition except by a
volition ; and while we imagine we are suffering our
conduct to be determined by our fate (in itself a
wholly absurd proposition since by hypothesis we
cannot but do so, without the need of a special
" abdication " to secure it), we are really suffering it
to be determined by an imperfect and doubtful guess
at the nature of that fate. The nature of our destiny
is absolutely inaccessible to our knowledge, and in the
sphere of conduct motive and choice must have
exercise; so the fatalist is but allowing an unknown
fact, guessed from incomplete data, to influence his
motives in their effect on his actions.

It is important to get this conception of the
"conduct-sphere" clear. Without claiming a final
reality 1 for it, I do assert that freedom and all it

1 As I understand it, moral pluralism makes this sphere the
ultimate reality. For the pluralist impeachment of Determinism see
Essay XI, p. 104.



122 CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM [CH.

involves is real in this sphere ; that this sphere is as
" real " as conduct and everyday life ; and, most im-
portant of all, that religion belongs almost entirely to
this sphere. It is for purposes of conduct that the
anthropomorphic concept of God is legitimate, and in
this His name is used to connote the Not-ourselves-
which- makes -for -righteousness 1 . The separation of
God from man, in which many of the problems of
Determinism are rooted, belongs properly to the
conduct-sphere in which Determinism has no logical
place.

An objection may be raised here, that if for conduct
that of which we are not conscious is non-existent,
then we are not responsible for our sins ; for many or
all of them are committed as the result of a temporary
lack of perception. The motives that awake after-
wards to cause regret and repentance and remorse are
at the time asleep and for us non-existent. To this
I reply that it is this very "motive-sleep" that con-
stitutes the sin, and, according to Christianity, we are
responsible for it because it is not necessary. He who
will use the adjuvants faithfully, and especially " faith "
in the sense of depending consciously on a power
beyond ourselves, will not suffer from " motive-sleep "
in time of need. (This is that aspect of faith whose
discussion was left over from Essay VI.) In scientific
phrase of to-day we may perhaps explain it to ourselves
1 Matthew Arnold. Literature and Dogma, Chapter I.



XII] CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM 123

as laying up a store of strength in the subconscious
and opening the channels from that to the conscious,
but I need hardly remark that this terminology
explains nothing unless taken in conjunction with a
materialist hypothesis; and that the language of
religion is quite as appropriate. Refusal to use the
adjuvants is index of lack of genuine desire to succeed,
that is of lack of faith. Truly again the question
arises whether we are responsible for a congenital
defect in faith ; but again I say that whatever may be
the answer to this we cannot use it to excuse a
deliberate carelessness of conduct, for we no more
know what our congenital condition is than we know
our fate, except by guesswork, and it has no logical
place as a determinant of choice, with which religion is
mainly concerned.

Yet, since this question does undoubtedly press us
hard, we must go on to consider it. Granted that
deterministic notions have no logical right to affect
conduct directly, yet if we know as a matter of fact
that in reality God is responsible for the defects in us
that cause us to sin, then God is responsible ultimately
for our sins, and many questions arise as to His good-
ness and therefore as to the validity of the moral
sense; and by this route Determinism may have a
right to affect conduct, by affecting our moral standards.
Indeed some argue that, given foreknowledge, even
freedom in man would not relieve God of responsibility ;



124 CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM [CH.

that He ought not to have given man freedom knowing
that he would misuse it. This last position seems to
me untenable. The manufacturers of knives cannot
reasonably be blamed for the murders done with them
though they may know that a certain number of the
knives issued will be thus misused. And to say that
God should have withheld such freedoms as He knew
would be misused is really to impugn freedom alto-
gether, for it is not freedom unless it involves the
possibility of misuse. Surely it may be admitted that
to give freedom and train it to a right use is a perfectly
moral act, especially as morality is only possible in
spheres where freedom is real. " There is nothing good
but a good will."

The bearing of this argument will be seen more
clearly when we have discussed our present position
with Determinism taken for granted. I shall impeach
the validity of the whole position presently, but a
temporary acceptance of it will conduce to clearer
understanding.

Well then, granted that God is finally responsible
for all my acts, good and bad, several questions arise.

1. Need I regret them ? Certainly it is reasonable
to regret them. I and others might have suffered less
if I had not sinned. And whatever answer may be
given as regards my own inward sensation of regret,
repentance issuing in better conduct is imperative.
Deterministic considerations have no place in conduct,



XII] CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM 125

and the regret that issues in better conduct may not
logically be abrogated by ideas drawn from a different
sphere. Philosophically perhaps one may recognise
the good in evil, but this is quite compatible with
a genuine regret.

2. Is it not wrong in God to cause sin ?

I think an illustration may help us here ; for
although it is quite true that morality in God must be
the same as morality in man or it becomes meaning-
less, yet in reference to any special act the morality
may depend on the position of the actor. The old
illustration of father and child makes this clear at once.
It is wrong for one child to strike another, but it may
be quite right for the father to do so. Again the
father may inflict on himself suffering that the child
might not inflict on him. He may starve himself to
feed the child, though the child might not go and
claim or snatch away his father's food. So too in life ;
one man may not kill another, but God cannot be
rightly reckoned a wholesale murderer because He did
not make man immortal on this earth. The sin of
Judas and the Jews was great, but that same act was
the culmination of the holiness of God.

It will be seen at once that the justifying factor in
these illustrations is the good of the child, and on these
lines it needs only to be shown that the suffering God
inflicts tends to the good of the sufferer. Whether
this is so or not we cannot at present determine



126 CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM [CH.

directly, but we can fall back on the other evidences of
the goodness of God, the gradual progress of morality
in history, the survival of the moral sense in fact all
the evidences of Christianity to justify us in trust
that things dark to us now may be making for an end
of good as yet unseen. And while this view certainly
does tend to identify good and evil actions, it leaves
good and evil as distinct as ever in themselves, and
not one whit justifies a man in the deliberate perform-
ance of evil.

3. But in that case is it right for God to punish
sin He has caused ?

To this question there are two answers possible ;
but first be it observed that the chief sting of it lay in
the doctrine of perpetual torment. This being rejected 1 ,
we are left with the question as to whether it is immoral
for God to make men of two kinds, one with temporal
tastes and one with eternal tastes, and to assign them
a culmination higher or lower or even in annihilation
in accordance with this. I think it would be bold to
decide this question so conclusively as to make it a
ground for rejecting Christianity. But secondly I
think it is perfectly open to us to embrace the " Larger
Hope," the hope

That not one life shall be destroy'd
Or cast as rubbish to the void
When God hath made the pile complete 2 .

1 Essay VII. 2 In Memoriam, Canto LIV.



XII] CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM 127

I shall at once be met with the reply that this is
not Christianity, that Christianity teaches the opposite.
I venture to deny that. Many orthodox Christians
hold the view, and with the exception of the parable
of Dives and Lazarus and the allegories of the
Revelation, nothing in the New Testament is incom-
patible with it ; while on the other hand Christ
distinctly singles out one sin, the sin of deliberate
persistent moral perverseness, as having no forgiveness,
"neither in this world nor in that which is to come 1 /'
and expressly announces that punishment shall be
graded to the degree of knowledge 2 . The objection to
this doctrine is really based on the mistaken idea that
it does away with the importance of holiness. Nothing
could be more mistaken. The doctrine, if valid, has
its roots entirely in its connection with the holiness of
God, and therefore can in no way abrogate other
conclusions from the same premise. It is, for
universalism, not less true but more true that every
breach of holiness is a step back which will have to
be retraced, every delay puts off the attainment and
makes it harder and more painful, and until there is
holiness there is no prospect but more and more loss
and suffering. Universalism is not antagonistic to
evangelism but a vindication of it and an incentive
to it. Apart from the Gospel it has no grounds at
all.

1 Matt. xii. 32. 2 Luke xii. 47.



128 CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM [CH.

I do not in the least wish to press universalism,
much less to assert that it is taught in the New
Testament ; only to say that it appears to be open to
anyone to accept it who feels logically compelled to
that as an alternative to the rejection of Christianity ;
though I do not personally think that even a deter-
minist is in this dilemma ; and as I myself am not a
convinced determinist but rather the opposite I feel no
compulsion to maintain it. If I incline to it at all it
is because the idea that no will will ultimately prove
too stubborn for the Master-Lover, Who will win all
without forcing any except by attraction to Himself,
following them till all the vanities that blinded have
fallen away and left them conscious of loss and desti-
tution this idea seems to exalt the Love of God to a
height worthy of the Cross.

This however is digressing, for we are still assuming
Determinism to be proven. There is then one more
question.

4. Why did God choose such a painful way of
doing good, if evil be justified as a road to good ?

Here I think we may quite fairly take refuge in
" mystery." What if the highest good be to have been
brought through the real experience of sorrow to joy ?
According to Christianity this seems to be the joy of
God Himself. I think it is perfectly legitimate to be
content to be agnostic here. We cannot possibly judge
in a matter like that; and the difficulty, it must be



XII] CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM 129

remembered, depends largely on the assumption of
Determinism, and partly too on a point that I wish to
bring out now.

I have already said that I think this quasi-scientific
conception of life as determined, this halfway house
between the conduct-sphere and the metaphysical
sphere, illegitimate. Like the materialist world of the
atom and molecule, it has a descriptive value, but it
partakes of the reality of neither sphere. The anthro-
pomorphic, "separated" God is a concept of the
conduct-sphere. Leaving that we have no lawful
stopping place till we come right back to the noumenal
God, and view the universe sub specie aeternitatis ; and
while it is true that I have maintained throughout
that the relations of this sphere are correctly repre-
sented for conduct in the concepts of common life, yet
when we strip off one set of attributes and ascribe
them to our human mode of vision, we must strip off
others too if we would be consistent. Chief among
these is time. Sub specie aeternitatis the end is
coexistent with the process, and the process is as good
as the end. We are blindly tracing out parts of a
completed picture and are distressed at dark lines
which seem to predominate in the part we have
reached ; sub specie aeternitatis they may be even
now adding a glory to the sunshine which is the centre
of the piece. This illustration is but an illustration,
for we cannot properly conceive of eternal conditions,

H. 9



130 CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM [CH.

but this concept greatly enforces the replies already
given to the questions, and also and this is most
important it shows clearly that predestination con-
cepts belong to a transcendental sphere in which the
relations that constitute the problem are merged ; and
that these concepts cannot legitimately be transferred
to the sphere of conduct and religion at all.

Now, however, I come to the question whether
Determinism is really so conclusively proved as is
assumed.

First it will be said that Christianity is committed
to it. I think not.

On careful examination of the classical passage in
Romans 1 it will be seen that the idea there is not that
God causes some to sin and others not, but that all
have freely and guiltily sinned and deserved the
scriptural punishment of "hardening," but some are,
by the mercy of God, redeemed from this and made
holy. The passage is exceedingly hard, the difficulty
arising as I think from the simultaneous involvement
of the two separate spheres in the question he is
answering, but I believe the situation is conceived as
I have said.

In any case it is not essential to the fundamental

faith of Christianity that we should adhere to St Paul's

metaphysical ideas, though many are much too hasty

in rejecting them. At the very lowest he was a well

1 Bom. ix., cf. Bom. i. 28.



XII] CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM 131

educated, versatile, exceedingly clever man, as well as a
spiritual genius.

Now I must direct attention again to an idea we
reached before in Essay VIII, of a duality existing
between the method and the nature of the universe.
This now becomes of the first importance. A little
reflection will show that even granting that every
successive state of the universe is completely deter-
mined by the preceding state, there are yet three
things which fall outside the scope of this explanation :

1. Why is there any universe at all ? 2. Why does
one state cause another? 3. Why is the series of
states what it is ? The first two questions are simple ;
neither existence nor causality is explained by any
state of the universe. Two illustrations will make the
third clear. Conceive the universe as a circular chain
of different links arranged according to a definite rule,
so that from one you could tell the next ; still no link
would account for the pattern of the chain as a whole.
Or mathematically ; suppose I write down a series, say

2, 4, 8, 16 This can be followed backwards and

forwards ad infinitum from any one figure when the
law connecting them is known. But I might have
written a series with the same law but not one figure

the same, say 3, 6, 12, 24 , or with a different law

and different figures, 5, 15, 45 It is quite clear that

something outside the series determines the nature of
the series, its introduction, its law, even that it should

99
t



132 CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM [CH.

have a law at all. Now ask someone to explain this
outside factor, myself, in terms of the series, and it will
be seen that the explanation of the nature of the
universe will naturally be refractory to language
entirely derived from the behaviour of the states of
the universe as known to us. In short, given the most
absolute reign of law within the universe joining one
state to another, the nature of the whole, viewed
statically, is necessarily free from this law 1 . The
immense difficulty we find in conceiving or defining
freedom arises from our ideas being exclusively formed
from observation of laws in operation, without which
coherent thought would have been impossible. None
the less we are forced to recognise it in this instance.
Very early philosophy recognised it and named it Ti/^?;
as opposed to 'Avay/crj. But since we are forced to
recognise an element of absoluteness, which is freedom,
in the universe as a whole, we must recognise its
possibility elsewhere. To push it back to a single
operation in an infinitely remote past is wholly un-
philosophical ; in fact it is Deism. Martineau 2 , again,
makes much of the unexplained nature of causality,
one of the elements of the nature of the universe ; the
cause of all causation, itself uncaused, it is, according
to him, the objective aspect of what we are inwardly
conscious of as personality. There is a cause uncaused,

1 See the heading of this essay.

2 A Study of Eeligion.



XII] CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM 133

causality; we feel that we are causes uncaused, free
persons ; why should we go out of our way to deny our
own sensations ? In fact he maintains that without
this inward sense we should never have conceived the
idea of cause and effect at all. Be this as it may, the
question, why deny our own sensations in this matter,
on a little examination has a wholly unsatisfactory
answer, for we find that we deny them by ail
illegitimate extension of analogy from things inanimate
and unconscious to things conscious, ignoring the very
difference which makes the extension questionable.
By a bold generalization it might have been permissible
to extend causality to cover all things animate and
inanimate alike, though reasoning wholly from observa-
tion of the inanimate ; but when consciousness, morality,
metaphysics and religion all have to be challenged and
set aside it is high time that the right to extend was
questioned and indeed negatived. That we cannot
describe or explain freedom matters little ; we can say
it is not determinism and standing on it deny all the
deductions of determinism. If it seem to involve
fantastic theories of preexistence and eternity, these
are in reality no whit more fantastic than the results
of any meditation on the universe when pushed to its
ultimate bounds. It is only because science dwells
almost entirely within the phenomenal that it looks so
solid beside metaphysics.

Not only is this view of personality permissible ;



134 CHRISTIANITY AND DETERMINISM [CH.

I think it has more to say for itself than rival theories.
I have dwelt already on the duality of mode and
nature involved in an irrational universe. Matter the
substance and motion the method are two things and
require explanation separately, but in such a concept
as Thought thinking, Spirit, Reason they find unity.
While difficulties remain, yet we can trace them all
legitimately to the region of mystery when the universe
is to us, as it was to Hegel, Spirit expressing its own
nature ; or as to Carlyle, " not dead and demoniacal, a


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