Wednesday, 15 July 2015

CURRENT ANTI-CHRISTIAN DISBELIEF.

TO THE EDITOR, 

Sir,-I am glad to find that, as yet, nothing has been advanced of an authoritative character to subvert the positions I have assumed, and therefore I would offer some further testimony from scientific authorities in general confirmation of my immediately preceding argument, and trust that my "puzzled" friend, "Student," will suffer no further embarrassment in consequence. We are now in a position to say that the present order of things has not been evolved through infinite past time by the agency of laws now at work, but must have had a distinctive beginning, a state beyond which we are totally unable to penetrate, a state, in fact, which must have been produced by other than now visibly acting causes. This is amply proved by Professor Tait in his lecture on "Sources and Transfer of Energy." "The progress of science," says Professor Flint, "has not more convincingly and completely disproved the once prevalent notion (for which Genesis must not be held responsible) that the universe was created about 6000 years ago than it has convincingly and completely established that everything of which our senses inform us has had a commencement in time, and is of a compound, derivative, and dependent nature." To such considerations it may be added that some of the ablest physicists believe that in the present age a strictly scientific proof has been found that the universe had a beginning in time (Jevons's " Principles of Science," Fourrier's " Theory of the Dissipation of Heat," Sir William Thomson, Professor Flint, Dr. Pouchet on "The Universe," &c.)     

Professor Clarke Maxwell assures us that "none of the processes of Nature, since the time when Nature began, have produced the slightest difference in any molecule. We are therefore unable to ascribe either the existence of the molecules or the identity of their properties to the operation of any of the causes which we call natural." On the other hand, the exact quality of each molecule to all others of the same kind gives it, as Sir John Herschel has said, the essential character of a "manufactured article," and precludes the idea of its being eternal and self existent. "Thus we have been led," says this eminent physical philosopher, "along a strictly scientific path, very near to the point at which science must stop." I must not multiply quotations. A Christian theist has certainly no need to-day to be afraid of researches into the ultimate name of matter: Materialism is scientifically dead. To put it in my own "amateurish" way: Research has shown that every ultimate atom is full to the very heart of God, and that every particle of dust or every drop of water is crowded with traces of the action of the Divine Reason, not less marvellous, it may be, than those which astronomy exhibits in the structure of the stellar heavens and the evolution of the heavenly bodies. Those who hoped that molecular science would help them to get rid of God have obviously made a profound mistake. Every atom of matter points back beyond itself no the all-originating will of God. Nature is but the name for an effect whose cause is God. If, as I have said "Paley" is "out of date" it is not because Darwin and has followers have refuted it, but because they have brought so much to light which confirms the earlier argument from design.

Evolution cancels, without doubt, a certain line of argument from design, or what have been designated "the coarser forms of teleology," but it does not affect necessarily the belief in a plan and purpose in Nature, nor imperil the conviction that the universe is the creative expression of a Divine power and will. Darwin himself indeed, gave it as his distinct opinion that "the theory of evolution is quite compatible with the belief in God", ("Life and Letters," vol 1, p 307). And even Huxley was at some pains to show that evolution is not necessarily anti-theistic. "It has no more to do with theism than the first book of Euclid has. It does not even come into contact with theism, considered as a philosophical argument." But some reckless folk out-Darwin Darwin, and make Huxley say almost anything they please. Confessing the "horrid doubt" that disturbs his mind, Darwin writes to the author of the " Creed of Science": " You have expressed my inward conviction, though for more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the universe is not the result of chance." " Another source of the conviction of the existence of God. . .is the extreme difficulty, or rather impossibility of conceiving the immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backward and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. " " I cannot, anyhow, be contented to view the wonderful universe and specially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed law "

Advanced science, then, accords with the Christian faith in respect of the origin of Nature and man as "resulting from designed law." In other words, existence as we see and know it, is the outcome of forethought, arrangement, order, and design, or, as another scientist expresses it, "it is creation by an intelligent will." My own opinion is that the theory—and at present it is only a theory—of evolution may be accepted without any shock to religious conviction, for when property understood there is nothing in it adverse to belief in creation by an Infinite Intelligence. With Tyndall I regard its existence, as a hypothesis, quite compatible with the simultaneous existence of all those virtues to which the term Christian has been applied, and need not alter the reasoned theological views of anybody. Rather, as the Bishop of London has said, "the doctrine of evolution leaves the argument for an Intelligent Creator and Governor of the world stronger than before." There are even materialistic evolutionists who are constrained to acknowledge that at least "the universe looks as though it were planned by conscious intelligence " 

Your space will not allow of quotations. But it is clear to a fairly careful student that both hostile philosophy and unfriendly science are hemmed on by the irresistible necessities of actuality. They confess that an ultra-scientific region, a First Cause Infinite and Absolute, an infinite and eternal Energy, from which all things proceed, and which finally to avoid circuitous paraphrase is designated "God." And the philosophers and metaphysicians are in agreement with the physicists. What then, has the modern anti-Christian disbeliever, who boasts that he lives for the present and the seen, and rejects the supernatural, who comforts and flatters himself that, in some way which he does not in many instances understand he is guarded by the sheltering aegis of science, and that he is, as he proudly phrases it "a disciple of advanced thought"— what his he to say to these "latest conclusions" and "grandest revelations of science and philosophy" ? Like that unhappy "son of Zippor," who, having summoned a seer to curse his enemies, found the prophetic utterance to abound in blessing, so the modern disbeliever is raked by the fire of the very allies whose aid he has invoked. Bacon's "Essay xvi." is much needed as ever —I am,sir, &c.,

T. J. MALYON. May 23.


The Brisbane Courier 28 May 1913

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