Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/465

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RETROGRESSIVE RELIGION.

dwelling apart from, man and the world. If the formula of the Unknowable is (xn), or the Unknown raised to infinity, theirs is (nx), some unknown expression of Infinity. Neither (xn) nor (nx) will ever make good men and women.

If we leave the region of formulas and go back to the practical effect of religion on human conduct, we must be driven to the conclusion that the future of religion is to be, not only what every real religion has ever been, anthropomorphic—but frankly anthropic. The attempted religion of Spiritism has lost one after another every resource of a real religion, until risu solvuntur tabulæ, and it ends in a religion of Nothingism. It is the Nemesis of Faith in spiritual abstractions and figments. The hypothesis has burst, and leaves the Void. The future will have then to return to the Knowable and the certainly known, to the religion of Realism. It must give up explaining the Universe, and content itself with explaining human life. Humanity is the grandest object of reverence within the region of the real and the known, Humanity with the World on which it rests as its base and environment. Religion, having failed in the superhuman world, returns to the human world. Here religion can find again all its certainty, all its depth of human sympathy, all its claim to command and reward the purest self-sacrifice and love. We can take our place again with all the great religious spirits who have ever molded the faith and life of men, and we find ourselves in harmony with the devout of every faith who are manfully battling with sin and discord. The way for us is the clearer as we find the religion of Spiritism, in its long and restless evolution of thirty centuries, ending in the legitimate deduction, the religion of the Unknowable, a paradox as memorable as any in the history of the human mind. The alternative is very plain. Shall we cling to a religion of Spiritism when Philosophy is whittling away spirit to Nothing? Or shall we accept a religion of Realism, where all the great traditions and functions of religion are retained unbroken?—Nineteenth Century.

 

RETROGRESSIVE RELIGION.[1]
By HERBERT SPENCER.

IN days when dueling was common, and its code of ceremonial well elaborated, a deadly encounter was preceded by a polite salute. Having by his obeisance professed to be his antagonist's very humble servant, each forthwith did his best to run him through the body.

  1. Excepting its last section, this article had been written, and part of it sent to the printers, by the 30th of May; and, consequently, before I saw the article of Sir James Stephen, published in the "Nineteenth Century" for June, 1884. Hence the fact that