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THE CENTURY MAGAZINE: Published monthly; 50 cents a copy, $5.00 a year in the United States, $5.60 in Canada, and $6.00 in all other countries (postage included). Publication and circulation office, Concord, N. H. Editorial and advertising offices, 353 Fourth Avenue, New York, N. Y. Subscriptions may be forwarded to either of the above offices. Pacific Coast office, 327 Van Nuys Building, Los Angeles, California. W. Morgan Shuster, President; Dana H. Ferrin, Secretary; George L. Wheelock, Treasurer; James Abbott, Assistant Treasurer. Board of Trustees: George H. Hazen, Chairman; George C. Fraser; W. Morgan Shuster. The Century Co. and its editors receive manuscripts and art material, submitted for publication, only on the understanding that they shall not be responsible for loss or injury thereto while in their possession or in transit. All material herein published under copyright, 1928, by The Century Co. Title registered in the U. S. Patent Office. Entered as second-class matter August 18, 1920, at the U. S. post-office, Concord, N. H., under the act of March 3, 1879; entered also at the Post Office Department, Ottawa, Canada. Printed in U. S. A.
The CENTURY MAGAZINE
A MODERN IN SEARCH OF TRUTH
I-Christianity and This Business Called Life
swer to life: some logical explanation and in the light of that, some logical ideal, round which he can intelligently and enthusiastically organize his individual activity. But when a man does thus begin to seek and to question, he is confronted with a bewildering diversity of opinion. Science and religion-evolution and theology-realism and idealism
YHAT is the power that is creating this world? Where is it leading us and with what intention? How can I coöperate with it so as to secure more of well-being, less of friction and anxiety, in my life? These are questions that every man asks sooner or later and with more or less insistence. Because they are not abstruse questions about a remote creed or phi-the New Metaphysics and the losophy; they are common sense questions about this most practical business of life.
If I quote the excellent illustration of Professor van der Leouwyou saw a man staggering under a heavy burden, on a hot and dusty road, and you asked him why he was carrying that burden, and where he was going with it, and he answered that those questions had never occurred to him, you would not call him a practical man. You would simply call him a fool. Not the one who questions, but the one who does not, should be called "impractical" and a "dreamer."
The normal individual soundly, and with justice, demands the an
New Psychology-all bombard him with their fiercely and flatly contradictory hypotheses.
One group preaches high ideals; another, hard realities. One group tells him to "face facts"; another, to "believe in God." On the one hand, he is assured that this is a spiritual world and that we are immortal souls, made in the image and likeness of an all-perfect Creator; on the other hand, that the cosmos is a selfperpetuating mechanism, that we are simply higher animals who have developed rather more elaborate brain convolutions, and that God is a myth, part of the famous "fathercomplex," or the remains of early ancestor worship or animistic deifi
Copyright, 1928, by THE CENTURY Co. All rights reserved.
cation of natural phenomena. In the same newspaper, he may read that President Coolidge says that law and government rest on religious conviction, that Lord Bryce or President Eliot said that religion alone can save the world; and on the next page, that John Dewey or Everett Dean Martin says that religious ideas are fictions-an "escape," not a logical inference-and that their whole value consists in the results of the behavior they start going.
What is he to believe?
What he does believe-what we all believe, naturally and involuntarily are the facts of our human experience. There is no Creator, no purpose, and nothing to find out, say the materialists. But all about us is order. Order implies law. All about us are created things. Creation implies combination, and some intelligence and intention behind that combination-if only the intention of the artist, creating something for the fun of "painting it out" again. To believe that there is law and that there is intention behind this universe and all these created things, ourselves included, is not idealism or philosophic speculation or imagination. It is simply common sense. If everywhere in the world you see order and law working, is it only when you get to the "primordial shove"-the supreme initial movement behind all this order-that accident and disorder begin?
Not whether there is a creative power and a law and a purpose behind this life, but what that creative power and law and purpose is: this is the all-important question. And here religion steps in, with its eager claim of "revelation" and "author
ity," and confidently affirms that it can tell us all about this. It has been telling us for many centuries-ever since the first family priest in the first primitive collection of huts, set himself up as the village oracle. And what it tells us, makes the scientists laugh, and the average man yawn and uneasily hope that the religious fellows are mistaken.
The materialists say, you cannot know, because there is nothing to know-just an unexplained and inexplicable evolution. The religionists say, we know, and you can only know by believing what we tell you. Not reason, but faith, reveals truth.
And there is something within you-something strong and deep as life itself—that gives the lie to both these. Something that says, "I can know, and I will know, and I will not take what any one tells me. I will find out the truth for myself." Because if there is any truth, it must be a universal truth that all men and every man can know, and can know with reason.
And to ironic Pilate's "what is truth?" the answer down the ages— from scientist and inventor, as well as mystic and philosopher, and every kind and type of human seeker-has been an invincible, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
What impresses me, looking back over the long road of my own search, is how much unnecessary trouble we make ourselves: how inescapably simple and true, truth is. From the very first cross-roads the choice between the material and the spiritual views of life-I knew, for example, that I could never be a materialist or take the mechanistic
and "no-meaning" view; for the reason that actually nobody can. We are all idealists and believers, in spite of ourselves.
The very people who are assuring you that life has no meaning-that the individual is a chance collection of cells, and the universe an accidental phenomenon-cannot live for five minutes without acting as though life has a meaning; without choosing something as good, and something else as less good, and thereby involuntarily ascribing a meaning and a goal to their own lives, and to that of the race in general.
The people who are loudest in sneering at ideals, are revolving round some ideal every minute. The question is, how much vital inspiring power-power of more life -does that ideal contain? Society and individuals to-day are conscious of spiritual starvation, because "greed" -the ideal round which most personal and national life is at present revolving has not enough inherent vitality to keep life going.
The people who smile with indulgent superiority at the very first letters of the word "spiritual," and declare that they have no use for all that "mystical self-delusion"-the Freudians, the behaviorists, the hard-headed champions of reality -when a great and beautiful spirit actually appears, are as quick as any one to recognize and bow before it. In fact, spiritual reality is about the only reality in the world, equally real and convincing to every one. We may argue by the hour over different theories of matter-the latest concerning that supposedly most substantial thing, being that it
is a decidedly spirituelle "strain in the ether"!-but there is no argument about character when it is present. Only unanimous approval, unanimous and profound contentment.
No-if any of us essentially inconsistent and illogical creatures are more inconsistent, it is the selfstyled materialists: for they cannot act up to what they say they believe.
On the other hand, a logical ideal and true spiritual truth should not contradict or obstruct the invaluable material knowledge that science and those who study material facts, bring in. In this stubborn and stupid quarrel over which the whole world of us have been so much exercisedthe quarrel between science and religion-have we not, in our panic, lost our perspective? Do we not need to regain our proper balance, to remember that the first great reality for us all is neither science not religion, but human experience as a whole? Of this experience, systematized knowledge and spiritual ideals are alike parts; to it, both are necessary. And since human experience includes both science and religion-both facts and ideals, both necessity and aspiration—surely the truth for human beings must include the truth of both these. Is there no law of life, no truth about life, that will comprehend all that the experience of life comprehends? Inevitably!
We look for a truth about life commensurate with human experience. It must include religion-all religions; it must include science; it must include metaphysics and psychology, and all the different shades of honest intellectual opinion.