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New Contributor, A, 444, 562, 716.
temporary Portraits, 583.
Old Times and the New, The, 385.
Old World, A Voice from the, 549.
Over The Threshold, 444, 562, 716.
Prediction, The Philosophical
Plays, Players, and Playwrights,
Preternatural in the Present Day,
Robinson, A.M.F., 668.
Roman Knight's Love, The, 58.
Royal Academy, Pictures and
People at the, 641.
Sheehan, John, 200.
Sonnet, a Difficult, 672.
Soul, The, and The Theory of
Spirit of the Universities :-
Oxford, 363, 494, 751.
Cambridge, 108, 245, 365,
Dublin, 108, 368, 500, 753.
Edinburgh, 247, 371, 624.
Glasgow, 108, 249, 373, 628.
St. Andrew's, 108.
Seville, 108, 251, 502, 630.
Strauss and Tornay, Dr. Victor Von,
11, 235, 336.
Voice and Whisper, 17.
Wedding, The Royal, 492.
Wilkins, W. C. J., 561.
temporary Portraits, 673.
THE SOUL, AND THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION.
I who sit down to write this paper, by what lever consciousness can and the reader who takes it up to move molecules of matter. peruse it, are both living, active, Automatic actions may indeed thinking beings. We know what be accounted for by assuming them we mean by the assertion-so long to be the results of known physical as we make it in the ordinary sense forces (always provided that the —that our limbs perform certain investigator admits the origin and actions, that our senses inform of essence of these forces to be unwhat is going on around us, and known to him); but we have not that our minds take cognisance of yet been able to cross the gulf these events, can draw conclusions which separates such actions from from them, and can even form that mental consciousness which abstract ideas concerning the past enables its possessor to foresee, and the future, and concerning the control, and bend to his use all the relations of the various forces at machinery of inorganic nature. work around us. So far all is Pure materialism, in fact, is so clear; but when we ask how we do inadequate to account for the facts. this, we are brought to a halt. We of human life, that it has never know that we are conscious beings; taken any great hold upon the but why or how we are so we have world. Though maintained by no means of ascertaining.
isolated thinkers, it has always The materialist says that this failed to conquer the general in. consciousness is the result of our stincts of mankind. Man sees and bodily organisation, arising out of feels that his own consciousness. it as a result of vibrations of the is the fact of which he has more molecules of the brain; and he can certainty than of any other; and, indeed show that these two pheno- after all explanations given of the mena are always connected, so far modes of expression of this conas our experience goes. But here sciousness, he still falls back upon his evidence ceases ; he cannot the inquiry, "whence is this sense suggest, as Professor Tyndall has of personal identity, and what is so ably pointed out, how mole- its nature and its destiny ?” cular action can produce conscious- The spiritualist attempts to ness, any more than we can explain answer this question in a difthe converse of the problem, namely, ferent manner
from the mate
rialist. He takes consciousness the pale of the Christian Church as a fact not explained by any itself. amount or combinations of mole- 1. That the soul is created excular action, and therefore looks pressly by the Deity for each new upon it as the result of a power body, and is joined to it at or quite as real and manifest as the previous to birth. forces which underlie matter; and 2. That souls, or vital principles, he conceives of it as being received have existed from the beginning of from the First Cause of all things all things, and have passed succesby a different channel, and not sively through many bodily forms, through the properties of material being released from an organisation substance. In a word, he assumes at its dissolution only to enter after that man has a dual nature, con- a time into another and newly-born sisting of a soul or spirit united to creature. a bodily organism ; and in the 3. That the germ, or breath, of present state of our knowledge he vital power is inherited from the has so far the best of the argu- parents, in like manner the ment that by his assumption he bodily germ which gives rise to the covers the whole ground of human organism. action, which the materialist con- The first of these theories, or fessedly does not.
creationism, has been almost uni. But when the spiritualist tries to versally held in Christian countries account for the origin and nature since the fourth century, and is so of soul or spirit, he too is at fault, knit up with all existing ideas, as for he has no facts upon which to to blind the majority of people to found a theory. He sees the ac- the almost insuperable difficulties tion of consciousness and will-power which lie in its path. Thus, if a during the life of an individual, but soul is created expressly by the he has no clue to its existence Deity for each body that is prebefore that being came into life, pared for its reception, such a creanor after it leaves it: unless indeed tion depends upon the caprice of any he admits the evidence of appari- two human beings, male and female; tions and similar phenomena, and this without any regard to the which, for the present at least, expediency of such a birth. In cases would not be accepted by the world where natural or social laws are at large as a basis of argument. violently infringed, and children
He can therefore only postulate are born, the fruits of ignorance or all possible sources of the spirit of vice, to suffer life-long bodily or man, and test these by what he mental misery, we cannot escape, knows of its action and expression under the theory of soul-creation, in a living being; and, speculative from making God a partner in the as this must necessarily be, yet act. every advance in physiological Again, if souls come direct from knowledge, by defining and formu- the hand of the Deity, whatever lating the mechanical action of the imperfections their finite condition body, makes the tests more severe, might impose upon them, they and helps us to eliminate error,
must at least be pure. From though not to arrive at a positive whence then come the vicious tenconclusion.
dencies, the soul maladies, the soThree clear and distinctive doc- called original sin, which we trace trines of the origin of the soul have through succeeding generations ? been held, not only by different It was this difficulty of original religious sects, but even within sin which caused St. Augustine to lean towards the doctrine of Tra- beliefs of the human mind," and ducianism. “ If souls are new," remains the creed of millions at he writes to St. Jerome, “ tell me the present day. The Egyptians in what place, in what way, and at believed it, and the peoples of India what time they can have contracted believe it still. Plato taught it; culpability, so that you do not and, though the early Christian make either God, or some nature Church held aloof from it, yet some not created by God, the author of of the Fathers inclined towards it, their sin. I acknowledge I can and Origen openly adopted it. find no such solution, if the souls Even modern philosophers have of children are so new that they been favourably disposed towards are in no way the result of propa- it; and it is somewhat startling to gation.”
find David Hume pronouncing it to If, scared by this conclusion, be “the only system of immortalwe attempt to consider the soul ity that philosophy can listen to." as merely an animating breath, Indeed, absurd and degrading receiving all its impressions from as the doctrine of metempsychosis the body, then we not only divest appears at first sight to those it of its guiding power, and virtu- accustomed to view the soul as a ally side with the materialist, but direct emanation from the Deity, we are involved in this difficulty, it yet grows upon the mind more that the soul must inevitably lose and more as its scheme is unfolded; by its passage through the world, and during its long development entering it pure and undefiled, among Eastern nations it has leaving it soiled, disfigured, and adapted itself to explain all the sin-stained ; and this again must many anomalies of human nature. be the work of the Deity, who sent It avoids the difficulty of making it here to undergo these pains and the Deity directly responsible for defilements. Most thoughtful the entrance of souls into this minds will pause before accepting world, for it supposes existences to a theory which involves such con- be wandering in space, and to ceptions of the Deity, and will ex. enter, according to their nature, claim with St. Augustine : " Tell into bodies fitted for them; and me, I conjure you, what I am to thus the miserably constituted child teach; teach me what I am to is animated by a spirit who in this believe; and tell me, if souls are way expiates the evils of a past created specially for those that are life. It supposes, too, that this born every day, how the souls of expiation may, if properly utilised, little children can sin .... and, purify and improve the spirit, if they are innocent, by what justice which would thus benefit by the has the Creator entangled them in passage through this life, and the sin of others by putting them leave it better than when it into members previously gene
entered it. By this explanation rated ?"--and they will feel the metempsychosis accounts, as Mr. necessity of striving to find a solu- Knight points out, for the aption of the problem which shall not parent moral anomalies of the be open
to such grave accusations present world, by linking them Such a theory offers itself in the with the errors on the one hand, Eastern doctrine of metempsy- and the virtues on the other, of a chosis, or transmigration of souls. past existence; nor is the justice This creed, as Prof. Knight re- of such retribution or reward marks (Fortnightly Review, Sept. really impaired by the fact that 1878), appears as one of the earliest the spirit is supposed to have lost all consciousness of its former sin, to be traced in the fiercer passions because we see that this happens of human nature, find a ready and even in our present existence-we reasonable explanation without often suffer in age for the faults or going beyond this life, when we mistakes of childhood long since recognise that, from a long line forgotten. Lastly, this doctrine of animal and savage ancestry, also disposes of a difficulty felt inherited feelings survive in us very strongly by many people, of totally incompatible with the prethe constant increase of individual sent state of civilisation; and existences within the universe. are only being slowly crushed out This increase forms a necessary in the struggle for existence, just part of the doctrines of creationism as hothouse vines, in spite of or Traducianism, if the individual the gardener's pains to bind them soul is assumed to be immortal; up and support every new shoot whereas metempsychosis, starting without the necessity of exerwith a certain number of souls, tion on its own part, continue supposes them to undergo endless to dissipate a portion of their transmutations, while the amount strength in the putting forth of of spiritual existence remains a perfectly useless tendrils, which in fixed and constant quantity.
the ages of wild growth were like Thus far metempsychosis appears hands necessary to cling with. to harmonise well with the facts Thus, if we
assume that the and theories of modern science. whole of our being at birth is the But when we begin to test it by result of the inheritance of the the wonderful facts of inheritance experiences of all who have gone which have lately been so care- before us, the necessity of a prefully investigated by the light of vious existence to account for the the theory of evolution, then the peculiarities and weakness of our weakness of this doctrine becomes nature ceases to exist. We have a apparent.
natural explanation, and need not So long as all the different seek an imaginary one. species of living beings were sup- The case is, however, much posed to be separate creations, stronger even than this. The only formed according to rigid and way in which the metempsychosist fixed types, but little attention was can account for the possibility of paid to the small variations in harmonious co-operation between physical structure inherited from a body inherited from earthly paparent to child, and still less to rents, and a soul already possessed those mental and physical qualities
of definite qualities, is by supposwhich are common to man and the ing that the soul chooses a body lower animals. It was natural, in close affinity with its therefore, that a resemblance to a nature, and therefore tends to remote ancestor, or an unusual
keep up the outward semblance of development of animal propensities inherited bias. Thus, for example, in a human being, should suggest while the spirit of a thief will to primitive minds the reappear.
seek out the child of low-natured ance of the spirit of a departed parents, the highly gifted nature hero, or of an animal spirit in cases will enter into a delicately and where the ferocity of the tiger or highly developed organism. the physical courage of the lion But this argument tells most seem to exhibit themselves.
heavily against its advocate exactly Such resemblances, however, to- in those cases upon
which be gether with others far more subtle most relies to prove his position,