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Lecture 3: Religion and Science

AS with the beginnings of morals, the beginnings of science among all peoples likewise lie in religion. Myths and legends are the original forms in which man's impulse to find his place in the world sought to satisfy itself; and out of them proceeded the cosmologies which everywhere form the beginnings of a philosophical explanation of the world. But as secular morality with the progress of civilisation separated itself from religion, so in like manner the impulse towards knowledge did not feel itself permanently satisfied by the traditional legends. Men sought by independent reflection on the phenomena around them for better answers as to the What and Whence of things, and in this way they soon came to hypotheses and views which stood in more or less manifest opposition to the religious traditions. Our own age feels more painfully than any former time has done the pressure of the opposition between faith and knowledge; and this is proved by the ever-renewed attempts to reach in one way or another a solution of this opposition, or at least to bring about a mitigation of the extreme tension now holding between religion and science.

Let us, in the first place, survey the relation of religion and science in its historical development, and then try to discover in the nature of the cognitive mind the point of contact with religion, and consequently the connecting point for a mediation between religion and science.

A theoretical factor is essential to all religion; man must form an idea of the power that governs his world, and of his own position in relation to it and to the world. But its interest does not turn upon an exact knowledge of the individual in detail, such as the understanding seeks to obtain by observation and comparison, abstraction and combination; on the contrary, the organ of knowledge involved in religion is originally only the fantasy which objectifies religious feelings in images of sensible perception, and thus creates myths, fables, and legends. Mythology is the natural language of religion, the indispensable investment of spiritual emotions and aspirations in sensible images. But this investment is effected so unconsciously and involuntarily that no distinction is made between the spiritual content and the sensible form. The sensible object, whether it be a natural phenomenon or man, which awakens in the soul the religious impression of a higher world of spiritual mysterious powers, is so identified with this impression that it appears itself immediately as the divine. Thus arise the primitive religious myths in which content and form are still immediately one, and the spiritual is present in the consciousness only in and with the sensible. In the further spinning out of the legends there undoubtedly also works the free creative fantasy, whose end is æsthetic enjoyment, and which plays freely with its forms in the interest of poetic beauty. But from this artistic creation of the epic poets the original religious mythical creation is distinguished in the soul of the people in this, that in the latter case the fantasy does not yet stand as a free superior over its object, nor does it deal freely with its forms, but is still so wrapped up in its objects that it believes in its own forms.

Even in the higher religions, in which the divine is no longer identified with the phenomena of nature, but is known as a higher object above nature, the religious spirit still requires the creative fantasy in order to give to its inner experiences a sensible expression. From this need spring those miraculous legends, in which historical processes become idealised into images and types of spiritual experiences which always repeat themselves in the life of pious souls, or in which super-sensible truths, ideas, and ideals, sprung from the inner world of the spirit, become realised in symbolical processes of the external world. In order to know the good as the true, the human mind requires a mediation of the two by poetic beauty, in which the idea comes to manifestation in the medium of the real, and in which the sensible is transfigured so as to become the transparent veil of the spiritual. This combination of spiritual significance and sensible expression is thus always characteristic of the religious mode of representation: the whole language of the Bible bears witness to it. And so long as this mode of speech finds naïve religious apprehension, the sensible form does not make itself felt as in any way disturbing the spiritual meaning. It is not till the reflecting understanding comes in and seeks to understand literally what is meant figuratively, and when it would fix the indefinite flowing and ever-changing representations into fixed conceptions and doctrines, that the difficulties, the absurdities, and the contradictions arise which demand solution, explanation, and mediation. This was the task of the Fathers of the Christian Church from the end of the second century on through several centuries. In order to repel the errors of the heretics, and to grasp the faith of the Church in fixed, universally authoritative propositions or “dogmas,” they made use of the Greek philosophy as in their time the universally employed medium of didactic communication and elucidation. This procedure was the more readily adopted, seeing that Plato's transcendent world of ideas came closely into touch with the transcendent kingdom of heaven of the Christian Apocalypse, and as the notion of the Logos in the Hellenistic philosophy had already been employed in the New Testament to designate the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. It would undoubtedly be doing wrong to the Church Fathers if the intention were ascribed to them of transforming the Christian religion into philosophy, or making philosophy a substitute for it: rather did they accept the religious faith of the Church as the established basis upon which the scientific theologian had to place himself in order to unfold the contents of the religious consciousness by the aid of philosophy, to understand one particular in connection with another, and thus to gain a better view of the sense and meaning of the whole. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that, in consequence of the dogmatic controversies, the original religious meaning of the ecclesiastical doctrines always retreated more behind the formulas artificially constructed out of the philosophical and juristic conceptions of the schools. Still more does this hold true of Scholasticism. With the production of the dogmas, the understanding of their religious motives had also disappeared; only the petrified product had remained—namely, the rigid formulas of the decrees of the Councils, which were honoured the more as sacred relics the more their incomprehensibility appeared to point to a higher origin. This ecclesiastical authority was further supplemented in the twelfth century by that of the Aristotelian philosophy, the knowledge of which had been learned through the medium of the Arabs. In the double slavery under these so entirely heterogeneous two authorities, and in the despairing effort to be equally just to both, the scientific power of the Middle Ages consumed itself. Faith, corrupted by the false knowledge of the scholastics, let no genuine knowledge arise; and it held the mind that was thirsting for knowledge in such hard chains that it finally despaired of even being able to know anything. The scholastic theology, which aimed at rearing up a universal science on the basis of authority, ended in scepticism. The mixture of Biblical religion and Greco-Roman science, which was what the Christian theology had been through all the centuries of the patristic and scholastic periods, however useful it might have been as an educational means for educating the peoples still in their pupilage, became at last an intolerable fetter for faith as well as for knowledge.

The way for the dissolution of this false, because unfree, unity of religion and science was paved on both sides by the reform of faith which proceeded from Mysticism, and by the liberation of science which proceeded from the renascence of antiquity. This mysticism, which in the later Middle Ages passed into more and more decided opposition to scholasticism, laid the dogmas and their dialectical dissection aside, and reflected immediately upon the object itself—that is, on the inner religious experience of the pious soul, its unblessedness in separation from God, and its blissfulness in humble, trustful surrender to Him. If there often arose an ascetic tendency from this mystic piety, yet it was always characterised by its inner feeling of the love of God, and by a high moral earnestness; and out of the depth of this religious experience there proceeded in the case of individual thinkers (like Meister Eckart) an original theological speculation, which was far removed from the dogmatism of the school, and which was typical for the future. It is well known how closely the Reformation of the sixteenth century was connected with the pre-Reformation mysticism. Luther was himself an admirer of the “German Theology,” which sprang from the school of Eckart. The Protestant mystics attached themselves immediately, to their spiritual kinsmen of the pre-Reformation period, and although they were expelled from the official Churches of the Reformation, they yet preserved the genuine spirit of the Reformation in many respects more purely than these Churches themselves. But the ecclesiastical theology of Protestantism, from the need of a didactically developed system of faith, returned again to the old dogmas; and thus there soon again arose a new scholasticism, which at least equalled the old scholasticism in its want of freedom and in its dry formalism.

Yet these partially retrograde currents could not keep back the new advance of non-theological secular science which had proceeded from the impetus of the Renaissance. While the theologians were still busily employed in the Churches in restoring the old dogmas which had been drawn up on the basis of the Ptolemaic cosmology, and which fitted only into its framework, this cosmology was destroyed by Copernicus and supplanted by the new view of the world which stands in utter contradiction to the whole of the system of the ecclesiastical dogmatics from the Creation to the coming down of Christ from heaven and His return again, as was clearly recognised by Melanchthon much more acutely than by all his later followers. As Astronomy attained to a knowledge of the laws of the motions of the heavenly bodies, so did physics and mechanics investigate the laws of the terrestrial world, and mathematics furnished the most general and precise formulæ for the results of observation and experiment. From the natural sciences and mathematics there was thus formed the conception of the conformity of all that happens in the world to law. Men began to view “Nature” as an ordered whole, in which all particular being and happening are conditioned by their causal connection with everything else by immutable laws. Spinoza gave this thought the philosophical foundation and construction by which it became the principle of that universal view of the world which extends far beyond the investigation of nature, which has been designated by the name of enlightenment or illuminism (Aufklärung), and which is essentially homogeneous with the “positivism” of the present day. How far this intellectual view, which would conceive and explain everything in the world according to the law of causality, lay from the poetic mythological view, to which miracles, and the interferences of higher beings with the course of things, had been things natural and self-evident! This self-intelligibility of the supernatural and miraculous, which was still regarded as indubitable by the thinkers of the middle ages and of the period of the Reformation, was no longer possible from the time of the eighteenth century. In the world of experience with which science has to do, there could be no more holding of miracles as events which were not to be explained by the orderly causal connection of things in space and time. The attempt was therefore first made to limit miracles to rare exceptional cases in the far past, which were to be believed on the ground of the tradition of sacred history. But what if this support of them also became problematical? And in fact there sprang up a second opponent to orthodoxy, and not the least dangerous one, in historical investigation. The principle of the necessary connection of causes and effects being also applied to the historical life of man, there arose the “pragmatic method,” which sought to explain historical events everywhere from the concurrence of individual circumstances and motives, and put in place of the intentions of Providence the intentions of the acting man and the play of accident. Moreover, in the school of humanistic science students had now grown accustomed to careful investigation of sources, and to criticism of the documents handed down from the past. The application of this method to the sources of Biblical and ecclesiastical history led to the beginnings of Biblical criticism, which, modest as they were at the outset, yet proved more and more sufficient to shatter the foundation of the orthodox dogmas, the inspiration of the Bible. Thus from all sides there accumulated doubts of the possibility and reality of the supernatural and miraculous as such, not merely in the experience of the present, but also in the past of which the sacred history treated.

What was to become of faith in presence of this enlightened knowledge? How was the divine still to find a place in a world where all goes on naturally, where everything is the regular effect of finite causes? Various attempts have been made to mitigate by reasonable compromises the tension of this antagonism, which has been occupying the thinking of the Christian world for now about two centuries. Such a compromise is presented in the supra-naturalism that proceeded from the Leibnitz-Wolffian school, which accepts the view of the world taken by the Aufklärung in general with regard to our religious experience, and limits miracles to individual exceptional cases, in which the order of nature is broken through by supernatural omnipotence for the sake of higher ends. Such miracles were represented as having been necessary in their time as means of attesting the revelation, which indeed did not publish doctrines contrary to reason but such as are above reason—which doctrines we have to hold as true on the basis of their supernatural attestation. Here, then, the dogmas are supported on miracles, but the miracles again upon the supra-rational dogma of the divine omnipotence, and on the proof of its historical reality to be adduced by reason. It is evident that this compromise is an untenable half-position, which can neither satisfy faith nor knowledge. It cannot satisfy faith; for faith wishes to find the divine presence and activity, not merely in rare individual events but everywhere in internal and external experience. Nor can it satisfy knowledge; for reason, when it has once become conscious of its right to the cognition of truth, will nowhere let a boundary-line be drawn where it has to cease to examine and begin blindly to believe. Reason can only co-ordinate the absolutely supra-rational and inconceivable with the anti-rational, which it must deny unless it would surrender itself; and in particular it cannot admit that nature is generally a regular order of events, while yet this order is broken in individual cases, and the connection of what exists in space and time is dissolved by events such that the conditions holding in the whole of the world of space and time were not present in them. It is, therefore, easily conceivable that supra-naturalism, with its halfness and unclearness, could not keep the enlightened rationalism from drawing its last consequences, and thinking the divine away out of the world without exception, so that the utterly empty abstraction of the “Supreme Being” alone remained—a Being beyond or outside of the world, and without active revelation in it, and consequently without religious significance. For how could there be possible a religious relation, a feeling of one's self as dependent and also as exalted, in reference to a Being of whom nothing further is known than that He is what is beyond the world—a negative bounding conception without any positive cognisable content, an unmoving secluded Being whose activity would be annulled by finite causes and put to rest, which therefore would enter into no real relation to us, and of which we would never experience any efficiency at all? An enlightenment which in this way makes God an empty Being, an unknowable essence, cuts through the vital nerve of religion. It has indeed been said that if the objects of faith can no longer be held to be proper realities, they still retain their high value as ideal images of the creative fantasy, through the æsthetic enjoyment of which the soul is raised above the common reality of things, and is calmed and edified. But it is difficult to take such consolation as meant in earnest; for although the pious man knows well that the highest truth which forms the content of his faith can only be known and expressed by him in figurative form, yet all the value and all the edifying power of these forms rest for him just on the fact that they are forms of a true content, that they are not mere inventions or fictions of our human imagination, but are the expression of a reality which is not only as true as, but even truer than, that of the world, because it makes all our knowing of the world possible and authenticates its truth. Take away from the pious man this conviction of the truth contained in the figurative language of religion, the conviction of the objective reality of the objects of his faith, and let these ideal images lose for him all earnest significance, how would he then be able any longer to worship that which he has now recognised as a form of his own creation? Such a strange substitute no one would ever have ventured even to offer as a compensation for the devastation of the faith effected by the Aufklärung, had it been considered—which many appear to have forgotten to-day—that the Alpha and Omega of all religion is reverence, that reverence is only possible for what is above us, and that nothing can be above us which is only of us, or is only the self-produced form of our subjective thoughts, wishes, and dreams.

Now, if all such compromises and pretended substitutes are insufficient, what then does there remain to religion in order to prevent the overthrow of its sanctuaries by the knowledge of the understanding? We do not require still to seek for the answer to this question. History itself has long since given it. The same weapon which inflicted the wound has also begun again to heal it. The thinking which sought to conquer the world and subject it to its conceptions in this process, lost God and its own self. But when it became aware of the fact that it profits a man nothing though he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul, it then began to go into itself and to reflect about itself. And, behold, it has found again in its own inner self the God which it was no longer able to find in the outer world! At the end of the last century there was repeated the same turn of thought which we find taking place in Greece four centuries before Christ. The superficial thinking of the Aufklärung, which clung to phenomena, was overcome by the deeper self-reflection of the Platonic philosophy, which found in the essence of the spirit the ground of being as well as of knowledge, the source and the rule of truth. This turn in the history of thought appeared decisively in modern times in the critical philosophy of Kant; but it was prepared by Berkeley's idealism and Hume's scepticism, by which the natural realism of the empiricists had been overcome. If science was again to find a positive relation to religion, it must first of all become clear regarding its own principle. That is, it must have recognised the one-sidedness of the two opposite principles of knowledge—namely, that of naïve natural realism or empiricism, and that of subjective idealism or rationalism—and it must have sought their synthesis in a deeper principle, in which the point of contact and connection with religion will at the same time be found.

Natural realism is the popular opinion that our knowledge of things is given to us simply through the perception of the senses. In this view the soul is represented as like an unwritten sheet of paper, or as a photographic plate, on which things make copies of themselves, so that they come into our consciousness exactly as they are in themselves. But Physics, Physiology, and Psychology have irrefutably shown how erroneous this popular realism is. Sounds do not lie in the vibrating bodies, or in the waves of air which proceed from them, but they arise first in our hearing ear; colours do not lie in vibrations of the ether, but arise only in our seeing eye; and the same holds true of the sensations of smell, taste, and touch. But even extension and motion depend for our consciousness on the perception of space, by which it is easy to perceive that they cannot be given to us from without. Just as little as the nerves of the eye, can those of the sense of touch convey into our consciousness spatial copies of bodies: on the contrary, the spatial image or perception can only be sketched by the self-activity of the soul—on the ground, it is true, of certain signs given in sensation. But if spatial extension and form are just as subjective as colour, sound, and smell, what remains of the material world of bodies? And what right have we then still to hold our perceptions to be simple copies of things themselves? Nay, more, what guarantee have we for holding that there are any things outside of us which correspond to them? What ground have we for determining whether our representations are not merely subjective? and whether our assumption of an existence of external things is not a pure prejudice sprung from the conceptions of substantiality and causality which have been arbitrarily fashioned by us? With this conclusion (which was drawn in Hume's scepticism) the world of the senses, which empirical realism had held to be the complete—or even the only—reality, became an unsubstantial appearance or phantasm, a chaos of impressions and representations of our consciousness, to which we are not entitled to ascribe either reality, or substantiality, orcausality, or regulated order according to law, and which therefore hardly signify more than do the illusions of a confused dream. This was the natural and inevitable end of the empirical realism which made the knowing mind the passive receiver of a truth given from without.

It was Kant's merit that he carried back the truth of cognition to the laws and forms of our thinking and perceiving, which lie originally in the essence of the cognitive mind, and which are therefore universally valid. But, as it usually happens that a new principle carries its just opposition to the old principle to the excess of the opposite one-sidedness, so it happened also in the case of Kant. He started from the alternative that our conceptions either could arrange themselves according to the objects, or the objects according to our conceptions; and since the first view, that our conceptions depend on the objects, was the opinion of the empiricism which had dissolved itself in scepticism, Kant believed that, for his part, he could only put himself on the opposite side; and he set up the paradoxical proposition that our understanding is the lawgiver of nature—that is to say, in so far as nature consists only of our representations. Only to this do our forms of thought, according to Kant, extend; but they do not hold good of things in themselves, as these are independent of our consciousness. Taken exactly, Kant had no right even to accept the existence of things out of our consciousness, seeing that this view rests upon an inference of causality, while causality should not be accepted as valid when carried beyond the representations of our consciousness to trans-subjective things. With this position the Kantian philosophy fell into subjective idealism—which it does not indeed logically maintain, but which had already arisen as a consequence, derived from Kant's premises by his scholar Fichte.

But subjective idealism is just as untenable a principle of knowledge as empirical realism. If I can know nothing of any being beyond my consciousness, then the reality of the external world, inclusive of other men, is for me not merely a doubtful but even a worthless hypothesis, seeing that I should not stand in any relation with that which exists outside of me. Little as any one will carry out “Solipsism” in practical earnest, yet it is just as certainly the theoretical consequence of subjective idealism, which is thereby already reduced ad absurdum. But subjective idealism, moreover, does not even suffice for the explanation of our inner world of consciousness, for it leaves unexplained whence the sensations come to me which I find as given facts; and further, what distinguishes the real phenomena of my waking consciousness from images of my fantasy, from dreams and hallucinations? It leaves unexplained why I cannot proceed arbitrarily in combining my sensations into forms of perception in space and time, and in the arrangement of my representations according to logical categories. But I feel myself bound to a norm or rule, in the violation of which I fall into error. On the ground of subjective idealism there could properly be no error at all; for, if the matter of the sensations somehow given is indifferent to the forms of its connection brought to it by the autonomous understanding, there is no norm for the application of the various logical categories, and then there is also no abnormal or erroneous application of them that is contrary to truth. Nor can this difficulty be removed by appealing to the correspondence of the judgments of one individual with those of others; for, as subjective idealism denies the trans-subjective relation and validity of thinking, every Ego accordingly is hermetically shut up in the inner world of his sole consciousness: the world of consciousness of the one has no relations at all with the world of consciousness of others—which, moreover, is but a problematic world; it has no points of contact, no common means of finding its place in such a world: it therefore cannot possibly regulate itself according to these; nor, therefore, can it have in agreement with them the norm and control of its own correctness or truth. The uselessness of subjective idealism as a principle of knowledge shows itself most manifestly by this, that, in doing away with every norm for the recognition of truth, it also makes truth itself impossible. For there can only be truth, and error in the judgment of the subjects where these know themselves to be bound to a common objective norm, to a principle of logical order which makes itself felt within every thinking subject as a binding law of its thinking, and which at the same time rises above the distinctions of all thinking subjects. Only the universal or divine reason, which, as the ground of all thinking and being, is the truth in itself, can also be the norm of our knowledge of truth.

We have thus again reached a result with regard to our true knowing similar to that which was reached in the last lecture with regard to our true willing according to duty. As the ground of moral obligation was not to be found either in the subject or in society, but only in the universal or divine will that combines both, so in like manner the ground of science, or of cognition generally, is neither to be found in the subject nor in the object per se, but only in the divine thinking that combines the two, which, as the common ground of the forms of thinking in all thinking minds, and of the forms of being in all beings, makes possible the correspondence or agreement between the former and the latter, or in a word, makes knowledge of truth possible. As morality is not in fact dependent in such a way on religion that certain particular duties are prescribed to it by a religious authority, yet certainly in this sense that it finds the ideal principle of all genuine moral willing and doing in its being bound to the absolute will of the good, or of God, so in like manner science is not bound in any individual act of knowledge to religious authority, but it can only really find the ground of the possibility of all true cognition in the fact of its being bound to the creative reason which is absolutely the truth. In this thought philosophical speculation was from the outset at one with religious mysticism. “In Thy light do we see light,” says the Psalmist. According to St John, it is the Divine Logos who enlightens every man; and, according to St Paul, the Divine Spirit enables man even to know the deep things of God, and to judge everything independently. It is also a good Biblical thought that our knowing of the truth stands in essentially the same relation as our willing of the good. The knowing and the acting mind are not at all, as is now so often heard, two different kinds of minds, but are only two forms of the activity of one and the same mind, and they therefore also stand under essentially the same laws. Neither as knowing nor as willing can our mind correctly exercise itself if it put itself apart by itself and shut itself against the non-ego, the object, or society, or try to raise itself above them; for then it will either remain void of content, an empty form, or it will seek its content in arbitrary untrue ideas and in arbitrary ungood ends. Fantasticalness and libertinism have been often the offspring of subjective idealism. But, on the other hand, our mind can neither in its knowing nor in its willing receive its content simply from the external world; it would thereby cease to be a real mind, a self-activity, and it would become the thoughtless receptacle of extraneous dogmas that were not understood, and the unfree instrument of an alien will. Our mind can only rightly realise its essence in its thinking and willing if it stands in orderly reciprocal action with the world of things and men, if it subordinates itself in activity and passivity, in giving and taking, as a serving member to the organic order of the universe in which the divine spirit reveals itself as one, and yet in the variety of many gifts and powers.

Hence there result, regarding the relationship of religion and science, similar consequences as in the case of the relationship of religion and morality. With all the difference in their immediate objects, religion and science still hang so closely together in their ground and aim that their normal relationship will not be hostile opposition, but friendly mutual completion, while conflicts will only arise from abnormal tendencies and malformations of one or the other or both.

It may appear paradoxical to say that faith lies at the basis of all science, yet this cannot be disputed. All our knowing is formed from sensations and acts of thought which are carried on within our soul, and yet we believe that we know by these subjective functions the objective world, the reality which exists outside of us. This universal conviction is a belief which rests, not upon logical proofs, but upon the trust that our nature is so constituted that, when we correctly apply our powers of knowledge, we are not mocked by empty delusions, but are able to represent the reality of things in thoughts. But this involves the assumption that the real is also constituted for being thought by us, or that it is thinkable. But the real can only be thinkable if it is realised thought, a thought previously thought, which our thinking has only to think again. Therefore the real, in order to be thinkable for us, must be the realised thought of the creative thinking of an eternal divine reason, which is presented to our cognitive thinking. The confidence, therefore, that we, in our endeavour to know, do not merely move in subjective illusions and dreams, but that we copy the reality in our thinking, implicitly includes the confidence that the reality is the manifestation of the creative thoughts of the divine reason. Moreover, let us not forget that the assumption of the uniformity and immutable conformity to law of nature lies at the basis of all scientific induction—an assumption which is manifestly not to be proved, and which therefore can only be accepted by faith. This, however, includes in itself the further assumption that the whole of nature is ruled by a single principle—and, indeed, since laws are ideal relations, by a single spiritual principle, an ordering reason. Hence, rightly viewed, it is religious belief which is presupposed by all scientific knowledge as the basis of its possibility. Naturally, this presupposition need not be present as conscious conviction in the case of every one who cultivates science: just as little as in the case of every one who acts morally from a feeling of duty must there be present the consciousness of his being bound by the universal divine will. But it must always still remain true that both in the feeling of duty, and also in reliance on the truth of our thinking, religious belief in the divine ground of our selves, and of the world, is to be posited implicitly as an accompanying presupposition. To raise this unconscious assumption into consciousness is the task of the philosopher who analyses the process of knowledge—that is to say, in so far as he actually goes down to the foundation of things, and does not, as mostly happens in the present day, stop short where the decisive questions just begin.

As science rests upon a belief, the actual, although unconscious, belief in a world-ordering divine reason, it also finds its final goal only in the thought of God. Its proximate goal certainly is everywhere the connection and ordering of the manifold facts given by experience, the finding out of the connection between phenomena and of the laws which govern the different groups of phenomena. In doing so, as long as it merely investigates the connections of individual things in a limited sphere, it of course need not have recourse to God, who is certainly not an individual substance or an individual cause alongside of others; and therefore we perfectly understand how an astronomer like Laplace confessed that he did not need the hypothesis of a God for the explanation of the mechanism of the heavenly bodies. Yet the particular groups of phenomena with which the individual sciences have to do, nevertheless do not stand isolated with reference to each other, but they are all connected with each other. Hence, the knowledge obtained in none of them can come to a final satisfying conclusion; it always points beyond this narrow circle to a wider connection, to higher laws, and to more general principles. Now it is the task of the universal science, philosophy, to connect the principles of the individual sciences with each other, and, by carrying them back to one universal supreme principle, to seek the ultimate conclusion of knowledge generally. In continuation of this same procedure, according to which we seek everywhere unknown causes for given facts, philosophy as the universal science seeks in a supreme principle the hypothetical ground for the explanation of the universe or of the world as such. The often-heard assertion that it thereby oversteps its bounds is a prejudice for which no real grounds can be adduced, and which is rather explained as arising only from a temporary sceptical discouragement and weariness of scientific thinking. Sigwart says admirably at the close of his ‘Logic’:—

“The metaphysical close of the explanation of the world forms the presupposition without which no desire to know in the proper and strict sense is at all possible; it goes beyond the facts given in experience in no other direction than every attempt to conceive what is given as fact does so. With the same right with which we build up in the individual substances and their powers an intelligible kingdom as the ground of phenomena, and pressed by the same impulse to embrace in a unity what is dispersed, we also take a further step towards an ultimate explanation of the world, according to the demands or obligations of our thinking. What separates metaphysics from the rest of science is not its method, for method in regard to all knowing is at the last absolutely the same; it is only the universality of its task, and this task itself is as necessary as that of knowing generally. It stands at the beginning of all science, seeing that it brings into clearness the principles which all scientific striving presupposes; it stands at the end of all science, seeing that its presuppositions can only authenticate themselves by the result—viz., the thorough-going agreement of all knowledge. Metaphysics will therefore remain a work of partial knowledge, as all knowing is knowing in part so long as the finite thinking has not expanded and raised itself into the divine.”

Thus far it has also been already indicated that science, in its attempt to find a final philosophical explanation of the existing world, never will nor can reach a completely satisfying definitive result. We can only predicate of the unconditioned principle of the world such positive determinations as we have derived from the world of our experience, be it natural, or spiritual, or both. But these predications which spring from the world of the manifold and conditioned can of course only inadequately designate the essence of the one unconditioned being; they can only pass as analogical and symbolical determinations which would express that we think of the essence of the basis of the world as being in a certain, yet always only relative, similarity with such or such phenomena of our inner or outer experience. It is conceivable that science, when oppressed by this difficulty in the determination of the absolute principle of the world, should often, on the one hand, renounce the attempt to reach a single explanation of the world, and, on the other, believe that it must be contented with the most indefinite and lowest determinations of the principle of the world, such as being, force, matter, motion, and suchlike. In the former case it comes to no determination of knowledge at all, to no answer to the questions as to the Whence and Whither of existence which are always moving men; and thereby all particular knowing becomes uncertain and doubtful, the courage of the inquirer is paralysed by doubt, and the energy of the impulse of knowledge is tied down. In the other case the result is untrue explanations of the world, arising from insufficient principles, such as materialism and positivism. With this result the higher spheres of life are just those which remain inexplicable; and, in order to get rid of the inexplicable, the proper character and significance of the spiritual, moral, and religious life is ignored, and everything is reduced to the level of the lowest physical phenomena; and the actual world is therefore not explained, but mutilated and distorted. Materialistic aberrations and sceptical distraction, indifference, want of intelligence for the great connections and universal ideas, with a pedantic squandering and losing of one's self in the most minute and puny matters—these are the dangers which, as experience shows, threaten science in times of philosophical disheartenment. In presence of such dangers it is religion which, by its idea of God as sprung from the inner experiences of the soul and corresponding to them, always sharpens the conscience anew, and rouses it to strive unweariedly in the prosecution of its highest task—namely, to seek for a principle for the explanation of the world which will be truly and universally satisfying. Not that science should therefore at once accept the religious idea of God upon authority, and employ it for its explanation of the world. In so doing it would but too easily overlook its proper task of rising step by step from the particular and gradually approaching the ultimate principles of things, and it would lose the capacity of proving all things, even the religious ideals, and holding fast only the best of all. But science will certainly behold in the religious idea of God the symbolical anticipation of the goal to which it has itself not to soar upon the wings of fantasy, but to climb along the toilsome and endless way of the thinking understanding. It will always be compelled to say to itself that the religious spirit, which draws its highest principle, not from the wide breadth of universal experience, but out of the depths of the inner moral-religious experience, does not merely as such belong to the whole of the reality which is to be explained, but that it occupies in this whole the very highest position and significance, so that consequently every explanation of the world is insufficient and erroneous which leaves no place for these highest facts of experience, and which stands in contradiction to the necessary demands of the moral-religious spirit. Religion, therefore, without wishing to impede the work of science in detail, or to keep it under its tutelage, will yet be regulative with regard to science in so far as it sets before science in symbolical form the goal which it must keep in view and strive after in order to fulfil, at least approximately, its task of an ultimate explanation of the world.

That which is a task for science, an ideal that it has always to strive after and yet will never completely attain—namely, the highest Idea of Truth that completes and concludes all knowledge—is possessed by religion. Religion, however, does not possess it in the form of conceptual knowledge that satisfies the scientific thinking, but in the form corresponding to the presentient soul, of the symbol or of the significant sign. Hence religion needs for the correct interpretation of its signs the completing and correcting help of science, just as much as science needs religion. So long as the forms in which the religious spirit objectifies its inner experiences to itself are yet transparent enough to let their inner real sense be recognised, and so long as they still remain in harmony with the universal view of the world, so long will they not be felt as an impediment, but will serve religious elevation as its natural means. But when the creative power of the religious spirit dries up, its forms and faith are then wont to become petrified, and what was at the beginning a transparent veil of truth becomes then a hard covering behind which the spiritual content is so concealed that it is hardly longer recognisable by any one. What at the beginning was only a means, then becomes an end in itself; what at the beginning was the expression of a really present common belief, then becomes a compulsory yoke, which produces a mere external uniformity of confession by the subjection of men's minds to a formula that is not understood. And if at the same time the general consciousness of the world in the course of the advance of civilisation experiences such profound transformations as has been the case with the Christian peoples since the awakening of the sciences of nature and history, then the contradiction between the old believed notions that rest upon quite other assumptions and the present knowledge becomes more and more glaring, and doubt of the truth of the traditional dogmas always rises up more earnestly, and with it doubt of the truth of the religion which men had been accustomed to identify with those dogmas. In this state of matters some put themselves on the side of the secular knowledge or even of the latest and boldest hypotheses which are given out as science, and they triumphantly proclaim the near end of religion, having no presentiment that religion, as well as science and art, morals and law, is a constitutive element of human nature, and therefore may pass through the most manifold developments, but can never cease as long as there are men. On the other hand, others put themselves on the side of religion, defend all its traditional doctrines and dogmas as ostensibly infallible divine revelations, and combat with all the weapons at their command the results of science as a vain delusion invented and diffused by bad men. Thus the antagonism between faith and knowledge has become so acute at the present day, that many despair of any possibility of a reconciliation and mediation of them.

According to what has been now said, we do not see ourselves compelled to share this pessimistic view of the situation. Rather are we of opinion that a little calm self-reflection would only be needed on both sides to recognise that both parties stand in their ultimate aims much nearer than is supposed, and that there is much more reason for them to learn mutually from each other than to exhaust their powers in a blind conflict. Science, as we saw, will have to remember that its acceptance of the knowableness of the world, if it is not to be without a principle at all, can only be supported on a belief in the creative divine reason in which the agreement of the forms of thinking and being is grounded, and in which consequently the truth of our thinking is guaranteed. It will have to recall the fact that the world of nature or of external sensible phenomena, the investigation of which it pursues with so much zeal and success, is nevertheless only the one side of reality, along with which consists the inner side of our own psychological life as the much more important half of reality; and therefore that an explanation of the world which would ignore this more important side, and which would take the principle of the universe only from the external world of phenomena, would commit the most prodigious abstraction, and, in spite of all fortunate discoveries in detail, would yet at bottom miss the truth on the whole. On the other side, the representatives of religion will also have to remember that they possess the treasure of spiritual truth always only in earthen vessels—that is, in symbolical representations—on which their earthly and temporal origin is but too clearly impressed for them to be able to put forth a permanent claim to infallible divine truth; and consequently that the striving of the thinking mind to distinguish between the eternal truth and its temporal vesture, between the spiritual kernel and its sensible shell, is not an act of sacrilege, but a service which is performed for the sacred cause of truth, and therefore of God. It is not to be doubted that this service of truth is not accomplished without pain and sacrifice, when so many ideas that have become dear prove themselves to be but perishable earthly vessels; but these pains are the price to be paid for obtaining the most precious of treasures—namely, a conviction which establishes the heart. Piety will lose nothing of its humility and trust if it perceives the governing of divine omnipotence no longer in rare supernatural incidents but in the whole constant order of nature, and if single spots of history are no longer to be separated out as the sanctuaries of a unique mysterious revelation, but the whole development of the moral and religious life of humanity becomes the revelation of educating wisdom and love. If science helps religion to attain to this deepening of its insight and widening of its view, ought it not then to be rather treasured as a friend of religion instead of being feared as its foe? At the present time, indeed, the two still stand in a state of violent feud; but the time will come when they will mutually understand each other better, and will be united in the harmonious worship of God in spirit and in truth.