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Chapter III: Deity and Value


The approach to deity.

Religion as a sentiment is thus the sense of outgoing to the whole universe in its process towards the quality of deity; and just as Space is apprehended by intuition, sensible qualities by sensation, universals by thought, and values by appreciation, so God is apprehended cognitively through the religious emotion by the assurance we call religious faith. However many other elements gather around it and swell the full tide of the religious sentiment, its essential constituent is something with a unique flavour of its own, corresponding to its specific object, and is distinct from other emotions, and its apprehension of its object distinct from other kinds of apprehension.

But the approach to God may be made in various ways: through the phenomena of nature, through the pursuit of truth, through art, or through morality. Being one function of human nature, the religious sentiment does not exist in isolation from the rest, but is blended and interwoven with them; and all our experiences may in their various degrees be schoolmasters to teach us the reality of God. In its primitive form it is the religious sense of awe which is felt in the presence of natural powers. No irreverence is implied in asserting that in its elementary character it is less closely allied to morality than to the uneasiness or sensitiveness which all persons feel in some degree, and some in a more pronounced degree, in the presence of natural mysterious occurrences; like the presentiment of a coming storm, the sensitiveness which some persons feel to the electric condition of the atmosphere,1 the depression or exaltation of feeling with the climate, or that sense which Goethe, according to his biographer, professed to have, and which he called the “telluric” sense, of disturbances taking place somewhere in the world. In his case it was a feeling which occurred at the same time as an earthquake was afterwards reported to have taken place in Messina.2 The universe in its nisus towards deity acts on the mind in a manner more closely allied to the affections produced by purely physical conditions than to the feeling of goodness or beauty. Though fear of the thunderstorm is not itself religion, it may be the occasion of it, and at least a person who takes refuge in uncontrollable panic from a thunderstorm may with as good right be said to be hiding himself from the face of God, as one who is oppressed with the consciousness of sin. Or it may be through aesthetic contemplation that the religious sentiment is first evoked.3 Music and the other arts have generally formed a part of religious ritual. Or science, which, if it brings us knowledge, brings us to the limits of knowledge, may impress on the investigator's mind the vast beyond which is unknown, so that he feels like a child gathering pebbles on the sea-shore.

Religion and conduct.

Undoubtedly it is conduct which affords the readiest approach to religion in any mind removed from the primitive. Moreover, even in the primitive mind, religion is so linked with social observances that these are part of its ritual. Custom is from the beginning hallowed. As civilisation grows, ritual observance comes to be separated from morality, and the performance of religious observances a part of the moral law. At the same time moral laws retain for the mind their ancient connection with religion and are thought of as ordinances of God. Religion and morality are not at first distinguished from one another, but are differentiated later. Just in the same way the separate branches of science do not exist for early thought, but, as in the history of Greek science, there is but one science which is philosophy, and from this the special sciences gradually get singled out, while they still carry with them a fringe of metaphysics which they retain to this day. Moreover, there is another reason for the intimacy of connection between religion and morality. For religion is not a merely personal feeling, which exists “in the sanctuary of the heart” but is communal. Like conduct, it binds the community together in divine observances and it has from the outset an institutional character. This raises questions of the distinction of religious community from morality which may be deferred for a moment.4 But they are doubtless right who dwell on the strength of this element; by which, for instance, the Roman Catholic church has always profited. The late J. Royce even maintains that the explicit recognition of such community was Paul's distinctive contribution to the religious life.5 The interrelation therefore of religion and morality is of the closest.

But though religion and morality begin with union and religion always envelops conduct, the sentiment of religion and the sense of moral value are distinct, in a far greater degree than philosophy is distinct from physics which was separated out of philosophy. If further proof of their distinctness were needed than is found in the varieties of approach to religion, it may be found in the paradox that the religious sense may exist in an intense form in a mind which has no special feeling for goodness, and even in downright bad characters or people who have no conscience at all.6 We call such persons hypocrites, because their life seems incompatible with their religion, which we think of as also commanding goodness. We entertain a natural suspicion of a sentiment which seeks nothing but its own satisfaction, without colouring the rest of our lives. Yet there is no good reason to doubt the sincerity and strength of the feeling towards God which they have. Fraud and tartuferie may account for some of those cases, but not for all. Per contra, it is common enough to find virtuous persons who are deity-blind. Their case is not the average one, because for the reasons mentioned above good conduct is a normal avenue to religion. Yet they exist not seldom. Since experience then shows that there may be religion without virtue, and virtue without religion, we conclude that, however closely related, the two sentiments, that for deity and that for goodness, are distinct.

Religion not an outgrowth from morality.

It appears then to be a mistake both in respect of fact and in speculation to regard religion as in some way an outgrowth from morality. The religious emotion is as unique and self-sufficient as hungry appetite or love. “The existence of the religious feeling is only possible on the presupposition that men have experienced life, truth, beauty, and goodness. The religious feeling comes into operation when these values are compared with actual reality.” The over-emphasis which Mr. Höffding, from whose book these words are quoted,7 lays on the secondary character of religion in relation to goodness among other values is, I believe, a real defect of that admirable work.8 According to other conceptions religion arises at the limits of morality. “Morality,” says Mr. Bradley, “is led beyond itself into a higher form of goodness. It ends in what we may call religion.”9 “It is a moral duty not to be moral,”10 runs the paradox, and this is “the duty to be religious.”11 We might equally well say that it is a scientific duty to be unscientific, and that that is the duty to be religious; and indeed a great number of persons would welcome such a solution of the supposed conflict of science and religion. They Would take it to mean that science herself proclaims that there is something beyond what falls under the purview of science. Whereas if there is to be, I will not say a reconciliation of science and religion, for that would be an admission that there ever could be a quarrel, but I will say a harmonious connection between science and religion, it must be by the simple recognition that there is a fact or tendency, that of deity, which is beyond natural or human qualities and yet empirical, and that this fact is itself included in science in the fullest sense of that term as the methodical pursuit of knowledge.

In the same way the duty to be religious cannot be a duty not to be moral. There is in fact no duty to be religious any more than there is a duty to be hungry.12 The religious sentiment arises from a brute or crude instinct, or if the fitness of the term instinct be questioned, a brute conation of human nature. I mean by calling it a brute instinct not that it is on the level of bodily instincts, for it is the highest we possess in so far as it aims at the most perfect object; but only that it is given in our constitution, and that it is not, as it were, something which needs morality or art to reveal to us, but, on the contrary, is merely stimulated to action through these among other means. The only reasonable sense in which there is a duty to be religious is that the instinct should be gratified, like any other, to the extent to which such satisfaction is compatible with the rest of our nature and the claims of others; that consequently we may have duties of religious observances towards others with whom we are united in a community of worship, a duty of letting other persons alone if they differ from our own religious beliefs or have none, and a duty of recognising in the case of persons specially gifted for religion a special function in society which, is their contribution to the good of it, just as we recognise special functions in those who are gifted for art or science. But all such religious duty is not a duty not to be moral but, on the contrary, part of moral duty, which includes the tendency towards God as one of the emotions which may be subject to social regulation.

“Like love, like wrath, like hope, ambition, jealousy, like every other instinctive eagerness and impulse,” says James of religion, in a striking passage, “it adds to life an enchantment which is not rationally or logically deducible from anything else... If religion is to mean anything definite for us, it seems to me we ought to take it as meaning this added dimension of emotion, this enthusiastic temper of espousal, in regions where morality strictly so called can only bow the head and acquiesce.”13 Hence it is that in our experience the sense of religion is distinguishable from the enthusiasm and passion with which we may regard nature, or beauty, or morality, or truth. These passions may be happiness enough in the lives of some and serve them in place of religion, but they are not the religious passion and only simulate it.14 Morality may be penetrated with religion, but by itself is not a substitute for it. In other words, were it not for the brute sentiment for deity we should never arrive at religion from thinking of the problems that arise in our moral life. On the other hand, the passion for deity being there, it seizes on the moral and other values, treats them as conditions to the enjoyment of itself, and offers a solution of the problems which they present. Hence, since all human interests are interwoven, it is no wonder if religion reinforces morality, and if the men of experience and insight are perhaps in the right who say that but for the sanctions of religion men would be even less virtuous than they are. And in its turn, the consciousness of right doing may become itself religious and that of wrong doing take on the colour of sinfulness, and further than that, however much we may strive to do good and the more we do so, the more acute and lively may become the sense of our failing, not in the eyes of men, but of the being in front of us, towards whom our brute instinct impels us.

Deity and goodness.

The sense of deity having thus been described as in its fundamental character a feeling of our going out towards the world in a new and higher quality than that of mind or any of the tertiary qualities which have been called values, I must attempt to explain the relation of deity to value, and in particular to goodness which is our practical value, and in that sense the highest human value since good conduct takes in all our tendencies, including even the religious one. I shall try to show that deity, though not equivalent to goodness, is on the side of goodness. In a striking formula Mr. Höffding has defined religion as the faith in the conservation of values. God is the principle of that conservation, and religious feeling is felt in the comparison of value with reality. My criticism of this conception is not that it is untrue, for it is true and of the highest importance, but that it is too reflective and describes rather something which is true of religion than what religion is. The faith of religion was, as we saw, a faith in the existence of deity, not in the conservation of value; and we do not need a faith in the conservation of valuable existence to tell us that we are sustained by something greater than ourselves, for this is an immediate consciousness evoked in our preadapted nature by the world of reality itself. But inquiry into this object of faith, God, does show us that deity is in the line of value; and I find myself regretfully expressing dissent from this writer, while seeming to say the same thing, on the ground that he appears to me to do less than justice to the immediately felt reality of God. I shall use value in the more restricted sense of the tertiary qualities, rather than his more general sense of anything that brings satisfaction.

Deity not a value but a quality.

In the first place deity is not itself a value, for values are human inventions and deity is ultra-human. Deity belongs to the order of perfection and not to that of value. It may be well to recall how these conceptions differ. Value is contrasted with unvalue; goodness with evil. But perfection is a notion based on the empirical fact that there are various types of good life, comparable, as we saw, to the various types of successful animals or plants, which can be arranged in their order of complexity or development. For example, there is a primitive type of social life with its corresponding individual virtues which satisfies the social needs of man under elementary conditions; which, for instance, respects life within a family or tribe, keeps faith within defined limits, allows of marriage within certain degrees of affinity determined by rules. Here we have an organisation of simple needs which to us appears so crude, because while on the one hand it includes so little, on the other hand it runs into such complex detail, as in the marriage laws described by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen among certain native tribes of South Australia. Proceeding a stage higher to a semi-barbarous civilisation like that of ancient Greece, we find a code much more advanced, governed by the principle of social life within a city-state, but still bearing traces of its proximity to early notions in being a rule of custom or status. In contrast with it, the moral type of the modern man, affected as it is so largely by Christian conceptions, appears free and, in Kant's language, self-legislative; though it is as important not to exaggerate the contrast as not to ignore it. At any rate the type of the free individual is more developed or perfect than the type of custom, and it implies, as Green showed, a greater extension in the range of persons to whom duties are owing and a completer organisation of the moral life. Again amongst men of the same age there are national distinctions of moral type, and of these we cannot or may not be able to say that any one of them is bad, but only that one may be more perfect than another, or that they are equally perfect. The idea of perfection is founded on these differences of development. But while there are grades of perfection, there are not grades of value. Value is at any stage the distinction between what on that level is fitting and what is defeated in the contrast or struggle with it.

Deity belongs to the order of perfection. It is a quality, and God who possesses it is a being on a higher level of existence in the nature of things. The order of the empirical qualities is one of perfection, and values are evolved within the level of mind, and indeed with proper qualifications within every level. God is for us the highest being in the universe, but he cannot be called the highest value, for there is no unvalue with which he can be contrasted. As the universe flowering into deity, God has no rival, just as on the level of mind there is no such quality as unmind. It is only when deity is realised and actual and there are finite deities, that value may arise amongst these gods or angels. Satan and his fellows are bad angels, who misconduct themselves angelically; their deising breaks the rules of the angelic game. There is a good speculative meaning in this fancy, for value breaks out wherever there is finite existence of however high a level. But if deity is realised, we have passed beyond the conception of actual God, the infinite world tending to deity; and God for the angels is an infinite being still transcending them in quality.

It is a tempting hypothesis to construe God in terms of value, and, neglecting his characteristic quality of deity, to think of him as representing in the universe the line of values, from subhuman ‘values’ upwards. He would then be the linked succession of types, varying in their perfection, which have demonstrated their value whether in the natural or the human world by defeating their rivals, the line of values as distinct from the chaos of unvalues. This Manichaean conception divides the universe between good and evil, between God and Devil. Tempting as the conception is, it will not bear examination. It allows indeed for the intimate connection of God with goodness in all its stages. But it destroys the connection of God with the totality of things. Moreover, there is no such clear-cut continuity in values as is here supposed. For a higher value may make use of what on a lower level is unvalue. God may use Satan to his own purposes. Elements emerge from the chaos of evil and are built up into good, as crops are nourished by excrement, or as one animal type may feed on the weaklings of a lower type which are not swift enough to escape. If the whole universe is, according to our conception, the body of God, this difficulty does not arise, for evil and good are present there together.

The communal element in religion.

Mention has been made above of the communal or institutional element in religion, and it might seem as if in separating religion from morality, and refusing to rank religion with values, I was contradicting myself. But the community which is established by religion is of a different sort from the moral community. The moral community is an organisation of individuals who, though they have in general similar needs, differ from each other in all manner of ways, not merely in the degree in which they feel these needs, but in their fitness for the performance of tasks useful to the society. Hence even in the simplest social communities, the problem of morality is to secure such a distribution of satisfactions as shall make the society happiest and most efficient. If good conduct consisted merely in a general observance of certain rules equally general—be temperate, be brave, be truthful, and the like—it would be far easier of attainment than it is. What matters is the discovery of how much and what each individual is to do according to his instincts and appetites in order to be temperate, truthful, brave, and the like. However much the broad lines of conduct agree for all individuals, each of them is different from the rest, and each according to his place has a particular contribution to make to the common good. Now religious community is not an organisation of differing individuals so much as a union of them to support and sustain each other in an identical service. It is comparable to the gathering of persons together for meals, and indeed this conception of convivial assembly plays an important part in many religions, and religion has, I believe, been thought by some to arise out of such gatherings. Though religion does not exist only “in the sanctuary of the heart,” the community is still one of individuals as “congregated in that personal capacity.” In the famous passage from which I am quoting,15 Burke goes on to speak of religious observances by individuals in their corporate capacity as members of a civil society, where religion has been recognised as one of the expressions of social sentiment and has received its place in the national life. But in the merely religious congregation which is the foundation of institutions of religion, there is common worship but there is not the mutual criticism which organises men into a moral society. There is of course, however, organisation in religious institutions when different parts are allotted to persons in a religious community, in the distinction of laity and clergy and of clerical hierarchy, and specific moral obligations may arise within the congregation out of this, just as in a convivial gathering there may a host or a symposiarch.

Deity on the side of goodness.

The question whether deity is or includes goodness, and the commoner question whether God is good, have now been answered. Deity is a type of perfection transcending human goodness (or truth or beauty), and any lower form of valuable life and different in its quality. To call God himself good is, if we think of his deity, a wholly inadequate designation, only legitimate because we use human terms and mean by it that God is the highest perfection. On the other hand, if we are thinking of him as the whole world with a soul of deity he is neither good nor evil, for in his body he includes both. This, as we saw, was one of the reasons why a pantheistic God fails of satisfying the religious mind. But though as deity God is beyond good and evil, his deity is on the side of goodness. For goodness, whether we are considering the human values or the subhuman values, is the character of the permanent as opposed to the impermanent contrasted evil. The universe works in experience so as to secure the survival of good, or rather that which survives in the long run in the contest establishes its value thereby and is good. To repeat a saying already quoted, “morality is the nature of things.” The history by which new types of finites come into existence is, we have seen, the natural history of values.

Now the victory of the lower type which is good makes possible the rise of its successor on the higher level. The higher lives by making use of its predecessors, and so the succession of types presents the appearance, when we use human analogies, of having been arranged or designed by some superior power for the sake of its highest type. Space-Time itself, by virtue of its own nisus, elaborates without forethought a “hierarchy of ministration” which if it were produced by mind would imply a vast and all-wise forethought or providence. If we apply to the new quality of deity what we learn from the succession of lower empirical qualities, we conclude by analogy that the process by which good overcomes evil in the region of mind is one of the conditions of the emergence of deity; so far, that is, as human endeavour contributes to the generation of this quality. Thus goodness or good will is material on which deity is built, and deity is in the line of goodness not of evil. Or we may put the matter otherwise thus, still following the biological and moral precedents. Good will and each lower form of ‘goodness’ are types adapted to the world under the conditions of which their existence is carried on. Such adaptation carries with it the victory over ill-adapted types, which are evil. Deity is the distinctive quality of the higher type of perfection in this line of forms.

It will be answered that, after all, evil exists, and since the world is the body of God, evil cannot be dismissed from the nature of God. But the assertion we have made is not that evil does not exist in God—on the contrary it has been maintained to exist there, in God's body—but only that God's deity is on the side of good and not on the side of evil. The reason why this conception, difficult as it is, is necessary, is that God is infinite, whereas the beings in the struggle and contrast between which the distinction of good and bad and all other values is born are finite. Consequently the finite being, whether merely living body, or conscious one, or society, is distinct in space and time from or external to its rivals; or in so far as it is healthy puts away from itself its disused or dead parts, or protects itself against disease by inflammation and the destruction of the noxious element. There is a Space outside into which these excrements can be discharged and maintain an independent existence. But since God is infinite there is no extrusion possible beyond his limits; there is no Space outside him.

Comparison with life.

We may for clearness and fulness put the case thus, still preserving our imaginative figure of an infinite being with infinite deity existing in it, though we know that his deity is a tendency rather than an achievement. Deity in the universe as a whole is like life in a healthy body. Life is equivalent to a certain portion or constellation of the material processes which make up the whole body, the remainder being not living processes and yet essentially subserving the living portion of them. Now life means also the continual death of parts of the body and the exclusion of material which is no longer utilisable in that form. All living involves partial death. But the life resides not in the disused elements but in the parts which remain and are active. Life, then, is on the side of material elements in the body which are organic to it. In the same way it not only excretes and gets rid of useless material, as in the excrement of food, but it rids itself of poisons which its own functions generate, clearing the blood and the muscles by expiration and transpiration; and so far as its powers extend it makes disease innocuous. So too the individual mind suppresses or diverts unhealthy activities and the society reforms or at need suppresses its unhealthy members.

In the same sense, deity is on the side of that which it uses, or so far as it is utilisable, and not on the side of that which it discards. If we consider deity in its relation to its immediately lower level of mental existence, we shall think of it as equivalent to some form of goodness (that is of permanent mental, not necessarily human, life) and sustained by other kinds of mental process just as mind is equivalent to certain vital processes and is sustained by others. Thus the maintenance of the life of deity means also the death or discarding of certain parts of its basis, that is, certain forms of mental life. Now in the case of the finite the discarded material is ejected outside itself and goes on existing elsewhere. But since the mental existence which is discarded in the life of deity is retained in the body of God, and cannot go on existing independently outside him, it must be regarded as that kind of mental existence which, as such, that is, in the form which it now possesses, is impermanent. That is to say, it is the evil mental life, which does not maintain itself in the struggle with good, but passes into lower forms. The material excreted from a finite living body, e.g. carbonic acid, is still material which may persist, and it is not bad material. But the ‘material’ which deity discards cannot persist as such, cannot be good mental life, or it would be used up to sustain deity. It suffers therefore dissolution in its character of mental existence, and can be used again only when it has been “unmade to be remade,”16 and may again be taken up and utilised for the purposes of deity; as the corruption of a battlefield may serve the growth of crops and ultimately be made serviceable for good human life. Thus both in the case of the finite and the infinite being, there is an internal selection which results in the creation of waste products. But whereas in the case of finites the waste is not the evil of the lower stage, but only material which is not utilisable for the higher stage; in the case of the infinite divine being, the waste is equivalent to the evil of the lower stage.

Faith in the conservation of value.

What has been said here more particularly with regard to goodness applies also to the other human values of truth and beauty. Good in all of these directions is directly utilisable for the life of deity, while evil appears as that which deity discards, which accordingly needs transformation before it can be utilised. Since deity is equivalent to some complex of mind, just as mind is equivalent to some complex of life, deity is not only the next higher quality to mind, but grows out of mind and out of valuable mental life, for this is the mental life which is permanent and can give rise to higher existence. Deity is in the line of mental values and grows out of them. But human values are only one example of value, a notion which essentially marks the fitness of what is valuable to persist in the one reality of things, or, as it was put before, the return of the isolated finite into communion with reality. In this wider sense of value, deity remains next to mental and even human values, but it is also in the line of all value, and our values are but its proximate material. In this sense deity represents the conservation of all values or valuable existence whatever, and is an outgrowth from them. All values are conserved in God's deity.

Religion as faith in deity.

Important as this proposition is, it does not entitle us to say that religion is faith in the conservation of value. Religion is faith in deity, or in God with the quality of deity; and deity, when we come to make reflection upon it, is seen to be in the line of value. But the religious sense is something more primitive and crude, and needs to be described as it is actually experienced, not as it is reflected about. I am so anxious not to seem captious, and at the same time to insist that deity is a quality and not a value, that I will linger yet awhile upon the topic. In its essence religious sentiment is not a matter of value or appreciation at all. It is the crude recognition on the part of a mind, that there is something with a distinctive quality above his own distinctive quality of mind. It is like the apprehension of colour or life, except that we cannot say what the new quality is like, for it is not revealed to sense or thought. We are only sure that it is there. Reflection shows it to be the outcome of our values; but at the same time to be in the line of all value whatever, whether human value or living value or natural value. Deity is even for reflection the conservation not merely of what is precious to us, but of what is precious to itself everywhere.

Hence it is that, though deity is seen on reflection to be born proximately from the human values of truth and goodness and beauty, the sense of it is not the claim for their conservation but something simpler, the sense of a new quality above man, to which the whole world tends. Consequently it may be stirred by other aspects of the world than what are valuable in the eyes of man. The rascal or profligate, to revert to him, who has a sense of religion, is not moved by morality, but is moved by deity. The cruder mind is inspired by the elemental forces of nature, storm and light, or the sun, or life in the trees. For it is not the mere sublimity of the thunder nor the glory of the sun, in their aesthetic value, which stirs him, but the recognition of the godhead to which they tend. These are as much contained in God's body as human beings with their claims for satisfactions. The finite body does but adapt itself to these fundamental powers; but in God's infinite body they are actually contained and are part of his organic life. Deity is the outcome of the onward sweep of all that is persistent and counts in the economy of the world. Human values are but the apex of that movement. Any facet of the advancing column of values may make the directer appeal to the mind, according to its capacity.

The difference and at the same time the connection between deity and value may be expressed in more comprehensive and fundamental terms by reverting to the real nature of value which was recalled a moment ago. The establishment of value and the extirpation of unvalue is the sign of adaptation. Value means in its simplest terms that the individual or type, any function of which is valuable, is not self-dependent entirely but in its independence belongs to the whole Space-Time of which it is a complex. Unvalues are indeed realities, but in their unvaluable form do not fit in with the world of empirical things generated within the whole Space-Time and cannot therefore persist in the measure assigned empirically to their kind. There would be value if the nisus in Space-Time stopped or could be imagined stopping, say at mind. Now the hierarchy of qualities arises out of the restlessness of Space-Time and depends therefore on a different fundamental feature from value. At the same time, since value is the persistent type of existence, it is only in so far as value is established that the nisus forward becomes effective in the generation of a new quality. Every being has value or unvalue as part of the whole Space-Time; it has the nisus to a higher form in so far as it contributes to the general nisus of the world. Thus to take our human case, we are good in so far as we cease to be isolated, for “morality is the nature of things.” We help to the creation of deity in so far as through, our goodness we are qualified to share in the universal bent towards a higher quality.

There is a further consequence of the difference between deity as a quality in the hierarchy of qualities and the idea of value. Good and great men seem to us to have in them something divine, and the description is just if it is taken to mean that, being better and greater than the rest of us, they point the way to deity, and prepare the way as leaders in the human contribution to the world-endeavour. Even God himself does not as actual God possess deity attained, but only the nisus towards it. Men of transcendent gifts of perfection are thus in their degree exemplars of this nisus. The description is false if it means that they in any sense possess the divine quality or even adumbrate it. Deity on such conception would be no more than the perfection of manhood, whereas it is something which transcends in kind the most transcendent manhood. The ordinary theism, therefore, when it postulates a human intermediary between us and a God who is conceived as endowed with deity actually attained, acts consistently in believing the intermediator to be more than man, human and divine at once—purchasing consistency at the cost of interposing the conception of a miraculous person without parallel in the world.

Conservation of evil.

Value is in the above sense conserved in deity. But withal we have to recognise that, not in deity, but in God, unvalues also are contained; not merely badness and ugliness and error but in the end all impermanent forms of finite existence. At the same time this recognition secures a better understanding of the place of evil. For since God's deity ‘represents’ his whole body, evil which forms a part of that body is contemplated by God as a part of that body on which also his deity, in which there is no evil, is based; and secondly, evil is implicated in the life of his deity, since all life carries with it death. Though God's deity is in the line of value, it involves evil as well as good in its substructure. Evil is, therefore, redeemed as part of God's being, of the matter of him. And since the whole of his body supports his deity, what is evil from the point of view of the lower or material level (the human level) undergoes change so as to support the divine. On the human level, only such transformation is possible as means reform. The evil which has been done or thought or felt is not undone by reformation.17 But in being discarded and remade it becomes utilisable for deity. Thus evil is at once a reality and has its finite existence, and by being resolved into the infinite whole out of which it sprang it undergoes alteration into value. This corresponds with what we learnt before as to unvalue, that it is the human and wilful distortion of what is real. Error and ugliness and wickedness are finite realities and remain as such unvalues, in the body of God. But perishing in that form they are used up in a changed form for the purposes of deity. We have here the foundation for reflective religious ideas of ultimate redemption of evil in all its shapes by purgation or other process whereby God “unmakes but to remake the soul.”18 It remains that deity is neither good nor evil, not a value at all but a new perfection, in which so long as it is infinite and an ideal there is no distinction of values. But God considered as his body contains both evil and good, though as a whole he is neither, since terms of value belong only to finites.

The problem of evil.

I find I have, almost unawares and without intention, been drawn into the ancient problem, as it is called, of the existence of evil, and half tremble at my own audacity. What I venture to add here is that the problem is indeed insoluble either so long as, on the purely pantheistic conception, deity is conceived to animate all parts of the world alike, and not rather that part which in due time is fitted to carry deity; or so long as, in purely theistic doctrines, God is regarded as separate from his world, and existing perfect independently of it, and for imaginative purposes before it. But the problem becomes less of a mystery when Time is conceived to be essential to God, deity and body alike, and when deity is regarded as an outgrowth from lower empirical qualities and succeeding them in time. “Evil, O Glaucon,” says Socrates in Plato's dialogue, “will not vanish from the earth.” How should it if it is the name of the imperfection through whose defeat the perfect types acquire their value?

Our revolt against the existence of evil appears to me to spring from two sources, a theoretical fault and a defect of temper. The theoretical fault is that of emancipating God from Time. If God allows evil to exist we ask why he did not make the world otherwise. But if God's deity is sustained by our goodness and our evil is what deity discards, we should in asking the question be reversing the order of things. God is helpless to prevent evil, for his deity is the outgrowth of good, and God does not foresee the evil or the good, but so far as he is equivalent to the whole world is himself the theatre of the contest between value and unvalue. It is just so far as deity is a quality which we project in front of us, and on empirical grounds are justified in so doing, that God helps us to support values, through the direct impact of the whole world in its divine tendency upon our individual minds, or through the corresponding subjective condition of religion and prayer. But no theoretic consideration sustains the belief in a God who precedes his universe. Design we have seen is the effect of Time, successive forms making use of their predecessors and perishing if they cannot. The other evidence of providence, that men's purposes are so often turned to an issue which they have not imagined, proves indeed that men's purposes are finite and that the whole is greater than its parts and may exhibit features beyond their ken, but does not prove a pre-existing overruling purpose. Theoretically, too, it seems to follow, as I have attempted to show, that evil is in a certain manner redeemed and made subservient to deity. Evil has often been likened to a discord which has been resolved. It must be added that both such discord and the passage in which it occurs are alike music. But there is no resolution of the discord which is evil and unmusical on the level on which good and evil both exist. The resolution, so far as it is effected, is effected on the higher level. The evil remains done, but by perishing in its evil form it may subserve deity. The discord remains a discord, but there is no discord in the higher quality, which it subserves but does not enter into as an ingredient. I need not do more than refer to what was said before of the difference between this new quality and some form of spirit such as is assumed on the hypothesis of the current idealism.

The defect of temper which I suggested is the disinclination to accept the facts of experience which do not accord with our wishes. If indeed this is a fault; for it is partly at least the reverse side of the virile resolution to overcome evil, a resolution which finds vent in impatience that there should be evil to overcome. Partly it is, however, mere indignation at disagreeableness, and imputation of the wrong to God, the spirit of the little boy who angrily asks, Why did God make nettles? when his bare legs are stung by them. Partly, again, it has its fairer side in the shame we feel at our. own weakness, and in pity for the weakness or distress of others. But I am speaking of the temper which makes the presence of evil an insoluble problem, and this is the temper which believes that there must be something amiss or else inscrutably right in a world which is so full of pain and bad will. The facts of experience are that we are children of the very nature which sometimes overwhelms us, and are suckled at her breasts; that the permanent and adapted forms of life are discovered by experiment accompanied by prodigal loss; that goodness itself is the issue of such experimentation made to discover what form of social adjustment is best able to satisfy our wants under the helps and hindrances of our non-human surroundings. We cannot say that it is good or bad that it should be so; we can only accept.19 Such acceptance of fact is not the same thing as practical acquiescence. On the contrary the intellectual acquiescence is the incentive to the practical effort for amelioration, in accordance with our impulse to mould things to the heart's desire. And if it is not submissive resignation to an inscrutable will, neither is it the belief that evil is created in order to brace our spirits to exertion. There is no overruling and preexisting purpose in the world upon which we should throw the blame for what we cannot help, or which we need thank for its subtle device of helping us by pain, still less of selecting a few who should profit by the pain of others and feel their own happiness enlarged thereby, as the blessed are said to feel in Augustine's heaven. The temper of acquiescence is at the same time the temper which impels to amelioration without the fond expectation that the springs of pain will ever be sealed; and when it takes in the relation of God to the world, it prompts the recognition that this same attempt at betterment is at once implanted in us by the Space-Time out of which we are precipitated, and secures the deity to which the world is tending.


I may as well introduce here what few remarks I can make on the subject of immortality, which for some reason appears always to be considered an eminent interest in religion. For here too we seem to have prejudices of theory and temper. The subject is not easy to handle, for no one would care to wound the sentiment of longing to rejoin in a future life our companions in this life. “If our ideals,” says Wm. James,20 “are only cared for in ‘eternity’ I do not see why we might not be willing to resign their care to other hands than ours.” The mere desire that we feel to be present ourselves and continue our work begun here, admirable as it is, because the passion to do things ourselves is at the root of all our endeavours, cannot overrule the facts of our apparent limitation to the time and place of our bodily life. The data do not allow us to suppose, so far as we have seen, that our minds, even if we believe that they only use the body as an instrument, do exist without the instrument, and we are certainly not entitled because of our desire of a continued existence (possessed by different persons in very different degrees of strength, and by some not at all) to influence our metaphysics of mind, so as to support a thesis which would lend itself to that wish. For that wish of continued existence may be replaced, and perhaps with greater humanity, by resigning our work to others, as we are accustomed to do here, when the occasion demands.

Wish for a future life is not on the same footing as the sentiment of religion; for there the object of the sentiment could be traced in the actual experienced world in its solicitation of the mind. But the future life cannot be known from experience unless the continued existence of our minds after death can be established experimentally. Failing such demonstration, we do no injustice to this desire if we suppose it to be, like so much of our more definite religious beliefs, an attempt to convey something else in a form more obvious to our minds. Accordingly it may be a more personal and egotistic way of expressing the continuance of our work by others in a tradition of effort. Such tradition of an enterprise through many generations is accredited by experience. The personal continuance of our lives beyond the life of our bodies is fully accredited by none. Pending the experimental evidence I cannot but think that not only must we acquiesce in what we know and find our account therein as we well can do, but also we are bound to scrutinise the evidence presented to us with more than ordinary rigour, and not rather to accept it with more than ordinary welcome because it happens to accord with a wish. I can only repeat what I have said before, that should the extension of mind beyond the limits of the bodily life be verified, so that a mind can either act without a body or may shift its place to some other body and yet retain its memory, the larger part of the present speculation will have to be seriously modified or abandoned.

With this temper of belief there goes in this question a certain theoretical prejudice which is I think erroneous. The conservation of value might be understood to mean the persistence of myself because my life is valuable or a value. But to hold this seriously would be to be misled by a phrase and to neglect experience. For values arise in the contest of types and are established among finites by inheritance and tradition. They are exhibited in individuals, for types are always so embodied. Thus the conservation of value is attained in fact, not through persistence of one valuable individual but, as James puts it, through conservation of his ideal. If we are to follow the clue of experience, we must therefore believe that theoretically the claim for the future life is founded on error. We must content ourselves with the continuance of species rather than of persons, and I must add that to me at least this limitation of desire seems not only imposed on us by such knowledge as we have, but is practically a higher object of desire. And if mere continuance of human ideals does not satisfy us, for nature may involve the physical destruction of mind, there is the other and higher satisfaction of thinking that the persistence of our human effort in tradition is doing the work of preparing deity, according to the well-justified phrase, in God's good time and, it must be added, place.

Deity and feeling.

There is an old question21 whether God suffers pain or is on the contrary completely happy. It sounds at first as remote as some of the metaphysical puzzles of the schoolmen which are so often held up to ridicule. Yet it is not without real significance, and the answer, which is on the same lines as that to the question of God's goodness, helps to make clearer the position that God, regarded as the infinite ideal, is of the same structure, body and mind, as we and all existents and Space-Time itself. Pain exists in the body of God as moral evil does, that is, in so far as God includes within his body the creatures which suffer pain, with whom for whatever reason there is defect or hindrance in the performance of their functions. But in God's deity there is no pain, nor anything corresponding to it. Neither is there pleasure, if pleasure means the feeling of agreeableness which we have when our work goes on without let or hindrance.

We saw reason to believe that pleasure and pain belong to the organic order in the case of ourselves; they are not modifications of consciousness but are vital conditions which we contemplate or are conscious of, much in the same way as we are conscious of hunger. Still less does pleasure or pain belong to deity in its character of deity. On the other hand, as life is to mind so is mind to deity, and deity is equivalent to some complex of mental activities. Deity might be supposed then to possess something analogous to our consciousness of pleasure or pain which we call feeling, in so far as deising is or is not subject to let or hindrance in its goings on. The first alternative cannot be adopted. We may therefore adopt the Aristotelian saying that God enjoys continuous pleasure. Such pleasure is comparable to the pleasures of sight and smell, if Plato is right in calling them pure or unmixed pleasures because they are not a relief from pain; but it is so doubtful whether pleasure would be so felt if there were no antecedent craving for them, as when the eyes have been in darkness, that the comparison is merely a help and nothing more.

Difference of God and finites in respect of feeling.

The reason of this difference between God and ourselves is the old one that God's deity is infinite as well as his body, though it is lodged only in a portion of that body. Now painfulness (and pleasantness as well in the way in which we experience it) means finitude. The obstruction may arise from without or it may arise from within the body or the mind. But what makes pain is the threat to the destruction of our pattern of existence, to the retention of the equilibrium required by the maintenance of our organic or individual character. To an infinite being there can be no such menace. There is no form which it has to maintain in the face of other beings. The conditions do not here exist upon which painfulness and pleasantness depend.

In his work on ethics, von Hartmann spoke of man's goodness as a co-operation of man with God, whereby man helps to assuage God's suffering.22 This conception is based on the pessimistic dogma that pain is positive and pleasure merely negative relief from pain. I do not mention his saying here for that reason, in order to point out by the way how contradictory to fact is the conclusion of pessimism that non-existence is preferable to existence. For it makes choice, which is directed to securing permanent existence and therefore to what brings pleasure, choose annihilation of pleasure, and impermanent existence. What experience informs us is, not that there is more pleasure than pain or more pain than pleasure in the world, but only that according to the way of the world those kinds of being persist with an overplus of pleasure who, working out their type of life, are so endowed as to maintain themselves; and this choice is not primarily determined by pleasure and pain but by the objects which satisfy the active needs of a being according to its kind. I mention the saying for two other reasons. First to express my own obligation to it for the truth which I learnt from it more clearly than elsewhere, that man does not merely serve God but helps him and therefore, as I add, in the measure of his smallness, creates deity. The other reason was more relevant to my immediate purpose. In making virtue a process of relieving God's pain, it committed the error of anthropo-morphising God's deity. God is not finite that he should feel pain or pleasure. It is only when deity emerges in finite beings, finite gods or angels, that something which corresponds to pain and pleasure in our experience of them exists. Finite deities would be aware of pleasures and pains in their bodies, like the rebel angels in Paradise Lost, but also their deity would be aware of the defects and smoothness of the working of their mental substructure, and this would be felt by them as something analogous to our pains and pleasures, though what form it would take for them cannot be known, since deity and deising are on a level above consciousness and we cannot tell what kind of an object the smooth or hindered operation of mental elements would assume for them.


We are brought back again to the point from which we started, that deity is a quality different from spirit, while it owes its existence to the travail of a world which has reached the level of spirit. It followed from this that deity was subject, so long as it is the infinite deity of God, to no distinction of evil and good or of any other values. It depends on values and is in the line of what is good, but is itself a perfection not contrasted with imperfection. Values are secured by the beings which think in their language. There is a saying of Matthew Arnold that God is the eternal not-ourselves which makes for righteousness. It brings God down to the level of man. If the power which makes for righteousness is not ourselves, there is no other power which makes for righteousness. God is, if we may use such language, the power which makes for deity. It is because we ourselves make for righteousness that we have faith in this further nisus of the universe, and are sustained by that sentiment so as to derive help from it in doing righteousness. Our minds and the values they create do not end the series of empirical qualities. Our virtue is only part of the presupposition on which depends the emergence of the next higher quality to mind which we call deity.

A brief index.

I have no intention of recapitulating the long argument of this book. But I will conclude with a few propositions which supply a brief index to the whole. They are the following:

Space and Time have no reality apart from each other, but are aspects or attributes of one reality, Space-Time or Motion. This is the stuff of which all existents are composed; and it breaks up of itself into these complexes within the one all-embracing stuff. Any portion of it, any space-time, possesses certain fundamental features which therefore belong to every existent generated within the universe of Space-Time. These fundamental pervasive features of things are the categories. Besides these fundamental features, things possess quality which is the empirical feature of things. Qualities form a hierarchy, the quality of each level of existence being identical with a certain complexity or collocation of elements on the next lower level. The quality performs to its equivalent lower existence the office which mind performs to its neural basis. Mind and body do but exemplify, therefore, a relation which holds universally. Accordingly Time is the mind of Space and any quality the mind of its body; or to speak more accurately, mind and any other quality are the different distinctive complexities of Time which exist as qualities. As existents within Space-Time, minds enter into various relations of a perfectly general character with other things and with one another. These account for the familiar features of mental life: knowing, freedom, values, and the like. In the hierarchy of qualities the next higher quality to the highest attained is deity. God is the whole universe engaged in process towards the emergence of this new quality, and religion is the sentiment in us that we are drawn towards him, and caught in the movement of the world to a higher level of existence.

  • 1.

    These moods are real enough with many people, no matter how much Dr. Johnson pooh-poohed them. He had, says Boswell, till very near his death a contempt for the notion that the weather affects the human frame (ii. p. 352, ed. Birkbeck Hill, April 14, 1775). “This distinction of seasons is produced only by imagination operating on luxury” (quoted from Idler, i. 338). “I never felt any difference upon myself from eating one thing rather than another, nor from one kind of weather rather than another. There are people, I believe, who feel a difference. But I am not one of them” (iii. 305). There is, as I understand, very good explanation of these affections in the condition of the atmosphere at the earth's surface.

  • 2.

    Conversations with Eckermann (Nov. 13, 1823, Eng. transl. p. 36. Bonn's edit.).

  • 3.

    Confessions of a Convert (R. H. Benson), I. § 4, p. 23. “I began to go to communion every week and to attend any other services that I could possibly manage—sometimes in the organ-loft, watching the mysteries of the keys and stops, sometimes sitting in the stalls. I did not in the least appreciate the sermons, though I was vaguely affected by Canon Liddon. It was the music first and last, and it was through. that opening that I first began to catch glimpses of the spiritual world; and my sense of worship was further developed by an absolute passion that I conceived for Mr. Shorthouse's book, John Inglesant.”

  • 4.

    Below, p. 411.

  • 5.

    The Problem of Christianity (New York, 1914).

  • 6.

    “Johnson: A wicked fellow is the most pious when he takes to it. He'll beat you all at piety” (Boswell, iv. p. 289, June, 1784).

  • 7.

    Philosophy of Religion, p. 113.

  • 8.

    “Religious judgments therefore are secondary judgments of value; in comparison with the primary judgments of value in which the first two groups of values find expression, they are derivative” (ib. p. 107). The two groups of values are, those connected with self-assertion, and the moral, intellectual, and aesthetic values.

  • 9.

    Appearance and Reality, p. 438.

  • 10.

    Ibid. p. 436.

  • 11.

    Ibid. p. 441.

  • 12.

    There is not even a duty to eat, but only to eat neither too much nor too little.

  • 13.

    Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 48.

  • 14.

    Those admirable institutions, the Ethical Societies, do not for that reason seem to me to supply a really adequate solution of the problem.

  • 15.

    French Revolution, p. 115 (ed. Payne, Oxford, 1877).

  • 16.

    Adapted from Browning; see below, p. 420, note.

  • 17.

    Cp. J. Royce, Problem of Christianity, vol. i. pp. 259 ff.

  • 18.
    The Ring and the Book (the Pope is summing up his sentence on Guido):

    “Else I avert my face, nor follow him

    Into that sad, obscure, sequestered state

    Where God unmakes but to remake the soul

    He else made first in vain: which must not be.”

    ll. 2129–32.

  • 19.

    Cp., again, Meredith's poem, ‘Outer and Inner’ in A Reading of Earth.

  • 20.

    Varieties, p. 524.

  • 21.

    It is raised of the Absolute and discussed by Mr. Bradley in appearance and Reality, ch. xxvii. pp. 533–5; also ch. xiv. pp. 157–8.

  • 22.

    Phänomenologie ties sittlichen Bewusstseins (Berlin, 1879), last chapter, esp. pp. 868 ff.