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NOTES TO LECTURE V NOTE A.—P. 165.

EFFECTS IN CREATION: AN ARGUMENT AGAINST THEISM.

Lucretius already uses this argument. Even were he ignorant, he says, of the primordial causes of things, he could venture to affirm from the faultiness of the universe that it was not the work of Divine power.

“Quod si jam rerum ignorem primordia quae sint,

Hoc tamen ex ipsis caeli rationibus ausim

Confirmare aliisque ex rebus reddere multis,

Nequaquam nobis divinitus esse paratam

Naturam rerum; tanta stat praedita culpa.”

De.Rerum Natura, v. 195–190.

Seneca held a view akin to Mill’s.899899Mill’s views are indicated in the text. They are further discussed by me in two papers in The Theological Monthly (July and August 1891) on “J. S. Mill and Christianity. “ Among his queries are these: “How far God’s power extends; whether He forms His own matter, or only uses that which is given Him; whether He can do whatsoever He will, or the materials in many ways frustrate and disappoint Him, and things are formed badly by the great Artificer, not because His art fails, but because that on which it is exercised proves stubborn and intractable.”—Quaest. Nat., Book i. Preface.

Mr. Rathbone Greg seems in the end of his life to have come round to the views of Mr. Mill “Thoughtful minds in all ages,” he says, “have experienced the most painful perplexities in the attempt to reconcile certain of the moral and physical phenomena we see around us with the assumption of a Supreme Being at once all-wise, all-good, and almighty.” These difficulties, he thinks, are wholly gratuitous, and arise out of the inconsiderate and unwarranted use of a single word—omnipotent. Only grant that the Creator is “conditioned, hampered, it may be, by the attributes, qualities, and imperfections of the material on which He had to operate; bound possibly by laws or properties inherent in the nature of that material,”—and “it becomes possible to believe in and to worship God without doing violence to our moral sense, or denying or 436distorting the sorrowful facts that surround our daily life.”—Preface to Enigmas of Life (18th edition).

The Pessimists, of course, lay stress on what they consider the evil and defects of nature, as proving that it cannot have proceeded from an intelligent cause. Hartmann is quoted by Strauss as saying that “if God, before creation, had possessed consciousness, creation would have been an inexpiable crime; its existence is only pardonable as the result of blind will.”—Der alte und der neue Glaube, p. 223.

Comte and Helmholtz have urged the defects of nature as disproving design. See their views criticised in Flint’s Theism, Lect. viii.; Janet’s Final Causes, p. 45 (Eng. trans.); Kennedy’s Nat. Theol. and Modern Thought, pp. 130–134; Row’s Christian Theism, chap. ix., etc.

Mr. S. Laing urges the undeniable existence of evil in the world as a fact irreconcilable with that of an almighty and beneficent Creator, and takes refuge in an ultimate law of “polarity,” i.e. dualism.—A Modern Zoroastrian, pp. 170–183 (see next note).

Maudsley writes: “The facts of organic and human nature, when observed frankly and judged without bias, do not warrant the argument of a supreme and beneficent artificer working after methods of human intelligence, but perfect in all his works; rather would they warrant, if viewed from the human standpoint, the conception of an almighty malignant power that was working out some far-off end of its own, with the serenest disregard of the suffering, expenditure, and waste which were entailed in the process.”—Body and Will, pp. 180, 181.

There is much that is exaggerated, jaundiced, and subjective in these complaints, but they point to the existence of great and terrible evils in the world, which Theism must boldly face, and do justice to in some way in its view of the world.


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