Truth and Criticism
The Development of DogmaExperience and Expression
In human nature there is no such separate function as a special religious sense. In making this assertion, I am agreeing with the following quotation:
Those who tend to identify religious experience with the activity of some peculiar organ or element of the mental life have recently made much of the subconscious. Here there seems to be a safe retreat for the hard-pressed advocates of the uniqueness of religious experience.
Religious truth must be developed from knowledge acquired when our ordinary senses and intellectual operations are at their highest pitch of discipline. To move one step from this position towards the dark recesses of abnormal psychology is to surrender finally any hope of a solid foundation for religious doctrine.
Religion starts from the generalization of final truths first perceived as exemplified in particular instances. These truths are amplified into a coherent system and applied to the interpretation of life. They stand or fall, like other truths, by their success in this interpretation. The peculiar character of religious truth is that it explicitly deals with values. It brings into our consciousness that permanent side of the universe which we can care for. It thereby provides a meaning, in terms of value, for our own existence, a meaning which flows from the nature of things.
It is not true, however, that we observe best when we are entirely devoid of emotion. Unless there is a direction of interest, we do not observe at all. Further, our capacity for observation is limited. Accordingly, when we are observing some things, we are in a bad position for observing other things.
Thus there are certain emotional states which are most favourable for a peculiar concentration on topics of religious interest, just as other states facilitate the apprehension of arithmetical truths. Also, emotional states are related to states of the body. Most people are more likely to make arithmetical slips when they are tired in the evening. But we still believe that arithmetic holds good from sundown to cockcrow.
Again, it is not true that all people are on a level in respect to their perceptive powers. Some people appear to realize continuously, and at a higher level, types of emotional and perceptive experience, which we recognise as corresponding to those periods of our own lives most worthy of confidence for that sort of experience. In so far as what they say interprets our own best moments, it is reasonable to trust to the evidential force of their experience.
These considerations are all commonplaces, but it is necessary to keep them clearly in mind when we endeavour to form our philosophy of religious knowledge.
A dogma is the precise enunciation of a general truth, divested so far as possible from particular exemplification. Such precise expression is in the long run a condition for vivid realization, for effectiveness, for apprehension of width of scope, and for survival.
For example, when the Greeks, such as Pythagoras or Euclid, formulated accurately mathematical dogmas, the general truths which the Egyptians had acted upon for more than thirty generations became thereby of greater importance.
It is not the case, however, that our apprehension of a general truth is dependent upon its accurate verbal expression. For it would follow that we could never by dissatisfied with the verbal expression of something that we had never apprehended. But this consciousness of failure to express our accurate meaning must have haunted most of us.
For example, the notion of irrational number had been used in mathematics for over two thousand years before it received accurate definition in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Also, Newton and Leibnitz introduced the differential calculus, which was the foundation of modern mathematical physics. But the mathematical notions involved did not receive adequate verbal expression for two hundred and fifty years.
Such recondite examples are quite unnecessary. We know more of the characters of those who are dear to us than we can express accurately in words. We may recognize the truth of some statement about them. It will be a new statement about something which we had already apprehended but had never formulated.
This example brings out another fact: that a one-sized formulation may be true, but may have the effect of a lie by its distortion of emphasis. Such distortion does not stand in its character of a truth, but depends upon those who are affected by it. So far as the make-up of an individual mind is concerned, there is a proportion in truth as well as in art.
Thus an ill-balanced zeal for the propagation of dogma bears witness to a certain coarseness of aesthetic sensitiveness.
It shows a strain of indifference - due perhaps to arrogance, perhaps to rashness, perhaps to mere ignorance - a strain of indifference to the fact that others may require a proportion of formulation different from that suitable for ourselves. Perhaps our pet dogmas require correction: they may even be wrong.
The fate of a world has to the historian the value of a document. The modern unfavourable implications of the kindred words, dogma, dogmatic, dogmatist, tell the story of some failure in habits of thought. The word "dogma" originally means an "opinion," and thence more especially a "philosophic opinion." Thus, for example, the Greek physician, Galen, uses the phrase "dogmatic physicians" to mean "physicians who guide themselves by general principles" - surely a praiseworthy practice. The nearest Greek Dictionary will give this elementary information. But the dictionary - and this is why I have quoted it - gives an ominous addition to the information about Galen. It says that Galen contrasts "dogmatic physicians" with "empiric physicians." If you then refer to the word "empiric," you will find that "empiric physicians" contended that "experience was the one thing needful." In this lecture we have to investigate the application to religion of this contrast between "dogmatic" and "empiric."
The philosophy of expression is only now receiving its proper attention> In the framing of dogmas it is only possible to use ideas which have received a distinct, well- recognized signification. Also, no idea is determinate in a vacuum: It has its being as one of a system of ideas. A dogma is the expression of a fact as it appears within a certain sphere of thought. You cannot convey a dogma by merely translating the words; you must also understand the system of thought to which it is relevant. To take a very obvious example. "The Fatherhood of God" is a phrase which would have a significance for Roman citizen of the early Republic different from that which it has for a modern American - stern for the one, tender for the other.
In estimating the validity of a dogma, it must be projected against the alternatives to it within that sphere of thought. You cannot claim absolute finality for a dogma without claiming a commensurate finality for the sphere of thought within which it arose. If the dogmas of the Christian Church from the second the sixth centuries express finally and sufficiently the thoughts concerning the topics about which they deal, then the Greek philosophy of that period had developed a system of ideas of equal finality. You cannot limit the inspiration to a narrow circle of creeds.
A dogma - in the sense of a precise statement - can never be final; it can only be adequate in its adjustment of certain abstract concepts. But the estimate of the status of these concepts remains for determination.
You cannot rise above the adequacy of the terms you employ. A dogma may be true in the sense that it expresses such interrelations of the subject matter as are expressible within the set of ideas employed. But if the same dogma be used intolerantly so as to check the employment of other modes of analyzing the subject matter, then, for all its truth, it will be doing the work of a falsehood.
Progress in truth - truth of science and truth of religion - is mainly a progress in the framing of concepts, in discarding artificial abstractions or partial metaphors, and in evolving notions which strike more deeply into the root of reality.
The Three Traditions
Expression is the one fundamental sacrament. It is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. It follows that, in the process of forming a common expression of direct intuition, there is first a stage of primary expression into some medium of sense- experience which each individual contributes at first hand. No one can do this for another. It is the contribution of each to the knowledge of all.
This primary expression mainly clothes itself in the media of action and of words, but also partly of art. Their expressiveness to others arises from the fact that they are interpretable in terms of the intuitions of the recipients. Apart from such interpretation, the modes of expression remain accidental, unrationalized happenings of mere sense-experience; but with such interpretation, the recipient extends his apprehension of the ordered universe by penetrating into the inward nature of the originator of the expression. There is then a community of intuition by reason of the sacrament of expression proffered by one and received by the other.
But the expressive sign is more than interpretable. It is creative. It elicits the intuition which interprets it. It cannot elicit what is not there. A note on a tuning fork can elicit a response from a piano. But the piano has already in it the string tuned to the same note. In the same way the expressive sign elicits the existent intuition which would not otherwise emerge into individual distinctiveness. Again in theological language, the sign works ex opere operato, but only within the limitation that the recipient be patient of the creative action.
There is very little really first-hand expression in the world. By this I mean that most expression is what may be termed responsive expression, namely, expression which expresses intuitions elicited by the expressions of others. This is as it should be; since in this way what is permanent, important, and widely spread, receives more and more a clear definition.
But there is need for something more than this responsive expression. For it is not true that there is easy apprehension of the great formative generalities. They are embedded under the rubbish of irrelevant detail. Men knew a lot about dogs before they thought of backbones and of vertebrates. The great intuitions, which in their respective provinces set all things right, dawn but slowly upon history.
With this prevalence of responsive expression, we are used to a learned literature and to imitative conduct. When we get anything which is neither learned or imitative, it is often very evil. But sometimes it is genius.
The history of culture shows that originality of expression is not a process of continuous development. There are antecedent periods of slow evolution. Finally, as if touched by a spark, a very few persons, one, two, or three, in some particular province of experience, express completely novel intuitions. Such intuitions can be responded to, analyzed in terms of their relationships to other ideas, fused with other forms of experience, but as individual primary intuitions within their own province of experience they are not surpassed.
The world will not repeat Dante, Shakespeare, Socrates, or the Greek tragedians,. These men, in connection with the tiny groups forming their immediate environments of associates and successors and perhaps of equals, ad something once and for all. We develop in connection with them, but not beyond them, in respect to those definite intuitions which they flashed upon the world. These examples are taken from the circle of literature merely for the sake of easy inteligibility.
There are two points to be notices about them. In the first place, they are associated with a small stage fitted for their peculiar originality. Standardized size can do almost anything, except foster the growth of genius.
That is the privilege of the tiny oasis. Goethe surveyed the world, but it was from Weimar; Shakespeare is universal, but he lived in Elizabethan England. We cannot think of Socrates outside Athens.
The second characteristic is that their peculiar originality is the very element n their expression which remains unformularized. They deal with what all men know, and they make it new. They do not bring to the world a new formula nor do they discover new facts, but in expressing their apprehensions of the world, they leave behind them an element of novelty - a new expression forever evoking its proper response.
Some original men do express themselves in formulae: but the formula then expresses something beyond itself. The formula is then secondary to its meaning; it is, in a sense, a literary device. The formula sinks in importance, or even is abandoned; but its meaning remains as fructifying in the world, finding new expression to suit new circumstances. The formula was not wrong, but it was limited to its own sphere of thought.
In particular, the view that there are a few fundamental dogmas is arbitrary. Every true dogma which formulates with some adequacy the facts of a complex religious experience is fundamental for the individual in question and he disregards it at his peril. For formulation increases vividness of apprehension, and the peril is the loss of an aid in the difficult task of spiritual ascent.
But every individual suffers from invincible ignorance; and a dogma which fails to evoke any response in immediate apprehension stifles the religious life. There is no mechanical rule and no escape from the necessity of complete sincerity either way.
Thus religion is primarily individual, and the dogmas of religion are clarifying modes of external expression. The intolerant use of religious dogmas has practically destroyed their unity for a great, if not the greater part, of the civilized world.
Expression, and in particular expression by dogma, is the return from solitariness to society. There is no such thing as absolute solitariness. Each entity requires its environment. Thus man cannot seclude himself from society.
Even for individual intuitions outward expression is necessary, as a sacrament in which the minister and recipient are one. But further, what is known in secret must be enjoyed in common, and must be verified in common. The immediate conviction of the moment in this way justifies itself as a rational principle enlightening the objective world.
The great instantaneous conviction in this way becomes the Gospel, the good news. It insists on its universality, because it is either that or a passing fancy. The conversion of the Gentiles is both the effect of truth and the test of truth.
Thus the simplicity of inspiration has passed from its first expression into responsive experience. It then disengages itself from particular experience by formulation in precise dogmas, and so faces the transformations of history.
In this passage a religion coalesces with other factors in human life. It is expanded, explained, modified, adapted. If it was originally founded upon truth, it maintains its identity by its recurrence to the inspired simplicity of its origin. The dogmas are statements of how the complex world is to be expressed in the light of the intuitions fundamental to the religion. They are not necessarily simple in character or limited in number.
The Nature of God
The divergence in the expression of dogmas is most clearly shown in the two traditions of Buddhism and Christianity. This divergence is important because it reaches down to the most fundamental religious concepts, namely the nature of God, and the aim of life.
There are close analogies between the two religions. In both there is, in some sense, a saviour - Christ in the one, and the Buddha in the other. But their functions differ, according to the theologies of the two religions. In both, the souls of the blessed return to God. Again, this analogy cloaks a wide divergence; for the respective concepts of God, and the respective concepts of the meaning of the return of the soul, differ in both cases.
The moral codes have striking analogies. But again there are divergencies with flow naturally from the theological differences. To put it briefly, Buddhism, on the whole, discourages the sense of active personality, whereas Christianity encourages it. For example, modern European philosophy, which had its origin in Plato and Aristotle, after sixteen hundred years of Christianity reformulated its problems with increased attention to the importance of the individual subject of experience, conceived as an abiding entity with a transition of experiences. If Europe, after the Greek period, had been subject to the Buddhist religion, the change of philosophical climate would have been in the other direction.
This reformation of philosophy has emphasized the divergence. For the abiding individual substance, mind or matter, is now conceived as the subject supporting the transition of experiences. Thus, according to prevalent Western notions, the moral aims of Buddhism are directed to altering the first principles of metaphysics.
The absolute idealism, so influential in Europe and America during the last third of the nineteenth century, and still powerful notwithstanding the reaction from it, was undoubtedly a reaction towards Buddhistic metaphysics on the part of the Western mentality. The multiplicity of finite enduring individuals were relegated to a world of appearances, and the ultimate reality was centred in an Absolute.
But meanwhile science had appeared as a third organized system of thought which in respects played the part of a theology, by reason of the answers which it gave to current theological questions. Science suggested a cosmology; and whatever suggests a cosmology, suggest a religion.
From its very beginning in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, science emphasized ideas which modified the religious picture of the world. As the medieval picture dissolved, religion and philosophy equally received shock after shock, with a final culmination in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Philosophy, by its nature was less wedded to its aboriginal picture of the world than was religion. Accordingly it divided itself into two streams of thought One stream subordinated itself entirely to science, and has asserted its mission to be the discussion of the proper coordination of notions employed in current scientific practice. The other stream, which is that of absolute idealism, side-tracked science by proclaiming that science dealt with finite truths respecting a world of appearances; and that these appearances were not very real, and that these truths were not very true. It reserved for philosophy the determination of all that was to be known concerning the ultimate reality, and concerning our own participation in that final absolute fact.
The importance of rational religion in the history of modern culture is that it stands or falls with its fundamental position, that we know more than can be formulated in one finite systematized scheme of abstractions, however important that scheme may be in the elucidation of some aspect of the order of things.
The final principle of religion is that there is a wisdom in the nature of things, from which flow our direction of practice, and our possibility of the theoretical analysis of fact. It grounds this principle upon two sources of evidence, first upon our success in various special theoretical sciences, physical and otherwise; and secondly, upon our knowledge of a discernment of ordered relationships, especially in aesthetic valuations, which stretches far beyond anything which has been expressed systematically in words.
According to religion, this discernment of relationships forms in itself the very substance of existence. The formulations are the froth upon the surface. Religion insists that the world is mutually adjusted disposition of things, issuing in value for its own sake. This is the very point that science is always forgetting.
Religions commit suicide when they find their inspirations in their dogmas. The inspiration of religion lies in the history of religion. By this I mean that it is to be found in the primary expressions of the intuitions of the finest types of religious lives. The sources of religious belief are always growing, though some supreme expressions may lie in the past. Records of these sources are not formulae. They elicit in us intuitive response which pierces beyond dogma.
But dogmatic expression is necessary. For whatever has objective validity is capable of partial expression in terms of abstract concepts, so that a coherent doctrine arises which elucidates the world beyond the locus of the origin of the dogmas in question.
Also exact statements are the media by which identical intuitions into the world can be identified amid a wide variety of circumstances.
But the dogmas, however true, are only bits of the truth, expressed in terms which in some ways are over-assertive and in other ways lose the essence of truth. When exactly understood in relation to an exact system of philosophic thought, they may - or may not - be exactly true.
But in respect to this exact truth, they re very abstract - much more abstract than the representations of them in popular thought. Also in fact, there never has been any exact, complete system of philosophic thought, and there never has been any exact understanding of dogmas, an understanding which has been properly confined to strict interpretation in terms of a philosophic system, complete or incomplete.
Accordingly, though dogmas have their measure of truth, which is unalterable, in their precise forms they are narrow, limitative, and alterable: in effect untrue, when carried over beyond the proper scope of their utility.
A system of dogmas may be the ark within which the Church floats safely down the flood-tide of history. But the Church will perish unless it opens its window and lets out the dove to search for an olive branch. Sometimes even it will do well to disembark on Mount Ararat and build a new altar to the divine Spirit - an alter neither in Mount Gerizim nor yet at Jerusalem.
The decay of Christianity and Buddhism, as determinative influences in modern thought, is partly due to the fact that each religion has unduly sheltered itself from the other. The self- sufficient pedantry of learning and the confidence of ignorant zealots have combined to shut up each religion in its own forms of thought. Instead of looking to each other for deeper meanings, they have remained self-satisfied and unfertilized.
Both have suffered from the rise of the third tradition, which is science, because neither of them had retained the requisite flexibility of adaptation. Thus the real, practical problems of religion have never been adequately studied in the only way in which such problems can be studied, namely, in the school of experience.
One most obvious problem is how to save the intermediate imaginative representations of spiritual truths from loss of effectiveness, if the possibility of modifications of dogma are admitted. The religious spirit is not identical with dialectical acuteness. Thus these intermediate representations play a great part in religious life. They are enshrined in modes of worship, in popular religious literature, and in art. Religions cannot do without them; but if they are allowed to dominate, uncriticised by dogma or by recurrence to the primary sources of religious inspiration, they are properly to be termed idols. In Christian history, the charge of idolatry has been bandied to and fro among rival theologians. Probably, if taken in its wide sense, it rests with equal truth on all the main churches, Protestant, and Catholic. Idolatry is the necessary product of static dogmas.
But the problem of so handling popular forms of thought as to keep their full reference to the primary sources, and yet also to keep them in touch with the best critical dogmas of their times, is no easy one. The chief figures in the history of the Christian Church who seem to have grasped explicitly its central importance were, Origen in the Church of Alexandria, in the early part of the third century, and Erasmus in the early part of the sixteenth century. Their analogous fates show the wavering attitude of the Christian Church, culminating in lapses into dogmatic idolatry. It must, however, be assigned to the great credit of the Papacy of his time, that Erasmus never in his lifetime lost the support of the court of Rome. Unfortunately Erasmus, though a good man, was no hero, and the moral atmosphere of the Renaissance Papacy was not equal to its philosophic insight. In the phrase of Leo X, the quarrel of monks began; and yet another golden opportunity was lost, while rival pedants cut out neat little dogmatic systems to serve as the unalterable measure of the Universe.
The general history of religious thought, of which the Reformation perio is a particular instance, is that of the endeavour of mankind to interpret the great standard experiences as leading to a more definite knowledge than can be derived from a metaphysic which founds itself upon general experience.
There can be nothing inherently illegitimate in such an attempt. But if we attend to the general principles which regulate all endeavours after clear statement of truth, we must be prepared to amplify, recast, generalize, and adapt, so as to absorb into one system all sources of experience.
The earlier statements will be not so much as wrong, as obscured by trivial limitations, and as thereby implying an exclusion of complementary truths. The growth will be in the proportion of truth.
The doctrines - fundamental to religion - of the nature of God must be construed in this sense. It is in respect to this doctrine that the great cleavages of religious thought arise. The extremes are the doctrine of God as the impersonal order of the universe, and the doctrine of God as the one person creating the universe.
A general concept has to be construed in terms of a descriptive metaphysical system. In this concluding section of this course, we ask what can be said of the nature of God in terms of the metaphysical description which has been adopted as the basis of thought in this course of lectures, and which was more particularly described in the previous lecture.
To be an actual thing is to be limited. An actual thing is an elicited feeling-value, which is analyzable as the outcome of a graded grasping of the elements of the universe into the unity of one fact. This grasping together may be called a perception The grading means the grading of relevance of the various elements, so far as concerns their contribution to the one actual fact.
The synthesis is the union of what is already actual with what is, for that occasion, new for realization. I have called it the union of the actual ground with the novel consequent. The ground is formed by all the facts of the world, already actual and graded in their proportion of relevance. The consequent is constituted by all the ideal forms of possibility, graded in their proportion. The grading of the actual ground arises from the creativity of some actual fact passing over into a new form by reason of the fact itself. The new creativity, under consideration, has thus already a definite status in the world, arising from its particular origin. We can indifferently say that the grading arises from the status, or the status from the grading. They are different ways of saying the same thing.
The grading of the ideal forms arises from the grading of the actual facts. It is the union of the forms with the facts in such measure as to elicit a renewed feeling-value, of the type possible as a novel outcome from the antecedent facts.
Depth of value is only possible if the antecedent facts conspire in unison. Thus a measure of harmony in the ground is requisite for the perpetuation of depth into the future. But harmony is limitation. Thus rightness of limitation is essential for growth of reality.
Unlimited possibility and abstract creativity can procure nothing. The limitation, and the basis arising from what is already actual, are both of them necessary and interconnected.
Thus the whole process itself, viewed at any stage as a definite limited fact which has issued from the creativity, requires a definite entity, already actual among the formative elements, as an antecedent ground for the entry of the ideal forms into the definite process of the temporal world.
But such a complete aboriginal actuality must differ from actuality in process of realization in respect to the blind occasions of perceptivity which issue from process and require process. These occasions build up the physical world which is essentially in transition.
God, who is the ground antecedent to transition, must include all possibilities of physical value conceptually, thereby holding the ideal forms apart in equal, conceptual realization of knowledge. Thus, as concepts, they are grasped together in the synthesis of omniscience.
The limitation of God is his goodness. He gains his depth of actuality by h is harmony of valuation. It is not true that God is in all respects infinite. If He were, He would evil as well as good. Also this unlimited fusion of evil as well as good. Also this unlimited fusion of evil with good would mean mere nothingness. He is something decided and is thereby limited.
He is complete in the sense that his vision determines every possibility of value. Such a complete vision coordinates and adjusts every detail. Thus his knowledge of the relationships of particular modes of value is not added to, or disturbed, by the realization in the actual world of what is already conceptually realized in his ideal world. This ideal world of conceptual harmonization is merely a description of God himself. Thus the nature of God is the complete conceptual realization of the realm of ideal forms. The kingdom of heaven is God. But these forms are not realized by him in mere bare isolation, but as elements in the value of his conceptual experience. Also, the ideal forms are in God's vision as contributing to his complete experience, by reason of his conceptual realization f their possibilities as elements of value in any creature. Thus God is the one systematic, complete fact, which is the antecedent ground conditioning every creative act.
The depths of his existence lie beyond the vulgarities of praise or of power. He gives to suffering its swift insight into values which can issue from it. He is the ideal companion who transmutes what has been lost into a living fact within his own nature. He is the mirror which discloses to every creature its own greatness.
The kingdom of heaven is not the isolation of good from evil. It is the overcoming of evil by good. This transmutation of evil into good enters into the actual world by reason of the inclusion of the nature of God, which includes the ideal vision o f each actual evil so met with a novel consequent as to issue in the restoration of goodness.
God has in his nature the knowledge of evil, of pain, and of degradation, but it is there as overcome with what is good. Every fact is what it is, a fact of pleasure, of joy, of pain, or of suffering. In its union with God that fact is not a total loss, but on its finer side is an element to be woven immortally into the rhythm of mortal things. Its very evil becomes a stepping stone in the all-embracing ideals of God.
Every event on its finer side introduces God into the world. Through it his ideal vision is given a base in actual fact to which He provides the ideal consequent, as a factor saving the world from the self-destruction of evil. The power by which God sustains the world is the power of himself as the ideal. He adds himself to the actual ground from which every creative act takes its rise. The world lives by its incarnation of God in itself.
He transcends the temporal world, because He is an actual fact in the nature of things. He is not here as derivative from the world; He is the actual fact from which the other formative elements cannot be torn apart.
But equally it stands in his nature that He is the realization of the ideal conceptual harmony by reason of which there is an actual process in the total universe - an evolving world which is actual because there is order.
The abstract forms are thus the link between God and the actual world. These forms are abstract and not real, because in themselves they represent no achievement of actual value. Actual fact always means fusion into one perceptivity. God is one such conceptual fusion, embracing the concept of all such possibilities graded in harmonious, relative subordination. Each actual occasion in the temporal world is another such fusion. The forms belong no more to God than to any one occasion. Apart from these forms, no rational description can be given either of God or of the actual world. Apart from God, there would be no actual world; and apart from the actual world with its creativity, there would be no rational explanation of the ideal vision which constitutes God.
Each actual occasion gives to the creativity which flows from it a definite character in two ways. In one way, as a fact, enjoying its complex of relationships with the rest of the world, it contributes a ground - partly good and partly bad - for the creativity to fuse with a novel consequent, which will be the outcome of its free urge. In another way, as transmuted in the nature of God, the ideal consequent s its stands in his vision is also added. Thus God in the world is the perpetual vision of the road which leads to deeper realities.
God is that function in the world by reason of which our purposes are direct to ends which in our own consciousness are impartial as to our own interests. he is that element in life in virtue of which judgement stretches beyond facts of existence to values of existence. He is that element in virtue of which our purposes extend beyond values for ourselves to values for others. He is that element in virtue of which the attainment of such a value for others transforms itself into value for ourselves.
He is the binding element in the world. The consciousness which is individual in us, is universal in him: the love which is partial in us is all-embracing in him. Apart from him there could be no world, because there could be no adjustment of individuality. His purpose is always embodied in the particular ideals relevant to the actual state of the world. Thus all attainment is immortal in that it fashions the actual ideals which are God in the world as it is now. Every act leaves the world with a deeper or a fainter impress of God. He then passes into his next relation to the world with enlarged, or diminished, presentation of ideal values.
He is not the world, but the valuation of the world. In abstraction from the course of events, this valuation is a necessary metaphysical function. Apart from it, there could be no definite determination of limitation required for attainment. But in the actual world, He confronts what is actual in it with what is possible for it. Thus He solves all determinations.
The passage of time is the journey of the world towards the gathering of new ideas into actual fact. This adventure is upwards and downwards. Whatever ceases to ascend, fails to preserve itself and enters upon its inevitable path of decay. IT decays by transmitting its nature to slighter occasions of actuality, by reason of the failure of the new forms to fertilise the perceptive achievements which constitute its past history. The universe shows us two aspects: on one side it is physically wasting, on the other side it is spiritually ascending.
It is thus passing with a slowness, inconceivable in our measures of time, to new creative conditions, amid which the physical world, as we at present know it, will be represented by a ripple barely to be distinguished from nonentity.
The present type of order in the world has arisen from an unimaginable past, and it will find its grave in an unimaginable future. There remain the inexhaustible realm of abstract forms, and creativity, with its shifting character every determined afresh by its own creatures, and God, upon whose wisdom all forms of order depend.
Lecture 1 - Religion in History
Lecture 2 - Religion and Dogma
Lecture 3 - Body and Spirit
Lecture 4 - Truth and Criticism
Editorial - Commentary and Resources