Now, if these premises were demonstrably correct, we might safely rely upon the conclusion. But they are not correct. The first may be assumed to be practically true, for the sake of the argument; but the desire for continued life beyond the grave may be explained upon other grounds, namely, upon the instinctive desire to prolong life. This 'nstinct is shared with man by all the animal creation, and pertains, primarily, to the preservation of animal existence. Man soon learns that continued animal existence is impossible. He sees that all must die; but, as "hope springs eternal in the human breast," he conceives the hope that he may, somehow, live after the death of the body. The existence of the desire for immortality is, therefore, traceable directly to the purely animal instinct of self-preservation.
The second premise is intrinsically absurd. It is obvious that the brain of man may conceive of many objects of desire which are manifestly impossible of realization, as well as non-existent. In the Christian mythology of Milton the idea is developed of a rival power - Satan - in heaven almost, but not quite, equal to God. In the struggle which ensued from a rebellion of Satan he was cast out, and set up a kingdom of his own on this earth. Now, a strictly orthodox person might say that this was merely an allegorical representation of an existent fact. But suppose the poet had gone a step further, and had represented Satan as going outside the universe and Mating up a rival universe of his own. Would that conception have proved that an outside universe is possible or existent?1
Again, the existence of a Supreme Being is thought to have been demonstrated by the argument of Socrates wherein he confuted Aristodemus the atheist, and used the statues of Polycletus and the pictures of Zeuxis to illustrate the idea that, as the structure of the universe shows evidence of design, therefore there must have been a designer. Theology has never improved upon this argument, and Paley makes the same use of the watch for an illustration as Socrates did of the statues and pictures. It is a strong argument, but it does not reach the point which the human heart desires to have demonstrated. Nor does it add force to, but rather weakens, the argument which is found by all reflecting minds in every tree, leaf, bud, or flower. It simply proves the existence of a force, which all admit.
What the human heart desires, and what the human mind seeks, are proofs of the existence of a God, not of mere intelligence and potentiality, but such a God as Jesus characterized, - a God of love and benevolence, a God who sustains the relation of Father to all humanity.
It seems to me that in seeking within the realm of human desire for an argument in proof either of immortality or the existence of a Supreme Being, theologians have failed to make a necessary distinction between desires which may or may not be universal and inherent, and desires which have their source in the affectional emotions. It is upon the latter only that an argument can be logically predicated.
1 One of the most eminent and fair-minded theologians in the United States, who has kindly read the manuscript of this work and indulgently criticised its contents, suggests that I have not treated the standard theological argument quite fairly, in that I should have stated the second proposition less broadly • that the desire referred to is instinctive desire, and should have been so limited. I freely admit that as careful and candid a reasoner as he would naturally so limit the statement of the proposition. But not all theologians are as candid and logical. However, I provisionally accept his limitation, and reply that the answer to the amended second proposition is embraced in the answer to the first.
And I may go further, and say that an argument logically predicated upon the affectional emotions, is demonstrative. It is true that some of the emotions of the soul seem to pertain exclusively to this life; but not all. The emotion of religious worship pertains solely to that invisible power which we call God. Nevertheless, we may employ the others for illustration. Let us see how this doctrine applies to the subject under consideration. Putting it in syllogistic form, we have the following: -
1. The affectional emotions are universal attributes of every normally developed human mind.
2. No affectional emotion can have an existence in the normally developed human mind in the absence of an object of affection capable of reciprocal feeling.
Therefore, when a normally developed human being experiences the emotion of love or affection, there is necessarily existent an object of love or affection normally capable of reciprocal emotion.
Thus, the emotion of friendship presupposes the friendly relation existing between man and his fellow-man.
The emotion of sexual love presupposes the sexual relation and the existence of persons of the opposite sex normally capable of reciprocal emotion.
The emotion of parental love presupposes the relation of parent and child, each normally capable of reciprocal attachment.
It follows that the emotion of religious worship presupposes the existence of an object of worship capable of reciprocal emotion.
If this is not the correct interpretation of the universal sentiment of worship which is inherent in the breast of every normal human being, then there is an exception to the laws which govern every other human emotion. As there are no exceptions in the operation of nature's laws, the conclusion is inevitable, not only that the emotion of religious worship is normal, but that it is the one phenomenal attribute of the soul which gives to man indubitable evidence of his Divine origin, and demonstrates the existence of a God of love. It is the connecting link between man and his Creator. It is the instinctive manifestation of filial affection which proclaims our Divine pedigree, and demonstrates the universal brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God.
"Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee".