He blew what's what, and that's as high As metaphysic wit can fly.
Persons of other races are not so confident in their assumptions about what's what. Indeed, there is not in the whole world a scientifically trained mind that would refuse to acknowledge the Anglo-Saxon's superior certitude. That, however, is not exactly a reason for being proud. Metaphysical curiosity is caused by discovering that the nature of things still holds many unexplained phenomena. It is merely intelligent reflection. That being so, if I were an avowed Anglo-Saxon I should drop the time-dimmed taunt. It had a certain meritorious jocundity when it fell from King George's impatient lips; but it is not very good as a wheeze. Therefore, I venture to retain the digressions. They arose in the course of observing natural phenomena while angling, and came to mind again while writing about those phenomena. Instead of pretending to solve any philosophical questions, they are intended only to indicate what some of those questions were, as freshly rediscovered for oneself. This I mention because a very eminent thinker, in a letter which I felt it a high honour to receive, said: "As to one point I agree with you entirely—namely, that Calvinism is merely an unscientific form of scientific Determinism; but I cannot acquiesce in your suggestion that a snowstorm such as you describe can be regarded as other than a necessary occurrence, determined by an unbroken chain of causes, unless we throw Science overboard altogether." Well, I did not mean to suggest that the snowstorm actually was other than the inevitable outcome of an unbroken, unimpeded, uncorrected sequence of forces having their origin in a past inconceivably remote. I was, indeed, rather disposed to regard it in the light of that thought On the other hand, there seemed to be no harm in indicating the understanding about the Control of the universe to which we are logically driven by adopting the hypothesis of Determinism. It leads to the conclusion, for example, that, although a man could cause a snow-shower in a ballroom, God could not cause one on a mountain. Perhaps it would be fairer to phrase the proposition as meaning that, although man could make the experiment, God would not do so: that showers or other events on a mountain are too insignificant to be caused, or left uncaused, by the direct interposition of God: that all such events arise in the natural, automatic fulfilment of co-ordinated laws. I can believe this; but at the same time I cannot help respecting a contradictory thought which, though much less self-evident, is not less compelling. The contradictory thought is that to suppose God incapable of taking an interest in trivial things is to make a very large and utterly unphilosophical assumption about the nature of the Deity. It must be remembered that the Infinite is of no dimension. The Infinitely Great is also the Infinitely Little. This earth itself is as but a speck in the universe. For aught we know, therefore, God may have as much to do with the fall of a sparrow as with the rise of a planet; as much to do with a change of wind as with a change of dynasty; as much to do with the thoughts of a peasant like Burns, or of a patriot like Sergeant Mulvaney, as with the actions of an (Ecumenical Council. Whatever is conceivable is possible; and, for all that Physical Science has to say, it certainly is conceivable that the Architect of the Universe has not yet finished with the cosmos, or with the creation of man, the evolution of his understanding, in relation to it. On that hypothesis, which can be ruled out of order only by obeying the bias of the consciously incomplete reasoning which renders free will seemingly impossible, certain phenomena even in what is called the material universe may possibly have an immediate cause, or an approximate cause, undetected by the Determinist. At any rate, it seems a sheer impossibility to explain certain psychical phenomena, such as Genius, excepting on the hypothesis that God is in His own world, still active, still uttering new creations, new entities which in their characteristic essences are perhaps more than what was latent in the germs of life at the beginning of things. Surely it is not at all ridiculous to have that thought ? I myself consider it, though with modesty, rather scientific. I make that remark in order to lead up to a respectful comment on the letter of my eminent friend. " Unless we are to throw Science overboard altogether," we must predicate determinism in nature. I quite perceive. It is only by being sure that the laws of nature will continue working as they have worked that we can have ordered knowledge, Science. Science, mans ordered knowledge, which develops into prescience, is based on the assumption that the universe is governed by orderly laws with the working of which there is never the slightest interference. Is not that, however, assuming a good deal ? The syllogism would seem to run thus: Man has a Science of nature, the external universe; Science presupposes undeviating order, under the reign of known laws, in the universe; Therefore, the universe works, under known laws, in undeviating order. This would be quite acceptable if the major premiss were not a stumbling-block; but it is. Within little more than a year Science has made such progress that it has cancelled its supposititious title to something like certainty on a universal scale. The atom, until quite recently taken to be the irreducible minimum of matter, is now known to be a group of electrons, and these electrons, instead of being material, are modes of energy. Hitherto a harmless toy to be looked at through a microscope in a laboratory, the Atom is now, as it were, a torpedo, and at the bare discovery of its nature Materialism, not long ago the Science of half the educated world, surrenders unconditionally. That, to be sure, is no reason why Science should be abandoned altogether; but it seems to be a reason why it should review itself and its scope, and readapt itself to its environs in the syllogism. Although it is believed that there is not now in the world anything of the nature of what we used to mean by " matter," there is certainly a tangible substitute. Energy in masses is as real as masses of substance. Quite probably it is governed by the laws that seemed to govern it when we thought it "matter"; but it is surely improbable that, however thoroughly we may discover the conditions of its being and the laws of its changes, we shall ever be able to identify it with the psychic energies which are indubitably as actual as itself. May it be that here we have a clue to the secret of the universe ? May it be that, while what are called physical phenomena are governed by co-ordinated and undeviating laws, psychical phenomena are outside the scope of these, and so outside the scope of Science? May it be that certain psychical energies, such as those of Genius, are free, unfettered, in accord with the Infinite; themselves creative, indeed; as when a great Poet, or a great Romanticist, or a great Soldier, or a great Sovereign, arises to reawake the vitality of a race, the response of the race to the call of Genius being itself a free, though not an unconditioned, impulse of the creative kind? That the responsive impulse is conditioned by an intelligent perception does not oblige us to conclude that it lacks freedom. It means only that the impulse is sane.—On this theory man might renew belief in the reality of his own will, and in a Deity who is something more than the inert witness of Evolution, a helpless subject of his own sovereignty devolved in automatic ordinances.