« ПретходнаНастави »
shown to be the rightful domain of this science, it is important to look at the nature of the argument on which its conclusions rest. We remark, then, that its whole strength lies in the conscious separate agency of our own minds. It is founded entirely on the recognition, that there is something within us, independent of matter, and conscious of its own existence, which we call mind ; and thus comparing the marks of design which we see around us with our own mental exercises. The feeling is irresistible, - If I had such a design in view, I should use some such means. In other words, the application, so nicely, of such means to such purposes, forces the conviction, that somewhere there exists an independent, intelligent mind, the same in kind as that of wbich we are in conscious possession; though as much superior to ours, as his designs are the more vast and complicated. The first point, therefore, is, the admission of the separate existence and conscious agency of our own minds; for it is only froin this, we can inser the separate existence of other minds. This fundamental principle in the argument from design, has been too much overlooked by the great mass of writers on the subject of natural theology. They not only have taken almost all their examples of design from the material world; but neglected the question of the mind's separate existence and agency, though this must lie at the basis of all their reasoning. The sceptic, against whom their arguments are directed, is the last to adınit,-probably strenuous in denying,—the separate existence and immateriality of his own soul. He does not deny the fact of apparent order, fitness, and adaptation to an end, in the parts of the universe with which he is acquainted; he simply denies, that these facts prove any thing in relation to the existence of an independent intelligence. While he assumes this, the exhibition to him of ten thousand proofs of adaptation and design, has no tendency to produce conviction. The first point to be gained, is the recognition of his own mind as a distinct and separate agent; and then, from the nature of its agency in adapting means to ends, we can press home the argument of the existence of other minds from the same marks of design. Without this, the whole array of argument from all the traces of design in the universe, will make no inipression upon the false refuges in which the atheist or the sceptic have intrenched themselves.
Nor is the proof of this at all difficult. It is the shortest, and therefore the clearest, process of deduction which reason can make. There is no other fact to wbich we can come from so sure a starting point, or by so short a step. Our senses may deceive us. In some respects they do deceive us, until one sense is corrected by another, or by experience. Thus in respect to distance, motion, solidity, absolute contact, etc., it is matter of demonstration, that the first impressions of our senses are delusive. But the process Vol. VIII.
which proves the separate existence of mind, admits of no deception. It is a subject of consciousness, about which it is not possible to conceive of deception, that we think, desire, or reason; and while we are conscious of these exercises, a deduction of but a single step brings us to the inevitable conclusion of an individual existence, to which they belong. Indeed to say, that that which thinks, feels, and reasons, and which is the only conscious subject of the identity of these acts, does not itself exist, is a contradiction in terms. The absurdity at once puts the man who pretends to maintain it, out of the pale of all rational argumentation. But when the fact of its own existence and separate agency is admitted, the argument from design is as forcible and conclusive as any other deduction which the mind can make. It is irresistible. We may talk of chance,--the fortuitous concurrence of atoms,—the formative or recuperative powers of nature,—and blind ourselves by words that mean nothing, or, if any thing, the very meaning in dispute; but when the real point is seen,
the mind is not and cannot be satisfied. It is conscious both of the reality and the manner of its agency, in all its works of design, and from the law of its own action, it cannot rest satisfied in any trace of design which it meets, without referring it to a separate and intelligent author. This is the very constitution of our nature. It is an ultimate fact, and can be included in none more general, that from our own intelligent agency in all our acts of design, we are irresistibly obliged to refer all indisputed marks of design to some intelligent author. And when in any such case that author is found, the mind is satisfied. It rests as completely secure of the truth of its deduction, as in the most rigid demonstration of mathematical science. All this applies not only to the fact of the existence of the designer, but as clearly and in the same way, to his attributes and charaoter. His power and wisdom are seen in proportion to the extent and perfection of the adaptation; and his benevolence from the happiness,—the good,—it is his manifest design to produce by such adaptation. In each case we reason irresistibly from the conscious laws of our own agency. The mind is as satisfied in the deduction of attributes and moral character from the nature of the design, as it is of the existence of the author from the fact of design.
It is also important to remark, that each separate fact of design, is itself a distinct source of complete demonstration. An inspection of one moving steam-engine, proves an intelligent author as conclusively before as after we have watched the operation of a thousand. The number of instances which bespeak design, are useful, not so much to prove the existence, as to show in the diversified manner of operation, the attributes and relations of the author. Equally obvious is it, that if any particular fact be wrongly se
lected, and the supposed traces of design be afterwards found to exist only in appearance, and not in fact; it can but destroy the argument from that particular example alone, without weakening or at all interfering with other cases that stand independent of it.
With this understanding of the nature of the argument from design, we shall make it our object, in the second place, to show the conclusiveness of its application. For the purpose of a more distinct impression, we will compare it with the deductions of natural and mental philosophy, in those particulars where there is an agreement; and thus lay down the proposition which we think Lord Brougham should have expressed,--that the deductions of natural theology are as sound and conclusive as those in any of the philosophical sciences, natural, mental, or moral.
A very great proportion of philosophical science is occupied in observing the relations, tendencies, and adaptation of things, and from these deducing conclusions, in relation to effects, ends to be attained, or things to be done, the final causes of the facts which are to be considered ; and in all these particulars, they are analogous to the course pursued by natural theology. These elements of philosophical science, involve the recognition of the separate existence and agency of our own mind, as much as those of natural theology. The ideas which we attach to the terms cause, tendency, fitness, adaptation, etc., are derived only from the conscious action of our minds. The mere sequence of events, though perpetual, would never account for these ideas. Because night follows day, we do not therefore feel that one bas a tendency or is adapted to produce the other; nor because one hour in the day invariably follows another, do we from this derive any idea of such a relation between them. Nor were there nothing but the fact, that vision followed the admission of light to the eye, should we ever form the idea that light was adapted to the purpose of vision. The possession of a quality is always supposed in one which constitutes its power over the other. We feel that it is something inherent in light, and not the mere sequence of vision to its admission, --something in it, which is not in heat, or air, or any thing else in nature, that gives it its adaptation to the ends of vision. But this idea of inherent adaptation, is derived from the conscious operation of our own minds alone. Our will modifies our train of thought, and controls our outward actions. We are conscious of this inherent power. We learn from its agency its adaptation to its end. Here is the origin of all ideas of tendency and adaptation. It springs from the recognition of the conscious
agency our own minds. The sceptic who will deny the deductions of natural theology, because they presuppose the separate actions of our own minds, must also discard the whole round of natural science, and blot out all ideas of relation, ten
dency, and adaptation ; for they inevitably involve the same fact. Philosophical science, therefore, inasmuch as it is conversant with these qualities, stands upon the same ground with natural theology.
But ihere is another mistake which has operated as a reason why, as Lord Brougham has said, “ many scientific men regard natural theology as a speculation, built rather upon fancy than argument; or at any rate, as a kind of knowledge quite different from either physical or moral science.” It arises from the fact of not discerning, that they are the same, so far as tendency, adaptation and design are concerned, except simply the difference of a shorter or longer process. A very commom mistake exists on another subject quite analogous to this, and which may serve as an illustration. It is the general practice to divide the method of acquiring knowledge into two kinds, and call one “the knowledge of sensation,' the her “knowledge of reflection.” We thus separate that method of acquiring knowledge, which is through the medium of the external senses, from that which is gained by the mind's own internal operations. But in reality, there is no ground for this distinction. The process in both has been the same, except that one has been longer than the other. For example, take the common element of water : it is palpable and yielding to the pressure ; and we call it a Muid, the knowledge of whose existence, it is supposed, has been acquired from the immediate consciousness of our senses. But when we have taken into view the different gases which enter into its composition, and their combinations in a certain proportion, and have thus gained a knowledge of the component elements of water, this is said to be the result of experiment and reason. In fact, however, the knowledge both of its existence and its component elements, has been the result of a mental operation. Let the sense of touch be perfect, and perform its function completely, but cut off from the process all the deductions of the mind, and what knowledge could there be ? The nerves have borne to the sensorium the mere fact of a specific affection or impression, and thus furnish materials for a mental operation ; but independent of the deductions of the mind, there is nothing which can properly be called knowledge. The sensation from the touch, was connected with the consciousness of the mind's own existence, and gave rise to the inference, that something else, external and independent to itself, also existed; and thus, by a process of abstraction and comparison, and a distinct deduction, the knowledge of the existence of water was derived. But a few more links added to the same chain, brings the mind also to a knowledge of its constituent elements. The process is the same, except as to the difference in length. So of colors. Objects are differently illuminated, and thus modify the impression upon the organs of vision. Hence we say, that color is a quality, the knowledge of which is derived from sensation. Yet it is necessary bere, as in the former case, that the mind should recognize its own exis:ence, the existence independently of itself, of an external quality, and discriminate between the diversity of colors, or there could have been no knowledge of the given color. Here is a mental operation as really as when all the seven primary colors have been separated, and their qualities separately apprehended, and the laws of reflection understood; and thus a philosophical knowledge of the law of colors and their combination, in the composition of light, has been gained. One is longer than the other, but this affords no good reason for supposing them diferent in kind.
It is thus in those particulars in which philosophical science and natural theology harmonize. In all that relates to tendency, adaptation, or cause and effect, they proceed in their deductions upon the same principl. They are the same in kind, the only difference is that of length. Natural theology goes over precisely the same ground, and with the same measured and cautious footstep as philosophy ; but when philosophy has reached the goal of its inquiries, and stops short in the course, theology advances farther on, and arrives at a far more sublime and commanding position. It adds some more links to the chain, because its point of demonstration is farther removed; but they are as rigidly consecutive, and as firmly bound together, as any part of the whole series. Natural philosophy goes abroad over the works of nature, gathering facts, observing their peculiarities and correspondencies, and tracing out each, through their various adaptations, to the uses and ends to which they are subservient. It is perpetually conversant with tendency, harmony of proportion, order, design, and nice and minute adaptation ; indeed it rests upon the admission of these facts. But its whole object is completed in simply deducing from these laboriously gathered elements, the uses they subserve, and the ultimate ends in which they terminate. Natural theology, on the other hand, goes over this same broad field of wonders, takes up the same facts, arranges them in the same order, and follows them out through all their tendencies and adaptations, and sees as plainly their final causes; but neither wearied in the pursuit nor deluded with the splendor of its discoveries, it leaves philosophy here to muse in solitude, and fixing its eye distinctly upon the clear traces of intelligent design and wise contrivance, which these nice adaptations disclose, follows upward with cautious but firm footstep to the distinct perception of the great intelligent Designer ; learns his attributes, and reads in deep-drawn characters, the obligations and responsibilities which rest upon all the ranks of bis moral subjects. Though it bas gone on immeasurably beyond the resting-place of philosophy, every step has been taken in the same way, and been