has been considered religion’s most
formidable enemy. On the contrary it is destined to be religion’s
savior and redeemer.
Religion has sunk to abject impotence in the life of humanity because it has abandoned science in the ancient day, suppressed and thwarted science in its late medieval and modern resurgence and looked at it with jealousy in the whole period of its manifestation. All in all it is an amazing and nearly incredible story and it has never been told in the glaring light of its full revelation hitherto.
The gist of the broad sweeping truth in the foregoing statements can be compacted in the one comprehensive affirmation that religion in very early times turned from the exploitation of its highest values in the world of the natural and sought them in the field of the supernatural. It shifted the area of its operations and realizations from the regular and common procedure of cosmic law over to the realm of the magical and the miraculous. No founder of a religion was considered to have presented adequate credentials until he had demonstrated his power to work "miracles". If he could not heal the sick and maimed, the lame and blind, he did not come properly certified as an authentic proclaimer of the power of God. The prime word in all religion became "conversion". Religion was considered to be doing its work when it transformed a natural man over into a person who had put himself in contact with a power outside himself which would take him out of nature and bless him with adventitious and exceptional influences. The field of religion came to be regarded as lying not in the world of commonplace events under nature, but reaching into an area of special dispensation, of extraordinary manifestation, of transcendental causality. Religion was to take a man out of the world and make him a citizen of a diviner kingdom, in which he would no longer be amenable to the currents and forces that affect the man of the natural world, but would enjoy an immunity from them along with a liberty stated by revered Scriptures to be the unique portion of the elect and the redeemed.
Religion thus aimed to liberate its votaries from the sluggish bondage to the natural and elevate them to a state of blessedness in a boundless freedom in the world of spirit.
There are grounds for comprehending the course of this development in world religion and seeing it, in part at least, as the inevitable result of forces generated from given historical situations and working ahead in wrong directions. Nevertheless it represents tragic misfortune for mankind. Our concern here is to demonstrate that it was in toto due to religion’s defection from and hostility to science.[Page 4]
THE BROADENING SCOPE OF SCIENCE
It becomes necessary at the outset to render a definition of "science" that will clarify and justify the theses of this essay and make supportable the broad assertions already put forth.
At the mention of the word "science," the modern mind generally jumps at a meaning that has come to be conventionally linked with it, but which is nevertheless inadequate for the truth and is unjustly narrow and circumscribed. The term carries generally the limited connotation of physical science. "Modern science" commonly stands for the specialized achievements in physics, mechanics, chemistry, biology, archaeology, geology and all the ramifications of these covering matter, its composition and formations, laws and phenomena. By "science," in brief, is meant generally material science.
But there is no justifiable reason to impose on science this severe limitation and circumscription. Science is "classified or organized certified knowledge." Must it be limited to knowledge in only one of the two worlds in which man lives, moves and has his being?
The universe is admittedly composed of two things, which now may be denominated two forces or simply two modes of being. These are consciousness and matter. Or maybe they can now be called just subjectivity and objectivity. The universe is constituted of consciousness and things through and of which to be conscious. A subject, mind, individualized in countless beings, lives in awareness of countless objects. Science has all too preponderantly been held to be that body of knowledge which the subject knows of the object world, and that only. There has been an inveterate timidity about broadening it out to include what man knows or can learn about his own consciousness in the domain of science.
The present age has been marked by a welcome breach in this tradition. There is evident a widening of the definition and scope of science. It is now being extended inward from the external physical field to cover the laws of life as they manifest in the world of sensation, emotion, thought and spiritual intelligence. In science are now included such studies as psychology, ethics, religion, philosophy, logic, epistemology and the range of phenomena and operation of law in all the activity of consciousness.
It is of course with science in this its ampler scope that this series of productions in the field of religion, Bible interpretation, philosophy, psychology, mythology and anthropology will deal. Heretofore, when any one has spoken of the introduction of science into religion, the impact of the phrase has lacked force and validity. And so far as any concrete outcome of an effort to attain that end has come into view, the linking of the two has generally worked to the disparagement of science. The "scientific" treatment of religion has tended to discredit science because the handling of religion has always remained most unscientific, and if [Page 5] the ostensible outcome was the way science worked in religion, it was so much the worse for our view of science. Religion, then, still remains largely without the pale of true scientific method, and the genuine marriage between science and religion still awaits consummation.
It is almost a disease of modern scholasticism, engendered by great achievement in many fields, to esteem the present enlightenment of civilized culture as the supreme peak of man’s advance, and consequently to rate all previous effort as of far lower rank and quality. With lenses adjusted to this view, the survey of all cultures in that recent period of around three thousand years ago, so naively called "ancient," has yielded the inevitable characterization of all civilization at that epoch as "primitive". In the face of multiple evidence revealing the presence at that "remote" time of cultures possibly surpassing our own vaunted type, the habit of rating as primitive all forms found then extant has persisted to this day. It seems never to have occurred to the academic mind that, as world civilization goes in waves of progression and alternate recession, the apparently low state of enlightened culture found, or allegedly found, about 3000 years ago, may have been the stale degradation of what had been very high and vigorously fresh attainment at the apex of previous hoary civilizations. The evidence accumulates that this was the case.
As the more generous and more liberally appreciative modern study of comparative religion extends its depth and scope, it becomes more apparent that India had even a millennium or two ago an insight into the detail of man’s subjective consciousness that western psychology has never even remotely matched. The science of consciousness itself, the study of the nature and laws of the mind or psyche, had been the special subject of Hindu contemplation for centuries. The grades, levels compartments and categories of conscious states have there been scrutinized with a particularity and minuteness, and organized into a chart or system of relations and values, such as has never been equated anywhere else. India specialized in the consciousness of consciousness itself and in a way that, so far as it accords with verity, deserves the honored title of a great science. Her mode and approach was that of analyzing the forms of consciousness as they were themselves felt and experienced. India focused consciousness upon its own modes and operations and scientifically analyzed the data it caught in this view.
GREEK RATIONALIZATION — EGYPTIAN SYMBOLISM
Greece veered somewhat away from the purely subjective method and systematized the powers and functions of consciousness on the basis of a dialectical and logical harmony with the laws of the living creative process. Discovering, or being taught, that the world was a systematic development of a logoic design, in which every phenomenon bore its communal relation to the wellbeing of the whole, Greek thought steered away in general from mystical experience toward a rational effort to [Page 6] synthesize all the elements of knowledge into a grand unity of vision and understanding. Every phase of her knowledge was made to fit into the intellectual structure of the whole. If the average unschooled American thinks that either of these, the Hindu or the Greek, lacked profundity and organic complexity of the most amazing sort, he does but register his uncouth ignorance of what any student shortly finds out. If he could muster the acumen to comprehend what he can read in such a volume as The Six Books of Proclus on the Theology of Plato, or Aristotle’s Metaphysics or De Anima (Concerning the Soul) or Iamblichus’ Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, he would become aware that the "ancient" envisagement of the problems of consciousness and religion embraced a range of scientific knowledge that by comparison reduces the profoundest of modern spiritual enterprise to veritable childishness.
But it is when we come to study the methodological approach of the ancient Egyptians that we come upon a basis for a science of man’s life in consciousness that introduces the modern mind to a hitherto undreamed-of possibility of re-injecting into religion its own primordial principles of a true science.
Ancient Egyptian sagacity utilized a principle which was so fundamentally reliable, and at the same time so edifying and instructive, that its subsequent loss out of cultural effort among the Eastern nations practically led to the obscuration of all right intellectual systematism in religion and philosophy, psychism and morality for all ensuing centuries. Its loss indeed appears to have plunged the world that succeeded that era into an abysmal depth of nescience and darkness of mind, a fact largely attested by the historical incidence of a thousand years which have been designated the Dark Ages.
The great principle of enlightenment referred to, which was veritably the fount of human knowledge, or the pointed index and criterion of knowledge, enabled the Sages and Illuminati of Egypt to envisage all truth and understanding in the most strictly scientific manner. This is the last thing that would possibly be expected to be said by any modern scholar; and its being said here could come to be an epochal event. Yet it is said because it is true; and the recognition of the fact and its implications would make possible the regeneration of religious systematism in all the world. It would enable religion to regain its ancient place of honor in the realm of true science. It would lift religion at one stroke out of its deplorable enmiring in the morasses of pietistic "faith" and craven sycophancy into which it has been sunk by following hopeless mirages of false conception.
While India sought truth in the world of self-introversion, and Greece in the domain of organic rationalism, Egypt followed a simpler, yet withal a more dialectically certain methodology, which was at once [Page 7] both a signboard pointing the road to truth, a light to guide the mind to it, and a norm or standard by which to test any findings and correct false conclusions. What was this magic key that the Egyptians possessed, and which the later world has lost?
THE GREAT HERMETIC MAXIM
It can not be stated in a word or a sentence; but in briefest form, it was the method of nature symbolism. The first enunciation of it after this grandiose fanfare of anticipatory heralding, doubtless will lack thrilling significance for most readers. Nature symbolism! That, the general reader will feel like saying, is something for poets to toy with; or, as Kipling repeats in his Jungle Book, something "nice, but nubbly." That will lend itself well to poetic mood, to poetic fancy; but what can it contribute to science? How can it be more scientific than Greek rationalism or Hindu mysticism? It may lend itself helpfully to imaginative literature; philosophers might use it to good effect in light touches; it would embellish sermons. But it is entirely too slight a foundation for a great world structure of dynamic religion.
But nothing reveals so categorically the poverty and shallowness of modern cultural insight as does a judgment of this kind. Its paltry evaluation of the thing that has been here named "nature symbolism" is one of the most glaring evidences and marks of the still lingering night of those same Medieval Dark Ages. And world emergence out of those murky shadows will come only when nature symbolism is restored to its once dominant place of luciferian power in human thinking.
It was the towering Sage of Egyptian wisdom Hermes, dubbed Thrice-Greatest by the Greeks, who announced in the first sentence on that famous Emerald Tablet of Hermes, the great basic truth that is here in discussion. He wrote: "True, without falsehood, certain and most true, that which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above, for the performance of the miracles of the One Thing. And as all things are from One, by the mediation of One, so all things have their birth from this One Thing by adaptation. The Sun is its father, The Moon its mother, the Wind carries it in its belly, its nurse is the earth. This is the father of all perfection, or consummation of the whole world. Its power is integrating, if it be turned into earth."
The mighty law here stated in didactic form is that which posits the total organic integrity of the universe. The world of life is an integer. Both its conscious subjective and its unconscious objective aspects reflect the same one mental pattern. One supreme mind was the creator of it all. And as that mind exerted thought energy to produce the objective worlds, it must then follow that the outer physical worlds reflect the forms of the thoughts that created them. Material things and [Page 8] phenomena then are God’s thoughts come to their epiphany in the domain of creatural perception.
The objects in the nature world are the structural patterns of God’s archetypal thoughts, which have taken form like a block of marble carved by a sculptor. They indeed are those ideas, now turned to wood and stone, as one might take a wraith and solidify it in its transparent shape. Objects are God’s thoughts crystallized in concrete matter. By studying them, their history, their habitudes and qualities, one may read the Creator’s mind after him; for here they stand in objective presence before one’s eyes.
The outer world, then, is the mirror reflecting cosmic truth and inexpugnable reality. Nature holds up her glass to truth and one has but to peer into it to see the reflected image of truth — and oneself likewise. For man is equally legibly pictured in that same mirror. This is necessarily so, for man is an integral part and portion of this same true world. Emerson has so well phrased this idea: "Man stands midway betwixt the inner spirit and the outer matter. He sees that the one imitates and reflects the other; that the world is a mirror of the soul. And he becomes a priest and interpreter of nature thereby." All too long has lain unrecognized as a normative principle of the Christian religion the definitive statement of St. Paul: "That which may be known of God is manifest; for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood from those things which are made, even his eternal power and Godhood." The mind of Christianism has never given close enough heed to the principle which the Apostle here enunciated. It was in essence the basic platform of the high religion of old Egypt. Christianity has in fact never heard distinctly what he said; for if it had, it would not have displayed a total blank of exegetical and practical consequence of the knowledge and application of so mighty a principle incorporated in its own faith by its real founder. What he is saying is both simple and of transcendent momentousness at the same time.
It is that man needs only to look at the world of outer things and their phenomena to see a perfect replica of all higher things, the realities of the super-world of spiritual being. If he longs for truth, he need not, in Hindu fashion, shut out the external world and probe tirelessly into the phenomena of inner consciousness in its shadowy mystical intuitions. He has only to open his eyes on the world outside him to behold the forms and norms of truth substantialized in living concreteness before him.
To be sure, he must be taught to pierce through the opacity of the objective crystallization before him to descry the formation of the structure of truth that is there in living reality. This art can be acquired, although it is an art demanding the highest philosophical astuteness. It requires not so much the exertion of brilliant genius as [Page 9] the intellectual sincerity of na�ve directness. It takes not the sophistication of intellect but the straightforward candor of the mind in registering what one sees. It is an opening of the eye to clear seeing. It must be urged to discovery by the antecedent knowledge that nature is such an open book, whose pages, paragraphs and sentences are the phenomena in every field, wood, lake, brook, garden, hill and glade. For "the true doctrine of the Omnipresence," says Emerson, "is that God is present in all his parts in every moss and cobweb."
The first requisite is that the mind should take full cognizance of what the eye beholds and in a fashion brood over it till it begins to tell the story of its divine beauty, its marvels of adaptation to given utility and its harmony with all other phenomena observed. Little by little the things seen will unfold their relevance to the order, coherence, symmetry and loveliness and finally the entire beneficence of their total unity, and so will build in the mind the structure of the cosmic Logos.
The whole sublime significance of the principle is found expressed in its most epigrammatic yet most enthralling form in a terse maxim culled from the Hebrew Talmud, which for the profound gravity of its import is not surpassed anywhere in literature. It soars beyond Emerson and Paul in its cogent power: "If thou wilt know the invisible, open wide thine eyes on the visible."
But so far has the mind faltered and failed in its apprehension of verity over the centuries that unenlightened maundering of religionism has swung completely over to the opposite side and has come to preach that if one would enter the kingdom of divine perception, one must turn away from, or close the eyes upon the outer scene, under the mistaken notion that the sight of the outer world will distract the mind in its effort to visualize the inner realities. What it has meant to go within for truth without the regulative guidance and instruction of factual knowledge based on study of external things, the sad record of mystical hallucinations and delusions amply reveals. Of the commission of this sorry error India has herself been too largely guilty in the corrupted popularizations of her high pristine philosophies. The Upanishads are not found sanctioning the blotting out of the world as a requisite for spiritual aggrandizement. So far from that, in the ringing words of perhaps the most eminent Hindu historian of Hindu spiritual philosophy, Radhakrishnan, the Upanishads assert that "to deny the world without is to destroy the god within."
If man will not open wide his eyes on the visible he will have no basic model or pattern by which to sharpen his apprehension of truth. Through his immersion in the actual world he has the opportunity to acquaint his cognitive sense with the divinely certified forms of truth. He can never generate a faculty for the recognition of truth unless he lets life train his mind in her school of contact with the living forms of it which she presents in profusion. This instruction is part of the purpose for [Page 10] which souls are sent out among the planets. How would life teach her children if she did not furnish them with models of the things they are to learn? In short, how can one study unless one looks at what is to be studied?
Man’s only sure road to apprehension of the sublime things of the invisible worlds, the laws, principles and structure of the cosmos, is to travel the highway of the visible world he is a native of. All pursuit of knowledge at high level can result in gain for him only through his power to interpret data on the basis of his own experience with reality. Higher things can have meaning for him only on the grounds of their reference to what he knows through his living contact with the actual. If higher truth takes him into a world of things intellectually exotic, bizarre and unrelated to his normal frame of recognitions, such truth will only bewilder him. Supernal truth must come to have relevance for him in the light of what has made sense and meaning to him in his experience with palpable things. If it totally transcends his known world, it will have no message for him. Truth is but one system, and its forms of manifestation in any world, kingdom or plane of life are microcosmic or macrocosmic reduplications of its forms on all other planes. The phenomena of physical life in our world make a graphic panorama of all the fundamental archai or principles of being. The Greeks said that if man would come to know himself, he would by that know all the secrets, laws and meanings of the universe. For man himself is a miniature eidolon of the macrocosm, as a seed is the entire structure of its parent tree or plant in potentiality.
WHY THE PAGANS WORSHIPPED THE GOD PAN
It is obvious that the Egyptians were conversant with the fundamental realization of the naturographic forms of truth, for their religious literature not only abounds in zootypes from nature, but the entire interpretation of their religious material is grounded on the application of the great Hermetic axiom of the likeness of the things above to the things below. As below in the physical world, so above in the noumenal; as in nature so in the life of consciousness.
The canard has always prevailed in the Western world that the Egyptians worshipped animals. It was one of the choice jibes that the early Christians threw back at the pagans. Needless to say, it is fundamentally untrue. The sagacious Egyptians never worshipped animals any more than the Christians worshipped the cross or the bread and wine in the communion service. Only in so far as ignorance anywhere would stop at the symbol and not go behind it to catch the abstract idea it symbolized, could it be said that humans have fallen to the degradation of worshipping animals, images and fetishes. The Egyptians’ concern with animals had a loftier motive. Profound contemplation of animal characteristics, natures and habitudes acquainted the Egyptian [Page 11] mind with more or less all the underlying archai of truth. The lives and natures of animals furnished a graphic model of how truth worked. Truth’s procedures could be seen in the biology and living economy of the animals. Moreover, man, in his advanced evolution, summed up in his form and nature all these animal traits, which were destined through association with the divine principle in his higher part to be raised to godlike beauty and thus to reveal their ultimate beneficence. The observation of animals furnished unfailing clues to the understanding of the science of man himself, for man on his bodily side was of animal origin, and the higher anthropology consisted of rating the impact of the Christ-growth in the human consciousness upon those basic animal constituents in the human compound.
Likewise it was the assertion for centuries that the ancients deified and worshipped the forces of the vegetable kingdom, especially in the so-called agriculture myth. The Greek mythology had Ceres, so-named Goddess of Grain, or Corn-Goddess, who died in the autumn and was resurrected in the spring. Hundreds of writers in Christendom have dilated upon these allegations of the ancients. They assert that ancient religion rested basically on the "corn-myth." They worshipped the nature powers that gave them their food. Likewise those simple-minded folk adored the physical sun as the central object of worship. Along with it they held rites in worship of the moon, and had their Moon-Goddesses from Diana to Mylitta. They even worshipped certain of the great stars and constellations, Sirius, Orion and the Great Bear.
Apparently not once in all the centuries of Christian dominance over the Western mind could the conception emerge that perhaps the ancients did not stop at the natural phenomena of autumnal death and vernal rebirth in nature, but kept them in outer prominence in order to exploit their inherent dramatic power for the profounder realization of mighty cosmological and anthropological truth that was to be seen as operative over precisely the same pattern in the higher worlds as the corn seed followed in its physical world. They saw that the corn cycle adumbrated the still mightier truth of the autumnal "death" and spring resurrection of something far higher in cosmic rank than the grain of wheat, but which, exactly like that grain, had to descend into the underworld of earth to "die" in the autumn of its cycle and await the rising of the divine "sun" of righteousness to stir it out of dormancy to the glorious awakening to a new cycle of growth—its springtime. Can the pagans be justly charged with nature worship any more than the Christians? For John, Paul and Jesus himself resort time and again to the image of the death and resurrection of the seed as the basic analogy for inculcating the teachings of Christianity.
Perhaps it is now to be realized, with something of a shock to our present pride of superior knowledge, that we have not yet caught what is the central fact of all religion, philosophy and anthropology, that [Page 12] man’s soul is in his body on precisely the same terms, analogically considered, as is a seed in the ground. Apparently we have not yet waked to the fact that the relation of seed or plant to its soil is a perfect analogue or paralogue of the entire relation of man divine to man human, of soul to flesh, of spirit to matter. It is entirely likely — and the present series will demonstrate it on every page — that the corn-myth of ancient time is the one lost key to the scientific understanding of all the Bibles, of all the religious habitudes of mankind, of all ritualism, worship, theology, priestcraft and ecclesiasticism in the life of man.
The Egyptians did not worship animals, stars, trees, nature in any part. But they did utilize all these in their worship because they were seen to be photographs of living truth, only slightly focused from cosmic dimensions to the capacities of human perception. Therefore they had in their hands an endless book of cosmographs, which needed only to be looked at with the lens of a mind that could, so to say, restore the original cosmic focus, or lift the concrete physical representation back to the level of its noumenal counterpart. It required only the development of an astuteness that could abstract the original creative mental structure from its concrete projection in the object created, to read that object’s message. The physical form and phenomenon had to be decoded over into the language of the Noumenal Mind. Man’s smaller mind had the task of deciphering the cosmic code. But it needed only close looking and faithful following of the intimations of what the eye beheld. The "tongues in trees, sermons in stones, books in running brooks, and God in everything" are the poet’s figuration of this great fundamentum. All this is at the base of the constant preachment as to man’s seeing God in nature. But it poses to man’s evolving faculty of seership the task of reading the soul of a creature or the cosmic "meaning" of a created thing from scanning its outer physical features.
The Egyptians worked at the enterprise of knowing God and reading his mind after him by a close scrutiny of his handiwork. It is a simple axiom that one can read a craftsman’s character, his mind and soul, from his work. God has put this same problem to his children. "Glorious are thy works in all the earth, O God," chants the Psalmist. And if we are to any extent successful in realizing the potentialities latent in our own natures, in the way of developing the seership that will later be our common gift, our continued beholding the marvels of God’s handiwork will cause something of the glory of his divinity to pass over and be reflected on our own faces. In full accord with this sentiment there is found one of the most beautiful of all Scriptural passages, couched in the inspired language of St. Paul: "For we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same likeness, from glory to glory." And we can not now fail to catch the profound meaning that should flash out to us from Paul’s other statement that down here in the three-dimensional range of consciousness we see all things and ourselves as in a glass darkly. That [Page 13] glass is spotted and blotched with the imperfections of our physical instrumentalities which form the mirror or the lens, as well as by the deficiencies in our mental equipment and capacity. They are the beams and the motes in our conceptual eyes. As we clear these away our mirror will throw back a clearer and more beauteous picture. It is a commonplace of human knowledge that each individual sees the world through the lens of the particular body of ideas, conceptions, beliefs he entertains, the transparency or the opacity of his thinking power. The mind is itself a mirror or a glass, and the final statement of the case is that each one has brought it to one condition or another of dullness or brightness, of murkiness or translucency.
CHRIST WITH THE HAWK’S HEAD
It is astonishing then, to reflect to what a degree of lucidity the seers of ancient Egypt must have brought the mental lens of their analogical perception. Every one of the hundreds of natural pictographs which their religious literature presents is there to prod the mind into seeing a divine noumenal form behind the object or phenomenon held up to view. The gods were pictured with animal heads! We shudder at such supposed crudity. But our disdain is gratuitous; we can spare ourselves our wracked feelings, our pity and contempt. The crudity is all on our side! It consists in our blindness to what the Egyptians were portraying. What can it mean but that the coming of Godhood placed a head, with all that is thereby implied as to intellection, wisdom and divine reason, upon the animal body of the evolutionary order? Horus, with the hawk’s head, signifies that the deification of natural forces gives the god the piercing sight and the soaring power of the bird, raised to heights of supernal grandeur in consciousness. These powers of godhood being so far beyond man’s common reach of apprehension, the only possible device of representation capable of giving a vivid suggestion of their reality was a symbol in the form of a creature that can soar on high and see things far below with a marvel of vision. Thoth, with the head of an ibis, Anup with the dog’s head, Sut with the jackal’s, Kepher as the beetle, Khnum as the ram and the Uraeus serpent-gods, all bespeak a patent form of life or energy which in itself stands as a pictograph of intelligent cosmic functionism raised to inconceivable scope and power. By looking at the variegated distribution of living energies among the animals, the astute mind could see a concrete demonstration and display of aspects or forms of universal creative principle, which by their suggestive power could lift thought and perception to ever higher and clearer mounts of vision and understanding.
An animal characteristic was thus a reliable form-picture of great universal truth. The god with the animal’s head would depict for human thought the particular aspect of truth which that animal represented, seen as one of the divine cosmic principles. It comes clear now that instead of worshipping animals at a low pitch of ignorant fetishism, the [Page 14] sage Egyptians were pictorializing creative and governing forces of the cosmos as definitely real as what we now call the cosmic rays. Thus at one stroke the great mass of hypothecated ancient religious puerility and "primitive" childishness of conception is raised from this wholly mistaken status of contempt in modern eyes and placed on the pedestal of genuine and high scientific rating. History can mark an epoch with the discovery after two millennia that the gods of the Egyptians are the personified powers governing the operations of life and nature which we are only now coming to know empirically. The query is legitimate as to whether Egypt has not forgotten more than we yet know; and that, too, in the very domain in which we have always believed they groped in utter nescience, but in which we stand at a colossal eminence in world superiority, — the field of science.
It can now be said that this series of books reinterpreting the ancient knowledge will be the means of restoring to religion its archaic scientific rationale and basis. It is asserted that the material here presented will end forever the old controversy between religion and science, by the forthright expedient of revealing that there can be no possible conflict between the two when the literature of religion is rehabilitated in its pristine wholeness of meaning. This reconstruction and restoration of a dilapidated edifice of primeval beauty and power will be achieved by reintroducing into religion those basic elements that, in the tersest way of saying it, will redeem it from nescience to science.
It must be clarified, to begin with, that "religion" is a thing of two sides, and we must have in mind exactly which side we are dealing with. On one side it is intellectual; on the other emotional, or shall we say, psychological. In the first case it consists of a body of knowledge, or material assumed to be knowledge, about the universe of life; in the second case it is the individual’s emotional or psychological reaction to the influence of that knowledge. In actual experience it is a jumbled mixture of the two. People "believe" what they conceive the universe to be and to mean; then they react psychologically to the influence or impact of those beliefs. When we speak of the conflict between science and religion, we must be clear as to which side of religion we posit. There can be no conflict between science, as a definite body of ascertained facts called knowledge, and the psychological-emotional side of religion, because the two things are incommensurable; they are not in the same world. The one is a knowing of things definitely established; the other is the behavior in the face of that knowing. We hardly yet can claim to have a science that will cover all the whimsicalities of behavior. Hardly any two people will react to knowledge in exactly the same way. Psychology is struggling to establish certain patterns of motive and conduct and has at last resorted to a search in the underworld of the unconscious to locate them. They appear to be most illogical and impossible of classification. There is no accounting for religious feeling and behavior under any system that could qualify as scientific. It is a [Page 15] realm in which the whim, the oddity, the inconsistent and the unreasonable bloweth where it listeth, and no one can tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth. So that when the conflict between science and religion is at issue, it must be understood that the religion concerned is the intellectual aspect of it, that body of proven or accepted knowledge held intellectually. We for the moment debar the feeling-reaction aspect of religion from the discussion. But our assertion is still maintained that between religion as a body of knowledge intellectually held and science there can be no conflict, when the body of knowledge presented in the ancient Scriptures is restored to its original clear interpretation. The claim is made here and now that it is only the vitiation and unconscionable distortion of the interpretation of those venerable and venerated tomes of primal wisdom that has made the knowledge-data of religion appear to stand in hostility to science. Our series will aim to correct that distortion and bring down the entire body of misconceived and misapplied knowledge back into true focus, so that its sublime grandeur as true knowledge may be seen and its absolute harmony with science be indubitably established again.
The broad statement that the effort here put forth will redeem religion from nescience to science requires extensive amplification.
The science that will restore religion to its pristine sublimity is not exactly the science that deals with chemical elements, atoms and physical energies. It should be said at once, however, that the science of forces and mechanics is by no means alien to that loftier range of science which enters into the structure of true archaic religion and its sacred Scriptures. The "material" science that deals with substances and forces is one of the outer circles of the same science that is central in the great religions of old. And the outer rim of the great sphere of universal science bears at every turn the marks of its identity with that all-comprehensive science that rules the world. The phenomena of physical science are in the same category as objects and phenomena in the material world: they are pictographs of eternal truth. Had modern physicists been familiar with the great Hermetic axiom that things above are as things below, they could have known beforehand that the moment they discovered the atom they would have found it a miniature solar system in structure.
From this discernment they were blocked off by their inveterate and recalcitrant antipathy to the claims of the analogical method. It is necessary to dilate on this matter briefly at this point. Analogy has often been urged strongly on the attention of scientists. It has always, however, been repudiated and scorned. The allegation is that it is not reliable and that it never "proves" anything. Let it be said in rebuttal of these insistent negatives that its disfavor and rejection have come as the result of its being asked to do what lies outside the pale of its legitimate service and function. It has been asked to prove reliable in particular [Page 16] phenomena when it makes no pretence or claim of being reliable as to things beyond general outlines of method and situation. And again it should never have been asked to "prove" anything. Its function is not to offer proof; it can only point in what direction to look for proof and intimate the general character of the evidence that will be found. It can fortify the mind of the scientist with the certitude that identity of form and function will be found subsisting between things that lie in different worlds. It will enable him to start his research with the assurance that what he will uncover in an unknown field will show the same mode of structure and scheme of phenomenal procedure that he has already found in the known. Science is still a-tremble with the significance of its discovery that the atom is a solar system in miniature; and the concept of relativity has indeed possibly even erased the meaning of "miniature" itself. In the ratio of the distance between its protons and electrons an atom is as "big" as a solar system. The challenge now confronts the mind that is still staggering under that realization to follow the same lead of analogy into another portion of the field where truth is being as eagerly sought, namely in religion, and bring to light the equally astonishing scientific bases of the theology of Plato and the Sages who indited the Bibles.
It has not yet dawned on the modern intellect that the corn-myth, already discussed as the basic pattern of ancient religion, is itself a true scientific key to anthropology first, then to all religion, philosophy, psychology and ethics. If the formation of the visible solar system could have — and should have — provided the key to the structure of the invisible atom, in like manner the round of phenomena exhibited visibly to us in the growth of the corn holds before man’s unseeing eye every feature of the unknown history of the life and soul of the human being. The terms of the relationship between corn-seed or young plant and its rootage in the soil adumbrate with unfailing fidelity every item of the relationship between divine soul-seed and the human body-soil in which it is implanted. But this is met at once with the assertion of empirical science that it begs the question by inserting into the situation the existence of the very element — the soul — that needs to be proven. Answer to this is that analogical science demands the postulation in the unknown situation of an element of causation that corresponds exactly to the element of causation in a known situation. If inductive method of investigation discloses that analogy holds in general, then the mind is justified in pursuing the deductive method and counting on the legitimacy of using analogy to reveal further bases of induction. On the warrant of this logic the mind is able to proceed on the tentative hypothesis that in the human anthropological situation there must be a quantity or entity analogous to the seed in the ground. If the body is the soil of a growth, are we not entitled to look for the presence of a seed whose implantation in that ground would account for the type of phenomena the growth exhibits? And if on that assumption the total run of phenomena is seen to match at every turn the outlines of the history of the corn stalk, are [Page 17] we not empowered to say that analogy makes necessary the predication of the existence of a divine seed in the human organism? It is here asserted, then, that close study of the ancient religious systems, the Orphic, the Zoroastrian, the Hermetic, the Pythagorean, the Platonic and Neo-Platonic and others, reveals the tracing of the precise points of analogy between the data of the corn-myth and the life of the soul of man. If closer scrutiny was given to all the minutiae of detail in the exchange of helpful influence between seed and soil in the garden, the thinking mind would have every quantum of data by which to prefigure the mutual influence plying between immortal soul and the physical body that houses and supports it, enabling it to manifest its nature in the same way as soil enables the seed. And this relationship, let it not be doubted, is at once the prime basic and central situation with which the religion of the antique world and the primeval divine revelation are concerned. A knowledge of that analogical harmony is the key to the apprehension of all the tomes of sage antiquity.
THE EXALTATION OF ANALOGY
Science is to be restored to religion by this road of analogy. The pronouncement will be greeted with much deprecation, and the cry will go up that analogy has often been tried and shown itself to be a thing of ludicrous incompetency. The Church Fathers, it will be shouted, tried it in their efforts to expound the Scriptures. Mystics have tried it, and with results that provoke scepticism. To this it is now to be replied, and for the first time, that not in all Christian history have the lost sciences of analogy and nature typism been grasped and utilized by any one with sufficient technical completeness and demonstrative fullness to command their rightful meed of mental assent. They have never been adduced or developed in anything like the cogency they are capable of producing. They have not been put forward with sufficient insight and skill to give them the credentials of a true science. They have been advanced on such weak and insecure foundations that they have failed to carry the conviction of their real scientific character and have been classified as mere poetry. Even at that, poetry has been a great illuminator and teacher, and its edifying power has come almost wholly from analogy with nature’s life. That should not be lost on us. Analogy has failed because of its imperfect, incompetent and bungling championship. Not since the very remote days of Egypt’s early Hermetic literature have its possibilities and its rationale been capably understood or handled. It was the ground on which all religion stood and out of which it grew. The more capable reconstruction of analogy now can well mark the most cardinal renaissance in the religious history of mankind.
It remains now to elucidate in plain and concise fashion what is meant by the restoration of science to religion. The seers of old were adepts in the knowledge and operation of the greatest of all sciences, the science of the soul. But their great system of knowledge was lost, and [Page 18] what they have handled as a true science was soon warped through ignorance and base tendencies of the unenlightened human mind over into modes of practice and creeds of wild belief that ignored and flouted every principle of their arcane philosophy. Through this defection of knowledge the truly scientific formulae, functions and phenomena of religious consecration were entirely diverted from their true moorings, and religion itself was converted from any semblance to scientific procedure into a welter of psychological riot that gave free rein to sheer sentimentalism, unctuous pietism, emotional excess, psychic phenomenalism, and the concomitant brood of every sort of fanatical unbalance and violence that has disgraced this field of human motivation from the beginning. Under the impelling force of this cataclysmic debacle of true culture religion was swept clear of its bases and away from its true anchorage in positive psychological and anthropological science. It was carried over from the category of genuine theurgy into the more nondescript category of thaumaturgy. Theurgy was the intrinsic science of the cultivation of the soul; thaumaturgy is something far different, the production of unnatural phenomena through left-hand practice in dealing with psychological forces. For nature bestows no blessedness, or possibility of it, that can not be corrupted by malpractice in its pursuit by unwise mortals.
It is difficult to express the full force of this exposition. Religion was warped clear out of the world in which science can walk side by side with it and contribute its data and its certitude to the aggrandizement of the human spirit. It was diverted out of the area of experience in which man is accustomed to look for the precise operation of dependable law, so as to calculate the force of causes and their results, under the ordinances of the universal governance of events. It was shunted clear out of that world of reliance and projected over into one where by the manipulation of certain psychological currents one presumably might override the rule of duly established laws and induce the play of a cycle of special dispensations of a more or less arbitrary whimsicality. It tended to become in men’s thought a thing in which special pleading could persuade the supreme God to set aside or hold in abeyance or otherwise interdict the normal working of his ordained code of law and hand out extraordinary and exceptional decisions for the benefit of his fervently pleading children.
The most direct and comprehensive way in which the case can be stated is to say that the great and catastrophic change produced by ignorance took religion out of the domain of natural law and essayed to make it operative in the world of the magical, the miraculous and the supernatural.
THE SPELL OF THE SUPERNATURAL
This, in summary form, is the essence of the startling truth. Religion came to be thought of as the area of psychological exertion in [Page 19] which distressed souls could seek relief and escape from the consequences of their maladjusted life under natural law. When it appeared as if the operation of the natural law had brought misery and suffering, the persuasion prevailed that escape could be effected by appeal to what was extolled as "divine mercy". All this was generated and inculcated by the Biblical promises held forth in many places that when man was in distress he had but to appeal with due fervor to a specially and historically appointed mediator, who would act as intercessor with supreme intelligence and cause that Intelligence to modify the rule of natural law in the particular case. The boundless mercy of God was preached until the masses had been hypnotically conditioned to expect from the supreme Head the continual abrogation of the hard and inexorable terms of his regular order of governance and the substitution of an endless series of particular directives in the cases of his children who had learned to plead with the requisite unction. Religion ran over into the cultism of the measures considered efficacious in the persuasion of Deity to supplant his natural laws with his divine providence, actuated by his boundless love, mercy and compassion.
This was the outcome of the stultification of the primal scientific philosophy by the failure of intelligence. Another and in the large a still more calamitous consequence ensued. Again it was a transplanting of the focus of human interest from its proper and beneficent location over into a region of mental play where all the salutary influences that should have flowed from sincere religious practice guided by wisdom were warped awry into agencies of dementia. This relates to the general cultus of Biblical interpretation, or meaning, as apprehended by the mass mind, picking up and feeding upon the crumbs that fell from the theologians’ table. As thought is at all times the perennial creative force, both individually and cosmically, the collective quantum of thought generated by the millions of Bible readers, hearers of sermons and recipients of Biblical and theological instruction must be reckoned to have exerted an incalculable force in the general formulation of the character of human life in its constant development in the lines of beauty or deformity. The total weight of this force as it worked for good or evil must be counted as prodigious.
Now, if it is seen, as indeed it must be, that the body of this massed thinking has been appallingly diverted from its wholesome power of enlightenment over to arrant derationalization of sane conception, the total of psychological disaster must be accounted hardly less than horrendous. This is the claim made and to be substantiated in this series of books. The material of the books will furnish the accumulated evidence for its correctness in every particular.
The default of intelligence sound enough to continue to all ensuing history the symbolic and allegorical meaning of the Scriptures swept the focus and locale of all interpretation from the natural world of [Page 20] man’s interests, activities and his knowledge over into another world, indeed a world created by this very shift of focus itself, a world almost beyond the power of language to describe. It became indeed a land of fairy wonder, a land in which the unnatural, the freakish, the bizarre, the weird, the eccentric, the idiosyncratic and the impossible were to be accepted as the common order of events! With the omnipresent expectation of the incidence of magic, miracle and the supernatural, it was a topsy-turvy land wherein nothing was normal except the abnormal, nothing ordinary except the extraordinary, nothing regular except a marvel of irregularity.
The error of mistaking the Bible for veridical history and narrative of factual occurrence, instead of understanding it as cryptic allegorism, threw the interpretation of scripture into the strange land of mystical credulity. One taking up the Holy Book to peruse its pages was called upon to throw his mind into a "set" of orientation, to make it receptive to the spell of magic to be exerted by the material read. The mind had, to so say, to be screwed up to a pitch of gullibility, a posture of acceptance of the long run of events that are in the main so outlandish as factual occurrence. The mind had to be by some magic of faith conditioned to take in credibly the list of miracles, prodigies, enormities, monstrosities, obscenities, illogicalities of every brand. To this adjustment it could be driven only by the constraining force of a mental persuasion that would bring to bear on common reasoning a power of psychological indoctrination that amounted substantially to hypnotism. Indeed it can be said that no power short of a subtle hypnotization or enchantment could superinduce upon the minds of generally normal people the condition of gullibility required for such acceptance. When a reader so conditioned, so spell-bound, took up the Bible, he had first to divest himself, as it were, of the normal mental attitude in which he scrutinized and interpreted the events of his daily life, and project his consciousness into that fatal "set" in which he could take in the alleged events of the narrative as historical fact. For, according to his indoctrination, these events took place in olden time in an epoch, strangely no longer prevalent, when the anthropomorphic God of his conception dominated the affairs of the world, or of one particular nation at least, on the terms of a personal supervision and an active participation, which for some reason he has not vouchsafed to continue or repeat at any time since. Those were exceptional days; that was a special dispensation. God talked in person to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Gideon, and to his kings and prophets. He whispered in their ears, as did the snake in Eve’s, and promised them increase, prosperity, victory or punishment. He appeared in clouds to defeat his people’s enemies or wielded his invisible sword to rout them, killing them, so says the text, by myriads countless in number. He withered their hosts by his atomic breath.
Reading over and over again these tales of supernaturalism, the [Page 21] poor human mind found itself hopelessly sunk in a morass of credulous obsessions which utterly disqualified the voice of common mental sanity. The literal acceptance of the Bible derationalized its faithful devotees. It had removed the material of the Book from the category of event that could be rationally envisaged, understood and explained over into a world wherein the recorded occurrences had no need of rational comprehension, but had only to be believed. And the necessity of according to them such belief threw the whole faculty of mental judgment quite out of normal relation to logic and to natural possibility alike. In short, it engendered an unsettlement, an unbalance, a maladjustment of the victim’s mind. It led to a mesmeric false posture of expectation, warping the judgment and the attitude toward life as a whole and its daily events. The first consequence of the unscientific literal rendering of Bible meaning is thus the derangement of the mind.
It will by now have been seen that the total miscarriage of the Bible’s meaning through the literal acceptance of the text, and the mental havoc wrought in the lives of those thus deceived rendered impossible any truly scientific envisagement of this archaic literary heritage. The mistake in method led to confusion and confusion bred further mistake; a hopelessly vicious cycle was instituted. The literal rendering precluded any true grasp of the sense intended; incomprehension of this true sense further deranged the gullible mind, increasing its susceptibility to extravagant belief. So it turns out that the default of intelligence that should have been present to handle the symbolism and allegorism became the fertile ground of an unscientific religionism, which in turn engendered gullible fanaticism and severer mental obliquity. This is indeed a singular turn of events, since up to this moment it has been held all along that it was precisely the symbolic and allegorical approach that opened the door to the entry of erratic Scriptural sense, mental aberration and an unscientific reading of those revered tomes of antiquity. The pronouncement here made is therefore veritably an epochal one.
THE CLOUDLAND OF FAITH
Simply and directly stated, the religionism that had been based on literal Bible acceptance — and this is essentially the foundation of all religion in the West — has become most unscientific because the wrong approach to the Book’s interpretation has distorted the entire structure of philosophical truth contained therein from any possible realization or application of its message of truth and wisdom in the world of living reality by having built into the minds of its millions of readers the presumption that the message only applied in a world superinduced by faith, prayer and fantasy. It was declared to apply in a world in which science held no prerogative, exercised no function and exerted no influence. This was the world of pietistic unction, fanatical fervor, high-powered wishful thinking; a world in which the passport to the favor of a special providence was egregious intensity of "faith" and "belief". [Page 22] Science in this system of religiosity was a poor, a slow and ineffectual savior. It had to be side-tracked while the puffing, straining train of faith and mesmeric hallucination came steaming down the main line.
The will of God, manifested in a long list of narrated incidents, supplanted science in the field of Biblical exegesis. If God chose to part the waters of the Red Sea and immediately dry up the mire on the bottom so that his peculiarly favored children of Israel could cross over in comfort and safety, and then close them in again to overwhelm the army of the Egyptians, what had science to say about this? What could science say? Obviously nothing, since it has no known code of causes to account for such an occurrence. Science must stick to its position and say that the event narrated could not have happened under natural law, in so far as natural law is capable of being known.
At this point there enters a consideration that is of immense weight in all debate as to the question at issue, but which, it seems, has never once entered the minds of those rabid zealots who extol the supernatural element in religion. It is the realization which comes up in sober reflection that whatever the human mind might gain from the incident of an awesome demonstration of God’s cosmic might would be a thousand times overbalanced by the consequent hypnotization of both reason and purpose springing from the very marvel of that demonstration, inasmuch as it at once afflicts the mind with the loss of its assurance of the invariable dependability of the natural law. The exaltation of miracle over the natural law must ever prove hazardous and ruinous. It has forever been beyond the acumen of pietistic faith-religionism to discern the ominous fact that a "miracle" in the religious field plays havoc with the fundamental confidence of humanity in the only legitimate area in which the truly miraculous can be envisaged and invited, i.e., in the constant beneficence of natural law. By the vehement deification of miracle, the work of the stable beneficence of nature is belittled, disesteemed and disparaged. And from this source has flowed unthinkable peril and disaster. For man to lose confidence in the unfailing goodness of the order of nature is his greatest disability and misfortune. A thousand miracles of the special sort believed on the testimony of ancient writers of Scripture can not atone for the displacement of the focus of man’s dependence upon the inerrant ordinances that govern life at every moment. It is a million times more important that man should hold inviolate and undisturbed his assurance that he can count on the exact rendering of consequence for cause in all his active relation to nature than that some fanatical hypnotization should drown the symptoms of his rheumatism or his aching tooth.
For when "miracle" of the Bible type steps in, science steps out. "Miracle" leaves science outside the door, coldly negative to the riotous violence of "triumphant faith" in its revel inside. The failure to hold the Bible material as allegorical picturization and the insistence on its [Page 23] acceptance as actual history have thus placed all exegesis, all understanding in the theological field, outside of and beyond the pale of science. It has lifted the whole body of splendid dramatizations of supreme truth and mental light out of the reach of scientific appreciation and evaluation, and cast it all over into the realm of miracle, magic and marvel wherein science can find no footing. When scientific law is put entirely out of court in the determination of the meaning of events, how can science utter a sure word? The Bible has been interpreted in a world in which science has no play, no jurisdiction. When the erratic and often prodigious effects of religious hypnotization are made the one criterion of religious sanctification, science must stand aloof and look on aghast. Its voice is discredited before it can be raised to recall riotous delusion to its senses. Its one retort is perhaps to be found in its ability to declare on authentic ground of fact and law that arrant fanaticism of belief can hallucinate the mind. And this, indeed, is coming to be its formulated message at the present.
If God instructed Noah and his three sons to build in seven days a great boat to hold many thousands of creatures and in the same seven days gather in those creatures from all over the earth, and then himself flooded the whole earth to the mountain tops with only forty days of rain, hallucinated faith can somehow accept it, literally. But science can not. Faith in God’s ability to perpetrate any oddity of whim and caprice can credit the story of the great fish swallowing Jonah, and after three days and nights depositing him in safety on the farther shore of the sea. But science backs away. Science must remain faithful to what it studies and observes in the invariable procedures of natural law. Once miracle is introduced and fervently hugged to the mental bosom, religionism can desert the scientific platform of loyalty to universal law. If God could enable Elisha to cause an iron axe to float on the water, faith is exalted in triumph, science is humbled. But in reflecting upon such an event as veridical fact, man must begin to question the character of the author of all fixed law who thus shows himself playing faithlessly against his own ordinances. Science stands disconcerted and must regard the event as an aberration. If science can not rely now and forever upon the invariability of natural law, once it is known, her cause is lost. Her platform is shattered. Therefore there is enmity between science and religious faith. Faith irritates the spirit of science. To act on faith is to act without knowledge, and this perturbs and discomfits the scientific mind. Science deals with what is known or can be investigated. It has little interest in what the human fancy may conjure up and use to lure gullible mortals to fond expectation or to irrational action. Its function is to acquire positive knowledge, or to gain ends through its use.
Few religionists have ever held that the Bible is to be understood scientifically. It deals, say they, with an order of realities, in consciousness, that lie quite outside the pale of scientific investigation, measurement and classification. They deal not with processes that come under [Page 24] strict law, but with the free movement of the spirit of man, or even with the interposition of an order of divine mind in the actions and events of men’s lives. The great function of faith in Christ is to raise humanity out of that very bondage to the natural law and set it free to receive the influx of the bounteous grace of a higher law. The natural law is to be subordinated to and supplanted by the higher law of the fiat of free spirit. The immortal spirit and the dynamic mind of the Christ intervene to abrogate the binding power and the limiting scope of the natural law. The reach of natural science, dealing with natural law, does not extend into this more ethereal realm of motivation. Here the law to be dealt with is the law that determines God’s measureless grace, his fathomless love, his infinite mercy. Can science follow into this realm?
DIVINE GRACE AND NATURAL LAW
Bluntly and oracularly be it stated, if man does not achieve the intellectual and spiritual craftsmanship to take science with him into this realm, tragedy looms for him. The liberty of the spirit is a grand phase and a reality to be experienced by emancipated man. But as conceived by most people who prate about it glibly, it is a chimera of unintelligent fancy and most perilous. All liberty is fraught with hazard, which is only to be escaped by knowledge of the forces with which a freed spirit will have the privilege of dealing. John Ruskin was vehement in his protestations that ignorant misuse of liberty was man’s greatest danger. Paul lauds the high goal of man’s striving, which is to attain unto the "liberty of the Sons of God". But certainly the Apostle was not extolling a freedom for evolved man that could be assumed to operate out of all relation to law. The freedom he was dilating upon is that freedom that eventuates for the soul that has completely aligned itself with divine law. And the kindergarten steps in this tremendous process are taken by man in his complete obedience to the natural law. For obedience to the natural is the training requisite for the perfection of that higher harmony with the divine or spiritual.
It has ever been a difficult problem facing the intellect of mankind to grasp the true conception of the relation between freedom and law. A glorious liberty of godlike kingship is set before mortal man as the high destiny of his growth; yet he knows that this liberty is to be achieved within the scope of a universe that is at every point governed by inviolable law. How are law and liberty compatible? Philosophers have canvassed the situation closely enough to have seen that there is no liberty but "liberty under law." But perhaps the phrase had better be worded "liberty in the law." Liberty necessarily implies freedom to initiate action. The word freedom loses its meaning if one is not able to do what one would like. Restraint is still bondage.
The crux of the thought problem is resolved when it is remembered that the entire system of cosmic law, be it natural or be it transcendent, [Page 25] is designed for the behoof of all creatures, including man. The law is beneficent. Paul himself, in the seventh and twelfth verses of the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, definitely asserts the goodness of the law. Theologians have not taken proper heed of his momentous words in this chapter, one of the most philosophical in the whole Bible. He speaks of being delivered from the law, yet he is careful to hold to the true vision of the law’s beneficence. He asks" "Is the law sin?" And he hastens to answer: "God forbid." And he concludes: "Wherefore the law is holy." The very law that he says brought him unto sin, says he, is holy! Thinking mortals had better know this point in philosophy and let it leaven the lump of their general conception. Badly conceived "spiritual" philosophy has put a curse upon nature; upon the flesh, the body, matter and the world itself. But Paul’s succinct statements take the curse off of nature. Scientific religion would immeasurably brighten human life by the sheer service of lifting off man’s soul the indoctrinated religious persuasion that the world and natural law are adverse to his spiritual growth. Pagan philosophy strove to keep alive the conception of nature’s beneficence; but Christian morbidity and mistaken sense of "sin" completely buried it under a weight of dismal theological fancies.
If, then, the law on all planes of life is beneficent, freedom would consist in man’s transition from ignorance to intelligence. Bondage to the law is only possible because of the individual’s ignorance of the law. Intelligence liberates one from that bondage. For it enables one to act in harmony with the law, which, being beneficent, can bring nothing but delight and more abundant life. Ignorance of the law brings the inexorable penalties for its unwitting violation. Knowledge of the law and the disposition to obey it puts one in position to receive the happy rewards of obedience. The philosophical nub of the whole problem is put by St. Paul in the twenty-second verse of this chapter of Romans, when he says: "For I delight in the law of God after the inner man." Here is the resolution of all the elements of the debate. Man has liberty when he is free to do that which gives him delight. Even God is declared to have created for the sheer delight of it! The ancients called his motive "lila," "the delight of God." Far down still in the life of the flesh, which overlays and stifles the instincts of the diviner soul during the early stages of evolution, the sweetness of this delight in the law is not experienced. A long course of sin and suffering is necessary to bring it to birth in consciousness. But when it is stirred into expression, the possibility of the achievement of liberty is open to man. Only that man is free whose "delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night." For only then is he free to do that which both benefits and delights him. There is no liberty that permits any creature to violate the laws of life, with impunity.
For students of the ethical side of philosophy it is important to note that here is to be found the decisive answer to their perennial debate as to the power and influence of hedonism in the ethical life. St. Paul [Page 26] has long ago settled this controversy. The Epicureans advanced pleasure as the prime motive of progressive human action; philosophy on the whole has been very sceptical about that ever since. Paul gives us the ground for complete understanding and correct determination: pleasure is the true lure to lead man upward. But it must be the pleasure, the delight, of the inner man, not of the outer. Swinish pleasures would drag the soul ever deeper into the mire; but the delight of the soul in the law of the Lord will lift it to Godhood.
Centuries of conventional exaltation of the spiritual mind and derogation of the natural order have kept science out of the religious enterprise and seemingly given faith and piety the open road to dominance in that field. Science has therefore kept aloof in its own territory, while religionism held the ground over on its side. The two have not been able to join hands and meet on any common ground. The fundamental estrangement still persists. Yet this spells tragedy for human life and defeat for the most vital of all cultures. The assertion is made here that the continuation of this breach between the two interests is a needless evil, due to the same false rendering of the Scriptures that has been dilated upon already. That it can be obviated by the restoration of the truly scientific exegesis of the Bible allegories, and this achieved through the full rehabilitation of the ancient language of symbolism, is the claim here advanced and the aim of the publications.
THE HIGHER LAW
The theses of the religionist’s position as to the abrogation or transcendence of the natural law by a higher law of the liberated spirit in man, needs to be subjected to a more critical scrutiny than it has been given hitherto. In the first place it is true that evolution has designed that in the case of man a so-called higher law should come in to supersede, modify and possibly even counteract the laws of physical nature. The question immediately arises, then, as to both man’s servitude to the natural law and his reliance upon it. The answer seems to have been laid down categorically by the Christ himself when he said that he came not to destroy, but to fulfill, the law. And this is indeed the truth of the matter. An ignorant, unbalanced and unwarranted significance has been misread into this pertinent facet of Scripture and theology, the conception, namely, that through the Christ there supervenes in man’s life a new dispensation of divine grace, which transcends and therefore renders nugatory the entire system of natural law which held for humanity — until the Christos appeared.
What has happened to distort the purport of this great clause in Scriptural affirmation is that the mode and scope of the transcendence and supplanting of the law by the higher spirit have been sadly misunderstood and misapplied in such a way as to issue in false conclusions, inept applications. And the true identity of the "old law" has itself [Page 27] been crudely confused. The whole conception has been atrociously warped awry of its true intent.
Certainly no divine dispensation could have contemplated the abrogation of the laws of nature by the entry of a new and higher authority. The natural law was built up and ordained by the consciously directed powers of life and intelligence to serve their purpose of unqualified beneficence for all time. They were to govern the natural order, to help it unfold life’s potentialities in harmony and safety. They were to lay the foundation for the temple of the body, the house of birth for the divine spirit when it should come to its throne in man’s life. There could be no predicament in the course of evolution which would require or be advantaged by their annulment. They were to operate always, the divinely constituted kings of the natural order, preceding the spiritual and preparing the road for its influx.
But these natural laws are not self-conscious entities. They are just what their name connotes: natural forces. They are energies which like electricity act by automatism and under the direction of outside intelligence. They lie below the level of mind in the scale of cosmic vibrations; hence they must move with the automatism that governs their action under divine order.
Now while man was yet in the childhood of his evolution, and knew nothing of the directive overlordship of a higher Mind in his development, he was, as Paul means to tell us in scores of verses, under the rulership of these automatic energies, as in the animal — and the human child today. Being ignorant of any higher power of intelligence, not yet having brought it to functional birth in his own area of consciousness, he was subject to the natural law and the invariable play of its forces. St. Paul leaves us in no doubt of this meaning when he says (in the fourth chapter of Galatians): "When we were yet children, not knowing God, we were in bondage to them that by nature are no gods." These were powers which he elsewhere describes as "elementals of the earth," and "elementals of the air." Again he speaks of them generally as "the elements of the world". Man, he means to say, was a slave to the natural order and its laws when in his early evolution he was at about the stage represented by the animal and by children, before the time for the emergence of self-knowing mind. For the individual’s development is a short recapitulation of the course of development of the whole species.
Insight can be gained by our application right here of the principles of the analogical science which have been lauded a few pages back. Man as a historic species is analogized by man the individual in his short life cycle. At about the age of twelve the boy is superseded by the man. Mind comes to function and at once or gradually takes over the rulership of the order of the life. The boy’s life up to then has not been ruled by mind, for mind was not in play. It was under natural law, which, itself mindless, could not initiate change of direction or action, once [Page 28] started. The boy was lacking in self-consciousness, so was simply a creature of the automatic regularities of nature. He was in bondage to the law.
But when the genius of thinking power supervened in his interior realm, all this was changed. He could consciously study these laws, learn their procedure and by intelligence modify their complete dominance of his life. He could learn to harmonize his life more congenially with them, or he could, through unwisdom, set himself in contrariety to them. But at any rate, coming to know the power of free action which was now his, he could step out from complete and helpless bondage to their operation and work with them as his free spirit dictated.
But is there a single intimation or presumption anywhere involved in this great transition from law-bondage to spirit-freedom, that the laws of nature are in any sense whatever nullified or abrogated? Have these laws ceased to apply in the man’s constitutional economy? Are the laws governing his digestion, assimilation, elimination, chemical balance and metabolism no longer operative? Can he disregard and flout them at will because he has become a free agent to adjust his relationship to them? Can he nullify them by a sheer fiat of thought or will? Can he prevent the natural resultant of the combinations of chemical elements in his body?
Oddly enough, much extravagant "miracle religionism" and "faith-cultism" has gone so far as to aver that the spirit of the Christ, once given unrestricted rulership in the life, can override the laws of nature and of matter. This is one of the most arrant extravagances of the religious trend to magic and miracle. The conclusions of sanity, to which the mind is helped by the intimations of symbolism and analogy, is that, to be sure, a higher power supervenes when, in the cycle of evolution that corresponds to the child’s transformation into the adult at twelve, there ensues the individual’s graduation into the kingdom of mental freedom and self-determination. But there is nothing either in Scripture or in life to support the thesis that a higher law supervenes to undo, negate, rescind or countervail against the first and natural law. What all Scriptures do inculcate with endless insistence, under many an allegorical set-up, is that the natural law thenceforward is relegated to a secondary place, or as the sacred tomes have it, becomes the ancilla or handmaid of the Lord, or the Christly headship of intelligence.
Whereas it was for long the sole ruler under nature’s automatism at that level, and man its unwitting automaton, it is now reduced to subordinate status and stands in the place of a servant of the high spirit in its freedom.
But again there is nowhere a hint as to the power or prerogative of the free spirit of knowledge to destroy the work or negate the operation [Page 29] of the lower code. The spirit’s express task, as so well announced by Plato in the Timaeus, is to learn to utilize that lower range of energies in services ancillary and auxiliary to its own supreme purposes. Surely the Christ consciousness comes not to destroy the work of the natural forces, but to assume direction of those forces and thus channel them into the courses of their highest evolutionary serviceableness.
This understanding happily takes away from arrant religionism its unwarranted and perilous assumption that the higher dispensation, the coming of Christhood, permits the flouting of the natural law. Only too many have assumed that through the force of their spiritual unction they could disregard the laws of life and health, to find to their discomfiture that nature was still in control of her own field. The idiosyncrasies of belief, superinduced by religious fervor and the fond persuasion that intensity of faith and consecration release one from amenability to the natural law, have constituted one of the most damaging delusions of man’s history on earth. Strange and amazing things can happen and have happened under stress of powerful religious emotionalism, and they have kept alive the cult of the miraculous. The infinite tragedy of all this is that it has bred the nearly universal belief that by pious unctuousness one can escape the incidence of the penalties incurred by breaking the natural laws of life. Aided and abetted by the secondary delusion as to the gratuitous forgiveness of sins, the vogue of the miracle cult has everywhere tended to diminish man’s regard for the righteousness of his acts and their consequences, and has thus contributed to the general lawlessness of the times. All this explains why the religious interest runs so strongly to the healing practice. When physical malady ensues upon wrong modes of living, and the resources of the medial profession are exhausted in vain, religion looms up as the last hope of escape, and its offices are invoked in fond and fervent expectation that the natural law can be overcome by exuberant or desperate faith.
Hence the most vital truth of intelligent and scientific religion is entirely lost or submerged by the tide of almost hysterical hope of miracle. The fervors of sane religion should impel one to align his life completely with the operation of natural law, making miracles unnecessary, instead of deluding weak devotees with the hope of escaping the evil consequences of ignorant action. So far from coming in to abrogate the laws governing the flesh and matter, the spirit of Christhood is by evolution designed to effect a union of its higher intelligence with those same forces, and from this alliance generate the forces that will make of man a new creature, old things being passed away and all things being made new. So central and integral a part is this of the system of ancient religion that it runs all through the Scriptures, being expressed and dramatized under the analogy and the figure of marriage. These two potencies in man’s constitution are to perform in the depths of human nature the same function as that which operates when sperm [Page 30] meets and marries ovum in mother nature’s body everywhere.
So far erroneous is the legend of spirit’s power to contravene and override the natural forces that the truth is almost exactly opposite to this conception. Instead of being able of its own initiative to counteract nature, it is only by union with nature’s potencies that it can do its own work and accomplish its own high evolutionary mission.
A new era of righteousness would ensue for the mortal race if this basic formula of scientific religion could be impressed in realistic fashion upon the general consciousness of the world. And then a genuine fervor of rational pietism, based not on irrational and unwarranted elements of faith and hope, but grounded solidly on the operation of scientific principles, would anchor human motivation and resultant action firmly to natural law. Then the raptures of religious ecstasy could voice themselves, not in rabid violence of emotional disorder, but in the glad cry of the Psalmist—"O how I love thy law, O God!" For it is this kind of religious exultation for which the soul of man ultimately yearns "as the hart panteth after the waterbrooks". It is that water from celestial sources that alone will in the end slake man’s thirst for the divine. Only when the spirit of truth is come to conjoin the intelligent direction of its energies in harmonious relation with the natural law does any full and blessed realization of the benignancy of that law come into consciousness.
THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS
It is an ominous sign of the degeneracy of intelligence in our modern day that it was possible for a book, one particular book, to come to general publicity and receive a wide reading, and still pass into oblivion within thirty or forty years, and that, too, without exerting any appreciable modification upon the religious thought of the age. This volume not only hinted at the great analogical mode of truth-seeking, but virtually placed it impregnably upon the soundest logical foundations. It was Henry Drummond’s The Natural Law in the Spiritual World. It should have opened the new era of scientific religion. It set forth with great cogency the fundamental identity of natural and spiritual law; only there was lacking the discernment to carry this initial vision to more extensive application. The author was not able to make the transfer of meaning from the natural to the spiritual domain with sufficient impressiveness. He lacked those same Egyptian clues that were wanting to the promulgators of the Protestant Reformation. The moral to be drawn from both these events is that truth can be revealed to the world and yet die out of human ken. Religious truth of the scientific sort is ever being blocked and defeated by the obsessions of pietistic belief, uncorrected by deeper knowledge. Even with Swedenborg’s vast survey of the endless correspondences between natural and spiritual activity to support Drummond’s volume, the great potential revelation was snuffed out.[Page 31]
The old Egyptian knowledge, the precious boon of ancient sapiency, that the natural law is but a reflection, in a slightly duller mirror, of the spiritual law itself, made possible the true living of the religious life on a wholly scientific basis. It was of course a knowledge so profound and intrinsically recondite, in the requirements of a full intellectual apprehension, that it was made esoteric in its nature, as it could only be worked safely and effectually by master craftsmen in the art of spiritual masonry. The unthinking rabble was as incapable of encompassing its deep mysteries then as now. But it was never withheld from the grasp of any who demonstrated the first intimations of capacity to lay hold of it. That is the vast difference between ancient and modern culture. The latter is so shallow today that the cryptic esoteric science is withheld from all, the capable and the incapable alike. There are no established and venerated schools where the competent may go and study it. And this is so for the good reason that it has virtually disappeared under the early avalanche of ignorance and has had to hide in subterranean crypts ever since. That it has been preserved fairly intact and come down through the Dark Age is itself a "miracle" of no minor character.
But the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1796 and the happy recovery of the Egyptian literature offers the world again the possibility of renewing its acquaintance with the golden truth of yore. There is the chance that once again this golden truth can be presented to sincere and intelligent mortals in the guise of a true science, so that it will not hallucinate the reason and derange the mental faculty, but will illumine the rational mind with a light of clear cognition not experienced since the days of Egypt’s heyday of knowledge. The key that Egypt restores to us is the Hermetic axiom that the natural is a copy of the spiritual and therefore is the cryptic code to its intelligible reading. Man needs but cultivate the art of transferring the diagrams of truth that he can perceive in natural phenomena over into the noumenal realm of his mind, and the patterns of significance in what is now a topsy-turvy world of meaningless things will come out in distinct lines. Then it will be clear that if the pattern of meaning in physical life and event is amenable to scientific classification, then the cultus of spiritual life and event must be equally subject to scientific organization. Science can be introduced into the spiritual by the cultivation of a sense of analogy until it becomes an intuition like the intuition of harmony in musical notes. There is yet to be developed in human consciousness the ability to discern almost by an interior feeling sense the immediate identity of natural and spiritual events. Everyday contact with the physical images of truth will eventually bring this genius to expression. Conscious practice will hasten its unfoldment. The perception of the harmonies in this realm will become as automatic and intuitive as the sweetness of musical chords. Repeated thinking upon the correspondences will heighten the intuition of spiritual truth.
As said before, the soul of man is thrust out from introvert dreaminess in celestial spheres into a world where it is confronted with the [Page 32] endless display of truth in its myriad concrete manifestations. One of the educative occupations of ancient wise men was to contemplate the wonders of God’s handiwork. The salutary habit is now out of date. Nature is under a cloud of contempt. Her silent oracles are unheeded. The tree-tongues and stone-sermons and flaming bushes afire with God pour their orations in vain into closed ears. We indeed have observed minutely the life of the bee, the spider, the wasp, the ant. But we rate all the marvel of these things as merely "curious". We see no light of highest instruction in them. We heed not the injunction of the prophet of old to go in our sluggish way to the ant, consider her ways and be wise. We do not see that the law which causes the females of certain aphids to deposit their eggs in the fleshly portion of the male parent’s body, so that when the tiny ova open their eyes and look for the first food they can eat the body of their own father, makes possible our keen understanding of the religious doctrine of the immolation and sacrifice of cosmic spiritual life on the altar of life in the body, and is the basic clue to what the Christos meant when he said that if we would live to immortality we must eat his very body. We do not see that the cynocephalus (the gibbon or dog-headed ape), in greeting the morning sunrise with his first efforts at clicking speech, most amazingly analogizes the coming of the gift of speech to humanity with the rise of the sun of righteousness and divine intellection in man’s own evolution. We do not observe that the snake’s or the beetle’s retirement into the earth for its winter’s sleep would be the categorical affirmation to our intelligence of the similar immersion of the soul in the ground of mortal body in its recurring winters of incarnation. To have compared incarnation to winter will be assumed by most readers to be a fancy of some poetic intimation conceived at the moment. But this is not the case at all. Throughout all ancient symbolism the soul’s descent and residence in the body is constantly compared to its dark night and its wintertime. The earth life is its dwelling in darkness and the chill of remoteness from the central hearths of divine radiance. So much is this symbol used that the Book of Revelation, in essaying to describe the heaven-world to which the soul will return after sojourn on earth, says that "there shall be no more night and no more sea" in that home of bliss. The winter of the year cycle corresponds to the night of the day cycle.
We are likewise blind to the pedagogic intimations of a thousand features of nature’s elementary play. Indeed there is not one of the numberless ministries of natural function in mineral, vegetable and animal realms that does not carry the theme of a sermon to the perceiving mind. What is demanded is the reconstruction of the science of paralogism. In the field of religion it would dictate the seeking of a spiritual analogue for every physical fact. Present religious vision is so dim and myopic that it sees no relation between the outer and the inner world, wanting the mental intelligence that the two are counterparts of one and the same creation. It totally lacks the rudimentary principle that every physical phenomenon must be matched by a spiritual noumenon. [Page 33]
THE PATHWAY BACK TO SCIENCE
All this points to the pathway by which science can be made once again the criterion of Bible exegesis. By analogy with things seen and procedures known the mysteries of the unseen world of spiritual consciousness can be brought within the pale of rational view and made amenable to intelligible explication. If visible things are the material shadows of invisible noumena, then at least the outlines of those invisible forms can be figured from the shape of the shadows they have cast down here. Here comes to hand the pointed relevance of two of the sweeping items of cosmogonic science. Both testify to the analogical way of seeing man’s relation to the cosmos. The first is the statement of Genesis that man was himself constituted in the image and likeness of the heavenly man, the Logos; the second is the comprehensive declaration by Deity that the temple which man was ordered to build for the elevation of Deity itself was to be constructed "after the pattern shown you in the Mount, the pattern of the heavens". Here was laid down the scientific charter of all religion. Man’s life, both in the body and in the spirit, was to be a phenomenon patterned after the form and course of life in cosmic spheres. If one is known, the other can be judged on the basis of proclaimed similarities. The one can be studied as scientifically as the other.
Evidence that the Biblical Sages had the nature-pattern methodology in mind is multiplied in the Scriptures and in the writings of the philosophers. The world, says the Psalmist, is full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the earth. "The whole world is full of thy glory," he cries again. "The world is full of gods," states Thales even before Plato. "Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge." And let us hear this reverent apostrophe of nature’s benign influences from the pen of Plutarch:
"For the world is a spacious and beautiful temple; this a man is brought into as soon as he is born, where he is not to be a dull spectator of immovable and lifeless images made by human hands, but is to contemplate sublime things, which (as Plato tells us) the divine mind has exhibited to our senses as likenesses of things in the ideal world, having the principles of life and motion in themselves; such as are the sun, moon and stars; rivers which are still supplied with fresh accessions of water; and the earth, which with a motherly indulgence suckles the plants and feeds her sensitive creatures. Now since life is the introduction and the most perfect initiation into these mysteries, it is but just that it should be full of cheerfulness and tranquility."
Nature will begin to lose its opaqueness and become translucent with significance when philosophy can teach the world again that we are sent into this physical park of beauty to be trained to see the things exhibited to our senses as the likenesses of things in the ideal world, and through that opening of our eyes learn to discern the reality of [Page 34] spiritual things. If we are shown earthly things and will not believe, how, asks the Scripture, are we ever to discern heavenly things? If, as Plutarch affirms, the earth life is but the introduction to transcendent life in loftier spheres, how are we to progress into those more resplendent experiences if we do not master the rudiments of true being set for us down here?
Religion and its bible are no longer scientifically approachable because ignorance has long ago abandoned any link between them and the world of phenomena. Religion, both in mental content and in practice, has been made a thing entirely apart from and outside of the province of the common natural. To be religious the individual has to be conditioned to a special susceptibility to an order of irrational psychological persuasions, wholly outside the normal run of everyday motivations. He has to be wrought up to a peculiar sensitiveness to certain psychological propensities and receptivities. He must be lifted out of his general commonplace mood and laid open to the impact of forces of exceptional moving power in the emotional and psychic category. Thus has religion been reduced from a cult of veritude to a special sort of fetishism involving types of thaumaturgic magic.
To aid this eerie orientation the literal reading of the Bible is urged upon the neophyte. As the reading goes on, the sense of transference into a world of unreality, of bizarre magical occurrence, grows apace. The sense of the presence of a power of miracle-working efficacy is diffused through the whole area of the mind. The hallucination grows that by unctuous brooding the age of miracle-magic may be superinduced to return for the individual thus inviting it. And so the vicious cycle of mental deterioration goes round and round, till the victim lives only dreamily in the actual world around him and equally under a trance spell in that imagined world of Scriptural supernaturalism. Thus he misses the reality of both worlds.
It was Emerson who wrote that the true vision of God was the ability to see the miraculous in the common. It was a great and wise discernment of the American sage. The man whose eye is open to the spectacle of thrilling reality before him is he who has come to reverence the majesty and the divinity of every commonplace item of the daily picture.
What has to be done now is to so employ the offices of symbolism and analogy in the reading of Scripture that the great volume of sage wisdom therein embodied will be redeemed from this world of egregious fantasy and eerie mysticism and reincorporated once more in the purview of ordinary rational comprehension. By reconsidering it as allegory and drama instead of history, its meaning can be brought back out of the bizarre domain of supernatural freakishness and monstrosity and given homely welcome in the house of commonplace reason. It can be restored from the world of things utterly out of the atmosphere of human [Page 35] naturalness to that world of recognizable reality in which alone man’s experience makes helpful sense and sanity. The proper reconstruction of Bible meaning will bring the whole volume back again into man’s familiar world, where the key to its mighty mysteries will be the body of truth and knowledge already known to him. Until this is done the Book will continue to lie over in a world wherein he can find no sure footing at any time.
Strange to say, many will not welcome this salutary transfer. They have adjusted their mentation to this hypothetical wonderland of the supernatural, which, like any drug or hypnotic stimulant, exerts its subtle seductive and soporific power, and they are reluctant to be disenchanted. They will regard it as a rude awakening out of a pleasant dream. But it is a necessity if they are to progress. When intelligence fails, life has harsh ways of opening blind eyes.
The effort to translate the Bible scientifically will call for a radical transposition or redirection of all mental view, but the gain will be enormous. It will bring the fruitful reward of a dynamic recharging of the whole individual life with new power, and will veritably open the door for the influx of a true magic such as will unimaginably transcend the mirage of pietistic obsession of the other sort. The ancient Sages called Mind the Great Magician. It alone had power to bring all the vague and wayward impulses of the psyche, — the lower human, as distinct from the higher spiritual soul — under its orderly and beneficent rulership. Mind was the great "serpent-charmer," the serpent typifying the lower psychic forces. The Bible student will realize for the first time what magic there is in the clear grasp of truth scientifically apprehended, in place of the chimerical hallucinations of afflated mysticism.
It is going to be difficult for the general reader, indoctrinated and mentally drugged as he has been by the traditions of centuries, to readjust the focus of his view so as to bring the meaning of Bible material within the scope of entirely natural possibility. The great change of view can be envisioned only through the lens of a totally new insight into the true purport of Scriptural contents. And such insight can be gained only through the overt realization that the narrative of Bible books is not that of factual historical occurrence, but is allegorical portrayal and dramatization of the forms of living truth and the patterns and meanings of all history. The Old Testament is not old Hebrew history, (as Josephus himself hints), but amazingly profound and subtle paraphrasing of the structure and significance of history. It is not a portion of world history, but a symbolic delineation of the form and purport of human existence. It is Hegelian analysis and structuralization, not annalistic record.
This will come as a revolutionary dictum, subversive of all orthodox philosophy concerning the ancient writings. But the corroboration of its truth is here in abundant measure since the finding of the Rosetta Stone, and the Egyptian evidence transforms the entire vista of interpretation and exegesis. [Page 36]
ALLEGORY TRUER THAN HISTORY
As history the Bible events remain wholly outside the area of science. Mystery, magic, miracle and marvel of the supernatural are not amenable to scientific judgment. Except as it can trace the operation of law even in the aberrations of abnormal psychology, science has no way of gauging the whimsicalities and caprices of an arbitrary Deity. Science can have no envisagement of Deity unless it can discover the laws and principles of regularity in that Deity’s actions. Of irregular and eccentric deific action it can have no standard of measurement. Psychology is heroically striving to discover the science underlying all human behavior. But how is man to gauge the motives and actions of Deity unless he can find out the code of principles by which Deity regulates its conduct? As long as miracle-religion stands on the basis that God of old did act, and eternally can act, from sheer arbitrary will, it holds the Bible entirely beyond the reach of science. Science stands mute in the presence of naked will as the root cause of phenomena,—unless indeed will itself can be found to be operating under fixed norms. The science of theology properly aims to understand and expound the basic archai of the will of God. Only as the manifest expression of this will of God can be seen to be under law or indeed itself to be the law, can science regard theology as within its purview.
Even in history as sheer event, the pure fiat of independent free wills, science can have little traffic. Only if the operation of free wills can be subsumed under codes of law and forms of direction can science find its way in the study of history. No one has ever thought of classifying history as a scientific study. Only with meager success has it been classed as susceptible to philosophical interpretation. Hegel made an effort in this direction. The conception is widespread, however, that the stream of history unfolds the pattern of God’s will in creation. This is legitimate and sound. But how capable man’s genius is to trace the design of this pattern is the vital question. Presumably only the omniscient gods could view history as a science, and it is questionable if they would bother to follow the millions of threads of linked causation winding their devious ways through the unthinkable mass of human motivations that conspire to bring forth the incalculable run of human actions. History could be a true science only if one knew, as presumably God alone does, the entire interlacing of the infinite warp and woof of all manifested action of all creatures. This is beyond man.
But for precisely this reason it is myth, allegory, parable, drama, number graph and astrological pictograph that reintroduces the possibility of scientific envisagement into history. For it is these that, ignoring the individual events, supply the chart of laws, principles, forms and therefore the meaning of all event. They provide just those indispensable bases for the interpretation of history as a science.
As recorded history, therefore, the Old Testament is not science. [Page 37] Theologians have endeavored, of course, to throw it into the frame of a presumed graph of the intent of Deity, the pattern of Jehovah’s governance of a given race of world inhabitants. The alleged events with Abraham, Noah, Moses, Joshua, Jephthah, Saul, Samuel, David, Solomon, were interpreted as painting a form picture of the will of God, the design and modus of his relation to his creature man. Hebrew history, as of the Old Testament, has been taken as divinely revealed model history. As Deity dealt with "Israel," so would he deal with all people.
But this has woefully and disastrously missed the mark. Slow indeed will indurated theory be to realize this sweeping assertion, but come it must when a candid facing of the data at hand since the discovery of the Rosetta Stone is at last achieved. The present tragic stress of world events will hasten it. Pressures now bearing on humanity will bring changes that otherwise would not have come in centuries.
The only hope of lifting religion out from under the pall of hypnotic superstition is to effect the disenchantment of the Western mind of its obsession that the Old Testament is Hebrew history. Only thus can the Bible be restored to its place of high beneficent influence as a light to the human mind and teacher of the science of truth. As history it is next to valueless; as allegory and drama of the interplay of God’s and man’s linked potencies in the human organism, it holds immeasurable enlightenment for all mankind. For the reader it is not a science if he takes it to be a record of the weird and eccentric actions of both God and men of only two or three thousand years ago. It will hallucinate him if he is led by it to think that life was under some exceptional and fantastic supervision of Deity then, which is out of all relation to the naturalness of life experienced by any other people at any time in history. It will befoul his thinking if he continues to believe that Deity at any time operated in the world under any regime or code of principles other than those laws of nature and of mind by which life has been regulated universally. The readjustment of his mind to the interpretation of Scripture as a series of graphs picturing the operation of cosmic law in its eternal and invariable normality will restore the contents of the great Book to him as the mightiest science he ever could conceive. Those graphs must be seen as majestic blueprints of truth and of law which yield to his deep introspection of their covert design a significance unspeakably direct and crucially vital for him.
The enormity of the tragedy of mental confusion and delusion that has befallen Western humanity for close to two thousand years can at least in minor measure be envisaged if one thinks of the millions on millions of earnest people of fair intelligence who have, under the force of pious persuasion in childhood, gone hopefully to that consecrated volume with zeal to drink the living waters of divine truth, only to be [Page 38] compelled after half an hour’s despairing effort, to lay it aside hopelessly confused and baffled by the maze of unintelligible "events" there recorded. Most of those millions have opened the Book with will and purpose highly consecrated to harmonize their lives with the ordinances of the truth and the right which they expected to find exemplified in the dealings of God with man. But disappointment and perplexity rewarded their sincere enterprise. They found themselves totally unable to understand how to align their lives with the requirements of a Deity whose actions, as there assumedly recorded, bore every mark of unaccountable eccentricity and arbitrary whimsicality. What, for instance, could one make of this Deity’s ordering the death on one day of forty-two thousand Ephraimites who, in the twelfth chapter of the book of Judges could not pronounce the word "Shibboleth," but instead said "Sibboleth"? And, were imagination keen enough, what a transfiguration of two thousand years of Western history might be conceived, if the millions could have been educated to know that those alleged actions of divine whim or human eccentricity hold under a cryptic exterior the actual message of the weightiest instruction possible of impartation by God to the human mind in the nature and meaning of their own existence here and now? The lifting of the Occidental mind from under its dementia and stupor of believing those narratives historical and setting it clear in the understanding that they are diagrams of the shape and meaning of the history they are now living, — perhaps this is the one hope for the future peace and possible blessedness of the precarious modern civilization.
The full story of how a Book came to enslave the mind of humanity in the West would be the most thrilling ever told. The series of books to which this essay is the introduction will tell that story in large part. By unfolding the true purport and meaning of those revered Scriptures it will by contrast paint the picture of the mental poverty and illusion produced by the false rendering of Bible material.
But the vivid discernment of the great tragedy will give bright hope for a transfiguration from dark delusion to radiant intelligence. For by the rediscovery of the ancient knowledge that spiritual realities are grandiose copies of the natural actualities, the majestic glyphs and cryptograms of the sacred Scriptures can be read as the scientific forms of the eternal truth on which the soul of man must feed as his body must feed on physical food. Not until Western culture is released from the obsession of belief in the Bible’s special Providence and brought to understand that the operation of law in all realms is the one stupendous miracle of all creation, will religion be redeemed from hallucination and derationalization of the gullible child-mind of the masses to a scientific cultus of the intelligence. Errant theology has inflicted upon the Western mind the persuasion that the events narrated in the Bible occurred under a regime and in a world of special supernatural Providence. Now, since the Book has stood as the almost universally accepted guide and manual for Western philosophy and morality, it can be seen with startling [Page 39] clarity that this bent of mental conviction has sadly warped our orientation to life out of any true relation to actuality. We have tried to handle the actual problems of life by applying a code of principles believed to have worked under an order of supernaturalism. Is it a great wonder that modern history has gone violently askew!
The theologians have railed without end against every claim advanced through the centuries that the Scriptures were collections of myths, allegories, dramas, glyphs and graphs of deeper spiritual and mystical realities. They have even defied the authority of their own first intelligent Fathers of the Church who contended for the allegorical interpretation of Scripture. They have insisted that the narrative was of factual history. Flying straight into the face of this position of orthodoxy on the wings of paradox and "heresy", this series of books will assert and demonstrate the revolutionary doctrine that the historical interpretation of the Bible has wrecked its meaning and derationalized the West. It will abundantly uphold and corroborate the claim that the myths and allegories of the Bible alone lay the foundation, when correctly understood, for a scientific grasp of the meaning of the Bible in the same normal world in which all the rest of man’s experience is sanely comprehensible. Seen through the lens of allegory, the Scriptures will become again the truly inspired divine revelation of the laws and principles of the Science of Man.
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