Historical Reprints Religion God and the World - A Survey of Thought

God and the World - A Survey of Thought

God and the World - A Survey of Thought
Catalog # SKU3638
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Arthur W. Robinson
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God and the World

A Survey of Thought

Arthur W. Robinson

A man, so it has been said, is distinguished from the creatures beneath him by his power to ask a question. To which we may add that one man is distinguished from another by the kind of question that he asks. A man is to be measured by the size of his question. Small men ask small questions: of here and now; of to-day and to-morrow and the next day; of how they may quickest fill their pockets, or gain another step upon the social ladder. Great men are concerned with great questions: of life, of man, of history, of God.

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So again, the size of an age can be determined by the size of its questions. It has been claimed that the age through which we have passed was a great age, and tried by this test we need not hesitate to admit the claim. It was full of questions, and they were great questions. As never before, the eyes of men strained upwards and backwards into the dim recesses of the past to discover something, if it might be, of the beginnings of things: of matter and life; of the earth and its contents; of the solar system and the universe. We know with what interest inquiries of this sort were regarded, and how ready the people were to read the books that dealt with them; to attend lectures and discussions about them, and to give their money for the purposes of such research. It was a great age that could devote itself so eagerly to questions of this importance and magnitude.

But as men cannot live upon appetite, so neither can they be for ever satisfied with questions. Hence it follows that a period of questioning is ordinarily followed by another, in which the accumulated information is sorted and digested and turned to practical account; a time in which constructive work is attempted, and some understanding is arrived at as to the relation that exists between the old knowledge and the new. It looks as if we were nearing such a time, when, for a while at all events, there will be a pause for reconsideration and reconstruction, and the human spirit will gather strength and confidence before again setting out upon its quest of the Infinite. Already we are asked to give attention to statements that are intended to review the whole situation and to summarise, provisionally at all events, the results that have been attained. Each of these attempts will, in its turn, be superseded by something that is wider in its outlook and wiser in its verdicts. This little book is an effort of this nature, and it is offered in the hope that it may serve some such useful and temporary purpose.

Much more competent writers than its author might well apologise for consenting to enter upon the task which he has been invited to undertake. All that he can say, by way of excuse for his boldness in complying, is that for many years he has endeavoured to follow the trend of modern thinking, and that the growing interest with which he has done this encourages him to hope that he may be able to make what he has to tell about it both intelligible and interesting to others. He does not imagine that he can escape mistakes, and he will most gladly submit himself to the correction of others who know better and see more clearly than he does. He only begs that those who disagree with his judgments will try to give him credit for a sincere desire to be true to facts, and to welcome the light, from whatever quarter it may have come.

When we speak of the age that is passing, we shall have in mind what may roughly be reckoned as the last hundred years. That space includes, for those of us who are not in our first youth, the time of our parents, and even, it may be, of our grandparents. The period has a certain distinctiveness of character in spite of superficial diversities. It was marked, as we have said, by the intelligence and vigour of its questionings. It was a time of intellectual movement and turmoil. It witnessed a succession of wonderful discoveries leading on to ever bolder investigations. Rapid generalisations were advanced, to be often as quickly abandoned. Only by degrees was it possible to see the new facts in their proper proportion and significance. Nor was it at all easy for men to keep their discussions free from heat and bitterness, when the most deeply-rooted convictions appeared to be assailed, and the most sacred associations to be regarded as of little account. Looking back, as we can, it is possible to see that in spite of the eddies and backwaters a steady progress was made. And it is of that progress that it will now be our endeavour to speak.

We know how it has happened to us over and over again in our own individual experiences to have been made conscious of a gradual modification of our opinions as new evidence has reached us, and we have had time to relate it to our previous understanding and knowledge. We have had our first thoughts, and our second thoughts, and then there have come third thoughts, which were the ripest and soundest of all. Just such a process of which we can mark the stages in ourselves is to be seen on a larger scale-in bigger print, as it were-in the thought movements of an age. In the case of the period which we are to review, the three stages have been more than commonly clear, as we shall aim to shew in the survey we are to make.

125 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover

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