The Soldier and the Hunchback



We are of course no happier when we examine the Many, separately or together. They converge and diverge, each fresh hill-top of knowledge disclosing a vast land unexplored; each gain of power in our telescopes opening out new galaxies; each improvement in our microscopes showing us life minuter and more incomprehensible. A mystery of the mighty spaces between molecules; a mystery of the ether-cushions that fend off the stars from collision! A mystery of the fulness of things; a mystery of the emptiness of things! Yet, as we go, there grows a sense, an instinct, a premonition — what shall I call it? — that Being is One, and Thought is One, and Law is One — until we ask What is that One?
Then again we spin words — words — words. And we have got no single question answered in any ultimate sense.
What is the moon made of?
Science replies "Green Cheese."
For our one moon we have now two ideas:
Greenness, and Cheese.
Greenness depends on the sunlight, and the eye, and a thousand other things.
Cheese depends on bacteria and fermentation and the nature of the cow.
"Deeper, even deeper, into the mire of things!"
Shall we cut the Gordian knot? shall we say "There is God"?
What, in the devil's name, is God?
If (with Moses) we picture Him as an old man showing us His back parts, who shall blame us? The great Question — any question is the great question — does indeed treat us thus cavalierly, the disenchanted Sceptic is too prone to think!
Well, shall we define Him as a loving Father, as a jealous priest, as a gleam of light upon the holy Ark? What does it matter? All these images are of wood and stone, the wood and stone of our own stupid brains! The Fatherhood of God is but a human type; the idea of a human father conjoined with the idea of immensity. Two for One again!
No combination of thoughts can be greater than the thinking brain itself; all we can think of God or say of Him, so long as our words really represent thoughts, is less than the whole brain which thinks, and orders speech.
Very good; shall we proceed by denying Him all thinkable qualities, as do the heathen? All we obtain is mere negation of thought.
Either He is unknowable, or He is less than we are. Then, too, that which is unknowable is unknown; and "God" or "There is God" as an answer to our question becomes as meaningless as any other.
Who are we, then?
We are Spencerian Agnostics, poor silly, damned Spencerian Agnostics!
And there is an end of the matter.
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