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the brute world as instinct, cunning, ferocity, and other animal traits; in the material world as law, system, development, power. When we think of God in any kind of human relation to the universe, or as a being apart from it, as parent, judge, sovereign, guide, we at once stumble upon this problem of evil, and invent schemes to justify God's ways to man, to excuse or gloss over the cruelty, the suffering, the injustice, we see in the world; we invent the devil, the garden of Eden, the myth of the fall of man, sin, the atonement, the judgment day. These things flow naturally from our anthropomorphic conception of God. They help reconcile the irreconcilable; they bridge over the chasm. But to the naturalistic conception, as distinguished from the theological, these things are childish dreams, to be put from us as we put away other childish things. Sin has no more reality than the negative gravity that Frank Stockton imagined, redemption no more reality than the rebellion in heaven that Milton invented, and heaven and hell no more existence than any other fabled abode of the ancient world.
To science, every day is a judgment day, eternity is now and here, heaven lies all about us, all laws are celestial laws. God is literally in everything we see and hear and feel, in every flower that blows, and not a sparrow falls to the ground without his cognizance. Your days are appointed, and all the hairs of your head are numbered, because nothing
goes by chance in this universe. Not a snowflake falls but its form and its course are determined by forces as old as the universe; pitch a stone from your hand and the elder gods know exactly where it shall alight. Is not this good predestinarianism? Yes, but not as Jonathan Edwards saw it; it is as science sees it. It is good everlastingism-the ways of a Power without variableness or shadow of turning, which Edwards anthropomorphized into a cruel, despotic, almighty man. We are predestined to heaven or hell by the dispositions we inherit from our fathers, by the environment which society makes for us, by the age and country in which we live, and by the strength and weakness of our own characters, which again are the result of forces as old as the race, and as constant and impersonal in their activity as gravitation.
The rising vapor proves gravitation as fully as the falling rain. The wildest, freest thing on wings goes only its appointed way. With the course of the swallow hawking for insects in the air, or with the course of the insects themselves soaring in the sunshine, the hand of chance plays no part any more than it does with the sailboat obeying wind and current on yonder bay, which again is a good symbol of a man's course throughout this world, impelled by impulses inherited from his fathers, and awakened by the circumstances of his life.
We speak of the chance meeting of this man and
that woman which resulted in a union for life, and, so far as their conscious wills were concerned, the meeting was a matter of chance; but if we could see all the forces that have been at work to bring them together, we should discover that there was no more chance about it than about the conjunction of two planets in the evening sky.
Indeed, our lives are evidently the result of such a play and interplay of forces from far and from near, from the past and from the present, from the earth and from the heavens, forces so subtle and constant and so beyond the reach of our analysis, that one is half converted to the claims of astrology, and inclined to believe that the fate of each of us was written in the heavens before the foundations of the world.
Don't you suppose that if the trees in the forest, the grass in the field, the fruit in the orchard, could for a moment be conscious and speak, they would each and all say, There is evil here also, there is crime, there is sin, there is struggle, defeat, and death also? One plant could complain that there is another plant stealing from it, or trespassing upon its territory and robbing it; another is being crowded to the wall, another being dwarfed by its bigger and more sturdy neighbor. Cut down a tree in the forest, and in the spring a half dozen or more shoots start
from the stump to replace the parent trunk. They all grow vigorously the first season; the whole push of the complex root system of the stump is behind them. They grow vigorously the second season, and the third, and maybe for several years more. But the competition becomes sharper and sharper; some of the shoots, from causes hard to penetrate, outstrip their fellows, they get the lead, they get more light, more foliage, and this enables them to take up more nourishment from the soil. The others lag, then stop, then die. Then the struggle among the three or four or five thrifty shoots goes on for a few years longer, till some of them are distanced, and finally die when they are the size of one's leg. Then two or three remain to take the place of the parent trunk. We witness here the same struggle that we witness in the animal world. It is all a question of the means of subsistence; the soil can nourish only just so much life, and the fittest or luckiest gets this nourishment, just the same as when you throw a bone to a pack of hungry dogs.
Sometimes the grain will “run out" the weeds, and sometimes the weeds will run out the grain, or the grass. The cereals that depend upon man, and that he depends upon, cannot of course hold their own with the wild denizens of the soil. Much care and culture has made them weak; they have grown dependent; they must be fed and cosseted and protected, the battle against the foes of life
must be fought for them. All these cultivated plants are handicapped by a burden the wild things do not bear; the wild things are mainly bent only upon selfpropagation: to this end their seeds are small and numerous; but the cultivated grains and vegetables bear a burden of food for man, aside from the germ necessary to their propagation. Wild rice is a lean, savage, hirsute product compared with the cultivated varieties; but the potato and the onion and the pippin—what a burden of starch and of other elements each bears, in contrast with the wild species!
Evil comes to the fruit tree in the orchard in the shape of frost that nips the fruit buds, or of worms that eat its foliage, or in the shape of birds that cut out the heart of the blossom, or in the shape of insects that lay their eggs in the baby fruit, or in the shape of fungus growths that fasten upon it and dwarf it or mar it. Evil threatens and sooner or later comes to everything that lives. Evil in this sense is a necessary part of the living universe; there is no escape from it. A world of competition, of diverse and opposed interests, is a world of struggle, of defeat, of death.
After the ice has been all nicely formed in the river, a miracle of crystallic beauty and perfection, the winds or the tides break it up and bring chaos to it. But the cold continues, the ice-packs freeze together, or new ice forms, the ruin of the first