The Immortality Of The Human Soul -- By: George S. Morris
BSac 33:132 (Oct 1876) p. 695
The Immortality Of The Human Soul1
“If a man die, shall he live again?” This is the old, old question, about which the thoughts of men have turned, with doubts, fears, or believing hopes, from the beginning. Old, it is ever new. Never fully solved, except for the conscience and the heart, always leaving the critical reason of man short of absolute conviction, it presents itself anew for practical solution to each new generation. Since, as a question of sensible fact, neither the affirmative nor the negative can be absolutely demonstrated in this life, it leaves immense room for the play of the dialectics of doubt, on the one hand, and of the powerful instincts of the heart’s needs and faiths, on the other. As a practical question, rightly affecting, according to the answer given to it, the conduct of life, its importance is transcendently great. To trifle with it, or to neglect to consider it, is unnatural in the extreme.
The belief in immortality is one of the ideal possessions of mankind. It involves the belief in an entity designated by the pronoun “I,” — a soul — a subject of consciousness and personality, — which, invisible for the physical organ of sight, belongs to the realities which, though “not seen,” are yet “eternal.” It stands in the same category with the belief in a God of love, and in a heaven where we shall see him as he is. It implies a faith that things are not altogether what they seem, even when viewed under the most powerful and tell-tale microscope; that behind and above attraction and cohesion is life, and above what are contradictorily termed blind necessity and brute or mechanical force exists intelligence, with the attributes of wisdom, truth,
BSac 33:132 (Oct 1876) p. 696
and love. It goes along with the faith that goodness, beauty, and truth are more powerful realities than gravitation or steam. The belief in human immortality is a part of the heritage of the noblest part of man, — the reason,— and shares and bears witness to the dignity of the latter.
Corresponding with this its dignity is the universality of the belief in question. The lowest in culture and the highest hold it together. A member of one of the most degraded of savage tribes, seizing the hand of a civilized visitor, and squeezing it, said: “This will die; but the life that is within you will never die.”2 Testimony to the effect that all savage tribes believe in a future life is gathered and summed up by one of remarkable judicial impartiality, — Mr. E. B. Tylor, in his recent magnificent work on Primitive Culture. On the other...
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