Recent Science And The Soul’s Survival -- By: James T. Bixby

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:292 (Oct 1916)
Article: Recent Science And The Soul’s Survival
Author: James T. Bixby

Recent Science And The Soul’s Survival

James T. Bixby, Ph.D.

With the outbreak of the great European war and its unparalleled tragedies, a longing for the consolations of faith in the survival of the soul has returned. In anticlerical France, the consciousness of a spirit in man surged up in a surprising way in the hearts of classes lately quite skeptical, if not downrightly materialistic. In socialistic ranks, also, so great a change has been occurring that many of its foremost leaders have been frankly expressing the idea that “behind nature there is a Power unseen but felt”; that “beyond death there must be a something”; “else were life on earth a mere wastage.”

If there be a moral Ruler controlling mankind and human destiny, can that Ruler allow the unscrupulous men who have been responsible for the terrible sufferings and destruction of so many millions of fellow beings to escape any just retribution for their international crimes by dropping with their innocent victims into One common, indiscriminating, all-devouring, all-unconscious dustheap?

Perhaps we cannot say what Divine Justice in the hereafter requires. But at least we can affirm something as to

what mental and moral consistency requires in view of the intense convictions as to duty, veracity, and integrity which all noble — yes, all decent — men hold. On the materialistic theory, what a silly error is the voluntary death for the defense of his fellows of every noble patriot or soldier or self-sacrificing martyr who has died for his religion, his home, or justice in the society to which he belongs! Unless we accept as the types of wise men those who brazenly throw overboard all inconvenient scruples about integrity and disadvantageous mercy, and affirm that Jesus and Paul, Savonarola, John Huss, and Abraham Lincoln were but despicable fools who under the hallucination of duty squandered the one life granted to them, then we must accept the great moral instincts of noble men as pointing to a real spiritual world beyond the grave, whose steady gravitation draws the human heart, at whatever cost of the fleshly life and sensation, to obey these higher laws of duty and virtue.

But, ask the men of science, how is it possible for human life and mind to continue after the mortal dissolution of the body? This, of course, is the great modern objection which I desire to discuss. For to-day no Scripture text or church authority or past belief weighs with the twentieth-century man. Even the old-time philosophic doctrines of Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Kant, and Hamilton have been consigned to the dustheap. They are incredible because, it is said, they are dualistic, and modern science and ...

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