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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE  MODERN WORLD
the growth of psychological knowledge will rub even that from the
universe.
However—and this is vital—the fading of God does not mean the
end of religion. God's disappearance is in the strictest sense of the
word a theological process; and while theologies change, the religious
impulses which gave them birth persist.
The disappearance of God means a recasting of religion, and a re-
casting of a fundamental sort. It means the shouldering by man of
ultimate responsibilities which he had previously pushed off on to
God.
What are these responsibilities which man must now assume?
First, responsibility for carrying on in face of the world's mystery and
his own ignorance. In previous ages that burden was shifted on to
divine inscrutability: "God moves in a mysterious way." . . . Now we
lay it to the account of our own ignorance, and face the possibility
that ignorance of ultirnatcs may, through the limitations of our
nature, be permanent.
Next, responsibility for the long-range control of destiny. That we
can no longer shift on to God the Ruler. Much that thcistic religion
left to divine guidance remains out of our hands: but our knowledge
gives us power of controlling our fate and that of the planet we in-
habit, within wide limits. In a phrase, we arc the trustees of the
evolutionary process and, like ail trustees, responsible for our trust.
Thirdly and most urgently, responsibility for the immediate health
and happiness of the species, for the enhancement oflife on this earth,
now and in the immediate future. Poverty, slavery, ill-health, social
misery, democracy, kingship, this or that economic or political system
—they do not inhere inevitably in a divinely appointed order of
things: they are phenomena to be understood and controlled in
accordance with our desire, just as much as the phenomena of chem-
istry or electricity.
Finally, there is the question of the immediate future of religion.
Can science make any prophecy or oflrr any guidance in regard to
this? I think that within limits, it can. In the first place, by analys-
ing the reasons for the breakdown of the traditional supernatural
religious systems of the west, it can point out that, unless the trend of
history is reversed, the breakdown is an irremediable one. For it is
due to the increase of our knowledge and control, the decrease of our
ignorance and fear, in relation to man's external environment-—
machinery, crop-production, physical and chemical invention, floods,
disease germs—and unless science and technology disappear in a new
Dark Age, this will persist.
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