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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

324                 First Principles

position to another, cui bono to make a change ? Why not
stay quietly in the Athanasian Creed as we are ? And, after
all, the Athanasian Creed is light and comprehensible read-
ing in comparison with much that now passes for science^

I can give no answer to this as regards the unintelligible
clauses, for what we come to in the end is just as abhorrent
to and inconceivable by reason as what they of er us; but
as regards what may be called the intelligible partsóthat
Christ was born of a Virgin, died, rose from the deadówe
say that, if it were not for the prestige that belief in these
alleged facts has obtained, we should refuse attention to
them. Out of respect, however, for the mass of opinion that
accepts them we have looked into the matter with care, and
we have found the evidence break down. The same reasoning
and canons of criticism which convince me that Christ was
crucified convince me at the same time that he was insuffi-
ciently crucified. I can only accept his death and resurrection
at the cost of rejecting everything that I have been taught
to hold most strongly. I can only accept the so-called
testimony in support of these alleged facts at the cost of
rejecting, or at any rate invalidating, all the testimony on
which I have based all comfortable assurance of any kind
whatsoever.

God and the Unknown

God is the unknown, and hence the nothing qua us. He
is also the ensemble of all we know, and hence the everything
qua us. So that the most absolute nothing and the most
absolute everything are extremes that meet (like all other
extremes) in God.

Men think they mean by God something like what Raffaelle
and Michael Angelo have painted; unless this were so
Raffaelle and Michael Angelo would not have painted as
they did. But to get at our truer thoughts we should look
at our less conscious and deliberate utterances. From these
it has been gathered that God is our expression for all forces
and powers which we do not understand, or with which we
are unfamiliar, and for the highest ideal of wisdom, goodness
and power which we can conceive, but for nothing else.

Thus God makes the grass grow because we do not under-
stand how the air and earth and water near a piece of grass