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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

XXII
Reconciliation

Religion

BY religion I mean a living sense that man proposes and God
disposes, that we must watch and pray that we enter not into
temptation, that he who thinketh he standeth must take heed
lest he fall, and the countless other like elementary maxims
which a man must hold as he holds life itself if he is to be
a man at all.

If religion, then, is to be formulated and made tangible
to the people, it can only be by means of symbols, counters
and analogies, more or less misleading, for no man professes
to have got to the root of the matter and to have seen the
eternal underlying verity face to face—and even though he
could see it he could not grip it and hold it and convey it
to another who has not. Therefore either these feelings must
be left altogether unexpressed and, if unexpressed, then soon
undeveloped and atrophied, or they must be expressed by
the help of images or idols—by the help of something
not more actually true than a child's doll is to a child,
but yet helpful to our weakness of understanding, as the
doll no doubt gratifies and stimulates the motherly instinct
in the child.

Therefore we ought not to cavil at the visible superstition
and absurdity of much on which religion is made to rest, for
the unknown can never be satisfactorily rendered into the
known. To get the known from the unknown is to get some-
thing out of nothing, a thing which, though it is being done
daily in every fraction of every second everywhere, is logically
impossible of conception, and we can only think by logic, for
what is not in logic is not in thought. So that the attempt

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