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Even Dr. Priestley teaches that “man does not consist of two principles so essentially different from each other as matter and spirit, but the whole man is of one uniform composition; and that either the material or the immaterial part of the universal system is superfluous."* Having adopted the principle of uni-substance in the universe, he seems to have been, for a time, doubtful whether he should spiritualize matter, and declare the one substance of the universe to be spirit; or whether he should materialize mind, and declare the one substance to be matter. But in his course toward error, he had already passed the point where "gravitation turns the other way;" and he soon sunk down into materialism. Yet, strangely enough, he still professed to believe the doctrine of man's immortality, and also of retribution in another life. So in the so-called spiritualism of the present day; it is thoroughly materialistic, while, at the same time, it assumes the style and title of spiritualism. A. J. Davis says: “Nature proclaims one of her great working principles to be, that spirit is evolved out of matter.” But this refined nonsense is illuminated by one ray of true light, when it is admitted that this spirit "outlives the body in which it is educated."
Less known than those quoted before, yet not less clear in the statement of this form of materialism, was Mr. Thomas Read, of New York. He says that “the manifestations of the soul, of life, of mind, of sight, thought, feeling, love, and envy, and the effects of electricity, sound, heat, and so on, are all alike the effects of physical, or, if you please, of material causes.” | Nor does he shrink from the extremest consequences of this materialism : “The soul or life has no independent conscious existence, apart from the organs that produce thought, feeling, and action; and, therefore, life, mind, memory, thought, reason, and consciousness are physical phenomena, and cease at death."* What balder or bolder infidelity than this was ever displayed? What of being can be left to man after the extinction of all these? And yet this man professed, faith in revelation and in a future life!
*"'Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit.” t “The Principles of Nature and Her Divine Revelations." IImmateriality of the Soul, p. 4.
There is a class of men who conceal their materialism in the mystical formulas of some development theory, which stealthily but studiously excludes a first cause in the creation of man, and also the higher elements of soul from his nature. Like infidels in all ages, they assume to
par excellence, the men of science, of facts, of reason, and of intelligence. Of this class are Darwin, Morell, Huxley, and their minor followers. But we have already devoted sufficient space to the examination of their respective theories.
We repeat, then, that all the theories relating to the nature of mind or soul range themselves, in the final result, under two general heads. The first is that the soul is an independent spiritual existence, mysteriously connected with the human body. The other is that mind or soul is merely an organic state of matter, such as constitutes the human brain; or, in other words, that the human soul is merely a function of matter. Into one or the other of these two opinions all these various theories, in the final analysis, resolve themselves. Nor does the subject seem to furnish the least grounds upon which, outside of these two, any other opinions could be erected.
The first has the sanction of Divine Revelation; the purest and soundest philosophy of all ages has recognized it; and it has ever formed a distinct element in the Christian creed. We have already presented, to some extent, the facts and arguments by which it is established. We come now to consider the objections to the opposite theory; that theory which regards the human soul as a mere result of physical organization, or, in other words, as a function of matter. This summary method of robbing a man of himself we shall subject to a somewhat rigid analysis; and the more so as it seems to be specially revived in the present day. Brought forth under the guise of a new nomenclature, sustained by the most subtile sophistries, and heralded with the most pompous pretension, it has already obtained a foothold among pretentious theologians, and it seems as though it would, were it possible, “deceive the
* Immateriality of the Soul.
To us this theory seems not only fraught with pernicious moral effects, tending to degrade the being, character, and destiny of man, but also, in a philosophical point of view, to be unwarranted by any sound induction of facts. We shall go further, and undertake to show that it is irreconcilable with the phenomena of mental action, and also with well-attested facts in the psychological his tory of man.
II. THE FUNCTION-THEORY FAILS TO SOLVE ANY Mys
TERY IN THE HUMAN ORGANIZATION; NOR DOES IT RELIEVE ANY PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFICULTY. *
Our first objection to the theory that soul or spirit is merely a function of matter is, that it fails to accomplish the end proposed. It solves no mystery, and removes no difficulty. At most it only changes the ground of difficulty. The acknowledged fact for which we seek a solution—that is, the existing spiritual phenomena–is left as mysterious and inexplicable as ever.
If the declaration that “there is a spirit in man” is to be rejected because it is mysterious and above our comprehension, the assumption that these phenomena originate in the physical condition of our bodies involves a mystery equally inexplicable, and on the same ground must also be rejected. If we can not, upon philosophical principles, explain the origin and nature of mind, still more difficult shall we find the task of explaining by what process matter may become endowed with such transcendent, such surprising power.
The opinion that even organic matter could, by any possibility, be made to exhibit such power, can not be received without the most clear and indubitable evidence. What is there to be found in the composition of the brain and nervous system, or in their organization, that would lead us to look for the development of thought, feeling, or conscience in them? The brain has been analyzed, and more than eight-tenths of its substance has been found to be water. Indeed this, mixed up with a little albumen, a still less quantity of fat, osmazome, phosphorus, acids, salts, and sulphur constitute its material elements.* In all cases water largely predominates. Take even the pineal glandthat interior and mysterious organ of the brain, supposed by Descartes, and by many philosophers after him, to be the peculiar seat of the soul-even this has been analyzed. Its principal elements are found to be phosphate of lime, together with a smaller proportion of carbonate of lime and phosphates of ammonia and magnesia.
* One hundred parts of the brain, according to Vaugnelin, consist of water, 80 ; albumen, 7; acids, salts, and sulphur, 5.15; phosphorus, 1.5; osmazome, 1.12; white fatty matter, 4.53; and red fatty matter, 7. According to Gass and Pfaff, who separated the water into its elements : Carbon, 53.48; hydrogen, 16.89; nitrogen, 6.70; oxygen, 18.44; fixed salts, 3.36; and phosphorus, 1.08. Dr. Draper, in his Human Physiology, gives the following table :
If the brain at large constitutes the soul, then the soul is only a peculiar combination of oxygen and hydrogen with albumen, acids, salts, sulphur, etc. Or, if the pineal gland constitutes the soul, then the principal element of soul is phosphate of lime! If this wonderful theory is true, it may be safely conceded that we gain something by it. We have at last found out what the soul is. And when the wise man again inquires, “Who knoweth the spirit of man?” these sage philosophers may respond, "We! it is phosphate of lime!" But, what! has a peculiar combination of a few elemental substances; has phosphate of lime been the cause, the fons et origo, of all the glorious manifestations of intellect that have been made among men?
Is it osmazome that has given origin to the creations of art? Is it oxygen that blazes out in the glowing fires of eloquence? Was it hydrogen that soared in the philosophy of Newton, and sought with all-comprehending grasp to encircle the universe of God? Was it phosphate of lime that wove the garlands of poesy, and thus touched the tender chords of human sympathy, taste, and sentiment?
“To rise in science, as in bliss,
III. THE SOUL EXERTS A CONTROLLING INFLUENCE OVER
THE BODY, AND THEREFORE MUST BE SOMETHING MORE THAN A MERE RESULT OF BODILY ORGANIZATION.
We have seen that this function-theory assumes that the intellectual power of man results from physical organization,