"We are now compelled to regard our conceptions of matter as symbolic of a Power which is essentially unknowable, and the existence of which we can recognize only in its manifestations." This statement from "Science and Hypotheses," by the great French philosopher, M. Poincaré, very adequately expresses the present general attitude of materialistic philosophy, and it is equally interesting both for what it contains and for what it logically involves. If it be true, then manifestly the material concept and explanation of the universe must be abandoned.

The fact that water is composed of two parts of hydrogen and one of oxygen, remains unaffected in its relation to laboratory work and to human life, whatever the belief entertained as to the exact metaphysical nature to these components, and it is thus seen that the meaning of the above concession is found not in its relation to those "natural sciences" which have to do with phenomena only, but in its significance to philosophy and religious thought. It is to be noted that M. Poincaré not only stands for a new and very definite point of view, but he declares that it has been reached through compulsion; and yet the relative readiness of physical scientists to yield a long-maintained position has been in marked contrast to the stubborn reserve which has always characterized religious prejudice, that inertia of vested ecclesiastical interests which has been so fully illustrated in the attitude of many religionists toward Christian Science. This compulsion has resulted not only from the demonstration of the truth, but from the desire for truth, that innate and insatiable longing for the real which not only leads to the discovery of the higher, but which argues for the possibility of mankind's attainment of the highest; and these two forces are cooperating to-day as never before, to advance that cause of demonstrable truth for which Mrs. Eddy stands, and which she has definingly named Christian Science.

The philosopher's recognition of a "Power" which is essentially "unknowable" as the explanation of phenomena, takes on its vital meaning when we realize that there is no sense of incongruity in the association of power with mentality. The identification, in the last analysis, of force with active will becomes necessary not only to those who accept the teachings of Christ Jesus, but to all those who accept any form of theistic idealism. With all these the universe is indeed the expression of a "power" which to human sense is "past finding out," and this common thought vastly improves the promise of mental and spiritual advance. The strife which has always existed between the material and the spiritual concepts of being is in large part done away. Nevertheless, a supreme difficulty still remains, namely, the fact that the forces with which thought has to do seem to be both good and evil; and as conceived of in the light of this seeming, the "unknowable" is either a gigantic and inscrutable inconsistency, or else it is a duality which stands for eternal strife.

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March 7, 1908

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