Freethought Archives > Walter R. Cassels > Supernatural Religion 

FOOTNOTES

Part 1, Chapter 2 (pp. 18-32)

[18:1]  Newman writes: "Nay, if we only go so far as to realise what Christianity is, when considered merely as a creed and what stupendous overpowering facts are involved in the doctrine of a Divine Incarnation, we shall feel that no miracle can be great after it, nothing strange or marvellous, nothing beyond expectation" (Two Essays on Scripture Miracles etc., 1870, p. 185).

[19:1] It may be well to refer more particularly to the views of Ewald, one of the most profound scholars, but, at the same time, arbitrary critics, of this time. In his great work, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, he rejects the supernatural from all the "miracles" of the Old Testament (cf. III. Ausg. 1864, Band i., p. 385 ff., ii., p. 88 f., 101 ff., 353 ff.), and in the fifth volume Christus u.s. Zeit, he does not belie his previous opinions. He deliberately repudiates the miraculous birth of Jesus (v. p. 236), rejects the supernatural from the birth of John the Baptist, and denies the relationship (Luke 1:36) between him and Jesus (p. 230 ff.). The miraculous events at the Crucifixion are mere poetical imaginations (p. 581). The Resurrection is the creation of the pious longing and excited feeling of the disciples (Band vi. Gesch. des Apost. Zeitalters, 1858, p. 71 f.), and the Ascension, its natural sequel (vi. p. 95 f.). In regard to the miracles of Jesus, his treatment of disease was principally mental and by the exercise of moral influence on the mind of the sick; but he also employed external means, inquired into the symptoms of disease, and his action was subject to the laws of Divine order (v. pp. 291-299). Ewald spiritualises the greater miracles until the physical basis is almost completely lost. In the miracle at the marriage of Cana, "water itself, under the influence of his spirit, becomes the best wine," as it still does wherever his spirit is working in full power (v. p. 329). The miraculous feeding of 5,000 is a narrative based on some tradition of an occasion in which Jesus, "with the smallest external means, but infinitely more through his spirit and word and prayer, satisfied all who came to him" -- an allegory, in fact, of the higher satisfying power of the bread of life -- which in course of time grew to the consistency of a physical miracle (v. p. 442). The raising of the son of the widow of Nain is represented as a case of suspended animation (v.p. 424). In his latest work, Die Lehre der Bibel von Gott, Ewald eliminates all the miraculous elements from Revelation, which he extends to all historical religions (with the exception of Mohammedanism), as well as to the religion of the Bible (i., p. 18, § 8).

[19:2] Notes on Miracles, p. 74

[19:3] Ib., p. 75

[20:1] Notes on Miracles, p. 12

[20:2] Ib., p. 2, note 12

[20:3] Ib., p. 14.

[20:4] Two Essays on Scriptural Miracles, etc. p. 116

[20:5] Notes on Miracles, p. 15.

[21:1] Two Essays on Scripture Miracles, etc., p. 154.

[21:2] Ib., p. 158

[21:3] Matt. 14:20.

[21:4] Notes on Miracles, p. 274 f.

[21:5] Newman, referring to this amongst other miracles as "a far greater innovation upon the economy of nature than the miracles of the Church upon the economy of Scripture," says: "There is nothing, for instance, in nature at all to parallel and mitigate the wonderful history of the multiplication of an artificially prepared substance such as bread" (Two Essays, p. 157f.).

[21:6] Notes on Miracles, p. 274.

[21:7] Ib., p. 15

[22:1] Notes on Miracles, p. 16. Dr. Liddon writes on the evidential purpose of miracles and their nature, as follows: "But how is man enabled to identify the Author of this law within him" (which the highest instincts of the human conscience derive from the Christian Revelation and the life of Christ), "perfectly reflected as it is in the Christ, with the Author of the law of the Universe without him? The answer is, by miracle. Miracle is an innovation upon physical law -- or at least a suspension of some lower physical law by the intervention of a higher one -- in the interests of moral law. The historical fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead identifies the Lord of physical life and death with the Legislator of the Sermon on the Mount. Miracle is the certificate of identity between the Lord of Nature and the Lord of Conscience -- the proof that He is really a moral being who subordinates physical to moral interests. Miracle is the meeting-point between intellect and the moral sense, because it announces the answer to the efforts and yearnings alike of the moral sense and the intellect; because it announces revelation" (Some Elements of Religion, Lent Lectures, 1870; H. P. Liddon, D.D., Canon of St. Paul's, 1872, p. 74 f.).

[22:2] Bampton Lectures, 1865, p. 145.

[23:1] Bampton Lectures, 1865, pp. 145-153.

[23:2] Ib., pp. 153-159.

[23:3] Ib., p. 54 f.

[23:4] Ib., p. 156

[23:5] Ib., p. 157

[24:1] Mansel, Aids to Faith, p. 19.

[24:2] Ib., p. 20.

[24:3] Throughout this argument we use the term "law" in its popular sense as representing the series of phenomena to which reference is made. We do not think it necessary to discuss the assumption that the will of man is an "efficient cause"; it is sufficient to show that even admitting the premise, for the sake of argument, the supposed consequences do not follow.

[25:1] Bampton Lectures, 1865, p. 164.

[25:2] Ib., p. 164

[25:3] Ib., p. 164.

[25:4] Ib., p. 165

[25:5] Ib., p. 165

[26:1] Dr. Mozley says, in the preface to the second edition of his Bampton Lectures: "It is quite true that we see laws of nature any day and any hour neutralised and counteracted in particular cases and do not look upon such counteractions as other than the most natural events; but it must be remembered that, when this is the case, the counteracting agency is as ordinary and constant an antecedent in nature as the agency which it counteracts. The agency of the muscles and the agency of the magnet are a. ordinary as the agency of gravitation which they both neutralise … The elevation of a body in the air by the force of an arm is a counteraction indeed of the law of gravitation, but it is a counteraction of it by another law as natural as that of gravity. The fact, therefore, is in conformity with the laws of nature. But if the same body is raised in the air without any application of a known force, it is not a fact in conformity with natural law. In all these cases the question is not whether a law of nature has been counteracted, for that does not constitute a fact contradictory to the laws of nature; but whether it has been counteracted by another natural law. If it has been, the conditions of science are fulfilled. But if a law of nature has been counteracted by a law out of nature, it is of no purpose, with a view to naturalise scientifically that counteraction of a law of nature, to say that the law of nature has been going on all the time, and only been neutralised, not suspended or violated. These are mere refinements of language, which do not affect the fact itself, that a new conjunction of antecedent and consequent, wholly unlike the conjunctions in nature, has taken place. The laws of nature have in that instance not worked, and an effect contrary to what would have issued from those laws has been produced. This is ordinarily called a violation or suspension of the laws of nature; and it seems an unnecessary refinement not to call it such. But whatever name we give to it, the fact is the same; and the fact is not according to the laws of nature in the scientific sense." (p. xii. f.).

[28:1] Bampton Lectures, 1865, p. 163.

[28:2] Ib., p. 6

[28:3] Ib., p. 23

[29:1] Bampton Lectures, p. 23.

[29:2] The history of the gradual development of the idea of the existence and personality of the Devil is full of instruction, and throws no small light upon the question of revelation.

[32:1] Notes on Miracles, p. 71 f. Archbishop Trench believes that exemption from the control of the law of gravitation, etc., is a "lost prerogative" of our race, which we may one day recover. It would be difficult to produce a parallel to his reasoning in modern times. He says: "It has been already observed that the miracle, according to its true idea, is not a violation nor yet suspension of law, but the incoming of a higher law, as of a spiritual in the midst of natural laws, and the momentary assertion, for that higher law, of the predominance which it was intended to have, and but for man's fall it would always have had, over the lower; and with this a prophetic anticipation of the abiding prevalence which it shall one day recover. Exactly thus was there here" (in the miracle of the Walking on the Sea) "a sign of the lordship of man's will, when that will is in absolute harmony with God's will, over external nature. In regard to this very law of gravitation, a feeble, and for the most part unconsciously possessed, remnant of his power survives to man in the well-attested fact that his body is lighter when he is awake than sleeping; a fact which every nurse who has carried a child can attest. From this we conclude that the human consciousness, as an inner centre, works as an opposing force to the attraction of the earth and the centripetal force of gravity, however unable now to overbear it" (!) Ib., p. 292.
 


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