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CHAPTER XIV

THE PHILOSOPHICAL CHARACTER OF THE BIBLICAL

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N the second sentence of the first chapter of Genesis

we have the apparently senseless statement that the earth was without form, and void.' The literal form of the words, without form, and void,' does not express the whole truth. It is impossible that the earth in the full sense of the words could have been ' without form, and void.' The literal without the spiritual import would be devoid of meaning. The true substantial meaning of the words expresses the beginning of the philosophy of spirit, which meaning is identical with that of the first words of Hegel's Logic, in which he expresses the startingpoint of the demonstrated science of the philosophy of spirit: 'Being is the indefinite immediate,' ' Pure Being without any further definition,' 'Being, the indefinite immediate, is, in fact, Nothing, and neither more nor less than Nothing.' The complete specification and development of the spirit rises in its logical evolution to the full conception or notion of the absolute spiritual nature of the universe. In like manner the words, ' without form, and void,' form the startingpoint of the six days' creation as the six stages of the revelation and manifestation in man of the absolute spiritual.nature of the universe. As a matter of fact, without form, and void,' expresses precisely the

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starting-point of the infant consciousness, that is, of its spirit. With man, all demonstrated science begins with the dim, indefinite, immediate consciousness of the infant.

Light is day and darkness is night, but without thought, light and day, darkness and night have no meaning. Without thought all would be a blank nothing. Nothing, however, is more evident than that thought is consciousness, reason and spirit, and that spirit is the self-active, self-creative power, the source of all natural and spiritual life. Darwin said, . We are profoundly ignorant of the cause of variation. The self-activity of spirit is the logical development of the categories, which Hegel says, 'is alone demonstrated science.' If Darwin had seen this he would have known the cause of variation and have been a true scientist. Merely to say, 'natural selection,' is no science at all, for all science is spiritual in its nature, and in its dialectical development is alone true science.

If, as already stated, the teaching of the Bible is in perfect harmony with the teaching of logical philosophy, the further development and fuller exposition of true philosophy will only tend to confirm the fundamental truths set forth in the Biblical record.

Man as a philosopher is the only being who can perceive the true nature of things, and even in the earliest chapters of the Bible there is evidence of a deep insight into the nature of God, man, and creation. When the record is closely examined, it will be seen that the writer of the account of creation as given in the Book of Genesis was somewhat of a philosopher. He was at least a monotheist, and therefore a genuine philosopher, and with him God was the Creator of the universe; he speaks of God as a spirit, “eternal,' the great •I am that I am,' and therefore, in a real sense, the beginning and foundation of all things. The

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writer of the first three chapters of Genesis was by no means an ordinary man, but one possessed of true and vital thoughts concerning the nature of God and the unity of all things in Him. He possessed a deeply religious spirit and a very high moral tone and character. He was not carried away by pictures of a vain imagination, but thought in a style only possible to a great man living under a deep sense of the presence and glory of the infinite God. There is nothing in the record to indicate that the writer did not realize the truth and importance of what he wrote. The honour of the great God who ‘made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,' dominates his mind. All that is made is in his eyes very good, but God

man in the image of God’ are seen to be in value infinitely above all things else. Such a man could never bring his mind to be a writer of mere myths, nor even a reproducer or improver of myths concerning God, man, and creation. Our estimate of the writer agrees well with what Stephen declares concerning Moses: ‘Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds’; and also with the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews when he says, “he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.' Just as the great Apostle Paul received both a Grecian and a Hebrew training, so Moses received an Egyptian and a Hebrew training. While Moses had all the advantages in education connected with the palace of Egypt, his mother, as his nurse, was instilling into his young mind the great ideas of the God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His mother and his mother's God became more to him than the honour of being called ' the son of Pharaoh's daughter.' The invisible God was not

. to him an unknown God. Moses, like Paul, was not an agnostic; they both clearly saw the invisible things of God. To see the invisible is to know the invisible. In man, as a rational self-conscious being, sight and insight exist in absolute identity in reasonvision. While we have no wish to make Moses into an Aristotle, a Kant, a Hegel or a Stirling, yet in the depth of his religious apprehension of God he was in an important sense their superior. It is declared of him in a special sense that he saw God face to face. If the old pagan philosopher, Aristotle, could see in the voûs of Anaxagoras rò Oelov, why should it be thought incredible that the more highly-favoured Moses should see, as Dr. Stirling puts it, ‘Die grosse Anschauung des Juden—the mighty intuition of the Jew—I am that I am. Thus with Moses, God was All in All, at once both thought and being. With him, God was not a mere architect, but the Creator of the universe, for, as Hegel says, “The production of form is utterly impossible without the production of matter." True, Moses did not make known the rationale of how God created the universe and man in his empirical existence; he only names the fact, stating especially that God made man in His own image,' on the side of earth, earthy; on the other a living soul. If we really take the trouble to look into the question of what it is truly to think, and not merely vainly to imagine, as man is prone to do, we shall see that to think truly is to determine, to determine to act, to act, to do something, and with God this is to create. Consequently, the man who does not endeavour to understand, and to do something substantially rational, misses his vocation and destiny. He loses his life, and in this way mars his divine image. Man only comes to his true self when he rises to think God, to think I, to think I as I. I, then, is self-consciousness, I thinking itself, self-acting and self-productive, and that is Ego, that is God, that is man in God and God in man. This unity is creation as the self-activity of the Ego, for a beginning can only denote unity in progression and creation, and that which is created is always in essential relation with the Creator. With Moses, the earth, sun, moon and stars, the universe with all its content, were not regarded as a vast machine that God had created and set going as something independent and in some inexplicable manner outside and alongside of Himself. Such a supposition only came into vogue in consequence of the alienation of man from the life of God through practical moral evil, so through sin and guilt entailing a darkened understanding; or by man seeking to understand existence from mere hypotheses, and especially in consequence of him regarding the existence of God as a mere hypothesis. Hegel says: It is not to man's credit that he finds it easier to doubt the existence of God than to doubt the existence of the world. Surely thought, self-consciousness, is more vital, precious and permanent than the outward changing objects of sense. All the value of the outward is derived from, and rests on the inward, on that which to sense is invisible, though to thought the invisible appears in sight' in visible objects. It was with this sight that the grand old Hebrew prophets and the more spiritually-minded priests saw God, and in this they lived, moved and had their being. It is worthy of note that the writer

' of Genesis begins with the Light called Day, God's Light, the daylight of God, and that he declares that all else is derived from and has its being in the invisible God, and is reflected into the invisible man, for that which constitutes the substantial nature of man is invisible to sense-perception, just as God is invisible. But no man will ever see man or the world properly who does not see, or who refuses to see, God, the God

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