Story type: Essay
The notion that small things, the petty details of life, such as money getting, marriage questions, etc., are uppermost in the modern human brain is entirely false.
If an editor asks: “Is marriage a failure?” he receives just so many answers, and then the interest dies out.
If he asks: “Should a wife have pin money?” or “What is the easiest way for a woman to earn a living?” he ceases to receive answers after a short time.
But to questions concerning the immortality of the soul, the existence of God, and man’s destiny here and hereafter, the answers are endless. Letters on such matters have been received here by thousands. Every day the mail brings new and intelligent contributions to the questions that have kept men praying, thinking, fighting and hoping through the centuries:
“IS THERE A GOD, AND WILL MY SOUL LIVE FOREVER?” —-
Very interesting are the expressions of faith which fill a majority of the letters. Interesting also are the letters of doubters atheists, agnostics and the many intoxicated with a very little knowledge, who have decided to substitute their own wisdom and doubt for the belief of the ages–the belief in God and in personal immortality.
Many think science has discovered that we could get on very well without a God. But science has done just the contrary. And here, if you please, we shall build up a sort of parable: —-
A Man had a box full of motherless blind kittens. He was very kind to them. He put their box on wheels and moved it about to keep it in the sun. He gave them milk at regular intervals. With loving kindness he drove away the dog which growled and scared the little kittens into spitting and back raising.
The kittens trusted the Man, loved him and felt that they needed him. That was the age of faith.
One day a dog got a kitten and tore it to pieces.
The kitten had disobeyed orders and laws. It had crawled away from the box.
Another kitten, with one eye now partly open, got thoughtful and said: “There is no such thing as Man. Or, if there is such a thing, he is a monster to let little Willie get torn up. Don’t talk to me about Kitten Wiliie being a sufferer through his own fault. I say there is no such thing as a Man. We kittens are bosses of the universe and must do our own fighting.”
That speaker was the Ingersoll kitten.
A kitten of higher mental class opened both eyes just a little and actually made observations.
Said he: “I am a scientist. I discover that we owe nothing to Man’s kindness. We are governed by laws. This box is on wheels.
It rolls around in the sunlight of its own volition. True, I do not know who shoves it, but no Man could do it. Further, I discover that there is such a thing as the law of ‘milk-passing.’ Milk comes this way just so often. Its coming is nature’s law. It has always come. It always will come. Good-night, I am going to sleep. But don’t talk to me any more about a kind Man. It’s all law, and I am certainly great, for I saw the laws first.”
That was the Newton kitten, but he lacked the Newton faith.
We have no time to tell what the Darwin kitten said. He was very long-winded.
But this happened. The kittens grew up–such as did not perish through their own fault. They got their eyes fully opened. They saw the Man, recognized him and asked only to be allowed to stay in his house. “Excuse us,” they said, “for being such foolish kittens. But you know our eyes were not quite open.”
“Don’t mention it,” said the kind Man. “Go down cellar and help yourselves to mice.”
That’s the end of the parable. We are all blind kittens, and our few attempts at explaining nature’s wonders and kindness only get us into deeper and deeper mysteries.
We discover that the earth goes round the sun. But the greatest scientist must admit his inability to tell or guess why it goes. “Give me the initial impulse,” he says, “and all the rest is easy.”
The blind kittens in their wagon say: “Give our wagon just one shove and we’ll explain the rest.”
The kitten gets hold of a law of “milk-passing” and substitutes that for man’s individual kindness.
The feeble-minded agnostic seizes the law of gravitation and thinks he can discard God with gravity’s help.
But the great mind that defined gravity’s law was a religious mind–too profound to see anything final in its own feeble power.
Newton was no atheist. None better than he knew the mysterious character of his law. That it has worked from all eternity “directly as the mass and inversely as the square of the distance” he knew and told his fellow-creatures. That is all he knew and all that any man knows about it.
To-day Lord Kelvin, a worthy follower in Newton’s steps, is asked to explain WHY gravity acts. He can only say:
“I accept no theory of gravitation. Present science has no right to attempt to explain gravitation. We know nothing about it. We simply know NOTHING about it.”
Darwin asks, without answering his question:
“Who can explain what is the essence of the attraction of gravitation?” —-
To our doubting friends we say: Doubt if you must. But doubt intelligently and doubt first of all your own blind kitten wisdom. Remember that you at least know absolutely nothing. Study and think. Read. But don’t let the half-developed wisdom of others choke up your brain and leave you a mere clogged-up doubting machine.
Whatever you do, never interfere with the faith of others. Spread KNOWLEDGE, spread FACTS. Keep to yourself the doubts that would disturb others’ happiness and do them no good. Tell what you KNOW. Keep quiet about what you GUESS.