In the end, we are told, love is to take the place of force. Humanity is present to us first in our mothers, wives and daughters. For these it is present in their fathers, husbands, sons. From this primary circle love widens and worship extends as hearts enlarge. It is the prayer to humanity which first rises above the mere selfishness of the sort to get something out of God. Remembrance in the hearts of those who loved us and owe something to us is the only worthy form of immortality. Clearly it is only the caricature of prayer or of the desire of immortality which rises before Comte’s mind as the thing to be escaped. For this caricature religious men, both Catholic and Protestant, without doubt, gave him cause. There were to be seven sacraments, corresponding to seven significant epochs in a man’s career. There were to be priests for the performance of these sacraments and for the inculcation of the doctrines of positivism. There were to be temples of humanity, affording opportunity for and reminder of this worship. In each temple there was to be set up the symbol of the positivist religion, a woman of thirty years with her little son in her arms. Littre spoke bitterly of the positivist religion as a lapse of the author into his old aberration. This religion was certainly regarded as negligible by many to whom his system as a whole meant a great deal. At least, it is an interesting example, as is also his transformation of science into a philosophy, of the resurgence of valid elements in life, even in the case of a man who has made it his boast to do away with them.
NATURALISM AND AGNOSTICISM
We may take Spencer as representative of a group of men who, after the middle of the nineteenth century, laboured enthusiastically to set forth evolutionary and naturalistic theories of the universe. These theories had also, for the most part, the common trait that they professed agnosticism as to all that lay beyond the reach of the natural-scientific methods, in which the authors were adept. Both Ward and Boutroux accept Spencer as such a type. Agnosticism for obvious reasons could be no system. Naturalism is a tendency in interpretation of the universe which has many ramifications. There is no intention of making the reference to one man’s work do more than serve as introduction to the field.