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God and Mr. Wells A Critical Examination of 'God the Invisible King'   By: (1856-1924)

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GOD AND MR. WELLS

A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF "GOD THE INVISIBLE KING"

GOD AND MR. WELLS

A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF "GOD THE INVISIBLE KING"

By WILLIAM ARCHER

NEW YORK · ALFRED A. KNOPF · 1917

COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY ALFRED A. KNOPF Published, September, 1917

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

FOREWORD

As I look through the proofs of this little treatise, a twinge of compunction comes upon me. That humane philosopher Mr. Dooley has somewhere a saying to this effect: "When an astronomer tells me that he has discovered a new planet, I would be the last man to brush the fly off the end of his telescope." Would not this have been a good occasion for a similar exercise of urbanity? Nay, may it not be said that my criticism of God the Invisible King is a breach of discipline, like duelling in the face of the enemy? I am proud to think that Mr. Wells and I are soldiers in the same army; ought we not at all costs to maintain a united front? On the destructive side (which I have barely touched upon) his book is brilliantly effective; on the constructive side, if unconvincing, it is thoughtful, imaginative, stimulating, a thing on the whole to be grateful for. Ought one not rather to hold one's peace than to afford the common enemy the encouragement of witnessing a squabble in the ranks?

But we must not yield to the obsession of military metaphor. It is not what the enemy thinks or what Mr. Wells or I think that matters it is what the men of the future ought to think, as being consonant with their own nature and with the nature of things. Ideas, like organisms, must abide the struggle for existence, and if the Invisible King is fitted to survive, my criticism will reinforce and not invalidate him. Even if he should come to life in a way one can scarcely anticipate, his proceedings will have to be carefully watched. He cannot claim the reticences of a "party truce." He will be all the better for a candid, though I hope not captious, Opposition.

I thought of printing on my title page a motto from Mr. Bernard Shaw; but it will perhaps come better here. "The fact," says Mr. Shaw, "that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life. Whether Socrates got as much happiness out of life as Wesley is an unanswerable question; but a nation of Socrateses would be much safer and happier than a nation of Wesleys; and its individuals would be higher in the evolutionary scale. At all events, it is in the Socratic man and not in the Wesleyan that our hope lies now."

Besides, it has yet to be proved that the believer in the Invisible King is happier than the sceptic.

LONDON, May 24, 1917.

CONTENTS

I The Great Adventurer 1 II A God Who "Growed" 3 III New Myths for Old 8 IV The Apostle's Creed 32 V When Is a God Not a God? 47 VI For and Against Personification 73 VII Back to the Veiled Being 101

GOD AND MR. WELLS

I

THE GREAT ADVENTURER

When it was known that Mr. H. G. Wells had set forth to discover God, all amateurs of intellectual adventure were filled with pleasurable excitement and anticipation. For is not Mr. Wells the great Adventurer of latter day literature? No quest is too perilous for him, no forlorn hope too daring. He led the first explorers to the moon. He it was who lured the Martians to earth and exterminated them with microbes. He has ensnared an angel from the skies and expiscated a mermaid from the deep. He has mounted a Time Machine (of his own invention) and gone careering down the vistas of the Future. But these were comparatively commonplace feats... Continue reading book >>




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