The Spiritist Review - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1861

Allan Kardec

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We extracted a remarkable chapter about the supernatural from the new book ‘L’Église et la Societé Chrétienne’ 1861, by Mr. Guizot. It is not a speech for or against Spiritism as one might think because it does not discuss the new Doctrine, but since Spiritism is inseparable from the supernatural to the eyes of many, being a superstition according to some and a truth according to others, it is interesting to get to know the opinion of a man of the caliber of Mr. Guizot about the subject. There are comments in this work of indisputable accuracy, but we also believe there are big mistakes given by the point of view or taken by the author. We will provide an in-depth analysis in our next issue.

“Every attack against Christianity today, irrespective of how diverse they are in nature and measure, start from the same point and tend to the same end, that is the negation of the supernatural in human’s destiny and in the world, and the abolition of the supernatural element from the Christian religion, as with every religion, in their history and dogmas.”

“Materialists, Pantheists, Rationalists, Skeptical, Critics, Erudite, some openly others discretely, all think and speak their ideas that the human being and the world, its moral as its physical nature, they are only governed by general laws, permanent and necessary, whose course has never been or will never be suspended or modified. I don’t have the intention of thoroughly discussing this matter here, essential to all religions. I just want to submit to the declared or occult adversaries of the supernatural two observations, or more precisely, two facts that in my opinion resolve the issue.”

“It is about a natural or supernatural faith, about an instinct inherent to the supernatural that is the basis of every religion. I don’t mean every religious idea but every positive religion, practical, powerful, lasting and popular. Everywhere, in all climates, at all times in History, at all levels of civilization, the human being carries this feeling that I would rather call presentiment, and that the world which he sees, the order of things, the facts that are succeeded regularly around him are not everything. In that vast reality it is in vain that he finds new discoveries and conquers new things; it is in vain that he wisely attests the permanent laws that preside over everything. His thoughts are not bounded by this universe of his science. Such spectacle is not enough to his soul. His soul goes beyond, seeking. It foresees something else. It aspires for other destinies and another master to the universe and to itself.”

“Beyond all these heavens the God of heaven resides, said Voltaire, and the God who is beyond all heavens, is not the personified nature but the supernatural itself. To him, this is how religions are addressed; they are based in the objective of putting the human being in connection with God. Without the instinctive faith of people in the supernatural, without its spontaneous and invincible impulse towards the supernatural, there would be no religion.”

“Among all creatures here, the human being is the only one that prays. Among his natural instincts there isn’t any that is more natural, more universal, and more invincible than prayer. The child accepts it with a kind solicitude. The elderly kneel before it as in a refuge for decadence and isolation. Prayer reaches the young lips just mumbling God’s name and the lips of the agonizing that no longer have the strength to say it. Among all people, luminary or obscure, civilized or barbarians, have their formulas and prescriptions for invocation. Wherever there is man, in certain circumstances, at certain times, under certain impressions of the soul, the eyes look above, hands are united, and knees are bent to implore and to say grace, to worship or appease.”

“With joy or fear, publically or in the intimacy of the heart, the human being seeks prayer as the last resort to fulfill the emptiness of his soul or to carry the heavy loads of his fate. It is prayer that he seeks when everything else fails, when he doesn’t find support in his weakness, consolation in his sufferings, hope for his virtue.”

“Nobody ignores the moral and innermost value of prayer, irrespectively of its effectiveness given its objective. The soul is relieved for the simple fact that it prays, it stands, calms down, finds strength. Returning to God the soul experiences that feeling of health and rest that spreads all over the body, changing from a heavy and troubled appearance to a serene and pure ambience. God comes in support of those who have implored before and without knowing if he will answer.”

“Will he listen? What is the definitive and exterior efficacy of prayer? That is the mystery, the impenetrable mystery of God’s designs and actions upon each one of us. What we do know is that our life, both the internal and exterior life, it is not up to us to dispose of that according to our thoughts and wishes. All names that we can give to that part of our destiny and that does not belong to us: chance, fortune, star, nature, fatality these are other veils that cover our ignorance. When we use those words we refuse to see God where God actually is. God is beyond the limited sphere of the human being’s actions and power, God that reigns and acts. There is in the natural and universal act of prayer a natural and universal faith in that free and permanent action of God upon the human being and his destiny. We are workers together with God, says St. Paul: workers with God in the works in general for the destiny of humanity and that of our own destiny, past and future. That is what allows us to see prayer as the link between the human being and God. But the light stops there for us. The paths of God are not our paths. We walk them without knowing them. Belief without seeing and prayer without foreseeing are the conditions imposed on the human being in this world for everything beyond his own limits. It is in the awareness and acceptance of that supernatural order that faith and religious life consist.”

“Thus, Mr. Edmund Scherer is right when he doubts that ‘Christian rationalism is and can ever be a religion’. And why has Mr. Jules Simon, who bows so respectfully before God, did he title his book: La Religion Naturelle? He should have called it Philosophie Religieuse.” Philosophy pursues and reaches some of the great ideas upon which religion is founded. However, given the nature of its processes and the limits of its domain, it has never founded and it could not found a religion. Speaking more accurately, there is no natural religion, as soon as you abolish the supernatural, religion disappears.”

“Who would dare deny that this instinctive faith in the supernatural source of religion can be and has also been a source of an unlimited number of mistakes and superstitions, a source to their tower of infinite pain, but to dream of denying it? Here, as in everything else, it is in the human being’s condition that good and evil are incessantly mixed in the human being’s destiny and in his works, like in himself, however from that incurable mixture it does not follow that our great destinies have no meaning and that do nothing but to set as free in our elevations. Having said that, and whatever our deviations, it is still certain that the supernatural is part of the natural faith of the human being, being the sine qua non condition (essential), the true object, the very essence of religion.”

“Here is a second fact that I believe deserves the thorough attention of the adversaries of the supernatural.”

“It is acknowledged and attested by Science that our globe has not always been in the condition that it is today; that at several and undetermined times it suffered great transformations, transformations that altered its face, the physical cycles, the population; that the human being, in particular, has not always existed and that he could not have existed in several of the progressive states through which Earth was submitted.”

“How has he come into being? How and through which power did humankind begin on Earth?”

“There could only be two explanations for that origin: it was either the product of nature’s own work and intimate natural forces of matter or it was the works of a supernatural power, external and superior to matter. For the appearance of the human being on Earth, it must have been one of these two possible causes: spontaneous generation or creation.”

“Admitting, and that is something that I cannot admit, the spontaneous generation, such mode of production could not ever have produced but children, at the first hour and in the beginning of nascent life. I don’t believe that anybody has ever said that true the virtue of spontaneous generation a man and a woman, a couple, could have been produced out of matter, and with their faculties, stature, strength, etc. such as the Greek Paganism made Minerva out of Jupiter’s brain.”

“That is the only way that the human being could have appeared the first time on Earth and lived, perpetuating the species. Now imagine the first man appearing here as a child, alive but inert, unintelligent, powerless, incapable of sustaining himself, in a single moment, cold and trembling, without a mother to listen and feed him! That is, however, the first man that could be produced by the system of spontaneous generation.”

“Evidently the other possible origin of the human species is the only admissible, the only possible. It is only the supernatural event that can explain the first apparition of the human being here on Earth.”

“Those who denied or abolished the supernatural would abolish every religion at the same time. It is useless to triumph upon the supernatural, so many times wrongly introduced in our world and in our history; they are forced to stop before the supernatural cradle of humanity, powerless to produce the human being without the hands of God.”

Guizot

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