This practical nature of all belief itself indicates that, for the sake of the spiritual life itself, a protest is constantly needed in the interests of the whole concrete reality and of the whole man. In the last analysis, perhaps the greatest danger that can beset a man's spiritual life and thought is to misconceive both as having to do only with some fraction of a man's being or living. As to our religious thinking, this means that we are to avoid the mistakes which come from forgetting the influence of certain common logical fallacies, and the mistake of failing to set aside certain traditional objections, which are supposed to put religious faith and life at peculiar disadvantage.

And, first, let us be sure that the spiritual life is guarded from the influence of certain logical fallacies which, while very common, are none the less unwarranted and dangerous. Nowhere more than in our ultimate thinking upon spiritual themes do we need to be sure of the soundness of our reasoning. Two of these common fallacies have been already implied in the emphasis upon the practical nature of all knowledge and belief, and may be merely mentioned in this summary view of such logical mistakes, namely: the two great and far reaching mistakes of ignoring all that cannot be precisely formulated, and so yielding to the constant temptation to cut short the facts to suit our theories; and, particularly, of making the intellectual the sole standard of reality, and so practically identifying the logical and the metaphysical. The history of philosophy and the history of theology teem with examples of both mistakes, some of which have been already noted.

Besides these, three other common fallacies deserve attention: those of being dominated by a word, by an analogy, and by what is imageable. In all these cases the fundamental difficulty is that the word or the analogy or the image is not really thought through.

One would hardly believe, were the evidence not forced upon him, the extent to which the thought of even professional thinkers has been dominated by words. The only deliverance from such domination is the persistent determination to use no words without having some clear corresponding thought. Domination by; a word whose implications are never made really clear, it has been often noted, is seen in the constant use, by Locke and his followers, of the word "impression." No doubt an inadequate analogy is also strongly at work here. Taken together, the domination has been so real, that "the tang of Locke's cask," as some one has expressed it, is to be recognized in very much of English thought down to the present. Domination by a word is particularly easy, when the word has a double meaning, or seems capable, at least, of looking in two directions at once. Thus, many have hidden from themselves the real difficulties of their conception by the choice of the word "impulse"; which has both a recognized physical and psychical meaning, and so seems admirably adapted to serve as an explanatory principle, that shall be neither a mechanical force nor a conscious mind. These people seem never to have compelled themselves to face the question, whether they could really think any tertium quid, corresponding to the ambiguity of the word. There has been a similar playing with the word "appearance," the word "thought," and the word "force." And—not to extend enumeration of examples—it particularly concerns the thinker on religious themes to notice, that one may be successfully challenged to give any clear meaning to the term "impersonal spirit," and to similar designations, that have nowhere figured more largely than in anti-theistic discussions. We are not to be bullied by a word, however sonorous or often repeated. We may and we must demand, if we have any desire really to reach the truth, that every term have a clear corresponding thought. It is not vain to insist upon the point. Over and over again in the history of thought, great interests have been sacrificed to a word.

The extent to which men are satisfied, in their search for an explanation, by mere names, is another almost humorous illustration of this domination by words. Few seem to have made it clear to themselves, for example, that naming a comparatively unknown force is no explanation of it, or that a "law" of nature is no explanation of the why and wherefore of the phenomena whose behavior the law only formulates.

Domination by a striking analogy is still more common and more dangerous. It is more dangerous because the analogy may be supposed to be partly applicable. The mind then accepts it as wholly adequate, instead of insisting on a clear recognition of the precise limitations of the analogy. It then substitutes for real thinking upon the subject in hand, the much easier process of drawing out the analogy. It may even congratulate itself upon some peculiarly deep thinking, when it has abused its analogy, in making it "go on all fours." One can hardly doubt, for example, that theology has often so abused the analogy of human law and government. And it is worth serious thought by us all, just now, whether under the stimulus of the idea of evolution, with its manifold applications, we are not all in danger of unthinking domination by the biological analogy. Let us say frankly, that much of this biological thinking on spiritual themes is simply not thinking at all, but just deluding ourselves with a half-thought analogy. And let us recall Lotze's protest—when the world was once before going wild over a precisely similar idea—against the term organic, "for which," he says, "a long defense will have to be made if at the last day account has to be given for every idle word."[16]

Once more, we are peculiarly liable to delusion, when a matter can be in some way presented to us in an Image, although we may not be able truly to think it at all. The clearness and apparent obviousness of the image of an actual contact or impact of two bodies, for example, is felt, probably, by most to solve forthwith the whole problem of the possibility of reciprocal action; although, in truth, it throws not a particle of light upon the difficult question of how we are really to think the reciprocal action as taking place. And so in countless problems, the mere imaging power is made to take the place of thinking; and it does it so effectively, that often the really serious difficulties are not even raised. Almost all the force of much anti-theistic argument lies in this shallow appeal to the power of sense-imagery. The argument seems to get on swimmingly because it moves on a crude sense plane, and never faces the real difficulties, which require a final theistic view for their solution. The difficult problem of interaction, already referred to, is a good example of such ignored difficulties. So, too, by imaging laws to themselves as some kind of real existences, men seem to be able to accomplish much without needing to assume God, and escape many difficult questions; but the process can hardly be called thinking. Such theorists tell us that, grant them matter, force, and laws, they will easily show how the cosmos has arisen from chaos. The appeal here is almost wholly to the imaging power, and—to mention but a single difficulty—the view quite fails to make clear how that in which laws already rule can be in any sense a "chaos." It is to be regretted that the philosophizing of men whose training has been wholly in natural science, has been so largely on this plane of simple appeal to the sense imagination. Perhaps no one of late has shown more convincingly the weakness of this kind of reasoning than Ward, in his Naturalism and Agnosticism.

[16] Microcosmus, Vol. II, p. 183.