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Source: Holy Cross Purple
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Moral Consequences of Agnostic Teaching”
Author(s): Doyle, Patrick F.
Date of publication: February 1903
Volume number: 15
Issue number: 5
Pagination: 253-61 (excerpt below includes only pages 256-58)

Doyle, Patrick F. “Moral Consequences of Agnostic Teaching.” Holy Cross Purple Feb. 1903 v15n5: pp. 253-61.
agnosticism; McKinley assassination (religious response).
Named persons
George Eliot; Harriet Martineau; William McKinley; Herbert Spencer.
“P. F. Doyle, ’02” (p. 261).


Moral Consequences of Agnostic Teaching [excerpt]

Let there be no future beyond the Rubicon ’twixt life and death, and how long would anyone endure conditions like the following? “A majority of the people of England have a severe struggle for existence, and no inconsiderable minority live in abject misery. In many rural districts horses are stabled far more comfortably than laborers are housed.” If there be no Maker to demand an account of his stewardship, the poor laborer would answer “What boots it?” in the negative. The story of this pessimism is told in the daily press: boys still in their teens as well as matured men precipitate themselves into eternity. Two successive issues of a metropolitan paper tell of twenty-three [256][257] suicides, while the double crime, murder followed by suicide, is becoming an item of daily news. With human life thus placed at a discount, where “dust and darkness all that is” tells of agnostic influences, small wonder the believer in God cries: “Over the prostrate form of William McKinley looms up the ominous spectre which has banished God from politics and education.”
     Go back with me to Spencer of whom more truly than of Dr. Martineau it could be said, “There is no God and Spencer is his prophet,” if we understand God in the Christian sense,—and present conditions become an open book. According to him, the “Unknowable” is that of which all predication fails, to which all epithets are meaningless. In this chaos of terms who will rebuke us for calling the “Unknowable” a liar or a deceiver? especially since our intellect, made for truth, is denied knowledge of the truth of truth, for God is Truth or He is nothing.
     “Over the prostrate form of William McKinley” towered the violator not only of the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” but of the whole Decalogue. The practical agnostic closes his eyes to Sinai, and he is becoming an omnipresent figure in modern life. When told that in a population of 80,000,000, only 23,000,000 own allegiance to any church, we may catch our breath, but we are prepared for the results: seventy-five hundred murderers in our jails; fifty per cent [sic] of the testimony in criminal [257][258] cases, seventy-five in divorce cases, bordering on downright perjury. George Eliot scarcely overstates the case: “Life without immortality is a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”



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