The Religious Advance Towards Rationalism

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Laurence Housman
Laurence Housman (1865 – 1959)
Henry W. Nevinson
Henry W. Nevinson (1856 – 1941)
Conway Memorial Lecture
Conway Memorial Lecture
Moncure Conway photo by Edward Steichen, 1907. Courtesy of Dickinson College.
Moncure Conway photo by Edward Steichen, 1907. Courtesy of Dickinson College.
Delivered at Conway Hall 25 September 1929. Chaired by Henry Nevinson and presented by Laurence Housman.
Abstract

While society advances toward rationalism, it should also advance toward religion, but to a religion different from past forms. This religion will derive from human experience, rather than from allegedly transcendental sources. Experience has actually led us, along the path of science, to perceive the limits of scientific understanding: to see that science cannot explain the origin of existence. Science leads, then, to a primordial sense of mystery, which can be called a religious sense. Also, the gospel story, whether historically true or not, advocates love, and love is permanently relevant to mankind.

The sense of mystery and the cherishing of love are sufficient to constitute a new religion. Also, love is the more noble and heroic when the scientific perspective, which rules out ideas of immortality, is accepted. Finally, love should be all-inclusive, and therefore reject doctrines of nationalism.

Note. H.G. Wells assisted his fellow Fabian Society co-founder, Laurence Housman, at the lecture.

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