Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
I have read the discussion between yourself and Mr. Blatchford with great interest, and I am sorry I cannot undertake to do more than express my general opinion, and refer to my own books for the facts and reasonings on which that opinion is based.
I am in a position now to sympathise with both of your conclusions ["meaning and purpose alone justify the existence of the universe and faith that it has meaning and purpose alone makes life livable."--Christian Commonwealth, August 28.] because, for the first half of my life I was as thorough an Agnostic as Mr. Blatchford himself, and I am afraid almost as dogmatic and one-sided in my opinions. Now I take your view of the whole problem, but I still, and more than ever, feel that all attempts to state or define the nature, capacities, or possibilities of that power above us, which is the source of all power and all life, which we speak of as God or Deity, is beyond our conceptions, as is all that is infinite. We cannot go further than Pope in his fine line:--
"Thou great first Cause, least understood."
Mr. Blatchford is too dogmatic when he says, as he has repeatedly done in the "Clarion," "I do not know: nobody does know." Unfortunately, he is totally ignorant of two vast accumulations of facts which I have examined and tested to the best of my ability for between forty and fifty years, and which afford
The Only Safe Basis
for any clear and valuable opinions on the matter. These are the facts revealed by what is termed Psychical Research on the one hand and the inner powers and capacities of living things on the other.
I have summarised the evidence for the former in my book on "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism," and for the latter in my recent volume on "The World of Life" and my previous work on "Man's Place in the Universe." The enormous body of evidence adduced in these three works, each confirming and strengthening the conclusions of the other, will, I feel sure, satisfy any careful reader that to imply, as Mr. Blatchford does, that nobody knows anything on these vast subjects--the nature and inner causes of Matter and Energy, Life and Mind--than is expressed in his favourite formula, "I don't know; no other man knows," is quite unjustifiable.
My friends Sir William Crookes and Sir W. F. Barrett have been students of psychical phenomena about as long as I have, and, like myself, the longer they live and the more they know of it the more convinced they are that "the survival of man after death" is as well established as a large portion of what we term "science." Yet this is one of the things which our friend Blatchford declares that "nobody knows."