Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Sentiment of Dependence

As a first consideration, let us reflect on the natural sentiment of Dependence on a higher power which seems inherent in human consciousness. The consciousness of existence, when reflected upon, is calculated to fill the mind with a sense of mysterious awe. Once we were not: at some unremembered point of time we began to be. Can we look into ourselves and find the ground of our being? Can we say: we are, simply because we are? It is not possible. We dare as little claim to ourselves an original and independent existence, as to think of claiming "ownership in the breathing air, or making enclosure in the cope of heaven." To what, then, can this sentiment of dependence attach itself? Can it rest satisfied upon any thing around us, upon any thing we see, or upon any thing we can imagine in mere Nature? We are conscious of feeling, of thought, of will; can we for a moment rest in the notion that such a being can come from any combination of the powers and forces of Nature? Impossible: we must pass beyond it to the idea of a Being out of Nature and above it, before we can find any resting place for this sentiment of dependence.

William Whewell, "The Moral Argument for the Being of God" (p. 139-140). The quotation is from Coleridge's The Friend.

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