[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR, —General Smuts, in his
Presidential address to the British Association has, it seems to me, diagnosed the world's sickness. Near the end of his enthralling survey of the great achieve- ments of Science we find these flaming words : " One of the greatest tasks before the human race will be to link up science with ethical values. . . . A serious lag has already developed
between our rapid scientific advance and our stationary ethical development, a lag which has already found expression in the greatest tragedy of history."
There was a time when Religion sat enthroned in the minds of men. Science has now mounted that throne, and to the crowd (always willing to swallow whatever the " medicine- man " of the moment tells them) a thing has only to be labelled " scientific discovery " to be accepted as gospel. Priests and witch-doctors were listened to with no greater credulity than is the scientist of to-day—however little he may relish the dubious honour thus thrust upon him ! Poets and prophets are small fry indeed beside the scientist, yet " the highest reach of the creative process is seen in the realm of values "- though few may care to travel it.
As Sir A. Thomson puts it : " Science describes : Religion interprets," and he adds " the world of modern science is one in which the religious spirit can breathe more freely than ever before in the history of mankind." He, too, lays his finger on the crying need of to-day : a sense of underlying unity, a new " monism " to combat the disintegrating process of self- centredness (from which most of us suffer acutely). Millions of little, separate egos, we are impotent because so lacking in cohesion : we do not see where we fit into the design. " A part of a quantum is not something less than a quantum ; it is nothing, a sheer nonentity . . . " If this has its parallel in life it is a grim reflection !
Science describes : Religion interprets. What we want are interpreters—" whole-makers." We need to re-learn loyalty.
Loyalty—to a cause, to a leader, to an idea, it does not matter which—is the most " whole-making " of influences, for lack of which we drift. We are sceptical of causes, suspicious of leaders, and non-committal (when not positively " woolly ") as to ideas. Consequently most of us go through life as if we were in the dentist's chair ; hands clenched, muscles taut, every moment expecting the worst. The relief of being able to relax and lie back only comes when we have given our allegiance irrevocably, whole-heartedly ; when fear for our own imme- diate safety or satisfaction—that nagging nerve in the tooth ! —is forgotten in the enthusiasm of a great allegiance.
Ghastly and tragic as the War was, things not far short of miracles were achieved, for we were fused into a unity by the white heat of loyalty. No matter though the ideal for which we strove has proved too small. (If it had been an " ultimate value " it would have stood the strain of peace as well as war. It at least has taught us that " patriotism is not enough.") Such as it was it claimed our whole-hearted loyalty. What we did then—either in the way of stern achievement or glad endur- ance—we can do again, and " even greater things than these," when we have rediscovered the " holistic " value of a greater