Psychological Investigations - 257
but it is not chance, but mental inertia which leads many persons to retain the religion of their childhood without further inquiry. I cannot lay the stress Galton does on the danger of dogma or sentiments instilled in early youth becoming ingrained in the character. One sees too many young people now-a-days who have changed the religious and social faiths of their childhood, to lay exaggerated stress in this respect on nurture. It may have been. true 40 years ago that
"In subjects unconnected with sentiment, the freest inquiry and the fullest deliberation are required before it is thought decorous to form a final opinion; but whenever sentiment is involved, and especially in questions of religious dogma, about which is more sentiment and more difference of opinion among wise, virtuous and truth-seeking men than about any other subject whatever, free inquiry is peremptorily discouraged. The religious instructor in every creed is one who makes it his profession to saturate his pupils with prejudice." (p. 210.)
Whatever the religious instructor of to-day may say or do, I think it would have small effect on the youth of to-day ! They have won their freedom, or, perhaps, it were truer to say, it has been won for them, and in my experience they think and choose for themselves both their social and their religious creeds. Those that do not, fail, not so much from prejudices inculcated by parents and pastors, as from intellectual inertia, which the careful observer will probably recognise as the really vital contribution of the parents to their offspring'. Still we may well agree with Galton that
"there are a vast number of foolish men and women in the world who marry and have children, and because they deal lovingly with their children it does not at all follow that they can instruct them wisely." (p. 210.)
Galton points out that the wisest men of all ages may have led upright and consistent lives and been honoured by a wide circle for their unselfish furtherance of the public good, but that they have belonged to many races, and have been claimed by many dogmatic faiths (pp. 211-13).
Conscience is next dealt with and it is stated that it arises from two sources (a) inheritance, and (b) early training. Ethnologists have shown that conscience varies from race to race and age to age; it is partly transmitted by inheritance in the way and under the conditions suggested by Darwin 2:
"The value of inherited conscience lies in its being the organised result of the social experience of many generations, but it fails in so far as it expresses the experience of generations whose habits differed from our own. The doctrine of evolution shows that no race can be in perfect harmony with its surroundings; the latter are continually changing while the organism of the race hobbles after, vainly trying to overtake them. Therefore the inherited part of conscience cannot be an infallible guide, and the acquired part of it may, under the influence of dogma, be a very bad one. The history of fanaticism shows too clearly that this is not only a theory but a fact. Happy the child, especially in these inquiring days, who has been taught a religion that mainly rests on the moral obligations between man and man in domestic and national life, and which, so far as it is necessarily dogmatic, rests chiefly on the proper interpretation of facts about which there is no dispute,-namely, on those habitual occurrences which are always open to observation, and which form the basis of so-called natural religion." (p. 212.)
1 Discussing recently with a friend whether Galton's views applied to the young people of to-day, I mentioned a number of them known to us both who had certainly thought for themselves. The reply came: "Yes, but they have minds," and not till the words were out of the mouth did the speaker realise that the case had been given away.
z The Descent of Man, 1871, Vol. i, p. 102, etc.