The first of a series of lectures under the William Belden Noble Foundation, on "Civilization at the Cross-Roads" was given by Rev. J.N. Figgis, Litt.D., of Mirfield, England, Honorary Fellow of St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, last night. The title of the lecture was "The Intellectual Chaos."
Civilization is in the grasp of an anarchy, greater than has been generally perceived because of the orthodoxy of the unthinking masses. But among trained philosophers there is intellectual chaos. There is no one voice sufficiently authoritative to carry with it any conviction beyond a personal preference. The tendency is growing, not to deny God, but to neglect His influence in daily life.
The Church, however, still holds her position, owing to the strength of its traditions and the strength of living individuals, but in life we see everywhere the lack of faith. What is to take its place? Possibly it is scientific materialism to a small extent. Beyond that everything is chaos. Christianity is tending towards agnosticism. The electrolytic theory of matter, which leads us to believe that anything is possible, and the admitted strangeness of psychology are turning many from their disbelief in Gospel statements.
The anarchy is greater than it seems, greater than it has been since the days of Athens and declining Rome. The ethics of Christ is more rejected than the creed. In the midst of the hypocrisy stands the living Christian Church. Can civilization do without it?