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    UNIVERSAL BELIEF AND INBORN DESIRE

    Men have universally believed in the immortality of the soul, it is claimed, and men everywhere desire it; therefore, all men have it. Strange conclusion from strange premises. As to the first part of this argument, the universal belief, that appears not to be true, in fact. On this, a glance at a quotation or two must suffice. “We find Socrates and his disciples, represented by Plato, as fully admitting in their discussions of the subject, that ‘men in general were highly incredulous as to the soul’s future existence.’ The Epicurean school openly contended against it. Aristotle passes it by as not worth considering, and takes for granted the contrary supposition, as not needing proof.” 2Dobney, p. 101. When Cicero “sets himself to prove the immortality of the soul, he represents the contrary as the prevailing opinion,” there being “crowds of opponents, not the Epicureans only; but which he could not account for, those that were the most learned persons had that doctrine in contempt.” 1Leland on the Advantages, etc., of Revelation.MOI 26.2

    Touching the other portion of the argument, the universal and inborn desire, those who make use of it to make it of any avail, are bound to supply and prove the suppressed premise, which is that all men have what they desire. The syllogism would then stand thus: 1. All men have what they desire. 2. All men desire immortality. Conclusion. Therefore all men are immortal. This is a fair statement of the question; but are any presumptuous enough to take the ground that all men have what they desire? Is it true, in fact? Do not our every day’s observations give it the unqualified lie? Men desire riches, but all do not have it; they desire happiness here, but what an infinitely small portion of the race are really happy. To try to get over the matter by saying that these desires that men have may be gratified by their taking a right course, is an abandonment of the whole argument; for thus much we readily grant concerning immortality: all men may gratify their desires here by taking a right course; immortality also is suspended upon conditions, and those only will have it in whom those conditions are found to be scrupulously complied with.MOI 27.1

    But there is another deadly flaw in this argument in another respect; for it is not immortality in the abstract that is the object of this great desire among men, but happiness. And the very persons who contend for immortality because men desire it, hold that a great portion of the race will be forever miserable. But this is not what men desire; and not being what they desire, it follows that all will not obtain what they desire, and hence the argument built on desire is good for nothing on their own showing. It simply proves universal salvation, or that men will be forever happy because all men desire it, or it proves nothing.MOI 27.2

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