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Monday, December 28, 2009

Butler's Religion

"Instinct then is the ultimate court of appeal. And what is instinct? It is a mode of faith in the evidence of things not actually seen." (Chapter 65)

Throughout the novel Butler shows his contempt for organized religion with repeated attack on the Church and members of the clergy. As the above quote illustrates, Butler believes that man should be guided by instinct, which directs one's faith. Man does not necessarily need to be taught what is right because one is inherently drawn to what is right. He further states that reasonable people "settle smaller matters by the exercise of their own deliberation." One's instinct can ultimately guide one to the proper solution. Therefore, faith need not be in a supernatural element of Christianity but in one's ability to derive instinctively the most beneficial way to deal with a circumstance.

According to Butler, a true Christian is "he who takes the highest and most self-respecting view of his own welfare which it is in his power to conceive, and adheres to it in spite of conventionality." (Chapter 68) Ernest's ability to see the impediment his relationship with his parents caused and his willingness to break off that relationship so that he could achieve his highest calling illustrates his Christianity. Ernest was able to make an honest assessment and, despite the pecuniary losses he would take, allowed his instinct, which had caused him to dislike his upbringing all along, to guide his way.

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