The Pursuit of Truth.
“To be loyal to the truth is of more account than to be merely successful in formulating it.”—Popular Science Monthly for December.
Indeed it is; for loyalty to truth is the prior condition of success in formulating or stating it, and that loyalty not only precedes the special success in formulating it, but is the prior cause of universal success in its attainment. Special perceptive powers and favorable opportunities may enable scientists to ascertain certain truths, as a lamp may enable them to discover a few objects near them which darkness hides from others, but loyalty to truth reveals, like daylight, all that lies within our horizon, for it opens widely all the avenues between the mind and universal nature, and prevents our mental transparency from being darkened in any direction or relation. He who has this loyalty dominant in his nature never pronounces anything false which subsequent investigation, or the investigation by others, proves true. He never becomes an obstacle to the spread of any truth. He is always the first to welcome a new truth and the last to falter in sustaining it. He is always ready to recognize the same sincerity and fidelity in others, and to give a kindly welcome to the labors and discoveries of other followers of truth. As brave men readily recognize and honor each other, so do the soldiers of truth meet in quick sympathy and cordial co-operation.
The labors, the discoveries and promulgations of such men ever become criteria by which to test the loyalty and truthfulness of others, for, wherever they are presented, all who live in loyalty to truth are at once attracted and realize their harmony with the truth. As the magnetized iron attracts the unmagnetized, so does the loyal soul charged with truth attract all other loyal souls.
But all through human history we find that inventions, discoveries and, above all, momentous truths uniformly fail to attract the masses, either of the learned or the unlearned, as was illustrated in our December number, and hence we must conclude that, in the present early or juvenile stage of human evolution, loyalty to truth is one of the rarest virtues of humanity.
And yet, how often do we meet in literature expressions which would indicate that the writers were entirely loyal. They mistake loyalty to their own self-esteem, loyalty to their own dogmatic convictions, mental limitations, prejudices, and prepossessions for loyalty to truth, which is a passionless, modest, lovely and noble quality.
No doubt the contemporaries of Galileo, Newton, and Harvey indulged in the same self-gratulations. The bigot and dogmatist in all ages have entertained no doubt of their own loyalty to truth; but it was loyalty to their own very limited perceptions, and to their profound conviction that all outside of their own sphere of perception was falsehood or nonentity, and should be received with supercilious scorn or crushing blows whenever presented.
Men’s minds are thus narrowed in the base contests of selfishness, jealousy, and fraud; but of all the demoralizing influences that darken the mind by closing up permanently its most important inlets, none have had such a wide-spread and far-reaching power for evil as the false theology which demands the absolute surrender of reason to self-evident absurdities....