John Burroughs 2sIn existographies, John Burroughs (1837-1921) (IQ:170|#350) (HD:37) (FA:140) was an American philosopher and essayist, whose views have been characterized as "scientific pantheism" (Kennedy, 1924), noted for []

In 1885 to 1888, Burroughs penned a set of essays on the “religious experience of mankind”, which in 1910 were collected and published as volume ten of his collected works, subtitled The Light of Days; the gist message of which he thematically explains as follows: [5]

“In Central Asia, near the river Oxus, there is said to be a famous rock, called the Lamp Rock, from a strange light that seems to issue from a cavern far up on the side of the mountain. The natives have a superstitious fear of the rock, and ascribe the light to some dragon or demon that lives in the cave. Recently a bold English traveler climbed up and investigated the phenomenon. The light was found, after all, to be only the light of common day. The cave proved to be a tunnel, and the mysterious light came through the rock from the other side, making a strong glow or nimbus at the mouth of the dark cavern.

This incident, so typical of much that has taken place and is still taking place in the world, especially in the religious experience of mankind, has suggested the title to this volume of essays, in which I have urged the sufficiency and the universality of natural law, and that most of the mysterious lights with which our fears, our ignorance, or our superstitions have invested the subject of religion, when brought to the test of reason, either vanish entirely or give place to the light of common day.”

Among these, his oft-cited “God and Nature” declares the following:

“When I look up at the starry heavens at night and reflect upon what it is that I really see there, I am constrained to say, “There is no god.” The mind staggers in its attempt to grasp the idea of a being that could do that. It is futile to attempt it. It is not the works of some god that I see there. I am face to face with a power that baffles speech. I see no lineaments of personality, no human traits, but an energy upon whose currents solar systems are but bubbles. In the presence of it man and the race of man are less than motes in the air. I doubt if any mind can expand its conception of god sufficiently to meet the astounding disclosures of modern science. It is easier to say there is no god. The universe is so unhuman, that is, it goes its way with so little thought of man. He is but an incident, not an end. We must adjust our notions to the discovery that things are not shaped to him, but that he is shaped to them. The air was not made for his lungs, but he has lungs because there is air; the light was not created for his eye, but he has eyes because there is light. All the forces of nature are going their own way; man avails himself of them, or catches a ride as best he can. If he keeps his seat he prospers; if he misses his hold and falls he is crushed.”

In 1915, Burroughs, in his The Breath of Life, via citation to thinkers such as: Lawrence Henderson, Johann Goethe, Joseph Butler (Bishop Butler) and John Tyndall on "dead atoms", Henri Bergson, Frederick Soddy, among others, he attempted to explain the difference between the living and non-living or not living and dead, in a way that seemingly teeters close to the defunct theory of life position. [1]

In 1920, Burroughs, in his Accepting the Universe, seems to have outlined some fence-sitting views on naturalism in respect to religion; the following are a few example quotes: (Ѻ)

Science kills credulity and superstition, but to the well-balanced mind it enhances the feeling of wonder, of veneration, and of kinship which we feel in the presence of the miraculous universe.”
— John Burroughs (1920), Accepting the Universe (pg. 108)

“The truths of naturalism do not satisfy the moral and religious nature.”
— John Burroughs (1920), Accepting the Universe (pg. 301)

“My elements and my forces go back into the original sources out of which they came, and these sources are perennial in this vast, wonderful, divine cosmos. I do not mind if you call them material forces; the material and the spiritual are inseparable. I do not mind if you call this view the infidelity (or atheism) of science; science, too is divine; all knowledge is knowledge of god.”
— John Burroughs (1920), Accepting the Universe [3]

These views of Burroughs have been characterized as "scientific pantheism" (Kennedy, 1924). [4]

Burroughs was friends with: Walt Whitman, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ralph Emerson; his writing style and logic is so similar to Emerson, in fact, that he originally was thought to be an Emerson plagiarizer.

Quotes | By
The following are quotes by Burroughs:

“Joy in the universe, and keen curiosity about it all—that has been my religion.”
— John Burroughs (1910), Journal Entry, Feb 18 [2]

“We must get rid of the great ‘moral governor’ or head director. He is a fiction of our brains.”
— John Burroughs (c.1920) [2]

1. Burroughs, John. (1915). The Breath of Life. Houghton Mifflin Company.
2. Haught, James A. (1996). 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt (§:Burroughts, 168-70). Prometheus.
3. Burroughs, John. (1920). Accepting the Universe (quotes, pgs. 251-52 + 312-13) (Ѻ). Publisher.
4. (a) Kennedy, William S. (1924). The Real John Burroughs. Funk & Wagnalls.
(b) Haught, James A. (1996). 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt (§:Burroughts, 168-70). Prometheus.
5. (a) Burroughs, John. (c.1885). “God and Nature”, Essay.
(b) Burroughs, John. (1900). The Complete Writings of John Burroughs, Volume 10: The Light of Days (preface, pg. vii; bubbles, pgs. 164). WM. H. Wise & Co, 1924.
(c) Haught, James A. (1996). 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt (§:Burroughts, 168-70). Prometheus.

External links
John Burroughs – Wikipedia.

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