Not from a Cloud Alone
Noyes, Alfred, 1880-1958
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And now, This I Believe, the living philosophies of thoughtful men and women, presented in the hope they may strengthen your beliefs so that your life may be richer, fuller, happier. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Alfred Noyes is one of England’s most distinguished poets and critics. His first book of poems was published while he was at Exeter College, Oxford, where, in addition to doing a tremendous amount of reading, he rowed on the college crew. Going to London to continue his literary career, he found himself in the midst of a society which included many great men of letters of the Edwardian and late-Victorian Eras.
Such works as Drake and Tales of the Mermaid Tavern won him the admiration of Swinburne, Edmund Gosse and Alice Meynell, to mention a few. During the half century which followed, he has continued to live up to his reputation as a major contributor to the literature of the English-speaking world. This is what Alfred Noyes believes.
As a young student reading Darwin on evolution, I found his most vital sentence: “This grand sequence of events,” he wrote, “cannot be due to blind chance. The understanding revolts from that conclusion.” The fact that we cannot get plus from minus is my first postulate. But evolution is often made to mean what no real thinker can accept.
In the beginning we have a nebula, a cloud or gas out of whose chemical changes there has emerged the human race, Beethoven, Shakespeare, the towering cities, the great cathedrals, and all that these imply. But it took far more than a gas to do it. The materialist is like a man who should explain the Ninth Symphony by faithfully tracing the pedigree of the catgut in the violins, but omitting to mention the unseen composer, whose mind speaks to us through those instruments.
I have found real help in Galileo’s answer to those who though that his astronomical universe made an end of the idea of God’s care for the least of his creatures.
“The sun,” he said, “with all those planets moving round it, can ripen the smallest bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do. Why then should I doubt His power?” I believe there is a mass of evidence drawn from the inner life of man to support the first postulate of reason and a rightly ordered society. Namely, people believe in the existence of an eternal and Supreme Being, our Origin and End. The nature of that Supreme Being is most clearly revealed in the realm of spiritual values. A child is more valuable than a whole sky full of lifeless matter, and despite Copernicus, is more central because nearer to God.
It is thus in accord with the highest reason to look for our fullest revelation of God in the conscious human soul with its possibilities of love, sacrifice and grasp of things beyond the reach of the senses. The belief of my religion is that the light has thus shone in our darkness, that man in the course of evolution two thousand years ago had reached a point when he was able to meet and communicate with a reality of a world higher than that of the beasts that perish, that the nature of God was profoundly revealed in the most divine of all personalities, meeting us not through the vague mists of endless time and boundless space, but in history.
When death had passed through my doors, it was He who spoke as none other could speak from the eternal center saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
Those were the personal beliefs of Alfred Noyes. They were chosen from the beliefs broadcast in the past two years for inclusion in the new This I Believe Book, now at your bookstore.