God the Invisible King

God the Invisible King is a theological tract published by H.G. Wells in 1917.

God the Invisible King
AuthorH. G. Wells
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
GenreTheology
PublisherCassell
Publication date
1917
Media typePrint (hardback)
Pages174

Argument

Wells describes his aim as to state "as forcibly and exactly as possible the religious belief of the writer."[1] He distinguishes his religious beliefs from Christianity, and warns readers that he is "particularly uncompromising" on the doctrine of the Trinity, which he blames on "the violent ultimate crystallization of Nicaea."[2] He pleads for a "modern religion" or "renascent religion" that has "no revelation and no founder."[3]

Wells rejects any belief related to God as Nature or the Creator, confining himself to the "finite" God "of the human heart."[4] He devotes a chapter to misconceptions about God that are due to mistaken "mental elaboration" as opposed to "heresies of speculation," and says that the God in which he believes has nothing to do with magic, providence, quietism, punishment, the threatening of children, or sexual ethics.[5] Positively, in a chapter entitled "The Likeness of God," he states his belief that God is courage, a person, youth (i.e. forward- rather than backward-looking), and love.[6]

Wells finds in scientific atheists like Metchnikoff beliefs that are equivalent to what he regards as "the fundamental proposition of religious translated into terms of materialistic science, the proposition that damnation is really over-individuation and that salvation is escape from self into the larger being of life."[7]

In God the Invisible King, Wells regards belief in God as welling up from within the individual: "if you do not feel God then there is no persuading you of him; we cannot win over the incredulous."[8] The book argues that God seeks "the conquest of death,"[9] through a struggle to "transform the world into a theocracy" that he regards as "more and more manifestly the real future of mankind," not through suffering or non-resistance.[10] Sin is seen not as bad conduct but as the product of disharmonies of "the inner being" that "snatch us away from our devotion to God's service"[11] and such weaknesses "cannot damn a man once he has found God."[12]

A final seventh chapter rejects the idea that "the new religion" can or should be organised into a church: "Whatever religious congregations men may form henceforth in the name of the true God must be for their own sakes and not to take charge of religion."[13] In a section titled "The State Is God's Instrument," Wells speaks of a coming "theocracy" and argues that in the probably not too distant future "Religion which is free, speaking freely through whom it will, subject to a perpetual unlimited criticism, will be the life and driving power of the whole organised world. So that if you prefer not to say that there will be no church, if you choose rather to declare that the world-state is God's church, you may have it so if you will."[14]

In an "envoy," Wells invokes "my friend and master, that very great American, the late William James," as one who shared his conception of God.[15] He asserts that "modern religion" is "a process of truth, guided by the divinity in men. It needs no other guidance, and no protection. It needs nothing but freedom, free speech, and honest statement."[16]

Background

Biographers (including Wells himself) agree in regarding this foray into theology, which is also remarkable in the novel Mr. Britling Sees It Through (1916), as the result of the trauma of World War I.

God the Invisible King "was so different from what Wells normally wrote that most people did not know how to handle it."[17] The book led to Wells having lunch with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and provoked a number of works controverting his statement of his beliefs.

Wells later repudiated the God of God the Invisible King as "no God at all."[18] "What we have here is really a falling back of the mind towards immaturity under the stress of dismay and anxiety. . . . I thought it was pitiful that [men looking for some lodestar for their loyalty] should pin their minds to 'King and Country' and suchlike claptrap, when they might live and die for greater ends, and I did my utmost to personify and animate a greater, remoter objective in God the Invisible King. So by a sort of coup d'état I turned my New Republic for a time into a divine monarchy."[19] "In What Are We to Do with Our Lives? (1932) I make the most explicit renunciation and apology for this phase of terminological disingenuousness."[20]

References

  1. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. v.
  2. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. ix. These views also appear in his novel The Soul of a Bishop.
  3. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 173.
  4. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. ix & Ch. 1 passim.
  5. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), Ch. 2 passim.
  6. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), Ch. 3 passim.
  7. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 76. Wells also places Joseph McCabe, Chalmers Mitchell and Harry Johnston in this camp.
  8. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 98.
  9. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 99.
  10. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 110 & Ch. 5 passim.
  11. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 150.
  12. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 155.
  13. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 164.
  14. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. ix.
  15. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 172.
  16. ^ H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (New York: Macmillan, 1917), p. 173.
  17. ^ David C. Smith, H.G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography (Yale University Press, 1986), p. 231.
  18. ^ H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography (New York: Macmillan, 1934), p. 574.
  19. ^ H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography (New York: Macmillan, 1934), p. 575.
  20. ^ H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography (New York: Macmillan, 1934), p. 578.

External links

Anthony West (author)

Anthony West (4 August 1914 – 27 December 1987) was a British author and literary critic.

Boon (novel)

Boon is a 1915 work of literary satire by H. G. Wells. It purports, however, to be by the fictional character Reginald Bliss, and for some time after publication Wells denied authorship. Boon is best known for its part in Wells's debate on the nature of literature with Henry James, who is caricatured in the book. But in Boon Wells also mocks himself, calling into question and ridiculing a notion he held dear—that of humanity's collective consciousness.

G. P. Wells

George Philip Wells FRS (17 July 1901 – 27 September 1985), son of the British science fiction author H. G. Wells, was a zoologist and author. He co-authored, with his father and Julian Huxley, The Science of Life. A pupil at Oundle School, he was in the first class to learn Russian as a modern language in a British school. He accompanied his father to Soviet Russia in 1920, acting as his Russian translator and exchanging ideas with Russian zoology students. He won an entrance Exhibition to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became Senior Scholar in his first year of residence.Wells, a comparative physiologist, worked on invertebrates of several phyla. He determined their tolerance for changes in the salinity and the ionic balance of the surrounding water, and analysed the water relations of land gastropods.

For the latter part of his career he was a member of staff in the Zoology Department of University College London, eventually as professor. His range of zoological knowledge was notably wide, and his main research was on the behaviour of the lugworm Arenicola. He determined its habits by elegant experiments, and showed that the rhythm which controls many of its activities arises in the oesophagus. Such spontaneous rhythmic activity was shown to occur in many polychaetes.

He was known to all by his nickname, Gip, and appears by this name in his father's fictional story "The Magic Shop". He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1955.Wells also published the 1971 (and last) edition of his father's The Outline of History in the wake of Raymond Postgate's death in March of that year. Postgate had revised four previous editions following H. G. Wells' death in 1946, published in 1949, 1956, 1961 and 1969. He also edited and published H. G. Wells in Love, his father's account of his main extramarital love affairs.

H. G. Wells

Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was an English writer. He was prolific in many genres, writing dozens of novels, short stories, and works of social commentary, satire, biography, and autobiography, and even including two books on recreational war games. He is now best remembered for his science fiction novels and is often called a "father of science fiction", along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback.During his own lifetime, however, he was most prominent as a forward-looking, even prophetic social critic who devoted his literary talents to the development of a progressive vision on a global scale. A futurist, he wrote a number of utopian works and foresaw the advent of aircraft, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television and something resembling the World Wide Web. His science fiction imagined time travel, alien invasion, invisibility, and biological engineering. Brian Aldiss referred to Wells as the "Shakespeare of science fiction". His most notable science fiction works include The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898) and the military science fiction The War in the Air (1907). Wells was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.Wells's earliest specialised training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context. He was also from an early date an outspoken socialist, often (but not always, as at the beginning of the First World War) sympathising with pacifist views. His later works became increasingly political and didactic, and he wrote little science fiction, while he sometimes indicated on official documents that his profession was that of journalist. Novels such as Kipps and The History of Mr Polly, which describe lower-middle-class life, led to the suggestion that he was a worthy successor to Charles Dickens, but Wells described a range of social strata and even attempted, in Tono-Bungay (1909), a diagnosis of English society as a whole. A diabetic, Wells co-founded the charity The Diabetic Association (known today as Diabetes UK) in 1934.

H. G. Wells (crater)

H. G. Wells is a lunar impact crater that is located on the far side of the Moon, behind the northeastern limb. It lies to the south of the crater Millikan, and to the northeast of Cantor. Just to the southeast is the smaller Tesla.

This large formation is most notable for the extremely battered state of its outer rim. Little or nothing remains of the original rim, so completely has it been eroded and incised by smaller craters. As a result, the crater floor is now surrounded by a ring of irregular peaks and worn crater valleys. This rugged surroundings intrudes only part way into the interior, while the remaining floor is relatively level and in some places gently rolling. The interior is marked only by a multitude of tiny craterlets.

The writer H. G. Wells earned the right to have a Moon crater named after him by his well-known science fiction, including the novel The First Men in the Moon.

H. G. Wells bibliography

H. G. Wells was a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction. His writing career spanned more than sixty years, and his early science fiction novels earned him the title (along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback) of "The Father of Science Fiction".

In the Abyss

"In the Abyss" is a short story by English writer H. G. Wells, first published in 1896 in Pearson's Magazine. It was included in The Plattner Story and Others, a collection of short stories by Wells first published in 1897. The story describes a journey to the ocean bed in a specially-designed metal sphere; the explorer within discovers a civilization of human-like creatures.

Joan and Peter

Joan and Peter, a 1918 novel by H. G. Wells, is at once a satirical portrait of late-Victorian and Edwardian England, a critique of the English educational system on the eve of World War I, a study of the impact of that war on English society, and a general reflection on the purposes of education. Wells regarded it as "one of the most ambitious" of his novels.

Joseph Wells (cricketer)

Joseph Wells (14 July 1828 – 14 October 1910) was an English cricketer and father of the noted author H. G. Wells.

Mary Hanford Ford

Mary Hanford Ford (November 1, 1856 – February 2, 1937) was an American lecturer, author, art and literature critic and a leader in the women's suffrage movement. She reached early notoriety in Kansas at the age of 28 and soon left for the Chicago World's Fair. She was taken up by the society ladies of the Chicago area who, impressed with her talks on art and literature at the Fair, helped launch her on a new career, initially in Chicago and then across some States. Along the way she was already published in articles and noticed in suffrage meetings. In addition to work as an art critic and speaker she wrote a number of books, most prominently a trilogy Message of the Mystics. Circa 1900-1902 Ford found the Bahá'í Faith through Sarah Farmer, Green Acre, and Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, and helped form the first community of Bahá'ís in Boston where Louis Bourgeois, future architect of the first Bahá'í House of Worship in the West, then joined the religion. In 1907 Ford went on Bahá'í pilgrimage, in 1910 she started writing Bahá'í books such as The Oriental Rose, and traveled with `Abdu'l-Bahá during some of his journeys in various places in Europe and then America. Ford was blamed for a fiasco among UK suffragists but it was their own violence that got them in trouble. Ford spent the years of World War I in California following the first Bahá'í International Congress at the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, and then moved back to New York where she spent almost the next 20 years. Often she traveled to Europe for some months of the year and during this period introduced the religion to Ugo Giachery, later a prominent Bahá'í. Also in this period she was censored off a radio broadcast, helped develop the religion's community both in meetings she supported and literary efforts, before reducing her travels and speaking engagements in the early 1930s. She died with her daughter by her bedside in 1937.

The Argonauts of the Air

"The Argonauts of the Air" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 in Phil May's Annual. It was included in the collection of Wells short stories The Plattner Story and Others, published by Methuen & Co. in 1897.Written several years before the first flight of the Wright brothers, it describes the painstaking development of a flying machine, in the face of public amusement, and its unsuccessful trial flight over London.

Wells lived at one time in Worcester Park, where the machine is launched; he studied at the Royal College of Science, where it crashes.

The Cone

"The Cone" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 in Unicorn. It was intended to be "the opening chapter of a sensational novel set in the Five Towns", later abandoned.The story is set at an ironworks in Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire. An artist is there to depict the industrial landscape; the manager of the ironworks discovers his affair with his wife, and takes him on a tour of the factory, where there are dangerous features.

The Diamond Maker

"The Diamond Maker" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1894 in the Pall Mall Budget. It was included in The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents, the first collection of short stories by Wells, first published in 1895.

In the story, a businessman hears an account from a man who has devoted years attempting to make artificial diamonds, only to end as a desperate outcast.

The Plattner Story

"The Plattner Story" is a short story by English writer H. G. Wells, first published in 1896 in The New Review. It was included in The Plattner Story and Others, a collection of short stories by Wells first published in 1897, and in The Country of the Blind and Other Stories, a collection of his short stories first published in 1911. In the story, a man recounts his experiences in a parallel world.

The Sea Raiders

"The Sea Raiders" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1896 in The Weekly Sun Literary Supplement. It was included in The Plattner Story and Others, a collection of short stories by Wells published by Methuen & Co. in 1897. It was included in The Country of the Blind and Other Stories, a collection of short stories by Wells published by Thomas Nelson & Sons in 1911.The story describes a brief period when a previously unknown sort of giant squid, which attacks humans, is encountered on the coast of Devon, England.

The Soul of a Bishop

The Soul of a Bishop is a 1917 novel by H. G. Wells.

The Undying Fire (Wells novel)

The Undying Fire, a 1919 novel by H. G. Wells, is a modern retelling of the story of Job. Like the Book of Job, it consists of a prologue in heaven, an exchange of speeches with four visitors, a dialogue between the protagonist and God, and an epilogue in which the protagonist's fortunes are restored. The novel is dedicated "to All Schoolmasters and Schoolmistresses and every Teacher in the World."

Æpyornis Island

"Æpyornis Island", or "Aepyornis Island", is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1894 in the Pall Mall Budget. It was included in The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents, the first collection of short stories by Wells, first published in 1895.

In the story, a man looking for eggs of Aepyornis, an extinct flightless bird, passes two years alone on a small island with an Aepyornis that has hatched.

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