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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 42

6.—Law of Parcimony

6.—Law of Parcimony,

by which he hopes to make havoc in the arguments in favour of inspiration. It is a mighty weapon. But I think Mr Stout has used it in the wrong place. Of course it easily casts down the caricature that the lecturer had set up to be thrown down; but he had already done this with simpler engines. But he set up his man of straw once more, just to let his audience have the exquisite pleasure of seeing the poor thing knocked over again, and down it went. But all the while the doctrine of inspiration stood by in unmoved composure. This wonderful law is summed up in these words:—"Neither more, nor more onerous causes' are to be assumed than are necessary to account for the phenomena." "Now," exclaims Mr. Stout, "the Spirit of God was not required to enable an onlooker to relate what he saw. Why, then, invoke His aid?" Of course if the Spirit of God can only aid a man to do what he could not otherwise do, then He cannot aid him in recounting facts of which he has a previous knowledge. But Mr. Stout has already forgotten even his own definition. Inspiration, according to the "new doctrine" promulgated by "my learned friend," is the "feeling of an impulse to write." Then surely there might be the "impulse to write" without the aid to record, and yet not violate the law of Parcimony. But if the proper sense of the term inspiration is "a mental impulse to write about something of which the writer is ignorant," then Mr. Stout is right. But according to a law enunciated by Mr. Stout, if I choose to say he is wrong then I am right, and he is compelled by that law to allow me my opinion. However, I shall show shortly that the theological doctrine of inspiration cannot be troubled by the law of Parcimony; for there is a vast deal more in the Bible, and in the idea of inspiration, than Mr. Stout seems to dream of.