"You mean that they were very clever and learned men, while you have grave doubts whether I am either?" asked Weeks.
"Yes," answered Philip uncertainly, for put in that way his question seemed impertinent.
"St. Augustine believed that the earth was flat and that the sun turned round it."
"I don't know what that proves."
"Why, it proves that you believe with your generation. Your saints lived in an age of faith, when it was practically impossible to disbelieve what to us is positively incredible."
"Then how d'you know that we have the truth now?"
Philip thought this over for a moment, then he said:
"I don't see why the things we believe absolutely now shouldn't be just as wrong as what they believed in the past."
"Neither do I."
"Then how can you believe anything at all?"
"I don't know."
Philip asked Weeks what he thought of Hayward's religion.
"Men have always formed gods in their own image," said Weeks. "He believes in the picturesque."
Philip paused for a little while, then he said:
"I don't see why one should believe in God at all."
The words were no sooner out of his mouth than he realised that he had ceased to do so. It took his breath away like a plunge into cold water. He looked at Weeks with startled eyes. Suddenly he felt afraid. He left Weeks as quickly as he could. He wanted to be alone. It was the most startling experience that he had ever had. He tried to think it all out; it was very exciting, since his whole life seemed concerned (he thought his decision on this matter must profoundly affect its course) and a mistake might lead to eternal damnation; but the more he reflected the more convinced he was; and though during the next few weeks he read books, aids to scepticism, with eager interest it was only to confirm him in what he felt instinctively. The fact was that he had ceased to believe not for this reason or the other, but because he had not the religious temperament. Faith had been forced upon him from the outside. It was a matter of environment and example. A new environment and a new example gave him the opportunity to find himself. He put off the faith of his childhood quite simply, like a cloak that he no longer needed. At first life seemed strange and lonely without the belief which, though he never realised it, had been an unfailing support. He felt like a man who has leaned on a stick and finds himself forced suddenly to walk without assistance. It really seemed as though the days were colder and the nights more solitary. But he was upheld by the excitement; it seemed to make life a more thrilling adventure; and in a little while the stick which he had thrown aside, the cloak which had fallen from his shoulders, seemed an intolerable burden of which he had been eased. The religious exercises which for so many years had been forced upon him were part and parcel of religion to him. He thought of the collects and epistles which he had been made to learn by heart, and the long services at the Cathedral through which he had sat when every limb itched with the desire for movement; and he remembered those walks at night through muddy roads to the parish church at Blackstable, and the coldness of that bleak building; he sat with his feet like ice,
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