Sherlock Holmes and Providence


Is Sherlock Holmes represented as Agnostic?

Agnostic: Being agnostic is admitting that there is not enough evidence either way to prove or disprove an all-powerful creator. This would be a person who may not make any official claim to believing in God.

If Sherlock Holmes is agnostic, which way does he lean?

The problem of evil: This is the question of how can there be an all-powerful, all knowing, all loving god that allows such evil to exist in the world? This tends to lead to an atheist’s point of view.

The problem of beauty: This is the question of how can there not be a god that allows such beauty in the world? This tends to lead to agnostics and full on believer’s point of view.

Which side does Holmes lean towards more?

The problem of evil, yet being unaccepting that the world is ruled by chance:

“What is the meaning of it, Watson? What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever.” The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

Here Holmes is asking that basic question all humans inevitably ask, “what is the meaning of life?” He speaks of the evil of the world, yet seems to imply that it should be impossible for existence to be determined by chance… or at least he hopes.

The problem of beauty, yet still scientific:

“There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion. It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.” The Naval Treaty

Here Holmes is acting in an unusual manner, compared to his usual demeanor. He is stating that religion is reasonable and quite possible, due to the loveliness of a flower. “What a lovely thing a rose is!” Here Holmes is in a much better mood than when he went on about the problem of evil, and it came down to the simplest of things.

Which side does Sherlock Holmes lean more towards?

I believe Sherlock Holmes is a man of science who has a great power of reasoning and deductions due to his observation and logical skills. I believe Sherlock Holmes is a scientific and rational man who doesn’t care about trivial facts or commonplace knowledge and also likes to smell the roses. Sherlock Holmes is a great philosopher with a massive intellect who believes that life is stranger than what man could invent and that he wishes to be above the commonplaces of existence, meaning that he’s looking beyond what he knows and understands, which is a lot by the way. Sherlock Holmes is proven to be a man who deep down believes that science can only go so far, that it eventually comes to an end where it stops explaining how and needs to be explained with a why. This is a man who said that “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” And in that case, he even said that religion can be reasoned to an exact science, but even when it can’t, there is still something to it. Sherlock Holmes is a man who often, when explaining how he came to his incredible conclusions, stated that the simple things in life, the small and seemingly unimportant things, are the ones that are most often overlooked; they are the ones that hold all the answers that are most important and hold the key to discovering more than what is a seemingly obvious fact, which he states can be the most deceptive. This man who believes that the smallest of things are the most important in discovering truth is what proves the existence of a creator that allows flowers to have color and smell, instead of believing that all this beauty is all random. This is a man filled with logic and a mind that calculates like a machine that doesn’t want to believe that the universe is ruled by chance.

This is a man whom I believe, believes in science and believes in a creator, or at least hopes for one. Mr. Spock said that “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” I think Sherlock Holmes knows this and follows it.

“One can begin to reshape the landscape with a single flower.” Mr. Spock

“It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from flowers.” Sherlock Holmes

The flowers are proof enough of providence, or at least hope for it.

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein

What do you think?


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