Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/432

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the fury of the storm-demon, or an eclipse was God's anger, so nowadays men, ignorant of natural conditions, interpret epidemics as "visitations," and regard "intuitions" as of divine origin. The inconsistency, then, of the acceptance of theological side by side with scientific principles, is only a continuation of the primitive mental state, and must vanish when there is a general conviction that science is orderly knowledge, and is coextensive with experience. If we can have no knowledge transcending experience in the widest sense, and if faith is the vision of things unknown—dealing with what transcends knowledge—then the conflict between science and theology is the conflict between knowledge and ignorance.

Unless this be the character of faith, I dispute the claim of Theology to the exclusive possession of faith as a principle of guidance. Science also has its faith, and by it must all men to a great extent be guided. But the faith of Theology and the faith of Science are very different in their credentials. The former is the reliance on the truth of principles handed down by tradition, of which no verification is possible, no examination permissible; the latter is reliance on the truth of principles which have been sought and found by competent inquirers, tested incessantly by successive generations, are always open to verification in all their details, and always modifiable according to fresh experiences. We believe in the law of gravitation, though we never opened the "Principia," and could not, perhaps, understand it; but we rely on those who can understand it, and who have found its teachings in harmony with fact. We believe in the measurement of the velocity of light, though ignorant of the methods by which the velocity is measured. We trust those who have sought and found. If we distrust them the search is open to us as to them. The mariner trusts to the indications of the compass without pretending to know how these indications were discovered, but assured by constant experience that they guide the ship safely. That also is faith.

But if the mental attitude is one of the same obedience as the theological faith, its justification is different. Its credentials are conformity with experience. Those of theology are the statements of the sacred books: the Vedas, Zendavesta, Bible, Koran. The statements therein made concerning the divine nature, its relations with the human, and the providential government of the world, are not open to the verification of experience, for they were not sought and found in experience. If we ask for their credentials, we are told that they are of divine origin. If we ask for evidence of this divine origin, we are referred to history or to our moral consciousness. Tradition has handed down these statements through successive generations; yet if we ask, as we ought to ask, how the tradition itself originated, we are brought face to face with this twofold difficulty: we cannot recognize that those who first promulgated the statements had any better means of knowing the truth than we have; and we are struck with the fact that the statements thus