Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/435

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vow it, for they replace prayers and incantations by drugs and diet. Only the small sect called "The Peculiar People" trust entirely to prayer; and Christian magistrates are so outraged at this trust that they punish it as a crime! In vain are epidemics declared to be visitations, in vain are books written with such titles as "God in Disease;" the practical sense of the nation decides that cholera or cattle-plague are not to punish landlords and farmers for the skepticism of a few speculative minds, and hence that we had better seek to avert them by a course of treatment and "an order in council," than by pulpit eloquence and a "day of humiliation."

I have taken the case of disease because it is less open to the ambiguities and difficulties which beset a moral problem, but a similar discrepancy might be pointed out between the theological precepts and the moral practices. Here, as everywhere, it is patent that as knowledge advances, theology loses its hold; and morality, instead of remaining stationary like theology, advances with an enlarging insight into the healthy conditions of human relations. Science is often taunted with its imperfections and its inability to explain the mysteries of life. Imperfect it is, and that is why we should all strive to make it less so. Mysteries will doubtless forever encompass us. But Science may answer the taunt by challenging Theology to show that its explanation of the mysteries has any claim to our acceptance. The question is not whether an explanation can be given, but whether the given explanation has any verifiable evidence. Kant has truly said that now criticism has taken its place among the disintegratory agencies, no system can pretend to escape its jurisdiction. The Church has its texts, and has decided once for all what meaning these texts must bear. But the criticism of scientific method asks for the evidence which can prove these texts to be of divine origin, and the evidence which can prove these interpretations to be in agreement with fact. In both respects the answer is unequivocal. There is no evidence to prove the texts. The interpretations are discordant with experience. Thus the Catholic who accepts Galileo and Newton must give up the texts, or take the first step toward Protestantism, which asserts the right of interpreting the texts according to private judgment. And the Protestant who asserts this right of interpretation, and forsakes the literal meaning of the texts, has taken a step toward rationalism, and implicitly disavowed the authority of the texts, since what he obeys is not their teaching, but the teaching of the culture of his day and sect. The rationalist, in turn, has taken a step toward the scientific position; he regards the texts as symbols of an earlier stage of culture, which need the interpretation of our present culture; and when he learns—as easily he may learn—that all the facts of the moral world are to be investigated and systematized on the same principles as the facts of the physical world, setting aside in the one as in the other all supernatural and metempirical conceptions, because these cannot enter into the framework of