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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/423

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critical history of the Bible, which were attended by crowds of eager listeners. The lectures are collected in a volume that at once becomes a text-book of modern Biblical criticism. The true scientific ground is here openly and broadly taken, and it is generally admitted that Professor Robertson Smith's book represents authoritatively the scope and objects and method of the critical school which has been growing during the last half-century. It has thus at length become the benign office of Science to bring its methods to the responsible task of throwing a better light on the origin, history, and true character of the Christian oracles than has been derived from uncritical tradition. Nor does the critical attitude taken by Professor Smith at all compromise his Christian position. He is no skeptic, trying to undermine the Scriptures. He holds to their essential truth, but recognizes that on earth and in time, and among ignorant, selfish, and prejudiced men, truth is liable to be obscured. Professor Smith is in no sense an enemy of the Bible, as the following passage from his lectures sufficiently attests. He says:

The Bible is a book of experimental religion, in which, the converse of God with his people is depicted in all its stages, up to the full and abiding manifestation of saving love in the person of Jesus Christ. God has no message to the believing soul which the Bible does not set forth, and set forth not in bare formulas, but in living and experimental form, by giving the actual history of the need which the message supplies, and by showing how the holy men of old received the message, as a light to their own darkness, a comfort and a stay to their own souls.

But a majority of the Free Church of Scotland think that this is insufficient, and demand that he shall cease his critical studies. A large minority, however, see plainly that it is neither possible nor desirable to arrest the great inquiry that is now so far advanced and so securely established.




Of all the forms of hostility to science indulged in by narrow-minded, prejudiced people, the anti-vivisection movement is unquestionably the most ridiculous. Vivisection is cutting the living; surgery is, therefore, human vivisection. The human person is liable to a thousand accidents and diseases, which can only be relieved by vivisection. The surgeon, with his cutting instruments of innumerable shapes, operates boldly upon the living system, inflicting pain that pain may be relieved, saving damaged organs, restoring health, and prolonging life. There is, indeed, no art practiced by man that is so valuable and important as that of human vivisection—and this, moreover, everybody knows.

But human vivisection, pursued for its beneficent purpose, is a difficult and dangerous practice. It requires the most accurate and thorough knowledge of the organization of the human body, and extensive experience in working upon it. In its early stages, when little was known of the living system, it was a dreadful-, barbarism, a manipulation of torture, and, in serious cases, more liable to injure than to benefit. The province of surgery has ever depended upon knowledge and experience, and it has become successful in proportion as knowledge has increased and the opportunities of practice have been enlarged. Modern surgery has advanced with the most rapid strides, and at every step has made humanity its debtor. And this, also, everybody knows.

Yet, from the beginning, men have combined to hinder the development of this art upon which so much of human welfare depends. For thousands of years the dissection of the dead human body—the only source of knowledge to the surgeon—was held a horrible thing by the multitude, was denounced as sacrilege by the Church, and was forbidden by the state.