Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/727

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ton society, or can not pretermit, if need be, the professional function. Quite the contrary. There are many quiet poems in this collection pervaded by genuine humor, or with fine touches of feeling for nature and human life, which show that the author writes from the inspiration of true poetic art. But the poems that most interest us are those marked by the strong poetic expression of ideas and emotions with which the author's mind is "possessed." The poems entitled "Where is God?" "The Age's Unrest," "Infidelity," "Galileo," "Vanini," "Magellan," "Darwin," "Kepler," and many other pieces, although making up but a small part of the book, would well justify the title, "Songs of Modern Thought."

The Gospel of the Stars, or Primeval Astronomy. By Joseph A. Seiss, D. D., author of "A Miracle in Stone," "Voices from Babylon," "The Last Times," "Lectures on the Apocalypse," "Holy Types," etc. Philadelphia: E. Claxton & Co. Pp. 450. Price, $1.50.

This is an instructive book—instructive not because of the value of its information, but because it is an excellent representation of a certain phase of mind peculiar to these times, which springs out of the conflict of great adverse systems of thought. In the struggle of religion and science, which has been long developing, and is precipitated upon this age with much intensity, the fundamental question is, Which order of ideas—theological or scientific—shall predominate, and which take the subordinate place? It is now universally held that all truth is one. But, in the palpable issues that arise, unity can only be secured by some latitude of interpretation on one side or the other. Though all truth is one, the systems of belief are two, and there has got to be a yielding somewhere before the alleged unity can become a real unity. Men of science start with nature as it exists around them, and is open to exploration and the demonstration of its truths. And, when any system of thought is offered for acceptance, the men of science insist that it must be brought into conformity by interpretation with the order of truth established by science. Religious teachers, on the other hand—most of them, at least—start from theology, hold its doctrines to be in the ascendant, and demand that nature shall be interpreted in conformity with them aw a subordinate system.

The work of Dr. Seiss is a thorough-going example of the dominance of theological ideas over scientific ideas. He, too, is engaged in the laudable work of reconciliation, but, like Hood's butcher, who "conciliated" his sheep by main force, our author reconciles science to theology by no little violence of interpretation. Its lesser details he knocks about without ceremony, and its larger conceptions he waves aside as illusions of not the slightest moment. Evolution, he declares, "is a lie" and, as this sufficiently illustrates, scientific truth has no weight with him. Steeped through and through with theological ideas, he can see nothing in the universe but his own system of divinity, while science is only useful as furnishing material to be twisted into conformity with theology, as he understands it. His book is pervaded with Scripture, and, both from the titles of the works he has formerly written and from the whole quality of this, it is seen that his mind is drawn to the mystical, the obscure, the enigmatic, cabalistic, and transcendental.

The special object of the present work is to show that "the true explanation of the origin and meaning of the constellations of the heavens, their figures and their names, as they have come down to us from the earliest ages of the human race," are only to be found in connection with Christian theology. It is commonly supposed that those fanciful celestial groupings of the stars into resemblances of animals, men, and other objects were devices of primitive times, before astronomical science had arisen. Herschel characterizes "those uncouth figures and outlines of men and monsters usually scribbled over celestial globes and maps" as "puerile and absurd." Dr. Seiss declares all this to be mere "rationalist conjecture," and solemnly maintains, on the other hand, that the constellations are pious intimations, illustrations, and witnesses of the scheme of salvation. The breadth of his view of the Christian system in the present year of grace is indicated by the following passage: "The gospel is chiefly made up of the story of the serpent