WE yield the considerable space in our present number winch is necessary to complete the discussion between Mr. Gladstone and Professor Huxley as the chief parties, on the scientific status of the Pentateuch, in its claims to embody and anticipate in an extraordinary manner the great results of modern science. Mr. Gladstone argues that the statements made thousands of years ago in the book of Genesis in regard to the manner and order in which this earth and its living tribes were produced conform so remarkably to the grand results of modern scientific research as to form a powerful argument in favor of the divine inspiration of the old Jewish chronicles. Professor Huxley takes issue with this conclusion, maintaining that there is nothing like the wonderful agreement alleged, as sufficient to constitute a "plea for a revelation from God," but that, on the other hand, the disagreements between the two records are so great as to be irreconcilable.
This is an old and hard-contested controversy. At first, and for a long period, the Bible, as a paramount and infallible authority, became a powerful instrument in the hands of bigotry and intolerance for the repression of science. For a long time the facts of observation and the proofs of experiment were of but little weight before the authority of Scripture texts. But theologians at length discovered that this was untenable and indeed dangerous ground; as, to plant the Bible squarely in the pathway of advancing science, would be certain to destroy its influence. The lead at last had to be given to the truths of observation and experience, against which it was of no use any longer to quote Scripture. But then came the task of reconciling biblical statements with scientific truths, and for a long period an immense amount of ingenuity and learning was expended to show that the Bible is in perfect harmony with science, and that all its most striking and important results are to be found there, expressed or implied. But neither could this ground be maintained; and after generations of heated contest the great controversy gradually settled itself by the general acceptance of the principle that the Bible was not given to teach science, and is therefore not to be judged by scientific standards. Hence, the present discussion seems now rather anomalous—the revival of an antiquated subject—which derives its chief interest from the eminent character of the parties engaged in it. Mr. Gladstone is, however, an old man, and, though still in great force, he represents ideas and phases of thought upon this question that were far more absorbing and ascendant half a century ago than they are now.
A correspondent of the "New York Times" sums up the functions of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of New York as follows: