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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/367

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353
SCIENCE AND THE BISHOPS.

the tu quoque device of setting scientific blunders against theological errors; no suggestion that an honest man may keep contradictory beliefs in separate pockets of his brain; no question that the method of scientific investigation is valid, whatever the results to which it may lead; and that the search after truth, and truth only, ennobles the searcher and leaves no doubt that his life, at any rate, is worth living. The Bishop of Carlisle declares himself pledged to the belief that "the advancement of science, the progress of human knowledge, is in itself a worthy aim of the greatest effort of the greatest minds."

How often was it my fate, a quarter of a century ago, to see the whole artillery of the pulpit brought to bear upon the doctrine of evolution and its supporters! Any one unaccustomed to the amenities of ecclesiastical controversy would have thought we were too wicked to be permitted to live. But let us hear the Bishop of Bedford. After a perfectly frank statement of the doctrine of evolution and some of its obvious consequences, that learned prelate pleads, with all earnestness, against

a hasty denunciation of what may be proved to have at least some elements of truth in it, a contemptuous rejection of theories which we may some day learn to accept as freely and with as little sense of inconsistency with God's word as we now accept the theory of the earth's motion round the sun, or the long duration of the geological epochs (p. 28).

I do not see that the most convinced evolutionist could ask any one, whether cleric or layman, to say more than this; in fact, I do not think that any one has a right to say more with respect to any question about which two opinions can be held, than that his mind is perfectly open to the force of evidence.

There is another portion of the Bishop of Bedford's sermon which I think will be warmly appreciated by all honest and clear-headed men. He repudiates the views of those who say that theology and science

occupy wholly different spheres, and need in no way intermeddle with each other. They revolve, as it were, in different planes, and so never meet. Thus we may pursue scientific studies with the utmost freedom, and, at the same time, may pay the most reverent regard to theology, having no fears of collision, because allowing no points of contact (p. 29).

Surely every unsophisticated mind will heartily concur with the bishop's remark upon this convenient refuge for the descendants of Mr. Facing-both-ways. "I have never been able to understand this position, though I have often seen it assumed." Nor can any demurrer be sustained when the bishop proceeds to point out that there are, and must be, various points of contact between theological and natural science, and therefore that it is foolish to ignore or deny the existence of as many dangers of collision.

Finally, the Bishop of Manchester freely admits the force of the