Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/242

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moment let us turn to what it teaches us also with regard to the history and the special claims of Christianity. Approaching Christianity on the side of its alleged history, it establishes the three following points: It shows us first that this alleged history, with the substantial truth of which Christianity stands or falls, contains a number of statements which are demonstrably at variance with fact; secondly, that it contains others which, though very probably true, are entirely misinterpreted through the ignorance of the writers who recorded them; and, thirdly, that though the rest may not be demonstrably false, yet those among them most essential to the Christian doctrine are so monstrously improbable and so utterly unsupported by evidence that we have no more ground for believing in them than we have in the wolf of Romulus.

Such, briefly stated, are the main conclusions of science in so far as they bear on theology and the theologic conception of humanity. Let us now consider exactly what their bearing is. Prof. Huxley distinctly tells us that the knowledge we have reached as to the nature of things in general does not enable us to deduce from it any absolute denial either of the existence of a personal God or of an immortal soul in man, or even of the possibility and the actual occurrence of miracles. On the contrary, he would believe to-morrow in the miraculous history of Christianity if only there were any evidence sufficiently cogent in its favor; and on the authority of Christianity he would believe in God and in man's immortality. Christianity, however, is the only religion in the world whose claims to a miraculous authority are worthy of serious consideration, and science, as we have seen, considers these claims to be unfounded. What follows is this—whether there be a God or no, and whether he has given us immortal souls or no, science declares bluntly that he has never informed us of either fact; and if there is anything to warrant any belief in either, it can be found only in the study of the natural universe. Accordingly, to the natural universe science goes, and we have just seen what it finds there. Part of what it finds bears specially on the theologic conception of God, and part bears specially on the theologic conception of man. With regard to God, to an intelligent creator and ruler, it finds him on every ground to be a baseless and a superfluous hypothesis. In former conditions of knowledge it admits that this was otherwise—that the hypothesis then was not only natural but necessary; for there were many seeming mysteries which could not be explained without it. But now the case has been altogether reversed. One after another these mysteries have been analyzed, not entirely, but to this extent at all events, that the hypothesis of an intelligent creator is not only nowhere necessary, but it generally introduces far more difficulties