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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/88

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76
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
At this point a very obvious objection arises and deserves full and candid consideration. It may be said that critical skepticism carried to the length suggested is historical pyrrhonism; that if we are to altogether discredit an ancient or a modern historian because he has assumed fabulous matter to be true, it will be as well to give up paying any attention to history. . . . Of course (he acknowledges) this is perfectly true. I am afraid there is no man alive whose witness could be accepted, if the condition precedent were proof that he had never invented and promulgated a myth.

The question, then, which. Prof. Huxley himself raises, and which he had to answer, was this: Why is the general evidence of the Gospels, on the main facts of our Lord's life and teaching, to be discredited, even if it be true that they have invented or promulgated a myth about the Gadarene swine? What is his answer to that simple and broad question? Strange to say, absolutely none at all! He leaves this vital question without any answer, and goes back to the Gadarene swine. The question he raises is whether the supposed incredibility of the story of the Gadarene swine involves the general untrustworthiness of the story of the Gospels; and his conclusion is that it involves the incredibility of the story of the Gadarene swine. A more complete evasion of his own question it would be difficult to imagine. As Prof. Huxley almost challenges me to state what I think of that story, I have only to say that I fully believe it, and moreover that Prof. Huxley, in this very article, has removed the only consideration which would have been a serious obstacle to my belief. If he were prepared to say, on his high scientific authority, that the narrative involves a contradiction of established scientific truth, I could not but defer to such a decision, and I might be driven to consider those possibilities of interpolation in the narrative, which Prof. Huxley is good enough to suggest to all who feel the improbability of the story too much for them. But Prof. Huxley expressly says:

I admit I have no a priori objection to offer. . . . For anything I can absolutely prove to the contrary, there may be spiritual things capable of the same transmigration, with like effects. . . . So I declare, as plainly as I can, that I am unable to show cause why these transferable devils should not exist.

Very well, then, as the highest science of the day is unable to show cause against the possibility of the narrative, and as I regard the Gospels as containing the evidence of trustworthy persons who were contemporary with the events narrated, and as their general veracity carries to my mind the greatest possible weight, I accept their statement in this, as in other instances. Prof. Huxley ventures "to doubt whether at this present moment any Protestant theologian, who has a reputation to lose, will say that he believes the Gadarene story." He will judge whether I fall under his description; but I repeat that I believe it, and that he has removed the only objection to my believing it.