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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/464

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

It may, indeed, be now fairly said that the thinking leaders of theology have come to accept the conclusions of science regarding the origin of language, as against the old explanations by myth and legend. The result has been a blessing both to science and to religion. No harm has been done to religion; what has been done is to release it from the clog of theories, which thinking men saw could no longer be maintained. No matter what has become of the naming of the animals by Adam, the origin of the name of Babel, the fears of the Almighty lest men might climb up into his realm above the firmament, the confusion of tongues and the dispersion of nations; the essentials of Christianity, as taught by its Blessed Founder, have simply been freed, by comparative philology, from one more great incubus and incumbrance, and have therefore been left to work with more power upon the hearts, minds, and conduct of mankind.

Nor has any harm been done to the Bible. On the contrary, it has been made, by this new divine revelation through science, all the more precious to us. In these myths and legends caught from earlier civilizations, we see an evolution of the most important religious and moral truths for our race. Myth, legend, and parable seem, in obedience to a divine law, the necessary setting for these truths, as they are successively evolved, ever in higher and higher forms. What matters it then that we have come to know that the accounts of Creation and many early events in the sacred books were remembrances of lore obtained from the Chaldeans? What matters it that the beautiful story of Joseph is found to be in part derived from an Egyptian romance, of which the hieroglyphs may still be seen? What matters it that the story of David and Goliath is poetry; and that Samson, like so many men of strength in other religions, is probably a sun-myth? What matters it that the inculcation of high duty in the childhood of the world is embodied in such quaint stories as those of Jonah and Balaam? The more we realize these facts the richer becomes that great body of literature


    Trustees of the Public Library of Victoria. For Galloway, see his Philosophy of the Creation, Edinburgh and London, 1885, pp. 21, 238, 239, 446. For citation from Baylee, see his Verbal Inspiration the True Characteristic of God's Holy Word, London, 1870, p. 14, and elsewhere. For Archdeacon Pratt, see his Scripture and Science not at Variance, London, 1856, p. 55. For the citation from Dr. Eadie, see his Biblical Cyclopædia, London, 1870, p. 53. For Dr. Dwight, see The New-Englander, vol. xvi, p. 465. For the theological article referred to as giving up the sacred theory, see the Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, prepared by Rev. John McClintock, D. D., and James Strong, New York, 1873, vol. v, p. 233. For Arabic as an earlier Semitic development than Hebrew, as well as for much other valuable information on the questions recently raised, see article Hebrew, by W. R. Smith, in the latest edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. For quotation from Canon Farrar, see his Language and Languages, London, 1878, pp. 6, 7.