Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/148

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above alleged; for its implication is, not simply that the scientific interpretation of vital and social phenomena as conforming to fixed laws is repugnant to him, but that the like interpretation of inorganic phenomena is repugnant. In common with the ancient Greek, he regards as irreligious any explanation of Nature which dispenses with immediate divine superintendence. He appears to overlook the fact that the doctrine of gravitation, with the entire science of physical astronomy, is open to the same charge as this which he makes against the doctrine of evolution; and he seems not to have remembered that throughout the past each further step made by Science has been denounced for reasons like those which he assigns.[1]

It is instructive to observe, however, that, in these prevailing conceptions expressed by Mr. Gladstone, which we have here to note as excluding the conception of a Social Science, there is to be traced a healthful process of compromise between old and new. For, as, in the current conceptions about the order of events in the lives of persons, there is a partnership, wholly illogical though temporarily convenient, between the ideas of natural causation and of providential interference, so, in the current political conceptions, the belief in divine interpositions goes along with, and by no means excludes, the belief in a natural production of effects on society by natural agencies set to work. In relation to the occurrences of individual life, we displayed our national aptitude for thus entertaining mutually-destructive ideas, when an unpopular prince suddenly gained popularity by outliving certain abnormal changes in his blood, and when, on the occasion of his recovery, providential aid and natural causation were unitedly recognized by a thanksgiving to God and a baronetcy to the doctor. And, similarly, we see that, throughout all our public actions, the theory which Mr. Gladstone represents, that great men are providentially raised up to do things God has decided upon, and that the course of affairs is supernaturally ordered thus or thus, does not in the least interfere with the passings of measures calculated to achieve desired ends in ways classed as natural, and nowise modifies the discussion of such measures on their merits, as estimated in terms of cause and consequence. While the prayers with which each legislative sit-

  1. In the appendix to his republished address, Mr. Gladstone, in illustration of the views he condemns, refers to that part of "First Principles" which, treating of the reconciliation of Science and Religion, contends that this consists in a united recognition of an Ultimate Cause which, though ever present to consciousness, transcends knowledge. Commenting on this view, he says: "Still it vividly recalls to mind an old story of the man who, wishing to be rid of one who was in his house, said: 'Sir, there are two sides to my house, and we will divide them; you shall take the outside.'" This seems to me by no means a happily-chosen simile, since it admits of an interpretation exactly opposite to the one Mr. Gladstone intends. The doctrine he combats is that Science, unable to go beyond the outsides of things, is forever debarred from reaching, and even from conceiving, the power within them; and, this being so, the relative positions of Religion and Science may be well represented by inverting the application of his figure.