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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/861

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

WIDENING THOUGHT.

WE do not know a more encouraging sign of the times than the vastly improved entente now existing between those two forces, which only a generation ago seemed to many to be irreconcilable enemies—science and religion. There were not wanting, at the time we speak of, wise men who asserted that the conflict between these two must be the result of misunderstanding; but, in general, the partisans of religion were convinced that any science, so called, which threatened their special beliefs must be absolutely false, while some at least of the partisans of science were disposed to hold that, because some specific theological tenets had been proved unsound, the whole basis of religion had been shattered and destroyed. Of course, remnants of these errors may be found lingering here and there even now; but in centers of thought and culture very different ideas have begun to prevail. We noticed some time ago, in another department of the Monthly, an excellent work by the esteemed President of Rochester University—Genetic Philosophy—which was thoroughly in line with all that is best in the modern scientific spirit; yet Rochester University, if we mistake not, is an institution under the control of the Baptist denomination. More lately still we called attention to the liberal and hopeful utterances of the Presbyterian clergymen who were celebrating the jubilee of Knox College at Toronto, Canada. We now find an admirable article in the December number of The New World, bearing the title Science a Natural Ally of Religion, which again we may credit to the Baptist denomination, as it proceeds from the pen of Prof. E. Benjamin Andrews, of Brown University, Rhode Island.

According to Prof. Andrews, who states his case very well, it has come to this, that science, which bigots and fanatics on one side or the other once accounted the natural foe of religion, can and must now be claimed as its natural ally. Science, Prof. Andrews tells us, has done the work of religion in unifying human knowledge, and thus leading our thought by necessary stages to the recognition of one First Cause of all things. We have been led to see that there are not forces in the world—that there is but one force; and we have been set free from the crude materialism which unintelligently deified matter as the one self-existent reality. The doctrine of evolution, far from being an impediment to religious faith, "opens the way for an apprehension of the Divine Being and his modes of procedure far more rational, helpful, and uplifting than the time-honored creationist view." Or, as he otherwise expresses it, we see in evolution "simply the slow march of creative energy." The old idea represented the Deity as forming a plan, just as an architect might design a house, and then, when all the details had been worked out, proceeding to realize it. According to the evolutionist view, "we can not think of the Divine Being as ever having been without a world. He creates from all eternity, and the product each instant is a brand-new work entire, which, though God's creature, is yet not external to him, but rather the sign of Ms own living, throbbing presence."

Science, Prof. Andrews further claims, has rendered philosophic skepticism henceforth impossible—such skepticism, for example, as that of Pyrrho of Elis and the later Academics. How far this is true, as a matter of exact logic, we are not prepared at this mo-