Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/627

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Editor's Table.


OUR attention has been drawn to an article by an excellent contributor of our own, Dean Carmichael, of Montreal, which appeared a few months ago in the Canada Educational Monthly, on the subject of "Religion and Education." The writer is candid, able, and eminently well-meaning, but we find it impossible, nevertheless, to agree with the views he puts forth, or at least with his main contention. The dean is much impressed with the rapid progress which education has been making in the modern world, and he prophesies that, if the same rate of progress is maintained for seventy-five or a hundred years longer, it will be impossible in any civilized country to gather together so ignorant a crowd as that which tore down the Bastile in 1789. Does that mean that society will then be safe from such convulsions as marked the French Revolution? By no means: crowds may again gather for deadly work, but they will be educated crowds, each man able to write his name and read his paper and proceed with the business of destruction "as an intelligent being, instead of being whirled to it as an atom in a vortex." The dean sees signs of great disturbance in the present day, and he thinks that education, as it is now being imparted to the masses, is rendering society not more but less stable. "The millions," he says, "that in times past were only used to dig and delve, to fill up giant armies, to crowd pauper workhouses, to tenant penal settlements," are being reached by the light of education and are "fast growing into mental as well as physical power." One would be disposed to think that this was not a very lamentable prospect, but it fills Dean Carmichael's mind with the gravest apprehensions. Why? Because he does not see how the minority are going to hold this vast educated majority in check. That the majority must be held in check, unless society is to go to smash, he seems to consider axiomatic. The specific complaint he makes against modern education is that it is virtually divorced from religion. "The whole tide," he says, "of modern civilization, as set going and lauded by the middle and higher classes of society, desires either to sweep distinctive religious teaching clean out of the world's curriculum, or to put it into a corner with a fool's cap on its head. . . . No greater anomaly, I think, has ever existed than that of institutions based upon the open principle that the Bible is the foundation of all education, practically joining hands with unbelievers the world over to make the Bible the least prominent volume of instruction in public education."

These quotations at once indicate the writer's standpoint and suggest our reply. The "anomaly" which appears so striking and inexplicable in his eyes loses much of its extraordinary character on close examination. The question is this: Why are Christian parents so generally willing, where they are not actually desirous, that the Bible should not be made an authoritative text-book in the public schools? Many reasons may be assigned. In the first place, they know that the Bible as it stands, in its entirety, is not adapted