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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/722

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

It is a pleasure to find evidences of this in contemporary happenings. Some weeks ago a meeting was called in the town of Leeds, in England, to consider the question of raising subscriptions in aid of the Huxley Memorial Fund. Among those present was the Bishop of Ripon, Dr. Boyd Carpenter, who spoke strongly in support of the object of the meeting. He did not profess to share all Huxley's opinions; but that did not seem to him any reason why he should not bear testimony to the nobility of Huxley's life and the value of his services in the cause of science and of popular enlightenment. He recognized in Huxley a great man—"great by virtue of his devotion to science, great by virtue of that wide appreciativeness he brought to bear upon it, and great in the power of expounding it to others." He acknowledged that there were those—though, as he said, a diminishing number—who were disposed to "look askance at the progress of science." Their feeling was that science threatened to take away their faith—a faith that was bound up with their dearest hopes; but men were now "beginning to understand that it can not be in the nature of things that facts and truths will contradict those things that are nearest and dearest and most essential to their happiness." This perception, this conviction, the bishop holds to be faith in its highest form. "Because we are men," he says, "we claim it to be our privilege and our responsibility to follow truth wherever it leads us. It is not our duty to encourage a timidity which, if it were encouraged, could only lead to a fatal obscurantism. The progress of knowledge can only deepen and intensify our attachment to the things which are true, and the things which are true can not be out of harmony with the things around us."

These are brave and noble words, but the bishop was determined to be yet more precise, so that no one could misunderstand his meaning. He therefore continued: "Religious truth, in one sense, must always wait on scientific truth; and religious truth must often change its form at the bidding and on the information given it by scientific truth. I am not aware that in the history of scientific progress religion has ever lost; the precious jewels have always been restored to her in richer and nobler settings. Because I believe that the advancement of knowledge must be for the benefit of mankind, and could not in the long run be hostile to any of the things most precious to us, I stand here to-day to do honor to one who labored in the cause of the advancement of knowledge, and did so much to make it the heritage of all people."

Finally, this representative prelate bore testimony to Huxley's "truthfulness of character," for which he said he had "the prof ouudest admiration." As to Huxley's antagonism to Christianity, he said it was far more called out by the "unfortunate attitude of some who made themselves champions of Christianity, than by anything in the essential nature of the Christian religion." Huxley was not a man who would have wished to deprive any one of convictions that were a source to him of moral strength and comfort.

So far the Bishop of Ripon; and if a hishop can say these things, what is there to hinder that perfect reconciliation of science and religion which will give to both the best conditions for development? The fault to-day—so far as fault there is—is not wholly on the religious side. On that side we see the timidity which the bishop deprecates, and for himself repudiates; but on the other side