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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/293

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

AUGUST, 1904.




THE CONFLICT OF RELIGION AND SCIENCE.
By EDWARD S. HOLDEN, Sc.D., LL.D.,

U. S. MILITARY ACADEMY, WEST POINT, N. Y.

"Though all the winds of Doctrine were let loose to play upon the Earth, so Truth be in the field we do injuriously... to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple, who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?"—(Milton—Areopagitica).

THERE are many books that deal specifically with a supposed conflict between religion and science, or with a warfare between science and dogmatic theology. It is my conviction that the view-point of most books of the sort is badly chosen, and I desire in this preface to set forth briefly the reasons for thinking that the battle has often been joined on a wrong issue. The question is fundamental and deserves a much fuller treatment than can here be given. To make it entirely clear it might be necessary to reprint one of the warfare of-science books with a commentary, meeting every argument as it arises; exhibiting and enforcing a different point of view; and proving that the change of view-point was reasonable and necessary. Lacking the space for extended argument, it is necessary to condense it. Indulgence is asked for a presentation that must necessarily be brief, but which can very readily be made more complete.

The mass of men believe that religion has come out vanquished, humiliated and discredited from a long warfare with triumphant science. One of the very wisest of 'the martyrs of science'—Roger Bacon—has said 'what the mass of men believe is necessarily false.' The saying is harsh, and Bacon suffered for it. It is more true to say that few popular formulas are so exactly stated that a historian of science can accept them in their crude and current form. The popular doctrine as to the conflict in question undoubtedly needs amending.