Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/325

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

necessarily be cramped and limited. The Greek temple was not intended for public worship of an invisible God, but for the actual residence of their many humanized gods. From this it may appear that their religion was man-made, i. e., that it was no real religion, but only a philosophy; and so we are in a better position to comprehend the classical ancestor worship and the Lares and Penates. When we start from this center we may also get a better insight into the Greek character as a whole.

The middle-age cathedral, on the other hand, bore no resemblance to the dwellings of men. It was a lofty edifice with numerous spires pointing to heaven. It was built for public worship of one God, and was adorned at every point with a richness of tracery and design that would bewilder the observer of to-day were it not so harmonious in all its parts. The conceptions embodied in it are wholly distinct from those ultimated in the Greek temple, showing what a complete and fundamental change in the idea of divinity had come over mankind. The cathedral was not the perfect realization of a limited ideal, but the imperfect realization of an unlimited ideal; and this shows a vast expansion and elevation of the conception of religion—an expansion and elevation that must be ascribed wholly to the christian religion.

Furthermore, the effort to realize these expanded and elevated ideals led to the definition and the solution of numerous practical problems in applied science. The construction of a Greek temple is a simple engineering feat when compared with that of a Gothic cathedral. The solution of these engineering problems lead to the definition of others; and so we see in the middle ages a great development of skill in all sorts of manual arts, carving, metal working, stone cutting, weaving, printing, etc., all before modern science made any pretense of being extant.

Time forbids the following of the argument into detail. There are just two important conclusions that seem to be justified by this comparative study. I will, in closing, state them; and leave the reader to find out if, after further study, he too finds them justified. The first is this: Since Christianity was the source of the ideals that led to the construction of the cathedrals; and since this work and these ideals led to the definition and solution of many problems in applied science; and since the solution of problems in applied science precedes and prepares the way for the definition of problems in pure science; therefore, we may make the hypothesis, subject to further verification, that modern science owes its origin from the side of the imagination to Christianity. Hence the so-called warfare of science and religion is but a sham battle between science and dogmatic theology—between reason and unreason. Modern science is, from this point of view, really the child of Christianity.