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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/588

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

kind against falsehood of every kind—for justice against injustice—for right against wrong—for the living kernel of religion rather than the dead and dried husks of sect and dogma; and the great powers whose warfare has brought so many sufferings shall at last join in ministering through earth God's richest blessings.

 

ON FALLACIES OF TESTIMONY RESPECTING THE SUPERNATURAL.
By WILLIAM B. CARPENTER, LL. D., F. R. S.

NO one who has studied the history of science can fail to recognize the fact that the rate of its progress has been in great degree commensurate with the degree of freedom from any hind of prepossession with which scientific inquiry has been conducted. And the chapters of Lord Bacon's "Novum Organura," in which he analyzes and classifies the prejudices that are apt to divert the scientific inquirer from his single-minded pursuit of truth, have rightly been accounted among the most valuable portions of that immortal work. To use the felicitous language of Dr. Thomas Brown, "the temple which Lord Bacon purified was not that of Nature herself, but the temple of the mind; in its innermost sanctuaries were the idols which he overthrew; and it was not till these were removed, that Truth would deign to unveil herself to adoration."

Every one, again, who watches the course of educated thought at the present time, must see that it is tending toward the exercise of that trained and organized common-sense which we call "scientific method," on subjects to which it is legitimately applicable within the sphere of religious inquiry. Science has been progressively, and in various ways, undermining the old "bases of belief;" and men in almost every religious denomination, animated by no spirit but that of reverent loyalty to truth, are now seriously asking themselves, whether the whole fabric of what is commonly regarded as authoritative revelation must not be carefully reexamined under the searching light of modern criticism, in order that what is sound may be preserved and strengthened, and that the insecurity of some parts may not destroy the stability of the whole.

I notice, further, among even "orthodox" theologians of the present time, indications of a disposition to regard the New Testament miracles rather as incumbrances, than as props, to what is essential in Christianity; of a feeling that they are rather to be explained away,[1] than adduced as authoritative attestations of the teachings of

  1. Thus theologians of the "philosophic" school argue that miracles are not to be regarded as departures from the divine order, but are parts of the order originally settled