Popular Science Monthly/Volume 6/January 1875/Editor's Table
IT is a common remark that there is no necessary hostility between religion and science; and this is unquestionably true. That they will be ultimately harmonized we cannot doubt; but the world is very far from having yet reached that blessed consummation. The scientist and the religionist can get on comfortably together as long as they talk in very general terms; but when they come to close quarters, and press earnestly for definitions, collision is pretty certain to ensue. This is partly due to the one-sidedness of the parties; much to still unresolved difficulties in the relation of the subjects; and not a little, it must be confessed, to that spirit of pugnacity by which humanity is still eminently animated. It is an age of propagandism and proselyting by tongue and pen; and the graceless multitude, moreover, always enjoys a good fight. The Archbishop of York was called to Edinburgh to lecture before the Philosophical Society, and the chance of pommeling some of our modern so-called philosophers was too good to be lost. Prof. Huxley happened to be engaged to give a lecture in the same town shortly after, invited by a religious body, and he would have been more a saint than his predecessor, if he could have refrained from giving back some of the archbishop's blows. In vindicating his school from the charge of materialism, Prof. Huxley felt it incumbent upon him to inquire into the nature of the juices of living things, and thus innocently kindled the great war of protoplasm that has stirred the combative propensities of the religious and scientific world to this day. And again, from the way the President of the British Association has been lately belabored by religious and semi-religious people of all sorts, we must conclude that the temper of antagonism is far from having yet died out, and that there must be a good deal more vigorous campaigning before a peace will be finally conquered.
Indeed, this conflict just now threatens to assume far larger proportions, and to be renewed upon a scale which we have been accustomed to consider as belonging to the distant past. The entire population of Europe is estimated at about 301,000,000, of which 185,000,000 are Roman Catholics, 71,000,000, Protestants, broken up into numerous sects, and the remainder are Greek Catholics, Jews, and Mohammedans. The adherents of the Roman Catholic Church are thus more numerous, by 69,000,000, than all sorts of religious people taken together. The Roman Church is the most extensive and powerfully organized of all modern societies, and with a mighty prestige of historic associations and traditions, claims to be supreme, infallible, to act under a divine commission, to have for its head the vicegerent of God, and to exact the most implicit obedience from all the members of its communion. It had long been believed that the Roman Church, silently yielding to the advance of intelligence and the growing spirit of liberality in modern times, has abated something of its ancient and arrogant pretensions; but there is not a little reason to think that this was an erroneous impression. In his "Encyclical Letter," put forth by the head of the Church, in 1864, the pope denounces that "most pernicious and insane opinion, that liberty of conscience and of worship is the right of every man, and that this right ought, in every well-governed state, to be proclaimed and asserted by law; and that the will of the people, manifested by public opinion (as it is called), or by other means, constitutes a supremo law, independent of all divine and human rights." It denounces "the impudence" of those who presume to subordinate the authority of the Apostolic See "conferred upon it by Christ our Lord, to the judgment of the civil authority." In 1868, Pius IX. issued a bull convoking an Œcumenical Council to meet at Rome, December 8, 1869, and its sessions lasted till July, 1870. The decrees of the Vatican Council, carried by 451 out of 601 votes, asserted the infallibility of the Roman pontiff, and defined the relations of religion to science. Many opinions were solemnly condemned, and their holders anathematized. Among others:
The gauntlet was thus thrown down by this august and powerful religious body to science, independent inquiry, and the whole spirit of modern civilization. The old conflict was revived with no narrowing of the issues. The Archbishop of Westminster, Dr. Manning, in his late inaugural address to the Roman Catholic Academia, referred to "the modern skepticism, free thought, and so-called scientific teachings of the day in relation to Catholic teaching; and, for an illustration of the style of thought, he would refer them to Prof. Tyndall's address the other day at the Belfast meeting of the British Association." He furthermore said: "Within the last twenty-four hours it had been intimated to him that the Catholic world was threatened with a controversy on the whole of the decrees of the Vatican Council. From this and other matters which had come to his knowledge, he could see that they were on the very eve of one of the mightiest controversies the religious world had ever seen. Certainly nothing like the controversy on which they were about to enter had occurred during the last three hundred years, and they must be prepared. If they would only prepare themselves, he did not fear for the decrees of the Vatican Council, or for the Vatican itself. But they must have no half-hearted measures." The expected stroke came in the shape of an able pamphlet from Mr. Gladstone, in which he asked of English Catholics what they are going to do about the demands of the Vatican Council in regard to their allegiance to the pope in matters of civil authority. The document of the English statesman has been extensively diffused, has made a profound sensation, and precipitated vehement discussion in all quarters.
But Mr. Gladstone has only touched the surface of the subject. He takes a politician's view of the influence and tactics of the Church; yet this is by no means its most important aspect. With the decline of the temporal power of Rome, spiritual control is substituted for secular control, and the pressure taken off of the state is put upon the individual. While Mr. Gladstone's imputation that Catholics are lacking in loyal allegiance to government is resented by the representatives of the Church with indignation, no question is raised as to the invincible purpose of the Roman power to resist the advance of free thought and the progress of liberal opinions. And this is immeasurably the most important aspect of the subject. The right of the pope to sit in judgment upon the civil power may be still asserted for consistency's sake; but, his right to coerce the individual conscience, to repress free investigation, to decide what is true and what is false, on the most momentous questions, and to take absolute control of the work of education, is maintained with earnest purpose and unabated rigor. It was to this task that the Vatican Council mainly addressed itself. The increasing spread of' science was the ground of alarm, and against it the anathemas of the Council were chiefly hurled. With these relations of the subject Mr. Gladstone has not dealt, while, to deal with them broadly and thoroughly, requires a mind with a very different preparation from his.
The question is, first of all, an historic one. As the future must be determined by the tendencies of the present, and as these tendencies are the outcome of the past, he who would broadly comprehend the issues of today must turn back and study the contests and struggles of former generations through which the present state of things has been reached. The Catholic prelate of England says that we are on the "eve of one of the mightiest controversies the religious world has ever seen," but this cannot be an uncaused result; it is rather the natural and necessary sequence of "one of the mightiest controversies" which has been agitating the world for thousands of years. It is a controversy in which the elements of obstruction and of advancement have been in play upon an immense scale, which has drawn nations into its vortex, and issued in nothing less than the development of civilization itself. Nothing has been more wanted than a delineation of the causes, the course, and the consequences of this great struggle; and this desideratum is now supplied by the "History of the Conflict between Religion and Science," by Dr. John W. Draper.
The author of this work has won a world-wide reputation alike as a man of science and an historian, both qualities being required in an eminent degree for the performance of the task. Dr. Draper began his scientific studies in extreme youth, and they have taken a wide range. Both in the field of physics and in that of physiology he is a master, and his eminent position as an original investigator has been long conceded in all civilized countries. He has done his share in extending the boundaries of knowledge, and his acquaintance with science is therefore not at second-hand, but is thorough and trustworthy. Being of a philosophic cast of mind, he was early drawn to the consideration of science in its historic development. He thus passed to the study of history, and naturally took up its problems from the scientific point of view; that is, he read them in the light of an extensive familiarity with the laws of the natural world. His "History of the Intellectual Development of Europe" is a work of great learning and originality, which has been translated and republished in all the leading civilized countries of the world. That it has been highly appreciated by eminent men, need hardly be said. It was quoted, as we are all aware, by Prof. Tyndall, in his late address before the British savants; and when not long ago, in Berlin, the distinguished physiologist, Prof. Virchow, remarked to the present writer, "Give my compliments when you return to your eminent countryman Dr. Draper, and say to him that, when my son left home to pursue his studies, the only book I gave him was the 'History of the Intellectual Development of Europe.'"
Thus prepared, Dr. Draper has entered upon a chapter of history never before systematically undertaken. History in relation to science has hitherto been confined almost entirely to its subject-matter. Dr. Draper, on the other hand, considers the progress of science more in its human relations, or as connected with the interests and experiences of humanity. While others detach it from the accompanying circumstances, he views it as dependent upon them, as implicated with human passions and prejudices, and the influences of race, faith, nationality, states of society, and all the forces of obstruction and acceleration by which the human mind is affected. The most conspicuous and important feature in the history of science he considers to be its long conflict with theological authority. Religion was first in the field, and reigned supreme before science appeared. It put forth supernatural claims to the understanding of Nature, so that the profound ignorance of the natural world had a kind of religious consecration. To inquire was to question received explanations, to doubt pious beliefs, and was therefore impious. In its faint beginnings, therefore, among the pagan Greeks, science was denounced for the same reasons and in almost the same terms that it was recently anathematized by the Vatican Council. To fill in the links of the long-protracted struggle that has intervened, and delineate the stages of the mighty controversy which Dr. Manning declares to be now impending, was the object of Dr. Draper in preparing his work. He has, therefore, not only supplied an obvious want of historic literature, which would have been valuable at any time, but in the present crisis of the great elements, political, religious, and scientific, he has given us a text-book of the subject, by. which the experience of the past is made the basis for an intelligent judgment of the present. The problem is undoubtedly immense—too great for any thing but proximate solution, and in a pioneer attempt we are not to expect perfection; but Dr. Draper has done his work ably and courageously, and in a manner worthy of his high reputation and the greatness of the theme. His book will be read with avidity by thousands in both hemispheres, who will gladly acknowledge their indebtedness to it for help and light in the present crisis of the questions it considers.
In the October Monthly we published a letter of Prof. Cochran, from Dr. Clarke's late work, "The Building of a Brain," on the effects of co-education in the Albany Normal School. We have received a suggestive letter from a lady who was connected with the institution at the time, and who says that "the cases of illness or of failing health among the young ladies were sent to me to inquire into and care for;" and she adds that, "to those familiar with the work of the Albany school, at this period, no statistics drawn from its health-roll would count any thing whatever in this discussion." It is mentioned that, "in 1864, when Prof. Cochran left Albany, in a school of over two hundred pupils, there were twenty gentlemen, so that, as far as education is concerned, it would seem that some deference might have been paid to the greatest good of the greatest number." The curriculum is, however, characterized as "oppressive." Our correspondent claims to have investigated the subject, and says that, while "with regard to the facts there is little question, with regard to the causes there is a very important one." Her general view of the case is presented in the following passages from her communication:
"While there are a hundred outside things that militate against a woman's success in such a school, which find no parallel in the conditions of the male pupils, ill health or want of power among the female pupils can prove nothing. In every quarter woman is unfairly weighted for the race; but especially in our normal schools these conditions have reached their climax. For example:
"In 1856 one of the young ladies, whose failing health warned her of overwork, came to me not more than two months before the time when she should have graduated. Hard as the case seemed, I could only say to her that she must leave school at once. Some facts of her history I obtained from her at that time, but the important points I learned later. She had no home to which she could go. She had been left an orphan at an early age, with a family of brothers and sisters dependent upon her for support. To meet this responsibility she went as a teacher into our district schools. She undertook the hardest positions because they gave a trifle more of pay. She boarded herself, and often went dinnerless to school because the children's bread must not be stinted. She went through mud and snow to her school, with wet feet and scanty clothing, purchasing no rubbers, no warm shawls, because she could not spare the money. She had soon decided that, if she ever lifted those she loved so well from utter poverty, she must fit herself for higher positions, and to this end she began laying aside money that she might attend a normal school.
"So the years passed on, and at last she had saved enough to take her through the two years' course of the normal school at Albany. And now when her classmates were beginning to think of their graduating essays and graduating dresses, her pay-roll was wound up, her summons came, and she turned away from the reward she had sought so tirelessly. The autumn leaves of 1866 fell upon the grave where she found rest for the first time in so many years. This is one of Prof. Cochran's twenty. Another, the same year, was accustomed to take an empty dinner-basket with her to school, and at the hour of lunch to steal away from her companions, that they might not suspect she was too poor to buy a dinner 1 In my own experience these have been not isolated but representative cases of normal school invalidism. So familiar have I become with them, that I seem to know beforehand what items I shall obtain in investigating any given case of ill-health. And then the cry arises, 'Co-education does not answer.' It is true we have cases of ill-health among our young ladies which are not to be traced to these causes, but they are so few as hardly to deserve mention. These really make up the bulk of the cases with which we have to deal.
"We have also young gentlemen whose health fails from overwork, but to them the admonition arises in the shape of weak eyes, constant headaches, etc., while with women the more delicately-balanced functions of life are set ajar."The young man goes out to teach, and earns sixty dollars per month, while his sister is earning thirty dollars. In half the cases she is the better scholar. The young man goes home to the farm. He is needed in the field, but he is a man—of course he can earn one and a half or two dollars per day; while with his sister they are so glad she has come home to help mother, but it never occurs to any one that she has earned any money. When both return to school, they pay the same price for board, but with him it means that his bed shall be made, his room swept, water brought in, etc., while his washing arrives from the laundry all right every week. But she—the landlady says, 'Of course you will take care of your own room, we always expect our lady-boarders to do that.' She counts over her thirty dollars per month, and says,' Well, I must do my own washing and ironing if my landlady will allow me.' And the landlady grudgingly consents. Then—'I must make my own calico dresses—I could never afford to pay for that.' To her teacher: 'I wish I could be excused from singing, to-day, I am trying to make a dress.' Or, 'No, I cannot go for a walk, my brother has brought me this whole satchel full of clothes to mend.' In the morning he can easily learn his algebra-lesson while she is arranging on the top of her head the steeple of braids which custom says she must wear. And so the parallel runs on."
From all which, it would seem to be a fair inference that, as the world is at present constituted, co-education is beset with very formidable difficulties. With their inferior strength, their extra burdens, and their more limited pecuniary means, the female students cannot compete with the male students, and in the attempt to do so they break down. The implication is that, in point of fact and practically, there are unequal standards of study to which the two sexes can respectively attain; and, if these standards are to be equalized, either the masculine standard must be lowered, so that the male students will not be pressed to their highest capacity of accomplishment, or the feminine standard must be raised, to the injury of female health. Our correspondent says that there is little question in regard to the facts, but that "woman is unfairly weighted for the race." Whether unfairly or not, she certainly is so seriously weighted that she cannot win in rivalry with her less-weighted competitor. The real question, then, is, whether this difference is accidental and removable, or whether it is radical and permanent, and belongs to the very constitution of the sexes. Upon this point we hope the Monthly will soon have something further to say.
We are able to congratulate a number of our newspaper friends upon the happy relief they have experienced through the alleged "backing out" of Prof. Tyndall from the positions taken in his Belfast address. In the preface to that address he said that he had his moods of feeling like other people, but that "the doctrine of material atheism" did not commend itself to him in his hours of clearness and strongest conviction. And in his recent lecture on the "Crystalline and Molecular Forces," a revised copy of which we received from the author and have printed, he says that "the profession of that atheism with which I am sometimes so lightly charged" would be an impossible answer to the question "whether there is no power, being, or thing in the universe whose knowledge of that of which I am so ignorant is greater than mine." That is, in a word, Prof. Tyndall denies that he is an atheist, and this is called "backing out."-"Backing out" from what? How can a man back out unless he has first gone in? When or where did Prof. Tyndall ever avow himself an atheist? Whether a man is an atheist or not, he ought to understand himself quite as well as his neighbors. "Oh! but his doctrines imply atheism! his science leads to materialism;" and so it turns out that Prof. Tyndall's atheism is imputed and constructive, something existing in the imaginations of those who worry themselves about other people's religion. It is curious to note how the tactics of those who assume to take charge of the religious concerns of others have been quite reversed in these later times. Formerly the manipulators of thumbscrews aimed to extract from suspected doubters the concession of religious belief—to make them acknowledge that they were Christians; now the policy seems to be to fasten upon them the imputation of disbelief whether they admit it or not. "No matter what you say—you are an atheist, and an atheist you shall be!" But it is said by the newspaper editors, "Prof. Tyndall declared solemnly before the British Association that there are great potencies in matter, and that he even discerns in it 'the promise and potency of every form of life,' which we hold to be the same as abolishing Almighty God, and we are not going to have that done." It is curious how every step of scientific advancement has been met in this way. When the question was one of the simplest physical actions in matter, that of the attraction of its masses for each other by a demonstrative mathematical law, there was the same intense solicitude about what was to become of the Deity. When Newton published the "Principia," even the great Leibnitz sounded the alarm, and affirmed that the English philosopher "had robbed the Deity of some of his most excellent attributes, and bad sapped the foundation of natural religion." There is no trouble about that now. We can even discern how the operation of this grand and universal law, so far from being derogatory to the Infinite Power by which the universe is governed, must greatly expand and exalt our conception of the administration of Nature. And is it not barely possible that, by enlarging and deepening our view of the potencies of that unfathomable mystery we call matter, we are again heightening our view of the action of the Divine Cause? Vitality is manifested in matter, under the operation of law, just as truly as gravity or cohesion; order is admitted, at any rate, as a Divine institution. Suppose, then, we admit that life is a part of that order, and is ruled as other things around us are ruled, how is that going to vacate the universe of its Divine control? But it is not only not true that Prof. Tyndall, who is certainly the best judge of what he thinks, has ever declared his belief in atheism, but it is not true that his Belfast address implies it; and this his most intelligent and candid Christian critics have again and again acknowledged. He has never taken the position imputed to him even constructively. He has taken no position from which he has retreated. Who, then, has "backed out?"—those, of course, who have made the charge, and then withdrawn it.