Religion And Chemistry -- By: Andrew P. Peabody
BSac 22:87 (July 1865) p. 440
Religion And Chemistry1
No one who is acquainted with Professor Cooke’s habits of thoroughness, accuracy, and fidelity as a teacher and lecturer will doubt that on the scientific side this volume is the best that it could be within its compass and for its purpose. As a compendious and lucid statement of the chemistry of the atmosphere, combining a precision worthy of the lecturer and a simplicity of illustration adapted to a popular audience, it merits our highest encomium. We cannot but admire the subtile skill and the comprehensive grasp with which he not only gathered up, but assimilated, a wide diversity of facts and laws from every realm of nature, intimately, but not obviously, related to the structure and functions of the atmosphere and its constituents, and has so colligated them that they must henceforth retain in the reader’s mind the grouping into which they are here brought. This mode of treatment at once serves as a system of mnemonics for the learner, and, what is of immeasurably higher importance, leads his thought easily and naturally to that unity of plan and purpose in nature which revelation teaches, which true science postulates, and toward which the progress of scientific discovery constantly tends.
But it is as a treatise in the department of natural theology, that this volume claims to be judged. This is its prime purpose, and its value must rest on the author’s success in this aim. It cannot, indeed, be claimed for him that
BSac 22:87 (July 1865) p. 441
he has approached the subject from the attitude of indifferentism. His lectures breathe throughout a believing and devout spirit. He has firm faith, not only in the primal truths of natural religion, but in the equally fundamental truths (and equally natural, as we believe) of the gospel,— in revelation, miracle, inspiration, redemption. The heads of his argument are well condensed in the following statement, near the close of his last lecture:
“In the first place, then, I believe that the existence of an intelligent author of nature, infinite in wisdom and absolute in power, may be proved from the phenomena of the material world with as much certainty as can any general truth of science. In the second place, I am of opinion that the facts of nature also prove — although the arguments adduced may be less convincing — that the author of nature is a personal being, and the one only and true God revealed to us in the Bible. Lastly, I think that the relations of the human mind to the material world, viewed in the light of modern science, give us strong reason to believe, on scientific grounds alone, that the universe is still sustained, in all its parts, b...
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