Natural Realism; Or, Faith, The Basis Of Science And Religion -- By: J. Macbride Sterrett

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 031:121 (Jan 1874)
Article: Natural Realism; Or, Faith, The Basis Of Science And Religion
Author: J. Macbride Sterrett


Natural Realism; Or, Faith, The Basis Of Science And Religion

J. Macbride Sterrett

I. Faith The Basis Of Science

Nothing is more common to-day than the confident assertion that truth is one, and so universal, immutable, and incapable of self-conflict or contradiction. But, notwithstanding this grand assertion, nothing is more common than to see the champions of truth in one department of knowledge contending bitterly with their co-laborers in other departments. There are extremists in science and in religion — bigoted scientists and bigoted religionists — men with irreligious bias and men with scientific bias. The first seem anxious to expel God from the universe, and the other to make God in their own image. The antagonism, or the supposed antagonism, between science and religion, shows itself in some religionists by their jealousy of science, and in some scientists in their supercilious attitude towards religion. The one party makes difference from itself the measure of irreligion, while the other party makes a corresponding difference to be the measure of absurdity and superstition. The old “odium theologicam” is no longer without a rival. It has a later-born, but a stronger brother, in the rampant and unendurable odium scientificum. The older wanes and grows mellow and mild before the younger. Theologians, as a class, now show themselves most tolerant — more than tolerant, even very friendly, towards science; while many scientific men show themselves most intolerant towards religion. Mr. Mivart, who is both a theologian and a scientist, tries to show that the most advanced scientific theories are not at variance with Christianity. But Mr. Huxley, who is only a

scientist, pursues him with bitterness. He seems determined that there shall be no reconciliation, and boldly enters upon biblical theology to show that there can be none. Mr. Tyndall, too, more recently, has turned theologian, and tried to clarify the ideas of prayer which Christians generally hold. He tells them that prayer is a potency which he would like to see devoted to practical objects, instead of wasted upon the air — that it may really strengthen the heart to meet life’s losses and thus indirectly promote physical well-being, as the digging of Aesop’s orchard brought a treasure of fertility greater than the treasure sought.1 Utter disregard of the Christian idea of prayer, and contempt for those who believe in spiritual realities, as much as he believes in material realities, characterizes this discharge of the “odium scientificum.”

Such scientific dogmatism, as well as a like theological dogmatism, only shows the bias that the exclusive pursuit of any one ...

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