Revelation And Science -- By: J. H. McIlvaine

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 034:134 (Apr 1877)
Article: Revelation And Science
Author: J. H. McIlvaine


Revelation And Science

Rev. J. H. McIlvaine

The present schism between religion and science is acknowledged on all hands to be productive of very deplorable consequences. In fact, the scepticism and infidelity of modern times seem to find in it their strongest defences and support. Hence it is a matter of the greatest importance that it should he healed; and that whatever may contribute in the least to this result should be clearly exhibited and universally recognized. For science and religion cannot remain forever at feud with each other. There must be some common ground where they can meet as twin sisters, and where reasonable people can stand without prejudice against either, but with their minds equally open to both of these two grand sources of truth and human well-being. For it seems plain, from the past history and from the present state of this controversy, that it could never have arisen unless either scientists or theologians had transcended their own legitimate department of knowledge, and invaded the province or domain of the other. As a matter of fact, this error seems justly chargeable upon both parties, inasmuch as science is constantly presuming to question, and even to deny, the truths of religion, and religion the truths of science. A thousand examples on either side might easily be given, such as the assumption — for it is no more — by many scientists, of absolute uniformity in all the operations of divine power, such that miracles and answers to prayer become impossible; and, on the part of many theologians, such interpretations of scripture as are opposed to the most certain truths of science. Hence it is evident that this baleful schism can never be healed until religion and science

shall come to recognize each other as original and independent sources of truth, and as ultimate authorities, each within its own sphere. But this of itself would not be a final solution of the problem, for the results accepted as truths might still be inconsistent with each other. It is necessary, therefore, that a principle of interpretation be established which, consistently applied to the whole Scripture, would leave no ground for science to stand upon for denying the truths of revelation, nor for religion to call in question the truths of science. It is the object of the following discussion, then, to establish such a principle, which—not as anything new, but only as requiring a more rigorous verification and a more extended application than it has hitherto received — may be stated as follows:

The Holy Scriptures were given to reveal moral and spiritual truth, and it was no part of their object to teach the truths of science, upon which, consequently, they are no authority.

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