The Affinity Of Science For Christianity -- By: G. Frederick Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 046:184 (Oct 1889)
Article: The Affinity Of Science For Christianity
Author: G. Frederick Wright

The Affinity Of Science For Christianity

The Rev. Professor G. Frederick Wright

Notwithstanding all that is said in some quarters about the intolerance and bigotry of the preachers and priests of the Christian religion, it still remains an indisputable fact that science has never found a home outside the nurturing influences of Christianity, and that a controlling belief in the cardinal facts of the Christian religion has in no age spread so rapidly and prevailed so extensively as during the remarkable period of scientific progress which makes pre-eminent the nineteenth century of the Christian era. Taking the United States as a fair example of a field in which science has had an ample scope both for influence and development, we find that, alongside the remarkable strides of science and invention, there has been an equally remarkable reinvigoration of Christian life and activity. Rapid as has been the increase of population since the beginning of the century, the increase of the evangelical church membership has been far more rapid; so that the ratio of church membership to population is now three and one-half times greater than at the beginning of the century. Then it was one to fourteen and one-half; now it is one to four and four-fifths.1 Nor is there any apparent deterioration in the quality of the membership. The constancy and devotion of church members to the work of spreading the gospel were never

so great as at the present time. The contributions to the great missionary societies have been increasing in rapid ratio, and the alacrity of the talented young men and women in the colleges of the land to volunteer for foreign missionary service rivals that of the apostolic period itself. No less than four thousand such volunteers are now enrolled in the institutions of higher learning in the United States.

Doubtless many will be inclined to ascribe this simultaneous development of Christian life and scientific activity to a mere coincidence; but mature reflection indicates that it is more than a coincidence, and compels the inference that Christianity is, in an important sense, a cause, or at least a necessary condition, of the highest development of science. The explanation of this probably lies in the fact, that Christianity, unlike all other religious systems, is itself a science; that it rests on facts which from generation to generation continue to demand scientific proof, and so in a pre-eminent manner familiarizes its votaries with the principles of inductive reasoning. In justifying this view of the case, however, it is necessary to make a distinction between Christianity and its temporary representatives, just as at all times it is necessary t...

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