Reaction Between Natural Science And Religion -- By: Frederick W. Sardeson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:235 (Jul 1902)
Article: Reaction Between Natural Science And Religion
Author: Frederick W. Sardeson


Reaction Between Natural Science And Religion

Frederick W. Sardeson

Not infrequently, nowadays, one may hear some thoughtful religious person questioning some natural scientist with evident intent to learn what new idea the scientist may have on that great question—religion. As a natural scientist, I have had my little share of questions to answer, and to the more pertinent ones, serious reply has been essayed. Or, now and then, feeling a little bolder, I may have suggested both the question and the answer. In doing this I am not soliciting. A natural scientist need not seek to proselyte, for his advantage is in natural science, not in theology, and I do not wish to be misunderstood as claiming that proselyting is ever permissible to me as a natural scientist.

But a scientist properly cultivates the truth in the field of natural science; and he claims this as his right, even though he must hear the accusation that in his field he is cultivating seed which scatters and grows destructively as weeds in other fields. Science is accused of producing, even inadvertently, a tendency to a loss of faith within the church. And it may be admitted, I think, that there is such a tendency, and that it is now largely due to the teachings of science.

This tendency is not alone due to the interference of scientific fact with literal interpretation of biblical language. There were different understandings of the Scriptures before there were any appreciable natural scientists;

and because the Bible had been misunderstood does not appear to have then invalidated it. I do not understand now that scientific thought would approve the rejecting of the Bible because parts of it had been partly misunderstood.

But the science method of weighing evidence before fixing conclusion or belief does tend to build the idea of theory, instead of the idea of fact, in all theology. The belief in God, when based upon scientific evidence, or when scientifically considered, does not stand as an unquestionable fact, but is rather a theory or hypothesis, because resting on insufficient scientific evidence; and is not a fact defended by complete and concordant scientific evidence. I mean, of course, that it is a true theory, or true hypothesis, that belief in God is not false idea as a theory more than it is as an assumed fact. It is a theory with the privileges of a fact—a true theory; not a preliminary “working hypothesis,” but a consequent, true one, yet not a scientific fact.

It may be fairly admitted that the theologian rightly blames natural-science study for the dissolution of the cocksure faith of past generations, although there may be also a larger prior caus...

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