Scientific Authority: Its Use And Abuse -- By: J. F. Springer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 063:249 (Jan 1906)
Article: Scientific Authority: Its Use And Abuse
Author: J. F. Springer


Scientific Authority: Its Use And Abuse

J. F. Springer

Today is a time in which it is peculiarly true, that many of the enemies of the cross of Christ, in opposing him, who is himself the truth, are persistently and vigorously, not to say clamorously, claiming that their opposition is founded on truth. As-these claims, making thus their appeal to truth, and apparently in good faith, are causing deep distress among multitudes of serious and earnest Christian people, it will be a service well worth the performance, if it can be made clear just what is at the foundation of a large class of these claims. In doing this, one can scarcely do better than (1) to point out that one great reliance of the opposers of the doctrine of the immediate revelation of God in Christ is found in Scientific Authority; and then (2) to proceed to an exact, if not exhaustive, analysis of the strength and weakness of this same Scientific Authority.

A brief illustration of (1) must suffice. It is a fundamental proposition among the destructive higher critics, that the use of two distinct names for God in Genesis 1. and 2., taken in connection with other less clearly definable circumstances, affords evidence competent to establish the inference of plural authorship. Now the weighing of the significance of this distinction in names,—whether it points to one author with two purposes, or opposes unity of authorship,—and the consideration of the other more evanescent, but perhaps not less

ambiguous, circumstances, evidently make our assurance of the truth of the inference dependent, not upon scientific criteria and methods which we ourselves may re-apply and which have been established with a high degree of certainty, but upon such personal factors as human judgment, feelings, and moral tendencies of truth. A proposition, the evidence of whose validity is thus dependent upon personal testimony, may truly be said to be based upon Authority; and, if the authority is that of scientific men, we may say, loosely, that it is Scientific Authority. I wish, at this juncture, not to make any appraisal of Scientific Authority, but to point out that there is a very large class of propositions, assurance for whose truth has practically no other basis. It is important to see that a direct consequence of this is that such propositions are entitled to precisely that credence which a sound analysis of Scientific Authority would grant them,—no more and no less. A proposition having no other foundation than such Authority has precisely the same value as that possessed by the personal testimony upon which it rests.

T do not wish to decry Scientific Auth...

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