Present Aspects Of The Relations Between Science And Revelation -- By: G. Frederick Wright
BSac 71:284 (Oct 1914) p. 513
Present Aspects Of The Relations Between Science And Revelation1
What is called the conflict between science and revelation is largely a mere conflict between certain interpreters of nature and certain interpreters of Scripture. The interpreters of nature are no more infallible than are the interpreters of the Bible. Both are dealing with facts which have to be observed, interpreted, and coordinated. Broadly considered, also, science has as much to do with the facts of revelation as it has with the facts of nature. In all cases we should recognize the distinction between the facts themselves and that orderly arrangement and explanation of them which we call science.
The efforts which are persistently made to reduce physical and spiritual forces to a common denominator are no more successful at the present time than they were in the earlier periods of human history. The attempts to obliterate the distinction between the material and the vital forces of nature, and between the mental and physiological characteristics of man and those of animals, are like the persistent efforts which
BSac 71:284 (Oct 1914) p. 514
are made to square the circle or to produce perpetual motion. The argument is never more than that from “gradual approach.” But this can never be effective to cover all distances. The attempts to bridge the “abyss” between man and the apes, and the “gulf” which yawns between living and nonliving matter, are no more successful than was the attempt a few years ago to bridge the St. Lawrence by a single span. Beyond a certain point all efforts to strengthen the span by adding to its weight weakened rather than strengthened it. This may be illustrated by the limitations which are set to the speed of trotting horses. Fifty years ago the limit was reached at a mile in 2.40 minutes. Recently the distance was covered in 2.04 minutes. But no one argues from this that it will ever be reduced to nothing, or indeed, to much less than two minutes. In the words of the late John Fiske, “the antithesis [between thought and extension] is of God’s own making, and no wit of man can undo it.”
Mind and matter are not identical. Of this we are conscious in every act of our free wills. On the one hand we regard the physical forces of the universe as bound together by a law of cause and effect. A full knowledge of the effect; in nature reveals the whole line of causation through which they have come into existence; while a full knowledge of the physical causes operative in any sphere is equivalent to a full knowledge of results. Not only is the tree known by its fruit, but the fruit is known by the tree. We do not expect to gather grapes fro...
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