A Lacuna In Scholarship -- By: Herbert W. Magoun

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 074:293 (Jan 1917)
Article: A Lacuna In Scholarship
Author: Herbert W. Magoun


A Lacuna In Scholarship

Herbert W. Magoun, Ph.D.

I.

A recent story, told of a great university library, is certainly suggestive. The ubiquitous need of shelf room had finally become imperative, and it was therefore decided that the books not in regular use should be transferred to the basement. One of the professors, having failed to notify the librarian what books to remove from the shelves, was presently asked to do so. With a laugh, he remarked: “Oh, that isn’t necessary,— just look at the title-page and if the book is over ten years old take it away.” He was a scientist.

Such books, in his opinion, were already out of date and consequently of no particular use. But, on that basis, provided he was right, how can science itself be supposed to be either accurate or stable? Is it stable, as a matter of fact? If it were, could instructions of the sort just mentioned be a possibility? If we once admit, however, that it is not stable, an inevitable conclusion presents itself, whereby it becomes necessary to assume that the boasted superiority of science, not to mention any of the claims of the scientific method, must of necessity be a myth, since anything which matures and is outgrown within the short space of a period of ten years can hardly possess superiority of any sort or kind.

And yet the scientific method appears to be fully justified in

making claims that are somewhat unusual. A reason must therefore be sought for the failure to make good. The conclusion is inevitable that there is some other element involved which vitiates results and discounts scientific accuracy. What, then, is really the trouble?

A few years ago this matter was brought to my own attention in a somewhat forcible way by a curious experience. It may be worth relating. Two winters were spent in the study of Geology, as a result of an intense interest in the question,— Was there ever a Biblical flood? The first thing noted was a general agreement that both North America and Europe were once higher than they are at present and that each of them must have been greatly depressed in the course of time by the overwhelming weight of the ice-cap. Any such depression, however, plainly pointed to a compensating elevation somewhere else; and yet no mention whatever of any such elevation could be found, although it was generally agreed that the oceanic islands had, for some unknown reason, suffered a great uplift during that very period, whose culmination was the destruction of the ice-cap.

Great volcanic activity was also postulated, on the basis of geological evidence, as a phenomenon of the same general period, but no suggestion was encount...

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