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admitted even by those who regard them as evanescent and illegitimate. Incalculable moral energies are generated by the emotional enthusiasm of religious societies. We cannot understand the social movements of our age without reckoning with these forces, and we cannot promote the helpful agencies of amelioration without enlisting them.
On the other hand, these currents and torrents of religious feeling have great need of the precise methods, the painstaking knowledge of details, the exact measurement of available power, the clairvoyant common sense of the scientific mind. The mill streams of New England run to waste until they are harnessed to suitable machinery.
It is to the interest of society at large that these two distinct but complementary methods of study should not be set in endless conflict. Sociology is not identical with theology, and has not the same intellectual task. Its scientific procedure lies entirely within the range of the phenomena of an observed social order. It does not profess to pronounce upon the metaphysical soundness of the fundamental religious faiths: that is the function of theology.
This does not mean that the facts of the religious life, in consciousness, conduct and institutions can be ignored by sociology. Every work on social science, even from an author who regards religion as a transitory dream of unenlightened men, must have its chapters on religious forces and ecclesiastical institutions.
Nor, in distinguishing the two fields of study, sociology and theology, are we suggesting that sociology is or can be a subject indifferent to the religious thinker or practical leader. On the contrary we most strenuously urge that sociology, even in its present initial stage, is the most immediately useful scientific instrument for the teacher of ethics and religion. The sociological method is already beginning to revolutionize the mode of thinking in theology, in exegesis, in church history, in ethics, and in pulpit rhetoric. It is an effort to know the life of mankind in its kinship, in its widest and most essential aspects, in its revelations of a moral order, in its suggestions of a ground of universal being which is essentially just and good. It has already helped to formulate some of the essential conditions of wise philanthropy and of the progressive realizations of the highest ideals yet attained by the best souls of the race.