Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/68

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60
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

Their utility, especially from a medical point of view, to himself in after-life. 3. The information they might give of hereditary dangers and vital probabilities to his descendants. 4. Their value as future materials for much-needed investigations into the statistics of life-histories.—Fortnightly Review.

 
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LIBERTY OF THOUGHT.
By Rev. E. WOODWARD BROWN.

MY subject is the progress of freedom of inquiry; of liberty to investigate and discuss, to compare and contrast, to adopt and reject opinions—liberty to think for one's self in every direction. The subject is not the great life and war of thought, that which accompanies struggles of all kinds in the world—struggles religious, political, social, and industrial—but is simply the progress of thought out of an enslavement that has existed through the world in all time. The mind of man has been more or less forbidden to exercise itself as it pleases. A great work which it might have done and has not done, work of all sorts throughout society in all its departments, has failed because some men have forbidden other men to think in a different way from what those men willed.

The causes why men have repressed thought are found in a natural dislike of dissent from cherished opinions—in a natural illiberality owing to ignorance or pride of opinion, or in a vague fear that new thinking will in some way hurt one, or one's cherished opinions, as to how things should be; also in the advantage pecuniary, social, political or other, arising from some established system, civil, ecclesiastical, educational, or the like, which free discussion would endanger in whole or in part. Through these causes those who have had the power have used it to put down all objectionable thought.

In heathendom, whenever and wherever a great ecclesiastical system has prevailed there has generally been an enslavement of mind in all directions; and wherever a great absolute state has existed there has been an enslavement of mind in political and social, if not also in religious directions. To refer to the enslavement by ecclesiastical systems: in these instances the ecclesiastical power has shackled thought upon religion, morals, science, and literature, upon social and civil subjects, in short upon everything; has controlled absolutely the whole expression of the nation's mind. The priestly class have arranged, inspired, and regulated all the duties to God, to the state, to the family,, and to society. The priestly body has also claimed the supreme control of education; has prescribed the limits and the courses in which it shall be lawful for the human mind or for the human being