Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/366

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354
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

fugitive product—which was in course of ever-changing manifestation before Humanity was, and will continue through other manifestations when Humanity has ceased to be.

To recognitions of this order the anti-theological bias is a hindrance. Ignoring the truth for which religions stand, it undervalues religious institutions in the past, thinks they are needless in the present, and expects they will leave no representatives in the future. Hence many errors in sociological reasonings.

 

To the various other forms of bias, then, against which we must guard in studying the Social Science, has to be added the bias, perhaps as powerful and perverting as any, which religious beliefs and sentiments produce. This, both generally under the form of theological bigotry, and specially under the form of sectarian bigotry, affects the judgments about public affairs; and reactions against it give the judgment an opposite warp.

The theological bias, under its general form, tending to maintain a dominance of the subordination-element of religion over its ethical element—tending, therefore, to measure actions by their formal congruity with a creed rather than by their intrinsic congruity with human welfare—is unfavorable to that estimation of worth in social arrangements which is made by tracing out results. And, while the general theological bias brings into Sociology an element of distortion, by using a kind of measure foreign to the science properly so called, the special theological bias brings in further distortions, arising from the special measures of this kind which it uses. Institutions, old and new, home and foreign, are considered as congruous or incongruous with a particular set of dogmas, and liked or disliked accordingly: the obvious result being that, since the sets of dogmas differ in all times and places, the sociological judgments affected by them must inevitably be wrong in all cases but one, and probably in all cases.

On the other hand, the reactive bias distorts conceptions of sociological phenomena by undervaluing religious systems. It generates an unwillingness to see that a religious system is a normal and essential factor in every evolving society; that the specialties of it have certain fitnesses to the social conditions; and that, while its forms are temporary, its substance is permanent. In so far as the anti-theological bias causes an ignoring of these truths, or an inadequate appreciation of them, it causes misinterpretations.

To maintain the required equilibrium, amid the conflicting sympathies and antipathies which contemplation of religious beliefs inevitably generates, is difficult. In presence of the theological thaw going on so fast on all sides, there is on the part of many a fear, and on the part of some a hope, that nothing will remain. But the hopes and the fears are alike groundless; and must be dissipated before balanced judgments in Social Science can be formed. Like the transformations