Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/159

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THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY.



DECEMBER, 1886.




SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY.

By JOHN BURROUGHS.

ONE of the latest phases of the religious thought of the times seems to be a desire to get rid of, or to explain away, the supernatural — at least to reclaim and domesticate it and convince mankind that it is not the irresponsible outlaw we have so long been led to suppose — a desire nearly as marked in the theology as in the science of the day. Thus, the Bishop of Exeter (Dr. Temple), in his Bampton Lectures of 1884, on the "Relations between Religion and Science," upholds the belief in miracles, without calling to his aid the belief in the supernatural as the word is. commonly used. A miracle, he urges, may be only some phase of the natural not yet understood; the turning of water into wine by word of command, or the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, may have been accomplished by the exercise of some power over Nature which is perfectly scientific, but of which man as yet has imperfect control.

And the Duke of Argyll, in his "Reign of Law," cautions us against assigning an event or a phenomenon to the agency of the supernatural until we are quite sure we understand the limits of the natural — the natural may reach far enough to include all that we have commonly called the supernatural. The latest considerable attempt in this direction is furnished by the work of Professor Henry Drummond on "Natural Law in the Spiritual World," a work which undertakes to demonstrate the naturalness of the supernatural, or the oneness of religion and biology.

Butler, in his "Analogy," says that there is no "absurdity in supposing that there may be beings in the universe whose capacity and knowledge and views may be so extensive as that the whole Christian dispensation may to them appear natural; that is, analogous or con-