Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 76.djvu/109

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY



FEBRUARY, 1910



SCIENTIFIC FAITH AND WORKS[1]
By Professor ARTHUR GORDON WEBSTER
CLARK UNIVERSITY

THE ancient poets, at the beginning of their great epics, invoke the muse, and forthwith proclaim their subjects:

Arma virumque cano, I sing of arms and the man, says Virgil, Μᾒνιν ἀείδε θεά—Achilles' baleful wrath, Goddess, sing, are the words with which Homer begins the Iliad. A modern poet, full of sympathy with the changed times of to-day, Rudyard Kipling, makes one of his most attractive characters, the old Scotch engineer, exclaim,

I'm sick of all their quirks an' turns—the loves an' doves they dream—

Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the Song o' Steam!

In undertaking to do my part in the dedication of this splendid temple of science, I can but echo McAndrew's prayer, and wish that I had the words of a poet to sing the song of science. For what true devotee of science does not look upon her as a star-eyed goddess, and feel within himself at times feelings akin to those of the poet when breathing the divine afflatus? For the chief characteristic of both the poet and the scientist is the creative spirit, the poet creates beauty, or the appreciation of it, the scientist creates truth, or if he does not create truth, he at least creates the appreciation of it and of its results. I have chosen for my subject "Scientific Faith and Works." According to the Apostle Paul, "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." In an eloquent panegyric, he recounts to us the deeds of the Hebrew patriarchs, "who by faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

  1. An address delivered at the dedication of the Laboratory of Physics, University of Illinois, November 26, 1909.