Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/261

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241
EDITOR'S TABLE.

wish which Dr. Draper deals, such an interpretation of religion had not been reached, and that it is very far from being arrived at at the present time. Dr. Draper has been reproached for not defining religion; had he done so, and had his definition described that which has passed under the name of religion, and been held as religion, generation after generation, his definition would have been at once repudiated by the theological party. We said that those who agree in demanding a definition of religion from Dr. Draper, and condemn his book as treating of an illusive conflict because he does not furnish it, cannot themselves agree upon the definition they profess to so much desire. Does Dr. Deems accept Mr. Fiske's definition? And if there is one definition, clear and complete, which all men can adopt, why does he bring us two, and which are we to accept? They are certainly not identical, for one makes it consist in a special relation of man to God, and the other in charity and moral purity. Dr. Deems defines religion as "loving obedience to God's will;" but if the obedience is inspired by Calvinistic fear, is it religion or not? Loving obedience to God's will—but how ascertained? Dr. Deems may say, with broad liberality, either by the study of God's printed word, or by the study of his living works; but can he insure us an agreement among all parties upon this basis? From the doctor's position, that religious people disagree among each other on account of their science, we respectfully dissent. Science is not an agency of discord, but of concord. There are undoubtedly disagreements in science, for its nature is progressive, and diversities of view are inevitably incident to its imperfect stages. Yet the great law of scientific thought is that, with the progress of investigation, there is ever a tendency to wider agreement, until its truths at length become established and universally accepted. Throughout civilization it is in science, and, we might almost say, in science alone, that men are brought into essential agreement. Through the power it has conferred over the elements of Nature have come the marvels of modern international communication and intercourse; and through the truths it has established in the domain of experience has come a body of common belief, which men of all languages, religions, and nationalities, can accept, so that we must regard science as in fact the predominant unifying agency of the world. The reason is, that it deals with the order of Nature, which is constant and ever open to observation and research. New questions are, of course, constantly arising in science, upon which there are at first wide contrasts of opinion, but the history of science abundantly shows, either that such questions are gradually cleared up, or, if this is found to be impossible—if the truth cannot be determined about them—then there comes agreement in this, and they are finally put aside as insoluble, and therefore questions with which science has no legitimate concern. Conflicting views now prevail on the problems of the origin of life and the nature of life, and time alone can determine what will be the issue of these inquiries; but we submit that these diversities of opinion are of a quite different kind from those between the Unitarian and the Trinitarian—the Universalist and the Perditionist.

 

EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

WHO SHALL STUDY THE BABIES?

THE reader's attention will be arrested by the novelty of our first article, by a distinguished literary Frenchman, giving the result of his observations on the progress of an in-ant in learning to talk. We confess some mortification at seeing the lame of a man at the head of such a discussion. Not that the dignity of M. Taine is at all compromised, for he never undertook a more important or a more distinguished task than critically noting the steps of mental evolution in a baby. Nevertheless, this would seem to be preëminently the proper work of woman—a work to which we might infer she would be drawn by her feel-