Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/123

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Chapter V.


The conflict between scientists and theologians, which began with the very birth of scientific research, has culminated in an acute struggle, and practically ended in the nineteenth century. Outside the Church of Rome, which persists in ignoring or distorting, for the edification of its Index-bound laity, the stages of scientific progress, it is generally recognised in educated circles that the many controversies which have filled the scientific literature of the century are practically settled.

Correctly speaking, of course, the entire movement of the Rationalists is a scientific movement. Theology, ethics, history, and philosophy all fall into the category of sciences. However, the name has been so familiarly appropriated to the group of empirical sciences, in the narrow sense of the term (for all useful science must be empirical), that the "conflict between science and religion" has come to be specifically applied to the group of controversies we are about to describe. Neither term is quite accurate, for "religion" now frequently receives a much wider interpretation, in which it cannot conflict with science, but is bound to make harmonious progress with it; however, the phrase is too familiar to need explanation. Setting apart, therefore, the historical, ethical, and metaphysical sciences which have united in a radical criticism of that form of traditional theism which is currently known as "religion," we shall consider the progress of the physical sciences, and these only in so far as they have entered into conflict with religion. Few will dispute that the positions held by physicists, astronomers, geologists, biologists, and anthropologists against the fervid attack of theologians have now passed into established facts or theories, and are beyond all