Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/117

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107
EDITOR'S TABLE.

created. The Church took issue with this spirit of free thought, which it sought to repress by violence wherever and as long as it had the power, and which it still seeks to extinguish by the force of its claim to represent divine authority. It is still as vicegerent of God upon earth that the Pope interposes to stop the circulation of scientific books, and continues his warfare with the tendency to independent inquiry.

We cannot but remark how greatly the papal government mistakes the times, and how utterly it fails to realize the change that has taken place since the sixteenth century. The time has come when books are not to be forbidden but answered, and the policy of interdiction by the Vatican authorities is so futile that it becomes nothing short of a blunder. Dr. Draper's volume has been put under ban because it is pervading all Europe—two editions having been called for even in ultra Catholic Spain. Publicly thus to mark a book for religious outlawry is simply to give to it a prodigious advertisement. Where before it had one reader it will now have ten. Men will get it, determined to find out for themselves in what its offense consists; and women will do as Eve did—taste simply because it is a forbidden thing. The only way to overcome the objectionable tendencies of any work is to point them out; and the only way to deal with its arguments is to refute them. To suppress such books in our time is out of the question; and if, in this special instance, there are among the highly-educated ecclesiastics in Rome none who can do this, the inference is that the book is unanswerable. We have, certainly, no complaint to make of the course adopted by the theological authorities at Rome, and must, at any rate, give them credit for consistency; but they forget that the world has changed a good deal since the Inquisition was established.

 

 

AS REGARDS BISHOP COXE.

It is a great mistake to suppose that bigotry and intolerance are altogether confined to the Vatican; we have excellent illustrations of this temper much nearer home. While the Pope at Rome is commanding the faithful not to admit Dr. Draper's book into their libraries, Bishop Coxe, the little pontiff of Western New York, is warning the good Christians of Buffalo not to let Prof. Huxley come into their houses; while both potentates put their intolerant action on the same ground of divine authorization. One would think that in the nineteenth century, in an enlightened American city, in the year of the nation's centennial, in the midst of a presidential campaign, and at a large convocation of the scientists of this and foreign countries, Buffalo Christians might have been left to their own good sense and good taste to entertain whom they pleased. Moreover, Prof. Huxley was the guest of the American Scientific Association, which was itself the guest of the city, and this should have been sufficient to protect him from insult from such a quarter. It is well that the bishop's type of Christianity does not prevail in Buffalo, as, otherwise, the obnoxious foreigner might have been left in the streets to starve.

Some of the Buffalo papers, holding the bishop's utterance in regard to Huxley to be nothing less than a public affront and a disgrace to the town, made it rather warm for him, and so he has followed up the original mandate by a defense of it in subsequent letters to his organ, "The Orbit." The faithful were admonished to withhold their hospitalities from Prof. Huxley, because he is an atheist. The bishop charges him with "scientific atheism"—whatever that may mean—and refers to his admonition to his flock for "importing atheism into their families under color of science." He also accuses Prof.