Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/406

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392
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

acknowledged benefits. As Prof. Fawcett justly remarks:

"Each fresh extension of the principles of centralization or of industrial protection may be regarded as directly promoting the growth of socialistic ideas. A people who from their earliest childhood are accustomed to believe that state management is better than individual effort, will not unnaturally think that, if they can place themselves in a position to control the state, they will then possess a power which will enable them to redress every grievance from which they are suffering, and to remedy everything which they may regard as unsatisfactory in their condition."

No doubt these radical communistic claims are too wild and ridiculous to be entertained by intelligent and sober minded people, but many people are neither intelligent nor sober-minded. There is of course no danger that their programme will be carried out, but grave mischief cannot fail to result from the diffusion of such poisonous and destructive notions, and we are now compelled to consider to what extent Government is not itself chargeable with having fostered and encouraged them. At any rate, the honest advocates of the protective system may be led to consider whether it is not productive of an order of evil consequences not foreseen by the politicians who have maintained it.

 

 

THE RELIGIOUS RECOGNITION OF NATURE.

Prof. Joseph Henry was a religious man as well as a man of science. He wrote a brief letter to a friend just before his death, suggesting at its close that it is in the "line of theological speculation;" and being an eminent scientist, his religious views are so prized by religious people that this letter has been printed as a tract for gratuitous distribution, and is to be had at the American Tract Society, 150 Nassau Street, New York. It is an encouraging sign of the times to see devout people showing in this way an increasing appreciation of the importance of the beliefs of scientific men concerning theological matters. We heartily commend this practice, for if theological discords are ever to come to an end it must be by the substitution of scientific ideas for dogmatic creeds. The sects will ultimately harmonize just in proportion as they absorb scientific truth.

Prof. Henry did not live to revise his letter (usually a careful habit with him), and it therefore has the interest and value of a spontaneous private expression of his convictions, and it was made, he says, "without stopping to inquire whether what I have written may be logical or orthodox." With this candid carelessness about his orthodoxy we entirely sympathize, and are here interested in this unconstrained avowal of his religious views because of their relation to science.

In the true scientific spirit and method he begins by looking out upon Nature and regarding it as presenting problems that require to be solved. Largely viewed, we are in the midst of its mighty movement; we are a part of it; we emerge and quickly disappear—what view shall we take of it? on what hypothesis explain it? Among the various theories of the universe he accepts the theistic theory as the "simplest conception," and giving the most satisfactory account of things. His solution is that the order of the world is originated and directed by a Divine Being who has made man with a capacity of understanding the universe by means of science. As his own statement is important, we quote his words:

"We live in a universe of change: nothing remains the same from one moment till another, and each moment of recorded time has its separate history. We are carried on by the ever-changing events in the line of our destiny, and at the end of the year we are always at a considerable distance from the point of its beginning. How short the space between the two cardinal points of an earthly career, the point of birth and that of death; and yet what a universe of wonders are presented to us in our rapid flight