Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/477

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church which may not stand, increase its membership, and become a much more active power for good, if only it will abandon its superstitions. The clergy say that to do this is to abandon Christianity. A great many of the laity do not think so. That is the issue. In the absence of some effective counsel of reconciliation, more destructive work will have to be done. Meanwhile, I cordially invite the clergy to become scientists. If existing religious organizations are to be preserved, the scientific method must be unqualifiedly adopted and prosecuted in the study and teaching of religion. By this method, ecclesiasticism may be transformed, and organized religion saved. Without it, deterioration will go on till the ruin is complete. If the present system of organized Christianity perish, however, the men who are responsible for its destruction will be those officially in charge of its interests; who might have saved it if they would, but were not wise in time; who would not believe in the power of social forces; who refused to perceive the necessity of adaptation, the certainty and the beneficence of change; who had not faith in the God of their worship, as he works in and through Nature; and who would not allow their own minds to awake from their dead selves and rise "to nobler verities."

To conclude, now, these remarks upon religious education, let me sum up what I conceive to be the scientific position. Religious truth should be taught in schools and seminaries of learning as far as it is a matter of scientific knowledge, but critically and not with the purpose of promoting any religion. The utmost care should be taken to present arguments for and against any statement of fact, or any inference, judicially and without the arts of persuasion. Doubt and inquiry should be favored and stimulated, not discouraged or repressed. If this can be accomplished, it is desirable to have religion, as something to be studied in its relations to truth, to character and conduct, taught in public and other schools. But if this method can not be followed, then, until there is unanimity of opinion as to what is true in religion, all teaching on the subject must be excluded from the public schools. In other institutions effort should be made to introduce and develop the scientific, the critical, the comparative method in this sort of instruction, while every encouragement should be given also to the establishment of schools, colleges, and universities, where its adoption and consistent practice shall be insured.



IT was a pleasant fancy of a writer in the "Cornhill Magazine," to argue for the plausibility of the fairy-story of the princess from whose pretty lips "fell diamonds, both in speaking and in singing, and even in silence," when she merely smiled. "For, consider," he says.