Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/136

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126
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

had received "warm thanks from members of the clergy, most varied as to rank and position," and particularly from "a most esteemed superior of one of the mediæval religious orders." He therefore feel# that it is time to take another forward step, and say that, in matters of historical and Biblical criticism, the only appeal must hereafter be to facts. It will not suffice to say that such and such statements are contained in Holy Writ, or have formed part of the ordinary teaching of the Church; the only pertinent questions will be: Are they true? Are they supported by such evidence as challenges the assent of impartial inquirers? He then proceeds to give a summary of the leading conclusions of such advanced Biblical critics as Reuss, Colenso, Wellhausen, and Kuenen, and states that, while he is not prepared—does not, indeed, feel himself competent—to say that the views of these eminent men are correct in every particular, he is convinced, after careful inquiry, that they are correct in the main. He considers that these men occupy, in relation to Biblical criticism, very much the same position that Copernicus occupied in relation to the astronomy of his age; and that, just as the world accepted the views of Copernicus when it became intelligent enough to understand them, so the world will eventually adopt the views of the liberal school of Biblical critics. How far these writers go may be judged (in one instance) from Mr, Mivart's statement that "the book of Chronicles is considered (by them) as a thoroughly unhistorical work, the history contained in it being habitually falsified in accordance with the point of view of the priestly code." According to Mr. Mivart, it is quite open to the members of the Catholic Church to accept these views, and, in all such questions, to yield simply to the weight of historical evidence. "It is," he says, "the men of historical science now, and not theologians or congregations, who are putting us in the way of apprehending, with some approach to accuracy, what the truth is as to the dates, authorities, and course of development of the writings which were inspired for our spiritual profit." We presume Mr. Mivart will now wait to see whether ecclesiastical censure will fall upon him for this last utterance. He says he does not think it will. He has reason to believe that "broad views are not in disfavor at the Vatican, though sudden or abrupt action is neither to be expected nor desired." It seems, then, to be a question as to whether that section of the Christian Church which has hitherto been accounted most conservative of traditional opinions, and most resolutely hostile to all the new views of science, is not in reality destined to prove itself the most hospitable and friendly to such new views. The situation is a singular one, and merits the attentive consideration of some excellent people who consider their theology a great advance in point of liberality and rationality upon that of Rome, and who yet have an evil eye for such scientific doctrines as that of evolution, to say nothing of a free critical handling of the sacred texts. On the subject of Biblical criticism we have no opinions to offer; but we must say that we feel like agreeing with Mr. Mivart that, in this field, as in every other, the authorities to be deferred to are those who have a competent knowledge of facts, not those who are merely the official conservators of ancient dogmas.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Appletons' Physical Geography. By John D. Quackenbos and others. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 140. Price, $1.60.

This work has been prepared on a new plan. Physical geography, comprising parts of a number of sciences, covers a wider field than one man can be thoroughly familiar with; hence, in order to secure the advantage of special knowledge over the whole field, this work has been written by several