Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/595

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

SEPTEMBER, 1892.


 

NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

XVII.—GEOGRAPHY.

By ANDREW DICKSON WHITE, LL. D., L. H. D.,

EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.

PART II.

3. The Inhabitants of the Earth.—Even while the question of the sphericity of the earth was undecided, another question had been suggested which the Church held to be of far greater importance. The doctrine of the earth's sphericity naturally led to thought upon the tenants of the earth's surface, and another ancient germ idea was warmed into life—the idea of the antipodes—of human beings on the earth's opposite sides.

At this the theological warriors of the Church waxed valiant. Those great and good churchmen determined to fight. To all of them this idea seemed dangerous, to most of them it seemed damnable. St. Basil and St. Ambrose were tolerant enough to allow that a man might be saved who thought the earth inhabited on its opposite sides, but the great majority of the fathers of the Church doubted the possibility of salvation to such misbelievers.

Lactantius asks: "Is there any one so senseless as to believe that there are men whose footsteps are higher than their heads? . . . that the crops and trees grow downward? . . . that the rains and snow and hail fall upward toward the earth? . . . I am at a loss what to say of those who, when they have once erred, steadily persevere in their folly, and defend one vain thing by another."

But a still greater man followed on the same side. St. Augus-