Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/618

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tament, should offer his assertion as sufficient evidence of the validity of the will. And, even were not such a circular, or rather rotatory, argument, that the infallibility of the Bible is testified by the infallible Church, whose infallibility is testified by the infallible Bible, too absurd for serious consideration, it remains permissible to ask, Where and when the Church, during the period of its infallibility, as limited by Anglican dogmatic necessities, has officially decreed the "actual historical truth of all records" in the Old Testament? Was Augustine heretical when he denied the actual historical truth of the record of the Creation? Father Suarez, standing on later Roman tradition, may have a right to declare that he was; but it does not lie in the mouth of those who limit their appeal to that early "antiquity," in which Augustine played so great a part, to say so.

 

Among the watchers of the course of the world of thought, some view with delight and some with horror the recrudescence of supernaturalism which manifests itself among us, in shapes ranged along the whole flight of steps, which, in this case, separates the sublime from the ridiculous from Neo-Catholicism and Inner-light mysticism, at the top, to unclean things, not worthy of mention in the same breath, at the bottom. In my poor opinion, the importance of these manifestations is often greatly overestimated. The extant forms of supernaturalism have deep roots in human nature, and will undoubtedly die hard; but, in these latter days, they have to cope with an enemy whose full strength is only just beginning to be put out, and whose forces, gathering strength year by year, are hemming them round on every side. This enemy is Science, in the acceptation of systematized natural knowledge, which, during the last two centuries, has extended those methods of investigation, the worth of which is confirmed by daily appeal to Nature, to every region in which the supernatural has hitherto been recognized.

When scientific historical criticism reduced the annals of heroic Greece and of regal Rome to the level of fables; when the unity of authorship of the Iliad was successfully assailed by scientific literary criticism; when scientific physical criticism, after exploding the geocentric theory of the universe, and reducing the solar system itself to one of millions of groups of like cosmic specks, circling, at unimaginable distances from one another, through infinite space, showed the supernaturalistic theories of the duration of the earth and of life upon it to be as inadequate as those of its relative dimensions and importance had been it needed no prophetic gift to see that, sooner or later, the Jewish and the early Christian records would be treated in the same manner; that the authorship of the Hexateuch and of the