Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/645

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627
CORRESPONDENCE.

CORRESPONDENCE.



"THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES."

To the Editor of the Popular Science Monthly.

DEAR SIR: I have read this morning, with great pleasure, the article by President White, in the February number of your magazine; and am free to express gratification at seeing the extracts from my Vanderbilt University Address placed in such "goodlie companie."

But you must permit me to express my surprise at the tone and some of the statements which you make with regard to the two articles, and to the important subject which they discuss. You say that you print my argument because it is "on the other side of the question," and you would "not be accused of partiality or injustice-to opposite views." This is utterly unaccountable to me. President White and myself are in perfect accord in our articles so far as "the conflict" is concerned, so much so that, if we had had a conference previous to the preparation of our two addresses, we could scarcely have selected modes of treatment different from those we adopted. We should possibly have changed the order of the printing, and let his follow mine. Mine is a statement of doctrine, and his the proof. He has written almost nothing in his article which I might not have written if I had bad. his ability. He brings a masterly analysis and great wealth of learning to prove what I have asserted, and nothing in his article seems to stand against any thing in mine. We hold the same thesis, and sometimes express our ideas ipsissimis verbis. We both agree, if I have not utterly misapprehended President White, that religious men make mistakes, and scientific men make mistakes, but there is no conflict between true religion and true science, the warfare of science being with something other than religion. The first words of mine which you quote are these: "The recent cry of the 'Conflict of Religion and Science' is fallacious, and mischievous to the interests of both science and religion" (p. 434). President White, in the first sentence of his thesis says, "In all modern history, interference with science in the supposed interest of religion... has resulted in the direst evils both to religion and to science, and invariably" (p. 385). There we agree, and each undertakes to show the same thing in his own way. President White, in the second sentence of his thesis, says, "All untrammeled scientific investigation, no matter how dangerous to religion some of its stages may have seemed, for the time, to be, has invariably resulted in the highest good of religion and of science." In divers places in my article the same is set forth and maintained. On page 444 1 say, "If, for instance, a conflict should come between geology and theology, and geology should be beaten, it will be so much the better for religion; and, if geology should beat theology, still so much the better for religion," etc. In the next sentence, "geologists, psychologists, and, theologists, must all ultimately promote the cause of religion, because they must confirm one another's truths and explode one another's errors," etc. And, next sentence, "He (the religious man) knows and feels that it would be as irreligious in him to reject any truth found in Nature as it would be for another to reject any truth found in the Bible."

Now, on this showing, my dear sir, I think that in a review of the two articles you should be ready to admit that Dr. White and I are not on "opposite" sides. We are advocates for the same client, speaking from different briefs but promoting the same cause.

But I am sorry to find that, while I thoroughly agree with Dr. White, you do not. You consider the conflict to be "natural," "inevitable," "wholesome." Dr. White teaches that "the idea that there is a necessary antagonism between science and religion" is "the most unfortunate of all ideas" (p. 403). You oppose Dr. White more than you do me, for my moderate statement is, that it is "fallacious" and "mischievous."