Page:Science and Citizenship.djvu/50

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Science and Citizenship

characteristics possessed in common by the religious and scientific community can be traced out in detail. If, for instance, the scientist resorts to a public library to read the journal of his favourite society, he is obviously paralleling the tendency of the laxer churchman to escape the monthly collection for what in certain nonconformist churches is called the sustentation fund. But minute detail and formal aspect apart, what is it that constitutes the essential similarity of type in the religious and scientific group?

The immense multiplication of religious sects in the present day, and in history, is popularly accounted one of the least creditable features of civilisation. The sceptics deprecate it as a bad habit, like alcoholism and immorality, into which the uncultivated man is prone to fall. But in itself, and apart from its secondary effects, the mere proliferation of sectionally religious bodies is simply an expression of spiritual freedom. In joining this, that, or the other church, in remaining within its fold, or in leaving it, the individual believes himself to be actuated by non-material motives. He believes that he is uninfluenced alike by the parliaments that make laws, the bureaucracies that administer them, and the judges that interpret or misinterpret them. He believes that his religious life is unconditioned by the policeman visible at the street corner, by the sovereign invisible on his throne, and the soldiers that display his royal uniform. In brief, the member of a religious community believes himself to have risen into a world