Popular Science Monthly/Volume 9/October 1876/Science and Religion as Allies
By JAMES THOMPSON BIXBY.
THE antagonism between Science and Religion has become a commonplace of literature. Both preachers and physicists have narrated with bitterness of spirit the battles which they have fought, the wrongs which they have suffered, the complaints which they have to make, the one against the other. The combative have plunged into the mêlée, and with slashing pen or tongue given it new asperity and new sources of grievance. The peaceful have endeavored by various reconciling schemes to persuade the combatants to lay down their arms. Historical spirits have searched out and retold the forgotten incidents of the struggle; the philosophic-minded have explored its secret springs. In one way or another all have drawn the attention of the world to the hostile attitude of the two.
Now, it is true that there have been no small number of conflicts between science and religion. But is the whole account of the relation of the two contained in this? Is there not another part to the story? I believe that there is.
Much, it seems to me, might be said in exhibition of the mutual indebtedness of science and religion, as well as of their hostilities. Having heard so much of late about the latter, perhaps it may not he unprofitable to consider a little the other side of the shield.
In the first place, religion is much indebted to science. Science has not been a mere iconoclast of everything sacred, but it has been a real helper in the progress of religion.
In the marvelous adventures through which Rabelais conducted his hero Pantagruel, a clime was reached so cold that the words of the men, it is said, as they passed the lips, froze and fell as hail on the deck; but, brought near the tire, the congealed words thawed and gave up their sounds. So, under the sunbeams of science, the dumb matter, the frozen thought of the Creator, melted into intelligible accents and spoke forth its secrets. Sun and cell, magnet and crystal, have each found a tongue and told the world of facts, exhibited to it achievements that, if predicted a thousand years ago, would have seemed like nothing but a chapter out of the Arabian Nights Entertainments.
Now, these triumphs of science have not redounded merely to the empty glory of their hero, but they have been solid contributions also to the benefit of man and to the glory of God.
What other argument for the existence of God has done more for theism than the argument from design? In the admirable harmonies and adaptations of the world, the natural theologian finds the most convincing illustrations of a Supreme Intelligence anterior to the universe. Whence is it that a knowledge of these instances of contrivance and order has been obtained? Plainly, it is from the scientific study of Nature that the overpowering strength of this argument has been derived. Ordinary observation—to be sure—would, of course, first surest the argument and present not a few illustrations. Threeyears ago the Psalmist put those forceful questions "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?"
Here lies, indeed, the gist of the whole argument from design. Yet it is to modern physical investigations, in anatomy, chemistry, natural history, that we owe those exquisite illustrations of curious adjustment and interdependence that in the hands of a Paley or a Sir Charles Bell have given the design argument such force and sweep. Compare the proofs of God's unity and intelligence open to a David or a Paul with those which Prof. Cooke finds in chemistry, or Winchell in geology, or Agassiz in natural history, and how much more manifold and marvelous the latter!
In the next place, science has been most helpful to religion in purifying its faiths and guiding its reverences. Now, this is a service that Faith much needs to have some one to do for her. For, sublime as are her aspirations, her Perfect Being, without parts, without partiality, and without shadow of turning, to be worshiped only in spirit and in truth.vision is but dim. Her eye fixed on the heavens to which she would climb, she cannot discern distinctly the steps by which it is reached. She needs science ever to be at hand to direct her. In her mounting instinct, Faith stretches up her hand and clutches and clings to whatever she comes across. The misshapen tree which rescued the savage from the wild beast; the black stone which fell from the sky; the serpent or the crocodile whose strange form and power fascinate the primitive man—such are the objects that humanity, in its first dim gropings for an object of worship, embraces. Religion may remain long in this groveling stage, as it did among the Egyptians and Assyrians. But sooner or later, as knowledge increases, the powerlessness and the worthlessness of such things for the worship of thinking men are seen. Faith reaches up her hand to higher objects—the invisible but potent wind, the outstretched sky, the ethereal fire, the sun that warms and lights the whole earth. These are looked upon as mighty living beings, and venerated in solemn rites. But, again, as man learned more of these—the fixed laws which they obey—the confined paths in which they move, and, in learning this, learned more of himself—he recognized in conscious Intelligence and the overruling Will something greater than wind or fire. Faith raised her reverence, then, to a divinized humanity, a company of human gods—Jove, king of heaven, and Juno, queen; Mercury, messenger of the gods; Cupid, inspirer of love; and so on. But, again, with the growing comprehension of the unity of all Nature, man rose to the idea of a single supreme deity, a Jehovah—the eternal—I am Brahma, the one reality, of which all else are masks and shadows—and thrust down the other deities into the position of divinities, spirits, and devils. Still had not got above superstition. She still clung for a long time to burnt-offerings, and washings, and fastings, macerations, and masses; interferences by good and evil spirits; ideas of God as jealous, wrathful, appeasable, repenting of what he had once done, interposing to mend his work. Gradually-increasing knowledge pulled one after another of these rounds also out of the hands of Religion, and her yearning fingers that must clasp something reached up still higher on the ladder of divine apprehension, until at last she grasped the conception of the universal, eternal action of One Infinite
Science, to be sure, in this process of purification, has destroyed a great deal that has been very dear to Faith. It has uprooted old ideas and pulled down about our ears accepted systems—both physical and spiritual systems. The change in our views of the world has been most radical.
What was the conception of the world held by the orthodox churchman of the middle ages? The earth was a square plain, at whose outer edges rose mountain-walls, supporting the vault of heaven. This vault was a solid crystal roof, wherein the fixed stars were set, and over which moon and sun were pulled to and fro by the angels. Above this firmament, separating the waters which are above from the waters which are below, was the celestial cistern through whose windows the rain fell. Above this, again, the seven-storied heaven, in whose highest story dwelt Jehovah himself, seated on his throne of glory, surrounded by angels and saints.
To-day, how has science stretched out this little cosmos! The astronomer has turned his telescope upon that adamantine firmament, and it has dissolved into thin air. The total solid particles that the blue expanse contains, it has been estimated by Tyndall, might probably be packed into a lady's traveling-bag. The glittering points that gemmed its surface have expanded into enormous sums—thousands of times as large as our own globe. The circumscribed heaven of the Apocalypse, 12,000 furlongs each way, has spread out, from that one-hundredth part of the cubic dimensions which we now know our own earth to have, into an immensity of space which puts us so far from the nearest fixed star that a locomotive could not reach it in 700,000 centuries; and that even when we had attained this enormous distance we should stand merely at the entrance of a starlight avenue, down whose infinite vista come the rays from still more remote suns! Our own earth, formerly the grand, immovable stage to which the wandering sun and stars were only decorations, has been shriveled into a petty pellet of cosmic stuff, dislodged from its fixed and central position, and sent whirling on its way as one of the smaller satellites in the train of a central body, which central body, though as much larger than it as a cart-wheel is than a pea, is yet but one of more than 20,000,000 suns contained in its own part of space; and is itself not stationary, but moving with its planetary fleet at the rate of 4,000 miles a day round some still larger centre.
And in time, as well as space, has science enormously multiplied the numbers. Where the Bible chronology gave sixty centuries for the world's age, science demands as many millenniums. Where Genesis granted six days for the business of creation, geology requires as many æons. Science has mined in caverns and found man's tools and weapons among the bones of mammoths. It has deciphered hieroglyphics and found arts and history already venerable before the date when commentators admitted that Adam was created. It has learned how vast beds of chalk and limestone, miles in thickness, have been manufactured by microscopic creatures; how from a fiery cloud the globe gathered to a molten ball, and on the molten ball formed the crust that now suspends us above the still furnace-heated interior. Learning little by little all this, science has been compelled to put the date of the cosmic beginning back into an antiquity that, in comparison with the Mosaic work, seems an eternity.
And in thus prolonging the age of man and the world, science has altered our conception of the method by which the universe came into existence. It can no longer be looked upon as created out of nothing, at one grand tour de force; but as a process of organization, a process continuous and alike in every atom. In the glowing, gaseous nebula, in the curdled, nucleated fire-mist of the embryonic star, in the more consolidated, but still molten, heaving mass of our sun, in the ring-girt Saturn, the still steam-enveloped Jupiter, the sunny summer-time of our own planet, are discerned by the modern physicist the various stages through which every planetary system passes. From the heterogeneous to the homogeneous, from the diffused to the compacted, from the unorganized to the organized, from the lifeless to the living, this is the eternal rhythm of the cosmic evolution.
The cosmic evolution! Yes, this is the further and mightier change which science has made in our conceptions of the world's government. In the current belief of Christendom even 200 years ago, this earth was a world of decay and supernatural intervention, ever to be dreaded. Powers of darkness were struggling with the powers of light in ceaseless efforts for the mastery. Close underneath the earth's surface were the fiery pit and the gloomy realms of purgatory. Through caverns and secret ways mischievous devil and perturbed spirit passed up and down. The graveyards were haunted by ghosts. A comet foreboded disaster to nations, and an earthquake was the overture to the judgment-day.
By a compact with Satan a sorcerer could blight the harvest, or lay low whomsoever he wished with fatal disease. Ordinary phenomena, of course, were supposed to take place as the result of the natural arrangements instituted at the creation, but whatever was at all out of the usual order was looked upon as a special intervention, either of saint or magician, imp or angel, Satan or God, according to its respective evil or goodness, littleness or greatness.
All this science has ejected from the belief of enlightened men. Instead of a fall of the human race, and increasing ruin in the world, science has shown the gradual upclimbing of the race from cave-dwellings and garments of skin to the luxuries and enlightenments of our present civilization. Men of science have been over the whole earth and scrutinized the whole heavens, exploring every dark corner and strange event. Their best instruments have caught sight of no devil, their deepest mining-shaft has reached no limbo of departed souls. They have traced beforehand the path that the comet would pursue, found the cause of the earthquake, the connection of disease with its physical antecedents and antidotes. Spectres have been reduced to illusions of the visual organs, and lunacy to affections of the cerebral lobes. The witches and imps of the old dispensation have vanished before the light of modern knowledge like shadows of a hideous night. Interruptions of the established order, whether by wizard or holy exorcist; special dispensations and interventions, whether from the realm of diablerie or providence, are no longer credited; but law, inflexible law, without the slightest slip or variation, is believed to reign always and everywhere. Lily and solar system unfold according to one and the same formula. The hallucination of the senses, the insane delirium, these also have their natural sources from which they flow in a regular order. Even in the exception lies hidden some deeper law.
With such a strong and iconoclastic hand has Science plied the axe in the domain of Faith. As every one knows, it has been exceedingly painful to many pious souls. It is charged that these reconstructions which modern inquiry have made and are making unsettle all the foundations of religion; that they strip off the bloom of mystery and sacredness from the flowers of faith and conduct to irreverence. Are they, in truth, to be deplored? It seems to me that they are not, but to be rejoiced at. It is true that they have given the death-blow to many forms of faith. It is true that they have disabused us of many ancient venerations. To-day, when we carry flame sealed in our vest-pocket ready to come forth at the scratch of a match, no fire-deity, of course, receives any longer the sacrifice of our first-born. To-day, when we bottle up the lightning and make it our errand-boy, we no longer revere it as the bolt of Jove. But for everything that Science has taken away from Religion, she has given her something greater. If she has weaned her of her blind awe of the unknown, she has substituted a more rational awe of the known. If with ruthless hand she battles down every baseless tradition and fond illusion, she consecrates with religious veneration the simplest real fact. If Nature no longer is the object of human dread, yet, as the useful storehouse whence we draw food and treasure, as the friendly Titan who performs for us tasks beyond our unassisted power, it holds a higher place. If the astronomer's lens has dissipated the ancient heavens, it is to show us system behind system of celestial bodies, blazing at immeasurable intervals in the depths of illimitable space. If geology has taken away the idea of a creation finished once for all in a certain six days of the year b. c. 4004, it has given us instead a continual process of moulding and perfecting carried on for 100,000,000 years. The rigorous probing that science has given to Nature does not remove any of its wonderfulness, any of its perfection, but rather has disclosed new marvels behind those which first struck man's attention. The widening of the circle of the unknown has only served to confront us with deeper and deeper mysteries. Science has ruled out miracle and magic from the order of events, but it is to pick up the wizard's wand itself, bring up before us daily stranger and grander phenomena, only the more inexplicable and amazing because of the certainty we feel that somehow there is no exception in them to our most ordinary experience.
Science has expelled witch and elf, nymph and demon, and thus depopulated the supernatural world; but in the place of this uncanny brood, the thought of whose capricious intervention paralyzed the will and debauched the heart, the universe has been filled with the presence of One, Eternal and Infinite, from whose perfect law we can never escape. The more clearly we discern the path on which science has led the world, the less fear shall we have that it is all a preparation for precipitating us into some godless abyss. Put the case squarely before any one in its full significance, and there is no one, I think, who would prefer to go back to the cosmic baby-house of the middle ages. Who would vault in again the immensity of space? Who would cut down to six ordinary evenings and mornings the activity of Him who inhabiteth eternity? Who would relinquish the confidence and hope inspired by the unswerving progress of that single divine purpose that links the ages together?
Thus has science given to the cause of faith assistance which more than countervails whatever injury it may have done.
And so has Religion also, in reality, helped science—helped, I believe, even more than she has hindered.
It is to the understanding that the great achievements of physical inquiry are commonly referred. Science is spoken of as a domain of dry light and clear-cut facts, and religion is contrasted with it as the realm of emotion. But how could the intellect have ever gained its great victories without the aid of the heart? how could the senses have ever penetrated into Nature as they have done, had they not been carried on the wings of the spirit? What could science accomplish without the emotions of enthusiasm and devotion, the instructive feeling of truth and beauty, the love of Nature for its own dear sake? "It is in vain, I think," said Prof. Tyndall, at London, in 1869, "to separate moral and emotional nature from intellectual nature. Let a man but observe himself, and he will, if I mistake not, find that, in nine cases out of ten, moral or immoral considerations, as the case may be, are the motive force which push his intellect into action." The reading of the works of three men, he proceeds to say—Carlyle, Emerson, and Fichte—neither of them friendly to the scientific spirit, carried him victoriously through mathematical studies and physical investigations, and made him the man of science that he is. To the same effect is the striking declaration of that other great leader of scientific thought of to-day. "The great deeds of philosophers," says Prof. Huxley, "are less the fruit of their intellect than of the direction of that intellect by an eminently religious state of mind."
Consider the characteristics demanded in the successful study of Nature, and we shall discern the spiritual source whence these physical triumphs come.
One of the first requisites in the inductive method is the humble-mindedness that will completely submit itself to the evidence of the facts. "Access to the kingdom of man, which is founded on the sciences," Bacon aptly says, "resembles that to the kingdom of heaven, where no admission is conceded except to children."
Another condition of success is the spirit of industry that is unswerved by love of ease or idea of labor's dishonor. Another, again, is the candor that will look on all sides of a case, and listen to every objection—consecration to truth as the primary object. These are the qualities which men of science set forth as the requisites for walking within the veil of the temple of Nature.
But what else are these than the very graces of Christianity? Take the childlike mind that the founder of the inductive method demands: it is just what Christ enjoins. Take the fearless love of truth that seeks the absolute facts—the cause behind the cause. How long would it hold on its way did not spiritual aspiration ever feed its secret springs with the insatiable hunger after perfection? Take that diligence in labor and honorable estimation of work which is one of the essential instruments of scientific work, and ask what is the impulse that has endowed modern Christendom with it. "Labor," as a German writer of weight has well pointed out, "was considered by our heathen forefathers a dishonor; and even in the present day, where the gospel is not preached, the stirring disposition, the assiduity, the spirit of enterprise in the people, is disproportionately less. The duty and dignity of work is one of the priceless gifts to modern science of him who said, 'My Father is working up to this time, and I work.'"
Or consider that interest in Nature that is such a powerful spring of physical inquiry. Consider that sacred claim of his vocation which the true servant recognizes—such a sense of it as leads a Lyonnet to spend his life counting the 40,000 muscles in a caterpillar's body! Is it not the Christian spirit, the belief, that is, in the brotherhood of man and the duty of self-sacrifice—the feeling of filial loyalty to a Divine Father, all of whose works are significant, and all of whose service is noble—that, as much as or more than anything else, has given birth to it?
It is a singular fact that the Greek and the Roman, in spite of their great intellectual acuteness, accomplished so little in the penetration of Nature's secrets. With the strong love of the beautiful that distinguished the one, and the profound sense of law that marked the other, one would have supposed that they would have felt more the charm and loveliness of the outward world, and have taken a greater interest in discovering its unchangeable ordinances. Is it unreasonable to refer much of this to that difference of religion which constitutes the most striking distinction between the classic and the Christian world? In the first place, the selfish isolation, the jealous individualism of ancient life, gave no encouragement to that sense of common interests among all mankind which is the justification of the scientist's pecuniarily unprofitable labors. Among the Greeks, while the feeling of devotion to the state, or rather city, was intense, the sentiment of the general welfare or the cause of humanity hardly existed. It was only with the advent of Christianity that the idea of mankind as one great family, each one of whom must labor for all the rest, came in. This idea has been the nurse, not only of modern civil freedom, but of modern science. "Not till the word barbarian was struck out of the dictionary of mankind," says Max Müller, in his "Lectures on the Science of Language," "not till the right of all nations of the world to be classed as members of one genus or kind was recognized, can we look even for the first beginning of our science. This change was effected by Christianity."
The grand thought that accompanied this sense of human brotherhood, forming the other pole of gospel truth, viz., the belief in one God and Father of men, gave an equal contribution toward supplying the intellectual soil needed for the prosperous growth of science. With the multitude of national and local gods, and even tribal or family divinities, which prevailed in the classic world, the minds of men were constantly diverted from that unity that is the scarlet thread in every royal cable of science. But monotheism, establishing unity in the divine realm, gave unity also to the order of Nature. While surrounding nations looked upon Nature in dread, and in blind superstition sacrificed their own little ones to the meteor or the volcano, the Hebrew, tracing all things up to the power of the eternal I am, beside whom there is no other god, found in all the forces and marvels of Nature fountains of good cheer and grateful praise. The earth was "the Lord's and the fullness thereof." "Dragons and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind, fulfilling his word—all these were to praise the name of the Lord. For he commanded and they were created. He hath also established them forever and ever; he hath made a decree which shall not be moved" (Psalm cxlviii.). Christianity took up and diffused this grand view of the relation of Nature to God and to man. Though the appreciation of Nature's beauty, order, and dignity, was swamped for a time by the tide of Oriental asceticism, Grecian metaphysics, and transformed polytheism, it rose gradually above it, and established itself firmly in the mind of Christendom. It is this new interest in all the aspects, changes, and laws of the material, vegetable, and animal realms, full as much as the propounding of the Baconian method, that has so adorned physical knowledge in these latter days; and when we consider what gave this new attraction to Nature, and shed over it a divine light, as it were, we can find no other agency so conspicuous, so powerful, as that of the two great religious dispensations, the record of which has been preserved for us in the Old and New Testaments. One whose name is among the very first on the rolls of science has given strong and explicit testimony on this point. Alexander von Humboldt, in a striking passage of his "Cosmos," sketching the intellectual phenomena of this world, thus describes the state of the Hebrew mind as distinguished from that exhibited among other portions of the human family: "It is characteristic of the poetry of the Hebrews that, as a reflex of monotheism, it always embraces the universe in its unity, comprising both terrestrial life and the luminous realms of space. The Hebrew poet does not depict Nature as a self-dependent object, glorious in its individual beauty, but always as in relation and subjection to a higher spiritual power. Nature is to him a work of creation and order—the living expression of the omnipresence of the Divinity in the visible world. Hence the lyrical poetry of the Hebrews, from the very nature of its subject, is grand and solemn, . . . and develops a rich and animated conception of the life of Nature. It might almost be said that one single psalm represents the image of the whole cosmos. We are astonished to find in a lyric poem of such limited compass the whole universe. . . . Similar views of the cosmos occur repeatedly in the Psalms, and most fully, perhaps, in the ancient if not ante-Mosaic book of Job."
Thus did religious reverence among the Hebrews lead to the notice and study of Nature. And, as to its influence on modern culture, let us listen again to the great philosopher of Berlin: "When the feelings died away," he continues, "which had animated classical antiquity and directed the minds of men rather to a visible manifestation of human antiquity than to a passive contemplation of the external world, a new spirit arose. Christianity gradually diffused itself, and, wherever it was adopted as the religion of the state, it not only exercised a beneficial condition on the lower classes by inculcating the social freedom of mankind, but also expanded the views of men in their communion with Nature. The eye no longer rested on the form of the Olympic gods. The Fathers of the Church, in their rhetorically correct and often practically imaginative language, now taught that the Creator showed himself great in inanimate Nature no less than in animated Nature; and in the wild strife of the elements no less than in the still activity of organic development. It was thus the tendency of the Christian mind to prove from the order of the universe and the beauty of Nature the greatness and goodness of the Creator, and this tendency to glorify the Deity in his works gave rise to a taste for natural observation."
He who would assign, then, the sources of the modern scientific spirit cannot, without injustice, fail to assign a large measure of influence to Christianity.
Besides this general assistance to science from the religious spirit, the Christian Church, as an organization, although guilty of much hinderance, nevertheless has given much help. I believe, indeed, that in an impartial comparison the assistance which it has supplied would outweigh the injury which it has done. There was a time in the history of Europe we should not forget—when the fruit of all past knowledge and the seeds of future culture and enlightenment lay in the hands of the Christian clergy. For six centuries during the deluge of barbarism and ignorance which had submerged the ancient world, the Christian Church was the ark which rode upon the flood, bearing in its bosom whatever was most precious of the old-time learning and knowledge. Amid the devastations which attended the repeated waves of barbarian invasion, the greater part of Italy and France had become desolate and waste, dense with tangled forests, and haunted by wild beasts; and the arts of agriculture were not merely disused, but almost forgotten. By whom were these tracts and arts in Western Europe recovered for civilization? Mainly by the monks and priests. It is calculated that three-eighths of the cities and towns of France were born under the pioneership and protection of the monastic orders. The Benedictines, Mrs. Jameson says, were the first agriculturists who brought intellectual resources to bear on the cultivation of the soil, to whom we owe experimental farming and gardening, and the introduction of a variety of new plants.
Again, in the disorders occasioned by the fall of the Roman Empire, the imperial schools formerly scattered over Western Europe were extinguished, for an almost universal loss or destruction of books had occurred. It was only in the cloister and in the schools attached to the monasteries, established primarily for the study of the Scriptures, and conducted by the monks, that the light of knowledge was kept alive in Western Europe. The great universities of Europe, such as those of Paris, Bologna, Oxford, and Cambridge, are generally admitted to have had their origin in the schools attached to cathedrals and monasteries. Almost every one of the ancient and eminent seats of learning was either founded by the clergy or originally instituted for the purpose of fostering the study of the Scriptures.
Of course, the studies which occupied the first place were the Bible, the works of the Fathers, and theology in its various branches. But they were not limited to these. Science and art received attention, as well as sacred literature. Physics, chemistry, botany, medicine, law, painting, and the art of illumination, were all pursued within the walls of the cloister. A Benedictine monk, Guido d'Arezzo, was the inventor of the gamut, and the first who instituted a school of music. The monks, it is claimed by high authorities, "were the parents of Gothic architecture, the inventors or improvers of the implements used in painting, the discoverers and preparers of some of the finest colors." "As architects, as glass-painters, as mosaic-workers, they were," says Mrs. Jameson, "the precursors of all that has yet been achieved in Christian art." Many of the distinguished pioneers of science belonged to the Church, or were educated in it. Among the alchemists, the forerunners of our chemists, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, Raymond Lully, were ecclesiastics. Giordano Bruno in his early life was a Dominican priest; Gassendi and Copernicus held church offices, the former that of Professor of Theology, and afterward prévôt of a cathedral, and the latter a canonry and archdeaconship, and both remained faithful churchmen throughout their lives. Kepler was educated at the school of the monastery of Maulbron, and Boerhaave studied at Leyden for the sacred profession. This list, which a little research would easily enlarge, shows that, if there was a current in the Church antagonistic to scientific investigations, there was also a current that sympathized with it and impelled it onward.
Thus have science and religion given to each other assistance which more than balances, it seems to me, whatever hinderances they have put in each other's way. This assistance, to be sure, has been imperfect, has been more or less unconscious, and sometimes, perhaps, in despite of what has been intended. In the present controversy, as to the proper relations between science and religion, does not this page of history give useful instruction? Not to render them opponents, or maintain conflict between them by raking over the ashes of controversy; not to patch up a temporary truce by schemes for dividing the field of knowledge between them, but to continue and perfect between them this alliance of the past, making it henceforth a conscious, entire, and welcomed coöperation—is not this the duty of the present and the future? Since neither science nor religion can claim an exclusive sovereignty over the field of knowledge; since that domain cannot well be partitioned off between them, the true way is to unite them in a perpetual alliance. Take the testimony of both religion and science. Presume that there is a certain proportion of truth in what each has to offer. Weigh in the scales of reason what each presents. Accept that which is most solid, from whichever side it comes; or if neither, which is likely, presents the whole and real fact, employ the parallax of the two to give the actual position and full form of the two.
Each should seek from the other correction of its errors and filling out of its imperfections. Religion ought to obtain, from wider knowledge, greater purity and enlargement. She ought to learn from physical discovery the importance of going at once to facts and thoroughly studying-them, instead of sitting in her study patching dogmas out of scriptural shreds. She should learn from science the method of studying facts, as well as its importance, how to criticise, to sift, to throw away the chaff and keep only the solid grain. And, having mastered the secret of modern knowledge, she should proceed to put theology upon a solid inductive basis, and build it up into the genuine science of which it is capable.
And similarly science ought to obtain the help of religion to elevate and perfect it. From the ideal aspirations of faith science should enlighten its vision and ennoble its aims. It should not restrict its studies merely to the lower realm of facts. Science fails to fulfill its appointed mission in the world if it ceases its researches on the threshold of the grandest discoveries open to it, the questions above all in interest to humanity. It should learn from theology to study the laws of mind and soul as well as those of matter; to recognize that the fundamental truths of morality and religion are self-evident, as well as those of geometry, and that the belief in a God and in a future state is as primitive, universal, and necessary, as the belief in the uniformity of Nature or the indestructibility of force. It should look at the upraised finger of Faith and be pointed from the law to the Law-giver; from the effect to a cause; from the force to the living well.
To widen, purify, and make stable; to save from the building of unsubstantial air-castles, and from blind clasping of objects unworthy of worship—this is what science should do for religion.
To inspire and enable and crown; to turn from peering and picking altogether in the dust; to look up to the heavens—this is what religion should do for science. Playing no hostile nor rival, nor even independent strains—but each in sweet concord and divine respondence, joining in the same holy anthem—thus knowledge and reverence, mind and soul, all "according well, may make one music as before, but vaster."