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Bertram Coghill Alan Windle.

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SAN DIEGO



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THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE



THE CHURCH AND
SCIENCE




BY

SIR BERTRAM C. A. WINDLE

M.A., M.D., Sc.^y.\t.D., F.R.S., F.S.A.,
M.lO.%., K.S.G.

of st. Michael's college, Toronto
late (president of universitv college, cork





sine cantate inflat ; caritas sine scientia aberrat ;
scientia cum caritate aedificat



FOURTH THOUSAND



LONDON

CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY

69 SOUTHWARK BRIDGE ROAD, S.E. 1

1920



First Edition .... /pry

Stand Edition .... IQ17

Reprinted /<?/<?

Reprinted iqio



TO

HIS EMINENCE
CARDINAL GASQUET, O.S.B,

THIS BOOK

WITH HIS PERMISSION

IS DEDICATED

IN TOKEN OF AN OLD UNBROKEN

AND MUCH-VALUED

FRIENDSHIP



PREFACE

THIS is not what is commonly called a work of recon-
ciliation ; it is rather one of delimitation and ex-
planation. Its first object is to present an outline of
the attitude of Science to-day towards various problems,
physical and biological, and to show how very few of these
problems come in any way into contact with dogmatic
religion. If some writers were to be believed, there exists
and must always exist between the Church and Science so
fundamental and inexorable an enmity that it is utterly
impossible for any person honestly to serve both. That
such is not the case is proved by scores of instances
which need not here be insisted upon. Another of the
chief objects of this book is to show why this is so, and in-
cidentally to make clear how wide a range for speculation the
Church permits — even, for example, on such a subject as the
interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis.

On the other hand, no attempt has been made to minim-
ise the teachings of the Church, nor is it denied that there
are points where her teaching and the theories of certain
men of science come into direct conflict. But a further
object of the book is to make it clear that these are theories,
at present unproved and perhaps insusceptible of convinc-
ing proof ; that scores and scores of such theories have been
put forward and will continue to be put forward ; that
scores and scores of them have been thrown on the scrap-
heap of abandoned ideas, whither others will follow them ;
and that the believer in Christianity may possess his soul
in patience, well aware that no theory which is really in
opposition to revelation can be true.

In compiling this work the author has naturally con-
sulted and utilised many scores of books, to whose authors
he now expresses his grateful acknowledgements. He has
received much assistance from kind friends. To Fathei
Maher, d.lit., s.j., who has read the entire book in MS.,

vii



viii THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

and to A. J. Rahilly, m.a., b.sc, who has read the greater
part of it, his thanks are specially due for the trouble which
they have taken and for the valuable assistance which they
have given him. Sir Oliver Lodge, f.r.s., and Professor J.
Joly, f.r.s. , were also good enough to help him in connection
with special points, but these gentlemen, needless to say,
are in no way committed to or responsible for the substance
of the book. The Most Rev. Dr. Cohalan, Bishop of Cork, and
the Right Rev. Abbot Bergh, o.s.b., also assisted with
advice, and Mr. James Britten, k.s.g., has been good
enough to make various suggestions whilst the work was
passing through the press. To all these the author's
thanks are due and are most sincerely rendered.

The author has at times made raids upon works of his own
where subjects of an identical character were under discussion
and where he did not see his way to improve on his earlier
statements. It is a great source of satisfaction to him to know
that the sections dealing with theological and philosophical
matters have been carefully examined by more than one
competent critic. That these sections have been seen and
approved leads him to hope that he may not have gone
astray in regions with which he is necessarily only super-
ficially acquainted. All such theological and philosophical
statements are, as far as he is concerned, made subject to
correction. B C A W

University College, Cork.
December, 191 6.

PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION

A second edition of this book having been called for in,
to me, an unexpectedly short time, it has not seemed neces-
sary to do more than make a few additions which have been
noted since the volume appeared.

I would like to thank my reviewers for the kindly reception
which they have given to the book. Some of them have
suggested additional chapters or subjects for treatment r
I have, however, felt that the book is long enough, nor am
I the person to deal with some of the matters which they
have indicated.

B. C. A. W.

October, 191 7.



CONTENTS



I. Introductory — Science : its Scope and Limits
II. Religion — Its Scope and Limits

III. The Relation of the Church and Popes to

Science — Galileo ....

IV. Philosophy .....
V. Facts and Theories — Important Distinction

VI. " Space " and the Ether of Space .
VII. Matter and the Electrical Theory of
Matter .....
VIII. Facts and Theories once more
IX. Matter and Form

X. The Universe .....
XI. The Origin of the Universe .
XII. The Origin of the LTniverse (concluded)

XIII. Laws of Nature — Prayer

XIV. Miracles .....
XV. Geology .....

XVI. The Seven Days of Creation
XVII. The Seven Days of Creation (concluded)
XVIII. Early Man — Some Preliminary Considera-
tions .....
XIX. Early Man — Archaeological Time and its
Divisions .....
XX. Early Man — His Implements and some Con-
siderations thereon

ix



PACK

I

12



22

33

44

57

6f>

77
8 7

96

107

118

131

142

I5&
171
186

192

200

208.



x THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

CHAPTER JAGS

XXI. Early Man— Account of Discoveries of

Early Skeletons . . .219

XXII. Early Man — Classification — Prehis-
toric Periods .... 229

XXIII. The Glacial Period . . .240

XXIV. The Age of the Earth and the Age of

Man on it . . . • 256

XXV. Life— Vitalism— Materialism . . 271

XXVI. The Cell— Its Characteristics . . 280

XXVII. Vitalism— I . . . .290

XXVIII. Vitalism— II . . . .297

XXIX. Vitalism— III . . . .305

XXX. The Origin of Life . . .316

XXXI. Transformism — Some Preliminary Con-
siderations .... 325

XXXII. Transformism and Creation . . 333

XXXIII. Transformism— Heredity and Variation 340

XXXIV. Darwin and Natural Selection . . 350
XXXV. Doubts as to Darwinism — Mendel and

his Discoveries . . . 361

XXXVI. Transformism— A Summing-up . . 37°

XXXVII. Man and His Origin— His Bodily Part . 379

XXXVIII. Man and His Origin— His Spiritual Part 389

XXXIX. Man and His Origin— His Spiritual Part

(concluded) .... 396

XL. A Few Final Considerations . . 404



SYNOPSIS OF CHAPTERS



CHAPTER I

The Church unaltering in her doctrines but accords full liberty in pagb
doubtful cases — Science, what is meant by it — Ascertainment
and verification of facts — Science does not cover the whole
field of knowledge — Science must make an Act of Faith in the
reality of things — Pragmatism . . . . . i

CHAPTER II

There are wide fields of knowledge over which religion has no
sway — Why is there any conflict between Science and Religion ?
— Theophobia — Attempts to discredit the Church — Fallopius and
Fossils — Huxley and Bathybius . . . . . .12

CHAPTER III

The Popes and Science — Alleged prohibition of dissection — Real
facts of the case — Aristotelomania — Temper of the time — Sarsi
and Lord Bacon — Kepler and the University of Tubingen —
Galileo and the two theories of the solar system — His condemna-
tion — Catholic and non-Catholic opinions on this — The subse-
quent history of Copernicanism ...... 22

CHAPTER IV

Philosophy : what is meant by the term — Scholastic Philosophy —
Not to be confused with Scholastic Theology — Nor to be regarded
as based upon it — Ancient solutions of questions, once derided,
now accepted in principle — The decadence of Scholasticism and
its revival . . . . . . . . . 33

CHAPTER V

Facts and Theories and their relation to one another — An explana-
tion may explain yet be false — A Fact cannot conflict with a
dogma though a Theory may — Linnaean and Natural classification
of plants — Leo XIII and the Providentissimus Deus — Father
Hull on the policy of the Church when confronted with a new
idea ........... 44

xi



xii THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

CHAPTER VI

Vagueness in Science — The Ether of Space — How is action at a PA gk
distance to be explained unless there is a continuum ? — Ether is
luminiferous, i.e. transmits radiations from the sun and other like
bodies — It is dense— It is frictionless — It is incompressible — It
is omnipresent and permeates all matter — A note on " Space" . 57

CHAPTER VII

Materia Prima or prothyle — Richard Boyle and his " Skyptical
Chymist" (1661) — Molecules and Atoms — Mendeleefi's Law —
The Electrical Theory of Matter — Electrons and Ether — Electrons
and the Atom — The Disintegration Theory of Radio-activity . 66

CHAPTER VIII

Theories prematurely claimed as facts — " Laws " of Nature — Laws
of reflection — Once more a Fact and a Theory and the difference
between them — The Chemical Elements — A partial truth may
be useful for a long time — Attitude of Catholics to apparent
difficulties .......... 77

CHAPTER IX

Scholastic idea of Matter and Form — Matter the basis ; Form the
determinant — The Form may change — The animal soul — The
rational soul — Difference between Scholastic idea of Matter and
the Electrical Theory of the same — Religion does not stand or
fall by Scholastic Philosophy — A note on various " Forms " . 87

CHAPTER X

The solar system — Astronomical units — The solar system and the
Universe — " Light-years " — The Pole-star and its distance —
Size of the Visible Universe — The Milky Way and the solar
system — Space and the Universe — Time — Space and God . . 96

CHAPTER XI

Nebulae and their composition — Spectra of nebulae — Laplace's
Nebular Hypothesis — Radiation of heat from the sun — How is
it explicable ? — The Meteoric Hypothesis — Radium and the sun —
The ancient climates of the earth and how we come to know
anything about them ........ 107

CHAPTER XII

Du Bois Reymond's Seven Enigmas — Matter must have been
created or it must be self-existing and alive — Haeckel's " Law
of Substance " — Lord Kelvin declared that Science positively
affirms creative power — How the end of the world may come
about — Constant degradation of energy — The clock running
down must once have been wound up . . . .118



SYNOPSIS OF CHAPTERS xiii



CHAPTER XIII

Different kinds of Laws — A Law-Giver or Chartce-Medley — PAG b
Different kinds of universes are conceivable, but there is only one
realised — Laws and Law-Giver — Prayer — The human will can
alter the operation of Nature — The Universe is not a rigidly
connected system . . . . . . . . -131

CHAPTER XIV

Definition of a Miracle — Apostolic and post-Apostolic Miracles —
Lourdes — Hume and Huxley on Miracles — Hysteria — Sugges-
tion — Instantaneous cures — Spinoza and Miracles — Result of
explaining away of Miracles . . . . . . .142

CHAPTER XV

Division of Geological Studies — Dynamical Geology — Stratigraphical
Geology — Action of Rivers — Of Ice and Frost — Palaeontology —
Geological Formations and the evidences of life which they
contain .......... 156

CHAPTER XVI

Primary intention of early chapters of Genesis — Interpretation of
Scripture — " Days " of Creation — Anthropomorphic idea of God
inevitable though inaccurate — A suggested harmony between
the Biblical account of Creative and Scientific discoveries. . 171

CHAPTER XVII

Other permissible methods of exegesis — A Liturgical formula — A
series of dissolving views — An allegorical drama — An Epic —
Dangers of premature reconciliations — A further suggestion . 186

CHAPTER XVIII

Implements constructed by Early Man — Arrow-heads and Stone
Axes — Primitive pottery — Evolution of Bicycle and Lamp —
Belief in a Future Life . . . . . . . .192

CHAPTER XIX

Historical Time — Archaeological Time — Geological Time — How far
back can we trace Historical Time ? — Stone and Bronze Ages —
The Early Iron Age ........ 200

CHAPTER XX

Considerations arising out of discovery of human bones in con-
nection with prehistoric implements — The Neanderthal Skull —
Thenay and Puy Courny Flints — Eoliths and the controversy
respecting them — Icenian implements — Stratigraphical position
of objects — Relation between bones and implements . . . 208



xiv THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE



CHAPTER XXI

Trinil remains discovered by Dubois — The Neanderthal Skull — page
Cranial capacity — Size of brain in relation to mental capacity —
The Piltdown Skull — The Heidelberg Jaw — Races of Prehistoric
Man 219

CHAPTER XXII

Classification of Early Men — Pre-Palaeolithic, Palaeolithic, and
other Periods — Characters of implements and of civilisation —
Prehistoric art — Early men in America ..... 229

CHAPTER XXIII

Suggested causes of the Glacial Epoch — Croll's Astronomical Theory
— Limits of ice during Glacial Period — Great thickness of ice —
Milder intervals during the period — The Mammoth — The Hiatus
— The Recent Period - 240

CHAPTER XXIV

" Geological clocks " — Rate of deposition of stalagmite — Solvent
denudation and the age of the ocean — Thicknesses of strata —
Calculations in actual years, their discrepancies — G. F. Wright's
view and that of Penck — Swedish laminated marine clays — The
Gorge of Niagara — Date of appearance of man — The Church and
Chronology ......•••• 2 5^

CHAPTER XXV

Living and not-living objects — Definition of Life — The " Some-
thing " over — Vitalism — History of its decadence and revival
— The " Vital Principle " — Result of denying its existence . 271

CHAPTER XXVI

The cell — its parts and constitution — The Amoeba — Its characters and

life — history — irritability and tactisms . . . . .280

CHAPTER XXVII

Development of embryo from single cell — Bearing upon the machine
theory — The Amphioxus or Lancelet — Its development — The
irog's egg — Experimental derangements of development — Each
egg a law unto itself — Pharaoh's serpents . . . .290

CHAPTER XXVIII

Repair of injuries in living things — Regeneration in the salamander
and other living things — The lens of the triton — Clavellina
hpadijormis — Driesch's " harmonious-equipotential system " . 297



SYNOPSIS OF CHAPTERS xv



CHAPTER XXIX

The Law of the Conservation of Energy — Steady diminution of pa ge
available energy of universe — Relation of the above Law to
Vitalistic question — The Law may be incomplete — Some sug-
gestions as to the apparent opposition between the Law and
facts 3°5

CHAPTER XXX

Stages in development of organic world where a new cause or power
must have come into action — Spontaneous generation — St.
Thomas Aquinas and Avicenna — Biogenesis and Abiogenesis —
Redi and his experiments — Ncedham and Spallanzani — Pasteur
— Present position of controversy . . . . . .316

CHAPTER XXXI

Origination and Maintenance of Life — The Creator and human beings
— Time and Eternity — The " Nowness " of God — Process of
Creation — The God of Christians and the god of Bergson . -325



CHAPTER XXXII

Transformism defined — St. Augustine and " potential " creation —
Opinions of St. Thomas Aquinas and others — Mediate creation —
Tom the Water-Baby — Monophyletic and polyphyletic evolu-
tion — Fr. Wasmann's views ....... 333

CHAPTER XXXIII

Heredity — Its vehicle — Pangenesis — Unconscious memory — " Ar-
rangement " — Inheritance of acquired characters — Lamarck and
variation — Germinal selection ...... 340-

CHAPTER XXXIV

" The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection " — The con-
stant number of living things— How its constancy is provided for
— The giraffe according to Darwin and Lamarck — De Vries on
Natural Selection — The Argument from Design — Paley's Evi-
dences — A restatement of the argument — Nature and Christianity
— Human Life under rigid Naturalistic methods . . . 350-

CHAPTER XXXV

Progress and scepticism in Science — Doubts as to Natural Selection
— Saltations or Mutations — A series of Sweet Peas — The Pedigree
of the Horse — " Inhibited " qualities — Mendel and his theories
and laws — Tall and dwarf Peas — The Law and the Law-Giver . 361



xvi THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE



CHAPTER XXXVI

The fly and the flower — Phylogeny, its value — The recapitulation pack
theory — Mendelism and transformism — Was evolution mono-
or polyphyletic ? — " Convergence," its problems — The Catholic
Fathers and Evolution — God and Creation . . . 370

CHAPTER XXXVII

Man's Body and Soul — Creation of man was dual — Man anatomically
an ape — The common origin of the two used as a working hypo-
thesis — No conclusive proof of it — " Gradual accumulations " the
difficulty in case of man — His brain — Was it a Mutation ? —
The attitude of the Church on this matter to-day . . . 379

CHAPTER XXXVIII

Matters de fide fewer than commonly thought — The immortal soul —
A. R. Wallace's three stages in the development of the organic
world — " Gratuitous gifts " — The Soul, definition of — Relation
to theory of Matter and Form . . . . . -389

CHAPTER XXXIX

Idealistic Monism — Dr. Johnson and Matter — The Universal Con-
sciousness — Ethical dilemma — Materialistic Monism — The brain
and its physics — The brain and thought — Human and Anthro-
poid brains, their likeness — Yet the great unlikeness of the pro-
duct — Dr. McDougall on Parallelism and Animism . . . 396

CHAPTER XL

Religion and Science, their respective spheres — Horace Walpole on
Scientific theories — Constant changes of scientific opinion natural
and explicable — The glory and greatness of Science — Need for
humility .......... 404



THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

CHAPTER I
SCIENCE : ITS SCOPE AND LIMITS

WHEN one starts upon a task such as that with which
this book is concerned, one cannot but be struck
by two considerations. In the first place, their objects
being so different, why should there be any need to state,
still less to attempt to adjust, the relations existing between
the Church and Science ? That such need must exist is
proved by the vast number of books which have been
written with no other object than that just mentioned.
Their number, in fact, is the second of the two considera-
tions alluded to above. With regard to these points a few
words may be said, leaving their further consideration to be
treated in the succeeding pages.

The Church is unaltering in her doctrines — in the essence
of the inner meanings of her doctrines at any rate, however
much her comprehension of the bearings of some of them
on extrinsic problems may gradually come to be enlarged.
But this is not to say that in doubtful matters, fringing
greater questions as to which her opinion has never been
otherwise than definite, the accredited exponents of her
doctrine may not and do not pass from one opinion to
another in view of new facts and discoveries.

In dubiis libertas is a part of her motto often forgotten
by her adversaries, who are never tired of picturing her to
their public alternately as a fossilised organisation incapable
of any intellectual life and, on the other hand, as torn by
fierce and internecine quarrels as to questions of doctrine.



2 THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

As a matter of fact, they fail to grasp the difference between
articles of faith and minor items as to which no decision
has ever been given and on which every Catholic is entitled
to form his own opinion. On such points, as every student
of history knows, there have been violent and, it may even
be admitted, at times unseemly controversies. And con-
troversies there are to the present day, but not respecting
the dogmas of the Church, as defined in her creeds and in
other definite and authentic pronouncements. From this
point of view of course she is unchanging. It can scarcely
seem reasonable to any thinking person that, if a Divine
Revelation were given to man, it should not be perfectly
definite as to those points which must be held by those who
wish to save their souls by it. We are not now arguing the
case for a Revelation ; that is the province of other writers.
In this particular work we assume the fact that a Revelation
has been made to man and that the Catholic Church is its
custodian and the judge of what is meant by any particular
doctrine.

This book is not a compendium of Apologetics ; it deals
with a special branch of the subject, and with that alone.
This statement is made lest it should be supposed that we
are here assuming the very point which we ought to set out
to prove, namely, the position and authority of the Church.
Our position, on the contrary, is briefly this : assuming
that the Church is what she claims to be, what are the exact
relations which she bears to the science of the day and
those w r hich the science of the day bears towards her ?
Having thus defined the exact scope of this book, it may be
well to define the terms which we have just been employing,
on the excellent principle that we should be quite clear as
to what we are talking about before we begin to talk
about it.

The subjects under discussion in this book are the Church
and Science. For our present purposes we may equate the
Church and Religion, and speak, as so many others have
done, of the relations between Science and Religion.

These two terms, then, come first before us for con-
sideration and definition. Inseparably connected with
them is yet a third term, that of Philosophy, which must by



SCIENCE— ANCIENT AND MODERN 3

no means be omitted from this preliminary consideration,
if only because so much confusion exists outside the Church
— perhaps indeed within it in the case of her less-instructed
members — as to the true relations between the Scholastic
Philosophy and Scholastic Theology. As they form the
framework of this book, these three terms must neces-
sarily appear time and again in it, nor can their con-
nections and limitations be fully developed save by a
gradual process. But, even though this be so, the ground
must be broken by some general observations before, in
the words of the Scottish legal phrase, we can " condescend
to particulars."

Like many other terms which are constantly on our
tongues, the term Science is one which bears to-day a
very different significance, and, it may be added, a very much
narrower significance, than that which it once possessed.
When Milton, for example, spoke in his " Areopagitica " of
" the seven liberall sciences," he did not mean what we
should mean to-day. He was alluding to the two classical
groupings of learning — the " Trivium," consisting of Gram-
mar, Logic, and Rhetoric, and the " Quadrivium," consisting
of Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, and Astronomy. Now it
is clear that in this classification there are included a number
of subjects which would never rise to the mind to-day
when the term science is used, such as Grammar, Rhetoric,
and Music, which last, though it involves scientific prin-
ciples no doubt, would still be reckoned by us rather among
the arts than among the sciences. For the term science has
become narrowed down to that form of knowledge which
deals with the observation of phenomena — to what in truth
is really Physical Science, in which we include such branches
as Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, with all their numerous
sub-divisions. Sir Norman Lockyer sums up the work of
Science, as thus understood, quite fully and quite adequately
when he says that " The work of the true man of science is
a perpetual striving after a better and closer knowledge of
the planet on which his lot is cast, and of the universe in
the vastness of which that planet is lost."

First and foremost, then, Science deals with ascertained
facts. Some might even be inclined to limit its sphere to



4 THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

the collection, classification, and proximate explanation 1 of
facts, and to assert that, when scientific men desert that
narrow path, they stray into the fields of philosophy. Of
this more in a moment, but with regard to these " facts " —



Online LibraryBertram Coghill Alan WindleThe church and science → online text (page 1 of 38)