Frederick Temple.

The Relations Between Religion and Science Eight Lectures Preached Before the University of Oxford in the Year 1884 online

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_First Edition_, 8vo, 1884.

_Reprinted January and February (twice)_, 1885, _April_, 1885;

_Re-issue_ (_Crown_ 8vo), _November_, 1885, 1903.







- "I give and bequeath my Lands and Estates to the Chancellor, Masters,
and Scholars of the University of Oxford for ever, to have and to hold
all and singular the said Lands or Estates upon trust, and to the
intents and purposes hereinafter mentioned; that is to say, I will and
appoint that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford for the
time being shall take and receive all the rents, issues, and profits
thereof, and (after all taxes, reparations, and necessary deductions
made) that he pay all the remainder to the endowment of eight Divinity
Lecture Sermons, to be established for ever in the said University, and
to be performed in the manner following:

"I direct and appoint, that, upon the first Tuesday in Easter Term, a
Lecturer be yearly chosen by the Heads of Colleges only, and by no
others, in the room adjoining to the Printing-House, between the hours
of ten in the morning and two in the afternoon, to preach eight Divinity
Lecture Sermons, the year following, at St. Mary's in Oxford, between
the commencement of the last month in Lent Term, and the end of the
third week in Act Term.

"Also I direct and appoint, that the eight Divinity Lecture Sermons
shall be preached upon either of the following Subjects - to confirm and
establish the Christian Faith, and to confute all heretics and
schismatics - upon the divine authority of the holy Scriptures - upon the
authority of the writings of the primitive Fathers, as to the faith and
practice of the primitive Church - upon the Divinity of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ - upon the Divinity of the Holy Ghost - upon the
Articles of the Christian Faith, as comprehended in the Apostles' and
Nicene Creeds.

"Also I direct, that thirty copies of the eight Divinity Lecture Sermons
shall be always printed, within two months after they are preached; and
one copy shall be given to the Chancellor of the University, and one
copy to the Head of every College, and one copy to the Mayor of the city
of Oxford, and one copy to be put into the Bodleian Library; and the
expenses of printing them shall be paid out of the revenue of the Land
or Estates given for establishing the Divinity Lecture Sermons; and the
preacher shall not be paid, nor be entitled to the revenue, before they
are printed.

"Also I direct and appoint, that no person shall be qualified to preach
the Divinity Lecture Sermons, unless he hath taken the degree of Master
of Arts at least, in one of the two Universities of Oxford or Cambridge;
and that the same person shall never preach the Divinity Lecture Sermons




Psalm civ. 24.

_O Lord, how manifold are Thy works: in wisdom hast Thou made them all;
the earth is full of Thy riches._

The subject introduced: Scientific belief. Mathematics and Metaphysics
excluded. The Postulate of Science: the Uniformity of Nature. Hume's
account of it. Kant's account of it. Insufficiency of both accounts.
Science traced back to observation of the Human Will. The development of
Science from this origin. The increasing generality of the Postulate:
which nevertheless can never attain to universality.



Genesis i. 27.

_So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He

The voice within. The objection of the alleged relativity of knowledge.
Absolute knowledge of our own personal identity. Failure to show this to
be relative; in particular by Mr. Herbert Spencer. The Moral Law. The
command to live according to that Law; Duty. The command to believe in
the supremacy of that Law; the lower Faith. The Last Judgment. The hope
of Immortality. The personification of the Moral Law in Almighty God;
the higher Faith. The spiritual faculty the recipient of Revelation, if
any be made. The contrast between Religion and Science.



Genesis i. 27.

_So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He

Contradiction of Free-Will to doctrine of Uniformity. Butler's
examination of the question. Hume's solution. Kant's solution.
Determinism. The real result of examination of the facts. Interference
of the will always possible, but comparatively rare. The need of a fixed
nature for our self-discipline, and so for our spiritual life.



Romans i. 20.

_For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are
clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His
eternal power and Godhead._

Foundation of the doctrine of Evolution. Great development in recent
times. Objection felt by many religious men. Alleged to destroy argument
from design. Paley's argument examined. Doctrine of Evolution adds force
to the argument, and removes objections to it. Argument from progress;
from beauty; from unity. The conflict not real.



Hebrews i. 1.

_God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past to
the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by His

The evolution of Knowledge. Does not affect the truth of Science. Nor of
Religion. Special characteristic of evolution of Religious Knowledge,
that it is due to Revelation. All higher Religions have claimed to be
Revelations. The evolution of Religious Knowledge in the Old Testament;
yet the Old Testament a Revelation. Still more the New Testament. The
miraculous element in Revelation. Its place and need. Harmony of this
mode of evolution with the teaching of the Spiritual Faculty.



Psalm c. 3.

_Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we

Evolution examined. The formation of the habitable world. The formation
of the creatures which inhabit it. Transmission of characteristics.
Variations perpetually introduced. Natural selection. On the other side,
life not yet accounted for by Evolution. Cause of variations not yet
examined. Moral Law incapable of being evolved. Account given in Genesis
not at variance with doctrine of Evolution. Evolution of man not
inconsistent with dignity of humanity.



St. John xiv. 11.

_Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else
believe Me for the very works' sake._

The claim to work miracles parallel to the freedom of the will. The
miracles of Revelation need not be miracles of Science. Our Lord's
Resurrection, and His miracles of healing, possibly not miraculous in
the scientific sense. Different aspect of miracles now and at the time
when the Revelation was given. Miracles attested by the Apostles, by our
Lord's character, by our Lord's power. Nature of evidence required to
prove miracles; not such as to put physical above spiritual evidence;
not such as to be unsuited to their own day. Impossibility of
demonstrating universal uniformity. Revelation no obstacle to the
progress of Science.



1 Corinthians xii. 3.

_No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost._

Uniformity of nature not demonstrated, but established, except in two
cases; the interference of human will and of Divine Will. The exception
no bar to the progress of Science. Unity to be found not in the physical
world, but in the physical and moral combined. The Moral Law rests on
itself. Our recognition of it on our own character and choice. But we
expect it to show its marks in the physical world: and these are the
purpose visible in Creation, the effects produced by Revelation.
Nevertheless a demand for more physical evidence; but the physical
cannot be allowed to overshadow the spiritual. Dangers to believers from
leaning this way: superstition; blindness; stagnation. The guarantee for
spiritual perceptiveness: to take Jesus as the Lord of the conscience,
the heart, the will.



The subject introduced: Scientific belief. Mathematics and Metaphysics
excluded. The Postulate of Science: the Uniformity of Nature. Hume's
account of it. Kant's account of it. Insufficiency of both accounts.
Science traced back to observation of the Human Will. The development of
Science from this origin. The increasing generality of the Postulate:
which nevertheless can never attain to universality.



'O Lord, how manifold are Thy works: in wisdom hast Thou made them
all; the earth is full of Thy riches.' - _Psalm_ civ. 24.

Those who believe that the creation and government of the world are the
work of a Being Whom it is their duty to love with all their hearts, Who
loves them with a love beyond all other love, to Whom they look for
guidance now and unending happiness hereafter, have a double motive for
studying the forms and operations of Nature; because over and above
whatever they may gain of the purest and highest pleasure in the study,
and whatever men may gain of material comfort in a thousand forms from
the results of the study, they cannot but have always present to their
minds the thought, that all these things are revelations of His
character, and to know them is in a very real measure to know Him. The
believer in God, if he have the faculty and the opportunity, cannot find
a more proper employment of time and labour and thought than the study
of the ways in which God works and the things which God has made. Among
religious men we ought to expect to find the most patient, the most
truth-seeking, the most courageous of men of science.

We know that it is not always so; and that on the contrary Science and
Religion seem very often to be the most determined foes to each other
that can be found. The scientific man often asserts that he cannot find
God in Science; and the religious man often asserts that he cannot find
Science in God. Each often believes himself to be in possession, if not
of the whole truth, at any rate of all the truth that it is most
important to possess. Science seems to despise religion; and religion to
fear and condemn Science. Religion, which certainly ought to put truth
at the highest, is charged with refusing to acknowledge truth that has
been proved. And Science, which certainly ought to insist on
demonstrating every assertion which it makes, is charged with giving the
rein to the imagination and treating the merest speculations as
well-established facts.

To propose to reconcile these opposites would be a task which hardly any
sane man would undertake. It would imply a claim to be able to rise at
once above both, and see the truth which included all that both could
teach. But it is a very useful undertaking, and not beyond the reach of
thoughtful inquiry by an ordinary man, to examine the relations between
the two, and thus to help not a few to find a way for themselves out of
the perplexity. And this inquiry may well begin by asking what is the
origin and nature of scientific belief on the one hand and of religious
belief on the other. In this Lecture I propose to deal with the former.

It is not necessary to include in the Science of which I am to speak
either Mathematics or Metaphysics. In as far as I need touch on what
belongs to either, it will be only for the purpose of answering
objections or of excluding what is irrelevant. And the consequent
restriction of our consideration to the Science which concerns itself
with Nature greatly simplifies the task that I have undertaken. For it
will be at once admitted in the present day by all but a very few that
the source of all scientific knowledge of this kind is to be found in
the observations of the senses, including under that word both the
bodily senses which tell us all we know of things external, and that
internal sense by which we know all or nearly all that takes place
within the mind itself. And so also will it be admitted that the Supreme
Postulate, without which scientific knowledge is impossible, is the
Uniformity of Nature.

Science lays claim to no revelations. No voice of authority declares
what substances there are in the world, what are the properties of those
substances, what are the effects and operations of those properties. No
traditions handed down from past ages can do anything more than transmit
to us observations made in those times, which, so far as we can trust
them, we may add to the observations made in our own times. The
materials in short which Science has to handle are obtained by

But on the other hand Science can deal with these materials only on the
condition that they are reducible to invariable laws. If any observation
made by the senses is not capable of being brought under the laws which
are found to govern all other observations, it is not yet brought under
the dominion of Science. It is not yet explained, nor understood. As far
as Science is concerned, it may be called as yet non-existent. It is for
this very reason possible that the examination of it may be of the very
greatest importance. To explain what has hitherto received no
explanation constitutes the very essence of scientific progress. The
observation may be imperfect, and may at once become explicable as soon
as it is made complete; or, what is of far more value, it may be an
instance of the operation of a new law not previously known, modifying
and perhaps absorbing the law up to that time accepted. When it was
first noticed in Galileo's time that water would not ascend in the
suction pipe of a pump to a greater height than 32 feet, the old law
that nature abhors a vacuum was modified, and the reasons why and the
conditions under which Nature abhors a vacuum were discovered. The
suction of fluids was brought under the general law of mechanical
pressure. The doctrine that Nature abhorred a vacuum had been a fair
generalization and expression of the facts of this kind that up to that
time had been observed. A new fact was observed which would not fall
under the rule. The examination of this fact led to the old rule being
superseded; and Science advanced a great step at once. So in our own day
was the planet Neptune discovered by the observation of certain facts
which could not be squared with the facts previously observed unless the
Law of Gravitation was to be corrected. The result in this case was not
the discovery of a new Law but of a new Planet; and consequently a great
confirmation of the old Law. But in each case and in every similar case
the investigation of the newly observed fact proceeds on the assumption
that Nature will be found uniform, and on no other assumption can
Science proceed at all.

Now it is this assumption which must be first examined. What is its
source? What is its justification? What, if any, are its limits?

It is not an assumption that belongs to Science only. It is in some
form or other at the bottom of all our daily life. We eat our food on
the assumption that it will nourish us to-day as it nourished us
yesterday. We deal with our neighbours in the belief that we may safely
trust those now whom we have trusted and safely trusted heretofore. We
never take a journey without assuming that wood and iron will hold a
carriage together, that wheels will roll upon axles, that steam will
expand and drive the piston of an engine, that porters and stokers and
engine-drivers will do their accustomed duties. Our crops are sown in
the belief that the earth will work its usual chemistry, that heat and
light and rain will come in their turn and have their usual effects, and
the harvest will be ready for our gathering in the autumn. Look on while
a man is tried for his life before a jury. Every tittle of the evidence
is valued both by the judge and jury according to its agreement or
disagreement with what we believe to be the laws of Nature, and if a
witness asserts that something happened which, as far as we know, never
happened at any other time since the world began, we set his evidence
aside as incredible. And the prisoner is condemned if the facts before
us, interpreted on the assumption that the ordinary laws of Nature have
held their course, appear to prove his guilt.

What right have we to make such an assumption as this?

The question was first clearly put by Hume, and was handled by him with
singular lucidity; but his answer, though very near the truth, was not
so expressed as to set the question at rest.

The main relation in which the uniformity of Nature is observed is that
of cause and effect. Hume examines this and maintains that there is
absolutely nothing contained in it but the notion of invariable
sequence. Two phenomena are invariably found connected together; the
prior is spoken of as the cause, the posterior as the effect. But there
is absolutely nothing in the former to define its relation to the
latter, except that when the former is observed the latter, as far as we
know, invariably follows. A ball hits another ball of equal size, both
being free to move. There is nothing by which prior to experience we
can determine what will happen next. It is just as conceivable that the
moving ball should come back or should come to rest, as that the ball
hitherto at rest should begin to move. A magnet fastened to a piece of
wood is floating on water. Another magnet held in the hand is brought
very near one of its poles or ends. If two north poles are thus brought
together the floating magnet is repelled; if a north and a south pole
are brought together the floating magnet is attracted. The motion of the
floating magnet is in each case called the effect; the approach of the
magnet held in the hand is called the cause. And this cause is, as far
as we know, invariably followed by this effect. But to say that one is
cause and the other effect is merely to say that one is always followed
by the other; and no other meaning, according to Hume, can be attached
to the words cause and effect.

Having established this interpretation of these words, Hume goes on to
ask: What can be the ground in reason for the principle universally
adopted, that the law of cause and effect rules phenomena, and that a
cause which has been followed by an effect once will be followed by the
same effect always? And he concludes that no rational ground can be
found at all, that it is the mere result of custom without anything
rational behind it. We are accustomed to see it so, and what we have
been so perpetually accustomed to see we believe that we shall continue
to see. But why what has always been hitherto should always be
hereafter, no reason whatever can be given. The logical conclusion
obviously is to discredit all human faculties and to land us in
universal scepticism.

It was at this point that Kant took up the question, avowedly in
consequence of Hume's reasoning. He considered that Hume had been misled
by turning his attention to Physics, and that his own good sense would
have saved him from his conclusion had he thought rather of Mathematics.
Kant's solution of the problem, based mainly on the reality of
Mathematics, and especially of Geometry, is the direct opposite of

It will be most easy to give a clear account of Kant's solution by using
a very familiar illustration. There is a well-known common toy called a
Kaleidoscope, in which bits of coloured glass placed at one end are seen
through a small round hole at the other. The bits of glass are not
arranged in any order whatever, and by shaking the instrument may be
rearranged again and again indefinitely and still without any order
whatever. But however they may be arranged in themselves they always
form, as seen from the other end, a symmetrical pattern. The pattern
indeed varies with every shake of the instrument and consequent
re-arrangement of the bits of glass, but it is invariably symmetrical.
Now the symmetry in this case is not in the bits of glass; the colours
are there no doubt, but the symmetrical arrangement of them is not. The
symmetry is entirely due to the instrument. And if a competent enquirer
looks into the instrument and examines its construction, he will be able
to lay down with absolute certainty the laws of that symmetry which
every pattern as seen through the instrument must obey.

Just such an instrument, according to Kant, is the human mind. Space
and Time and the Perceptive Faculties are the parts of the instrument.
Everything that reaches the senses must submit to the laws of Space and
Time, that is, to the Laws of Mathematics, because Space and Time are
forms of the mind itself, and, like the kaleidoscope, arrange all things
on their way to the senses according to a pattern of their own. This
pattern is as it were super-added to the manifestations that come from
the things themselves; and if there be any manifestations of such a
nature that they could not submit to this addition, or, in other words,
could not submit to Mathematical Laws, these manifestations could not
affect our senses at all. So too our Understanding has a pattern of its
own which it imposes on all things that reach its power of perception.
What cannot be accommodated to this pattern cannot be understood at all.
Whatever things may be in themselves, their manifestations are not
within the range of our intelligence, except by passing through the
arranging process which our own mind executes upon them.

It is clear that this wonderfully ingenious speculation rests its
claims for acceptance purely on the assertion that it and it alone
explains the facts. It cannot be proved from any principle of reason. It
assumes that there is a demonstrative science of Mathematics quite
independent of experience, and that there are necessary principles of
Physics equally independent of experience. And it accounts for the
existence of these.

With Mathematics we are not now concerned, and I will pass them by with
only one remark. The ground on which Kant's theory stands is not
sufficient, for this simple reason. It accounts for one fact; it does
not account for another fact. It accounts for the fact that we attach
and cannot help attaching a conviction of necessity to all mathematical
reasoning. We not only know that two straight lines cannot enclose a
space, but we know that this is so and must be so in all places and at
all times, and we know it without any proof whatever. This fact Kant
accounts for. Space is according to him a part of our kaleidoscope; you
can always look into it and see for yourself what are the laws of it.
But there is another fact. This space of which we are speaking is
unquestionably to our minds not a thing inside of us but outside of us.
We are in it. We cannot get rid of a sense that it is independent of
ourselves. We can imagine ourselves non-existing, minds and all. We
cannot imagine space non-existing. If it be a part of our minds, how is
it that we can picture to ourselves the non-existence of the mind which
is the whole, but not the non-existence of space which, according to the
hypothesis, is the part? For this fact, which we commonly call the
objectivity of space, Kant's theory does not account. In fact Kant
appears to have no escape from assigning this objectivity of space to
delusion. But a theory which requires us to call an ineradicable
conviction of consciousness a delusion cannot be said to explain all the
facts. John Stuart Mill maintains that the other fact, namely, the
conviction of the necessity of mathematical truth, is a delusion. And
his account also must be pronounced for that reason to fail in
accounting for all the facts.

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