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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Presented by'XDr*. O .<^~^0\ \ Von .







7 1914








fredp:rick, lord bishop of exeter


[ ^1// riyhts rcsencd ]







" I give and bequeath my Lands and Estates to

" the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the Univer-
" sity 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 re-
" mainder to the endowment of eight Divinity Lecture
" Sermons, to be established for ever in the said Univer-
" sity, 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 com-

vi Extract from Canon B amp tons Will.

" mencement 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 p)reach 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 twice."




Psalm civ. 24.

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


The subject introduced : Scientific belief. Mathe-
matics 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
Humati Will. The development of Science from this
origin. The increasing generality of the Postulate :
which nevertheless can never attain to universality . i


Genesis i. 27.

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God
created He him.

The voice within. The objection of the alleged rela-
tivity 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

viii Contents.


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 ......... 35



Genesis i. 27.

So God created man in His ow7i image, in the image of God
created He him.

Contradiction of Free-Will to doctrine of Unifor-
mity. Butler's examination of the question. Hume's
solution. Kant's solution. Determinism. The real
result of examination of the facts. Intei'ference of the
will always possible, but comparatively rare. The
need of a fixed nature for our self-discipline, and so
for our spiritual life . . . . . . -67



Romans i. 20.

For the.invisible things 0/ 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

Contents. ix


objections to it. Argument from progi-ess; from
beautyl; from unity. The conflict not real . -97



Hebrews i. i.

God, wlio at sundry times and in divers manners spake in
time past to the Fathers by the Projyhets, hath in these last
days S2)oken to us by His Son.

The evolution of Knowledge. Does not affect the
truth of Science. Nor of Religion. Special charac-
teristic of evolution of Religious Knowledge, that it
is due to Revelation. All higlier Religions have
claimed to be Revelations. The evolution of Reli-
gious Knowledge in the Old Testament ; yet the
Old Testament a Revelation. Still more the New
Testament. The miraculous clement in Revelation.
Its place and need. Harmony of this mode of evo-
lution with the teaching of the Spiritual Faculty . 125



Psalm c. 3.

Knoio ye that the Lord He is God : it is He that hath
made us, and not u<e oiirselves.

Evolution examined. The formation of the habit-
able world. The formation of the creatures which
inhabit it. Transmission of characteristics. Varia-
tions perpetually introduced. Natural .selection. On
the other side, life not yet accounted for by Evolution.

X Contents.


Cause of variations not yet examined. INIoral 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 . 159



St. John xiv. 1 1.

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 requii-ed to
prove miracles ; not such as to put physical above
spiritual evidence ; not such as to be unsuited to their
own day. Impossilnlity of demonstrating universal
uniformity. Revelation no obstacle to the progress of
Science . , . . . . . . .191


I Corinthians xii. 3.'

No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, hut by the
Holy Ghost.

L^nifoi-mity of nature not demonstrated, but estab-
lished, except in two cases ; the interference of human

Contents. xi


will and of Divine Will. The exception no bar to the
jirogress of Science. Unity to be found not in the
physical world, but in the physical and moral com-
bined. The Moral Law rests on itself. Our recog-
nition 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 Eevelation. 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 ; blind-
ness ; stagnation. The guarantee for spiritual percep-
tiveness : to take Jesus as the Lord of the conscience,
the heart, the will . . . . . . .223



Tlie subject introduced : Scientific belief. Mathematics
and Metaj)hysics 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.

fTlHOSE 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 can-
not but have always present to their minds

B 2

4 Origin and Nature of [Lect.

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

We know that it is not always so ; and that
on the contrary Science and Eeligion 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 con-
demn Science. Eehgion, which certainly ought
to put truth at the highest, is charged with
refusing to acknowledge truth that has been

I.] Scientific Belief. 5

proved. And Science, which certainly ought
to insist on demonstrating every assertion wliich
it makes, is charged with giving the rein to
the imagination and treating the merest specu-
lations 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

6 Origin and Nature of [beet.

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 Uni-
formity 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 experience.

I.] Scientific Belief, 7

But on the other hand Science can deal with
these materials only on the condition that they
are reducible to invariable laws. If any ob-
servation 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 ob-
servation may be imperfect, and may at once
become explicable as soon as it is made com-
plete ; or, what is of far more value, it may be
an instance of tlie operation of a new law not
previously known, modifying and perhaps ab-
sorbing 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

S Origin mid Nature of [Lect.

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 ob-
served. 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 dis-
covered by the observation of certam 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 ob-
served 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 \

I.] Scientific Belief. 9

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 ac-
customed 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 whicli, as far
as we know, never happened at any other time

lo Origin and Nature of [Lect,

since the world began, we set his evidence aside
as incredible. And the piisoner is condemned
if the facts before us, interpreted on the assump-
tion that the ordinary laws of Nature have held
their course, appear to prove his guilt.

What right have we to make such an assump-
tion 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 phe-
nomena are invariably found connected toge-
ther; 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, invari-
ably follows. A ball hits another ball of equal
size, both being free to move. There is nothing

I.] Scientific Belief. 1 1

by which prior to experience we can determine
what will happen next. It is just as conceiv-
able 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 fast-
ened 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 float-
ing 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 tliis 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

12 Origin and Nature of [Lect.

has been followed by an effect once will be
followed by the same effect always? And he
conckides 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 w^ould have
saved him from his conclusion had he thought
rather of Mathematics, Kant's solution of the
problem, based mainly on the reality of Mathe-
matics, and especially of Geometry, is the direct
opposite of Hume's.

It will be most easy to give a clear account
of Kant's solution by using a very familiar

I.] Scientific Belief. 13

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 re-
arranged again and again indefinitely and stiU
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 con-
sequent 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 cer-
tainty the laws of that symmetry which every
pattern as seen through the instrument must

Just such an instrument, according to Kant,

14 Origin and Nature of [Lect.

is the human mind. Space and Time and the
Perceptive Faculties are the parts of the in-
strument. 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 superadded 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

I.] Scientific Belief. 15

speculation rests its claims for acceptance purely
on the assertion that it and it alone explains
the facts. It cannot be proved from any prin-
ciple 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 inde-
pendent 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 ac-
counts 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 enclose
a space, but we know that this is so and must
be so in aU 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.

1 6 Origin and Nature of [Lect.

This space of which we are speaking is unques-
tionably 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 inde-

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Online LibraryFrederick TempleThe relations between religion and science : eight lectures preached before the University of Oxford in the year 1884 .. → online text (page 1 of 12)