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Science and Faith



Science & Faith


Edited by

(Editor of "Good Citizenship")


George Allen, 156 Charing Cross Road

New York : Longmans, Green, & Co.


All rights reserved



Published June 1904
Reprinted February 1905


FOR several centuries Religion and Science have
been much at enmity sometimes in open warfare,
sometimes in covert hostilities. Round these two
great interests social alliances, temporal and spir-
itual, have grouped themselves. Religion has re-
ceived a wavering and intermittent support from
Philosophy, and has enjoyed an alliance bickering
yet abiding with the Governing Classes, Military,
Political, and Juristic. Science has been in alliance
always unorganised and generally unconscious
with Industry; from the first with the Mechanical
Crafts, and of late increasingly with the great vital
activities of Agriculture, Health Maintenance, and

A new grouping is now beginning to appear.
That the feud between Religion and Science will
wholly disappear is perhaps more than can be hoped
for under present circumstances; but on all sides
is a growing recognition that the ideals common to
both Religion and Science are not only numerous,
but are indeed the very ideals for which the nobler





spirits on both sides care most. Hence it is that
men of science and theologians alike evince an in-
creasing desire for mutual toleration, sometimes even
for some measure of co-operation, if not positive
alliance. That is a position from which the deepest
and most practical minds on both sides have never
been far removed.

Thus at the present time not a few leaders of
thought formerly ranged in opposing camps are
beginning to forecast the possibilities of such new
groupings, even to suggest co-operative campaigns
on behalf of the ideals common to both the theo-
logical and scientific thought of to-day.

As a recent notable example of the approach
toward religious problems from the side of physical
science the Editor has to express his indebtedness
for the permission to reprint SlR OLIVER LODGE'S
papers in the Hibbert Journal. The HON. BER-
TRAND RUSSELL'S paper in this volume is reprinted
by kind permission of the Editor of the Independent

The further definition of the ideals of the sciences,
their correspondence with those of faith, their appli-
cation to life, are the questions which the Editor of
this volume has proposed to the remaining writers,
whom he has invited as representatives of different
standpoints. Each writer, of course, remains exclu-



sively responsible for his own contribution. Their
answers complete the present volume of papers.

My warmest thanks are due to each writer. The
compilation of this collection would never have been
attempted without the concurrence and advice of
my friends, Professor PATRICK GEDDES, Mr. VICTOR



March 7, 1904.








Sir Oliver Lodge, D.Sc., LL.D., F.R.S.

Principal of the University of Birmingham


Professor J. Arthur Thomson, M.A.
Natural History Department, University of Aberdeen
Professor Patrick Geddes

University Hall, Edinburgh


Professor John H. Muirhead, M.A., LL.D.
Professor of Philosophy, University of Birmingham

Victor V. Branford, M.A.

Honorary Secretary, The Sociological Society


Hon. Bertrand Russell

Author of" The Principles of Mathematics? etc.




Professor Patrick Geddes

University Hall, Edinburgh



The Rev. John Kelman, M.A.
Author of" The Faith of Robert Louis Stevenson," etc.


The Rev. Ronald Bayne, M.A.
Editor " Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" etc.,
Fifth Book

The Rev. Philip Napier Waggett, M.A.

Author of " Science and Religion "


Wilfrid Ward, B.A.

Author of " Witnesses to the Unseen," etc.



OF essays like the following, written from such
widely different standpoints, and expressing the
fullest independence of thought and treatment, the
reader will not expect a summing-up of the essen-
tial thoughts, much less a positive conclusion. Our
task is mainly to introduce, in the simple and social
sense, independent writers, who have never before
written together, and who will not in most cases,
until this volume appears, see how they may have
respectively treated their subject.

Under these circumstances both particular and
general appreciation must be left to the reader. Yet
the Editor may be allowed to amplify the general
purpose of the volume, which distinguishes it from a
mere group of magazine articles, beyond the scanty
outline of the preface; he may make a somewhat
fuller statement as befits one whose task has been
to suggest a discussion, but who does not seek to
close it.

His general point of view is in the first place
retrospective; it is analytical, also, of the present
situation ; it is hopeful, too, as regards the future
though not professing to lift the veil.

The Mediaeval Church was the custodian of the
knowledge of the times, as well as of its faith : that



at its best it added new gold to the treasury, minted
it, even circulated it, has once and again been gen-
erously recognised by the man of science ; that at its
worst it not only hid it in a napkin, but buried it, or
sometimes even cast it away, is frankly avowed by
the theologian. And since tragic incident impresses
us even more than every-day well-being, history has
preserved many instances of the repression of knowl-
edge, many tales of the struggle for the emancipa-
tion of scientific thought from the limits imposed
by the theology, or rather the theologians, of the

The story of how secular knowledge became grad-
ually segregated off, is from both the theologian's
and the scientist's point of view tragic enough ; nor
is it needful here to recall the increasing seriousness
of opposition and of conflict, century after century.
That much once called religion was prompted by
good and bad motives, sometimes by preoccupation
with the things of the spirit, by loyalty to historic
predecessors, sometimes by timidity, bewilderment,
jealousy, is confessed by the theologian, while the
historian of science may also admit limitations to his
heroes, as well as incompleteness in their thought.

For three centuries campaign has thus been suc-
ceeding campaign. The Cosmos is not geocentric ;
the earth is very old ; man not only has a right but
is bound to use his intelligence; geology does not
square with Genesis ; the history of things shows not
a simultaneous creation of things as they stand, but



a coming and becoming of them evolution thus
appearing contrasted with creation.

Man is very old, the historic period comparatively
new ; man seems a product of animal evolution ;
anthropology reveals that his social evolution also
has been from hard struggle and humble conditions;
it not only seeks to describe the rise of material
civilisation, but even the evolution of religions.
Criticism anthropological and criticism historical
converge upon the sacred books, and treat them
as natural developments too.

The observation of religious developments, from
the common types of childhood, adolescence, matu-
rity or age, to the rarest personalities of genius is
beginning. There seems, in fact, no limit to the ad-
vance of science ; while its more audacious devotees
show now and then some tendency to ascend the
tripod, and have even claimed in the name of science
to erect new altars.

What mainly have been the tactics of the theolo-
gian, apart from mere recourse to Index or personal
ban, to action political rather than theological?
Most commonly, of course, he has resisted this ad-
vance with dialectic might and main, and thus may
claim to have been, if not welcome to the individual
man of science, at least useful to his fellows or suc-
cessors, as testing his assumptions and detecting
crudities and incompleteness. This defence has had
its distinguished sorties, though such sharp right-
ing seems to have ceased for a time. Often, too, the



theologian has retired into his fastnesses, where the
man of science could not follow him, but only stand
outside and cry, " Mysticism Metaphysics," or the
like, with how much of relevancy we need not here
investigate. What concerns us is that a few have
made attempts towards mutual understanding.

Is the scientific man who boasts of victory in any
of the above-named controversies quite generous to
the theologian whom he calls defeated? And must
he not recognise that even what may be defeat to
one generation may be loyally accepted by the next,
which may even incorporate the new order so fully
as hardly to understand the difficulties of the old?

If we look beyond the militant scientists, each so
commonly a specialist fighting for his own hand, and
ignoring all else, we see that many men of science
have felt more or less completely that the theologian
has still his own problems, distinct from those of
physical and natural science. Some prefer to ignore
these problems, are mere Gallios ; others keep abso-
lute silence, even practically conceal the fact that
questions assail them which their science cannot
answer. Others, recognising the growing tendency
of science to unity, have sought to formulate a
scientific synthesis, and to find within its range scope
for the feelings which have been hitherto met by
the historic religions. Others again deny both the
scientific and the theological synthesis. Seldom
indeed do men of science and theology meet to
think and talk these matters over. It is this atti-



tude which gives its character to the present volume.
It will be easy for the critic to point out insufficient
unity of treatment ; but that physicist and biologist,
psychologist and educationalist, sociologist and mor-
alist, who thus by themselves represent the main ele-
ments for scientific synthesis, that active members,
too, of great religious communions, should all here
meet, is in itself a great advance towards unity; so
that this small initial volume, without, of course, in
any way claiming to be epoch-making in thought,
may, none the less, be an epoch-marking one. The
spirit enclosed in the covers of this book may be-
come more consciously present in life and action.
For when so many are not only faithfully seeking to
see the thing as it is, but to make it what it should
be, some progress towards the Kingdom of the Ideal
is surely at hand.

Without claiming or expecting too much from our
symposium, it is something to recognise that many
of the older causes of friction have here disappeared,
after eras of conflict and of compromise. Not only
is the old bitterness absent from these pages, but
better feeling has replaced it, with correspondingly
modest and temperate expression, with logical care
of terminology and method, and consequent absence
of the old bickerings over what are, after all, mere
side-issues ; better still, we see no longer on either
side the old misunderstanding of the distinctness of
the respective aims of scientist and theologian. Now
that Genesis is no longer defended as a geological



primer, it is also no longer attacked as one. Later
forms of the same confusion are also avoided, as, for
instance, those which too long lingered in the dis-
cussions of organic or anthropological evolution and
which are not yet extinct upon more recent planes.
For it must not be forgotten that our current termi-
nology was mainly evolved during this older state of

To remove these causes of friction is itself, then, a
great step ; but we need more even to approach a
true Eirenikon. No doubt each statement of the
larger issues of each science, of the larger standpoint
of each of the Churches, makes notably for harmony,
since each of us is thus helped to see the other at
his best, and to consider his main position without
reference to the accessories or details which may too
easily disguise this.

This stage, therefore, we may claim the essays of
our volume reach : indeed, rather, that this is their
very starting-point. Narrow have been the limits
of space necessarily imposed on each writer, yet
they express much of the characteristic attitude and
aims of the cultivators of the great fields of science,
of the thoughtful adherents and exponents of great
historic divisions of the religious world ; the general
impression from reading them will help us to realise
what is the aim of science, and what is the aim of
theology, indeed of religion.

Science is not merely observing the actual world
of phenomena, but is organising an ever-increasing



yet ever-unifying body of interpretative conceptual
formulae ; and these have real and vital relations
to life as a whole, knowledge leading to foresight,
and foresight to more organised action, educational,
social, moral, no less than physical, industrial, or
hygienic. This the theologian not only generally
admits but increasingly realises. He in turn may
ask the man of science: may not theology in its
turn become more intelligible to you as a system of
transcendental formulae, which has long practically
helped to unify life, which does still thus help many,
and which therefore, no doubt, in fuller and fuller
correlation with the formulations of science, may
thus aid again? Our thought has no doubt at times
been fixed, and even arrested; but you yourselves
have helped us to recognise that its past is one of
evolution; well, what if it be now beginning to
evolve again? Are you evolutionists if you deny us
a future? On what grounds can you assume our
mere disappearance? May not, must not our atti-
tudes, scientific and theological, be in some way
complementary rather than opposed?

In these pages we see the man of science stating
anew the world-old problems of the religions, the
religions, too, regarding their quondam assailant with
sympathetic appreciation, not hostility. Has not the
attitude of contemporary science been largely ex-
pressed by one of its most active workers in the
notable saying that " science is now indeed con-
ceived, but not yet born"? And is not the theo-
l> xvii


logian, even he who attaches most significance to his
historic concept of the Church, also admitting, or
rather more and more fully realising, that the Church
in its ideal and triumphant sense is but unborn?

A recent writer, 1 has insisted freshly on the need of
clearer distinction, yet ever-renewing unity between
the elemental sense of things from the standpoint of
observational science, and their widest significance ;
that is, their fullest denotations and connotations,
from the highest standpoint of our mental, moral,
social, religious evolution. It is from the former ele-
mental and inductive standpoint that the scientist
finds his start-point and refuge, but from the latter
the theologian. Yet at these two extremes neither
can remain : each must progress to meet the other ;
each, too, must act in life, must organise action.
Hence their " meaning," their intention may often
clash, may often be divergent, perhaps still more
often seem so. Yet is not the mutual translation
of the many languages of the sciences, the common
translation, too, of the many idioms of the different
schools of theology, now becoming possible? And
this even to plain and busy men? Must not all
these complete one another, nor any longer de-
sire the exclusion of any? Let the religious be-
come scientific, and the scientific religious; then
there may be peace. But the only true peace is
active peace, constructive peace. The elemental
scientific thought and action are evidently, as these
1 V. Welby, What is Meaning? Macmillan, 1902.


pages show, not only growing inductively, but
grasping deductively, feeling, idealising. And so
conversely for the theologian's transcendental view.
Since the man of science has learned and taught
much of unsuspected unity amid the variety of
Nature, so may not the theologian also learn more
and more of unity amid the many aspects of the
Ideal? and so even come to teach anew? And
since this increasing knowledge of the phenomenal
order has already yielded such new arts, transform-
ing material life, and thence reacting both for good
and evil upon the intellectual and moral life also,
upon the social and the religious, may not, must
not the transcendental idealist again not only rein-
terpret, but reorganise and reconstruct? As the
science of each historic period has grown towards
a synthesis, a philosophy, so the arts of each period
have correspondingly gained their unification from
religion, their highest expression in cult. What
theologian, then, observing this vast modern devel-
opment of arts and sciences, need fail to see in these
the preparation of new resources, not only for the
new Academy, the new Republic, but for the new
Cathedral also ; nor fear to see, upon that nobler
Athens, towards which arts and sciences are con-
verging, the descent of a yet nobler City of the
Ideal, a New Jerusalem indeed?





Principal of the University of Birmingham



IT is widely recognised at the present day that the
modern spirit of scientific inquiry has in the main
exerted a wholesome influence upon Theology, clear-
ing it of much encumbrance of doubtful doctrine,
freeing it from slavery to the literal accuracy of his-
torical records, and reducing the region of the mirac-
ulous or the incredible, with which it used to be
almost conterminous, to a comparatively small area.

Benefit is likely to continue as true science ad-
vances, but it by no means follows that the nature of
the benefit will always be that of a clearing and unload-
ing process. There must always come a time when
such a process has gone far enough, and when some
positive contribution may be expected. Whether
such a time has now arrived or not is clearly open to
question, but I think it will be admitted that orthodox
science at present though it shows some sign of ab-
staining from virulent criticism, is still a long way from
itself constituting any support of religious creeds;


Ideals of Science and Faith

nor are its followers ready to admit that they have as
yet gone too far, perhaps not even far enough, in the
negative direction. No doubt it must be admitted
by both sides that the highest Science and the truest
Theology must ultimately be mutually consistent, and
may be actually one ; but that is far from the case at
present. The term "Theology," as ordinarily used,
necessarily signifies nothing ultimate or divine; it
signifies only the present state of human knowledge
on theological subjects; and similarly the term
" Science," if similarly employed, represents no fetish
to be blindly worshipped as absolute truth, but merely
the present state of human knowledge on subjects
within its grasp, together with the practical con-
sequences deducible from such knowledge in the
opinion of the average scientific man : it means what
may be called, briefly, orthodox science, the orthodox
science of the present day, as set forth by its pro-
fessed exponents, and as indicated by the general
atmosphere or setting in which facts in every branch
of knowledge are now regarded by cultivated men.

It may be objected that there is no definite body
of doctrine which can be called orthodox science ;
and it is true that there is no formulated creed ; but
I suggest that there is more nearly an orthodox
science than there is an orthodox theology. Pro-
fessors of theology differ among themselves in a
somewhat conspicuous manner; and even in the
branch of it with which alone most Englishmen are
familiar, viz., Christian Theology, there are differences
of opinion on apparently important issues, as is evi-
denced by the existence of Sects, ranging from Uni-


A Physicist's Approach

tarians on the one side, to Greek and Roman Catholics
on the other. In science, sectarianism is less marked,
controversies rage chiefly round matters of detail, and
on all important issues its professors are agreed. This
general consensus of opinion on the part of experts,
a general consensus which the public are willing
enough to acquiesce in, and adopt as far as they can
understand, is what I mean by the term " science as
now understood," or, for brevity, " modern science."

Similarly, by religious doctrine we shall mean the
general consensus of theologians so far as they are
in agreement, especially perhaps the general con-
sensus of Christian theologians ; eliminating as far
as possible the presumably minor points on which
they differ, and eliminating also everything manifestly
below the level of dogma generally accepted at the
present day.

Now it must, I think, be admitted that the modern
scientific atmosphere, in spite of much that is whole-
some and nutritious, exercises some sort of blighting
influence upon religious ardour, and that the great
saints or seers have as a rule not been eminent for
their acquaintance with exact scientific knowledge,
but, on the contrary, have felt a distrust and a dislike
of that uncompromising quest for cold hard truth in
which the leaders of science are engaged ; and on the
other hand, that the leaders of science have shown an
aloofness from, if not a hostility for, the theoretical
aspects of religion. In fact, it may be held that the
general drift or atmosphere of modern science is
adverse to the highest religious emotion, because
hostile to many of the doctrines and beliefs upon


Ideals of Science and Faith

which such an exalted state of feeling must be based,
if it is to be anything more than a wave of transient

Nevertheless, we must admit that there have been
men of science, there must be many now living, who
accept fully the facts and implications of science, who
accept also the creeds of the Church, and who do not
keep the two sets of ideas in water-tight compartments
of their minds, but do distinctly perceive a reconciling
and fusing element.

If we proceed to ask what is this reconciling
element, we find that it is neither science nor theol-
ogy, but that it is philosophy, or else it is poetry.
By aid of philosophy, or by aid of poetry, a great
deal can be accomplished. Mind and matter may
be then no longer two, but one; this material uni-
verse may then become the living garment of God ;
gross matter may be regarded as a mere inference,
a mode of apprehending an idealistic cosmic reality,
in which we live and move and have our being ; the
whole of existence can become infused and suffused
with immanent Deity.

No reconciliation would then be necessary between
the spiritual and the material, between the laws of
Nature and the will of God, because the two would
be but aspects of one all-comprehensive pantheistic

All this may possibly be in some sort true, but it
is not science as now understood. It is no more
science than are the creeds of the Churches. It is
a guess, an intuition, an inspiration perhaps, but
it is not a link in a chain of assured and reasoned


A Physicist's Approach

knowledge ; it can no more be clearly formulated in
words, or clearly apprehended in thought, than can
any of the high and lofty conceptions of religion. It
is, in fact, far more akin to religion than to science.
It is no solution of the knotty entanglement, but a
soaring above it; it is a reconciliation in excelsis.

Minds which can habitually rise to it are, ip so facto,
essentially religious, and are exercising their religious
functions ; they have flown off the dull earth of exact
knowledge into an atmosphere of faith.

But if this flight be possible, especially if it be ever
possible to minds engaged in a daily round of scien-

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