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with alarm the rapid strides of the natural sciences, and do all in their power to discourage the study of them altogether. You will be told, dear reader, by this modern school of thought, that the more you are attached to the teachings of Christian faith, the more will your judgment be warped-your intellect stunted, and the more you will be retarded in the investigation of scientific truth. They will try to persuade you that, in exploring the regions of science, you will be in constant danger of falling foul of some ecclesiastical ukase warning you away from the poisoned tree of knowledge, just as our primitive parents were forbidden to eat the fruit of a certain tree in Paradise. They will tell you that your path is likely to be intercepted by some Pope's bull, which may metaphorically gore you to death. They will, in a word, contend that, to enjoy full freedom in searching the secrets of the physical world, you must emancipate yourself from the intellectual restraints imposed on you by the Christian religion.
Such are the statements deliberately made in our times against Christian revelation. But though they are uttered by bearded men, we call them childish declamations. We call them also ungrateful assertions, since they are spoken by men who are indebted to Christianity for the very discoveries they have made. Many a Christian Moses has wandered for years through the wilderness of investigation, and died almost in sight of the promised land of scientific discovery. And his successors, guided by the path that he had opened, and who
might otherwise have died unknown after vain wanderings, entered the coveted territory and enjoyed its fruits. Even Mr. Tyndall avows that "the nineteenth century strikes its roots into the centuries gone by and draws nutriment from them." 1
The truth is, that how much soever scientists and theologians may quarrel among themselves, there will never be any collision, but the most perfect harmony will ever exist between science and religion, as we shall endeavor to demonstrate in the following pages.
There are, indeed, and there ever will remain, truths of religion difficult to be reconciled with facts of science. If the ideas of time and space and the relation of soul to body are beyond our comprehension, we cannot be expected with our unaided reason to explain away the apparent incongruities that we find between the unseen and the visible kingdom of the universe. But difficulties do not necessarily involve doubts, still less denials. If we hold the two ends of a chain, we know that the connection is complete, though some of the links may be concealed from us.
Science and Religion, like Martha and Mary, are sisters, because they are daughters of the same Father. They are both ministering to the same Lord, though in a different way. Science, like Martha, is busy about material things; Religion, like Mary, is kneeling at the feet of her Lord.
1On the Study of Physics.
The Christian religion teaches nothing but what has been revealed by Almighty God, or what is necessarily derived from revelation. God is truth. All truth comes from Him. He is the Author of all scientific truth, as He is the Author of all revealed truth. "The God who dictated the Bible," as Archbishop Ryan has happily said, "is the God who wrote the illuminated manuscript of the skies." You might as well expect that one ray of the sun would dim the light of another, as that any truth of revelation can be opposed to any truth of science. No truth of natural science can ever be opposed to any truth of revelation; nor can any truth of the natural order be at variance with any truth of the supernatural order. Truth differs from truth only as star differs from star,—each gives out the same pure light that reaches our vision across the expanse of the firmament.
Legitimate inquiries into the laws of nature are, therefore, no more impeded by the dogmas of faith than our bodily movements are obstructed by the laws of physics. Nay, more, we have the highest ecclesiastical authority for declaring that "not only can faith and reason never be opposed to each other, but that they mutually aid each other; for right reason demonstrates the foundations of faith and, enlightened by its light, cultivates the science of things divine, while faith frees and guards reason from errors and furnishes it with manifold knowledge."1
1 Vatican Council.
Revelation teaches us that this material world had a beginning; that it shall have an end; and that God created it to manifest His wisdom and power, and for man's use and benefit. Hence, so far from warping our judgment, stunting our intellect, or retarding us in the prosecution of scientific truth, Christian revelation will be like the sun lighting up our course in the path of science, like a landmark directing us onward in the road of truth, like a beacon-light cautioning us to avoid the quicksands upon which false science has often been shipwrecked.
Science, on the other hand, when studied with humility, reveals to us the intimate relations of the forces of nature with ope another, the unity of the laws governing them, and their subordination to a controlling Mind. In all its endeavors to follow up the changes and developments of the earth, it can never get beyond a certain first substance which is under the influence of certain forces, and under the dominion of certain laws.
In contemplating the universe and tracing the effect to the Cause, we are filled with the sentiments of the Royal Prophet: "The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of His hands.”1 No man can view St. Peter's dome without admiring the genius of Michel Angelo; neither can the thoughtful student contemplate the dome of heaven without associating in his mind the great Architect of nature. In beholding
1 Ps. XVIII., 2.
the vast firmament with its countless stars moving through boundless space, he is filled with a sense of God's immensity; for wherever creation is, there also is the Creator.
If from the top of a distant tower, we view a number of trains running in different directions, all arriving on schedule time at their respective stations, we admire the skill of the engineers, although they themselves are beyond the reach of our vision. And what are the numberless orbs of the universe, both stellar and planetary, but vast engines rushing through space with a velocity immeasurably greater than that of the fastest railroad car? Though often crossing one another, they never deviate from their course, never collide, nor are they ever precipitated through the abyss of space. Should we not admire the Divine Intelligence that controls these engines and that leads them with unvarying precision to their appointed destination?
The great luminary of day suggests to us the splendor of that uncreated "Light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world." rays, illumining our planet and penetrating its hidden recesses, are a fitting type to us of the all-seeing eye of God, of whom the Royal Prophet again says: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy face? If I ascend into heaven, thou art there; if I descend into hell, thou art present."2
1.John I., 9.
2 Ps. CXXXVIII., 7, 8.