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though eloquent confirmation of the substantial correctness of the Mosaic chronology.
Is it not a remarkable fact, which shows the special supervision of God over His Church, that, in her long history, she has never formally interpreted a single text of Scripture which was afterward contradicted by any authenticated discovery of science? Nor were occasions wanting when, in the apparent interests of faith, she was tempted to give a false decision. For centuries the opinion obtained, seemingly supported by Scripture, that the earth was level. St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany in the eighth century, complained to the Holy See that an Irish bishop named Virgilius had taught that the earth was spherical, as science now demonstrates it to be. But the Holy See prudently abstained from rendering any decision on the subject.
2. Whenever any supposed scientific discovery conflicts with an acknowledged truth of revelation, we may rest assured that the alleged scientific facts have no reality, but are groundless assumptions and mere hypotheses with not even the merit of originality.
For instance, the Scripture declaration affirming the unity of the human species, was for a long time controverted by many scientists. They denied that all men could have sprung from the same stock; first, because the human family is characterized by so many types and colors; secondly, because they speak a variety of tongues having apparently no relation with one another; thirdly, because scientists believed it impossible, for want of adequate means
of transportation, that America and other newly discovered countries could have been peopled from any other nation.
But subsequent researches have shown the fallacy of their reasoning and confirmed the truth of the Biblical narrative. It is now admitted that climate, food, and habits of life have a marked influence on the color and physical formation of man. Philologists compute the number of languages and dialects spoken throughout the world to be over three thousand. They tell us that there are common principles governing the constitution of languages, which justify the opinion, if they do not conclusively demonstrate, that all languages can be traced to a single source.
It is now obvious to every one acquainted with geography how easily the aboriginal inhabitants of America could have passed over from Asia by the Behring Strait. A like solution applies to other inhabited places more recently discovered, as has been observed in a preceding chapter.
"Nothing is more strange," observes a recent writer, "than the incessant reproduction of old thoughts under the guise of new and advanced opinions. It would seem as if the human mind, with all its restless activity, were destined to revolve in an endless circle Professor Tyndall, addressing the world from the throne of modern science, repeats the thoughts of Democritus and Epicurus as the last guesses of the scientific mind.” 1
1 Blackwood's Magazine, November, 1874.
In fact, there is no class of men so dogmatic and so impatient of contradiction as certain modern scientists; and "this dogmatism is the more intolerable, as the so-called 'demonstrations' of one age have sometimes been the butt and ridicule of succeeding generations." Not content with cultivating their own field, they invade the region of theology and politics. They speak as if they had an exclusive diploma to treat of everything in heaven above, on the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth; and from their infallible judgment there must be no appeal. Mr. Tyndall recently wrote some very angry letters against Mr. Gladstone. The veteran statesman is denounced by the professor as a hoary rhetorician and a desperate gamester, because he presumed to advocate Home Rule for Ireland.
The position of the Catholic Church in reference to modern scientists may be thus briefly summarized: The Church fosters and encourages every department of science. But just because she is the friend of true science she is opposed to all false pretensions of science. There is as much difference between true and false science as there is between authority and despotism, liberty and license. When she hears a man advancing some crude theory at variance with the received doctrines of revelation,with the existence of God, for example, or His superintending providence or His wisdom or His sanctity; when she hears him advocating some hy
1 Creation's Testimony, C. V., p. 118.
pothesis opposed to the unity of the human species, to the spirituality and the immortality of the soul, to the future destiny of man, and to those other great doctrines that involve at once the dignity and moral responsibility of the human race, she knows that his assumptions must be false, because she knows that God's revelation must be true. She stands between such a man and the Divine Oracle of which she is the custodian; and when she sees him raise his profane hands and attempt to touch the temple of faith, she cries out, "Thus far shalt thou go and no farther!"
Will you not agree with us that she is right in raising her voice against groundless theories that desecrate the truth and poison its very source? How can we consent to forsake the sacred fountain at which our forefathers slaked their thirst for centuries, to run after some mirage that these modern philosophers have conjured up before our imagination? If God's revelation is at the mercy of every sciolist, what, then, becomes of those great and consoling truths underlying our social fabric? They are no more than shifting sands beneath our feet.
The pathway of time is strewn with the wreck of many an imposing scientific theory that once found favor in the opinion of men. And such will ever be the fate of those wild speculations and unfounded assumptions that impugn the truth of revelation. They may float for a time on the human mind like huge icebergs drifting along the ocean's current,