(2) Science vs. Theology: Andrew D. White

nord at mail.atw.earthreach.com nord at mail.atw.earthreach.com
Thu Mar 5 09:57:24 EST 1998








And now a few words regarding the evolution of this book.

It is something over a quarter of a century since I labored with
Ezra Cornell in founding the university which bears his honored

Our purpose was to establish in the State of New York an
institution for advanced instruction and research, in which
science, pure and applied, should have an equal place with
literature; in which the study of literature, ancient and modern,
should be emancipated as much as possible from pedantry; and
which should be free from various useless trammels and vicious
methods which at that period hampered many, if not most, of the
American universities and colleges.

We had especially determined that the institution should be under
the control of no political party and of no single religious
sect, and with Mr. Cornell's approval I embodied stringent
provisions to this effect in the charter.

It had certainly never entered into the mind of either of us that
in all this we were doing anything irreligious or unchristian.
Mr. Cornell was reared a member of the Society of Friends; he
had from his fortune liberally aided every form of Christian
effort which he found going on about him, and among the permanent
trustees of the public library which he had already founded, he
had named all the clergymen of the town--Catholic and Protestant.
As for myself, I had been bred a churchman, had recently been
elected a trustee of one church college, and a professor in
another; those nearest and dearest to me were devoutly religious;
and, if I may be allowed to speak of a matter so personal to my
self, my most cherished friendships were among deeply religious
men and women, and my greatest sources of enjoyment were
ecclesiastical architecture, religious music, and the more devout
forms of poetry.  So, far from wishing to injure Christianity, we
both hoped to promote it; but we did not confound religion with
sectarianism, and we saw in the sectarian character of American
colleges and universities as a whole, a reason for the poverty of
the advanced instruction then given in so many of them.

It required no great acuteness to see that a system of control
which, in selecting a Professor of Mathematics or Language or
Rhetoric or Physics or Chemistry, asked first and above all to
what sect or even to what wing or branch of a sect he belonged,
could hardly do much to advance the moral, religious, or
intellectual development of mankind.


Posted by Robert E. Nordlander
nord at mail.atw.earthreach.com
March 5, 1998

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