(5) Science vs. Theology

nord at mail.atw.earthreach.com nord at mail.atw.earthreach.com
Thu Mar 5 10:15:45 EST 1998





# 5




This book is presented as a sort of Festschrift--a tribute to
Cornell University as it enters the second quarter-century of its
existence, and probably my last tribute.

The ideas for which so bitter a struggle was made at its
foundation have triumphed.  Its faculty, numbering over one
hundred and, fifty; its students, numbering but little short of
two thousand; its noble buildings and equipment; the munificent
gifts, now amounting to millions of dollars, which it has
received from public-spirited men and women; the evidences of
public confidence on all sides; and, above all, the adoption of
its cardinal principles and main features by various institutions
of learning in other States, show this abundantly.  But there has
been a triumph far greater and wider.  Everywhere among the
leading modern nations the same general tendency is seen.  During
the quarter-century just past the control of public instruction,
not only in America but in the leading nations of Europe, has
passed more and more from the clergy to the laity.  Not only are
the presidents of the larger universities in the United States,
with but one or two exceptions, laymen, but the same thing is
seen in the old European strongholds of metaphysical theology.
At my first visit to Oxford and Cambridge, forty years ago, they
were entirely under ecclesiastical control.  Now, all this is
changed.  An eminent member of the present British Government has
recently said, "A candidate for high university position is
handicapped by holy orders."  I refer to this with not the
slightest feeling of hostility toward the clergy, for I have
none; among them are many of my dearest friends; no one honours
their proper work more than I; but the above fact is simply noted
as proving the continuance of that evolution which I have
endeavoured to describe in this series of monographs--an
evolution, indeed, in which the warfare of Theology against
Science has been one of the most active and powerful agents.  My
belief is that in the field left to them--their proper field--the
clergy will more and more, as they cease to struggle against
scientific methods and conclusions, do work even nobler and more
beautiful than anything they have heretofore done.  And this is
saying much.

My conviction is that Science, though it has evidently
conquered Dogmatic Theology based on biblical texts and
ancient modes of thought, will go hand in hand with Religion; and
that, although theological control will continue to diminish,
Religion, as seen in the recognition of "a Power in the universe,
not ourselves, which makes for righteousness," and in the love of
God and of our neighbor, will steadily grow stronger and
stronger, not only in the American institutions of learning but
in the world at large.  Thus may the declaration of Micah as to
the requirements of Jehovah, the definition by St. James of
"pure religion and undefiled," and, above all, the precepts and
ideals of the blessed Founder of Christianity himself, be brought
to bear more and more effectively on mankind.

I close this preface some days after its first lines were
written.  The sun of spring has done its work on the Neva; the
great river flows tranquilly on, a blessing and a joy; the mujiks
are forgotten.

A. D. W.
April 14,1894.

P.S.--Owing to a wish to give more thorough revision to
some parts of my work, it has been withheld from the press until
the present date.

A. D. W.
August 15, 1895.


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

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