Of God and His Creatures

A professor of physical science, as such, does not arrive at the Creator. Motions, molar and molecular, -- vibrations and transferences chemical, biological, mechanical or cosmic -- are his subject-matter; but the Creator and the creative act are above motion. Atheist or theist, agnostic or Christian, a man may be equally proficient in physical science, as also he may be in cookery, engine-driving, or soap-boiling. Is this, the range of physical science is narrower and lower than that of literature. There is religious literature and divine poetry. When a physicist pronounces on a religious question, either for or against religion, he is sutor supra crepidam: he has overshot his subject. Of course he ought to overshoot his subject. A man should no more be a physicist and nothing else than he should be a tallow-chandler and nothing else. The misery is, when, not having been conversant with God in his laboratory, observatory, or dissecting. room, the physicist poses upon this non-experience to turn antitheologian. One might as well pose upon the limitations of the tallow vat. God is not evident in the melting of tallow, nor in the scientific infliction and curing of wounds. This liparo-physico-antitheological humour, as Aristophanes might have called it, is an exudation of the narrowest bigotry. Wherever physical science becomes the staple of education, to the setting aside of Latin and Greek, it will be found necessary in the interests of religion to insist upon a parallel course of metaphysics, psychology, and ethics. A popular course is all that will be possible or necessary. Otherwise, trained on physical science without literature or philosophy, the mind suffers atrophy of the religious faculties, a disease which some seem anxious to induce upon mankind, -- a painful disease nevertheless, productive of much restlessness and irritability, as the life of Thomas Huxley shows. To repeat St Thomas's words here: -- "It is not the concern of physical science to study the first origin of all things: that study belongs to the metaphysician who deals with being in general and realities apart from motion." All the more important is it for the physicist to imbibe some tincture of metaphysics, that he may not "wallow in a slough of barbarism' (Plato, Rep. vii, 5330). This note is suggested by Sir Oliver Lodge's article, Faith and Science, in the Hibbert Journal for October, 1902, a masterly exposition of the present conflict between the two, except for one mistake. Sir Oliver confounds the mysterious with the miraculous. The daily bread of the Christian is mystery, not miracle. Miracle is obvious to the senses; mystery lies beyond sense.

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