JMC : Science and Faith / by Francis Aveling


THIS lecture upon Science and Faith, in which an attempt is made to deal upon general lines with difficulties arising out of the very general misconception as to the true nature and function of exact science, forms the first of the second series of Westminster Lectures delivered in the Cathedral Hall at Westminster in 1906.

In dealing with such a misconception as is involved in the supposition that there are contradictions between the exact results of Science and the dogma of Revelation, a critical and an argumentative treatment is to a certain extent unavoidable. In accordance, however, with the plan of exposition adopted in these lectures, this treatment is emphasised as little as the nature of the subject will permit; and the positive and constructive element, at which the Westminster Lectures aim, is adopted in so far as it is possible.

With the broad distinction between exact, or verified, and transcendental Science clearly drawn, the whole subject is placed in its right light, and most of the specious objections that are sometimes urged as scientifically disastrous to faith obviated.

The constructive portion of the lecture appeals directly to common-sense, experience, and that natural philosophy of man which revolts against certain dogmatic, highly speculative, and transcendental conclusions being forced upon him as the results of actual experiment and observation. It is confessedly philosophical rather than scientific in its method. It relies upon what is common to the experience of the human race rather than upon that which, by the very nature of the case, must be limited to a small group of individual students. Frankly, it appeals to knowledge, not to learning; to the sober judgement of mankind, rather than to an actual acquaintance with a large number of isolated experiments.

And because, in its constructive aspect, it thus appeals to a universally possessed faculty and to a common knowledge, the author trusts that it will provide a suitable criterion by which the transcendental and highly dogmatic assertions of certain scientists may be easily put to the test.

March 8, 1906.

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