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as we should call it, to explain the happenings of the world, any natural attempt to bring about any desired result, would be regarded as impiety, an interference with supposed divine prerogatives. It would be as though the gods were left out of account, their very existence threatened, and they dethroned.
A third step in the process of the growth of human thought is that, as men observed that so many of the evils, the troubles of life, seemed to spring from this which they were beginning vaguely to call nature, they would come to think of antagonisms between these invisible powers of the air and some malignant powers connected with the earth. I cannot point out to you the steps of this growth; but for a time it resulted in this. Men came to regard matter in all its forms as essentially evil. They came to believe, that if there were good gods connected with the material universe, there were also malignant gods, enemies, gods who desired to do them harm. In Persia, it came to be a great dualism,—a god of the light, of truth, of life, of love, of happiness, and a god of falsehood, of illusion, of darkness, of pain, and of evil. In Christian thought this took the form — at least you will find traces of it in the New Testament — of teaching that there was a god of this world, as he was called, opposed to the great, true, eternal Father. So, when a person conformed, as they said, to this world, or had any dealings with this world, he was in danger of becoming a subject of the god of this world, the evil deity. Matter was regarded as a sort of prison-house of the soul. As a result of this, all through the Middle Ages, and down to modern times, it was considered dangerous to study anything like science, dangerous to have anything to do with these natural forces; and men like Roger Bacon, and some of those who became the precursors of our modern life, were regarded as having dealings with the devil, merely because they were studying such science as the world had come then to know.
You see, then, that science had come to have a bad name among religious people. It was connected with that which
they regarded as essentially evil. It was supposed to lead to dealing with evil intelligences. The scientific man was a meddler with the black art, with magic, with spirits from beneath.
Then another step was taken. The Church came to hold as true a certain theory of things, a set of ideas which the Church itself confessed and declared had not been discovered by natural reason, and could not be supported by natural reason. There was, then, do you not see, practical antagonism between that which the Church held as revealed truth, divine truth, eternal truth, changeless truth, and anything which the human reason by any process could discover.
One more step was taken. The Church held what had come to be a development of the primitive idea, only on a larger scale, that God- not the gods, because it had become monotheistic - dwelt outside of and apart from nature, that he ruled it by arbitrary fiat, that it was antagonistic to spirit, although under divine control; and it held that whatever happened must be the direct result of the arbitrary will of the Omnipotent, or else the work of evil spirits that for some mysterious reason he permitted to exist. The moment, then, that men undertook to study any new science or to find out the causes at work, the results of these causes, and the laws of their working, that moment to the Church men seemed to occupy a position of atheism, as opposed to God. They were dealing with forces that they claimed displaced God, so that the world no longer needed Him. For example, to illustrate by one concrete case what I mean. Even down so late as the time of Sir Isaac Newton, who discovered the law of gravity, which for the first time in the history of human thought explained the movements of the heavenly bodies throughout all space, this notion was abroad. Even Kepler, one of the most renowned precursors of Newton, who made most important astronomical discoveries, could not find any explanation for the planets keeping in their orbits and following their regular courses, except to suppose that God had appointed an angel to reside in, control and super
intend each one. This was the best explanation that could be given up to the time of Newton. Newton discovered this great natural force of gravity, and demonstrated its laws. What did the Church think about it? Why, even a man like Leibnitz, one of the most famous mathematicians of the world, one of the few men in Europe at that time capable of following step by step the mathematical demonstration of Newton, even he opposed this Newtonian discovery. Why? For purely theological reasons. He said that it was taking the universe out of the hands of God and putting it into the keeping of a force, or law. So long as God was supposed to be away up there somewhere, separated from the universe and outside of it, do you not see that it must have appeared atheistic to think this discovery of a force in and through nature was able to account for planetary movements? By such steps as this, then, the religious thought of the world had grown.
Let us now indicate very briefly the naturalness, the necessity, of this antagonism between the Church and science by pointing out a little more definitely just the conclusions to which the religious thought of the world had come.
The Church held a supernatural theory of God. As I have indicated already, he was outside of things and away from them. He ruled them by arbitrary decree. The Church had accepted what it claimed to be a supernatural and infallible revelation that embodied these supernatural ideas, so that the Church stood in the position of being compelled to fight any contrary teachings, or else confess what would have been fatal to her claims,- that she had made a mistake. A Church that starts with being infallible cannot learn anything; for, if it does, it is a confession of previous error. A man who is willing to-day to accept a new truth thereby confesses that hitherto there were some things that he did not know. So the Church which starts with the assumption that it has in its keeping all truth, God's truth, changeless truth, infallible truth, must of necessity fight against and oppose anything that is not consistent with these preconceived ideas.
Here, then, the Church stood, when modern science began its work. There were beginnings of science along the lines that have been so fruitfully followed in our generation far away in Greece. Plato's ideas, those transcendental, those intuitional philosophies of his, superseded the method of Aristotle. When the Church came to adopt the old crude science of the Hebrews as part of its divine revelation, science was practically left one side for a thousand years. But at the time of the Renaissance, when modern Europe waked up and looked the earth and the heavens once more in the face, and asked rational questions of them, then began this long battle. Shall I detail it to you? I shall only give you glimpses of it here and there. To recount the relations between the Church and science is to recount a thrice-told tale, a tale familiar in its outlines to the popular mind; and yet I question whether those who are familiar with it have looked behind the surface carefully enough to see the principles, the forces at work, and the inevitableness of this agelong conflict.
There has not been one single question concerning natural science that the Church has not antagonized. It has been a battle at every step; and—strange that the Church learns nothing by the result of it-there has not been one single point of the conflict fought out in which science has not been the winner. The Church has lost at every point,― for example, that battle which was fought for years and years, concerning the nature of the heavens above us, between the old system of Ptolemy, which the Church had adopted, and the new, generally accepted theory of Copernicus. The names of Copernicus, of Bruno, of Galileo, and of Kepler indicate some of the leaders and the victors in this great battle. How much it meant, the significance, the glory of it, I shall try to indicate to you a little further on.
Then that other battle over geology, as to the creation of the earth, its antiquity; the battle over anthropology, as to the origin, nature, and antiquity of the human race. The Church fought these battles out with nothing better than the
weapons which represented the ignorance of the childhood world. As an illustration, when sea-shells were discovered on mountain tops, proving to the scientific man conclusively that there has been a time when the material which constitutes the summit of the mountain was in the bed of the sea, and that it has been gradually lifted to its present altitude, the Church had no way of answering except to suppose that these sea-shells might have been floated there at the time of the flood. Then, when they discovered that the world was round and that there were men living at the other side of it, the Church had no way of opposing these truths better than to talk about the Bible having said that man lived on the face of the earth and not on the back of it, and referring to Joshua's supposed command to the sun that it should stand still, and its supposed obedience. The Church was fighting for nothing less than her life; and instinctively she knew it.
Then there has been a battle over chemistry, I have no time to go into the story in detail,—and over physiology and medicine. Do you know that for ages it was considered wicked to make any natural study of the human frame after its death? And if you wonder that medicine has made such slow progress in the world, if you wonder that it was so long before even the circulation of the blood was discovered, you must remember that it was the Church who placed her ban upon every man who investigated in this direction and hindered every step of rational research.
How is it to-day? It is only a little while ago that they were having processions with banners and prayers in Naples and in Montreal, as a means for driving out the plague and the pestilence, and saving men's lives, while at the same time they were neglecting every rudiment of any sanitary science, of finding out or obeying any of the natural laws of health. And so far has this been carried by the Catholic and Protestant Churches that even since the discovery of ether it has been bitterly fought. Why? You would think that the world would welcome every means by which to lessen the great burden of human pain; but the Church fought