Science’s Quarrel With The Bible, Part 2
Extracts from Lectures by Walter Rowton, Esq.
“But it is not Science’s business,” I am reminded, “ to do more than delay our arrival at mother earth; at the grave’s mouth her duties cease. To provide for the Afterwards is Faith’s work.” Yes; and to enable Faith to do it well—she invalidates her Bible! “Oh, but she means not to invalidate the Bible’s faith: she only invalidates its science.” Nay, but these are inseparable: the Bible science is the Bible faith’s platform: they stand or fall together. Does that require proof? it shall have proof, overwhelming proof in my next lecture.
Meantime, let me show you that modern science really does her utmost to invalidate the Bible Faith.
With reference to modern astronomy, The Daily Telegraph. July 6th, 1875, says: “Nothing has so changed the beliefs of society as the discoveries of astronomy; ” and after naming approvingly our larger conceptions and widened theologies, it adds the amazing revelation that “All the ancient theologies were constructed upon the Ptolemxan notion that the earth was the centre of the universe, and that the sun, moon, and stars were hung in the void to lighten it, and for signs and seasons.” With Claudius Ptolemy therefore, born Anno Domini 70, originated this, the Genesis Cosmogony! Did not I rightly say, that in the cases of scientific men theological knowledge was not equal to technical? But what is the drift of this anachronism 1 Evidently to impute to one of ourselves the scientific teaching of the Scriptures, and so to destroy veneration for it.
The modern astronomy, beginning as a system with Galileo, together with “the moral sense in man,” according to the Telegraph, “really furnish the foundations of a natural religion, to the vast and imperative demands of which the official teachers of dogma must advance. All theories of Revelation and Divine Government,” it continues, “have, since the discoveries more especially of Newton, had more or less to adapt themselves to the ideas of modern astronomy,” by which, so to speak, “the breath of theology has been taken away.” So you see the Bible is not considered an actual Revelation, but only a theory of Revelation, with a mortal breath, “which has been taken away.” In effect dead, if its sentence is to be revoked, it must worship science. Its teaching is so inferior to “natural religion” based upon modern astronomy and moral intuitions, that instead of natural religion advancing to Revelation, it is our theory of Revelation which mast advance to natural religion.
“Not,” adds the Telegraph, “until the professors of theology’ address themselves in earnest to the vastly larger demands which the minds of men now make for doctrines commensurate with scientific teaching, will religion and morality come up abreast of astronomical truth.” So far from the Bible being the one truth-test to explode all error, now it is modern astronomy which is the truth; and the only doctrines commensurate” therewith, are those of a “natural religion,” compounded of itself and “the moral sense in man.” As for the Bible, its doctrines not being commensurate with scientific teaching; its religion not being natural; its respect for the moral sense in man non-existent; it never could have been the truth; obviously not, or it would be still. For many ages it has been a very good substitute; but now it is bygone, worn-out; it has been completely superseded by modern science.
Of course, if our Bible is this superseded “theory of Revelation,” man’s guaranteed eternal life is not worth the page it is printed on: for how can a God whose promises were put into His mouth by the theorists who invented Him either undertake or fulfil an undertaking?
“ ‘Thus saith the Lord!’ Out upon ye, Moses, David, Isaiah, and the rest! Your God is your delusion! He never spoke a word, either to you or any one else!” That is the legitimate outcome through the Bible “a theory of Revelation.” And if that is not an invalidation of our Faith by modern science, what else to call it, I know not. But modern science having neither proof that our Revelation is more than a theory, nor colourable pretext for supposing so, why does she obtrude that statement? Why? because she has started in opposition: and like some shabby tradesman, she puffs her own article at her neighbour’s expense. “ If you want true science, the genuine article, deal with me. Next door not to be depended on.
The concern is a sham— its proprietor a myth; and its pretended science, not science at all! Guilty of this meanness, does modern science deserve support? Our Bible a theory! its revealed God a non-entity! I call upon science to prove the scurrilous libel, or withdraw it.
Modern science has long had its advocates even in our pulpits; but Christian ministers aware of its latest pretensions, and who hold with it notwithstanding, have a difficult task before them. Still Sunday by Sunday, drawing for their analogies upon modern science, they must now publicly reconcile what they themselves denounce as poisonous grapes with that producing stock they hitherto have maintained a true vine.
I wonder if Dr. Tyndall foresaw that the legitimate recoil from such teaching as he gave at Belfast would assuredly be the re-consideration by genuine Christendom of the whole of its relations with what is called science, with a view to their abrupt and final termination? He might have done so; he might easily have surmised that sooner or later his denial of the Christian’s God would certainly be followed by their denial of that science in whose name he was selected to speak ; and not in part, but altogether: for science, consistent with herself— her past must be of a piece with her present.
To be continued…