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the lowest microscopic organisms, far beyond higher organic forms, and the consequent weakness of ordinary human devices in struggling against the development of such germs. These experiments also emphasize the need for attention to the laws of rational procedure, as well as to skill in experimental observation, if science is to be exempted from needless toils.
Theology has here also a lesson of patience, for it may well leave science to do its own work, undisturbed by apprehensions as to possible consequences to morality and religion. All that the telescope can reveal, and the microscope can make known, through years of experimenting, we wish to have discovered, for only thus shall we come to understand the world's lessons of wisdom and power lying far beyond the range of our unaided vision. All the churches of Christ have reason to hail the extension of scientific knowledge. Those who set high account on patient interpretation of the written Revelation, have reason to value this laborious reading out of the lessons written in the book of Nature.
A wider and more general result may be expected than that which bears directly on the relations of science and religion. All intelligent readers of scientific discussions will find discipline from pondering these experiments. They illustrate the toil connected with scientific research, the risks which beset such inquiry, and the limits of scientific investigations. There lies in these experiments a warning of the constant need for falling back not only on the laws of evidence, but also on the laws of reason. The mere conception of "spontaneous generation," rigidly interpreted, were a curiosity, coming wonderfully near a contradiction of scientific thought itself, which seeks for causes, and repudiates uncaused occurrences. There may naturally enough be a discovery of the chemical elements belonging to definite types of organism, or of the form and measure of energy operating in life. Even when surmising "that possibly we may by the help of physical principles, especially that of the dissipation of energy, sometime attain to a notion of what constitutes life, mere vitality, nothing higher," Professor Tait has thought it needful to add, "but let no one imagine that, should we ever penetrate this mystery, we shall thereby be enabled to produce, except from life, even the lowest form of life." * If it were suggested that physicochemical elements could originate life, chemistry would easily supply the ingredients. If it were hinted that reliance might be placed exclusively on the action of air or of heat for producing living organism from inorganic matter, this were to fall back on the old elemental philosophy of ancient Greece, which the thought of Greece easily repudiated without the aid of experimental science.
Attention is, however, here concentrated on the failure of these experiments meant to establish "spontaneous generation," and in this failure we find illustration of the fact that supposed conflicts between science and religion are often misunderstandings and nothing more, based on unreliable experiments or unwarranted expectations.
One other fact deserves to be recorded and placed in companionship with that just stated, that some of the alleged conflicts between science and religion are delusively so described, on account of misunderstanding or misrepresentation of religion. They are fictitious articles, requiring to be properly branded, and quietly laid aside. A single illustration may
* Recent Advances in Physical Science, p. 24.
suffice, taken from Dr. Draper's History of the Conflict between Religion and Science, which is easily accessible, and reasonably claims some attention in connection with the present subject. The criticism here offered is not meant to carry a general condemnation of the book. This work includes a vast deal more than its title suggests; in the midst of much that is extraneous, there is not a little of valuable historical matter written in a clear and attractive style. The book is, however, in many parts misleading, often by its style suggesting that the author has allowed himself to be carried away in his eagerness to make out serious conflict. The plan of the book is hardly compatible with fairness. This may be illustrated by reference to the grounds for selecting illustrations of Christianity. Our author says, "In speaking of Christianity reference is generally made to the Roman Church, partly because its adherents compose the majority of Christendom, partly because its demands are the most pretentious, and partly because it has commonly sought to enforce those demands by the civil power."* In view of these explanations, it may be in a
• Prtface x.
sense satisfactory, as suggesting more harmony between science and religion than the general tenor of the book conveys, that Professor Draper has "had little to say" respecting the Protestant and Greek Churches. But the reasons for making the Roman division of the Church representative of the whole are far from satisfactory. It is as if one were bent on fighting, but determined always to select the weakest antagonist to be found. Nor is the case improved by the defence offered. Dr. Draper says, "In thus treating the subject, it has not been necessary to pay much regard to more moderate or intermediate opinions, for, though they may be intrinsically of great value, in conflicts of this kind it is not with the moderates, but with the extremists, that the impartial reader is mainly concerned. Their movements determine the issue." * This is, I think, an unwise conclusion. Extremists may determine the erratic deflections of a movement; they do not decide its issues. They discover the heat, rather than the thought, involved in intellectual conflict. They contribute to vortex movement, rather than onward. In consequence of his plan of procedure,
* Preface x.