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A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom

Nature volume 54, page 570 | Download Citation



TWENTY years ago Dr. White published a little volume, entitled the “Warfare of Science,” to which the late Prof. Tyndall contributed a brief preface. Out of that volume has grown the present book, which, though very much more learned, has lost something of the freshness that characterised its predecessor. We should like to have said that the one had made the other needless, but, as ecclesiastical dignitaries still accept men like Dr. Kinns for authorities in science and champions of orthodoxy, we fear that Giant Pope—using the title in a wider sense than Bunyan did—is hardly dead yet. This book is melancholy reading, for it tells, again and again, of the miserable mistakes that have been made by good men with the very best intentions. Here and there, perhaps, Dr. White a little magnifies these mistakes and overlooks extenuating circumstances; is, perhaps, a little too ready to accept witnesses on his own side, as when he assumes it proved that man existed on the Pacific slope of America in the Pliocene age. The acute theologian also might sometimes have his chances of breaking the windows in the house of the man of science, for the latter occasionally talks wildly when he trespasses on the other's province. But we must sorrowfully admit, that Churchmen and Nonconformists alike—the most extreme Protestants as well as the most ardent Romanists—have distinguished themselves too often by their unwise and ignorant opposition to scientific facts and scientific progress. The former adversaries have not been less illiberal than the latter; indeed, of late years they have perhaps been more so. They have not persecuted so actively, simply because they have not so often had the power; as to the will, the less said the better.

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