Modern Trends in World Religions

By A. Eustace Haydon | Go to book overview

III
CHRISTIANITY AND MODERN SCIENTIFIC THINKING

By EDWARD SCRIBNER AMES

SCIENTIFIC thinking is a definite, conscious method of examining facts in a given field in the most objective and impartial manner possible, interpreting them in the light of the hypotheses which these facts themselves suggest, and seeking further relevant facts and more adequate hypotheses. The development of this method has been a long and tortuous achievement since the days of Francis Bacon, and its results have been revolutionary in every realm of human interest.

It was the impact of this method and its attitude of questioning doubt which divided the Christian world into two camps, those who accepted the method and were designated as liberals or heretics, and those who rejected the method and were known as fundamentalists. Perhaps all Christians might be said to have been fundamentalists until science arose; but if so, they were not conscious of it, for it was necessary to have the diverging view arise before the old could be conscious of itself and get a name for itself.

When the general nature of scientific inquiry began to be apparent as that of the application of the natural reason to the problems of physical reality, there was a disposition on both sides to say that science and religion worked in separate realms and that there could be no conflict; but when Newtonian science projected the conception of the uniformity of nature and ruled out the conception of miracles as invasions or transgressions of natural law the first sharp issue was drawn. This brought to a focus also the question

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