Evolution and Religion: The Conflict between Science and Theology in Modern America

By Gail Kennedy | Go to book overview

religious in quality--a fact that perhaps explains the efforts of some religionists to disparage the possibilities of intelligence as a force. They properly feel such faith to be a dangerous rival.

Lives that are consciously inspired by loyalty to such ideals as have been mentioned are still comparatively infrequent to the extent of that comprehensiveness and intensity which arouse an ardor religious in function. But before we infer the incompetency of such ideals and of the actions they inspire, we should at least ask ourselves how much of the existing situation is due to the fact that the religious factors of experience have been drafted into supernatural channels and thereby loaded with irrelevant encumbrances. A body of beliefs and practices that are apart from the common and natural relations of mankind must, in the degree in which it is influential, weaken and sap the force of the possibilities inherent in such relations. Here lies one aspect of the emancipation of the religious from religion.

Any activity pursued in behalf of an ideal end against obstacles and in spite of threats of personal loss because of conviction of its general and enduring value is religious in quality. Many a person, inquirer, artist, philanthropist, citizen, men and women in the humblest walks of life, have achieved, without presumption and without display, such unification of themselves and of their relations to the conditions of existence. It remains to extend their spirit and inspiration to ever wider numbers. If I have said anything about religions and religion that seems harsh, I have said those things because of a firm belief that the claim on the part of religions to possess a monopoly of ideals and of the supernatural means by which alone, it is alleged, they can be furthered, stands in the way of the realization of distinctively religious values inherent in natural experience. For that reason, if for no other, I should be sorry if any were misled by the frequency with which I have employed the adjective "religious" to conceive of what I have said as a disguised apology for what have passed as religions. The opposition between religious values as I conceive them and religions is not to be bridged just because the release of these values is so important, their identification with the creeds and cults of religions must be dissolved.

Walter M. Horton:


THE NEW ORTHODOXY

TO the average college-trained American, church-goer or not, "orthodoxy" means "fundamentalism." And since that memorable occasion when fundamentalism took its stand, Canute-like, with William Jennings Bryan at Dayton, Tennessee, defying the sea of science to advance another inch, our college man is very likely to be convinced that only a rustic ignoramus can be truly orthodox. (So, in the declining days of the Roman Empire, it was only the pagani, the ignorant country-men, who clung to their faith in the old Olympian gods.) Imagine his

Walter M. Horton, "The New Orthodoxy", The American Scholar, Vol. 7, No. 1, Winter, 1938, pp. 3-11. Reprinted by permission of The American Scholar.

-82-

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Evolution and Religion: The Conflict between Science and Theology in Modern America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents xiii
  • The Clash of Issues xiv
  • The Christian Epic 1
  • The Coming of Darwinism 3
  • The Two Revelations 14
  • A Diary of Evolution 21
  • A Reply to Mr. Bryan in The Name of Religion 30
  • The Scopes Trial 35
  • Four Dialogues 52
  • The New Orthodoxy 70
  • The Truth in Myths 82
  • The New Failure of Nerve 88
  • Suggestions for Additional Reading 97
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