Science, Religion, and the Future: A Course of Eight Lectures

Science, Religion, and the Future: A Course of Eight Lectures

Science, Religion, and the Future: A Course of Eight Lectures

Science, Religion, and the Future: A Course of Eight Lectures

Excerpt

The proper purpose of a Preface is to state the standpoint and intention of that which follows. It is an apologia though not necessarily an apology.

In the present case it is enough to say that these lectures were delivered in a time of world-wide war. Plainly the men and movements which direct the thought of mankind had dismally failed. To talk about the triumphant march of science would be as ironical as to sing 'Like a mighty army, moves the church of God'. Both science and religion must take a share of blame for the appalling catastrophes which they ought to have been able to prevent. They represent the most important formative influences in the educational and indeed in the intellectual life of the world; and the result of their efforts in the recent past has been a holocaust unequalled in history. The complacency with which their leading representatives lay the blame upon the social order, or Nazism, or the politicians, or the devil makes it clear that they do not recognise their responsibility--or rather, since we are all involved, that we are all still impenitent and self-satisfied.

It is this conviction which explains my very critical interpretation of the recent history of biological and theological studies. I assume that there has been a cause of the present calamities less superficial than the Chauvinism of the victors of 1918, or the Caesarism of Mussolini, or the evil genius of Hitler. This cause seems to me to consist in the inability of mankind to make sense of his world, to agree upon the significance of existence, and to co-operate for its welfare; and in the consequent appearance of incompatible, indeed of violently contrasted, ideologies. For this the blame must rest upon those who failed to adjust human thought and life to the new knowledge which the past century has disclosed--that is upon the intellectual, moral and religious teachers of mankind.

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