The Rise of Modern Religious Ideas

By Arthur Cushman McGiffert | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
NATURAL SCIENCE

THE attitude of the Christian fathers toward the physical universe and its phenomena was controlled by two considerations, both of which have ceased in modern days to influence the minds of thinking men. In the first place they were so exclusively interested in spiritual and eternal things that the world of sense and time seemed wholly unworthy of study. In this estimate they were not alone. Already long before the beginning of the Christian era, especially under the influence of the later Platonism, a growing interest in the ideal and spiritual and a growing contempt for external fact marked the thinking of the day. Observation was at a discount, and symbolism and allegory alone seemed attractive. With this contempt for mere fact was joined a more or less extreme asceticism, based not so much upon the conviction of the essential evil of matter as upon the persuasion of its impermanence and relative worthlessness. Into this heritage the early fathers entered, and the common tendency reached in them its highest development under the influence of their overmastering sense of the nearness and eternal glories of the future life. Only spiritual matters were thought worthy the attention of the Christian, and to spend his time upon things which had

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The Rise of Modern Religious Ideas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Editorial Note vii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Book I - Disintegration 1
  • Chapter II - The Enlightenment 11
  • Chapter III - Natural Science 24
  • Chapter IV - The Critical Philosophy 45
  • Book II - Reconstruction 61
  • Chapter VI - The Rebirth of Speculation 81
  • Chapter VII - The Rehabilitation of Faith 104
  • Chapter VIII - Agnosticism 144
  • Chapter IX - Evolution 166
  • Chapter X - Divine Immanence 187
  • Chapter XI - Ethical Theism 222
  • Chapter XII - The Character of God. 240
  • Chapter XIII The Social Emphasis 254
  • Chapter XIV - Religious Authority 279
  • Index 311
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