« PreviousContinue »
points of philosophic theory have been omitted, as they would have seemed to most readers to be needless, if not misleading, refinements.
I hope at no very distant date to deal with these philosophic questions in a more thorough manner.
The “conflict of science and religion” has not been referred to. This is partly due to a conviction that it is both an unjust, and a pernicious practice to gather all the friends of religion into one camp, and all the friends of science into another, and then to represent them as eternally hostile. Nothing could be more untrue to history, and it has a pernicious influence upon weak heads, which, unfortunately, are not wanting on either side. But the omission is mainly due to the fact, that what a thoughtful person wishes to know is, not what science teaches, nor what religion teaches, but what is proved, or made probable. Reason resents every attempt to intimidate it, in the name of authority, from whatever quarter. It decides by evidence, not by names. It accepts nothing, therefore, because it calls itself science, or because it calls itself religion, but because it has evidence in its favor. No more does reason reject any thing because it is science or because it is religion, but because of a lack of evidence. No attentive reader can have failed to observe that this simple principle has been largely ignored by both sides in the controversy.
Many a view has been passionately rejected because it was thought to be irreligious; and, conversely, the last few years have seen many a view passionately advocated whose chief recommendation was, that it trampled all moral and religious convictions under foot. It has taken a long time to learn that a theory is not proved by being religious; a still longer time is needed to reach the conviction that it is also not proved by being irreligious.
A word about dogmatism. A writer's statements are only his own opinions, and no vehemence of utterance can make them more. This being understood, one may be allowed to express his views in a dogmatic form. It saves both time and space, and is withal in better taste. When a discussion is between equals, professions of fallibility are both tiresome and needless, for the audience will surely take the fact for granted. If, then, some rather vivacious expressions of opinion occur in these papers, they are not to be taken as showing a belief in personal infallibility. Every rational author knows that his opinions are primarily only his opinions; he publishes in the hope that they may be shared by others.
“There are many echoes, but few voices." Like all works on this subject, this work more an echo than a voice, though it may not be without some individuality of tone from the last reflecting sur
face. There is little new to be offered on either side; and any thing which should be new in principle would almost certainly be a personal aberration. But it is necessary for each age to do its own thinking; and while the truth may be the same from age to age, the presentation will always vary. But while this work is an echo of what theistic thinkers have been saying from the beginning, I am not conscious of any specific obligation to other writers which demands recognition. I shall always be under general obligation to my friends and former instructors, Professor Ulrici, of Halle, and Professor Lotze, of Göttingen.
B. P. B. BOSTON, May 5, 1879.