The meaning of the word science is often quite as...

Stroud (Eng.) News

The meaning of the word science is often quite as thoughtlessly perverted as the word Christian. The Oxford dictionary has not yet reached the word, but I take the definition from Chambers, which is in agreement with all other authorities: "Knowledge systematized; truth ascertained ; pursuit of knowledge or truth for its own sake; that which refers to abstract principle." Now if there is one charge that is flung at Christian Science more frequently than another, it is that it refers to abstract principles. If there is any admission which the opponents of Christian Science are willing to make, it is that Christian Scientists are at least pursuing truth for its own sake, and if there is one thing that can be said of it with greater confidence than another, it is that it is the effort to systematize knowledge. That its basis of systematization is different from that of the materialist is obvious, but that does not in the least make its methods unscientific.

One of the most thoughtful critics of Christian Science writes, "We have been accustomed to regard science as dealing with secondary causes or physical facts," and on this promptly bases the objection to applying the term to primary causes, which are declared to be "in the domain of unprovable assumptions." Of course, if you begin by begging the question on a colossal scale, by being so unscientific as to assume that you can know nothing of primary causes, you are never likely to. You establish an orthodox science just as orthodox religion has been established, and you regard the scientific heretic with the same suspicion that Wycliffe, Luther, and Calvin were once regarded theologically.

It is unnecessary to go into the various illustrations by which our critic proves Christian Science to be what he courteously terms "fatuous absurdity," because every one of them depends upon what is meant in Christian Science by what he terms the non-existence of matter, a doctrine which he says will eventually be "half laughed, half sneered out of existence." I imagine from this that he has never come across that passage in which Huxley, writing on this very subject, once drily remarked, "Coxcombs vanquished Berkeley with a grin, whilst commonsense folk proved matter to be real by stamping on the ground or some such other irrelevant proceeding." Thinkers, however, remained unconvinced by this display of violence to the earth's surface, with the result that a great German natural scientist in a lecture on "Scientific Materialism" has declared that "matter is only a thing imagined, which we have constructed for ourselves, very imperfectly, to represent the constant element in the changing series of phenomena," whilst Mr. Grant Allen, defending Professor Tyndall from a charge of materialism, declared outright that the accusation "could only be brought against such a man by those abject materialists who have never had a glimpse of the profounder fact that the universe, as known to us, consists wholly of mind." I am afraid that these and many other great thinkers will, in the phrase of our critic, in future "stand hopelessly condemned in the eyes of even elementary scientists."

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