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Saviour taught a different lesson when he reminded the Jews that the true God was the God of the living and not of the dead, and that, therefore, His friends, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were not dead, but living. Heresy, however, is so enlightened that it will not listen to Christ our Lord, much less to His Apostles and Evangelists, but it willingly goes to school to the Pagan Maximus of Madaura, to the heretic Vigilantius, and is delighted to learn from them that the Abrahams, Isaacs and Jacobs of the Old Testament, the Peters, Pauls, Clements, Polycarps and Namphanions of the New, are nothing but" dead men,” and that they have left behind them only " carcasses” that are worthy of no respect.
THE WEAPONS OF SO-CALLED MODERN SCIENCE.
IN N the beginning of the modern era, dating it from the Renais
sance, the controversies which the Church had to engage in were carried on with a recognized basis of Revelation Controversy turned upon the extent and meaning of that Revelation. Protestantism, springing naturally from the Renaissance, began early to empty into its true channel of rationalism, which was widened and deepened by the French Sons of the Revival, who had not chosen to break definitely with orthodoxy until they broke with Christianity. The Bible ceased, conspicuously, to be drawn so much into controversy, as an authority. The bitterest attacks upon the Church were made in the name of Metaphysics. This Metaphysics, that discarded the supernatural, soon rejected the immaterial. The accumulated wealth of material science seeming to store the magazines of war, the basis of the anti-Christian aggression was, at length, formulated thus: Christianity is in antagonism with the material order of the universe. There is a clearly marked scale of descent :
Facilis descensus averni. The outcome of it all, in practical life, is the “ animal ethics,” so highly extolled by the “thinkers.” As compared with the sixteenth century, the whole form of aggression has been changedtactics, arms, and words of command. The question comes back The
very word that Beza impiously applies to the Sacred Body of our Saviour after death.
upon us, daily,—and as it is an important one, there is no harm in repeating it, -Are we properly equipped for the conflict ?
Our enemies have left the old battle-ground. They no longer uphold the false against the true Christianity. Finding that, on the field of the Supernatural, the scriptures and tradition, which they had tried to use, only turned against them as engines of destruction, they have deserted this field, and now contend, with every round of sophistry, that the supernatural, for the sanctions of whose revelations they so stubbornly fought, does not exist at all. They have thrown themselves, heart and soul, into the exploration of the not merely natural, but of the sensible, the visible, the tangible ; and, holding up every molecule of earth, now try to make it pose as an argument-a long-hidden argument which they have found-against Christianity and Revelation. And they are teachers. They have made explorations, and, in their expositions, can figure as teachers. What wonder, then, if, after listening to learned discourses that evidence great research and long experiment, people who do not understand the long, earnest and intricate preamble, but who know the meaning of the one invariable conclusion drawn, i.e., that the Revelations of Christianity are contradictory to the facts of “SCIENCE,"—what wonder if people begin to doubt ? Not, certainly, that the argument is anything more than jugglery ; but the children of darkness are wiser in their generation than the children of light. With one object in view—the overthrow of Christianity—they, literally, leave no stone unturned, if the mere turning of it can but add to their air of research. Their thesis, or, if they start without thesis, their conclusion, is always this : Science is the antithesis of faith, and the success of their efforts is too evident and too disastrous to be ignored. With the mass of men to-day the dominant idea is the wonderful leap physical science has suddenly taken into its maturity, waiting long like the cereus, and then bursting forth into glory in a night; and with this idea dominating the whole harmony of their thoughts, they feel glad to have lived and to have been born in such an era of science; and their faith is simple belief in its future power. It has done so much, it has proved itself to them in so much, that, when its “high-priests " come forward and declare that it has moulded the casket and woven the shroud and pall of Revelation, they, too osten, quietly submit.
There are multitudes who make at least a pretence of seeing in the Bible nothing more than one of the variations of human emotion. We no longer hear controversies on the Trinity or Unity of God, the twofold Will of Christ, the middle state of Purgatory, the jurisdiction of Peter. The chief points attacked to-day are the very elementary truths of religion-of natural religion. A
hundred Reviews, stamped with names that carry learned appendices, scatter plausible sophistry over the world, and it is taken up and popularized in a thousand ways, so that it may not fail to reach the lowliest. Here and there we meet with an erudite refutation; and we rest satisfied that our work has been done. But the evil is not undone. It continues to be spread with feverish solicitude in newspapers and reviews, in class-rooms, in lecture halls, in parlors. Women, girls just entering society, are eager to show that they are not behind the age, and ask with a sparkle of vanity where the defenders of Christianity have hid themselves, at the approach of the great machine of Science.
Many calm themselves with the reflection that the very absurdity of the attack makes it harmless. This is a very false view of the case, and one as fatal as it is false. We are not pessimists. It is not pessimism to admit the height and build of your adversary and the length of his arm and to prepare accordingly. Mr. Mallock, whom we cite in the character of inquirer which he chooses to assume, says: “We are literally in an age to which history can show no parallel, and which is new to the experience of humanity; and though the moral dejection we have been dwelling on may have had many counterparts in other times, this is, as it were, solid substance, whereas they were only shadows."1 Cardinal Newman does not hesitate to point to the calm threatening growth of positivism as to a phenomenon vaster than the mere outburst of a heresy. Neither can we disregard the testimony of those fewalas, too few—who, having helped to unchain the winds, are now recoiling in horror at their work. Even ten years ago, the profession of faith applauded to the echo in the socialistic congress of workingmen showed that the new metaphysical theories had reached their ethics, and had become a social reality. speak to us of a future life, they speak to us of heaven; but science has proved that this is all a dream, a lie. We do not want any of it. What we demand is hell—nothingness—with all the voluptuousness that goes before." M. Jules Simon put it all in a sentence for the French people : “ Nous étions croyants, nous sommes devenus sceptiques, demain nous serons nihilistes." “We were believers, we have become sceptics, to-morrow we shall be nihilists."
A few years ago when Virchow, Haeckel and Oscar Schmitt put their heads together to deliberate upon the school programmes of Germany, it was asked whether monistic atheism should be reserved for the higher education, or whether it should not be introduced into the intermediate schools, and given in successive doses
1 Is Life Worth Living? p. 197.
? From Report in Bien Public of Ghent, Sept. 12th, 1877. VOL. XIII.-22
in the primary schools, so that it might enter gradually into the family, and that children might grow up to it. Virchow could not bring himself to pronounce for the latter plan, but the others did not shrink from it. The Revue Scientifique (May 18th, 1878) answered boldly that it was expedient to lead the child gradually from anthropomorphism to the theory of the “unknowable," and to avow frankly that we do not know where the world came from or what becomes of us when we die.
All science may be divided, according to its object, into supernatural and natural. The object of supernatural science is God. St. Thomas tells us that it is God, considered as supreme cause; not merely in so far as we can know Him through creatures, for thus He may be the object of philosophy, but also and especially as to that which belongs to His own proper knowledge of Himself, and which He has communicated to us by revelation.
Natural science may be subdivided into that which has for its object intellectual and moral truths, and that which has for its object purely material phenomena. The former constitutes philosophy proper, more specifically metaphysics; the latter, embracing the material universe, constitutes physics. Metaphysics, employing consciousness and reason, discusses primary truths, substantial causes, questions of origin and finality, the essence of the necessary, the contingent, the immaterial, the free, etc. The domain of physics is circumscribed by the limits of purely material phenomena,-of that which can be reached by the five senses. Hence the term physics extends not only to that which is commonly called physics, but also to chemistry, geology, meteorology, and even to biology, which has for its object the sensible phenomena of life. Physics tries by repeated experiment to deduce the general laws that govern what is material in the universe in its material action. It is clear, then, that.physics holds the lowest place in the hierarchy of the sciences. Physics as a science is as far below metaphysics as sight is below intelligence. Physics is a science which is, objectively, purely material, yet some of its devotees have had the presumption to arrogate to it the name of “Science," to the exclusion of every other science; and themselves they have crowned as “ Scientists." From the definitions of the three orders of science it should be easy to determine their respective limits. But the lowest order, having with an amazing charlatanism hung up its sign, “all things knowable à bon marché,” professes to have superseded the two other orders, denying or declaring unattainable or mythical those realms which, with all its presumption and effrontery, it acknowledges it cannot reach.
Step into its wonderful palace of knowledge. Its princes, coun
Summ. Theol., P. I, Q. I, a 6.
terfeiting the air of a very suave conservatism, will meet you at the portal.
“Ah! Seeking for knowledge?"
“Ah! Yes; I see-about-well, the fact is, science has no data on those points. It has never had any evidence that these things exist at all. Science adheres strictly to facts,-visible, tangible, audible facts,-and draws its conclusions after testing its facts under modifying influences. As to the things you speak of, science has not yet one fact, not to speak of a series of facts. Hence, science not only cannot draw a conclusion; science cannot even propound a theory. All science can do is to ignore such things. Science has gone high into the upper strata of the air and deep into the bowels of the earth, and has found nothing to indicate the existence of what you speak of. Hence, having no time to lose, it has relegated all such things to the region of the unknowable. This is the very mildest attitude it can assume. And it takes this position only out of courtesy to those who, less instructed, still hold on to what science really knows to be a fable. Science, I say, knows this; for, having explored all realms, it has proved it by a negative argument, by elimination. This argument is too lengthy for the majority of mankind to follow through all its details; so science avoids useless discussion with most men by saying: 'It may be so. We do not know. We have not found it.' But go in. Walk through the Palace at your leisure. Put a few questions to the Operators."
You advance, and, at once, there bursts upon your view a scene that makes you feel like a very Aladdin in the land of Alchemy. Here are no idlers. You accost an operator, and ask him for some information about miracles.
“Miracles! Yes. I know what you mean. We do not use the word. It is no longer found in our vocabulary, except as a mythological term. See that coil of wire? With that I can talk across the ocean. Is that what you call a miracle? The paradoxes of nature we are putting into toys. You say there are a great many things we do not know. Oh, yes; there are a great many. But, give us time. See what we have done in a quarter of a century!"
“ But the spiritual soul, what can you say about that ? ”
"The spiritual soul! Well, we say nothing about it. We have never found it. And if there is one thing that we have done more than another, it is to study every fibre of the human frame. We have resolved it into its last elements; and what you call soul we now call mechanism. You have only to disturb some essential valve or pump, and it will not work. The same thing happens when you loosen the piston of a locomotive. The locomotive cannot