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The Church, the Schools and Evolution is a Webnovel created by Judson Eber Conant.
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I. =Truth Must Be Cla.s.sified Scientifically.=
1. The =Realms of Truth= Must Be Cla.s.sified.
The first thing the true scientist does is to cla.s.sify truth into realms.
This we have already done by cla.s.sifying the realm in which G.o.d reveals His moral character to the hearts of all moral beings as the =spiritual= realm, and that in which He reveals His creative power to the minds of all intelligent beings as the =natural= realm.
If we do not distinguish these realms to start with, we invite confusion; and if we should reach right conclusions without this cla.s.sification, it would be due to accident, rather than to scientific accuracy.
But that this cla.s.sification is universally recognized is proved by the fact that the moment science reaches the line where the natural ends and the spiritual begins, it pursues its investigations no farther, on the ground that it has neither the implements nor the capacities with which to investigate in that realm. This proves as conclusively as anything could that the distinction between these two realms is so sharp, as well as so self-evident, that science is compelled to accept it and act accordingly.
2. The =Faculties of Investigation= Must be Distinguished.
The scientific man will next distinguish the faculties with which the investigating is to be done, according to the respective realms. That this cla.s.sification is required by the fundamental difference in the nature of the truths in these two realms is so self-evident that it ought to be axiomatic to all who think with any degree of scientific accuracy. For in the nature of things, =natural= truth requires investigation by =intellectual= faculties, and =spiritual= truth by =spiritual= faculties.
Indeed, this distinction is fully recognized when science halts its pursuit of truth at the boundary line of the spiritual realm.
Yet, although this cla.s.sification is theoretically recognized by science, and although it is absolutely demanded if we are to proceed scientifically in our researches in the spiritual realm, it is little less than amazing how many there are who utterly fail to distinguish these faculties when they start out to investigate spiritual truth. Indeed, this is the first place where the Church and the Schools part company. For the whole att.i.tude of our Schools today, including most of the inst.i.tutions founded and fostered by the Church, seems to be one that entirely misses the scientific necessity of distinguishing between these essentially different faculties when working in these two utterly divergent realms of truth. And so it comes to pa.s.s that while the Church is using one sort of faculties, the Schools are using another kind on the same cla.s.s of truth.
It needs scarcely to be argued that the =intellect=, with its capacity to =reason=, is the proper faculty of apprehension in the scientific realm.
But it is equally true that the =heart=, with its capacity to =believe=, is the one faculty of apprehension in the spiritual realm. That is, the inquirer reasons his way to knowledge in the natural realm, and believes his way to knowledge in the spiritual realm. He uses his mind in order to understand what G.o.d has done in His creation, and he exercises faith in order to come into the knowledge of what He is in His character. In natural things he believes because he understands, and in spiritual things he understands because he believes.
In drawing this contrast between mind and heart, however, it is fully recognized that the term “heart,” in much if not all of Scripture, stands for the whole personality, including intellect, emotion and will. But it is also a fact that this term stands for that certain =att.i.tude= of the whole personality toward G.o.d through His Word in which one believes and receives His Word without question, even though it may not be understood, rather than insisting on understanding it in order to believe it.
Paul says by inspiration in First Corinthians 1:17 to 2:16 that =mental= capacity, even of the highest excellence, when exercised by itself, is utterly incapable of apprehending spiritual truth in any degree whatever.
And Christ says that it is with the =heart= that man believes unto righteousness. This defines that att.i.tude of the whole personality which accepts the Word of G.o.d on faith without necessarily understanding it, and which gives evidence of acceptance by such a whole-hearted surrender to it as will eventuate in a life of righteousness.
Then in other Scriptures we find that a life of righteousness, according to the divine standard, is based on right relations with G.o.d in Christ through faith in His shed blood, through whose incoming and indwelling life, in response to such a faith, the one who receives it will normally live in right relations with his fellow men. That is, it is a righteousness that is obtained by =believing=, not attained by =working=. It is received, not achieved.
The use of the term “heart,” therefore, in Scripture, means that certain att.i.tude of the whole personality toward G.o.d through His Word which the exercise of the intellect apart from, and unfounded on, faith makes impossible.
It is precisely this distinction in faculties that Christ’s formula requires. For it was =spiritual= truth, not natural, of which He spoke when He said, “=If= any man wills to do, he shall =know=.” To work by this formula requires the exercise of faith. For faith is that att.i.tude of the heart toward the doing of G.o.d’s will which is evidenced in =willing to do= that will, no matter what it costs nor where it leads. This is the first step of faith. For faith is both an att.i.tude and an act, the genuineness of which is proven by an activity. That is, it is an att.i.tude of willingness toward the will of G.o.d, an act of surrender to the will of G.o.d, eventuating in an activity in continuing in the will of G.o.d. Therefore complete surrender of the heart and life to G.o.d’s will as revealed in the Word, trusting the outcome to Him, is where faith begins.
And so let no man imagine that he has any real faith either in G.o.d or His Word who has not begun by willing to do, that he may enter upon the doing of, the will of G.o.d. Indeed, this is not simply the place where faith begins, it is also the only place where the presence of faith can be demonstrated. For this is the only possible way of distinguishing that intellectual att.i.tude which simply a.s.sents to the truthfulness of the Word, from that genuine heart faith which actively reckons the Word to be true by surrendering the life to its requirements. This formula of Christ’s, therefore, not only requires that the spiritual and natural faculties be distinguished, but it is the one scientific test by which they =can= be distinguished.
Then there is Paul’s cla.s.sification of these faculties just referred to. It is pa.s.sing strange that so many even in our denominational schools have missed it. He devotes a whole section of First Corinthians, from 1:17 to 2:16, as noted above, to a scientific statement of the natural and total incapacity of the intellect to discern spiritual truth. Consider it a little more in detail. He says that natural human wisdom, “_sophia_,” which Aristotle defines as “mental excellence in its highest and fullest sense,”
is utterly incapable of operating in the realm of spiritual investigation.
For after “the world by mental excellence knew not G.o.d, it pleased G.o.d by the foolishness (to the natural mental capacities) of the thing preached to save those that =believe=.” Not those that =understand=, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of G.o.d (that is, spiritual things), for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know (or understand) them, for they are =spiritually= discerned (or understood).”
The essential difference between natural and spiritual faculties, as well as the utter incapacity of the natural faculties in the spiritual realm, are so clearly brought out in this pa.s.sage that it is impossible to miss it.
By this it is not at all meant, however, that mental training and intellectual capacity have no place in certain branches of Bible study.
Every believer in the Book welcomes the keenest minds and the most expert scholarship in that branch of Bible study, for example, which seeks, by the investigation of the ma.n.u.scripts and the variant readings, to arrive at the very words that were written by the inspired writers; or, for example, in that other branch of study which seeks to discover the history and origins of the various books of the Bible. But it =is= meant that when men seek to know the =spiritual truths= of the Bible, they are utterly unscientific if they fail to use that faculty in their investigation which the Textbook itself prescribes.
To sum it up, faith opens the way for G.o.d to quicken into activity a spiritual capacity through which =He= educates a man in spiritual things entirely independently of the schools.
The man who really intends to be scientific, then, will approach the Bible in that att.i.tude of =faith= which will lead him to =will to do G.o.d’s will= as the Bible reveals it. He will then be where he can =believe= his way to an understanding of spiritual truth.
3. The =Different Kinds of Truth= Must Be Separated.
Another cla.s.sification which the scientific man makes is to distinguish between the two kinds of truth in each respective realm, and to separate that kind which may be demonstrated to the =experience= from that which must be taken on =hearsay=. That is, in the natural realm, in the department of chemistry, for example, the laws of chemical action can be put to the laboratory test of experiment, while the history of the science of chemistry must always be taken on hearsay. And, in the spiritual realm, those truths stated in the spiritual Textbook which have to do with our spiritual relations with G.o.d can be put to the laboratory test of the experiment of faith, while all the rest must be taken on hearsay.
4. The =Primacy of Primary Truth= Must Be Maintained.
One thing more which the scientific man does is to accord primacy to that realm of truth which is primary in importance. In order to do this, the scientific spirit compels the one possessed by it to meet two requirements.
Recognizing that truth is an eternal unity, he will first determine to deal with the facts in any given realm in such a way as to preserve harmony at all times between them and all the known facts of all the other realms. For only thus can he avoid destroying the unity of truth and heading himself toward error and confusion.
He will then determine to maintain the primacy of primary truth by =interpreting in its light the facts of all other realms=. That is, he will make that realm whose truths are of transcendent importance the norm, or standard, by which to interpret the facts of other realms, withholding interpretations until the facts of any other given realm can be interpreted in harmony with those primary truths which have been made forever secure by being scientifically verified.
These requirements would seem so axiomatic as to need no emphasis, and yet, strange as it may seem, right here is another place where the Church and the Schools part company. For the Church is according primacy to one realm of truth, and the Schools to another, making unity of final conclusions out of the question.
If we are to be possessed by the scientific spirit and proceed with scientific accuracy, however, we will be compelled, in the terms of our present study, to accord that primacy to the =spiritual= realm over the =natural= which its transcendent importance demands. For by as much as truth about =G.o.d= is of more eternal value to sinful man than truth about His =creation=, and by as much as truth by which we are =saved= is of more transcendent importance than truth by which we are =informed=, by just that much will the scientific spirit compel us to interpret every bit of information that comes to us from the natural realm in harmony with, and in the light of, the truths of the spiritual realm, for by this method alone can we maintain the primacy of the spiritual realm over the natural.
This means that the man who is truly scientific will never interpret discoveries in the natural realm in such a way as to deny or even throw doubt upon those fundamental truths in the spiritual realm which have been forever secured by scientific demonstration. In other words, he will not seek to bring the Bible into harmony with man’s interpretation of scientific facts, but he will seek to bring every scientific discovery into harmony with the Bible, withholding final conclusions from all discoveries that will not so harmonize until he has light enough so they will.
We have now reached the point where we can sum up all the requirements which the really scientific man will meet in order that he may be able to proceed with scientific accuracy in his researches in the realms of truth.
He will separate the natural and the spiritual realms of truth from each other. He will investigate natural truth with the intellect and spiritual truth with faith. He will distinguish truth that can be demonstrated to the experience from that which must be accepted on testimony alone. And he will accord primacy to the spiritual realm over the natural.
It only remains to be said that the man who will not meet these requirements is a total stranger to the scientific spirit. “The Standard Dictionary” says that science is “knowledge gained and verified by exact observation and correct thinking,” and the man who will not meet requirements that are absolutely necessary for exact observation and correct thinking in the gaining and verifying of knowledge does not have the first qualification of the scientific investigator. For he is really not open to truth at all, and is therefore in no position to maintain either the unity between the realms of truth or the primacy of primary truth, and exact observation and correct thinking are out of the question under such conditions. He cannot verify anything with scientific accuracy when he will not even cla.s.sify the different realms of truth and the faculties of investigation, or give the realms their respective places in the sphere of truth. And so it is futile for one who refuses to do this to talk about being in harmony with the scientific spirit.
When an investigator meets these requirements, on the other hand, he is then ready to meet the next demand made upon the scientific inquirer, which is–
II. =Truth Must Be Investigated Scientifically.=
Accepting the self-evident accuracy of the cla.s.sification we have just outlined, we will now give attention to what the scientific spirit will require of us at those two places where the Church and the Schools have parted company. For if we can get together here, we can both proceed and arrive together in our investigation of truth, and that will end the controversy.
1. =Faith= Must Be Given Precedence over =Reason=.
Let us see what it will mean to give precedence to faith over reason when we are working in the realm of spiritual truth.
It will mean that =believing= will precede =reasoning= in our approach to the Word of G.o.d, and this defines the vital distinction between the true Christian and the rationalist.
=a.= The Method of the Rationalist.
Faith and rationalism are mutually exclusive in the spiritual realm.
Rationalizing and doubting are first cousins when the Word of G.o.d is involved.
Satan was the first rationalist on earth, and Eve fell when she accepted his reasonings about the Word of G.o.d in the place of simple faith in that Word. For Satan raised a question about the Word,–“Yea, hath G.o.d said?”–and thereby opened the way for incipient doubt, and then he reasoned Eve into accepting a “common sense” interpretation of what G.o.d had said, which proved to be an outright denial of His Word. And look at the consequences–indescribably terrible–of rationalizing about G.o.d’s Word instead of believing it!
But rationalism did not stop there, for ever since that day all men without exception have been natural-born rationalists. For it is perfectly natural to all men to =rationalize= about G.o.d’s Word, but it takes a miracle of Divine power to make any one willing to =believe= it.
These two att.i.tudes toward Scripture are forever irreconcilable. In the nature of things, they can never be harmonized. The believer in the Word and the rationalist take two utterly divergent paths that cannot possibly reach the same goal.
The program of the rationalist is to arrive at an understanding of spiritual truth over the pathway of reasoning that is apart from faith.
That of the believer is to arrive at it over the pathway of reasoning that is founded on faith.
The program of the rationalist is to harmonize the Word of G.o.d with his conclusions. That of the believer is to harmonize his conclusions with the Word. The program of the rationalist is to become a critic of the Word and sit in judgment on it. That of the believer is to let the Word become his critic and sit in judgment on him.
These are certainly reasons enough why the believer and the rationalist can never travel together. For the believer is walking by G.o.d’s estimate of him, while the rationalist is walking by his estimate of G.o.d, and these paths go in opposite directions.