11 NOVEMBER 1876, Page 21


The Warfare of Science. By Andrew White, LL.D. (Henry S. King and Co.)—The author of this book is the president of Cowell University. He has been deeply impressed by the unfortunate results of the long conflict between science and religion. "All interference with sciences in the supposed interest of religion, no matter how conscientious such interference has been," has, he contends, been a fatal blunder, and led to the worst results. So, again," all untrammeled scientific investi- gation, no matter how dangerous to religion some of its stages may have seemed for a time, has invariably resulted in the highest good of reli- gion and of science." These are the positions he takes up, and which this book has been written to illustrate. He conducts us over the battle- fields on which the great contest has been fought, and shows how, whether it was a question of geography, or chemistry, or astronomy, or geology, or political economy, science has ultimately always come off victorious. He gives us the details of these battles, and sketches the careers of the champion of science and free thought, such as Galileo, Copernicus, Vesalius, and Jenner. His book thus, at least, gives us some interesting information, if it has no other very special merit. Its tendency perhaps is to make rather too much of the opposition which science has had to encounter, and to exaggerate the perverseness of its opponents. Science has won such triumphs that it can afford to be generous. Much of the blind bigotry of mediaeval ecclesiasticism was due to the general spirit and temper of the age, and it would be unfair to saddle the Church of Rome with the whole responsi- bility. That Church has, indeed, enough to answer for ; but we must always remember that while she sometimes- repressed thought, she in a multitude of indirect ways encouraged it, and that some of her leading men were greatly in advance of the time. However, the tone of the book is good, and free from bitterness and bigotry. Science will never be railed at by persons of any sense or right feeling, unless it presumes on its past successes to become intolerably aggressive, and to force upon us crude theories which we may reasonably suspect of being utterly hostile to any sort of belief in man's higher destiny.