History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom by Andrew Dickson White

HISTORY OF THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE WITH THEOLOGY IN CHRISTENDOM BY ANDREW DICKSON WHITE TWO VOLUMES COMBINED To the Memory of EZRA CORNELL I DEDICATE THIS BOOK. Thoughts that great hearts once broke for, we Breathe cheaply in the common air.–LOWELL Dicipulus est prioris posterior dies.–PUBLIUS SYRUS Truth is the daughter of Time.–BACON The Truth
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  • 1896
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To the Memory of


Thoughts that great hearts once broke for, we

Breathe cheaply in the common air.–LOWELL

Dicipulus est prioris posterior dies.–PUBLIUS SYRUS

Truth is the daughter of Time.–BACON The Truth shall make you free.–ST. JOHN, viii, 32.

My book is ready for the printer, and as I begin this preface my eye lights upon the crowd of Russian peasants at work on the Neva under my windows. With pick and shovel they are letting the rays of the April sun into the great ice barrier which binds together the modern quays and the old granite fortress where lie the bones of the Romanoff Czars.

This barrier is already weakened; it is widely decayed, in many places thin, and everywhere treacherous; but it is, as a whole, so broad, so crystallized about old boulders, so imbedded in shallows, so wedged into crannies on either shore, that it is a great danger. The waters from thousands of swollen streamlets above are pressing behind it; wreckage and refuse are piling up against it; every one knows that it must yield. But there is danger that it may resist the pressure too long and break suddenly, wrenching even the granite quays from their foundations, bringing desolation to a vast population, and leaving, after the subsidence of the flood, a widespread residue of slime, a fertile breeding-bed for the germs of disease.

But the patient mujiks are doing the right thing. The barrier, exposed more and more to the warmth of spring by the scores of channels they are making, will break away gradually, and the river will flow on beneficent and beautiful.

My work in this book is like that of the Russian mujik on the Neva. I simply try to aid in letting the light of historical truth into that decaying mass of outworn thought which attaches the modern world to mediaeval conceptions of Christianity, and which still lingers among us–a most serious barrier to religion and morals, and a menace to the whole normal evolution of society.

For behind this barrier also the flood is rapidly rising –the flood of increased knowledge and new thought; and this barrier also, though honeycombed and in many places thin, creates a danger–danger of a sudden breaking away, distressing and calamitous, sweeping before it not only out worn creeds and noxious dogmas, but cherished principles and ideals, and even wrenching out most precious religious and moral foundations of the whole social and political fabric.

My hope is to aid–even if it be but a little–in the gradual and healthful dissolving away of this mass of unreason, that the stream of “religion pure and undefiled” may flow on broad and clear, a blessing to humanity.

And now a few words regarding the evolution of this book.

It is something over a quarter of a century since I labored with Ezra Cornell in founding the university which bears his honored name.

Our purpose was to establish in the State of New York an institution for advanced instruction and research, in which science, pure and applied, should have an equal place with literature; in which the study of literature, ancient and modern, should be emancipated as much as possible from pedantry; and which should be free from various useless trammels and vicious methods which at that period hampered many, if not most, of the American universities and colleges.

We had especially determined that the institution should be under the control of no political party and of no single religious sect, and with Mr. Cornell’s approval I embodied stringent provisions to this effect in the charter.

It had certainly never entered into the mind of either of us that in all this we were doing anything irreligious or unchristian. Mr. Cornell was reared a member of the Society of Friends; he had from his fortune liberally aided every form of Christian effort which he found going on about him, and among the permanent trustees of the public library which he had already founded, he had named all the clergymen of the town–Catholic and Protestant. As for myself, I had been bred a churchman, had recently been elected a trustee of one church college, and a professor in another; those nearest and dearest to me were devoutly religious; and, if I may be allowed to speak of a matter so personal to my self, my most cherished friendships were among deeply religious men and women, and my greatest sources of enjoyment were ecclesiastical architecture, religious music, and the more devout forms of poetry. So, far from wishing to injure Christianity, we both hoped to promote it; but we did not confound religion with sectarianism, and we saw in the sectarian character of American colleges and universities as a whole, a reason for the poverty of the advanced instruction then given in so many of them.

It required no great acuteness to see that a system of control which, in selecting a Professor of Mathematics or Language or Rhetoric or Physics or Chemistry, asked first and above all to what sect or even to what wing or branch of a sect he belonged, could hardly do much to advance the moral, religious, or intellectual development of mankind.

The reasons for the new foundation seemed to us, then, so cogent that we expected the co-operation of all good citizens, and anticipated no opposition from any source.

As I look back across the intervening years, I know not whether to be more astonished or amused at our simplicity.

Opposition began at once. In the State Legislature it confronted us at every turn, and it was soon in full blaze throughout the State–from the good Protestant bishop who proclaimed that all professors should be in holy orders, since to the Church alone was given the command, “Go, teach all nations,” to the zealous priest who published a charge that Goldwin Smith–a profoundly Christian scholar –had come to Cornell in order to inculcate the “infidelity of the Westminster Review”; and from the eminent divine who went from city to city, denouncing the “atheistic and pantheistic tendencies” of the proposed education, to the perfervid minister who informed a denominational synod that Agassiz, the last great opponent of Darwin, and a devout theist, was “preaching Darwinism and atheism” in the new institution.

As the struggle deepened, as hostile resolutions were introduced into various ecclesiastical bodies, as honored clergymen solemnly warned their flocks first against the “atheism,” then against the “infidelity,” and finally against the “indifferentism” of the university, as devoted pastors endeavoured to dissuade young men from matriculation, I took the defensive, and, in answer to various attacks from pulpits and religious newspapers, attempted to allay the fears of the public. “Sweet reasonableness” was fully tried. There was established and endowed in the university perhaps the most effective Christian pulpit, and one of the most vigorous branches of the Christian Association, then in the United States; but all this did nothing to ward off the attack. The clause in the charter of the university forbidding it to give predominance to the doctrines of any sect, and above all the fact that much prominence was given to instruction in various branches of science, seemed to prevent all compromise, and it soon became clear that to stand on the defensive only made matters worse. Then it was that there was borne in upon me a sense of the real difficulty– the antagonism between the theological and scientific view of the universe and of education in relation to it; therefore it was that, having been invited to deliver a lecture in the great hall of the Cooper Institute at New York, I took as my subject The Battlefields of Science, maintaining this thesis which follows:

In all modern history, interference with science in the supposed interest of religion, no matter how conscientious such interference may have been, has resulted in the direst evils both to religion and science, and invariably; and, on the other hand, all untrammeled scientific investigation, no matter how dangerous to religion some of its stages may have seemed for the time to be, has invariably resulted in the highest good both of religion and science.

The lecture was next day published in the New York Tribune at the request of Horace Greeley, its editor, who was also one of the Cornell University trustees. As a result of this widespread publication and of sundry attacks which it elicited, I was asked to maintain my thesis before various university associations and literary clubs; and I shall always remember with gratitude that among those who stood by me and presented me on the lecture platform with words of approval and cheer was my revered instructor, the Rev. Dr. Theodore Dwight Woolsey, at that time President of Yale College.

My lecture grew–first into a couple of magazine articles, and then into a little book called The Warfare of Science, for which, when republished in England, Prof. John Tyndall wrote a preface.

Sundry translations of this little book were published, but the most curious thing in its history is the fact that a very friendly introduction to the Swedish translation was written by a Lutheran bishop.

Meanwhile Prof. John W. Draper published his book on The Conflict between Science and Religion, a work of great ability, which, as I then thought, ended the matter, so far as my giving it further attention was concerned.

But two things led me to keep on developing my own work in this field: First, I had become deeply interested in it, and could not refrain from directing my observation and study to it; secondly, much as I admired Draper’s treatment of the questions involved, his point of view and mode of looking at history were different from mine.

He regarded the struggle as one between Science and Religion. I believed then, and am convinced now, that it was a struggle between Science and Dogmatic Theology.

More and more I saw that it was the conflict between two epochs in the evolution of human thought–the theological and the scientific.

So I kept on, and from time to time published New Chapters in the Warfare of Science as magazine articles in The Popular Science Monthly. This was done under many difficulties. For twenty years, as President of Cornell University and Professor of History in that institution, I was immersed in the work of its early development. Besides this, I could not hold myself entirely aloof from public affairs, and was three times sent by the Government of the United States to do public duty abroad: first as a commissioner to Santo Domingo, in 1870; afterward as minister to Germany, in 1879; finally, as minister to Russia, in 1892; and was also called upon by the State of New York to do considerable labor in connection with international exhibitions at Philadelphia and at Paris. I was also obliged from time to time to throw off by travel the effects of overwork.

The variety of residence and occupation arising from these causes may perhaps explain some peculiarities in this book which might otherwise puzzle my reader.

While these journeyings have enabled me to collect materials over a very wide range–in the New World, from Quebec to Santo Domingo and from Boston to Mexico, San Francisco, and Seattle, and in the Old World from Trondhjem to Cairo and from St. Petersburg to Palermo– they have often obliged me to write under circumstances not very favorable: sometimes on an Atlantic steamer, sometimes on a Nile boat, and not only in my own library at Cornell, but in those of Berlin, Helsingfors, Munich, Florence, and the British Museum. This fact will explain to the benevolent reader not only the citation of different editions of the same authority in different chapters, but some iterations which in the steady quiet of my own library would not have been made.

It has been my constant endeavour to write for the general reader, avoiding scholastic and technical terms as much as possible and stating the truth simply as it presents itself to me.

That errors of omission and commission will be found here and there is probable–nay, certain; but the substance of the book will, I believe, be found fully true. I am encouraged in this belief by the fact that, of the three bitter attacks which this work in its earlier form has already encountered, one was purely declamatory, objurgatory, and hortatory, and the others based upon ignorance of facts easily pointed out.

And here I must express my thanks to those who have aided me. First and above all to my former student and dear friend, Prof. George Lincoln Burr, of Cornell University, to whose contributions, suggestions, criticisms, and cautions I am most deeply indebted; also to my friends U. G. Weatherly, formerly Travelling Fellow of Cornell, and now Assistant Professor in the University of Indiana,–Prof. and Mrs. Earl Barnes and Prof. William H. Hudson, of Stanford University,–and Prof. E. P Evans, formerly of the University of Michigan, but now of Munich, for extensive aid in researches upon the lines I have indicated to them, but which I could never have prosecuted without their co-operation. In libraries at home and abroad they have all worked for me most effectively, and I am deeply grateful to them.

This book is presented as a sort of Festschrift–a tribute to Cornell University as it enters the second quarter-century of its existence, and probably my last tribute.

The ideas for which so bitter a struggle was made at its foundation have triumphed. Its faculty, numbering over one hundred and, fifty; its students, numbering but little short of two thousand; its noble buildings and equipment; the munificent gifts, now amounting to millions of dollars, which it has received from public-spirited men and women; the evidences of public confidence on all sides; and, above all, the adoption of its cardinal principles and main features by various institutions of learning in other States, show this abundantly. But there has been a triumph far greater and wider. Everywhere among the leading modern nations the same general tendency is seen. During the quarter-century just past the control of public instruction, not only in America but in the leading nations of Europe, has passed more and more from the clergy to the laity. Not only are the presidents of the larger universities in the United States, with but one or two exceptions, laymen, but the same thing is seen in the old European strongholds of metaphysical theology. At my first visit to Oxford and Cambridge, forty years ago, they were entirely under ecclesiastical control. Now, all this is changed. An eminent member of the present British Government has recently said, “A candidate for high university position is handicapped by holy orders.” I refer to this with not the slightest feeling of hostility toward the clergy, for I have none; among them are many of my dearest friends; no one honours their proper work more than I; but the above fact is simply noted as proving the continuance of that evolution which I have endeavoured to describe in this series of monographs–an evolution, indeed, in which the warfare of Theology against Science has been one of the most active and powerful agents. My belief is that in the field left to them–their proper field–the clergy will more and more, as they cease to struggle against scientific methods and conclusions, do work even nobler and more beautiful than anything they have heretofore done. And this is saying much. My conviction is that Science, though it has evidently conquered Dogmatic Theology based on biblical texts and ancient modes of thought, will go hand in hand with Religion; and that, although theological control will continue to diminish, Religion, as seen in the recognition of “a Power in the universe, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness,” and in the love of God and of our neighbor, will steadily grow stronger and stronger, not only in the American institutions of learning but in the world at large. Thus may the declaration of Micah as to the requirements of Jehovah, the definition by St. James of “pure religion and undefiled,” and, above all, the precepts and ideals of the blessed Founder of Christianity himself, be brought to bear more and more effectively on mankind.

I close this preface some days after its first lines were written. The sun of spring has done its work on the Neva; the great river flows tranquilly on, a blessing and a joy; the mujiks are forgotten.
A. D. W.

P.S.–Owing to a wish to give more thorough revision to some parts of my work, it has been withheld from the press until the present date.
A. D. W.
August 15, 1895.



I. The Visible Universe.
Ancient and medieval views regarding the manner of creation Regarding the matter of creation
Regarding the time of creation
Regarding the date of creation
Regarding the Creator
Regarding light and darkness
Rise of the conception of an evolution: among the Chaldeans,the Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans
Its survival through the Middle Ages, despite the disfavour of the Church
Its development in modern times.–The nebular hypothesis and its struggle with theology
The idea of evolution at last victorious Our sacred books themselves an illustration of its truth The true reconciliation of Science and Theology

II. Theological Teachings regarding the Animals and Man. Ancient and medieval representations of the creation of man Literal acceptance of the book of Genesis by the Christian fathers
By the Reformers
By modern theologians, Catholic and Protestant Theological reasoning as to the divisions of the animal kingdom The Physiologus, the Bestiaries, the Exempila Beginnings of sceptical observation
Development of a scientific method in the study of Nature Breaking down of the theological theory of creation

III. Theological and Scientific Theories of an Evolution in Animated Nature.
Ideas of evolution among the ancients In the early Church
In the medieval Church
Development of these ideas from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries
The work of De Maillet
Of Linneus
Of Buffon
Contributions to the theory of evolution at the close of the eighteenth century
The work of Treviranus and Lamarck
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and Cuvier
Development of the theory up to the middle of the nineteenth century
The contributions of Darwin and Wallace The opposition of Agassiz

IV. The Final Effort of Theology.
Attacks on Darwin and his theories in England In America
Formation of sacro-scientific organizations to combat the theory of evolution
The attack in France
In Germany
Conversion of Lyell to the theory of evolution The attack of Darwin’s Descent of Man
Difference between this and the former attack Hostility to Darwinism in America
Change in the tone of the controversy.–Attempts at compromise Dying-out of opposition to evolution
Last outbursts of theological hostility Final victory of evolution



I. The Form of the Earth.
Primitive conception of the earth as flat In Chaldea and Egypt
In Persia
Among the Hebrews
Evolution, among the Greeks, of the idea of its sphericity Opposition of the early Church
Evolution of a sacred theory, drawn from the Bible Its completion by Cosmas Indicopleustes
Its influence on Christian thought
Survival of the idea of the earth’s sphericity–its acceptance by Isidore and Bede
Its struggle and final victory

II. The Delineation of the Earth.
Belief of every ancient people that its own central place was the centre of the earth
Hebrew conviction that the earth’s centre was at Jerusalem Acceptance of this view by Christianity
Influence of other Hebrew conceptions–Gog and Magog, the “four winds,” the waters “on an heap”

III. The Inhabitants of the Earth.
The idea of antipodes
Its opposition by the Christian Church–Gregory Nazianzen, Lactantius, Basil, Ambrose, Augustine, Procopius of Gaza, Cosmas, Isidore
Virgil of Salzburg’s assertion of it in the eighth century Its revival by William of Conches and Albert the Great in the thirteenth
Surrender of it by Nicolas d’Oresme Fate of Peter of Abano and Cecco d’ Ascoli Timidity of Pierre d’Ailly and Tostatus
Theological hindrance of Columbus
Pope Alexander VI’s demarcation line Cautious conservatism of Gregory Reysch
Magellan and the victory of science

IV. The Size of the Earth.
Scientific attempts at measuring the earth The sacred solution of the problem
Fortunate influence of the blunder upon Columbus

V. The Character of the Earth’s Surface. Servetus and the charge of denying the fertility of Judea Contrast between the theological and the religious spirit in their effects on science



I. The Old Sacred Theory of the Universe. The early Church’s conviction of the uselessness of astronomy The growth of a sacred theory–Origen, the Gnostics, Philastrius, Cosmas, Isidore
The geocentric, or Ptolemaic, theory, its origin, and its acceptance by the Christian world
Development of the new sacred system of astronomy–the pseudo-Dionysius, Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas Its popularization by Dante
Its details
Its persistence to modern times

II. The Heliocentric Theory.
Its rise among the Greeks–Pythagoras, Philolaus, Aristarchus Its suppression by the charge of blasphemy Its loss from sight for six hundred Years, then for a thousand Its revival by Nicholas de Cusa and Nicholas Copernicus Its toleration as a hypothesis
Its prohibition as soon as Galileo teaches it as a truth Consequent timidity of scholars–Acosta, Apian Protestantism not less zealous in opposition than Catholicism–Luther Melanchthon, Calvin, Turretin This opposition especially persistent in England–Hutchinson, Pike, Horne, Horsley, Forbes, Owen, Wesley Resulting interferences with freedom of teaching Giordano Bruno’s boldness and his fate
The truth demonstrated by the telescope of Galileo

III. The War upon Galileo.
Concentration of the war on this new champion The first attack
Fresh attacks–Elci, Busaeus, Caccini, Lorini, Bellarmin Use of epithets
Attempts to entrap Galileo
His summons before the Inquisition at Rome The injunction to silence, and the condemnation of the theory of the earth’s motion
The work of Copernicus placed on the Index Galileo’s seclusion
Renewed attacks upon Galileo–Inchofer, Fromundus

IV. Victory of the Church over Galileo Publication of his Dialogo
Hostility of Pope Urban VIII
Galileo’s second trial by the Inquisition His abjuration
Later persecution of him
Measures to complete the destruction of the Copernican theory Persecution of Galileo’s memory
Protestant hostility to the new astronomy and its champions

V. Results of the Victory over Galileo. Rejoicings of churchmen over the victory The silencing of Descartes
Persecution of Campanella and of Kepler Persistence and victory of science
Dilemma of the theologians
Vain attempts to postpone the surrender

VI. The Retreat of the Church after its Victory over Galileo. The easy path for the Protestant theologians The difficulties of the older Church.–The papal infallibility fully committed against the Copernican theory Attempts at evasion–first plea: that Galileo was condemned not for affirming the earth’s motion, but for supporting it from Scripture
Its easy refutation
Second plea: that he was condemned not for heresy, but for contumacy
Folly of this assertion
Third plea: that it was all a quarrel between Aristotelian professors and those favouring the experimental method Fourth plea: that the condemnation of Galileo was “provisory” Fifth plea: that he was no more a victim of Catholics than of Protestants
Efforts to blacken Galileo’s character Efforts to suppress the documents of his trial Their fruitlessness
Sixth plea: that the popes as popes had never condemned his theory
Its confutation from their own mouths Abandonment of the contention by honest Catholics Two efforts at compromise–Newman, De Bonald Effect of all this on thinking men
The fault not in Catholicism more than in Protestantism–not in religion, but in theology



I. The Theological View.
Early beliefs as to comets, meteors, and eclipses Their inheritance by Jews and Christians The belief regarding comets especially harmful as a source of superstitious terror
Its transmission through the Middle Ages Its culmination under Pope Calixtus III
Beginnings of scepticism–Copernicus, Paracelsus, Scaliger Firmness of theologians, Catholic and Protestant, in its support

II. Theological Efforts to crush the Scientific View. The effort through the universities.–The effort through the pulpits
Heerbrand at Tubingen and Dieterich at Marburg Maestlin at Heidelberg
Buttner, Vossius, Torreblanca, Fromundus Father Augustin de Angelis at Rome
Reinzer at Linz
Celichius at Magdeburg
Conrad Dieterich’s sermon at Ulm
Erni and others in Switzerland
Comet doggerel
Echoes from New England–Danforth, Morton, Increase Mather

III. The Invasion of Scepticism.
Rationalism of Cotton Mather, and its cause Blaise de Vigenere
Bekker, Lubienitzky, Pierre Petit
The scientific movement beneath all this

IV. Theological Efforts at Compromise.–The Final Victory of Science.
The admission that some comets are supralunar Difference between scientific and theological reasoning Development of the reasoning of Tycho and Kepler–Cassini, Hevel, Doerfel, Bernouilli, Newton
Completion of the victory by Halley and Clairaut Survivals of the superstition–Joseph de Maistre, Forster Arago’s statistics
The theories of Whiston and Burnet, and their influence in Germany
The superstition ended in America by the lectures of Winthrop Helpful influence of John Wesley
Effects of the victory



I. Growth of Theological Explanations Germs of geological truth among the Greeks and Romans Attitude of the Church toward science
Geological theories of the early theologians Attitude of the schoolmen
Contributions of the Arabian schools Theories of the earlier Protestants
Influence of the revival of learning

II. Efforts to Suppress the Scientific View. Revival of scientific methods
Buffon and the Sorbonne
Beringer’s treatise on fossils
Protestant opposition to the new geology—the works of Burnet, Whiston, Wesley, Clark,
Watson, Arnold, Cockburn,and others

III. The First Great Effort of Compromise, based on the Flood of Noah.
The theory that fossils were produced by the Deluge Its acceptance by both Catholics and Protestants–Luther, Calmet Burnet, Whiston, Woodward, Mazurier, Torrubia, Increase Mather Scheuchzer
Voltaire’s theory of fossils
Vain efforts of enlightened churchmen in behalf of the scientific view
Steady progress of science–the work of Cuvier and Brongniart Granvile Penn’s opposition
The defection of Buckland and Lyell to the scientific side Surrender of the theologians
Remnants of the old belief
Death-blow given to the traditional theory of the Deluge by the discovery of the Chaldean accounts
Results of the theological opposition to science

IV. Final Efforts at Compromise–The Victory of Science complete.
Efforts of Carl von Raumer, Wagner, and others The new testimony of the caves and beds of drift as to the antiquity of man
Gosse’s effort to save the literal interpretation of Genesis Efforts of Continental theologians
Gladstone’s attempt at a compromise Its demolition by Huxley
By Canon Driver
Dean Stanley on the reconciliation of Science and Scripture



I. The Sacred Chronology.
Two fields in which Science has gained a definite victory over Theology
Opinions of the Church fathers on the antiquity of man The chronology of Isidore
Of Bede
Of the medieval Jewish scholars
The views of the Reformers on the antiquity of man Of the Roman Church
Of Archbishop Usher
Influence of Egyptology on the belief in man’s antiquity La Peyrere’s theory of the Pre-Adamites
Opposition in England to the new chronology

II. The New Chronology.
Influence of the new science of Egyptology on biblical chronology

Manetho’s history of Egypt and the new chronology derived from it Evidence of the antiquity of man furnished by the monuments of Egypt
By her art
By her science
By other elements of civilization
By the remains found in the bed of the Nile Evidence furnished by the study of Assyriology


Early beliefs regarding “thunder-stones” Theories of Mercati and Tollius regarding them Their identification with the implements of prehistoric man Remains of man found in caverns
Unfavourable influence on scientific activity of the political conditions of the early part of the nineteenth century Change effected by the French Revolution of to {??} Rallying of the reactionary clerical influence against science

II. The Flint Weapons and Implements. Boucher de Perthes’s contributions to the knowledge of prehistoric man
His conclusions confirmed by Lyell and others Cave explorations of Lartet and Christy
Evidence of man’s existence furnished by rude carvings Cave explorations in the British Islands Evidence of man’s existence in the Drift period In the early Quaternary and in the Tertiary periods



The two antagonistic views regarding the life of man on the earth
The theory of “the Fall” among ancient peoples Inheritance of this view by the Christian Church Appearance among the Greeks and Romans of the theory of a rise of man
Its disappearance during the Middle Ages Its development since the seventeenth century The first blow at the doctrine of “the Fall” comes from geology Influence of anthropology on the belief in this doctrine The finding of human skulls in Quaternary deposits Their significance
Results obtained from the comparative study of the remains of human handiwork
Discovery of human remains in shell-heaps on the shores of the Baltic Sea
In peat-beds
The lake-dwellers
Indications of the upward direction of man’s development Mr. Southall’s attack on the theory of man’s antiquity An answer to it
Discovery of prehistoric human remains in Egypt Hamard’s attack on the new scientific conclusions The survival of prehistoric implements in religious rites Strength of the argument against the theory of “the Fall of Man”



The beginnings of the science of Comparative Ethnology Its testimony to the upward tendency of man from low beginning Theological efforts to break its force–De Maistre and DeBonald Whately’s attempt
The attempt of the Duke of Argyll
Evidence of man’s upward tendency derived from Comparative Philology
From Comparative Literature and Folklore From Comparative Ethnography
From Biology



Proof of progress given by the history of art Proofs from general history
Development of civilization even under unfavourable circumstances Advancement even through catastrophes and the decay of civilizations
Progress not confined to man’s material condition Theological struggle against the new scientific view Persecution of Prof. Winchell
Of Dr. Woodrow
Other interferences with freedom of teaching The great harm thus done to religion
Rise of a better spirit
The service rendered to religion by Anthropology



I. Growth of a Theological Theory.
The beliefs of classical antiquity regarding storms, thunder, and lightning
Development of a sacred science of meteorology by the fathers of the Church
Theories of Cosmas Indicopleustes
Of Isidore
Of Seville
Of Bede
Of Rabanus Maurus
Rational views of Honorius of Autun Orthodox theories of John of San Geminiano Attempt of Albert the Great to reconcile the speculations of Aristotle with the theological views
The monkish encyclopedists
Theories regarding the rainbow and the causes of storms Meteorological phenomena attributed to the Almighty

II. Diabolical Agency in Storms.
Meteorological phenomena attributed to the devil–“the prince of the power of the air”
Propagation of this belief by the medieval theologians Its transmission to both Catholics and Protestants–Eck, Luther The great work of Delrio
Guacci’s Compendium
The employment of prayer against “the powers of the air” Of exorcisms
Of fetiches and processions
Of consecrated church bells

III. The Agency of Witches.
The fearful results of the witch superstition Its growth out of the doctrine of evil agency in atmospheric phenomena
Archbishop Agobard’s futile attempt to dispel it Its sanction by the popes
Its support by confessions extracted by torture Part taken in the persecution by Dominicans and Jesuits Opponents of the witch theory–Pomponatius, Paracelsus, Agrippa of Nettesheim
Jean Bodin’s defence of the superstition Fate of Cornelius Loos
Of Dietrich Flade
Efforts of Spee to stem the persecution His posthumous influence
Upholders of the orthodox view–Bishop Binsfeld, Remigius Vain protests of Wier
Persecution of Bekker for opposing the popular belief Effect of the Reformation in deepening the superstition The persecution in Great Britain and America Development of a scientific view of the heavens Final efforts to revive the old belief

IV. Franklin’s Lightning-Rod.
Franklin’s experiments with the kite Their effect on the old belief
Efforts at compromise between the scientific and theological theories
Successful use of the lightning-rod Religious scruples against it in America In England
In Austria
In Italy
Victory of the scientific theory
This victory exemplified in the case of the church of the monastery of Lerins
In the case of Dr. Moorhouse
In the case of the Missouri droughts



I. The Supremacy of Magic.
Primitive tendency to belief in magic The Greek conception of natural laws
Influence of Plato and Aristotle on the growth of science Effect of the establishment of Christianity on the development of the physical sciences
The revival of thought in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Albert the Great
Vincent of Beauvais
Thomas Aquinas
Roger Bacon’s beginning of the experimental method brought to nought
The belief that science is futile gives place to the belief that it is dangerous
The two kinds of magic
Rarity of persecution for magic before the Christian era The Christian theory of devils
Constantine’s laws against magic
Increasing terror of magic and witchcraft Papal enactments against them
Persistence of the belief in magic
Its effect on the development of science Roger Bacon
Opposition of secular rulers to science John Baptist Porta
The opposition to scientific societies in Italy In England
The effort to turn all thought from science to religion The development of mystic theology
Its harmful influence on science
Mixture of theological with scientific speculation This shown in the case of Melanchthon
In that of Francis Bacon
Theological theory of gases
Growth of a scientific theory
Basil Valentine and his contributions to chemistry Triumph of the scientific theory

II. The Triumph of Chemistry and Physics. New epoch in chemistry begun by Boyle
Attitude of the mob toward science
Effect on science of the reaction following the French Revolution: {?}
Development of chemistry since the middle of the nineteenth century
Development of physics
Modern opposition to science in Catholic countries Attack of scientific education in France In England
In Prussia
Revolt against the subordination of education to science Effect of the International Exhibition of ii {?} at London Of the endowment of State colleges in America by the Morrill Act of 1862
The results to religion



I. THE EARLY AND SACRED THEORIES OF DISEASE. Naturalness of the idea of supernatural intervention in causing and curing disease
Prevalence of this idea in ancient civilizations Beginnings of a scientific theory of medicine The twofold influence of Christianity on the healing art

Growth of legends of miracles about the lives of great benefactors of humanity
Sketch of Xavier’s career
Absence of miraculous accounts in his writings and those of his contemporaries
Direct evidence that Xavier wrought no miracles Growth of legends of miracles as shown in the early biographies of him
As shown in the canonization proceedings Naturalness of these legends

III. THE MEDIAEVAL MIRACLES OF HEALING CHECK MEDICAL SCIENCE. Character of the testimony regarding miracles Connection of mediaeval with pagan miracles Their basis of fact
Various kinds of miraculous cures
Atmosphere of supernaturalism thrown about all cures Influence of this atmosphere on medical science

Theological theory as to the cause of disease Influence of self-interest on “pastoral medicine” Development of fetichism at Cologne and elsewhere Other developments of fetich cure

V. THEOLOGICAL OPPOSITION TO ANATOMICAL STUDIES. Medieval belief in the unlawfulness of meddling with the bodies of the dead
Dissection objected to on the ground that “the Church abhors the shedding of blood”
The decree of Boniface VIII and its results

Scanty development of medical science in the Church Among Jews and Mohammedans
Promotion of medical science by various Christian laymen of the Middle Ages
By rare men of science
By various ecclesiastics

VII. THEOLOGICAL DISCOURAGEMENT OF MEDICINE. Opposition to seeking cure from disease by natural means Requirement of ecclesiastical advice before undertaking medical treatment
Charge of magic and Mohammedanism against men of science Effect of ecclesiastical opposition to medicine The doctrine of signatures
The doctrine of exorcism
Theological opposition to surgery
Development of miracle and fetich cures Fashion in pious cures
Medicinal properties of sacred places Theological argument in favour of miraculous cures Prejudice against Jewish physicians

The royal touch
Cures wrought by Charles II
By James II
By William III
By Queen Anne
By Louis XIV
Universal acceptance of these miracles

IX. THE SCIENTIFIC STRUGGLE FOR ANATOMY. Occasional encouragement of medical science in the Middle Ages New impulse given by the revival of learning and the age of discovery
Paracelsus and Mundinus
Vesalius, the founder of the modern science of anatomy.–His career and fate

Theological opposition to inoculation in Europe In America
Theological opposition to vaccination Recent hostility to vaccination in England In Canada, during the smallpox epidemic
Theological opposition to the use of cocaine To the use of quinine
Theological opposition to the use of anesthetics

XI. FINAL BREAKING AWAY OF THE THEOLOGICAL THEORY IN MEDICINE. Changes incorporated in the American Book of Common Prayer Effect on the theological view of the growing knowledge of the relation between imagination and medicine Effect of the discoveries in hypnotism
In bacteriology
Relation between ascertained truth and the “ages of faith”



I. THE THEOLOGICAL VIEW OF EPIDEMICS AND SANITATION. The recurrence of great pestilences
Their early ascription to the wrath or malice of unseen powers Their real cause want of hygienic precaution Theological apotheosis of filth
Sanction given to the sacred theory of pestilence by Pope Gregory the Great
Modes of propitiating the higher powers Modes of thwarting the powers of evil
Persecution of the Jews as Satan’s emissaries Persecution of witches as Satan’s emissaries Case of the Untori at Milan
New developments of fetichism.–The blood of St. Januarius at Naples
Appearance of better methods in Italy.–In Spain

II. GRADUAL DECAY OF THEOLOGICAL VIEWS REGARDING SANITATION. Comparative freedom of England from persecutions for plague-bringing, in spite of her wretched sanitary condition Aid sought mainly through church services Effects of the great fire in London
The jail fever
The work of John Howard
Plagues in the American colonies
In France.–The great plague at Marseilles Persistence of the old methods in Austria In Scotland

III. THE TRIUMPH OF SANITARY SCIENCE. Difficulty of reconciling the theological theory of pestilences with accumulating facts
Curious approaches to a right theory The law governing the relation of theology to disease Recent victories of hygiene in all countries In England.—Chadwick and his fellows
In France

IV. THE RELATION OF SANITARY SCIENCE TO RELIGION. The process of sanitary science not at the cost of religion Illustration from the policy of Napoleon III in France Effect of proper sanitation on epidemics in the United States Change in the attitude of the Church toward the cause and cure of pestilence



I. THEOLOGICAL IDEAS OF LUNACY AND ITS TREATMENT. The struggle for the scientific treatment of the insane The primitive ascription of insanity to evil spirits Better Greek and Roman theories–madness a disease The Christian Church accepts the demoniacal theory of insanity Yet for a time uses mild methods for the insane Growth of the practice of punishing the indwelling demon Two sources whence better things might have been hoped.–The reasons of their futility
The growth of exorcism
Use of whipping and torture
The part of art and literature in making vivid to the common mind the idea of diabolic activity
The effects of religious processions as a cure for mental disease Exorcism of animals possessed of demons
Belief in the transformation of human beings into animals The doctrine of demoniacal possession in the Reformed Church

II. BEGINNINGS OF A HEALTHFUL SCEPTICISM. Rivalry between Catholics and Protestants in the casting out of devils
Increased belief in witchcraft during the period following the Reformation
Increase of insanity during the witch persecutions II {?} Attitude of physicians toward witchcraft I Religious hallucinations of the insane I Theories as to the modes of diabolic entrance into the possessed Influence of monastic life on the development of insanity Protests against the theological view of insanity–Wier, Montaigue Bekker
Last struggles of the old superstition

III. THE FINAL STRUGGLE AND VICTORY OF SCIENCE.–PINEL AND TUKE. Influence of French philosophy on the belief in demoniacal possession
Reactionary influence of John Wesley Progress of scientific ideas in Prussia
In Austria
In America
In South Germany
General indifference toward the sufferings of madmen The beginnings of a more humane treatment Jean Baptiste Pinel
Improvement in the treatment of the insane in England.–William Tuke
The place of Pinel and Tuke in history



Survival of the belief in diabolic activity as the cause of such epidemics
Epidemics of hysteria in classical times In the Middle Ages
The dancing mania
Inability of science during the fifteenth century to cope with such diseases
Cases of possession brought within the scope of medical research during the sixteenth century
Dying-out of this form of mental disease in northern Europe In Italy
Epidemics of hysteria in the convents The case of Martha Brossier
Revival in France of belief in diabolic influence The Ursulines of Loudun and Urbain Grandier Possession among the Huguenots
In New England.–The Salem witch persecution At Paris.–Alleged miracles at the grave of Archdeacon Paris In Germany.–Case of Maria Renata Sanger More recent outbreaks

II. BEGINNINGS OF HELPFUL SCEPTICISM. Outbreaks of hysteria in factories and hospitals In places of religious excitement
The case at Morzine
Similar cases among Protestants and in Africa

Successful dealings of medical science with mental diseases Attempts to give a scientific turn to the theory of diabolic agency in disease
Last great demonstration of the old belief in England Final triumph of science in the latter half of the present century
Last echoes of the old belief



I. THE SACRED THEORY IN ITS FIRST FORM. Difference of the history of Comparative Philology from that of other sciences as regards the attitude of theologians Curiosity of early man regarding the origin, the primitive form, and the diversity of language
The Hebrew answer to these questions The legend of the Tower of Babel
The real reason for the building of towers by the Chaldeans and the causes of their ruin
Other legends of a confusion of tongues Influence upon Christendom of the Hebrew legends Lucretius’s theory of the origin of language The teachings of the Church fathers on this subject The controversy as to the divine origin of the Hebrew vowel points
Attitude of the reformers toward this question Of Catholic scholars.–Marini Capellus and his adversaries The treatise of Danzius

II. THE SACRED THEORY OF LANGUAGE IN ITS SECOND FORM. Theological theory that Hebrew was the primitive tongue, divinely revealed
This theory supported by all Christian scholars until the beginning of the eighteenth century
Dissent of Prideaux and Cotton Mather Apparent strength of the sacred theory of language

III. BREAKING DOWN OF THE THEOLOGICAL VIEW. Reason for the Church’s ready acceptance of the conclusions of comparative philology
Beginnings of a scientific theory of language Hottinger
The collections of Catharine the Great, of Hervas, and of Adelung Chaotic period in philology between Leibnitz and the beginning of the study of Sanskrit
Illustration from the successive editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica

Effect of the discovery of Sanskrit on the old theory Attempts to discredit the new learning
General acceptance of the new theory Destruction of the belief that all created things were first named by Adam
Of the belief in the divine origin of letters Attempts in England to support the old theory of language rogress of philological science in France In Germany
In Great Britain
Recent absurd attempts to prove Hebrew the primitive tongue

Gradual disappearance of the old theories regarding the origin of speech and writing
Full acceptance of the new theories by all Christian scholars The result to religion, and to the Bible


I. THE GROWTH OF EXPLANATORY TRANSFORMATION MYTHS. Growth of myths to account for remarkable appearances in Nature–mountains, rocks, curiously marked stones, fossils, products of volcanic action
Myths of the transformation of living beings into natural objects Development of the science of Comparative Mythology

Impression made by its peculiar features on the early dwellers in Palestine
Reasons for selecting the Dead Sea myths for study Naturalness of the growth of legend regarding the salt region of Usdum
Universal belief in these legends
Concurrent testimony of early and mediaeval writers, Jewish and Christian, respecting the existence of Lot’s wife as a “pillar of salt,” and of the other wonders of the Dead Sea Discrepancies in the various accounts and theological explanations of them
Theological arguments respecting the statue of Lot’s wife Growth of the legend in the sixteenth century

III. POST-REFORMATION CULMINATION OF THE DEAD SEA LEGENDS.–BEGINNINGS OF A HEALTHFUL SCEPTICISM. Popularization of the older legends at the Reformation Growth of new myths among scholars
Signs of scepticism among travellers near the end of the sixteenth century
Effort of Quaresmio to check this tendency Of Eugene Roger
Of Wedelius
Influence of these teachings
Renewed scepticism–the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Efforts of Briemle and Masius in support of the old myths Their influence
The travels of Mariti and of Volney Influence of scientific thought on the Dead Sea legends during the eighteenth century
Reactionary efforts of Chateaubriand Investigations of the naturalist Seetzen Of Dr. Robinson
The expedition of Lieutenant Lynch
The investigations of De Saulcy
Of the Duc de Luynes.–Lartet’s report Summary of the investigations of the nineteenth century.–Ritter’s verdict

Attempts to reconcile scientific facts with the Dead Sea legends Van de Velde’s investigations of the Dead Sea region Canon Tristram’s
Mgr. Mislin’s protests against the growing rationalism The work of Schaff and Osborn
Acceptance of the scientific view by leaders in the Church Dr. Geikie’s ascription of the myths to the Arabs Mgr. Haussmann de Wandelburg and.his rejection of the scientific view
Service of theologians to religion in accepting the conclusions of silence in this field



I. ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF HOSTILITY TO LOANS AT INTEREST. Universal belief in the sin of loaning money at interest The taking of interest among the Greeks and Romans Opposition of leaders of thought, especially Aristotle Condemnation of the practice by the Old and New Testaments By the Church fathers
In ecclesiastical and secular legislation Exception sometimes made in behalf of the Jews Hostility of the pulpit
Of the canon law
Evil results of the prohibition of loans at interest Efforts to induce the Church to change her position Theological evasions of the rule
Attitude of the Reformers toward the taking of interest Struggle in England for recognition of the right to accept interest
Invention of a distinction between usury and interest

II. RETREAT OF THE CHURCH, PROTESTANT AND CATHOLIC. Sir Robert Filmer’s attack on the old doctrine Retreat of the Protestant Church in Holland In Germany and America
Difficulties in the way of compromise in the Catholic Church Failure of such attempts in France
Theoretical condemnation of usury in Italy Disregard of all restrictions in practice Attempts of Escobar and Liguori to reconcile the taking of interest with the teachings of the Church Montesquieu’s attack on the old theory
Encyclical of Benedict XIV permitting the taking of interest Similar decision of the Inquisition at Rome Final retreat of the Catholic Church
Curious dealings of theology with public economy in other fields



Character of the great sacred
books of the world
General laws governing the development and influence of sacred literature.–The law of its origin
Legends concerning the Septuagint
The law of wills and causes
The law of inerrancy
Hostility to the revision of King James’s translation of the Bible
The law of unity
Working of these laws seen in the great rabbinical schools The law of allegorical interpretation
Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria Occult significance of numbers
Hilary of Poitiers and Jerome
Gregory the Great
Vain attempts to check the flood of allegorical interpretations Bede.–Savonarola
Methods of modern criticism for the first time employed by Lorenzo Valla
Influence of the Reformation on the belief in the infallibility of the sacred books.–Luther and Melanchthon Development of scholasticism in the Reformed Church Catholic belief in the inspiration of the Vulgate Opposition in Russia to the revision of the Slavonic Scriptures Sir Isaac Newton as a commentator
Scriptural interpretation at the beginning of the eighteenth century

II. BEGINNINGS OF SCIENTIFIC INTERPRETATION. Theological beliefs regarding the Pentateuch The book of Genesis
Doubt thrown on the sacred theory by Aben Ezra By Carlstadt and Maes
Influence of the discovery that the Isidorian Decretals were forgeries
That the writings ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite were serious
Hobbes and La Peyrere
Progress of biblical criticism in France.–Richard Simon LeClerc
Bishop Lowth
Eichhorn’s application of the “higher criticism” to biblical research
Alexander Geddes
Opposition to the higher criticism in Germany Hupfeld
Vatke and Reuss

III. THE CONTINUED GROWTH OF SCIENTIFIC INTERPRETATION. Progress of the higher criticism in Germany and Holland Opposition to it in England
At the University of Oxford
Niebuhr and Arnold
Thirlwall and Grote
The publication of Essays and Reviews, and the storm raised by book

Colenso’s work on the Pentateuch
The persecution of him
Bishop Wilberforce’s part in it
Dean Stanley’s
Bishop Thirlwall’s
Results of Colenso’s work
Sanday’s Bampton Lectures
Keble College and Lux
Progress of biblical criticism among the dissenters In France.–Renan
In the Roman Catholic Church
The encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII In America.–Theodore Parker
Apparent strength of the old theory of inspiration Real strength of the new movement

V. VICTORY OF THE SCIENTIFIC AND LITERARY METHODS. Confirmation of the conclusions of the higher criticism by Assyriology and Egyptology
Light thrown upon Hebrew religion by the translation of the sacred books of the East
The influence of Persian thought.–The work of the Rev. Dr. Mills The influence of Indian thought.–Light thrown by the study of Brahmanism and Buddhism
The work of Fathers Huc and Gabet
Discovery that Buddha himself had been canonized as a Christian saint
Similarity between the ideas and legends of Buddhism and those of Christianity
The application of the higher criticism to the New Testament The English “Revised Version” of Studies on the formation of the canon of Scripture
Recognition of the laws governing its development Change in the spirit of the controversy over the higher criticism

VI. RECONSTRUCTIVE FORCE OF SCIENTIFIC CRITICISM. Development of a scientific atmosphere during the last three centuries
Action of modern science in reconstruction of religious truth

Change wrought by it in the conception of a sacred literature

Of the Divine Power.–Of man.—Of the world at large Of our Bible


Among those masses of cathedral sculpture which preserve so much of medieval theology, one frequently recurring group is noteworthy for its presentment of a time-honoured doctrine regarding the origin of the universe.

The Almighty, in human form, sits benignly, making the sun, moon, and stars, and hanging them from the solid firmament which supports the “heaven above” and overarches the “earth beneath.”

The furrows of thought on the Creator’s brow show that in this work he is obliged to contrive; the knotted muscles upon his arms show that he is obliged to toil; naturally, then, the sculptors and painters of the medieval and early modern period frequently represented him as the writers whose conceptions they embodied had done–as, on the seventh day, weary after thought and toil, enjoying well-earned repose and the plaudits of the hosts of heaven.

In these thought-fossils of the cathedrals, and in other revelations of the same idea through sculpture, painting, glass-staining, mosaic work, and engraving, during the Middle Ages and the two centuries following, culminated a belief which had been developed through thousands of years, and which has determined the world’s thought until our own time.

Its beginnings lie far back in human history; we find them among the early records of nearly all the great civilizations, and they hold a most prominent place in the various sacred books of the world. In nearly all of them is revealed the conception of a Creator of whom man is an imperfect image, and who literally and directly created the visible universe with his hands and fingers.

Among these theories, of especial interest to us are those which controlled theological thought in Chaldea. The Assyrian inscriptions which have been recently recovered and given to the English-speaking peoples by Layard, George Smith, Sayce, and others, show that in the ancient religions of Chaldea and Babylonia there was elaborated a narrative of the creation which, in its most important features, must have been the source of that in our own sacred books. It has now become perfectly clear that from the same sources which inspired the accounts of the creation of the universe among the Chaldeo-Babylonian, the Assyrian, the Phoenician, and other ancient civilizations came the ideas which hold so prominent a place in the sacred books of the Hebrews. In the two accounts imperfectly fused together in Genesis, and also in the account of which we have indications in the book of Job and in the Proverbs, there, is presented, often with the greatest sublimity, the same early conception of the Creator and of the creation–the conception, so natural in the childhood of civilization, of a Creator who is an enlarged human being working literally with his own hands, and of a creation which is “the work of his fingers.” To supplement this view there was developed the belief in this Creator as one who, having

. . . “from his ample palm
Launched forth the rolling planets into space.”

sits on high, enthroned “upon the circle of the heavens,” perpetually controlling and directing them.

From this idea of creation was evolved in time a somewhat nobler view. Ancient thinkers, and especially, as is now found, in Egypt, suggested that the main agency in creation was not the hands and fingers of the Creator, but his VOICE. Hence was mingled with the earlier, cruder belief regarding the origin of the earth and heavenly bodies by the Almighty the more impressive idea that “he spake and they were made”–that they were brought into existence by his WORD.[1]

[1] Among the many mediaeval representations of the creation of the universe, I especially recall from personal observation those sculptured above the portals of the cathedrals of Freiburg and Upsala, the paintings on the walls of the Campo Santo at Pisa, and most striking of all, the mosaics of the Cathedral of Monreale and those in the Capella Palatina at Palermo. Among peculiarities showing the simplicity of the earlier conception the representation of the response of the Almighty on the seventh day is very striking. He is shown as seated in almost the exact attitude of the “Weary Mercury” of classic sculpture–bent, and with a very marked expression of fatigue upon his countenance and in the whole disposition of his body.

The Monreale mosaics are pictured in the great work of Gravina, and in the Pisa frescoes in Didron’s Iconographie, Paris, 1843, p. 598. For an exact statement of the resemblances which have settled the question among the most eminent scholars in favour of the derivation of the Hebrew cosmogony from that of Assyria, see Jensen, Die Kosmologie der Babylonier, Strassburg, 1890, pp. 304,306; also Franz Lukas, Die Grundbegriffe in den Kosmographien der alten Volker, Leipsic, 1893, pp. 35-46; also George Smith’s Chaldean Genesis, especially the German translation with additions by Delitzsch, Leipsic, 1876, and Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, Giessen, 1883, pp. 1-54, etc. See also Renan, Histoire du peuple d’Israel, vol. i, chap i, L’antique influence babylonienne. For Egyptian views regarding creation, and especially for the transition from the idea of creation by the hands and fingers of the Creator to creation by his VOICE and his “word,” see Maspero and Sayce, The Dawn of Civilization, pp. 145-146.

Among the early fathers of the Church this general view of creation became fundamental; they impressed upon Christendom more and more strongly the belief that the universe was created in a perfectly literal sense by the hands or voice of God. Here and there sundry theologians of larger mind attempted to give a more spiritual view regarding some parts of the creative work, and of these were St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine. Ready as they were to accept the literal text of Scripture, they revolted against the conception of an actual creation of the universe by the hands and fingers of a Supreme Being, and in this they were followed by Bede and a few others; but the more material conceptions prevailed, and we find these taking shape not only in the sculptures and mosaics and stained glass of cathedrals, and in the illuminations of missals and psalters, but later, at the close of the Middle Ages, in the pictured Bibles and in general literature.

Into the Anglo-Saxon mind this ancient material conception of the creation was riveted by two poets whose works appealed especially to the deeper religious feelings. In the seventh century Caedmon paraphrased the account given in Genesis, bringing out this material conception in the most literal form; and a thousand years later Milton developed out of the various statements in the Old Testament, mingled with a theology regarding “the creative Word” which had been drawn from the New, his description of the creation by the second person in the Trinity, than which nothing could be more literal and material:

“He took the golden compasses, prepared In God’s eternal store, to circumscribe
This universe and all created things. One foot he centred, and the other turned Round through the vast profundity obscure, And said, `Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds: This be thy just circumference, O world!'”[2]

[2] For Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and the general subject of the development of an evolution theory among the Greeks, see the excellent work by Dr. Osborn, From the Greeks to Darwin, pp.33 and following; for Caedmon, see any edition–I have used Bouterwek’s, Gutersloh, 1854; for Milton, see Paradise Lost, book vii, lines 225-231.

So much for the orthodox view of the MANNER of creation.

The next point developed in this theologic evolution had reference to the MATTER of which the universe was made, and it was decided by an overwhelming majority that no material substance existed before the creation of the material universe–that “God created everything out of nothing.” Some venturesome thinkers, basing their reasoning upon the first verses of Genesis, hinted at a different view–namely, that the mass, “without form and void,” existed before the universe; but this doctrine was soon swept out of sight. The vast majority of the fathers were explicit on this point. Tertullian especially was very severe against those who took any other view than that generally accepted as orthodox: he declared that, if there had been any pre-existing matter out of which the world was formed, Scripture would have mentioned it; that by not mentioning it God has given us a clear proof that there was no such thing; and, after a manner not unknown in other theological controversies, he threatens Hermogenes, who takes the opposite view, with the woe which impends on all who add to or take away from the written word.”

St. Augustine, who showed signs of a belief in a pre-existence of matter, made his peace with the prevailing belief by the simple reasoning that, “although the world has been made of some material, that very same material must have been made out of nothing.”

In the wake of these great men the universal Church steadily followed. The Fourth Lateran Council declared that God created everything out of nothing; and at the present hour the vast majority of the faithful–whether Catholic or Protestant–are taught the same doctrine; on this point the syllabus of Pius IX and the Westminster Catechism fully agree.[3]

[3] For Tertullian, see Tertullian against Hermogenes, chaps. xx and xxii; for St. Augustine regarding “creation from nothing,” see the De Genesi contra Manichaeos, lib, i, cap. vi; for St. Ambrose, see the Hexameron, lib, i,cap iv; for the decree of the Fourth Lateran Council, and the view received in the Church to- day, see the article Creation in Addis and Arnold’s Catholic Dictionary.

Having thus disposed of the manner and matter of creation, the next subject taken up by theologians was the TIME required for the great work.

Here came a difficulty. The first of the two accounts given in Genesis extended the creative operation through six days, each of an evening and a morning, with much explicit detail regarding the progress made in each. But the second account spoke of “THE DAY” in which “the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” The explicitness of the first account and its naturalness to the minds of the great mass of early theologians gave it at first a decided advantage; but Jewish thinkers, like Philo, and Christian thinkers, like Origen, forming higher conceptions of the Creator and his work, were not content with this, and by them was launched upon the troubled sea of Christian theology the idea that the creation was instantaneous, this idea being strengthened not only by the second of the Genesis legends, but by the great text, “He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast”–or, as it appears in the Vulgate and in most translations, “He spake, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created.”

As a result, it began to be held that the safe and proper course was to believe literally BOTH statements; that in some mysterious manner God created the universe in six days, and yet brought it all into existence in a moment. In spite of the outcries of sundry great theologians, like Ephrem Syrus, that the universe was created in exactly six days of twenty-four hours each, this compromise was promoted by St. Athanasius and St. Basil in the East, and by St. Augustine and St. Hilary in the West.

Serious difficulties were found in reconciling these two views, which to the natural mind seem absolutely contradictory; but by ingenious manipulation of texts, by dexterous play upon phrases, and by the abundant use of metaphysics to dissolve away facts, a reconciliation was effected, and men came at least to believe that they believed in a creation of the universe instantaneous and at the same time extended through six days.[4]

[4] For Origen, see his Contra Celsum, cap xxxvi, xxxvii; also his De Principibus, cap. v; for St. Augustine, see his De Genesi conta Manichaeos and De Genesi ad Litteram, passim; for Athanasius, see his Discourses against the Arians, ii, 48,49.

Some of the efforts to reconcile these two accounts were so fruitful as to deserve especial record. The fathers, Eastern and Western, developed out of the double account in Genesis, and the indications in the Psalms, the Proverbs, and the book of Job, a vast mass of sacred science bearing upon this point. As regards the whole work of creation, stress was laid upon certain occult powers in numerals. Philo Judaeus, while believing in an instantaneous creation, had also declared that the world was created in six days because “of all numbers six is the most productive”; he had explained the creation of the heavenly bodies on the fourth day by “the harmony of the number four”; of the animals on the fifth day by the five senses; of man on the sixth day by the same virtues in the number six which had caused it to be set as a limit to the creative work; and, greatest of all, the rest on the seventh day by the vast mass of mysterious virtues in the number seven.

St. Jerome held that the reason why God did not pronounce the work of the second day “good” is to be found in the fact that there is something essentially evil in the number two, and this was echoed centuries afterward, afar off in Britain, by Bede.

St. Augustine brought this view to bear upon the Church in the following statement: “There are three classes of numbers–the more than perfect, the perfect, and the less than perfect, according as the sum of them is greater than, equal to, or less than the original number. Six is the first perfect number: wherefore we must not say that six is a perfect number because God finished all his works in six days, but that God finished all his works in six days because six is a perfect number.”

Reasoning of this sort echoed along through the mediaeval Church until a year after the discovery of America, when the Nuremberg Chronicle re-echoed it as follows: “The creation of things is explained by the number six, the parts of which, one, two, and three, assume the form of a triangle.”

This view of the creation of the universe as instantaneous and also as in six days, each made up of an evening and a morning, became virtually universal. Peter Lombard and Hugo of St. Victor, authorities of vast weight, gave it their sanction in the twelfth century, and impressed it for ages upon the mind of the Church.

Both these lines of speculation–as to the creation of everything out of nothing, and the reconciling of the instantaneous creation of the universe with its creation in six days–were still further developed by other great thinkers of the Middle Ages.

St. Hilary of Poictiers reconciled the two conceptions as follows: “For, although according to Moses there is an appearance of regular order in the fixing of the firmament, the laying bare of the dry land, the gathering together of the waters, the formation of the heavenly bodies, and the arising of living things from land and water, yet the creation of the heavens, earth, and other elements is seen to be the work of a single moment.”

St. Thomas Aquinas drew from St. Augustine a subtle distinction which for ages eased the difficulties in the case: he taught in effect that God created the substance of things in a moment, but gave to the work of separating, shaping, and adorning this creation, six days.[5]

[5] For Philo Judaeus, see his Creation of the World, chap. iii; for St. Augustine on the powers of numbers in creation, see his De Genesi ad Litteram iv, chap. ii; for Peter Lombard, see the Sententiae, lib. ii, dist. xv, 5; and for Hugo of St. Victor, see De Sacrementis, lib i, pars i; also, Annotat, Elucidat in Pentateuchum, cap. v, vi, vii; for St. Hilary, see De Trinitate, lib. xii; for St. Thomas Aquinas, see his Summa Theologica, quest lxxxiv, arts. i and ii; the passage in the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493, is in fol. iii; for Vousset, see his Discours sur l’Histoire Universelle; for the sacredness of the number seven among the Babylonians, see especially Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, pp. 21,22; also George Smith et al.; for general ideas on the occult powers of various numbers, especially the number seven, and the influence of these ideas on theology and science, see my chapter on astronomy. As to medieaval ideas on the same subject, see Detzel, Christliche Ikonographie, Frieburg, 1894, pp. 44 and following.

The early reformers accepted and developed the same view, and Luther especially showed himself equal to the occasion. With his usual boldness he declared, first, that Moses “spoke properly and plainly, and neither allegorically nor figuratively,” and that therefore “the world with all creatures was created in six days.” And he then goes on to show how, by a great miracle, the whole creation was also instantaneous.

Melanchthon also insisted that the universe was created out of nothing and in a mysterious way, both in an instant and in six days, citing the text: “He spake, and they were made.”

Calvin opposed the idea of an instantaneous creation, and laid especial stress on the creation in six days: having called attention to the fact that the biblical chronology shows the world to be not quite six thousand years old and that it is now near its end, he says that “creation was extended through six days that it might not be tedious for us to occupy the whole of life in the consideration of it.”

Peter Martyr clinched the matter by declaring: “So important is it to comprehend the work of creation that we see the creed of the Church take this as its starting point. Were this article taken away there would be no original sin, the promise of Christ would become void, and all the vital force of our religion would be destroyed.” The Westminster divines in drawing up their Confession of Faith specially laid it down as necessary to believe that all things visible and invisible were created not only out of nothing but in exactly six days.

Nor were the Roman divines less strenuous than the Protestant reformers regarding the necessity of holding closely to the so-called Mosaic account of creation. As late as the middle of the eighteenth century, when Buffon attempted to state simple geological truths, the theological faculty of the Sorbonne forced him to make and to publish a most ignominious recantation which ended with these words: “I abandon everything in my book respecting the formation of the earth, and generally all which may be contrary to the narrative of Moses.”

Theologians, having thus settled the manner of the creation, the matter used in it, and the time required for it, now exerted themselves to fix its DATE.

The long series of efforts by the greatest minds in the Church, from Eusebius to Archbishop Usher, to settle this point are presented in another chapter. Suffice it here that the general conclusion arrived at by an overwhelming majority of the most competent students of the biblical accounts was that the date of creation was, in round numbers, four thousand years before our era; and in the seventeenth century, in his great work, Dr. John Lightfoot, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, and one of the most eminent Hebrew scholars of his time, declared, as the result of his most profound and exhaustive study of the Scriptures, that “heaven and earth, centre and circumference, were created all together, in the same instant, and clouds full of water,” and that “this work took place and man was created by the Trinity on October 23, 4004 B. C., at nine o’clock in the morning.”

Here was, indeed, a triumph of Lactantius’s method, the result of hundreds of years of biblical study and theological thought since Bede in the eighth century, and Vincent of Beauvais in the thirteenth, had declared that creation must have taken place in the spring. Yet, alas! within two centuries after Lightfoot’s great biblical demonstration as to the exact hour of creation, it was discovered that at that hour an exceedingly cultivated people, enjoying all the fruits of a highly developed civilization, had long been swarming in the great cities of Egypt, and that other nations hardly less advanced had at that time reached a high development in Asia.[6]

[6] For Luther, see his Commentary on Genesis, 1545, introduction, and his comments on chap. i, verse 12; the quotations from Luther’s commentary are taken mainly from the translation by Henry Cole, D.D., Edinburgh, 1858; for Melanchthon, see Loci Theologici, in Melanchthon, Opera, ed. Bretschneider, vol. xxi, pp. 269, 270, also pp. 637, 638–in quoting the text (Ps. xxiii, 9) I have used, as does Melanchthon himself, the form of the Vulgate; for the citations from Calvin, see his Commentary on Genesis (Opera omnia, Amsterdam, 1671, tom. i, cap. ii, p. 8); also in the Institutes, Allen’s translation, London, 1838, vol. i, chap. xv, pp. 126,127; for the Peter Martyr, see his Commentary on Genesis, cited by Zockler, vol. i, p. 690; for articles in the Westminster Confession of Faith, see chap. iv; for Buffon’s recantation, see Lyell, Principles of Geology, chap iii, p. 57. For Lightfoot’s declartion, see his works, edited by Pitman, London, 1822.

But, strange as it may seem, even after theologians had thus settled the manner of creation, the matter employed in it, the time required for it, and the exact date of it, there remained virtually unsettled the first and greatest question of all; and this was nothing less than the question, WHO actually created the universe?

Various theories more or less nebulous, but all centred in texts of Scripture, had swept through the mind of the Church. By some theologians it was held virtually that the actual creative agent was the third person of the Trinity, who, in the opening words of our sublime creation poem, “moved upon the face of the waters.” By others it was held that the actual Creator was the second person of the Trinity, in behalf of whose agency many texts were cited from the New Testament. Others held that the actual Creator was the first person, and this view was embodied in the two great formulas known as the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, which explicitly assigned the work to “God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” Others, finding a deep meaning in the words “Let US make,” ascribed in Genesis to the Creator, held that the entire Trinity directly created all things; and still others, by curious metaphysical processes, seemed to arrive at the idea that peculiar combinations of two persons of the Trinity achieved the creation.

In all this there would seem to be considerable courage in view of the fearful condemnations launched in the Athanasian Creed against all who should “confound the persons” or “divide the substance of the Trinity.”

These various stages in the evolution of scholastic theology were also embodied in sacred art, and especially in cathedral sculpture, in glass-staining, in mosaic working, and in missal painting.

The creative Being is thus represented sometimes as the third person of the Trinity, in the form of a dove brooding over chaos; sometimes as the second person, and therefore a youth; sometimes as the first person, and therefore fatherly and venerable; sometimes as the first and second persons, one being venerable and the other youthful; and sometimes as three persons, one venerable and one youthful, both wearing papal crowns, and each holding in his lips a tip of the wing of the dove, which thus seems to proceed from both and to be suspended between them.

Nor was this the most complete development of the medieval idea. The Creator was sometimes represented with a single body, but with three faces, thus showing that Christian belief had in some pious minds gone through substantially the same cycle which an earlier form of belief had made ages before in India, when the Supreme Being was represented with one body but with the three faces of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva.

But at the beginning of the modern period the older view in its primitive Jewish form was impressed upon Christians by the most mighty genius in art the world has known; for in 1512, after four years of Titanic labour, Michael Angelo uncovered his frescoes within the vault of the Sistine Chapel.

They had been executed by the command and under the sanction of the ruling Pope, Julius II, to represent the conception of Christian theology then dominant, and they remain to-day in all their majesty to show the highest point ever attained by the older thought upon the origin of the visible universe.

In the midst of the expanse of heaven the Almighty Father–the first person of the Trinity–in human form, august and venerable, attended by angels and upborne by mighty winds, sweeps over the abyss, and, moving through successive compartments of the great vault, accomplishes the work of the creative days. With a simple gesture he divides the light from the darkness, rears on high the solid firmament, gathers together beneath it the seas, or summons into existence the sun, moon, and planets, and sets them circling about the earth.

In this sublime work culminated the thought of thousands of years; the strongest minds accepted it or pretended to accept it, and nearly two centuries later this conception, in accordance with the first of the two accounts given in Genesis, was especially enforced by Bossuet, and received a new lease of life in the Church, both Catholic and Protestant.[7]

[7] For strange representations of the Creator and of the creation by one, two, or three persons of the Trinity, see Didron, Iconographie Chretienne, pp. 35, 178, 224, 483, 567-580, and elsewhere; also Detzel as already cited. The most naive of all survivals of the mediaeval idea of creation which the present writer has ever seen was exhibited in 1894 on the banner of one of the guilds at the celebration of the four-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Munich Cathedral. Jesus of Nazareth, as a beautiful boy and with a nimbus encircling his