HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. —Revelation 12:16
One hears a great deal from many different quarters of the conflict between science and religion. It might be well if we heard a little more of the various ways in which science has helped faith. Of this help in the realm of applied science, one scarcely needs to speak. It was science which built those mighty Roman highways which, at the Advent, carried the Gospel everywhere. And how railways and steamships and cars and planes have been the servants of missionary work is a familiar face in all Christendom. To the scientific concept of the printing press, the debt of the Gospel is incalculable. It has scattered the tidings of the Savior to the remotest corners of the world. And if our missionaries can live and labour now in regions that were once the white man’s grave, we owe it to the activities of science. Such facts are familiar to us all, and there is little need to dwell on them. In the evangelization of the world, applied science has been a powerful helper. But there are other and perhaps deeper ways, more vital than such applications in which, in the language of St. John, the earth has helped the woman.
Jesus Had a Scientific Mind
To begin with, modern science has taught us that it is our duty to look facts in the face, never to come to them with preconceptions, never to shut our eyes to anything. In that respect, I venture to suggest that our blessed Lord had a scientific mind.
- He never came to things with preconceptions;
- He never shut His eyes to anything.
- He saw the vultures gathering by the carcass as well as the chickens gathering to their mother.
- He saw the tiny sparrow falling dead as well as the sparrow happy in its nesting.
No man can have the mind of Christ who has not the courage to have the eyes of Christ. He rejected the traditions of men and saw things for Himself. And is not that the method of all modern science by which it has found the wonder of the world–to reject the traditions of the fathers and see things for itself?. Science has done that with nature, and doing it has won her victories. The world has proved itself a thousand times more marvellous than the traditions of the fathers ever dreamed. Jesus did that with men and women, with the Magdalene, with Peter, with Zaccheus, and in a deep sense, we are saved by being seen.
Science and Jesus Teach Surrender
That thought of method may be pushed a little further, and I do so in the words of Huxley. “It seems to me,” said Huxley, “that science teaches in the clearest manner the truth embedded in the Christian thought of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before the fact as a little child (the very word is Christ’s), be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever end nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.” Now tell me, what is the essence of religion, I mean on the side of the response of man? Is it not summed up in this single word, entire surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ? As evangelical preachers constantly proclaim, it is not enough merely to admire Him. It is not enough, gazing on His beauty, to call Him the Altogether Lovely. You must trust Him, become a little child, yield yourself to Him in full surrender if peace and power and liberty and knowledge are ever to possess the soul. Now when the preacher proclaims that, there are those who say, “I don’t believe it. I’m captain of my soul and master of my fate. I am free. I am going to stand on my feet.” Then comes the scientist (our supposed enemy) and says, “Friend, you’re in the wrong, the preacher’s right. The only way to peace and power and knowledge is the childlike way of full surrender.” So the earth helps the woman. So science corroborates our faith. The scientist finds that he is more than a conqueror, in precisely the same way as the believer. And yet men talk, till one is sick of it, of the conflict between science and religion.
Faith Is Basic to Everything
Lastly, science helps religion by the new majesty that it has given to faith. That may seem a daring thing to say: let me explain my meaning. A Christian is a man who lives by faith–as a simple matter of fact, we all do that. You cannot mail a letter without faith; without faith, you cannot board a train. But a Christian is a man who takes that faith which runs like a thread of gold through all our life and centres it on the Lord Jesus Christ for time and for eternity. Now there are not a few who hold that science is the enemy of faith; that the more you expand the realm of exact knowledge, the more you contract the realm of faith. Whereas the truth is, the more that knowledge grows in a universe which thrills with the Divine, the more does faith become imperative and wonderful. Things do not grow less mysterious, they grow more mysterious as knowledge widens. To Peter Bell the primrose is a weed: to Tennyson, the wallcress is a microcosm. The faith of a Lord Kelvin is a thousand times larger and more wonderful than the faith of the untutored savage. When I think of the presuppositions on which the chemist builds, of the postulates demanded by the physicist, of the invisibilities that science reaches when she resolves matter into energy, I feel that science is founded upon faith as truly as the life of the believer. So my hope is that in coming days science and religion will be at peace again. Like righteousness and peace in the old psalm, the dawn is breaking when they will kiss each other. Then with blended voices, they will lift their common praise to Him, Whose we are, and Whom we serve.