John Roach Straton is a well known clergyman and writer of the Calvary Baptist Church, New York City. Among his best known writings are "The Salvation of Society", and "The Menace of Immorality in Church and State".
There is great interest at the present time in questions touching the relationship between Science and Religion. Even the secular newspapers are taking it up. In the New York World, for example, recently there was a strong editorial on "Science's Olive Branch to Religion." The editor of The World took up the utterances of Dr. Charles Steinmetz on Science and Religion.
Personally, I was delighted when I read Dr. Steinmetz striking address. He recognizes and admits that science has to do with material facts--their proper examination and classification--with the laws and properties of matter. He recognizes, also, that religion occupies an entirely different realm, namely, faith, and that faith has to do with moral and spiritual reality. Hence, he says "belief must always remain the foundation of religion." Dr. Steinmetz also recognizes the limitations of science, because of the limitations of our science perceptions through which the facts and forces of matter are dealt with. He further recognizes the limitations of science because of the fact that science derives its conclusions from the sense perceptions by the laws of logic, and he well says "but what proof is there of the correctness of the laws of logic except experience, which, no matter how comprehensive, always must remain limited."
After quoting Dr. Steinmetz' fine concessions to religion, The World, in its editorial, says:
"Will W. J. Bryan and the Dr. Stratons be willing to concede as much on their part? Unfortunately that degree of tolerance is not to be looked for from those who insist that science is merely antagonistic to religion. The trained man of science may grant the possibility of harmony between revelation and human progress in solving the secrets of nature, but to the religious dogmatist there is no middle ground."
I do not know what Mr. Bryan's attitude may be, but speaking for myself, I will say that I am more than willing to "concede as much" from the side of religion. When The World intimates that there will be no tolerance from religious leaders it is surely speaking in error. I do not know a single leader in the field of religion who does not stand ready to meet science more than half way and to stretch out a hand for any olive branch that may be extended. I am not acquainted with the type of religious dogmatist to whom, according to The World, "there is no middle ground." So far as I am concerned personally--and I think my viewpoint is fairly representative of other religious leaders--I am not now, and never have been, unfriendly to science, as far as my specializing in the field of religion has made possible, and I rejoice in all of the notable achievements of true science.
I do not believe that there is any warfare between science and religion. Truth is one and all that it true in any science and any religion must stand in harmony together. The only warfare is between untrue religion and what the Bible calls "science falsely so called." There is such a thing today, beyond any question. This "science falsely so called" is a shallow and spurious thing. It dogmatists about delusions and builds vast structures of thought on a foundation no more substantial than a tissue of hypotheses, guesses, speculations and assumptions. When half baked scientists, and even preachers who are seeking to convey the impression that they are very "advanced" and who have merely dabbled in science--when such men as these parade their scepticism and doubts, and seek to overthrow and glorious temple of revealed religion, with guesses for their battering rams, then it is time for those who reverence a living God and believe in the revelation which He has given, to speak out in defense of "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
Science Cannot Change Religion
The interests committed to religion are so sacred and so holy that no just or reasonable mind can expect religion to veer around with every wind of speculation that blows from scientific laboratories of the world.
But most heartily do I welcome the sane utterance of Dr. Steinmetz and rejoice that he has so adequately stated the truth. The only fault that I would fine with Dr. Steinmetz' utterance, indeed, is that perhaps he might have gone further still and pointed out the obvious truth that there are other "facts" than those which lie in the realm of the material. Faith, itself, is a fact, even though it can neither be weighed, felt, smelt, tasted, or experienced by any other sense perception. Love is another such fact. Penitence is another such fact. Hope is another such fact.
Christian Experience a Fact
Now I submit to any fair and reasonable mind that all such experiences are tremendous facts. The faith that changed the whole nature and direction of my life was as truly a fact as a rock upon which I might have bumped my head. Indeed, the faith that gave me this new birth into moral and spiritual life was the most tremendous fact that ever entered my life, and the consequences of it were more far reaching than any material fact that I might have discovered in the field of science.
When science has matured with age and develops that wisdom which age has already brought to religion, perhaps some great scientist will bring us the full truth which will completely reconcile science and religion. Or must we wait for that until we reach that better country where the limitations of the flesh, to which Dr. Steinmetz refers, no longer hampers us--where we shall no longer "see through a glass darkly but face to face", and where we will be with God--the great fountain of truth and love and light--forever?