In coupling with it a chapter of the second volume of Dr. Hodge’s “Systematic Theology (Part ii, Anthropology),” we call attention to a recent essay, by an able and veteran writer, on the other side of the question. As the two fairly enough represent the extremes of Christian thought upon the subject, it is convenient to review them in connection. Theologians have a short and easy, if not wholly satisfactory, way of refuting scientific doctrines which they object to, by pitting the authority or opinion of one savant against another. Already, amid the currents and eddies of modern opinion, the savants may enjoy the same advantage at the expense of the divines— we mean, of course, on the scientific arena; for the mutual refutation of conflicting theologians on their own ground is no novelty. It is not by way of offset, however, that these divergent or contradictory views are here referred to, but only as an illustration of the fact that the divines are by no means all arrayed upon one side of the question in hand. And indeed, in the present transition period, until some one goes much deeper into the heart of the subject, as respects the relations of modern science to the foundations of religious belief, than either of these writers has done, it is as well that the weight of opinion should be distributed, even if only according to prepossessions, rather than that the whole stress should bear upon a single point, and that perhaps the authority of an interpretation of Scripture. A consensus of opinion upon Dr. Hodge’s ground, for instance (although better guarded than that of Dr. Dawson), if it were still possible, would—to say the least—probably not at all help to reconcile science and religion. Therefore, it is not to be regretted that the diversities of view among accredited theologians and theological naturalists are about as wide and as equably distributed between the extremes (and we may add that the views themselves are quite as hypothetical) as those which prevail among the various naturalists and natural philosophers of the day.
As a theologian, Mr. Henslow doubtless is not to be compared with the veteran professor at Princeton. On the other hand, he has the advantage of being a naturalist, and the son of a naturalist, as well as a clergyman: consequently he feels the full force of an array of facts in nature, and of the natural inferences from them, which the theological professor, from his Biblical standpoint, and on his implicit assumption that the Old Testament must needs teach true science, can hardly be expected to appreciate. Accordingly, a naturalist would be apt to say of Dr. Hodge’s exposition of “theories of the universe” and kindred topics—and in no captious spirit— that whether right or wrong on particular points, he is not often right or wrong in the way of a man of science.