Fragments Of Science Quotes

"Against It The Waves Of Science Beat In Vain"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: John Tyndall, Irish physicist, teacher, and popular lecturer, like many nineteenth century scientists found himself involved in the controversy over evolution. When the translation and publication of a lecture by Professor Rudolf Virchow, a leading Prussian pathologist, appeared, in which he cautioned against accepting the theory of evolution as the fact of evolution, and when Virchow was held up to Tyndall, a strong supporter of evolution, as a model, Tyndall replied with his essay. Insisting that the Book of Genesis is "a poem, not a scientific treatise," he points out that man has a need for the poetry, feeling, and subjectivity of religion and for the knowledge and objectivity of science. He argues against the attempts of religious men to prove man's emotional and poetic conceptions through objective means:

The priests, however, or those among them who were mechanics, and not poets, claimed objective validity for their conception, and tried to base upon external evidence that which sprang from the innermost need and nature of man. It is against this objective rendering of the emotions–this thrusting into the region of fact and positive knowledge of conceptions essentially ideal and poetic–that science, consciously or unconsciously, wages war. Religious feeling is as much a verity as any other part of human consciousness; and against it, on its subjective side, the waves of science beat in vain.