Some problems that are certain to be encountered in any
to produce mutually beneficial relations between institutions identified
as scientific and those identified as religious are not apt to be understood
by many of those who would make such an effort. In order to assist in the
process, we offer some observations from To a Candid World, such
as the difference between religion and superstition. We recommend that
Meta subscribers make use of Shelley's Frankenstein, noting that those
who identify themselves as religious and those who identify themselves as
scientific in their approach make the same mistakes as readers of the
famous novel. To see the truth of this observation, those who have read
Frankenstein may read "Name Us"in the list of advertisements above.
There are other things about Frankenstein that we think are well worth
the attention of Meta subscribers. We will be adding material of that sort
under the heading of Science & Religion for their use.
It is useful to note that the preface to
Frankenstein begins with the
author's declaration of doubt, not of a religous article of faith, but
rather a scientific one. In her introduction to the 1831 edition, we
see that the doubt, so emphatically stated, was pretended or reported
"They talked of the experiments
of Dr. Darwin, (and I speak not of what the Doctor really did,
or said that he did, but, as more to my purpose, of what was then spoken as having been done
by him,) who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, till by some extraordinary means
it began to move with voluntary motion."
This explains the doubt expressed in the preface.
"Not thus, after all, would life be given."
Yet, Shelley immediately follows with:
"Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated;
galvanism had given token of such things:
perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together,
and endued with vital warmth."
This is a particularly interesting statement,
when examining Marilyn
Butler's assertion that Shelley's changes to the text in 1831 were
motivated by a need to distance herself and the novel from vitalism so
as not to suffer as Dr. Lawrence had. (This is discussed on page 94
of To a Candid World.)
So why does Mary Shelley begin with a strong declaration
concerning a scientific idea? This seems to be an important question
to Shelley. By telling us about the pasta experiment and then attributing
authorship of the preface "as far as she can recollect" to Percy,
she both raises the question and tells us that, if we want an answer,
we will have to find it ourselves. You would have to ask my husband,
she is saying. Percy is dead.
This discrepancy is added to a number of others
considered in To a
Candid World, some of which are quite remarkable. They are not
corrected because they are not errors. Neither are the new ones in
the 1831 edition. Shelley has written the story of a son of man and
prefaced it with a pretended declaration of doubt. The "exercise of
untried resources of mind" could hardly be more obviously suggested.
Through the story of a scientific enterprise gone
awry, and in which
a superstitious fear is embedded, Shelley is suggesting a review of
the so-called religious enterprise alluded to throughout. The contra-
dictions are enormous. The "supremely frightful" mocking of "the
stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world" is followed by
her bidding her "hideous progeny" to "go forth and prosper"!
We have a monster for whom we have considerably
sympathy than we have for Victor Frankenstein. Walton provides a
useful comparison in that regard. We know that, given the opportunity,
the Creature can do things for others that will increase their happiness.
We know that he would not be ungrateful of any kindness. The Creature
can be a friend or an enemy, yet the intention was that he would be
a happy friend of humankind. Although it is not often noticed, the
Greek Bible presents a similar situation. To those Jesus says
will come to him addressing him as Lord and who have done a
number of good things in his name, but whom Jesus rejects as people
he never knew, the rejection must be monstrous, and the one who
rejects them must be a monster.
The problem may be as simple as this:
The prayer Jesus taught points to the things that he desires to see
fulfilled. Although the people Jesus rejects did many good things,
the things that they might have done to further the progress toward
fulfillment of desires, mentioned by their Lord in his prayer, never
made it onto their list. Their problem is one, not of evil, but of disorder
of good things. Discovery of the disorder and correcting it may be
done by revisiting ground already covered and paying attention to
the discrepancies that were not noticed or investigated before.
Why did Jesus say that the man who did not worship him had a
greater faith than the man who did worship him? (Matthew 8)
When Cicero suggested that all humankind be summoned
which of the various doctrines concerning the nature of deity is
correct, he was suggesting a rather scientific approach (De Natura
Deorum). It should not be too surprising that the Greek Bible poses
questions appropriate to the very convention Cicero called for, or
that it has so much in it that recalls Rome and its great crisis. Any
effort to promote greater understanding between those institutions
identified as religious and those identified as scientific will be
frustrated, unless the effort includes the three essential requirements
of Simplicity, Equality, and Sincerity. When those who identify
themselves as religious speak of "evidence" and say that the scientist
ought to consider "all of the evidence", they should be prepared for the
possibility that they themselves have not been as thorough in that
regard as they have preferred to think.
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