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William Whewell on the Interaction of Science and Religion

William WhewellOn the Plurality of Worlds (1854), pp. iii-vi.

All speculations on subjects in which Science and Religion bear upon each other, are liable to one of the two opposite charges; — that the speculator sets Philosophy and Religion at variance; or that he warps Philosophy into a conformity with Religion. It is confidently hoped that no candid reader will bring either of these charges against the present Essay. With regard to the latter, the arguments must speak for themselves. To the Author at least, they appear to be of no small philosophical force; though he is quite ready to weigh carefully and candidly any answers which may be offered to them. With regard to the amount of agreement between our Philosophy and Religion, it may perhaps be permitted to the Author to say, that while it appears to him that some of his philosophical conclusions fall in very remarkably with certain points of religious doctrine, he is well aware that Philosophy alone can do little in providing man with the consolations, hopes, supports, and convictions which Religion offers; and he acknowledges it as a ground of deep gratitude to the Author of all good, that man is not left to Philosophy for those blessings; but has a fuller assurance of them, by a more direct communication from Him.