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SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1935. Volume 6. Number 11.

Another Point of View

Another Point of View.

Dear "Smad,"

I was one of those who went to Dr. Kagawa's meeting, and I was impressed by his record-breaking non-stop tour through the mysterious universe, if hardly convinced by his arguments of the existence of a Great Mathematician. A letter in the last issue of "Smad" seems to me to blast absolutely Dr. Kagawa's redressing of those musty and somewhat irrelevant arguments. (How, anyway, does a vague principle of order in nature—God—the Christian religion?)

In this letter I'm concerned only with the apparently impressive and impeccable scientific authorities whom Dr. Kagaw dragged in to implement his case—notably with the physicsts and astronomers. (There's hardly space to go through the biologists and psychologists.) These were the inevitable combination—Jeans and Eddington. An outbreak of piety on the part of these two men has given the "theists" what they like to think a new lease of life in the "backing of religion by modern science."

Religious apologists and propagandists are fond of quoting Eddington when he turns from astronomy to physics and, against the view of the great majority of physicists, says that we find no vigorous causation of the movements of electrons. But none of these (nor Dr. Kagawa) reproduces Eddington's repeated warning against "basing religion on scientific discoveries" or his repeated statement that on his own science, astronomy, no expert now says that the heavens proclaim the glory of God.

In his writings Eddington cheerfully assures his public that the new physics has swept away "mechanical conceptions." Religious folk naively understand this to mean a refutation of materialism and an advantage to religion. But what they do not know, what this astronomer writing on physics does not warn them, is that some of the most distinguished masters of physics are flatly opposed to what Eddington says about that science. Professor Planck, author of the Quantum Theory, wrote recently in his "The Universe in the Light of Modern Physics":

"The foundations of the structure of classical physics not only proved unshakeable, but actually were rendered firmer through the incorporation of new ideas." It seems incongruous to speak of an abandonment of mechanical principles when one of the most important sections of physics to-day is the study of wave-mechanics.

A final point Dr. Kagawa neglected to inform us about Jeans and Eddington that they are both, Philosophically speaking, idealists. Thus, in an interview, published in the "Observer" of January 11, 1931, Sir James Jeans said: "I incline to the idealistic theory that consciousness is fundamental, and that the material universe is derivative from consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe." Eddington has spoken similarly. Dr. Kagawa and other religious lecturers have assured their listeners that these two eminent scientiste have admitted that there is mind or thought in the material universe, and have taken this to be an acceptance of the design-argument. It seems a pity that they were not clearly informed from the start that it meant, not that there is mind in a material universe, but that the universe exists only in the human mind. So the principle of order exists not in the material world, but in consciousness. Whatever else this may be, it certainly is not "modern science."