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sect to which a majority in the school district may chance to belong ? The questions of Bible or no Bible, of King James' or the Douay version, now agitating in some parts of our country the public mind, are but parts of this greater question, whether in our schools we are with the “positivist” to ignore God, with the Atheist to deny his existence, with the Pantheist to dream that we ourselves are God, or with the Hebrew, to reverence and adore Him.
Religious questions, being by universal consent the most vital of all, naturally engender most heat in their discussion. In proportion as a subject appeals to deeper and more vital parts of our nature, we feel the more interest in opinions upon it, and cling with more tenacity and earnestness to our own conclusions.
This is evident, not only on a comparison of religious questions with others, but on a comparison of any two branches of the great hierarchy of sciences, or indeed, even upon a comparison of the different classes of study in each branch; as I might readily illustrate by all the great contests upon disputed questions in mathematics, physics, history, politics, or religion. The heat of the battle has always been proportioned to the elevation of the subject in the hierarchy, or to the relation which it bore to metaphysical and religious questions. Those questions which have referred only to space, to what is external to the soul, have never elicited heat in the discussion, even when they have been incapable of solution. The dispute has in such cases sometimes seemed interminable, but it has not aroused any feeling, at least not any to be compared with the intense zeal of the politician, the fierceness of metaphysicians, or the bigoted fury of theologians.
I am therefore aware that in approaching this question, of the place which religion should hold in a course of public instruction, I am approaching dangerous ground. It may be impossible for me to consider it without myself betraying a feeling that may seem inconsistent with impartial judgment, or else exciting feelings in others which will prevent some from seeing my errors if I err, and others from acknowledging the force of my conclusions if I arrive at truths.
Suffer me, therefore, to leave, at first, the path in which I propose finally to approach those conclusions; and to discuss, for a few moments, the question, To what extent and in what. form should geometry enter into a course of public instruction ? By thus going to the opposite end of the scale of sciences, and discussing the question with reference to the simplest and most elementary science, we may arrive, perchance, coolly at principles which will be found applicable at every point of the scale, and which may guide us safely when we approach the more exciting question of religious instruction.
Shall we admit geometry into the ordinary course of
unjust in compelling them to pay taxes to sustain such schools?
The writer of this article is a Protestant of the most radical t does not stop with Martin Luther, but who protests against all o! public instruction, or shall we reject it?
Of course we shall admit it. But upon what grounds? I answer, because it is a fundamental branch of the hierarchy, and the knowledge of any thing whatever implies some knowledge of the truths and relations of space. To what extent shall we admit it? I answer, that it should be introduced to a sufficient extent to prepare the student for all the studies in the public course, at all dependent on geometry; but it must not be pursued to an extent sufficient to crowd out or exclude the studies for which it is a preparation. A due harmony and proportion must be maintained in the branches taught, and in deciding what this due proportion is, we must take into account the length and breadth of the curriculum, and the native powers and peculiar circumstances of the individual whose tuition is under consideration.
Then, in what form shall geometry be introduced ?
as abstract science or as practical rule ? — in theorems or in problems ? and if in problems, shall they be solved by construction, or by calculation and analysis ? I answer, that the method of nature is to rise from examples to principles, and that geometry should be presented first in concrete form to the eye and to the imagination, and made a matter of construction; afterward the pupil should be lifted up to a scientific and even to a metaphysical view of the abstract relations of space. The proportions in which these modes of presenting geometry should be em
ployed, will vary with the length of the curriculum, or course of studies, and be adapted somewhat to individual circumstances, but the ruling principle will always be the same, namely, to give so much and such geometrical training as will prepare the pupil, as well as his powers and his circumstances will admit, for an understanding of the full circle of sciences, and thus for the fulfilment of all the duties of his station in life.
The answers which I have thus given concerning the science of geometry will be acknowledged, I think, by all educators to be, in the main, sound; and the practice of all schools and colleges in the world is in essential conformity thereto. In some institutions geometry may be neglected, in others overcultivated; in some treated too abstractly, in others made too much a mere matter of drawing with compass and ruler ; but all this arises from errors of judgment in applying the fundamental principles of education to the question, and not from any doubt concerning the principles themselves.
Turning now to the main object of my discourse, I ask, Shall religion be introduced into the course of public instruction, or shall it be utterly excluded ? And the answer seems to me plain, that we must admit it. Even in an intellectual point of view, theology is one of the fundamental branches of the hierarchy of sciences, and so completely interwoven with the rest, that we do not and cannot fully com
unjust in compelling them to pay taxes to sustain such schools ?
The writer of this article is a Protestant of the most radical tyi does not stop with Martin Luther, but who protests against all obs prehend any one of them, until we have traced it Lin its relations to theology.
Begin with the simplest of all branches, the mathematics, and a moment's reflection will show how ut: terly worthless they are in every other light than this, that they alone give us a knowledge of the exactness of God's thought, and alone are capable of demonstrating to us, from the manifestation of thought in the creation, the necessity of supposing the existence of a Thinker. In using the mathematics for this purpose, of discovering the harmonies of creation, and for testing the infinite perfection of nature's works, we have the most effective means of improving the mathematics themselves.
Thus, all great improvements in the sciences of space and time have arisen from some effort to solve the problems suggested by the works of nature; and a large proportion of them have been made by those who were stimulated to the solution of these problems by the faith that they thereby came into communion with the thoughts of the Most High.
In like manner, physics are not carried to their true conclusions until they lead us to speculate concerning the origin of matter, and to trace the designs and plans of the Architect of the universe; and, on the other hand, these teleological and morphological speculations have borne their natural fruit, in leading to wider and more exact views of the physical sciences. In illustration of this statement, I would