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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: Science Association

Looking Back

Friday March 21 2014

Looking Back: Science Association

Published in March 1894, a minister tells of the success of his church's Science Association.



We ministers often say to each other how hard is the task of keeping the young men of a congregation together; and if one of us haps on a plan which serves, however slightly, this great end, he is surely not exceeding his duty in telling it.

It struck me that to begin a summer science class, combining weekly instruction indoors with excursions afield, would at least be worth the trying. Having had the advantage of attending several science classes in the university, I felt all the bolder in the rash experiment. I took heart of grace one day; and announced the class from the pulpit; in al modesty, I hope, deprecating any illusory hopes that would be formed about the value of the instruction, but rather offering myself as a learner among other learners.

The bait took, and so far as the interest and attention of the disciples were concern, an excellent class was formed. We selected Physiography for our opening course; and with the aids of such masters as Huxley and Giekie, made, we trusted, no inconsiderable progress. For an hour or two every week we wandered at will and in thought over God’s beautiful universe, and sought instruction from earth, and sea, and sky.

Our excursions were still more popular, and I am sure did us all good. After being shut up a long summer’s day in a close-smelling shop, the mere exercise of walking among the trees and the grass was a glorious delight. We talked about all we saw; applied our book theories where they seemed to fit; and when they did not we determined to look up the matter at home.

And so the summer fled and the class ceased, and the lengthening nights brought us back to the [Young Men’s] Guild again. Still, we had tasted blood, and we thirsted for more. Science may be a coy sweetheart, but with her to be once loved is to be always loved. We confided our feelings to each other, and the first snows were just beginning to fall when our Scientific Association was born.

We were no longer an obscure and irregular body, but a health and well-developed society, with office-bearers, rules, and fees. With a membership of over forty we commenced work, and our numbers rapidly increased. The following summer saw us busy with Geology, and our field-work was as interesting and popular as ever.

As we get on, we naturally grow ambitious. Our Association has been getting on so well this year that the idea of a library was “borne in upon us.” Small as our yearly fee is – one shilling – our expenses are still smaller: and so, having a little in hand, we determined to lay it out in books. Nearly forty books, dealing with the various departments of science in a popular and interesting way, are now ready for distribution: and at the ensuing meeting (when the subject, by the way, is Electricity, with a dynamo in full blast on the table) our official staff will be permanently enlarged by the addition of a librarian.

I can assure my brother ministers that the little work this has given me has been far more than repaid by the pleasure I have received. Best of all, I cannot help seeing – and how thankful I am for this the Master knows – that the young are not only taking a greater interest in God’s fair world around them, but are also drawing closer to the Church. Religion has nothing to fear from science – science has everything to hope for from religion – and the sooner the young men of our Church and country see this for themselves, the better for them here and hereafter.


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