Tapestry of Faith: Faith Like a River: A Program on Unitarian Universalist History for Adults

Handout 4: Reason and Reverence Worship Resources


In Singing the Living Tradition, the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook:

Hymn 26, "Holy, Holy, Holy"

Hymn 30, "Over My Head"

Hymn 145, "As Tranquil Streams that Meet and Merge"

Hymn 174, "O Earth, You Are Surpassing Fair"

Hymn 287, "Faith of the Larger Liberty"

Hymn 288, "All are Architects of Fate"

Hymn 304, "A Fierce Unrest"

Hymn 331, "Life Is the Greatest Gift of All"

Hymn 343, "A Firemist and a Planet"

Opening/Closing Words

See selection of Readings in Singing the Living Tradition.


There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. — Albert Einstein

In these days there is much talk of science and religion, and many souls are unbalanced. Some are inflated till they shine with rainbow splendors, presently to collapse; and some quake with fear lest the foundations of the righteous be removed. In such a case it behooves any who can to lend a hand. — J. Smith Dodge, Jr., Universalist minister (1889)

The most significant word in the vocabulary of the present generation—the word of farthest reaching and most varied import—is undoubtedly Evolution. — Charles Fluhrer, Universalist minister (1889)

Words of Orello Cone

Written in support of the use of reason and the scientific method in the search for religious truth (use excerpts to create a dialogue with Abbott):

Science, remaining as it does, in its own field of physical phenomena and facts infringes neither upon the domain of religion, nor that of a theistic philosophy.


The religious teacher should remember that there is much truth in the realm of science which no one is so well qualified to elucidate as he who gives all his thought to the study of physical phenomena, and that all truth should be welcomed by every lover of his kind. And the student of science should not forget that there is a realm of the spirit, the facts and phenomena of which are as real and as much entitled to recognition as those with which he deals.


If Science is the truth as to the facts and phenomena of the physical world, and Religion, the truth as to the facts and relations of the spiritual life, then "the conflict of science and religion" is a misnomer... a truth in one realm of knowledge or one domain of nature cannot be in conflict with a truth in another realm or domain.


In the presence of the problem of the origin of things science is dumb. Out of the voiceless mystery of being it has won no revelation. .Hence, far from coming into conflict with religion, far from drawing any conclusions hostile to it, science has only prepared the problem for the consideration of a religious philosophy, has even contributed as much as lies in its power to the establishment of the postulates of religion.


According to the historico-critical method of examining them (the Gospels), they are studied not simply as literature, but as products of the time in which they were written, that is, as works which in no small degree reflect the ideas and discussions, the hopes and fears, which prevailed in Christian circles toward the end of the first century and the beginning of the second.


Christianity... was not already complete in Jesus, but its principle has also unfolded itself only in long series of forms of development, and we have every reason for assuming that it will still further develop and adapt itself to still new conditions of life.

Words of Alexander R. Abbott

Written in support of reverence as the source of religious truth (use excerpts to create a dialogue with Cone):

Religion and philosophy are both necessary to us, both aid in the harmonious development of our being, and, they seem to be the constant attendants of the trusting spirit and the inquiring mind. But they are not interchangeable. Science seeks to penetrate all the secrets and evolve all the laws of nature. She seeks facts, knowledge, law, order, arrangements, relations. The whole architecture of the glittering dome of heaven she finds in laws.


But is religion satisfied with this? Are the deepest, most permanent and imperative wants of the human soul satisfied with these husks of philosophy and physical science? Is she content to be guided through all the vicissitudes of this mental journey and meet the overshadowing mystery that awaits her at the close, guided by this cold, dry light of the intellect, however clear and strong it may be? Rationalism is no new thing to the world, but as old, at least, as the religious history of the race. The constant effort of those faculties to bring the whole realm of knowledge and faith, thought and emotion, under their dominion have kept alive the old battle between religion and reason, belief and skepticism from the earliest ages to the present, and for aught we can see, it is destined to continue to the end of time. It is the legitimate result of an age profoundly absorbed in material pursuits.


All your powers, faculties, methods and instruments; your scale, dividers, calipers, crucibles, telescope, microscope, and eye, eve, are adapted only to things seen and temporal, not to things unseen and eternal. For the solution of problems that are daily recurring, we need the ultimate results of the purest scientific processes; but for the peace and trust of the spirit, as we walk under the clouds and shadows of life, bearing its burdens, enduring its trials, and encountering its temptations, weeping over its bereavements, how impotent are all human philosophy and science! We walk by faith, not by sight.