Newman writes that in a country which does not profess faith this “intellectualism” leads to skepticism, but even in a Catholic country it tends to weaken the faith. He notes that Catholicism has come down to us as a popular religion, a religion of the illiterate. The enlightened think it must be corrected and softened to satisfy an enlightened generation. To keep up with the age it must become a patron of the arts or an agent of philanthropy, and hide away its dogmas and preaching on the Cross, the Virgin Mary and loyalty to the Pope.

Given this cultural environment, it is easy for university education to lead first to religious indifference, next to laxity in belief and at last to heresy.  Newman indicates two errors which the Church must counter to protect the Revelation entrusted to it:

“The first is a simple ignoring of Theological Truth altogether, under the pretence of not recognising differences of religious opinion;—which will only take place in countries or under governments which have abjured Catholicism. The second, which is of a more subtle character, is a recognition indeed of Catholicism, but (as if in pretended mercy to it) an adulteration of its spirit.” In this discourse Newman will proceed to discuss these errors in Science and Literature.

He begins with a look at the relation between science and Theology: “As to Physical Science, of course there can be no real collision between it and Catholicism. Nature and Grace, Reason and Revelation, come from the same Divine Author, whose works cannot contradict each other. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that, in matter of fact, there always has been a sort of jealousy and hostility between Religion and physical philosophers. The name of Galileo reminds us of it at once.”

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