Arrowsmith

by: Sinclair Lewis

Important Quotations Explained

I make many mistakes. But one thing I keep always pure: the religion of a scientist.

Gottlieb says this to Martin in Chapter 26 upon Martin's arrival at McGurk's. There are many instances in which there seems to be a struggle between science and religion in the novel. For instance, Martin, the advocate of "pure science" has an aversion for Ira Hinkley's preachings. Science seems opposite to religion because one must be able to prove science and, as Martin claims, to be a good scientist one must have the strength not to "trust God." This does not mean, however, that science is not a religion all its own. Both Martin and Gottlieb are seen "praying" at different points in the novel. And yet the two men are most "religious" when they are alone in their laboratories, in silent retreat. For, their science, when it is true, is a whole belief system. It is a stubbornness, a desire, a curiosity, a restlessness, a humility, and a desire to do ones best—all of which can also describe religion. And thus, the two forces that seem to be at odds are quite paradoxically similar.