Day By Day by The Great Chris Muir

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Has Christianity held back the progress of science? What about Galileo?

By Wintery Knight :

First, here’s an article from the peer-reviewed journal Nature, probably the best peer-reviewed journal on science in the world.

The article is written by James Hannam. He has a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge and is the author of The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution (published in the UK as God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science).


Few topics are as open to misunderstanding as the relationship between faith and reason. The ongoing clash of creationism with evolution obscures the fact that Christianity has actually had a far more positive role to play in the history of science than commonly believed. Indeed, many of the alleged examples of religion holding back scientific progress turn out to be bogus. For instance, the Church has never taught that the Earth is flat and, in the Middle Ages, no one thought so anyway. Popes haven’t tried to ban zero, human dissection or lightening rods, let alone excommunicate Halley’s Comet. No one, I am pleased to say, was ever burnt at the stake for scientific ideas. Yet, all these stories are still regularly trotted out as examples of clerical intransigence in the face of scientific progress.

Admittedly, Galileo was put on trial for claiming it is a fact that the Earth goes around the sun, rather than just a hypothesis as the Catholic Church demanded. Still, historians have found that even his trial was as much a case of papal egotism as scientific conservatism. It hardly deserves to overshadow all the support that the Church has given to scientific investigation over the centuries.

That support took several forms. One was simply financial. Until the French Revolution, the Catholic Church was the leading sponsor of scientific research. Starting in the Middle Ages, it paid for priests, monks and friars to study at the universities. The church even insisted that science and mathematics should be a compulsory part of the syllabus. And after some debate, it accepted that Greek and Arabic natural philosophy were essential tools for defending the faith. By the seventeenth century, the Jesuit order had become the leading scientific organisation in Europe, publishing thousands of papers and spreading new discoveries around the world. The cathedrals themselves were designed to double up as astronomical observatories to allow ever more accurate determination of the calendar. And of course, modern genetics was founded by a future abbot growing peas in the monastic garden.

But religious support for science took deeper forms as well. It was only during the nineteenth century that science began to have any practical applications. Technology had ploughed its own furrow up until the 1830s when the German chemical industry started to employ their first PhDs. Before then, the only reason to study science was curiosity or religious piety. Christians believed that God created the universe and ordained the laws of nature. To study the natural world was to admire the work of God. This could be a religious duty and inspire science when there were few other reasons to bother with it. It was faith that led Copernicus to reject the ugly Ptolemaic universe; that drove Johannes Kepler to discover the constitution of the solar system; and that convinced James Clerk Maxwell he could reduce electromagnetism to a set of equations so elegant they take the breathe away.

Given that the Church has not been an enemy to science, it is less surprising to find that the era which was most dominated by Christian faith, the Middle Ages, was a time of innovation and progress. Inventions like the mechanical clock, glasses, printing and accountancy all burst onto the scene in the late medieval period. In the field of physics, scholars have now found medieval theories about accelerated motion, the rotation of the earth and inertia embedded in the works of Copernicus and Galileo. Even the so-called “dark ages” from 500AD to 1000AD were actually a time of advance after the trough that followed the fall of Rome. Agricultural productivity soared with the use of heavy ploughs, horse collars, crop rotation and watermills, leading to a rapid increase in population.

I hope this will set the record straight – Judeo-Christian monotheism created the enterprise of experimental science.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

  • The kalam cosmological argument and the Big Bang theory
  • The fine-tuning argument from cosmological constants and quantities
  • The origin of life, part 1 of 2: the building blocks of life
  • The origin of life, part 2 of 2: biological information
  • The sudden origin of phyla in the Cambrian explosion
  • Galactic habitable zones and circumstellar habitable zones
  • Irreducible complexity in molecular machines
  • The creative limits of natural selection and random mutation
  • Angus Menuge’s ontological argument from reason
  • Alvin Plantinga’s epistemological argument from reason
  • William Lane Craig’s moral argument
  • The unexpected applicability of mathematics to nature
  • Arguments and scientific evidence for non-physical minds
  • Friday, February 21, 2014

    Causes/Reasons For The War Of Southern Independence

    One of the major causes of the War Of Southern Independence, and among the chief motivating factors behind the deep Southern commitment to the fight evidenced by the widespread volunteerism of the so-called "Southern yeoman" who owned no slaves and had no stake in slavery, was the smug presumption to moral and even spiritual superiority of so many in the North, abolitionists and New Enlganders in particular. The stench of condescension and hypocrisy was particularly foul to Southerners of the day, which is not surprising since so many of them were of "Scots Irish" descent and within at most three generations of having escaped the grinding poverty and horrific political oppression of a Great Britain which reviled them. So the South as a whole tended to have a chip on its shoulder about anything which smacked of the establishment, entitlement or the upper class. In short, the North. You can't continually insult a man - or a region - and pretend surprise when he wants to step outside with you.

    This is a casus belli which has been routinely overlooked by Northern commentators, many of whom today persist in the same offensive, contemptuous behavior which came so naturally to their forbears, particularly academics. As self-identified members of the elite and claimants to membership in the intelligentsia, they were representatives of that entitled class which led the North, and as such were simply incapable of recognizing their own egoism, prejudice and presumption. These representatives of the Northern elites were far more likely to understand Swahili than they were to grasp what it meant to live a Southerner's life, and to understand the factors which formed his character and personality.

    As I noted, that same egotistical presumption and condescension is today routinely seen in the intellectual heirs of those elites who were so contemptuous of the South both prior to the North's military invasion and afterwards, when the South was crushed and humiliated for generations, unlike any other foe defeated by the United States. The most smug and condescending attitudes often come from academics, who rely on the same insulting behavior and presumptuous attitudes when speaking of today's South and its inhabitants. Often these academics retain the same smug pretensions of moral superiority as did their forbears. And, just as their forbears, they can exhibit a truly breathtaking hypocrisy and shocking degree of willful moral blindness, by praising as military geniuses and heroes men who intentionally made war on civilians, which included the same acts of barbarism, brutality and outright terrorism for which Nazi and Imperial Japanese generals were ignominiously hanged. Just think of the vanity necessary to accomplish such a neat intellectual trick.
    Yes, such attitudes are still encountered today, when the same kind of moral egotists speak in terms of "lies" and "myths" on which Southerners "loudly" "insist". Because Southerners don't just have a different opinion - they're not even merely in error. No, they're perverse. Immoral. Evil. The familiar smug, scornful and patronizing words. And informed by the same narcissism and moral blindness which afflicted those who went before them.

     Via one of the best liberty/Southron aggregate blogs, a multi-daily must read:
     Free North Carolina

    Saturday, February 8, 2014

    Your child belongs to us already…

    Battlefield USA posts this often:  

    When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already…. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.

     – Adolf Hitler