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May 11, 2009

’God Did It!’

Dna_rgb In a recent essay in The New Republic, evolutionary scientist Jerry Coyne asked, “Does the empirical nature of science contradict the revelatory nature of faith? Are the gaps between them so great that the two institutions must be considered essentially antagonistic?” Coyne has no doubt that the answer is yes.

Religion is so hopelessly inimical to scientific progress that any attempt to reconcile them is futile. As Coyne explains, “Accepting both science and conventional faith leaves you with a double standard.” And to make sure you are clear on what religion is at issue, Coyne adds, “Rational on the origin of blood clotting, irrational on the Resurrection; rational on dinosaurs, irrational on virgin births.”

While hallowed bodies, like the National Academy of Sciences, claim publicly that faith and science do not conflict, privately, their “dirty little secret” is that religion is a science-stopper. Their public face, Coyne lets on, is all in the interest of maintaining public trust—one that is overwhelming religious and, professedly, Christian—and with it, public funding.

To the illuminati, a believer lumbers to the edge of every frontier of knowledge, poised to retire his investigations with “God did it!” contentment. Meanwhile, dead ends caused by their own faith in scientific materialism remain unexamined—the premature designation of “vestigial” organs and “junk” DNA being two examples.

Contrary to modern criticism, the scientist who approaches the world as a product of intelligence, rather than of matter and motion, is less likely to stop short of discovery. Instead of dismissing a feature that, at first glance, appears inert, unnecessary or just plain mystifying, he is more inclined to push the envelope of investigation to unravel its function and purpose.

Rather than obstructing science, Christianity, with its emphasis on a personal Creator, inspired an age of discovery that opened the way for science. Continue reading here.

(Image © Richards Center at Yale University)

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jason taylor

All of which is conceding the point that "not understanding science" is a grievous flaw.

"You can call me a coward, you can call me a liar, you can call me a thief. But never, never say I don't understand science."

Jason Taylor

A scientist is either a glorified technician or a glorified hobbyist or each by turns. I do not consider it the greatest of insults to be ignorant of history. Nor do I think history has a rightful place. Nor do I think that I am necessarily better then others because I know about history and they do not. And as it happens, I don't think scientists are any better then historians. Why should scientists think they have a right to consider "not understanding science" to be an insult.

In point of fact, the greatest discoveries and inventions were made by people who were interested in science either for it's own sake or for the sake of something else(often wealth, military success, political power or some such), but definitely not for the sake of the prestiege of science. The Royal Geographic Society cared more about where the sources of the Nile were then about whether proper homage was paid to science. As was due and proper.

The essay above is all very well. But it shows a disturbing amount of defensiveness. Who cares whether Christianity "obstructs science?" A traffic jam on the way to the university obstructs science too. Why cede the initiative and let ourselves be put on the defensive against a charge of incompatability with ideals we consider secondary? Isn't that kind of like being concerned that Moslems think we are "disrespecting Islam?"

Jason Taylor

In any case why is the Virgin Birth irrational? It is improbable not irrational but that is kind of the point. Why is it irrational to say miracles are miraculous?

And why do unbelievers seem to have an obsession with their unbelief in the Virgin Birth? Aren't there any other things to disbelief in?

Ben W

"Aren't there other things to disbelieve in?"

Sure - the resurrection, water into wine, Noah's flood, etc. The "irrational" comes from philosophical naturalists, who say that it's irrational to believe in something without evidence (not that science can be "proven", but it has more evidence than miracles, they'd say).

I obviously disagree with Coyne, and I think that faith and reason are reconcilable... at least insofar as they don't make statements about each other. Philosophical naturalism is science-y philosophy about faith, and Young-Earth Creationism is religious statements about science.
The two can also become mixed up in a political sense, where religious or scientific organizations and leaders can push positive or negative sentiment towards "the other side". But with the exception of a few notable atheist biologists, there is more of an attack from Christians on science than vice versa.

I have to disagree, Regis, that "Christianity.. inspired an age of discovery that opened the way for science." Sure, all scientists were also Christian back then, but that doesn't really mean that the Christianity played a guiding role, any more than Islam played a guiding role in the formation of algebra. God gave humans a natural curiosity, and that gift has far more to do with our love of science than Christianity does.

Jason Taylor

Science cannot have more evidence then miracles. The only "proof" it accepts are those based upon it's own assumptions which are like any foundational assumptions unprovable. You cannot prove that the laws of nature are universal through all time and space, or even that your senses are reliable.

Jason Taylor

Or to put it another way, there is NO proof of science. Science is simply a system of ideas not the corralary to those ideas. And saying that "science has better proof" when presumably you mean science has evidence based on the criteria of proof established by science is no different then saying "the Bible says" which is in fact evidence, given the assumptions of Christianity.

Ben W

Huh? Respectfully, I think you're bonkers.

Consider two statements: would you put "a Spanish boy's amputated leg regrew after prayer in the 17th century" on the same level as "if I drop this cup, it will fall to the floor"? If you had to bet your life on the truth of one of those statements, you'd give them equal weighting?

Jason Taylor

Ben, people knew that Spanish boy's amputated legs were not likly to regrow, and cups fell when dropped long before there was science. And recent fads in science have talked about ideas just as odd as Spanish boy's amputated legs regrowing(such as the creation, or at least the virgin birth of sheep by the assistance of humans).


People seem to compare science to religion as if they are very similar and also if they are equals. Sorta like two brands of a food...Or two different authors of knowledge...But Christianity has areas of knowing and being which go into territory not known to or only barely perceived by scientific study...And the Bible, etc. may touch on scientific things, but that is simply not its main focus.

To me - the incarnated Jesus is an example...He was incarnated into human flesh...a scientist can read the Journal of the American Medical Assoc. 1980's article & read about the effects of the crucifixion on Jesus' human form...

But Jesus as also fully God-- Here the scientists encounters territory she/he can not easily codify into only scientific data.

Jason Taylor

Ben your statement is nothing like a "proof" of science. It is simply a statement that rare events are rare and common events are common.

And as the prestiege of science is based primarily not on proof but on it's association with remarkable achievements you might be a little more humble. If tomorrow the boasted wonders of science are destroyed by the more embarrassing wonders of science will anyone believe in science five hundred years from now. Or will it simply become folklore which it is arguably already becoming.

Regis Nicoll

Ben -- It is noteworthy that despite the technological and engineering marvels produced by ancient Egypt, China and India, true science did not come out from those civilizations. Because of their transcendental worldview, the workings of Nature were thought to be beyond the grasp of mere mortals. Consequently, scientific advancement went so far, but no farther.

Neither did science emerge from Islamic culture which, after its Golden Age, has been in free fall since 1200 AD. It was then that Muslims embraced a more orthodox Islam in which Allah was a capricious puppeteer beyond reason and logic, and man his fatalistic marionette.

These cultures gave us alchemy, astrology and medicine, but Christian thought mid-wided the deep understandings of chemistry, astronomy and medical science. As historian Alvin J. Schmidt remarks in his book, Under the Influence, “[V]irtually all the scientists from the Middle Ages to the mid-eighteenth century—many of whom were seminal thinkers—not only were sincere Christians but were often inspired by biblical postulates and premises in their theories that sought to explain and predict natural phenomena.”


vikingmother wrote: "a scientist can read the Journal of the American Medical Assoc. 1980's article & read about the effects of the crucifixion on Jesus' human form..."

I did. JAMA got trainloads of angry letters for publishing it. They got called nonscientists, anti-Semites, and worse. Flame-mail went on for months afterward. Quoting the New Testament as a source really got all those doctors upset, while quoting sources like Josephus (which I think the authors of the paper did; it was him or a contemporary) was fine with the flamers.

The fascinating part was that this was for *crucifixion* - not *resurrection*. There's no miracle in crucifixion; lots of people were crucified. But as the Gaither song says, There's Just Something About That Name.

Ben W

If the "boasted wonders of science" are destroyed, then our civilization will cease to be, as there is no way to feed billions of people without agricultural sciences, internal combustion engines and the chemistry that makes them run, etc. But no one really expects gravity to stop working - as you said, it was working long before we knew what it was.

Yes, cups fall regularly - that's the best part of science: it's formed from predictable and repeatable experiments. Would other tests be preferable? It's this reliability that gives science its prestige and more particularly, its usefulness. No matter how many times you try it, light always bounces off a mirror and is refracted by a prism, two H2 and an O2 always react to give water plus some energy, and antimatter combines with matter according to Einstein's famous law.

The Spanish boy was an example from a famous miracle from the 1600s (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_Calanda). My question is this: If you believe that science and miracles are on equal evidentiary standing, is there any miracle in the last 1000 years that you'd put the same weighting on as "this cup will fall"?

jason taylor

Ben, I did not say "any particular miracle is on equal evidentiary standing with science." Any particular miracle will be improbable. If it was not it would not, in the normal sense of the word, be a miracle.

I said there is no more evidentiary standing for the theoretical reliability of science then for the theoretical possibility of miracles. Neither have ANY evidence-because science is about studying evidence, it cannot have evidence for itself.

As for "our civilization ceaseing to be" I think that was kind of what I was implying.

As for the "best part of science" to paraphrase Rhett Butler, frankly I don't give a hoot what the best part of science is. My chief objection was to people who think "obstructing science" to be an egregious offense. Mostly because such people are pompous, insufferable, jerks which is a worse offense then "obstructing science". Not to mention that the type of people that regard others as "obstructions" are sometimes the type of people who try to take it upon themselves to remove obstructions.

Which is why I find the essay annoying. It's defensiveness accepts that it would be a valid charge if true when in fact "antiscience" is simply the secular version of "disrespecting Islam" and deserves to be taken no more seriously.

Ben W

Hmm. At my wife's recommendation, I'm going to read Miracles by CS Lewis.

It's not that I don't believe in miracles.. it's that we humans are sooo quick to believe just about anything. Just look at homeopathy, or astrology, ESP, or dowsing.. Or any of the New Age or new religions, like Scientology. So when someone comes out and says that a miracle happened, I tend to view it with a bit of skepticism. I want to know the details, to work it over in my mind, because I know that often people will believe something just... because.

This skepticism, courtesy of my graduate advisor, came from my scientific training and has obviously bled into other areas. And that's half of why I don't really get the debate over ID and evolution - on one side, you have trained experts in the field who are trained to be skeptical, to question their own and each other's work, and on the other side you have a handful of mathematicians, lawyers, and a few scientists, all curiously of the same religion. Any remaining doubts about evolution vanished for me once I joined grad school and saw just how rigorous the scientific method really is.

Anyways - sorry for the bunny trail. Miracles?

jason taylor

Oh, my apoligies, Regis, I may have been harsh.


Ben W wrote: If you believe that science and miracles are on equal evidentiary standing, is there any miracle in the last 1000 years that you'd put the same weighting on as "this cup will fall"?

Make that "the last 2000 years" and you've got a deal.

Ben W

"when in fact "antiscience" is simply the secular version of "disrespecting Islam" and deserves to be taken no more seriously"

Yeah, but Islam doesn't pay the light bills. Any country that rejected modern science would face economic suicide, and eventually fall so far behind other countries that it would be ripe for invasion. I'm not trying to get all high and mighty, it just seems downright backwards to be anti-science.

Jason Taylor

The point, Ben, is that "Antiscience" is a shibboleth just like "disrespecting Islam", and that the reaction of scientolators to criticism or disaggreement is rather like the reaction of Moslems to cartoons.

No one is suggesting that the modern world be rid of technology. I suppose dishwashing machines are some compensation for a modern world of dishonorable, cowardly, unchaste, disloyal and obnoxious people.

But it might be considered that the "gifts of science" would be impossible without various and sundry things including democracy, capitalism, the international balance of power, imperialism, and even feudalism.
Science would be impossible without money, without important patrons, without motives, without a number of other things for which scientists seldom seem all that grateful. So pray consider a little humility.

Jason Taylor

To further a point Ben, not giving reverence to science is not an objection to dishwashers, despite what some say. Just as despite what the Roman Empire said, not worshiping Caesar is not an objection to "sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a freshwater system, and public health, and peace"(to paraphrase Monty Python). And "Obstructing science" is not a grave crime. And it is less to be suspected then seeing others as an "obstruction".


Jason Taylor wrote: "I suppose dishwashing machines are some compensation for a modern world of dishonorable, cowardly, unchaste, disloyal and obnoxious people."

And *I* suppose we all have our price, but wow, dear old friend, you're a bargain! :-)

Steve (SBK)


I encourage you to read C.S. Lewis's "Miracles". It's got some good stuff in there, like thinking about what we mean by nature and supernature. Also interesting, I thought, was his discussion on the foundations of thought. (Some don't find it particularly compelling, but then, they have their... reasons).

Anyway, on this topic, I've always found this C.S. Lewis quote (from 'The Abolition of Man') thought-provoking:

"I have described as a `magician's bargain' that process whereby man surrenders object after object, and finally himself, to Nature in return for power. And I meant what I said. The fact that the scientist has succeeded where the magician failed has put such a wide contrast between them in popular thought that the real story of the birth of Science is misunderstood. You will even find people who write about the sixteenth century as if Magic were a medieval survival and Science the new thing that came in to sweep it away. Those who have studied the period know better. There was very little magic in the Middle Ages: the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are the high noon of magic. The serious magical endeavour and the serious scientific endeavour are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse. I allow that some (certainly not all) of the early scientists were actuated by a pure love of knowledge. But if we consider the temper of that age as a whole we can discern the impulse of which I speak."

Anyway, that's mostly just an adjoinder to the discussion.

I do think in some respects you and Jason are speaking past each other... mainly because the 'scientific method' doesn't entail it be used by anyone with a certain set of proper beliefs.

I do think that not just Christians but most religious people are denigrated by non-religious scientists, because they require proof/repetition/laboratory setting to believe something happened, and somehow it is irrational to believe history handed down to us.

There's nothing wrong with skepticism... but there is something wrong with a commitment to miracles being impossible (read Lewis).

I think it is silly to argue against the scientific method, because it does so well predict and describe predictable, repetitive events.

I don't think that 'the main purpose' of God's grace and work in history is to ensure humans can harness electricity.

Ben W

Ahh, ok, in that case, we agree. :)

Science *does* need all of those things (plus fresh young minds). Disrespect science all you want, just please don't cut the funding or education, or eventually we *will* lose the sanitation, medicine, etc.

Seriously, is anyone actually worshipping science?

Steve (SBK)

Thinking about it though, it is interesting how quickly the skeptics accept a scientist's word as 'gospel'. :)

Regis Nicoll

For those who doubt that science is religion in a lab coat, there's this from astroscientist, Carolyn Porco:

"Every culture has religion. It undoubtedly satisfies a manifest human need.

"But the same spiritual fulfillment and connection can be found in the revelations of science. From energy to matter, from fundamental particles to DNA, from microbes to Homo sapiens, from the singularity of the Big Bang to the immensity of the universe .... ours is the greatest story ever told. We scientists have the drama, the plot, the icons, the spectacles, the 'miracles', the magnificence, and even the special effects. We inspire awe. We evoke wonder.

"And we don't have one god, we have many of them. We find gods in the nucleus of every atom, in the structure of space/time, in the counter-intuitive mechanisms of electromagneticsm. What richness! What consummate beauty!"

Porco goes on to advocate a Church of Latter Day Scientists, replete with ceremonies and "worship centers."


Jason Taylor

All that of course,Lee, is not necessarily the fault of science(though one could make a case here or there but you can make a case for anything here or there). I just wanted to say that, next time someone said something to the effect that "if I dislike modernity, I must dislike dishwashers". As it happens it was ill-aimed and imprecise. But it was amusing.

But my point was not whether science was good or bad: like every activity except the strictly immoral, context is context. My point was that when someone chooses to think being obstructive was a greivious flaw, I have no intention of arguing the point because that would in itself require making concessions. I instead intend to question the validity of the accusation in itself rather then it's truthfulness. Because being obstructive is not the greatest of flaws, and sometimes it is dishonorable or immoral not to be obstructive.

Ben W

Regis, when did religion stop being defined by beliefs about God and His purposes, about the supernatural and human spirituality and start being about a "feeling of awe"? I can be "inspired" by and caught up in sports, but that doesn't make football a religion. No amount of zeal can turn something into a religion; at the very minimum it requires some sort of theology, and you can't have a theology without God(s).

Besides, even the author didn't say what you did - she said it fulfilled some of the same human needs, not that science actually *was* a religion. She's probably a philosophical naturalist who believes we have a primal need for belief in God written on our brains.

Steve - I just started on Miracles.. but I pretty much already agree with everything you said anyway :).

Jason Taylor

Ben the phrase: ” And to make sure you are clear on what religion is at issue, Coyne adds, “Rational on the origin of blood clotting, irrational on the Resurrection; rational on dinosaurs, irrational on virgin births...” distinctly implies that one must reject science or commit heresy for the benefit of science. That is a claim that science is indeed demanding supremacy over men's minds and any other reading is absurd. Once such a claim has been made, arguing over whether science is a "religion" or not becomes hairsplitting.

Jason Taylor

And as to "disrespect science all you want" it might occur to you that it is actually harmful to science for it to have to much respect for itself and demand to much from others? If science cannot question itself it has questioned nothing, and scientists are just another form of druids.

You might consider applying that to other professions. Are millitary dictatorships normally the most effective at war? Germany lost, Sparta only won because it was allied to Persia. Rome is an execption and it was not so single-minded anyway. And of course Third world millitaries are often laughable.

When one sees the affects of over-adualation applied to other professions might one wonder about the danger of science taking itself too seriously? Remember how many of the greatest discoveries were made by people who did not care a whit how prestiegious science was?

Jason Taylor

"I think it is silly to argue against the scientific method, because it does so well predict and describe predictable, repetitive events. "

Steve, I wasn't arguing against the "scientific method", I was arguing against inordinate reverance of it and self-righteousness toward those who do not share such reverance. Just as I do not argue that plumbers cannot unclog pipes but would consider it cheeky for them to exalt the plumbing method.

Jason Taylor

"Sparta only won because it was allied to Persia..."

The Pelopenesian war of course when it was an enemy of Athens. In the Persian war it was an ally of Athens which is also the only reason it won.

Ben W

Jason, if you're looking for me to blame Coyne for his naturalist beliefs, I'll say "you got it". But it's not Science that is demanding the supremacy of science over religion, it's Naturalism, and there are millions of religious scientists and theologians who would disagree with you that science and religion can coexist peacefully.

A few atheists are taking their scientific beliefs too far, and applying naturalism to philosophy. This is *not* science!

Ben W

And how do science (or scientists) have too much respect for itself? Why do you say that science doesn't question itself (I assume you mean motives and goals, rather than scientific statements, as I can give you reams of papers that argue over scientific minutia).

I really just don't see the overadulation and worship that you speak of. Science *is* beautiful (like math also) and it's incredibly useful, but it's still ultimately just a tool that we can use to help mankind.

On the other hand, people get upset about how this tool is being used or not used - but that generally has to do with their religious beliefs. If someone was trying to stop your diabetic mother from taking insulin because it came from pigs and was unclean, you might be upset, too. Likewise, where pursuit of science treads on religious beliefs, people will argue according to their beliefs.. but that conflict is not science's fault, any more than arguing about the imbibing of alcohol is the brewer's fault.

Steve (SBK)

I agree with you. I think that "science" per se is quite narrow in scope (but deep) and cannot adjudicate on its own usage (I think Ben agrees here too). It seems quite *irrational* to me when people get angry (insulting) at, say, Christians, when the Christians are questioning the *usage* of scientific findings. To use Ben's analogy: It's like the Brewer saying "You cannot drink another Brewer's beer!"

Jason Taylor

If that really is your position that is fine enough.

As a side note, though, the imbibing of alchohol, is to a large degree the brewers fault. That is what he made it for and he knew what it was to be used for.

Tim Morway

Excellent points, Mr. Nicoll. I see God in science because it makes sense, not because it doesn't. If I had the ability to explain exactly how the blood clotting system worked, the average layman would probably say, "Wow, that's pretty cool," to which I could respond, "Yup, God did it."
God bless you,


Ben W

Jason, it's really the yeasts' fault. I've got some delicious cider at home that I discovered after leaving it in the pantry a few months :D.

Jason Taylor

Just make sure you give the yeast cells a good talking to.


"Or to put it another way, there is NO proof of science. Science is simply a system of ideas not the corralary to those ideas. And saying that "science has better proof" when presumably you mean science has evidence based on the criteria of proof established by science is no different then saying "the Bible says" which is in fact evidence, given the assumptions of Christianity."

Nice job, Jason, slipping in a highly questionable premise at the end - "given the assumptions of Christianity". I can equally argue that Sauron is the greatest threat to the world today, slipping in "assuming, of course, that the Lord of the Rings is literally true".

Anyway, many scientists in the past were Christian. In Western Europe until the age of enlightenment, that's almost all that there was. Darwin's greatest contribution was that he made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist - religion no longer had a monopoly on answers to "how did we get here?".

Anyway, rather fewer scientists these days believe in the key supernatural tenets of Christianity, and most of these would have been indoctrinated from birth. The Jesuits always said "give me the child up to the age of seven, and I will give you the man" - they knew that their superstitious nonsense would be far more easily digested by people whose faculties of critical thinking were not yet developed. Some people are scientists during the week and miracle-believers on weekends - the assertions of their belief system are placed in a corner of the brain marked "do not question, do not analyse" so aren't subjected to the rigorous scrutiny that they require for everything else in their life.

Anyway, science developed in spite of, not because of, Christianity. Up to the late Renaissance, the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Muslims did a far better job. Christianity is even to this day making the world a worse place by railing against science, doing all it can to ensure the utter misery caused by many genetic illnesses, due to its campaigns against stem cell research, and deceit about matters of sexual education (yes, you, Benedict).

Jason Taylor

You are demonstrating my main point, Kieran; I hope you realize that.


Kieran wrote: "Darwin's greatest contribution was that he made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist"

Intellectual fulfillment would mean having the ability to answer the four most basic questions about life: origin, meaning, morality and destiny. Darwin attempted to cover the first, but as Regis has masterfully pointed out elsewhere, Darwin's explanation of origins doesn't hold up.

The explanation of the last, destiny, is that we simply cease and our destiny is simple nonexistence. This does not account for the human longing to survive death. As C.S. Lewis put it, if there is a longing in your heart that nothing in this world can satisfy, the best explanation is that you were meant for another world.

Morality via Darwinism is controversial. Atheists claim that it is possible to believe that there is no final reckoning for the deeds done in this life and yet it is at the same time possible to live in a moral manner. Paul Johnson's book "Intellectuals" thoroughly destroys that idea, by demonstrating that the world's most famous atheists did not live moral lives.

But the one that interests me, Kieran, is the second. What, to a follower of Darwin, is the meaning of life? And, what are the implications of that meaning; how do atheists order their behavior to align with that meaning?

Jason Taylor

Besides, Kieran, what is it with the Jesuits? I thought that one went out with the eighteenth century. Oh well, at least it's not the Masons, the Trilateral Commission, or the Elders of Zion.

Jason Taylor

it is only possible to believe that there is no final reckoning for the deeds done in this life and yet it is at the same time possible to live in a moral manner if one is an atheist who believes in Natural Law as many in fact have. As most modern atheists I have talked to believe morality to be a social construct, they can be honorable but not moral as morality is by definition objective.

Of course one can behave better then his creed but that is a different story.

Regis Nicoll

Kieran-- As I mentioned to Ben, those ancient cultures (Greece, China, Eygpt, and the like) and even medieval Islam gave us alchemy, astrology and medicine, but it was Western civilization informed by Christianity that gave us chemistry, astronomy and modern medicine.

Ben W

Err, Jason, color me confused.. how exactly is Kieran proving your point? He disagrees, but it hardly seems like he's worshipping science, or giving it too much priority. He's (presumably) not a Christian, so you can't expect him to share the Christian morals and their extensions to science.

Jason Taylor

He is proving that he is astoundingly outrageous and offended by disaggreement, Ben.

Steve (SBK)

Ben, if I could hazard a guess, on example was Kieran's assumptions that Jesuit priests are either deceitful or ignoramuses.
"they knew that their superstitious nonsense would be far more easily digested by people whose faculties of critical thinking were not yet developed"
... because (I think) they believe in the supernatural? They do not question or analyze (I find that a laughable assertion re: Jesuits)?

Also, I'm not sure that his final points hold at all... (and, chances are, we won't hear from the hit-and-run again, that's just the general nature of the internet)... because 'railing' against science implies that science is somehow changing. Er, no, it's discovering new things. The methodology remains the same, and the assumptions behind the actions participated are not defensible by science (which is Jason's and your point).

Ben W

Thanks, Steve.

Jason, I know many Christians who are astoundingly outraged and offended by disagreement. What's your point? That some people are easily outraged and offended when people disagree with them?


21st century scientists don't invoke your magic god fairy to solve scientific problems.

Jason Taylor

As far as Egypt, China, and India go you left one thing out Steve: a multiplicity of competing patrons. The Emperor of China can suppress, use, or more likly make make into a private toy anything he wants. In Europe if one king was uninterested you moved next door-or simply went into the city and contacted some Sturdy Burgher with ambition to be a social climber. Add to this that there was always a balence between the princes of Church, State, and Market which while it promoted disorder, did prevented the staleness of aged empires. This didn't apply as much to India, though there were times when one man ruled the subcontinent. On the other hand, India had the caste system.

Furthermore Europe was never isolated. Europe's lords of Church, State, and Market could never really afford to be as repressive toward science as was claimed because of a secret incentive called the Ottoman Empire.

To say that science was the result of Christianity seems to me to be unconvincing. Christianity was more or less indifferent to it. But saying it "repressed science" not only assumes that the papacy had the power of the KGB(which any medievalist knows is absurd), but thought it might have a motive to "repress science". To believe that, one must believe that discoveries were made that cast Christianity into doubt, but we do not know about it because it was "repressed". Which of course is just making it up as one goes along. If the Church believed itself it would believe that discoveries would confirm itself and not worry. The only things the Church would want to repress were other religions.

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