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May 09, 2016

Comments

1) "We need God because God is true." This doesn't answer the question. In the same way, we could say, "It's true there's a big rock on Mars that looks sort of like an artichoke." We need to care about that, because it's true after all.

2) The rise of science was motivated by Christian theism? Then why did it take some 1,600 years from the time of Christ until Bacon's "Novum Organum"? This talking point marks you as an idiot.

3) The real reason religion impacts my life is because I never heard anything about evolution until I got into college. And I never had any practical, down-to-earth sex education in high school either. These are just two examples of how religion blocks science and stupefies young people.

Looks like it didn't do much for your attitude either.

>> The rise of science was motivated by Christian theism? Then why did it take some 1,600 years from the time of Christ until Bacon's "Novum Organum" -

John, you're stonewalling. The point is not the lapse of scientific discovery in post-imperial Rome, but the new burst of interest in science and the appropriate steps in scientific procedure. Totally compatible with theism. Even so, the academic life had merely drifted into the Middle East, the philosophic minds drawing towards the relative safety of Constantinople and the rising Islamic nation.

Science prior to Bacon was technological innovations that supported feudal systems, and that wonderful search for the touchstone and the bizarre disciple of alchemy. Science = get rich schemes. The rise of modern science was advanced by theistic scientists. Recent times shifted away from this trend in the late 1800's.

but foundational work remains foundational work.

What does it even mean to say that the rise of science was motivated by Christian theism? I wish Brett Kunkle or some other leader would delve into this question.

I agree there were technological advances during the Middle Ages, but it looks like science and technology just developed gradually for a long time, and then around 1620 there was this new phenomenon that led to our current society where science and technology are growing by leaps and bounds.

Was Christian theism responsible for that new phenomenon of scientific inquiry starting around 1620?

It's not enough just to point out that those early scientists were Christian believers. I want to know how Christian doctrine itself caused the new wave scientific of inquiry starting around 1620.

----

By the way, I agree that monotheism is closer to science than polytheism. The monotheist thinks of the world as ordered and steady since it's governed by one sovereign God, so that's something human beings could possibly come to understand. On the other hand, polytheists think the world is chaotic and whimsical, at the mercy of various competing gods, so there's no hope of humans ever understanding such a world.

The problem is just that there are more monotheisms than just Christianity. And then also that monotheism existed for some 2,500 years before the scientific revolution ever began.

I wouldn't complain if you said monotheism was a necessary step toward scientific thinking. But to say Christianity itself motivated the scientific revolution is really preposterous.

John B. Moore,

Just perhaps a historical happenchance, but ...

Why did the Renaissance coincide with the times of the pre-Reformation and Reformation? Clearly the desire for a better understanding of God and His ways matched with a more precise understanding of God and His workings.

Note the rise of Renaissance art and the religious (even more so, Christian) themes.

Just an observation.

These are good questions. I'd suggest that the common theme running through the renaissance, reformation and scientific revolution is a gradual breakdown of traditional authority.

Maybe it started with the great plague in the mid-14th century, which decimated the peasantry, which drove up the price of labor, which gave surviving peasants more power and eventually led to the end of feudalism.

Suddenly ordinary people had unprecedented autonomy. They could start thinking for themselves. This led to the creative flowering of the renaissance, in which artists broke rules and challenged official morals.

The printing press allowed people to spread heretical ideas far and wide. Luther defied the Pope's authority, leading to a chaos of conflicting religious sects. And then came the scientific revolution, which was again a matter of questioning old authorities and insisting on seeing evidence for yourself.

I think the essence of religion is submission to traditional authority, and the essence of science is to question and test things and defy authority. Thus, religion and science are opposite ways of thinking. The scientific revolution happened because people started to question traditional authority.

"I think the essence of religion is submission to traditional authority, and the essence of science is to question and test things and defy authority."

I don't know where you got that definition of religion from. Sure, man made religious systems like the Roman Catholic church require submission to traditional authority. But if you read the Gospels, you will find that Jesus was most animated when he took on the pillars of traditional authority. At every step he attacked the tradition the pharisees and sadducees appealed to.

I think your attribution of "defying authority" to science is unwarranted. If anything, the debate of evolution and creation/ID shows how much evolutionists want to stick with authority and not question things that lead to uncomfortable outcomes.

Here is an illustrative quote from Thomas Nagel:
I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” (”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)

What does it even mean to say that the rise of science was motivated by Christian theism? I wish Brett Kunkle or some other leader would delve into this question.

Much has been written about this, but you could start here.

In reply to kpolo: The Bible itself is a traditional authority. It's no good overthrowing pharisees if you just submit right away to some other authority.

If you think scientists submit to authority when they use evolution theory, then you totally misunderstand what science is. Stop deluding yourself! Or if you ever meet a supposed scientist who appeals to authority, go ahead and call them out on it. Just say "You're not a scientist if you appeal to authority like that!"

In reply to Amy: I read through the Amazon reviews of that book, but they didn't suggest an answer to my question: How did Christian doctrine itself cause the new wave of scientific inquiry starting around 1620? How did Christ's death and resurrection change people's way of developing technology?

Maybe it started with the great plague ....

Intriguing theory John Moore. I hold that the end of the feudal period (late, or High Middle Ages [1000-1500 AD roughly]) was motivated by the rise of the artisan guilds and the town charter. The cathedral projects of the early centuries of this period inspired the ranking and training of workmen who could earn their own means beyond the fief. You remember the concepts of apprentice-journeyman-master? This independence from the manor in individual communities of craftsmen and craftsmen-wannabes was the first spark of ending the feudal age.

Suddenly ordinary people had unprecedented autonomy. The townsmen held this autonomy, but it did little for the emancipation of the peasant. The usual peasants' revolt usually ended poorly for the lower classes. Princes, churchmen, and nobles did well to preserve their authority through this time. But the rise of the town also meant the rise of the university. Here's your engine for that important "thinking for himself." It was the university which could debate the issues of the day. Luther's original complaint against Rome was a issue of only two centuries' concern, indulgences. Soon, Luther realized much of the indulgence system had worked its way into much Catholic Church practice.

But, yes, you are right. The printing press was a powerful tool. And the Gutenberg Bible was one of (if not the first) its first fruits.

>> Submission to traditional authority ...

Here I would say the better phrasing would be ... questioning of assumed and mistaken authority. Luther had the problems of the indulgence system. Scientists as Copernicus and Kepler had Aristotle and Ptolemy. Hence, a scientific role to "defy authority" runs afoul only if the authority is absolutely right. Or correct in essence needing only more precision. How much of Newton is valid after Einstein?

You make a good point that tradesmen in the towns were different from peasants on the land. The plague killed more in the towns than the country too. Maybe feudalism was already doomed before 1348.

And yes, there's no point in defying authority if the authority is right. But how can we tell for sure if the authority is right?

About Newton after Einstein: I think it's a question of scale. At the human scale, Newton is still perfectly valid. If you're designing a car to drive safely at a particular speed around a curve in the road, you don't need Einstein at all.

>> And yes, there's no point in defying authority if the authority is right. But how can we tell for sure if the authority is right?

That's the beauty of the scientific method. Observe > Hypothesis > Experiment > theorize > Submit for review > accept as law all ideas that hold up under scrutiny.

It's a blend of skeptism and a grudged respect for what works.

People of religion have these same issues. It is called occasional bouts of doubt. This calls for further study. Bible remains a good place to go for that.

By the by, STR crew, after the initiate pasting of John B. Moore's point, all my text is red-lined. Odd.

John, from the first endorsement on the top of the Amazon page: "The authors demonstrate how the flowering of modern science depended upon the Judeo-Christian worldview of the existence of a real physical contingent universe, created and held in being by an omnipotent personal God, with man having the capabilities of rationality and creativity, and thus being capable of investigating it." The listed editorial reviews say more, as well.

Given the fact that God created our physical universe and holds it in being, how should we learn about that universe? Is there any kind of method? Some rules to follow? What does the Bible say?

Given that man has rational capabilities, how does the Bible say we should use those capabilities to develop new technology?

I always thought the Bible just tells us how to lead moral lives and receive salvation, and so I thought the Bible did not tell us how to learn facts about the material world or develop new technology.

Maybe you're saying that God commands us and motivates us to learn about the world he created. That's an interesting suggestion. On the other hand, secularists would argue that the real motivation to do science is to get material prosperity - to feed and clothe ourselves and heal our illnesses and protect ourselves against the harsh elements.

I'd be interested to hear someone contrast these two motivations and explain how God's motivation is more essential than the secular, material motivation.

And then also to explain the biblical method for learning about the physical world. There are answers in Genesis, of course, but aren't there even more answers we can find beyond the Bible?

It's not about people's motivation (or, at least, not mainly—there is some of that desire to understand the mind of God); it's about their understanding of the nature of the universe. I do still recommend the book, but here are a few brief posts for more.


  1. How Christianity Created Science (and Why Atheism Wouldn't Have) - Excerpt: "Imagine if at the beginning of human history every human being had a naturalistic understanding of the universe—everything was thought to have come together randomly, as atoms happened to bump into atoms, with no reason for its existence. No design, no purpose to the way the universe developed. That foundational idea would have invoked not the view of today’s naturalist scientist (whose view grew out of our culture’s ancient Christian belief in an ordered universe), but a worldview every bit as chaotic as any that rested on capricious gods. Who, in a culture developing under a belief in a meaningless, random universe where something might at any moment come out of nothing, would have thought to search for rational, predictable natural laws?"

  2. Christianity As Science-Starter - Kepler

  3. Christianity As Science-Starter - Galileo

  4. Christianity As Science-Starter - Newton

OK, thanks. I think I understand now. Christianity didn't provide any kind of method for scientific discovery, but it just gave us the idea that the world was rational and therefore possible for humans to understand.

This is sort of like what I conceded earlier about monotheism.

Just a tactical note for my apologist friends: You need to be careful using this argument with atheists. If you just say "Christianity led to the rise of science," they'll probably just laugh and think you're crazy, so that's the end of the conversation. You need to present this argument carefully and explain clearly what you mean.

The gods play and the people pay.

Chaos.

Then:

God is Father.

God commands "Go out and....subdue and master the outside." Lucidity, and no less, shall satisfy.

God invites "Come in and...behold Him..." The mind transcends.

God's self-outpouring rationally compels love's timeless reciprocity.

Chaos fades.

The unvaluable becomes valuable.

Reason's appetite awakens.

Those unaware of morphing mindsets miss the currents, the ripples, the momentum which carries us, lifts us "...as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship...."

Or....

Science, being silent on our brutally repeatable moral experience, finds her causal reductionism unable to locate love's ontology.

The value of the cripple escapes her. The *impact* of the Roman's blood sport transcends her.

Yet the Christian paradigm embraces her in one hand and compels reason to subdue and master time and and physicality, while the other hand embraces the irreducible self-outpouring within the triune God's immutable love.

Fragments and bits take hold in various parts of the world across history's canvas, only to acquiesce and fade beneath the shadows of those peculiar games of the gods and omens.

Yet in one swath of the canvas that which gained a footing takes root and frees itself from the chaos of the gods.

The unicity of Man in God, God in Man, compels both reason and reciprocity.

In that particular swath the singular wellspring of nuance and thought feeding the undercurrents of reason and reciprocity paint in a hue which permanently stains.

Love's timeless reciprocity impacts all.

Or.....

The unicity of God in Man, Man in God, compelled both reason and reciprocity.

The singular wellspring of nuance and thought fed the undercurrents of reason and reciprocity, painting in a hue which permanently stained.

Process stood atop Methodology. Methodology emerged secondary to the stains of liberation.

A) Reason and logic as our primary guide
B) Orderly properties of the universe
C) Intelligibility of the universe (via B)
D) Principle of Sufficient Reason (via A)
E) And so on.

The reason the A-Theist (No-God) paradigm, which rides atop the Christian's first principles, and the Theist (God) paradigm which enjoys the luxury of such first principles, and those peculiar gods and omens which appeal to mystery and intuition and which on history's canvas could not in their chaos properly retain the necessary first principles, must all defend their respective views is simply that they all impact nuance and thought about Actuality's primordial datum, Actuality's irreducible causation(s) which just are beliefs about either God or else god, about reality's rock-bottom.

This has an immediate and direct impact upon the fundamentally different conclusions which we make about Man, Mind, and Reality in *any* setting with respect to *any* path from non-being to being. The Theist (God) and the A-Theist (No-God) and those peculiar gods and omens of chaos amid mystery and intuition all have their own terminus of explanation -- the Christian his God and the Non-Theist his god and those awash in the chaotic mindsets of the gods and omens their own unintelligible termini.

Those who claim to be free of all impact, to be floating in a kind of thoughtless-space utterly void of thoughts about reality’s causal rock-bottom are simply unaware of the history of mankind, and are simply unwilling to defend their own explanatory termini as it fails to locate its own irreducible metaphysic of reason's thirst and of love's reciprocity. As such they provide far more noise and static than reason and sense.

Bill T.” commented elsewhere:

“That science flourished in Western culture in a way it did nowhere else is without question. [It’s] important to look at its growth throughout what is commonly referred to as the Middle Ages and also Christendom. Though we think of modern science as a phenomenon of the late 18th century it has its roots beginning in the middle ages. The people of medieval Europe invented spectacles, the mechanical clock, the windmill, and the blast furnace by themselves. Lenses and cameras, almost all kinds of machinery, and the industrial revolution itself all owe their origins to the forgotten inventors of the Middle Ages. As well as all that, the birth of the modern university in the 1100’s was also part of the accomplishments of that time and place. What made Christendom a particularly fertile place for the origins of modern science was the (intellectual / philosophical / metaphysical) underpinnings provided by Christian thought. The idea that we live in a world that is intelligible seems a commonplace thought. But, if you look at the other world religions at that time they are dominated by an appeal to mystery and intuition. Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth. The West’s success in the sciences is traceable to its belief in a God of order and reason, who designed a predictable, orderly universe intelligible to the human mind.”

On reciprocity amid self-giving, that the cripple, the slave, the woman, the child, the diseased, the unclean, and the bastards of the world house in themselves that which is irreducibly sacred, that which irreducibly transcends all impact which body and environment can hurl, finds the world's metaphysic of self-outpouring in and through the triune God compelling both reason's thirst and love's timeless reciprocity.

As in the sciences and disciplines of academia, so too in love's demands upon reason for the unicity of God in Man and of Man in God instantiates within history's canvas His singular wellspring of nuance and thought which constitute the undercurrents in question and which paint in His hue which permanently stains.

The Necessary cannot "not-impact" the contingent in any path from non-being to being and we find that love's timeless reciprocity impacts all things, from A to Z.

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