Saturday, 19 September 2015

Science and Religion - Citing Two of my Opponents

1) Science and Religion - Citing Two of my Opponents, 2) Blogosphere in the Feast of Sts Simon and Jude 2015, 3) Homeschooling is Usually Not University Level AND Graphic Porn Does More than Expose to Ideas

I am directly citing the Atheist blog "Why Evolution is True". The blogger in his turn is citing an Old Earth Creationist who is a Protestant. And commenting on him. I'll comment on both.

WEiT : Was Christianity crucial for the rise of science? A Baptist accommodationist says “yes.”

Kenneth Keathley as per JAC
He rejects the “warfare” hypothesis of the relationship between science and religion, originally promulgated by John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White (see the first chapter of FvF), saying that those authors had an “agenda”.

Jerry A. Coyne
Well, White (the founder of Cornell Unversity) surely didn’t: he was a believer and discovered through extensive reading that some (but not all) elements of Christianity had opposed scientific advances. His aim was actually to make religion stronger by purging it of its anti-science “dogmatism.”

Own comment
That kind of religion is also an agenda, and it is of course an "anti-dogmatism" agenda. Not anti the dogmatism of evolution belief, not anti the dogmatism of heliocentric belief, but anti certain dogmatisms and ultimately anti the dogmatism of Christian belief. Calling that "not an agenda" is false.

Jerry A. Coyne
But these scholars have their own agenda: they are determined to show that science and religion can live in harmony. That’s why they try so hard to pretend that the Galileo affair didn’t really have much to do with religion—an argument that is palpable nonsense.

Own comment
Agreed. Back in Copernicus' day, it was a question of Geometry of the Heavens, and Bible references and scholastic references had been left out.

The conflict began with Bruno attacking certain scholastic concepts like "creatio ex nihilo" and that in time, special creation of each human soul, a world soul if not for all universe (as we use the word) at least for each solar system (also as we use the word), and so on. Things a Christian simply cannot accept and remain Christian.

Then Galileo tried to explain Joshua X wrong - after a Dominican close by had come to comment on fact that his astroomy turned the miracle upside down and negated at least its wording. That Dominican was at the Church San Marco, wher ethey have this ultra famous painting of St Dominic, the one you always see in connexion with him on internet when a picture is shown, or nearly always.

So, yes, it had and has to do with religion.

Therefore I cannot debunk all of the conflict hypothesis. If there is indeed no conflict between Catholic Religion and Good Science, there is between Catholic Religion and Bad Science, like Evolution Theory and Heliocentrism.

Jerry A. Coyne
What these scholars seemingly don’t understand is that while some church authorities promoted science, many others opposed the progress of science (e.g., anesthesia, vaccination, and even lightning rods!).

Own comment
Anesthesia is for one thing sth akin to getting drunk, and for another, in its early versions, there was (actually still is, though reduced) a risk of dying under it.

Vaccination is now partly developed by fetal tissue, at least in US, and in its beginnings it involved making oneself sick with cow pox in order to stay free from small pox. It is at least a dubious procedure.

Lightning rods, I can imagine there is some connexion to lightnings usually being guided by spirits, often bad ones, and therefore lightning rods being a kind of "summoning" - to which one could of course answer, that the lightning rod adds a physical cause beyond spirits for where the lightning goes and is therefore not connected to them.

I would btw like references.

In all of these cases, we are also dealing with applied science, and even Jerry A. Coyne would probably (I hope) shrink back from some applications which some scientists consider desirable. I hope at least.

Making bombs to put under House of Représentatives would, I hope, be an application he's not keen of. Even Democrats might be better off under arrest and waiting for judgement and execution, than simply bombed out of this life. Plus the insecurity of what régime would take their place.

Applied science is something different from scientific knowledge. Knowing how to make a bomb, an anasthesia, a vaccination or a lightning rod is science. Making these things in practise is applied science - where morals come into the question.

Obviously the morality of applying science is not one to be entrusted to the sole décisions of scientists.

Jerry A. Coyne
More important, the method of ascertaining truth through science is completely inimical to the method of ascertaining religious “truths” (i.e., stuff that is made up).

Own comment
Here he is arguing from his own prejudice about how religious truths are ascertained.

Religious either truths or falsehoods are not simply made up things like Lord of the Rings (though the work contains religious truths, at worst also religious falsehoods that Tolkien got elsewhere than in his work).

There is natural reason and revelation.

And scholasticism was cultivating natural reason under the revealed truths of Christianity - not only in a way reminiscent of science, but in a truly scientific way. Optics and zoology and geology made progress during the scholastic era.

Jerry A. Coyne
And one has to consider this, too: the Church held sway over Europe during the Middle Ages—for ten centuries beginning about 500 A.D. Western science as we know it is a fifteenth-century production. Why the big delay if Christianity was so important in promoting science?

Own comment
St Albert the Great promoting zoology and geology was 13th C. And ... wiki to the rescue:

The use of a convex lens to form an enlarged/magnified image is discussed in Alhazen's Book of Optics (1021). Its translation into Latin from Arabic in the 12th century was instrumental to the invention of eyeglasses in 13th century Italy.

Englishman Robert Grosseteste's treatise De iride ("On the Rainbow"), written between 1220 and 1235, mentions using optics to "read the smallest letters at incredible distances". A few years later in 1262, Roger Bacon is also known to have written on the magnifying properties of lenses.


The first eyeglasses were made in Italy in about 1286, but it is not clear who the inventor was. In a sermon delivered on February 23, 1306, the Dominican friar Giordano da Pisa (ca. 1255–1311) wrote "It is not yet twenty years since there was found the art of making eyeglasses, which make for good vision... And it is so short a time that this new art, never before extant, was discovered. ... I saw the one who first discovered and practiced it, and I talked to him.".

References, for first paragraph: Kriss, Timothy C; Kriss, Vesna Martich (April 1998). "History of the Operating Microscope: From Magnifying Glass to Microneurosurgery". Neurosurgery 42 (4): 899–907. Link A, to access reserved article, link B, to open summary.

For second paragraph: "...Optics Highlights: II. Spectacles". University of Maryland, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. Retrieved 2007-09-01. Link.

And for third: Ilardi, Vincent (2007), Renaissance Vision from Spectacles to Telescopes, Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society. Link A, to work, link B to page 5, with quote.

The answer is, there was no big delay once the society the Church held sway over had peace and plenty. Back in 800, conditions were a bit harsher in most of Europe, and much of Italy was under the Arabs.

Jerry A. Coyne
And didn’t the ancient Greeks (and early Muslims) also begin doing science, but science not promoted by religion? Thales, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Archimedes—did they do their work because they wanted to emulate the Mind of Zeus, the Great Lawgiver? I think not: it was simple human curiosity.

Own comment
The Greek religion was NOT one in which Zeus was a "great lawgiver", unlike the OT Hebrew and Scholastic Catholic ones. As ruler of the world, the times he was believed in in the mythological sense, he was peevish. That is the precise point about Greek society being inimical to science.

Whom are you putting up as an AD successor to Aristotle? Hypatia of Alexandria is a nono. Greek Science was, as far as original and mind boggling research based on empirical evidence to practical purposes dead in Greek society duyring late Paganism.

If Middle Ages inherited Pliny's description of a unicorn, this comes from Pliny. Whose description was not really the best and foremost piece of zoology you have seen. Not if he was describing a rhinoceros, and not if he was describing a late surviving Ceratopsian either. And Pliny is what Greek Science had to offer in his days.

The point of the non-conflict thesis is that Greek and Muslim science ventures were ultimately "stillborn", only Western Science became "fullgrown".

The historical point, that is.

Whether you consider Evolution and Heliocentrism as part of "fullgrown" or as "part of decay", is another question.

Of course, none of these are living bodies, none of these went through a pregnancy, none was stillborn and had to be buried, none was fullgrown and got muscles, none is a smelling corpse - in the literal sense of the words.

If Evolution and Heliocentrism were literally smelling, it would be much easier to assign them either status as "vital" or as "decaying". As it is, we have to reason out if they are true or not or likely to be true or not likely to be true.

But in the West, science has been cumulating as well as changing, while the institution has grown in importance. In the East - either Greek or Muslim - it has become fixed in a kind of orthodox approach and transmitted as folklore, in Greece up to Christianity and among Muslims to the very recent times of the Western colonies among them. There were scientists, but little of an institution, especially in Greece. Among Muslims the falsafa (including real scientists like Avicenna, often cited by St Thomas Aquinas) became less important. Became an ex-institution.

Jerry A. Coyne
And that curiosity would certainly have resided in the early European scientists as well. Yes, they were virtually all Christians, but everyone was a Christian then. If you give credit to Christianity for science, then you must do so for nearly everything that arose in post-medieval Europe, including the printing press.

Own comment
Printing press like eyeglasses with convex lenses both arose during Middle Ages. I give Christianity credit for both.

Arabs had studied convex lenses, but not cared enough to help old people with - is it myopia? - and movable letter types imitate the beads of the rosary and continue the wood cut prints that were there for devotional comic books. Or leaflets. Like the shortest Chick Tracts, except they were Catholic.

Jerry A. Coyne
In the end, we simply can’t make a convincing argument that without Christianity, science would have started later, or would have been slowed in its progress. We have no control group—no ability to rerun the course of history to see whether, in a heathen Europe, science would have started up later. We just don’t know.

Own comment
The control groups would be exactly the other stars of science. Greek, Arabic, Chinese - all dwindled (also a bodily metaphor) into very hide bound superstition. Egyptian and Mesopotamian? That is where superstition comes from. Pythagoras? A good theorician about arithmetic and music scales, a bad one about geometry, and clearly superstitious in the Chinese Yin and Yang way and Feng Shui way.

Jerry A. Coyne
But what we do know is that, at present, religion is not a force for scientific progress. It is only an impediment. I can’t think of a single bit of progress in understanding the world over the last 200 years, for instance, that was promoted by religion.

Own comment
Mendel's peas were promoted by his life as a Benedictine Monk. Therefore also Mendel's Laws.

Jerry A. Coyne
(I’m sure readers can name one or two bits, but ALL scientific progress has come from rejecting the supernatural.) We have left our childish superstitions behind, and, as Laplace said, “we don’t need that hypothesis.”

And if Keathley is so sure that science and theology aren’t enemies, is he willing to give up his antiscientific old-earth creationism?

Own comment
It is rather the Atheistic Methodology we do not need. It is rather Laplace's hypothesis about Celestial Mechanics that broke down a few years ago, with a video by Don Petit:

[ISS] Don Petit, Science Off The Sphere - Water Droplets Orbiting Charged Knitting Needle

Unlike the string in the stone on a string experiment, and like static electricity, gravity is not a solid object capable of holding sth at a fixed distance, with centrifugal force as impetus for keeping it out. It is a force balancing the centrifugal force, and in Don Petit's experiment it takes ten to twenty turns around the knitting needle before the two forces are out of balance.

As well as other people have shown even earlier how proofs and hypothèses in Evolution and Old Earth break down.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Médiathèque Germaine-Tillion
St Januar of Bénévent and companions*

* Puteolis, in Campania, sanctorum Martyrum Januarii, Beneventanae civitatis Episcopi, ejusque Diaconi Festi, et Desiderii Lectoris, Sosii, Diaconi Ecclesiae Misenatis, Proculi, Diaconi Puteolani; Eutychii et Acutii. Hi omnes, post vincula et carceres, capite caesi sunt, sub Diocletiano Principe. Corpus sancti Januarii delatum fuit Neapolim, atque honorifice in Ecclesia tumulatum; ubi etiam beatissimi Martyris sanguis in ampulla vitrea adhuc servatur, qui, in conspectu capitis illius positus, velut recens liquescere et ebullire conspicitur.

Religious truth is in this case verified by record and eyewitness accounts - as good an empirical method as any.

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