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Is Christianity At War With Science? (1/20

Is Christianity At War With Science?


Summary
: Christianity is commonly believed to be in a permanent state of conflict with science, which has supposedly continued throughout the centuries ever since Christianity first emerged. The origin of this supposition is revealed, and the entire argument demonstrated to be false. The popular idea that Christianity has systematically repressed science, persecuted scientists, and generally opposed reason and rational enquiry, is disproved.

Considerable evidence is provided that Christianity has historically been in harmony with science (with few notable exceptions), and that Christians have historically encouraged both the use of reason and rational enquiry. The allegation that Christianity has traditionally appealed to ‘blind faith’ is rejected on the basis of overwhelming historical evidence.

It is also demonstrated that a significant number of the most influential scientific minds in recorded human history have not only been Christians, but have found the Christian faith to be completely compatible with science, and have even been inspired by their Christian beliefs to enquire intelligently concerning the world around them, being led by such a spirit to unique discoveries.

It is popular today for people to see religion generally (and Christianity especially), as opposed to science. Many people believe that God is simply an invention of primitive thinking as an explanation for what we cannot explain by other means, and that as science has enlarged our understanding of the universe we have found it less necessary to believe in God. For this reason, it is commonly believed that scientists would be less likely than others to believe in God.

It is also mistakenly believed that science and Christianity have been at war for centuries, ever since the modern scientific age. Christianity is pictured as repressing scientific advancement, persecuting scientists, and dogmatically rejecting new discoveries. Inevitably Galileo is raised as an example of Christianity’s alleged intolerance of science and its persecution of men of reason.

It all sounds very convincing at first, but closer examination proves that there is actually very little evidence to support this argument. Leaving aside the precise details of Galileo’s case (which are widely misunderstood), we may well ask why it is that this particular event is raised, instead of any other.

One reason is certainly the fact that Galileo’s case is famous, due largely to the importance of the people involved – the renowned scientist Galileo, Pope Urban VIII, and Cardinal Bellarmine, all of them significant historical figures in their own right. But the more important reason is simply that this is the only example of ‘Christianity persecuting scientists’ which people can think of.

Ask for three outstanding cases of ‘Christianity persecuting scientists’ and you will receive in answer Galileo and a blank look. The example of Galileo comes to most people’s minds not simply because it is famous, but because it’s the only example they can think of.

This is most significant. If Christianity been inflicted over 1,000 years of persecution and repression of scientists and science, why is it that Galileo is the best people can do in terms of evidence?

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