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Culture critic Nancy Pearcey on Christianity as science starter, not science stopper

File:Carracci - Jupiter et Junon.jpeg
Jupiter and Juno (gods on the pagan public payroll)/Carraci (1560-1609)


Why didn’t polytheistic religions produce modern science? The answer is that finite gods do not create the universe. Indeed, the universe creates them. They are generally said to arise out of some pre-existing, primordial “stuff.” For example, in the genealogy of the gods of Greece, the fundamental forces such as Chaos gave rise to Gaia, the great mother, who created and then mated with the heavens (Ouranos) and the sea (Pontos) to give birth to the gods. Hence, in a polytheistic worldview, the universe itself is not the creation of a rational Mind, and is therefore not thought to have a rational order. The universe has some kind of order, of course, but one that is inscrutable to the human mind. And if you do not expect to find rational laws, you will not even look for them, and science will not get off the ground.

One can feel the Dark Ages looming.
Or one can expose the lie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages Mung
Excellent post, goodusername. "Why didn’t polytheistic religions produce modern science?" More to the point, how come Christianity existed for over 1600 years and ruled Western Europe for 1200 of them and did produce any science? Why didn't science get a start in Western Europe until religious dominance was broken and secular governments took over? And speaking of those polytheistic societies which supposedly are unsuited to science, has anybody looked at India lately? I think Nancy and Company should get their heads out of philosophy and take a look at the world around them. There are a lot of questions that they're ignoring. dmullenix
This song reflects the 'above nature' Christian view of reality: Peter Furler - Reach (Official Music Video) http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FJ1C9MNU bornagain77
correction; then a very plausible solution to the General Relativity/Quantum Mechanic split presents itself to us that Michio Kaku missed! bornagain77
But alas goodusername, the Christian view of human beings being specifically endowed by God to be 'above nature', in that God Himself would dare inhabit a lowly human body, instead of being merely a 'victim of nature', as is inherent in virtually all other non-Theistic philosophies, that try to explain man's place in the cosmos, is the very reason why they could not maintain a sustained scientific development. Indeed, in the following video at the 9:00 minute mark, please note how Michio Kaku concedes to the materialistic premise when he states,,, "Nature is smarter than we are". Quantum Mechanics and Relativity - The Collapse Of Physics? - video with more concise notes on 'unification' http://www.metacafe.com/w/6597379 But goodusername, also please see in the notes of the video that if we continue on in this Christian Theistic framework, that has lifted man above being a mere victim of nature, and has indeed given us modern science in the first place, then a very plausible solution to the General Relativity/Quantum Mechanic split presents itself to us that Michio Kaku! bornagain77
“The universe has some kind of order, of course, but one that is inscrutable to the human mind. And if you do not expect to find rational laws, you will not even look for them, and science will not get off the ground.” --The problem with this idea is that one merely needs to read works of the ancient Greeks to see that this isn’t the case. Throughout many writings of the ancient Greeks we see talk of studying the natural world as a worthwhile pursuit to acquire knowledge. Does anyone think that Aristotle, Archimedes, Strato of Lampsacus, Hero of Alexandria, Ptolemy, Thales, Aristarchus, etc saw the universe as “inscrutable”? As Aristotle writes in the opening of “Physics”: “When the objects of an inquiry, in any department, have principles, conditions, or elements, it is through acquaintance with these that knowledge, that is to say scientific knowledge, is attained.” Or check out the works of Hero of Alexandria: http://himedo.net/TheHopkinThomasProject/TimeLine/Wales/Steam/URochesterCollection/Hero/index-2.html In fact, the only place I’ve seen the kind of sentiment towards the universe that Pearcey speaks of is - the early Christians. And it isn’t hard to find. For instance Eusebius in “Preparation for the Gospel” writes that while the study of moral philosophy is “practicable and useful, any discussions about nature are quite the contrary, neither being comprehensible, nor having any use even if they are clearly understood.” Clement of Alexandria is said to have been a supporter of science. He wrote that the “The multitude are frightened by Hellenic philosophy, as children are at masks, being afraid lest it lead them astray,” and “Some do not wish to touch either philosophy or logic or to learn natural science. They demand bare faith alone”. However he continued that this was not necessarily a good thing because while “it is necessary to avoid the great futility which occupies itself in irrelevant matters” (i.e. the sciences and philosophy) a good Christian “avails himself of branches of learning” but only as “auxiliary preparatory exercises” in order to be able to communicate with scientists and philosophers; however it should be done with “as little distraction as possible” and such subjects should not be learned “principally, but necessarily, secondarily, and on account of circumstances.” So not exactly a ringing endorsement. Although relative to the others I suppose he was better. Tertullian said that “what concern have I with physiological conceits? It were better for one's mind to ascend above the state of the world, not to stoop down to uncertain speculations.” And then added that it “served Thales of Miletus quite right” to fall into the well for his applying his study to a “vain purpose” and “stupid curiosity on natural objects”. (AD NATIONES) One can feel the Dark Ages looming. There were times when science was on the rise in the ancient world, but without the printing press ideas spread slowly and before long (within a couple centuries) something would occur to turn the world upside down (warfare, disease, famine) and progress would back-track. Fires that destroyed tens of thousands (and perhaps even hundreds of thousands) of books were also heart-breakingly common. And at a time where each book had to be copied by hand such incidents were utterly tragic. The Scientific Revolution occurred at a time when Europe had experienced a long period of stability (relatively speaking anyway). There hasn’t been anything like the fall of the Roman Empire and it had been a few centuries since the Bubonic Plague, and thanks to how easily text was copied, knowledge could spread faster than ever before, and was available to far more people than ever before. So I would say the Scientific Revolution was the result of the intersection of long stability (which continues on to today), the printing press, New World wealth entering Europe, and the rediscovery of classical literature (from Crusades and sacking of Islamic Spain). goodusername
Of related note: Science vs God : Its The Collapse Of Physics As We Know it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHHz4mB9GKY bornagain77
,,,And this, 'controlling a small fraction of that', is apparently exactly what God choose to do; The End Of Christianity - Finding a Good God in an Evil World - Pg.31 William Dembski PhD. Mathematics Excerpt: "In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity." http://www.designinference.com/documents/2009.05.end_of_xty.pdf Moreover, unlike String Theory and M-Theory, there actually is physical evidence that lends strong support to the position that the 'Zero/Infinity conflict', we find between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, was successfully dealt with by Christ: General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin - video http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355 Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age - Pictures, Articles and Videos https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg A Quantum Hologram of Christ's Resurrection? by Chuck Missler Excerpt: “You can read the science of the Shroud, such as total lack of gravity, lack of entropy (without gravitational collapse), no time, no space—it conforms to no known law of physics.” The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. Dame Piczek created a one-fourth size sculpture of the man in the Shroud. When viewed from the side, it appears as if the man is suspended in mid air (see graphic, below), indicating that the image defies previously accepted science. The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. http://www.khouse.org/articles/2008/847 God's crowning achievement for this universe was not when He created this universe. God’s crowning achievement for this universe was when He Himself inhabited the human body He had purposely created the whole universe for, to sanctify human beings unto Himself through the death and resurrection of his “Son” Jesus Christ. This is truly something which should fill anyone who reads this with awe. Hebrews 2:14-15 "Since we, God's children, are human beings - made of flesh and blood - He became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could He die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could He deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread." further note: If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the "3D - photographic negative" image I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE's) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright 'Light' or 'Being of Light' who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before. All people who have been in the presence of 'The Being of Light' while having a deep NDE have no doubt whatsoever that the 'The Being of Light' they were in the presence of is none other than 'The Lord God Almighty' of heaven and earth. In The Presence Of Almighty God - The NDE of Mickey Robinson - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544 Encounter with God - NDE of Lawyer http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/vod/RH32v2_WS&search=heavenhell&p=1&parent=0&subnav=false The Day I Died - Part 4 of 6 - The NDE of Pam Reynolds - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560 more detailed notes in first part of this paper: http://lettherebelight-77.blogspot.com/2009/10/intelligent-design-anthropic-hypothesis_19.html bornagain77
To really drive the point home of this deep mysterious, and necessary, Christian connection to modern science, I would like to put forth the case that Jesus Christ Himself is the most parsimonious solution to the number one problem in science today. The problem of the unification of Quantum Mechanics(QM) and General Relativity(GR) into a 'theory of everything'. The unification of QM and GR, into a 'theory of everything', has been a notoriously difficult problem for physicists and mathematicians to solve. In fact, Einstein himself spent many of the last years of his life on earth vainly searching for a solution to the QM-GR split. Moreover, the subsequent years of persistent search by many leading, brilliant, physicists and mathematicians in the world have not yielded any plausible solution that has not involved highly speculative, 'verification-less', appeals to string theoretic multiverses, M-Theories, etc.. etc..
Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law: Peter Woit, a PhD. in theoretical physics and a lecturer in mathematics at Columbia, points out—again and again—that string theory, despite its two decades of dominance, is just a hunch aspiring to be a theory. It hasn't predicted anything, as theories are required to do, and its practitioners have become so desperate, says Woit, that they're willing to redefine what doing science means in order to justify their labors. http://www.amazon.com/Not-Even-Wrong-Failure-Physical/dp/0465092756 'What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science." – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’ the exact quote in the following video clip: Roger Penrose Debunks Stephen Hawking's New Book 'The Grand Design' - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5278793/
The main problem, mathematically, for the split, between GR and QM, seems to arise from the inability of either theory to successfully deal with the 'zero/infinity' conflict that arises in different places of each framework;
THE MYSTERIOUS ZERO/INFINITY Excerpt: What the two theories have in common - and what they clash over - is zero.",, "The infinite zero of a black hole -- mass crammed into zero space, curving space infinitely -- punches a hole in the smooth rubber sheet. The equations of general relativity cannot deal with the sharpness of zero. In a black hole, space and time are meaningless.",, "Quantum mechanics has a similar problem, a problem related to the zero-point energy. The laws of quantum mechanics treat particles such as the electron as points; that is, they take up no space at all. The electron is a zero-dimensional object,,, According to the rules of quantum mechanics, the zero-dimensional electron has infinite mass and infinite charge. http://www.fmbr.org/editoral/edit01_02/edit6_mar02.htm
What I find interesting about the preceding zero/infinity mystery, of QM and GR, are two things. One is that the 'infinity' of the 4-Dimensional space-time of General Relativity is tied up in black holes. The reason this is interesting to me is because black holes are now verified to be, by far, the largest contributors of 'entropic decay' in the universe;
Black Hole singularities are completely opposite the singularity of the Big Bang in terms of the ordered physics of entropic thermodynamics. In other words, Black Holes are singularities of destruction and disorder rather than singularities of creation and order. Roger Penrose - How Special Was The Big Bang? “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.” Entropy of the Universe - Hugh Ross - May 2010 Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated. http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe Evolution is a Fact, Just Like Gravity is a Fact! UhOh! Excerpt: The results of this paper suggest gravity arises as an entropic force, once space and time themselves have emerged. https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/evolution-is-a-fact-just-like-gravity-is-a-fact-uhoh/
Moreover, besides entropy being the primary reason why the universe, without 'supernatural intervention, is steadfastly heading for 'entropic heat death',,,
The Future of the Universe Excerpt: After all the black holes have evaporated, (and after all the ordinary matter made of protons has disintegrated, if protons are unstable), the universe will be nearly empty. Photons, neutrinos, electrons and positrons will fly from place to place, hardly ever encountering each other. It will be cold, and dark, and there is no known process which will ever change things. --- Not a happy ending. http://spiff.rit.edu/classes/phys240/lectures/future/future.html
,,,entropy is also the primary reason why we will all grow old and eventually die,,,
80 years in 40 seconds - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9wToWdXaQg
,,,Thus 'Death', itself, of the universe and of us, seems to semi-directly linked to the fact that an 'inaccessible infinity of destruction' is tied up in black holes. At least it seems readily apparent that black holes are forever an 'inaccessible infinity of destruction' as far as the endeavors of mortal man are concerned. Yet Quantum Mechanic offers its own unique infinity that can, in principle, counterbalance the 'destructive infinity' of Black holes, the problem that QM has in all this is this,,,
"Quantum mechanics has a similar problem, a problem related to the zero-point energy. The laws of quantum mechanics treat particles such as the electron as points; that is, they take up no space at all. The electron is a zero-dimensional object,,, According to the rules of quantum mechanics, the zero-dimensional electron has infinite mass and infinite charge.
,,, thus it seems readily apparent that QM requires a 'space' within the 4-D space-time of General Relativity, in which to 'pour its infinity', if the destructive infinity of Black Holes were ever to be overcome. And indeed, subtle hints that this is possible are now available,,,,
Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter - Random Number Generators - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007 I once asked a evolutionist, after showing him the preceding experiment, "Since you ultimately believe that the 'god of random chance' produced everything we see around us, what in the world is my mind doing pushing your god around?" "Most people think that the matter is empty, but for internal self consistency of quantum mechanics and relativity theory, there is required to be the equivalent of 10 to 94 grams of mass energy, each gram being E=MC2 kind of energy. Now, that's a huge number, but what does it mean practically? Practically, if I can assume that the universe is flat, and more and more astronomical data is showing that it's pretty darn flat, if I can assume that, then if I take the volume or take the vacuum within a single hydrogen atom, that's about 10 to the minus 23 cubic centimeters. If I take that amount of vacuum and I take the latent energy in that, there is a trillion times more energy there than in all of the mass of all of the stars and all of the planets out to 20 billion light-years. That's big, that's big. And if consciousness allows you to control even a small fraction of that, creating a big bang is no problem." - Dr. William Tiller - has been a professor at Stanford U. in the Department of materials science & Engineering http://www.beyondtheordinary.net/williamtiller.shtml
PS: With that reading on the lingering influences of Platonic thought and its various vulgarisations in mind, please read the excerpt here from Newton's General Scholium to Principia with fresh eyes. kairosfocus
DM: Please read the previous UD post here, with an excerpt from Pearcey. Please read the whole article as onward linked, and the remarks and onward article at comment no 3, which will help you put the above in context. It may help you to do some background reading on the Platonic pattern of thought, the demiurge and the recalcitrance of primordial matter. A side-read on the Gnostic semi-popular mindset on escape from this prison of the soul through esoteric knowledge and rituals [some of them pretty bizarre, not merely titillating . . . Dan Brown was tailoring to fit our preoccupation with the sexual], will help. Let's just say that one of the joint triumphs of Kepler, Galileo and Newton was to give a factual foundation for lifting the earth from the sump of the world, to the heavens. Yes, the "demotion" of the earth from the "centre" of the cosmos, was actually a PROMOTION to the heavens, and a joining of the earth and heavens under a unified system of laws and providence by one common and supreme, benevolent cosmic architect, whose creative and sustaining thoughts we can study through science. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
dmullenix, you seem to completely miss the point of the post. Many historians of science now recognize that there is a undeniable 'spiritual/philosophical' Christian connection to the birth of science, that goes far beyond the extenuating circumstances you have mentioned. bornagain77
The Greeks were aware that the world is at least mostly rational centuries before Jesus. I think the rise of science can be attributed first to the Age of Exploration, which made Astronomy a critically useful science so the ships could navigate. The second big factor was probably the invention of the steam engine which for the first time made fuel useage economically important and inspired the first stirrings of Thermodynamics. War has also been a big factor, at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. The industrial revolution probably did most of the rest. dmullenix
The answer is that finite gods do not create the universe. Indeed, the universe creates them. They are generally said to arise out of some pre-existing, primordial “stuff.”” This is why I point out that atheists can’t even present a principled argument against Zeus, much less against God (*). For, any valid argument against Zeus they might offer is *also* a valid argument against human beings existing. (*) at the same time, when they do try to present a valid argument against God, it’s always Zeus whom they are disputing exists. Ilion
The "Renaissance" of undersevéd fame and approbation and was a “science stopper.” And the so-called “Enlightenment?” That was not just a “science stopper,” but a “reason stopper.” Ilion
Mrs. Pearcey's insight into identifying and describing the implications of the secular world view is nothing short of astonishing. I highly recommend her essays and books. Bantay

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