Intelligent Design

Steve Fuller asks, Why shouldn’t religious commitments influence one’s science?

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AJ Ayer:Was he right?

Agnostic Warwick U sociologist Steve Fuller, author of Dissent over Descent (2008) offers:

One wishes that the US legal system exercised the same diligence in authenticating people’s religious beliefs s their scientific beliefs. Ayala, Miller and Collins claim that their scientific inquiries are driven by their faith in God. Yet, as they are the first to admit, the science they do is indistinguishable from those who do not share that faith.One might reasonably wonder: how exactly does their faith influence their science, especially given the enormous import of their religious commitments? Would it not be reasonable to expect their Christian beliefs, assuming they have some cognitive content, to colour the theories they propose and the inferences they draw from the evidence? If not, why should we think that their Christianity has any impact on their science whatsoever – simply because they say so?

Perhaps logical positivists like A.J. Ayer were right, after all, when they dismissed religious utterances as no more than emotional outbursts.

In any case, theistic evolution appears to be the kind of religion that even Richard Dawkins could love, since it appears to exact no psychic cost from its scientific adherents. Their religious beliefs spin as decorate but cognitively idle wheels.

What follows? Not necessarily that theistic evolutionists are liars. But if not, then either their theism must be very weak or it is held in a state of captivity, as if they fear its public expression would invite persecution. (pp. 108-9)

Note: When Ayala received the Templeton Prize in 2010, he refused to talk about his religious beliefs, but presumably Fuller’s comments apply to Miller and Collins who explicitly say they are Christians.

For a curious story about A.J. Ayer, go here.

83 Replies to “Steve Fuller asks, Why shouldn’t religious commitments influence one’s science?

  1. 1
    Ted Davis says:

    I’d like to see specifically what Steve Fuller said about this; no link is given to another story. If it’s in his book, Dissent Over Descent, which I do not own, I would appreciate having a reference to specific pages to study.

  2. 2
    Upright BiPed says:

    Hello Ted,

    I might be wrong about this, but I think the entire indented text above is what Dr Fuller has said, and I think that text came form Dissent on pages 108 and 109.

  3. 3
    Ted Davis says:

    This helps, thank you. I’ll have to look this up.

    I was in the middle of typing a lengthy post with some thoughts about the larger topic, but I accidentally closed that window and lost the whole thing before I could post it.

    The short version is that you can show such influences in certain historical instances, but that it’s much harder to do this in the modern period; what counts as the “modern period” will vary, depending on which science one is talking about and which geographical location one is talking about. I’ll say a bit more about this in a separate post below.

    Here, I’ll just register strong disagreement with this part of the quotation above: “In any case, theistic evolution appears to be the kind of religion that even Richard Dawkins could love, since it appears to exact no psychic cost from its scientific adherents. Their religious beliefs spin as decorate but cognitively idle wheels.

    What follows? Not necessarily that theistic evolutionists are liars. But if not, then either their theism must be very weak or it is held in a state of captivity, as if they fear its public expression would invite persecution.”

    IMO, this just one more variety of the common claim that advocates of TE are either “mushy accommodationists” (a term that has actually been used) or spineless jellyfish. I’ve addressed this here an on the old ASA list numerous times, I lack the time to regurgitate all of my points yet again, and I find it tiresome to hear it once again. I haven’t met very many advocates of TE–and I probably know more of them, quite well, than Steve Fuller knows even casually–who fit the commentary in the second of the two paragraphs I just quoted.

  4. 4
    Ted Davis says:

    Anyone interested in the “big question” of science, secularization, and the “privatization” of scientists’ religious beliefs (which I take as an historical fact), should read at least these two things:

    (1) the chapter (“Myth 25. That Modern Science Has Secularized Western Culture”) by John Hedley Brooke in http://www.hup.harvard.edu/cat.....ontent=toc

    (2) the chapter by Ronald Numbers (“Epilogue: Science, Secularization, and Privatization”) in http://www.peterlang.com/index.....deid=58120

  5. 5
    Ted Davis says:

    I’ve done some work myself on the influence of specific theological beliefs on the actual content of science, particularly on conceptions of scientific knowledge (which I include as part of the actual content of science). I mention this briefly in a summary fashion at http://www.testoffaith.com/res.....spx?id=623, which has recently been serialized by BioLogos.

    The most detailed treatment of my ideas about this is my contribution to http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....26-2224007; for an abstract, see http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/Foster.html.

  6. 6
    Ted Davis says:

    John Brooke has an extensive discussion of the ways in which religious beliefs might influence science in chap one of http://www.amazon.com/Science-.....0521283744.

    My own, somewhat different (but still pretty similar) analysis is given in the book I just mentioned above. I see at least these possibilities for such an influence:

    Can science be done? (Is a science of nature possible?)
    The possibility question

    Why should science be done?
    The morality/motivation/ justification question

    How should science be done?
    The methodology/epistemology question

    What sorts of theories are acceptable?
    The regulative question

    I think that in principle (and we can show in practice) that religious beliefs can have some influence on science at these points. However, a clear and strong influence is not usually easy to demonstrate, in any historical period. I would caution anyone from concluding, as a result, either that (a) religion just has no influence on science; or (b) most scientists in most periods must hold their theism either weekly or else place it in a state of captivity.

  7. 7
    Ted Davis says:

    In the modern period (which depends as I said on the science and on the location), it’s esp difficult to show such influences–but, it’s possible in some cases. And, in some of those cases it may be that atheism or a faith other than Christianity was exerting the influence. We are only just beginning to understand the ways in which religious scientists in the modern period have seen their faith (explicitly) inform their views of science as a whole (i.e., in relation to other ways of knowing, including religion) and also of specific conclusions within a given science. The former is a lot easier to document than the latter, but some instances of the latter have been shown. My own work in the modern period has been on aspects of the former, including essays on eminent scientists such as Arthur Compton and Robert Millikan. (Compton, incidentally, used the term “intelligent design” in a favorable manner in 1940. For details, go to http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2.....Davis2.pdf.

    To elaborate on an earlier comment: Compton was obviously a TE, and I can’t find any evidence that hh held his theism either weekly or placed it in captivity. Indeed, he made the decision to become a public intellectual, and a big part of that involved parading his religious convictions before a wide public audience.

  8. 8
    Ted Davis says:

    As I’ve said, it’s not easy to find examples in the modern period, in which specific religious beliefs influenced that actual practice of science. The best work I have yet seen on this is presently unpublished and I am not at liberty to share any details; the relevant publisher knows the level of my enthusiasm for the manuscript.

    I heard a fascinating paper last summer at the ASA meeting on just this topic. Jason Rampelt, a young historian of science who worked on a major project of this sort (the influence of religious beliefs on science) as a post-doc with the Faraday Institute (Cambridge UK), gave a lovely paper about two leading neuroscientists–Sir John Eccles and Donald M MacKay–and how their quite different sets of Christian beliefs (Eccles a Roman Catholic and MacKay a Calvinist) affected their scientific conclusions.

    I’ll try to insert the link for the conference program (with the abstracts), but it might not work and it might not be publicly accessible. Here goes: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetin.....ctbook.pdf.

  9. 9
    Ted Davis says:

    The best book-length study of the influence of religious beliefs on the career and attitudes of a modern scientist that I have yet seen is this:
    http://www.press.uchicago.edu/.....85363.html

    It’s well worth clicking on the button there for “review quotes,” in order to get a sense of some of the specific things Stanley does in this book–and to see how well it has been received by some of the “big names” in HPS (no, I’m not including myself in that category).

    I don’t know who the reviewer was for “Choice,” (I doubt that it was someone who knows too much about either HPS or the modern religion science “dialogue”) but their comment is provocative: “Though very little seems to have changed in the debates, in actuality, there are no scientists of Eddington’s stature today who dare to speak about their religious convictions as openly as Eddington did without risking their professional reputation.”

    This may seem to support Steve Fuller’s comment, but my point is that there *are* TEs who do this, regardless of the risk. Whether any are of Eddington’s stature is questionable, of course–that depends on how one ranks Eddington vis-a-vis a given modern example. But, I would suggest that Simon Conway Morris might be a pertinent example; he doesn’t give a fig about the risks, and I do think he’s a top scientist. Ditto someone like Bill Newsome. If we’re less concerned with the eminence of the scientist, relative to Eddington, then it’s easy for me to offer dozens of examples.

  10. 10
    Proponentist says:

    As creatures made in God’s image, we can understand many of the patterns that God placed in the world, but those patterns must be discovered by observation, not dictated by human reason.

    How do you reconcile that with Darwinian theory? What patterns did God place? Why do we think God was involved in those patterns?

    God is free to create in ways that cannot be predicted, so we should not be astonished that nature sometimes does astonishing things.

    To be astonished, in this case, means encountering the unexpected. Since evolutionary laws govern everything in biology, what reason do we find for astonishment?

    I will change Mr. Polkinghorne’s quote slightly:

    [Life on earth] ‘is not only rationally transparent’, he argues, but also ‘rationally beautiful, rewarding scientists with the experience of wonder at the marvelous order which is revealed through the labours of their research’. The [nature of biological forms] ‘have a character that seems to point the enquirer beyond what science itself is capable of telling, making a materialist acceptance of them as unexplained brute facts an intellectually unsatisfying stance to take’ (pp. 90-91).

    The fact that [life exists] at all ‘is not a mere happy accident, but it is a sign that the mind of the Creator lies behind the wonderful order that scientists are privileged to explore’ (p. 37).

  11. 11
    bevets says:

    A widespread theological view now exists saying that God started off the world, props it up and works through laws of nature, very subtly, so subtly that its action is undetectable. But that kind of God is effectively no different to my mind than atheism. To anyone who adopts this view I say, ‘Great, we’re in the same camp; now where do we get our morals if the universe just goes grinding on as it does?’ This kind of God does nothing outside of the laws of nature, gives us no immortality, no foundation for morals, or any of the things that we want from a God and from religion. ~ William Provine

  12. 12
    nullasalus says:

    How do you reconcile that with Darwinian theory? What patterns did God place? Why do we think God was involved in those patterns?

    I don’t know about reconciling such with “Darwinian theory”, since said theory seems to specifically build in a claim that no one – not even God – directs anything at all.

    But the bare idea of selection + variation? It seems to be easily ‘reconciled’, since selection + variation is just yet another tool available to a designer. I imagine an orthodox Christian may say that God placed all of the patterns, an the reasons of why we could think so could range from philosophical reasons to revelatory reasons to even scientific reasons.

    I could easily ask what reason we have to believe that the patterns are unguided and without design. Some replies would come in, but at the end of the day I think inferring a mind, God’s mind, would be the best option.

    bevets,

    There are numerous problems with Provine’s view. For one, it’s not as if theists wouldn’t have a reply to Provine’s questions – was he expecting the morals to come from “The Universe”?

    Further, he himself said that God gives plenty outside of the laws of nature on his own example – the action is possibly undetectable (and then Provine would mean scientifically), but it’s not non-existent.

    Really, Provine’s a flake on topics like this.

  13. 13
    Ted Davis says:

    Question for Bevets: if you break your leg skiing, how much does it matter to you whether the attending physician is a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, an agnostic, a Christian, or an atheist?

    If you pray for healing in this situation, is God’s action detectable by the physician?

    Alternatively, should we be worried at all of the (methodological) atheism that goes on at NOAA or NASA?

    I think sometimes that Christians (and others) believe that Christians should do science (or medicine) differently from non-Christians. It’s one thing to claim that, in some instances, religious beliefs have (or might have) influenced a given scientist to draw a certain scientific conclusion, or to design an experiment in a certain way; but, it’s another thing to say or to imply that there is or ought to be a “Christian biology,” or (to borrow a term from Hitler) a “Jewish physics,” or for that matter an “atheist meteorology.”

  14. 14
    Proponentist says:

    I think sometimes that Christians (and others) believe that Christians should do science (or medicine) differently from non-Christians.

    I would hope that Christians would not do medicine the way abortionists do.

  15. 15
    Proponentist says:

    I imagine an orthodox Christian may say that God placed all of the patterns, an the reasons of why we could think so could range from philosophical reasons to revelatory reasons to even scientific reasons.

    Ok, but that’s not really saying anything about God or the patterns. If there’s no reason to connect the patterns to God — then there’s no reason to talk about patterns. And just mentioning God in this context is something added for no reason.

    If the patterns, however, say something about necessary design — then that’s ID and not TE.

    I could easily ask what reason we have to believe that the patterns are unguided and without design. Some replies would come in, but at the end of the day I think inferring a mind, God’s mind, would be the best option.

    Yes, but again that says something about the patterns — and that’s the design argument.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    a few notes of related interest:

    Christianity Gave Birth To Each Scientific Discipline – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://vimeo.com/16523153

    Christianity and The Birth of Science – Michael Bumbulis, Ph.D
    Excerpt: Furthermore, many of these founders of science lived at a time when others publicly expressed views quite contrary to Christianity – Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, etc. When Boyle argues against Hobbe’s materialism or Kelvin argues against Darwin’s assumptions, you don’t have a case of “closet atheists.”
    http://ldolphin.org/bumbulis/

    Dr. Stephen Meyer on the Christian Origin of Science – video
    http://www.thetruthproject.org.....000287.cfm

    John Lennox – Science Is Impossible Without God – Quotes – video remix
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6287271/

    A very strong piece of suggestive evidence, which persuasively hints at a unique relationship that man has with ‘The Word’ of John 1:1, is found in these following articles which point out the fact that ‘coincidental scientific discoveries’ are far more prevalent than what should be expected from a materialistic perspective,:

    In the Air – Who says big ideas are rare? by Malcolm Gladwell
    Excerpt: This phenomenon of simultaneous discovery—what science historians call “multiples”—turns out to be extremely common. One of the first comprehensive lists of multiples was put together by William Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas, in 1922, and they found a hundred and forty-eight major scientific discoveries that fit the multiple pattern. Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both discovered evolution. Three mathematicians “invented” decimal fractions. Oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley, in Wiltshire, in 1774, and by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in Uppsala, a year earlier. Color photography was invented at the same time by Charles Cros and by Louis Ducos du Hauron, in France. Logarithms were invented by John Napier and Henry Briggs in Britain, and by Joost Bürgi in Switzerland. ,,, For Ogburn and Thomas, the sheer number of multiples could mean only one thing: scientific discoveries must, in some sense, be inevitable.
    http://www.newyorker.com/repor.....ntPage=all

    List of multiple discoveries
    Excerpt: Historians and sociologists have remarked on the occurrence, in science, of “multiple independent discovery”. Robert K. Merton defined such “multiples” as instances in which similar discoveries are made by scientists working independently of each other.,,, Multiple independent discovery, however, is not limited to only a few historic instances involving giants of scientific research. Merton believed that it is multiple discoveries, rather than unique ones, that represent the common pattern in science.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....iscoveries

    The following video is far more direct in establishing the ‘spiritual’ link to man’s ability to learn new information, in that it shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    These following studies, though of materialistic bent, offer strong support that Humans are extremely unique in this ‘advanced information capacity’ when compared to animals:

    Darwin’s mistake: Explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds:
    Excerpt: There is a profound functional discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds. We argue that this discontinuity pervades nearly every domain of cognition and runs much deeper than even the spectacular scaffolding provided by language or culture can explain. We hypothesize that the cognitive discontinuity between human and nonhuman animals is largely due to the degree to which human and nonhuman minds are able to approximate the higher-order, systematic, relational capabilities of a physical symbol system (i.e. we are able to understand information). http://www.bbsonline.org/Prepr.....eprint.htm

    Origin of the Mind: Marc Hauser
    Excerpt: “Researchers have found some of the building blocks of human cognition in other species. But these building blocks make up only the cement footprint of the skyscraper that is the human mind”,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-341275

    Earliest humans not so different from us, research suggests – February 2011
    Excerpt: Shea argues that comparing the behavior of our most ancient ancestors to Upper Paleolithic Europeans holistically and ranking them in terms of their “behavioral modernity” is a waste of time. There are no such things as modern humans, Shea argues, just Homo sapiens populations with a wide range of behavioral variability.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....umans.html

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    a few notes of related interest:

    Christianity Gave Birth To Each Scientific Discipline – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://vimeo.com/16523153

    Christianity and The Birth of Science – Michael Bumbulis, Ph.D
    Excerpt: Furthermore, many of these founders of science lived at a time when others publicly expressed views quite contrary to Christianity – Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, etc. When Boyle argues against Hobbe’s materialism or Kelvin argues against Darwin’s assumptions, you don’t have a case of “closet atheists.”
    http://ldolphin.org/bumbulis/

    Dr. Stephen Meyer on the Christian Origin of Science – video
    http://www.thetruthproject.org.....000287.cfm

    John Lennox – Science Is Impossible Without God – Quotes – video remix
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6287271/

    A very strong piece of suggestive evidence, which persuasively hints at a unique relationship that man has with ‘The Word’ of John 1:1, is found in these following articles which point out the fact that ‘coincidental scientific discoveries’ are far more prevalent than what should be expected from a materialistic perspective,:

    In the Air – Who says big ideas are rare? by Malcolm Gladwell
    Excerpt: This phenomenon of simultaneous discovery—what science historians call “multiples”—turns out to be extremely common. One of the first comprehensive lists of multiples was put together by William Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas, in 1922, and they found a hundred and forty-eight major scientific discoveries that fit the multiple pattern. Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both discovered evolution. Three mathematicians “invented” decimal fractions. Oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley, in Wiltshire, in 1774, and by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in Uppsala, a year earlier. Color photography was invented at the same time by Charles Cros and by Louis Ducos du Hauron, in France. Logarithms were invented by John Napier and Henry Briggs in Britain, and by Joost Bürgi in Switzerland. ,,, For Ogburn and Thomas, the sheer number of multiples could mean only one thing: scientific discoveries must, in some sense, be inevitable.

    List of multiple discoveries
    Excerpt: Historians and sociologists have remarked on the occurrence, in science, of “multiple independent discovery”. Robert K. Merton defined such “multiples” as instances in which similar discoveries are made by scientists working independently of each other.,,, Multiple independent discovery, however, is not limited to only a few historic instances involving giants of scientific research. Merton believed that it is multiple discoveries, rather than unique ones, that represent the common pattern in science.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....iscoveries

    The following video is far more direct in establishing the ‘spiritual’ link to man’s ability to learn new information, in that it shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    These following studies, though of materialistic bent, offer strong support that Humans are extremely unique in this ‘advanced information capacity’ when compared to animals:

    Darwin’s mistake: Explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds:
    Excerpt: There is a profound functional discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds. We argue that this discontinuity pervades nearly every domain of cognition and runs much deeper than even the spectacular scaffolding provided by language or culture can explain. We hypothesize that the cognitive discontinuity between human and nonhuman animals is largely due to the degree to which human and nonhuman minds are able to approximate the higher-order, systematic, relational capabilities of a physical symbol system (i.e. we are able to understand information). http://www.bbsonline.org/Prepr.....eprint.htm

    Origin of the Mind: Marc Hauser
    Excerpt: “Researchers have found some of the building blocks of human cognition in other species. But these building blocks make up only the cement footprint of the skyscraper that is the human mind”,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-341275

    Earliest humans not so different from us, research suggests – February 2011
    Excerpt: Shea argues that comparing the behavior of our most ancient ancestors to Upper Paleolithic Europeans holistically and ranking them in terms of their “behavioral modernity” is a waste of time. There are no such things as modern humans, Shea argues, just Homo sapiens populations with a wide range of behavioral variability.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....umans.html

  18. 18
    Ted Davis says:

    It’s one thing to say (as I have) that Christian theology helped to shape modern science, such as by encouraging people to view nature as a contingent order that has to be studied by a combination of reason and experience. It’s another thing entirely to say that Christianity gave birth to science–as if there really was nothing worth labeling science prior to medieval Europe.

    As I say in the essay on the Faraday web site (see above), there were no Christian natural philosophers prior to John Philoponus; and, science existed already at that point for a long time. IMO, it’s a mistake either to overstate connections between Christianity and science or to deny them entirely. bornagain77 seems to do the former.

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Ted Davis, actually I was reserved!!! The ‘Christian connection’ to the birth of MODERN science is well known.

    “However we may interpret the fact scientific development has only occurred in a Christian culture. The ancients had brains as good as ours. In all civilizations, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, India, Rome, Persia, China and so on, science developed to a certain point and then stopped. It is easy to argue speculatively that science might have been able to develop in the absence of Christianity, but in fact, it never did.” – Robert Clark

  20. 20
    StephenB says:

    –Ted: “I think sometimes that Christians (and others) believe that Christians should do science (or medicine) differently from non-Christians. It’s one thing to claim that, in some instances, religious beliefs have (or might have) influenced a given scientist to draw a certain scientific conclusion, or to design an experiment in a certain way; but, it’s another thing to say or to imply that there is or ought to be a “Christian biology,” or (to borrow a term from Hitler) a “Jewish physics,” or for that matter an “atheist meteorology.”

    Christians should, indeed, do science differently that non-Christians, and on just about every front. I could provide a hundred examples, but will limit myself to one:

    Secular psychiatrists, whose medical science is informed by the Darwinst philosophy that brains exist and that minds do not, rely on chemicals to alter the chemistry of the former and make no attempt to heal the latter.

  21. 21
    StephenB says:

    —Ted: “IMO, it’s a mistake either to overstate connections between Christianity and science or to deny them entirely. bornagain77 seems to do the former.”

    I am very surprised to witness a historian like yourself deny a fact of history.

    –“Because God is perfect, his handiwork functions in accord with immutable principles. By the full use of our God-given powers of reason and observation, it ought to be possible to discover these principles.

    –These were the crucial ideas that explain why science arose in Christian Europe and no where else.”

    — Rodney Stark

  22. 22
    zeroseven says:

    StephenB @ 19:

    What?? Have you ever been to a psychiatrist?

    And who doesn’t believe that mind exists? Isn’t the issue just whether it exists independently of the brain or not?

  23. 23
    Ted Davis says:

    For StephenB and bornagain77, relative to views such as found here (taken according to bornagain77 from Robert Clark: “However we may interpret the fact scientific development has only occurred in a Christian culture.” Stark says pretty much the same thing.

    Although a few historians (esp the late Stanley Jaki) argued for the “strong form” of this claim, i.e., that without Christianity we wouldn’t have science, very few historians agree with this. I don’t either.

    Stark, who is a sociologist rather than an historian of early modern science (the relevant period), gives readers wrong impression the impression that historians of science generally agree that Christianity “caused” modern science. This is quite inaccurate. It is true that many historians see important roles for religion in this phenomenon–I am one of them, and I’ve written about this more than once. But it is not at all accurate to imply (as Stark does) that there is a consensus that Christianity “caused” modern science. It did not, and there is no such consensus.

    In other words, he overstates the case for the opposite of the “warfare” view of the history of science and religion, which is the topic for much of the relevant chapter (that part is very well done). The story of early modern science is complicated, and to look for one single cause of it is rather like having a one-legged stool. It won’t stand up.

    Another problem with his position, apart from being overstated, is that it just fails to recognize that Greek science was genuine science. He implies that David Lindberg supports his interpretation, but Lindberg would argue just the opposite: that there was genuine science in the ancient world, long before Philoponus, and that Christianity did not cause modern science. I agree with Lindberg on both counts, although I probably assign a larger influence to religious factors in shaping aspects of modern science (not “causing” it) than he does.

    Read Stark with interest, but with some caution. So, StephenB, I’m not denying “a fact of history.” Indeed, IMO, the facts are that Aristotle, Galen, and Ptolemy did genuine science, long before any Christians were engaged in scientific activities. I don’t buy Jaki’s view (e.g.) that science was “stillborn” in antiquity for theological reasons.

    If you find Stark (whose book is a tertiary source and who is not trained in the relevant fields) persuasive, then you find him persuasive. At least realize, however, that most scholars who know the primary documents don’t find Stark’s claim very persuasive.

  24. 24
    Ted Davis says:

    For a nice review of some of the other problems with claims such as those I just distanced myself from, see Noah Efron’s chapter in http://www.hup.harvard.edu/cat.....0674057418. His “myth” is called “That Christianity Gave Birth to Modern Science.” Contributors to this book attended a working conference to review the chapters as they were being written, and I was very happy with what Prof Efron wrote; indeed, IMO it’s one of the very best chapters in the book.

    I know, I know–the essay isn’t available for free on the internet. You have to buy the book, or at least visit a library for an hour. But, this is a book well worth owning. For more of my comments on the book, see http://biologos.org/blog/an-ob.....-religion/

  25. 25
    StephenB says:

    —Ted Davis: “Stark, who is a sociologist rather than an historian of early modern science” (the relevant period)

    In my judgment, Stark is a painstaking researcher who has no political or social axe to grind. Also, his work has been corroborated by several others scholars that I find trustworthy, all of whom have investigated the matter assiduously and without undue prejudice. One example would be Thomas Woods.

    –“gives readers wrong impression the impression that historians of science generally agree that Christianity “caused” modern science.”

    If you want to argue, as you did above, that those who specialize are better equipped to answer questions that fall into their area of specialization, then Stark, who is a sociologist and who is trained to measure demographics, is better equipped than yourself to judge whether or not there is a consensus on the matter. I am playing with irony a bit here, but I wanted to give you a taste of what it is like to listen to an argument based on the appeal to the wisdom that comes from narrow specialization. While I respect specialization, I respect reason, objectivity, fairness, and more. So, for my part, your dismissal of Stark as a mere “tertiary source” is a bit too facile.

    —“It is true that many historians see important roles for religion in this phenomenon–I am one of them, and I’ve written about this more than once.” But it is not at all accurate to imply (as Stark does) that there is a consensus that Christianity “caused” modern science.”

    It is important to use the word “cause” with care, and it is obvious that Stark understands the meaning of the word. To cause something is to bring it about. One might argue that Christianity was a “necessary” but not a “sufficient” cause for modern science, but that would not be the same thing as saying that it was not a cause. A necessary cause is one without which something cannot happen. A sufficient cause is one which, if present, will infallibly produce that same something. Those who say that Christianity did not cause modern science, then, either do not know their history or they do not know the meaning of the word cause.

    —“Indeed, IMO, the facts are that Aristotle, Galen, and Ptolemy did genuine science, long before any Christians were engaged in scientific activities. I don’t buy Jaki’s view (e.g.) that science was “stillborn” in antiquity for theological reasons.”

    I think we should make the distinction between “science,” which the Greeks studied, at least in some basic form, and “modern science,” which would likely never have existed without Christianity’s vision of a rational universe in which God left clues for discovery–a vision which instilled in scientists the confidence and courage to carry on in the face of numerous failures– a vision totally alien to the Greeks.

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    Ted Davis; I disagree with you. In fact it can be argued rather forcefully that the birth of modern science was impeded by Greek thought as much as helped by it i.e. Greek thought was trapped in a ‘self absorbed’ philosophy which prohibited the continued discover of transcendent truths:

    Christianity: A Cause of Modern Science?
    Excerpt: Of course, if Catholic Christians had not believed in concepts opposed to these pagan ones due to their theology, such a conflict would not have occurred and science would not have reached a modern, self-sustaining form in the West. Duhem, in his Le Systeme Du Monde, maintained that modern science was made possible by the Bishop of Paris Tempier’s condemnation in 1277 of 219 propositions, which blasted these anti-scientific concepts of antiquity. ,,,Christian theology removed the intrinsic stunting inhibitions of Greek science. It did not create science by itself mostly from scratch. However, neither could have the philosophy of the Greeks without the theology of Judeo-Christianity have created modern science by themselves either, for it took Christianity to remove various science-inhibiting false metaphysical concepts from the former’s philosophy to have modern science born.
    http://www.rae.org/jaki.html

    But of course Ted you have probably have far too much invested in your position to see clearly, but none-the-less the fact remains the same, Modern science came to maturity ONLY in Christian cultures!!!

    I think one of the best examples of how Christian thought fully enabled the rise of modern science can be found in Bernhard Reinmann in his work on ‘higher dimensionality’;

    In this following video is a description of the work of Bernhard Riemann, the son of a Christian minister, whose work on the math of ‘higher dimensionality’ opened the door for Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity;

    The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss & Riemann – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/

    As well Carl Friedrich Gauss was a devout Christian and he was also instrumental,,,

    Bernhard Riemann
    Excerpt: For his Habiltationsvortrag Riemann proposed three topics, and against his expectations Gauss chose the one on geometry. Riemann’s lecture, “On the hypotheses that lie at the foundation of geometry” was given on June 10, 1854. This extraordinary work introduced (what is now called) an n-dimensional Riemannian manifold and its curvature tensor. It also, prophetically, discussed the relation of this mathematical space to actual space. Riemann’s vision was realized by Einstein’s general theory of relativity sixty years later.
    http://www.usna.edu/Users/math/meh/riemann.html

    i.e. Ted Davis the main point being in all this is that without that foundational Christian belief in a higher transcendent dimension, none of the framework would have been accomplished, by Reinmann and Gauss, for Einstein to elucidate General Relativity! The ancient cultures, Greece especially included, simply lacked the higher dimensional’ reference point from which to sustain continued scientific development!

  27. 27
    StephenB says:

    —bornagain77: “The ancient cultures, Greece especially included, simply lacked the higher dimensional’ reference point from which to sustain continued scientific development!”

    bornagain, I really like the way you put this–a higher dimensional reference point as a necessary condition for sustaining continued scientific development. Very nice!

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    StephenB, Thanks, it is certainly appreciated from one who I appreciate the gift of clarity in so much!,,,

  29. 29
    CannuckianYankee says:

    I too like the way BA worded this. It made me think about the limits of materialism with regard to science.

    Einstein was able to elucidate his theory of relativity partly because he had a very active imagination, and also because certain assumed conventions regarding time were puzzling to him.

    I would guess that while materialists are capable of doing good science, what they don’t seem to be capable of due to their a priori assumptions regarding nature, is elucidating groundbreaking and counterintuitive revolutions against scientific convention on the order of relativity as Einstein did.

    Einstein was not a materialist, and as such, he had a certain capacity (call it a drive) to see beyond the conventional wisdom, and as BA points out; to posit higher dimensional reference points to our reality; yet still within reach of scientific rationality.

    While Einstein didn’t appear to have any religious commitments per se; he was fascinated with religious ideas. I’ve read where he was often invited to attend prayer meetings and bible studies with Christians, and on such occasions he would oblige and take along his violin in order to appreciate the presence of the divine. He was not a Christian, but he did understand that there is a spiritual dimension.

    “A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense and in this sense alone, I am a deeply religious man.” (Einstein)

    http://michaelcaputo.tripod.com/einsteinandgod/

    And I think BA’s point regarding the Greeks is correct. Their philosophy seemed to disconnect the divine from natural reality. So for them there were two separate and non-interacting planes of existence – the divine and the natural.

  30. 30
    Timaeus says:

    bornagain77:

    You wrote:

    “But of course Ted you have probably have far too much invested in your position to see clearly, but none-the-less the fact remains the same, Modern science came to maturity ONLY in Christian cultures!!!”

    BA77, this sort of aggressive motive-mongering is not productive. Ted is not trying to manipulate the facts to reach a preconceived conclusion. He is trying to explain what his research in the history of science has taught him. You don’t have to agree with his conclusions, but you don’t have to impute bad motivations to him.

    Second, Ted has not denied but affirmed a major role for Christianity in the rise of modern science. He has denied only certain unbalanced claims about that role. Further, he has not denied the difference between Greek and modern science; he has merely insisted that Greek science still counts as science. He is trying to say things in a nuanced way, and he shouldn’t be shouted down for failing to give the sort of partisan, Christianity-cheering account of modern science (e.g., the approach of apologists like Stark and D’Souza) that is apparently to your liking.

    I do not know if you or anyone else here knows it, but Ted is the co-editor of the complete works of Robert Boyle, one of the founding fathers of modern science, and Ted has great academic expertise in the history of science. He certainly is aware of the view of Duhem and of the condemnations of 1277, and having spent a good part of his life in good university libraries reading the classic primary and secondary sources with great care and in painstaking detail, he knows the various theories on the relationship between Christianity and the rise of modern science like the back of his hand. He does not have to Google for quickie quotations from works that he has not studied, as you appear to be doing; he speaks out of a vast store of well-internalized knowledge.

    One of the reasons that UD has had a bad reputation in the past is that some of the posters here have an “attack dog” approach to anyone who questions any aspect of ID, or even offers an alternative account of Christian theology or of the history or philosophy of science. This militant approach sometimes makes UD look as bush league as Panda’s Thumb or Pharyngula or the blogs of Matheson or Shallit. We must rise above this if we hope to portray ID to the world as a view fit for reasonable, moderate human beings.

    Admittedly, some of the atheists and TEs who drop in here have exhibited a sneering attitude which naturally inspires the attack dog in all of us; but Ted is not one of them. He is a gentleman, and a very well educated one, and he should be treated as such. And he is no Darwinist thug, but is among the TEs the most reasonable and most open to ID notions; we should be conversing with him as a friend and ally against the atheists, not chiding him or lecturing him on the history of science.

    T.

  31. 31
    Robert Byers says:

    For YEC Christian belief in the accuracy of the bible demands boundaries on biology, geology, and others like crazy.
    Therefore , by a line of reasoning, if the bibles true then it forces investigation into more narrow paths. Wrong turns are less of a problem and right turns rewarded by more right turns even before one understands what’s going on.
    if the bibles true it would eliminate a lot of wrong hypothesis’s.
    ID folks might learn from this.

  32. 32
    Ted Davis says:

    I very much appreciate what Timaeus said in my defense. His comments about my qualifications to address this large historical question are generous, and his analysis of my position on this question is spot on.

    I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, simply b/c I said so; that doesn’t happen anywhere else, and it shouldn’t happen here. But, it would be good if folks would at least read some of my work (i.e., one or two of the relevant publications, not just my brief comments here) before suggesting that my views are either ill-informed or ill-considered. When folks use pseudonyms, it’s hard to know who’s in the room; but, I don’t see anyone in this room at the moment who’s studied the relevant sources enough to draw such conclusions credibly.

    The “culture wars” can affect such discussions profoundly. We all know that science has been, and still is, a weapon in such conflicts. The history of science has also been a weapon–that’s what AD White understood, and that’s how he used it (and rather incompetently, to be frank, despite his status as the first president of the AHA). It’s easy to understand why people want to respond to White, Dawkins, and others by shouting, “Christianity caused modern science; that’s a fact; deal with it.” However, IMO that is not a fact, even though it is true that Christianity and science had a rich and fruitful interplay during the Scientific Revolution. IMO, one ought not respond to the ill-supported “warfare” myth by making claims that are comparably ill-supported. I don’t think that takes anyone where they really want to go.

    At this point I feel somewhat like my friend John Fea, whose recent book about America as a “Christian nation” has been generating a lot of conversation. http://www.readthehook.com/892.....oundations
    John and I have pretty much done the same kind of thing: we’ve written with objectivity about a topic that some like to bring up in the “culture wars,” and a lot of culture warriors (on either “side”) don’t like what we’ve said.

    The truth is often among the first casualties in “culture wars.”

  33. 33
    Ted Davis says:

    I very much appreciate what Timaeus said in my defense. His analysis of my position on this question is spot on.

    I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, simply b/c I said so; that doesn’t happen anywhere else, and it shouldn’t happen here. But, it would be good if folks would at least read some of my work (i.e., one or two of the relevant publications, not just my brief comments here) before suggesting that my views are either ill-informed or ill-considered. I am not aware of anyone else here at the moment (with pseudonyms one just doesn’t know who’s here) who has written on this topic from a comparable basis of study, but Timaeus could be in that category.

    The “culture wars” can affect such discussions profoundly. We all know that science has been, and still is, a weapon in such conflicts. The history of science has also been a weapon–that’s what AD White understood, and that’s how he used it (and rather incompetently, to be frank, despite his status as the first president of the AHA). It’s easy to understand why people want to respond to White, Dawkins, and others by shouting, “Christianity caused modern science; that’s a fact; deal with it.” However, IMO that is not a fact, even though it is true that Christianity and science had a rich and fruitful interplay during the Scientific Revolution. IMO, one ought not respond to the ill-supported “warfare” myth by making claims that are comparably ill-supported. I don’t think that takes anyone where they really want to go.

    At this point I feel somewhat like my friend John Fea, whose recent book about America as a “Christian nation” has been generating a lot of conversation. http://www.readthehook.com/892.....oundations
    John and I have pretty much done the same kind of thing: we’ve written as “experts” about a topic that some like to bring up in the “culture wars,” culture warriors (on either “side”) who don’t like what we’ve said have called us “revisionists” and questioned our qualifications to address the topic. Well, to be frank, John knows more colonial American history, from the inside out (i.e., from the original sources) than any of the culture warriors who dismisses his conclusions in a sentence or two. I don’t recall seeing any conversation about his book here (it would certainly be off the topic of ID), but a lot of bloggers and folks on “Christian radio” are upset with him. My message for them is: don’t shoot the messenger. The truth is often among the first casualties in “culture wars.”

  34. 34
    Ted Davis says:

    I apologize for the double posting; I have no idea what I did to produce that. If a moderator would remove one of them, and this comment, I’d be grateful.

  35. 35
    Ted Davis says:

    Whatever happened, the “authorized” version of my comments is #31, although they are mostly identical. If a moderator could clean this up by removing #30, #32, and this comment, I’d be grateful.

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    Well said T.

  37. 37
    bornagain77 says:

    Timaeus, I still disagree with Ted Davis’s position for pretty much the same reasons as I listed in 25. As to ‘motive mongering’, it is just a simple fact that those who have much invested in a position are the hardest to convince otherwise no matter what the evidence says, as is amply testified to by those given to the materialistic philosophy of neo-Darwinism.

  38. 38
    StephenB says:

    For my part, I respect all parties involved in this discussion and again, for my part, I have not alluded to anyone’s motives [nor did anyone suggest that I did] for taking this or that position. I like Ted Davis a lot, and I appreciate his charitable approach to almost everything he writes. However, anyone who wants to make the case that Christianity, in general, or the Catholic Church, in particular, did not, through the synthesis of faith and reason, bring about the birth of modern science, really does have a high bar to clear.

    On the matter of historians and experts, I must, again with respect, reject the proposition that specialization produces something akin to infallible knowledge or that immersing one’s self in a narrow field of study protects him/her from the problem of partisanship. Quite the contrary, it is, in my judgment, the generalist, the one who analyzes and understands the intersection of disciplines who is best qualified to judge the accuracy and objectivity of writers who argue a given case.

    On the present subject, I have a lot more confidence in analysts who have been steeped in theology, philosophy, science, history, and sociology, than those who double down in any one discipline. Why? Because the information gained from each area serves as a check and balance on information gained from other areas. This is especially true of the relationship between history and philosophy (I first learned of Will Durant’s leanings [and prejudices] from a philosopher). In my own small way, I have tried to meet this standard myself, which is one reason why I do not accept arguments from authority or, please do not misunderstand this, or from those who may enjoy a favorable reputation.

    So, back to the issue on the table. I must reject most firmly the proposition that Rodney Stark, until recently an agnostic, is a partisan or that anyone for that matter, tied to or loosed from a religious perspective, is less qualified than someone else to comment on such important matters as the birth of science on the grounds that he doesn’t take the consensus position. Where have we heard that one before?

    In my judgment, it is the new interpreters of history and not the old ones that are telling people truths they do not want to hear. Again, with all due respect to Ted, and I do mean respect, his position is the one almost everyone does want to hear, which is, in effect, Christianity and modern science enjoyed a fruitful dialogue but the former did not cause the latter. Sorry, gentlemen, but I don’t think that is the way it went down. The correct answer, in my judgment, is found in the title of Thomas Woods’ book, “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.” So for those who are asking us to face facts, I say this (with love) Gentlemen, take your own medicine, bite the bullet, and live with it.

  39. 39
    Ted Davis says:

    Responding (again) to StephenB:

    Did you read the essay I wrote about this for the Faraday Institute, the one available at http://www.testoffaith.com/res.....spx?id=623? If you did, then you see that I give substantial credit to the Catholic church for aiding in the development of modern science. And, in the latter part of the essay I give substantial credit to medieval theologians (who were also Catholics) and other Christians for the modern scientific attitude of rational empiricism.

    In short, I mention what you refer to as “the synthesis of faith and reason,” in relation to “the birth of modern science.”

    Where we continue to differ, StephenB, is on whether that influence amounts to “causing” modern science, in some sense that sets it apart from other factors, such as the large body of Greek natural philosophy, without which there would have been no universities at all, no universities to provide the institutional settings for those great theological developments. If you want to say that Christianity “caused” modern science, insofar as it is an important part of the mix, then why wouldn’t you also say that Aristotle and Ptolemy “caused modern science,” or that Plato’s emphasis on mathematical forms “caused modern science”?

    You seem to think that I’m shortchanging the role of Christianity here–a charge that I find quite puzzling. Indeed, the one thing that other historians might say about my work, is that it is mainly about the roles that Christian beliefs have played, in the history of science generally and in the life and work of individual scientists.

    You imply that I don’t understand what necessary and sufficient causes are. I know what they are, StephenB; I’ve had grad courses in philosophy of science, and plenty of work in physics and mathematics. I generally avoid speaking about “causes,” partly b/c the notion of causation in history is not the same as it is in philosophy or the sciences. If you have read a lot of history (perhaps you have), then you know this. I remember being very amused (but also not amused) by Carl Hempel’s ideas about causation in history: some philosophers just don’t get it.

  40. 40
    Ted Davis says:

    Now, StephenB, I respond to this statement: “In my judgment, it is the new interpreters of history and not the old ones that are telling people truths they do not want to hear. Again, with all due respect to Ted, and I do mean respect, his position is the one almost everyone does want to hear, which is, in effect, Christianity and modern science enjoyed a fruitful dialogue but the former did not cause the latter. Sorry, gentlemen, but I don’t think that is the way it went down.”

    StephenB, I don’t think you realize the irony here: you are talking to one of those “new” interpreters of history. With regard to the history of the history of science (no typo there), let me tell you “the way it went down.” I was there, you weren’t. When I went to grad school, the generally received approach to the history of religion and science was AD White’s grand narrative of ongoing, inevitable conflict; and, the generally received view of the Scientific Revolution (the field in which I had the bulk of my training) was the classic view, according to which science separated itself from the strictures of medieval theology (i.e., Christianity) and became “modern” during the Sci Rev.

    When it came time for me to write a dissertation proposal, I wanted to argue for the view that elements of Christian theology had been very important in shaping views of scientific knowledge (what it is, and how we get it) in the Sci Rev; and, that those theological elements came from theological debates of the high middle ages. I had to convince the members of my doctoral committee that what I wanted to write about was really the history of science at all, as vs religious studies (as one member of my committee put it).

    In short, StephenB, the view that “Christianity and modern science enjoyed a fruitful dialogue” was hardly the view that “almost everyone does want to hear,” to borrow your words. My experience was no reflection of a local situation; it was the general story in my discipline at that time. It was only at that point, right at that point, that some senior people were getting serious about challenging the White thesis and starting to show its deficiencies. They welcomed me into the game and encouraged me to keep going with my ideas–but it was a new game, StephenB.

    Nor do I think that it is even yet the view that “almost everyone does want to hear.” I am puzzled by this claim. From the little that I know about his work (let me admit that it is not much), Thomas Woods does the same “new” kind of history that I also do, relative to looking for religious influences on modern science. Perhaps he and I differ on the details (I say perhaps, b/c I don’t know his work well enough to say), but if he’s arguing against the “old” view that modern science arose in spite of theology, then he and I play in the same ballpark.

    Timeaus was getting at this, StephenB: you mustn’t overlook the nuances here. I’m a lot closer to Stark, as much as I differ with him, than to White. I simply think that Stark overstates the case.

  41. 41
    Ted Davis says:

    Finally, StephenB, another direct question: have you read the essay whose abstract I linked above: http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/Foster.html?

    If not, then with all respect I think you need to refrain from commenting further on my the shortcomings of my position, until you do. I would be happy to send you a copy of the essay (and this goes for anyone else who is interested also); simply contact me privately.

    If you have read it, however, then perhaps you would like to quote some of it, criticize it, and ask me to respond to specific points.

    Have you read *any* of my scholarly essays on the Scientific Revolution? I don’t mean this as a hostile question; I’m simply puzzled how you could say some of the things you have said. If you have read any, what are they?

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    Ted Davis,

    I’m glad to see that you have fought against the ‘warfare myth’, at least to a point; For I was indoctrinated with the whole Galileo affair growing up, and was actually quite surprised to learn that devout Christians were at the forefront of the development of practically every, if not every, branch of modern science. That is quite a peculiar thing! Why exactly would it be Christian Theism in particular, as opposed to mono-Theism in general, that would have this profound ‘fruitful’ effect on man’s minds. Though I alluded to the necessary ‘higher dimensional’ reference point, in which to maintain a sustained scientific development, before, there is something more subtle to be fished out of the Christian position than just the truthfulness of the proposition that all of reality, and truth itself, is based upon, and based in, a higher transcendent dimension. And I think that something to be fished out is Christ Himself!!! and Christ indeed made some very unique and startling claims for Himself, such as;

    John 14:6
    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    John 15:5
    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

    ,,, Needless to say these are very strong claims as to His own position within reality. But can this unique position of His within reality be substantiated as plausible by anything more than the very strange “Christian connection” to the founding of modern science and the changed lives of millions of people??? I think a very strong case of plausibility can be made for His unique position!!!

    notes:

    I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    The expansion of every 3D point in the universe, and the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe to each point of conscious observation in the universe, is obviously a very interesting congruence in science between the very large (relativity) and the very small (quantum mechanics). A congruence that Physicists, and Mathematicians, seem to be having a extremely difficult time ‘unifying’ into a ‘theory of everything’.(Einstein, Penrose).

    The Physics Of The Large And Small: What Is the Bridge Between Them?
    Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This, (the unification of General Relativity and Quantum Field theory), would also have practical advantages in the application of quantum ideas to subjects like biology – in which one does not have the clean distinction between a quantum system and its classical measuring apparatus that our present formalism requires. In my opinion, moreover, this revolution is needed if we are ever to make significant headway towards a genuine scientific understanding of the mysterious but very fundamental phenomena of conscious mentality.
    http://www.pul.it/irafs/CD%20I.....enrose.pdf

    THE MYSTERIOUS ZERO/INFINITY
    Excerpt: The biggest challenge to today’s physicists is how to reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics. However, these two pillars of modern science were bound to be incompatible. “The universe of general relativity is a smooth rubber sheet. It is continuous and flowing, never sharp, never pointy. Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, describes a jerky and discontinuous universe. 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/e....._mar02.htm

    Yet, the unification, into a ‘theory of everything’, between what is in essence the ‘infinite Theistic world of Quantum Mechanics’ and the ‘finite Materialistic world of the space-time of General Relativity’ seems to be directly related to what Jesus apparently joined together with His resurrection, i.e. related to the unification of infinite God with finite man. Dr. William Dembski in this following comment, though not directly addressing the Zero/Infinity conflict in General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, offers insight into this ‘unification’ of the infinite and the finite:

    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.....of_xty.pdf

    Moreover 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:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – 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

    Turin Shroud 3-D Hologram – Face And Body – Dr. Petrus Soons – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5889891/

    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

    “Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature, but only in contradiction to that which is known to us of nature.”
    St. Augustine

    Philippians 2: 5-11
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    While I agree with a criticism, from a Christian, that was leveled against the preceding Shroud of Turin video, that God indeed needed no help from the universe in the resurrection event of Christ since all things are possible with God, I am none-the-less very happy to see that what is considered the number one problem of Physicists and Mathematicians in physics today, of a ‘unification into a theory of everything’ for what is in essence the finite world of General Relativity and the infinite world of Quantum Mechanics, does in fact seem to find a successful resolution for ‘unification’ within the resurrection event of Jesus Christ Himself. It seems almost overwhelmingly apparent to me from the ‘scientific evidence’ we now have that Christ literally ripped a hole in the finite entropic space-time of this universe to reunite infinite God with finite man. That modern science would even offer such a almost tangible glimpse into the mechanics of what happened in the tomb of Christ should be a source of great wonder and comfort for the Christian heart.

    Psalms 16:10
    because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

    etc.. etc..

    further notes:

    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

  43. 43
    MedsRex says:

    Ted Davis @37
    the faraday link does not seem to be working.

  44. 44
    StephenB says:

    Ted Davis, thank you for responding to my comments. I appreciate it. Without commenting on “old” and “new” approaches to interpreting history, I will zero in on the problem, which I hope is a semantic one. If so, then perhaps we can come to a meeting of the minds.

    As is clear, I am arguing that we can, without fear of exaggeration, say that the Christian culture “caused” the birth of modern science. You have argued that this claim is too extravagent, so naturally, I wondered if we were using the same definition of the word “cause.” Without knowing if that was the case, I could not discern whether our disagreement was substantive or semantic.

    Under those circumstances, I defined a cause as “something that brings something else about.” Breaking it down a little further, I alluded to the fact that a cause may be either “necessary,” meaning without its input the effect will not happen, or “sufficient,” meaning that with the input, it will happen. Since you seem to agree with my definition and its attendant qualifications, and since we seem to agree on the historical facts in evidence, I don’t understand your reluctance to acknowledge the validity of my claim, which again was very precise: Christianity was a necessary but not a sufficient cause of modern science. That is exactly the way I put it.

    —“You write: “Where we continue to differ, StephenB, is on whether that influence amounts to “causing” modern science, in some sense that sets it apart from other factors, such as the large body of Greek natural philosophy, without which there would have been no universities at all, no universities to provide the institutional settings for those great theological developments. If you want to say that Christianity “caused” modern science, insofar as it is an important part of the mix, then why wouldn’t you also say that Aristotle and Ptolemy “caused modern science,” or that Plato’s emphasis on mathematical forms “caused modern science”?

    But, as is clear, I didn’t define cause in terms of “setting something else apart,” since a necessary cause does not have that kind of texture. If I had said Christian culture was a “sufficient” cause, that is, if I had said that Christianity alone was sufficient to cause the birth of modern science, I would not have been on solid ground. But I didn’t say that Christianity was a sufficient cause in this context because I am aware of and acknowledge that fact that Aristotle, Ptolemy, and Plato were also “necessary” causes, that is, without them, there likely have been no faith/reason synthesis to launch the scientific enterprise.

    So, given my definitions and qualifications, and given your agreement to those same definitions and qualifications, I don’t understand why we can’t come to an agreement that Christianity did, indeed, cause the birth of modern science.

  45. 45
    StephenB says:

    —Ted: “Have you read *any* of my scholarly essays on the Scientific Revolution? I don’t mean this as a hostile question; I’m simply puzzled how you could say some of the things you have said. If you have read any, what are they?”

    If you read my comments @42, it will become clear to you, I think.

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    Ted Davis, I think, being a historian, you may find this new article up at ENV very interesting;

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

  47. 47
    Ted Davis says:

    The link for my Faraday essay is:
    http://www.testoffaith.com/res.....spx?id=623

    At least, that one works in my browser.

    For StephenB.
    I’m not trying to be difficult, but it’s not clear to me yet that you’ve read any of my articles on the Sci Rev. I’m assuming at this point that you probably have read the one on the Faraday website (I want to give you the benefit of the doubt), and that’s good. What I’d like you to do, relative to this particular issue, is to read the one about the “Foster thesis” that I’ve also mentioned above.

    Nevertheless, you haven’t directly answered my question. Which (if any) of my writings on the Sci Rev have you read? I come back to this again b/c, StephenB, I’m seeing a big gap between the kinds of things I’ve argued for in my various writings and the impression you seem to have formed of my overall approach/views/familiarity with the relevant literature.

    I’ll make you a deal: if you answer my question here, I’ll answer yours in #42.

  48. 48
    Ted Davis says:

    Some brief comments on this issue are in an essay review that I did many years ago, on two excellent books by the Canadian scholar Cameron Wybrow:
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1.....Davis.html

    It’s easy to provide that one; most of my essays are not available on the internet, but most of those can be sent privately to inquirers. And, most of those (sorry that I have to keep shrinking the reference set) are itemized on my Messiah web site.

    Also see the short reply: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1.....d%20Effect

  49. 49
    Timaeus says:

    StephenB:

    Let’s not be too pedantic about this. Ted was originally paraphrasing the argument of Stark as “Christianity caused modern science.” And while it is true that the most careful academics distinguish different sorts of causes — e.g., necessary and sufficient — Stark’s books are read by a number of non-academic general readers who are not all that refined in their use of words, and tend to comprehend what they read in terms of their own sloppy colloquial usage. And in colloquial usage, to say “X caused something” is to say that “X is *the* cause of something,” meaning “X is the exclusive or at least preponderant cause of something.” If someone says, “The Democrats caused the problem,” that person does not mean that the Democrats were but one of the necessary causes of the problem; blame is being assigned to them as the sole or at least principal cause of the problem; and if someone says, “Reagan caused Americans to take pride in themselves again,” that person does not mean that Reagan was just one of a number of factors; praise is being bestowed upon Reagan as the main factor in restoring American pride.

    Ted is worried that readers of Stark, hearing him say that “Christianity caused science,” could come away with the impression that “Christianity was the cause of modern science” in the colloquial sense of which I’m speaking. In other words: “We Christians can be darned proud of ourselves for coming up with modern science — none of the pagans were capable of it. It belongs to US.” And that would be an oversimplified notion of the history, as you seem to agree.

    So if you, StephenB, want to say: “Well, when I say Christianity caused modern science, I don’t mean it in that popular way, but in the sense that Christianity was a necessary cause, and not even the only necessary cause” — fine; but by convention, when we want to be very precise about the kind of cause we are asserting, we spell that out at the beginning of the conversation, not afterward, by which time the ambiguity of “X caused Y” has already generated friction or confusion. So your qualified language may agree with Ted’s; but that might not have been clear to everyone at the outset.

    And in any case, even if you and Ted agree on the need for nuanced causal language, does Rodney Stark also agree? Or does he allow himself an ambiguous causal language, the better to sustain his apologetic purposes?

    T.

  50. 50
    StephenB says:

    Ted, let me begin by saying that I read your very well-written essay and I admire the extent to which you can unify a number of complex dynamics into an easily comprehensible theme. Thank you for your effort.

    First, I can readily sympathize wtth your disdain for the “war” paradigm as a description of the realtionship between religion and science. In the current environment, there seems to be an assumption that religion is based on faith and science is based on reason. Many TE’s carry on this way. If you subscribe to that philosophy, we would be in different camps. If, however, as I interpret your essay, you reject that dichotomy and accept the synthesis of faith and reason, an extension of the principle of the unity of truth, then we would be in the same camp.

    That truth is unified, however, does not mean that all truths are of equal importance. Indeed, I think truth arrays itself in a hierarchy, with theological/philosophical truths illuminating scientific truths, which I hold, is the world view that launched the modern scientific enterpreise. It began with the theologically inspired concept of an orderly universe that produces regularity, which in turn, produces repeatability, the stuff of which science is made. In other words, order from the top is the overriding principle that makes everything else possible and that principle, I submit further, was not socially constructed through some kind of dialogue between religion and science. On the contrary, it was accepted as an apriori truth, a principle of faith that would inform scientific methods.

    I submit further, that this notion of theology illumniating science from the top down (not arising out of a theological/scientific dialogue) could likely have taken hold only in a Christian culture that understood the character of God in a specific way–as the kind of being that would create nature rationally, that is, in his image and likeness, just as He created man in his image and likeness. Again, this vision did not emerge through reflexive dialogue; it was, for the most part, accepted on faith.

    According to this theological vision, God possessed an absolute power and an ordered power, meaning that was it was not in His nature to fool us by designing the kind of nature that would be anything but rational because it was not in his character to reveal himself in anything other than a rational way..Only a culture prepared for this vision could have accomodated it– a culture that believed in a God who made all things in “measure, number, and weight, and a culture which had, for a long time, thought about the universe in mathematical terms.

    Could pagan civilizations have pulled this off? One thing we do know for sure: they didn’t. Given that fact, I think is fair to say that they likely would not have done so under any other set of circumstances. Should the Greeks be given due credit for helping to prepare the intellectual soil. Absolutely. Without their necessary input, things would not likely have played out that same way, and yes, they were doing real, albeit primitive science. Nevertheless, Christian theology and the conviction that God left clues about his identity through nature owes more to Scipture and the Church than to the Greeks, and in this context, Christians through their faith in God can pride themselves as the “necessary,” but not “sufficient cause of the birth of modern science. It was their vision that produced the confidence and the courage to endure, and yes, it was the absence of that confidence that limited the Greeks

  51. 51
    StephenB says:

    Timaeus @48, on the prospect of Stark’s rhetorical approach, I provided my own quote, which is as follows:

    –”Because God is perfect, his handiwork functions in accord with immutable principles. By the full use of our God-given powers of reason and observation, it ought to be possible to discover these principles.

    –-“These were the crucial ideas that explain why science arose in Christian Europe and no where else.”

    I have no problem with that formulation, and I can’t imagine why anyone else would. It’s pretty much the same thing that Tom Bethal, Thomas Woods, Dnesh Dsouza and others have said in their books. To be sure, there are times that these authors should acknowledge the fact that the Christians in question were standing on the shoulders of great man, but in my reading of them, I think I recall that they all did that.

    So, someone will have to present the offending passages and the attendant context before I can pass judgment on the question of whether or not Stark has overstated the case at some other time and some other place. I am open to the possibility that he may have done just that, but I need a good reason for believing it.

  52. 52
    Mung says:

    Ted Davis:

    I generally avoid speaking about “causes,” partly b/c the notion of causation in history is not the same as it is in philosophy or the sciences. If you have read a lot of history (perhaps you have), then you know this. I remember being very amused (but also not amused) by Carl Hempel’s ideas about causation in history: some philosophers just don’t get it.

    The Causation Debate in Modern Philosophy, 1637-1739

  53. 53
  54. 54
    Ted Davis says:

    for Mung @53: I haven’t read the first two books. Gaukroger is the one I would be more likely to read–once my current project is finished. I’m trying to complete an ongoing project in the next 8 months, and it has nothing to do with early modern science so I’m not doing any systematic reading on the Sci Rev at the moment.

    Lindberg’s book is the new edition (which I have not seen yet) of a text (it’s a textbook, not a monograph, although any text by someone as important as Lindberg is worth treating as if it were a monograph) that I used for several years in one of my courses. I knew he was revising it, and he told me about some of the things he was revising, but I haven’t seen the final product.

  55. 55
    Ted Davis says:

    StehpenB, thank you for reading the Faraday essay. I’m glad you like it. Writing essays of that sort is difficult for me, since you want to simplify things without oversimplifying them. (Well, to be honest, writing *most* things other than blogs and emails is difficult for me. Writing for me seems to go more slowly than it does for a lot of my friends.) I always try to get the forest and the trees right. I doubt that I actually accomplish that most of the time.

    I understand your point about TEs carrying on in a certain way, and to some extent I share that concern (and to some extent I don’t, since I think that science and reason have only limited competence to give us values), but I think that’s a big conversation that is not germane to this thread or to my Faraday essay; so, I won’t go there.

    I am still seeing any evidence that you’ve read any of my scholarly essays on the Sci Rev, StephenB. The Faraday essay is not in that category; I don’t try carefully to sift through the question we have been talking about (the “causal” question) there. I couldn’t possibly attempt that in that venue.

    The chapter in the volume edited by Noll, Livingstone, and Hart (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....26-2224007)is the best one to read. If you can’t easily borrow that from a library, then please send me an email and I can send you the pdf.

    Once you’ve read that, you’ll be in a much better place to see how I’ll answer your question about “necessary” and “sufficient” causes. I don’t really want to do that, however, until you have read it.

    In the meantime, the best I can do is simply to affirm (again) that the notion of “causality” in history is not very similar to the notions used by philosophers or scientists. Historians who believe in free human agency and the apparent contingency (leaving theological matters to one side here) of historical events are often reluctant to speak about “necessary” causes, even in intellectual history (such as this question is).

    To offer a poor analogy: did Bill Mazeroski “cause” the Pirates to win the 1960 World Series?

    I realize that it will take some time for you to get a copy of the essay I’m asking you to read, but I’m not in any hurry. Blogs move at light speed, it seems, and that’s a big drawback for talking about serious stuff. For my part, I’m content to wait awhile before resuming this conversation; I hope that others will be also, since I have nothing more to say about this in the meantime.

  56. 56
    Ted Davis says:

    I thank bornagain for the citation to the Darwin essay in BJHS. I’ll be sure to read it. From the information in the link, there’s nothing here that surprises me; the individual pieces don’t seem new. But, if it weren’t a new overall argument then it probably wouldn’t be in that journal, so I’ll want to read it.

    You might find writings by the late Dov Ospovat interesting, bornagain, given the link you sent. Ospovat died quite young, decades ago, but he’s been over quite a bit of the same ground at the essay you linked.

  57. 57
    Ted Davis says:

    ps for StephenB: I sometimes wonder (from our many previous conversations) whether you are bringing to my views some wrong assumptions about my work, generally speaking. I think you may be assuming certain things about it, b/c I am a TE, rather than reading my work and then drawing conclusions.

    I suspect that we are actually pretty close in basic outlook, even though you may see a big gap b/c of the TE/ID gap that is on the larger landscape.

  58. 58
    StephenB says:

    Ted Davis, thank you for hanging in there with me. Just three quick (I promise) points:

    [a] In spite of my philosophical defense of the use of the word cause, I agree that such language can be used irresponsibly in the wrong context, leaving an inaccurate impression about history. On the other hand, it can also be used responsiblty if expressed with the approprite qualifications, even, I suspect, in a historical context. It has been a while since I read Rodney Stark’s account of the birth of science. However, the quote I provided, which does not use the word “cause,” reflects his beliefs as I remember them. That is why I am asking you to provide an in-context quote from him that would justify your assertion that he is overstating the case. I appreciate that you may be interpreting him that way, but I need to know why.

    [b] Your essay is less about the semantic issue and more about the substantive dynamic involved, which, as I understand it, is a description of what you see as a reflexive relationship between religion and science. (Now that I have a little more time, I think I will reread it). As I pointed out, it was, in my judgment, the religious perspective that informed the scientific perspective (rather than work with it) and I did my best to explain in limited space why that was the case. So, here our disagreement is not semantic but substantive.

    [c] On the matter of giving your reading a fair hearing, I agree that all of us do sometimes allow our pre-existing perceptions to leak into our interpretations of what we read. I hope I am not doing that, but I cannot rule out the possibility. While I try to manage my biases and prejudices [we all have them] I am never totally removed from them. I did, however, allow myself to be influenced by your initial summary, which I think accurately summarizes the piece, and it is on the contrast between religion leading science [my view] and religion consulting with science [the way I perceive your view] on which we disagree. Do I think your anti-ID views influence your account of the pro-ID views of the early scientists? The only thing I know with reasonable certitude is that very few of us, if any, are totally objective. The best we can hope for is to be fair and open to the truth.

  59. 59
    StephenB says:

    I should rephrase that last statement from “anti-ID views” to anti-ID views about the origin of life. I have no doubt that Ted is pro-ID on matters of cosmology.

  60. 60
    Ted Davis says:

    After you’ve taken another look at my essay on “the Foster thesis,” StephenB, we can talk more fully about my views of the claim that “Christianity caused modern science.” That ball in still in your court; I won’t hit it again until you hit it back to me. If you wish to leave it your court, we can do that.

    I’ll return your ball on Stark in another post in a few moments.

    Here, I will comment on this statement of yours, altered according to your qualifier in @59: “Do I think your anti-ID views [about the origin of life] influence your account of the pro-ID views of the early scientists? The only thing I know with reasonable certitude is that very few of us, if any, are totally objective. The best we can hope for is to be fair and open to the truth.”

    We agree that complete objectivity escapes all of us; neither you nor me is immune to this problem. Your last sentence entirely captures my own perspective, and I applaud you for affirming such a strong basis for conversation.

    My comment is as follows. I’ve encountered numerous pro-ID people, some here and some in other places, who explicitly or implicitly say or think that the “science-religion dialogue” (as it is often called) is not relevant to them and/or is worthless to them, since most of the standard voices in that “dialogue” do not believe that theology or religious beliefs can have anything normative to say about nature, or about what a proper science of nature ought to be like.

    To some extent I sympathize with that view, insofar as I do think that many of the leading voices in that “dialogue” have unknowingly accepted White’s “warfare” view of religion and science, namely that traditional theology can lead only to “conflict” with science and therefore must be discarded.

    My critique of the modern “dialogue” on this very point, incidentally, was the substance of my invited address at the Darwin bicentennial session of the American Academy of Religion in Nov 2009. In short, I was not preaching to the choir. However–and this needs to be said here, just as my critique of that “dialogue” needed to be said there–the opposite problem is, that for many pro-ID folks, “science and religion” boils down to debates about the explanatory efficacy of Darwinian evolution, and (as a sort of corollary) to anything else that can be brought in to create a vigorous apologetic for Christianity, against both the Dawkins crowd and against those TEs who don’t raise *scientific* objections to “Darwinism.” Now, I understand the logic of such a position and (in many cases) some of the underlying motivations for doing this, but I the problem with this IMO is as follows. A whole lot of very thoughtful work by a lot of people who have worked on key aspects of “religion and science” is either overlooked, misunderstood, or entirely dismissed. In short, there is a danger of tossing out the baby with the bathwater. Let me add that an effective way to mitigate this danger is to become involved with a scholarly community in which topics unrelated to debunking “Darwinism” receive a lot of attention. The ASA is such an organization; I recommend it to all here who agree with what I’ve just said.

    You’ve identified yourself here, StephenB, as someone who values a broad range of learning over narrow specialization. I value both a great deal. (As an aside, HPS is an unusually broad area of specialization, and I chose it to pursue as my way of getting into the even broader area of “religion and science,” since it seemed the best route available to me at that time. There were no doctoral programs devoted to religion and science then, although there are now.) It is also important to appreciate (never uncritically, it goes without saying) ideas and viewpoints that do not directly support the kind of apologetic I mentioned above. In short, what various scholars (including this one) have written about the early scientists–conclusions that in many cases seem to be very well supported by the evidence–should not be evaluated simply on the basis of whether or not it supports ID. It ought to be evaluated on its own merits, and if it doesn’t seem useful for advancing a certain pro-ID agenda, then perhaps an adjustment of some sort in that agenda would be warranted.

  61. 61
    Ted Davis says:

    Now, StephenB, let me address this–about Stark, not about my own views on “Christianity causing modern science,” which I won’t address further unless you respond specifically to my essay on the “Foster thesis.”

    Here is what you call for me to do: “I am asking you to provide an in-context quote from him that would justify your assertion that he is overstating the case. I appreciate that you may be interpreting him that way, but I need to know why.”

    OK, fair enough. (1) Page 123, “In this chapter, I argue not only that there is no inherent conflict between religion and science, but that *Christian theology was essential for the rise of science*.” (italics his)

    (2) On pp. 124-27, he argues that only modern science (i.e., the kind of science since the Sci Rev) is “real” science; there was no “real” science outside of Christian Europe. “Of course, these millenia of technological and intellectual progress were vital to the eventual development of science, but it is the consensus among contemporary historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science that real science arose only once: in Europe.” (126f)

    Those are the twin poles of his argument. I don’t agree with either one–and (2) is the one that really misleads readers who don’t know the literature in HPS. What Stark does, is to define “real science” in such a way that Copernicus (this really is his example) was not doing “real science,” a statement he justifies partly at one point (note 55 on 139) by citing IB Cohen’s statement (similar to the view of Kuhn) that there was no Copernican “revolution.” Well, Cohen’s point was that Copernicus left a lot of work for others to fill in, which took quite awhile, and that Copernicus himself wanted simply to improve on Ptolemy, not launch a “revolutionary” new cosmology. I’m quite sure that Cohen regarded Copernican astronomy as “real science,” but not by the definition Stark needed to make his thesis convincing to readers who don’t know any better. It’s very far from a “consensus” picture, to see someone as enormous as Copernicus as not really “scientific.” (see 125 for this howler).

    Stark recognizes the existence of what he calls “Scholastic science,” but he ignores the fact that such science was a lot more like ancient science than the “real science” of the Sci Rev. Yes, some of the scholastics entertained non-Aristotelian possibilities, explicitly for theological reasons, but most historians do not think that those speculations (that’s what they were) led to modern science. Stark wants us to think so; why else would he call this part (pp. 134ff) “the scholastic beginnings of science? The great Pierre Duhem certainly believed that, but I don’t know very many scholars in his day or in our day who agree with this. In the context of this chapter, readers are left with the strong impression that Duhem’s view is the consensus view today.

    Likewise, on p. 152, we find this: “Three factors prevented the Greeks from achieving science.” They had inadequate conceptions of God; they believed in an eternal, cyclic universe; and, their religion led them to view nature as a set of living creatures (my paraphrases here). The single footnote for this paragraph cites Jaki (who is the source for at least two of these claims), Lindberg, Grant, and Stephen Mason’s almost 50-year old general textbook. Don’t you think it’s odd to imply that Grant and Lindberg, arguably the two leading experts on medieval natural philosophy in the USA, think that these were the reasons why the Greeks never “achieved science”? Both men have written many things about medieval natural philosophy; they both think that modern science is not the same thing, but they also believe that the people they study were scientific, and they don’t think that theological deficiencies (as Stark presents it) were responsible for the “failure” of the Greeks to do science. Lindberg even has a chapter in one of his texts called “Roman and Early Medieval Science,” and another called “the mathematical sciences in antiquity.”

    I could keep going, StephenB, but I think this is sufficient to answer your question.

  62. 62
    Ted Davis says:

    As I said above: read Stark with caution. I have the impression, StephenB, that you need the stark view that Stark offers for apologetic reasons.

    Perhaps I am wrong, in which case I’m sure you will set me straight. My views on this issue would be the same whether or not the ID movement existed at all. They are what they are: conclusions based on the historical evidence I found when I examined this issue many years ago, before there was an ID movement at all. I think that one *can* use my conclusions apologetically–indeed, the essay I wrote for Faraday can be seen as a kind of apologetics–but not the kind of apologetics that Stark is doing, in which he seems to want a “slam dunk” argument for Christianity based on a peculiar, and unhistorical, definition of “real” science.

  63. 63
    Ted Davis says:

    I think there is sometimes among certain Christian apologists–and those who find their writings helpful–a tendency to assume something like necessity in the history of ideas. To be sure, ideas *can* have consequences; but, to think that idea A necessarily leads to idea B, simply b/c we know of instances in which idea A was instrumental in leading certain people to conclude idea B, is sloppy historical reasoning. This is part of my hesitation in using the language of causation in this instance (and many others).

    The late Francis Schaeffer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Schaeffer), a prominent and very influential Christian writer, comes across to me in this way. So do some of his contemporary disciples, including at least one or two prominent ID advocates (I’ll leave out names so as not to involve them personally in this critique).

    For example, I’ve very often heard creationists and ID proponents (as everyone here should know, I don’t equate those two groups) connect Darwin to Hitler, as if Darwin’s ideas somehow led necessarily to Hitler’s ideas. We might as well connect Jesus with the Crusades–there are a lot of dots to connect between those sets of endpoints, and no historical logic I admit will draw those lines in a convincing way.

    The creationist claim that evolution leads to racism, Communism, sexual promiscuity, abortion, euthanasia, etc., is of this sort. (Most readers probably are aware of this type of over-the-top nonsense. If not, take a quick look at http://www.answersingenesis.or.....roblem.jpg, or go read “The Modern Creation Trilogy” by Morris and Morris.) Aside from the rather obvious fact that all of those things predated Darwin’s Origin of Species, and most of them predated even Lucretius, the claim of some clear and obvious link continues to persuade millions of people of the alleged moral evils of evolution. Those same people seem blissfully unaware of the fact that lots of Christian creationists used the Bible to argue for slavery; somehow that doesn’t seem to inspire similar claims about necessary links.

    The history of science is complicated and messy; the chief problem with AD White is in fact that he ran roughshod over this fact to create his “warfare” view. I think we need to hold others to a similar standard.

  64. 64
    Ted Davis says:

    Ironically, in parallel with this conversation–in which I am questioning the claim that “Christianity caused real science,” I am involved in another conversation over on BioLogos, in which I am defending the claim that Christianity was very important in shaping the modern scientific attitude. Here is that thread: http://biologos.org/blog/chris.....ve-part-3/

    Someone over there finds it incredible that theology had anything whatsoever to do with constructing modern science; some here find it difficult to see why I would *not* say that Christianity caused modern science. Perhaps seeing both thread together will at least shed some light on my own position.

    Folks there are also commenting on the essay I wrote for the Faraday Institute, so there’s a common basis for the two threads. I invite folks here to contribute over there (and vice versa).

    As I say, it’s ironic.

  65. 65
    allanius says:

    I tend to think it’s kind of simple. “Science,” as in Big Science, is driven by its cultural given. Galileo, Descartes and Newton were Christians who used science (in their minds) to glorify God because they lived in the Christian era in the West. Modern scientists—again in the sense of Big Science, not the honest Joe sitting on the bench—tend to be atheists and to use science (unconsciously or otherwise) to justify atheism, for the simple reason that Nihilism killed God in the Modern age.

    But Ted, it seems to me there is an interesting distinction between Greek culture and our own. The nexus between empirical science and philosophy that appeared in the 17th century came about because scientists believed the Bible. They believed that “God looked at what he had made and saw that it was very good.” They believed that God created the heavens and earth, that God is good, and that what God created is good; indeed, that his invisible properties could be seen in everything that had been made. It is for this reason—and this reason only—that they based the salvation of the human race on the new science. The ancient Greeks had no such conception or hope for science.

    In other words, isn’t it likely that the messianic overtones that have attached themselves to Big Science are firmly rooted in Christianity and were unlikely to have come into being without it? Or to put it another way, would science be what it is today—enjoy the cachet that it does, for however long—without its roots in Christian culture?

  66. 66
    StephenB says:

    Ted, there are almost as many ways of interpreting history as there are historians. One element of that interpretation, as any victim of political correctness will attest, involves choices a about which events to include, how to describe them, and in what context. Also, some say that history is a study of “causes” while others say we shouldn’t use that word in any context. So, if you have a philosophy of history, great—go ahead and promote it. If that philosophy defines the ways in which the term “cause” should be used or not used, more power to you. According to my philosophy, history, like economics, is subject to some variation of the 20/80 rule: a vital few causes are responsible for the majority of the effects. Almost always, those causes come in the form of ideas.

    When we take a careful look at history and the history of philosophy, for example, we find a remarkable parallel between the ideas presented and the consequences that follow from those ideas. Without the Declaration of Independence, there is no government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Without the Church, the Bible, and the apostles, there is no Christian religion. Without Marx, Freud, and Darwin, there is no secular revolution to challenge the established theistic order. In the final analysis, people follow ideas and they act on their beliefs, individually, collectively, and historically. Yes, a multiplicity of other factors also played a role, but I am interested primarily in the most important causes, the ones that transform society.

    After rereading your article, I have concluded that what you are describing is less about the birth of science and more about its early development. To be sure, what happened in that developmental time frame matters, but why it happened matters more. The birth of science was like the birth of any other important movement, it began with a motivating vision. Without the vision, there is no motivation; without the motivation, there is no sustained action. Again, we could easily assign a number of causes to the birth of modern science, but the challenge for the analyst is to identify the vital view causes, and, if possible, the most important cause of all.

    If we can’t answer the question about which causes matter most, then we don’t know much about anything. In this case, the most important singular cause, in my judgment, was not the dialogue between science and religion that you describe, nor, for that matter, was it the intellectual contribution made by the Greeks, impressive as they were. The most important cause was the theological vision that provided the motivation that produced sustained action in the face of discouragement, doubt, and failure. How else explain the courage and persistence of the early scientists.

    To use an ID term, that vision was “irreducibly complex.” Among the many pieces of the unified puzzle, we can include a realistic epistemology [Thanks to Aristotle] a belief in ex-nihilo creation [No thanks to Aristotle] the faith/reason synthesis [Thanks to Aquinas] a rational universe discoverable by rational minds [Thanks to the Church-No thanks to Kant] liberation from the myth of eternal cycles and fatalism [Thanks to the Bible, No thanks to Pantheism] the ordered and contingent nature of matter as part of God’s Divine plan [Thanks to the Bible and the Church] and the unity of truth [Thanks again to Aquinas]. Take away even one piece of the puzzle and the vision no longer hangs together. The point is not just that these elements were present in the one culture that produced modern science, but also that they were not present in all the other cultures that did not.

    Earlier, we corresponded about the analyst’s pre-existent world views about design and the ways that it could influence his perception of historical events. For you, interaction seems to be the key: just as life “emerges” out of the random interaction between an organism and its environment [Darwin], so does science’s intellectual vision “emerge” randomly out of the dialogue between religion and science. For me, vision is the key: just as the design of life “unfolds” purposefully according to the Apriori intent of a designer [Intelligent Design], science’s dialogue is shaped by the Apriori intent of its religious pioneers. I think my argument is the better one because I approach history the same way I approach any other subject. Unlike Darwinists [and I am sorry to say, Christian Darwinists] I don’t try to make the facts fit my theories; I try to make my theories fit the facts. The facts are that the religious vision preceded the science/religion dialogue.

    So, where does that leave us? In effect, we are juggling three general accounts that describe the role of Christian culture in brining about the birth of science: The atheists say it played no role at all except to militate against it; you counter modestly by saying it played some role, and I counter decisively by saying that it played the main role. What does that mean? It means that, in this context, you object to the word “cause” not simply because analysts use it to describe Christianity’s main role but also because you deny that Christianity did, indeed, play the main role. In my judgment, to play the main role is to qualify as the cause. I use that language because it describes a truth about Christianity’s intellectual and motivational power to transform the way we study nature. If, as you say, that means that I am doing Christian apologetics, I am fine with that. However, don’t miss the significance of that term’s meaning. Christian apologetics is not about misrepresenting reality to make a point. It is about providing a rational justification for believing in the truth by telling the truth—even the politically correct truth.

  67. 67
    StephenB says:

    oops, I mean, even the politically [incorrect] truth.

  68. 68
    StephenB says:

    I should also point out that when discussing the vision that produced modern science, I made a reference to Kant, who of course came along much later. I did that to dramatize the point that Kant’s skepticism served to militate against that original vision. Obviously, he had nothing to do with its conception.

  69. 69
    Ted Davis says:

    Thank you for responding to my comments about apologetics, with such a clear and direct “apologetic” of your own, StephenB, as I have also done. We’ve articulated our different attitudes sufficently well, I think, that (at least for my part) it shouldn’t be hard for careful readers to see where we differ, and (to some extent) why we differ. That’s all anyone can ask for, and I have nothing to add, except this: it is always my goal (as it is yours) to let facts drive theories.

    Coming back to Stark, however, do you have any comments concerning what I said, responding to your request for me to support my claims about his claims? For example, would you also regard Copernicus as not “truly scientific,” simply b/c he did not do what he could not do–that is, he did not advance a new, fully causal (in the physical sense) cosmology, b/c he didn’t have the physics of either Kepler or Newton, neither of whom had been born yet?

    That’s basically what Stark says on 124-25 and 138-40, and it seems crucial to his argument to be able to draw that conclusion, since he spends a lot of time on it.

  70. 70
    Ted Davis says:

    Incidentally, StephenB, I find your suggestion about Christianity & the messianic overtones of science very interesting, and my instincts are identical to yours on that point.

    Let me comment on another point. You credit the idea of “a rational universe discoverable by rational minds” to “the Church.” Now, I certainly agree that Christianity has this as a core component, but what do you make of Aristotle’s view that “nature” (physis) is a “cosmos” (an order), not a “chaos”? He said this as a reply to the ancient atomists, of course, but his point seems quite clear. He didn’t spell out the part about our rationality in this connection, if I recall correctly (I haven’t looked this up) but of course he believed in it as fundamental to our human identity. And, Plato said similar things about the “forms”–rather than about “nature,” of which we could not (in his view) ever have any genuine “knowledge,” as vs mere opinion.

    So, I don’t see why you shouldn’t credit the Greeks for this one–taking nothing away from the Church, but simply placing credit where it’s due.

  71. 71
    Ted Davis says:

    StephenB: Incidentally, one of the reasons why I suggested that you contact me to obtain a copy of that essay is that I would like to be able to talk to you privately from time to time–not about these public exchanges, but some other things.

    You didn’t contact me about my essay, so let me repeat my invitation to have you email me. (You know my address, but I don’t know yours.)

  72. 72
    StephenB says:

    Ted, I thank you for an interesting discussion. As you point out, we have both had our say on the matter and I am pleased that we could exchange ideas so cordially and with so much transparency.

    [a] On the matter of private discussions, I would be privileged to interact with you any time. I will make it a point to e-mail you if I can find your address.

    [b] I certainly agree that the Greeks deserve due credit for their part in providing the intellectual soil for what would later become the famous faith/reason synthesis. With reference to their contributions on natural philosophy (some would say science) the amount of credit would seem to depend on how we define science. If we define science in such a way that Greek experimentation rises above “technology” [Stark’s term] and meets the higher standard of scientific research, then their efforts do, indeed, loom large; if we define science in such a way that their efforts fall short of that standard, they do not stand quite so tall (in a scientific context). Naturally, their philosophical contributions cannot be denied in any context. [Hence, the importance of our being consciously aware of the assumptions, definitions, and global world views that we bring to the table].

    [c] To honor your request, I will take this opportunity to respond to your question about Stark’s claim that Copernicus was not doing “real” science. In order to save space and time, I will have to pass over several points, but I think I can reduce the problem to its simplest essence.

    Let us begin with Stark’s definition of science: “Science is a method utilized in organized efforts to formulate explanations of nature, always subject to modifications and corrections through systematic observations.” He goes on to say that science “consists of two components, theory and research.” Theorizing is “the explanatory part of science. Scientific theories are abstract statements about why and how some portion of nature (including human social life) fits together and works.”

    Later, he says that abstract statements are scientific only “if it is possible to deduce from them some definite predictions and prohibitions about what will be observed.” In other words, the scientist must make observations “relative to the predictions and prohibitions.” It is not some mere trial and error process.

    The question we are considering, then, is this: Did the work of Copernicus qualify as science given this definition? It would seem that it does not.

    In a general sense, modern science began in the 11th Century through the efforts of scholastic monks and then gained traction at a time that we now call the “Scientific Revolution.” [Here I hearken back to the “vision” that I alluded to in another post]. In a particular sense, the model that Copernicus was said to have discovered was really passed on to him by Scholastic monks of an earlier era. So, Copernicus did not build his model around facts gained through empirical observation; he arrived at it through Aristotelian deduction, building on a model that had been bequeathed to him.

    On that subject, Stark writes this: “His [Copernicus’] heliocentric conception of the solar system was merely a DESCRIPTIVE claim (almost all of it wrong). He had nothing useful to say WHY planets remain in their orbits around the sun, or moons about the planets (meaning he provided no EXPLANATION). Until Newton, there was no scientific theory of the solar system.”

    Put another way, Copernicus was not doing “real” science [science as defined by Stark] because he did not provide explanations; he did not build his model around facts arrived at through empirical research; and he did not make observations relative to predictions and prohibitions.

  73. 73
    StephenB says:

    —Ted: “Incidentally, StephenB, I find your suggestion about Christianity & the messianic overtones of science very interesting, and my instincts are identical to yours on that point.”

    On this point, I may be receiving credit for someone else’s idea. I seem to recognize allanius’ fingerprints @69 with his use of the term “messianic overtones.”

  74. 74
    StephenB says:

    Ted, I have not been successful in finding your e-mail address.

  75. 75
    Ted Davis says:

    OK, StephenB, let’s talk about Copernicus. As you point out, Stark says that “Scientific theories are abstract statements about why and how some portion of nature (including human social life) fits together and works.”

    And, abstract statements are scientific only “if it is possible to deduce from them some definite predictions and prohibitions about what will be observed.” In other words, the scientist must make observations “relative to the predictions and prohibitions.”

    So, did the work of Copernicus qualify as science given this definition? You say no, based on Stark. I say yes, based on reading both De revolutionibus and scholars who know Copernicus very well–especially Owen Gingerich, but others as well.

    One thing Copernicus did not do, as Stark knows: he did not put forth a convincing physical theory for how the solar system works–but, he did realize that we needed a new one, if he was right, and he talked about elements of it (such as, the idea that objects in the vicinity of a planet must have motions centered on that planet. If we did not count as “scientific,” an theory that does not provided a physical account to show “why” a description is true, then ID will always be less than scientific, b/c ID concerns itself *only* with detecting design, not with explaining how it got there in the first place: merely saying that a “designer” did it, is hardly equivalent to saying *how* a designer did it.

    I agree that a theory that can both describe and explain causally is what we want to get; there, I agree with Stark that Kepler and Newton went further than Copernicus. However, both needed the work of Copernicus to get where they got–and that argues strongly that Copernicus was fully scientific.

    Furthermore, Copernicus did do something very important, something that matches perfectly Stark’s criterion of “why.” His system predicted (for example) that Venus should have a full set of phases, of rather markedly different apparent sizes; when Galileo observed precisely this previously unknown phenomenon, he knew that it “confirmed” Copernicus. I say “confirmed,” rather than confirmed, b/c the same observations were fully consistent with the Tychonic view, so they did not “confirm” Copernicus in a simple, unambiguous way. But, they were flatly inconsistent with the Ptolemaic model, and fully consistent with the Copernican model. This counts for Copernicus being fully “scientific.”

    And, the great attraction of the Copernican theory, for its early adherents (such as Kepler and Galileo), is that it fits together so very well: Copernicus himself says this; he knew he had provided a *single* theory for *all* of the planets, not separate theories for each of them. An important consequence of his theory was to sort out for the first time the motions of Mercury, Venus, and the Sun. Under Ptolemy, all 3 have the same overall period of revolution about the earth; but, in the new theory, Mercury and Venus each have unique periods of revolution about the Sun. Gingerich stresses the significance of this.

    The whole basis of astronomy since Plato’s student Eudoxus, was to give a mathematical theory that *does* make correct predictions about what will be seen, when, and where; and, what will not be seen. Even though astronomers eschewed a causal physical theory–partly b/c you can’t go into the heavens to verify it–they were making predictions and checking those predictions against observations. That’s fully scientific in my book–and Stark’s also.

    So, not only was Copernicus scientific, so were pagan Greek astronomers.

  76. 76
    Ted Davis says:

    My address: tdavis[at]messiah[dot]edu

  77. 77
    Ted Davis says:

    Finally, StephenB, let me respond to this claim of yours: “modern science began in the 11th Century through the efforts of scholastic monks and then gained traction at a time that we now call the “Scientific Revolution.””

    I don’t think so. You are clearly referring to someone like the great Gerbert of Aurillac (Pope Sylvester at the millenium), who went to Spain to learn from Muslim and Jewish scholars about Aristotle’s logic and other aspects of ancient learning. What exactly did Gerbert do that was new and different, relative to those Muslim and Jewish scholars? Yes, he initiated major changes in the medieval Catholic schools, and that was enormously important, but the content of what he brought back, though new in Christendom at that time, was derivative from other cultures, none of which was based on Christianity.

    The same can be said of the universities that came ca. 150 years later: they began as places where scholars and students came together to study *ancient texts*, which had just become available to them from the Muslims–who had in turn gotten them centuries earlier from Hellenistic scholars. Christians played a crucial role in that, I’ll grant (I mean the Nestorians in Baghdad, who served as translators from Greek into Syriac and then into Arabic), but they did not add significant contributions to the *content* of those texts.

    Islamic scholars did add significant content, esp in optics and astronomy–and some of those ideas later influenced scholars in Christendom. Now, we need to give Christians a lot of credit for founding the universities, which provided the locus for the great medieval debates about logic, philosophy, and theology that *do* provide powerful tools for what becomes modern science. If this is what you want to argue–that medieval Christianity “caused” modern science–then at least you’ve identified a key component of modern science. But (again), medieval science is different from modern science–what Stark calls “real science.” Logical tools are not “real science” in Stark’s definition; they are abstract devices that are crucial to doing real science, but not science themselves.

    Natural philosophy got a great deal of attention in those universities, as you know. But, the content of that natural philosophy was almost entirely in the form of commentaries on Aristotle. So, if medieval natural philosophy counts as “real science” (as I think it does, and as you might be implying by dating the origin of science to the 11th century), then so does Aristotle: they were building directly and closely on him.

    I cannot escape the impression, StephenB, that you are attracted to Stark’s stark thesis, not b/c you have a wide and deep knowledge of the history of science and Stark accounts for it so convincingly; but, b/c you like what he says for other reasons and you then read what you know of that history through his lenses. I know that you don’t believe you are doing this, but I can’t get past this impression.

    I have now said all I want to say about this topic. My views are sufficiently clear, esp my objections to Stark’s thesis. His bizarre interpretation of Copernicus is the birdie in the mineshaft: the air is going bad, and you might want to go somewhere else. But, you have to make your own decisions. I wish you well.

  78. 78
    StephenB says:

    Ted, thanks for your response. My knowledge about the birth of science is by no means informed solely by Stark’s account. I was simply answering in detail your multiple inquiries about why he would dare assert that Copernicus’ status as a real scientist is questionable.

    Indeed, you characterized his position as a “howler.” Based on your unduly negative interpretation of his arguments, I concluded that you did not fully appreciate the rationale for his thinking. So, I took the time to explain his argument in as few words as possible.

    As a matter of logic, you must reject either Stark’s definition of science or you must reject his account of why Copernicus did not meet that standard.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    Stephen and Ted:

    Can I suggest that as a rule no one piece of scientific work is going to address the full spectrum of scientific work, from description to explanation or modelling, to prediction to testing and validating, influencing and/or controlling phenomena?

    So, if one is contributing to the overall process s/he is doing science.

    Even, when it was emerging as a collective enterprise and before the full dawn of the Newtonian synthesis.

    On the part of the design inference, it is doing something truly foundational: it is asking, on causal factors, how can we characterise law-like necessity, chance and design, which are empirically known causal factors?

    Some of it may seem simple, but this is important for addressing what has gone wrong with origins science that is even beginning to corrupt the very definition of science itself.

    I find it very liberating and empowering.

    GEM of TKI

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It is reasonably clear that across the 1500’s and 1600’s a transformation occurred in the world of scholarship, and affected the wider culture then the globe.

    For instance, our political sense of “revolution” is apparently tied to this period and the impact of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton et al.

    That movement was rooted in a worldview then prevalent in Christendom — and there was a sense of commonality above local origins there [observe, e.g. the retention of Latin as a common language of scholarship] — that was rooted in the understanding of a God of order who created a world that was orderly and intelligible, indeed reasonable, and that spoke of its Author; here, contrast the volitionally centred view that pope Benedict remarked on recently by citing a Byzantine emperor in his Regensburg lecture.

    Modern science therefore emerged as collectively and cumulatively thinking God’s creative and sustaining thoughts after him, in light of empirically anchored investigations, modelling and analysis, towards understanding and working with his world for the benefit of man. While there are remoter roots of that that go far back in time and to many places, the synthesis in the period in view is historically pivotal, and it is directly rooted in the Judaeo-Christian worldview, once the civilisation began to emerge from the destabilising and disintegrative impacts of collapse of empire, invasions, and plagues.

    While reasonable credit to roots, transmitters and forebears is due, the impact of that transformative synthesis and the worldview matrix in which it was born should not be obscured. (And, I get the impression of just such obscuring from a general pattern I see in a lot of discussion of this era and other topics. I observe that the tracing of roots and forebears is in fact often used as a red herring, sometimes unwittingly, sometimes with intent. Well do I recall having had to argue with those who imagine that by pointing to claimed forebears, e.g. in Egypt, they discredit the NT and OT religion.)

    Synthesis is hard, very, very hard, and on history it is very powerful.

    And, science as a cumulative, culture transforming movement is a phenomenon that is something like 350 – 450 years old, with a very specific provenance.

  81. 81
    Ted Davis says:

    StephenB @78: “As a matter of logic, you must reject either Stark’s definition of science or you must reject his account of why Copernicus did not meet that standard.”

    It’s logically consistent to reject both, Stephen. I was deliberately implying that he didn’t know enough about Copernicus even to apply his own standard.

  82. 82
    StephenB says:

    –Ted: “I was deliberately implying that he didn’t know enough about Copernicus to apply his own standard.”

    Yes, so your challenge is to show what specific activities Copernicus did that would prove Stark wrong (in terms of Stark’s definition, of course]. To merely claim that you know something important and relevant that Stark doesn’t know is not sufficient. You must show that you know something important and relevant that Stark doesn’t know.

  83. 83
    StephenB says:

    Ted,

    kairosfocus writes this:

    “Modern science therefore emerged as collectively and cumulatively thinking God’s creative and sustaining thoughts after him, in light of empirically anchored investigations, modelling and analysis, towards understanding and working with his world for the benefit of man. While there are remoter roots of that that go far back in time and to many places, the synthesis in the period in view is historically pivotal, and it is directly rooted in the Judaeo-Christian worldview, once the civilisation began to emerge from the destabilising and disintegrative impacts of collapse of empire, invasions, and plagues.”

    Can we both agree with this characterization and move on?

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