Ain't science grand?

It is indeed a very strange Universe that we live in, and sometimes that same Universe throws a real treat for those of us who have some notion of just how remarkable it really is:


If you do some reading about Mira, it really is a truly remarkable astral feature. But it, and other astonishing stellar and planetary phenomena, serve to illustrate a rather important question about science:

Is it compatible with faith in a Creator?

Longtime readers know my answer to that one - of course it is. But there are plenty of modern scientists around today who subscribe to the Enlightenment-era fallacy - promulgated by the French, no less, to a fairly significant degree - that faith and science are not compatible.

This is a deeply mistaken and historically inaccurate idea.

The reality is that science and faith - especially the Christian faith - are most certainly compatible. In fact, it takes a vastly greater leap of faith to believe in some of the more absurd ideas that scientists claim to believe in, than it does to believe in a benevolent and loving Creator:



The greatest scientists of the Renaissance and pre-Enlightenment eras were, in fact, Christians. And that is because, as the video above and Vox's first video on the subject points out, the Christian faith derives from the axiom that the Lord created the Universe according to clear and specific rules.

Those rules may be bewilderingly complicated and difficult for us to understand - it takes a vastly more powerful mind than mine to understand string theory, the intricacies of quantum mechanics, or the considerable oddities introduced by the general theory of relativity - but they exist nonetheless. Christians posit that the Creator made those rules, and then He gave us intelligence and sentience so that we might understand those rules - and therefore know Him.

Such has been the standard doctrine of the Church for centuries. The "war between faith and science" is an artificial modern invention, given weight and substance mostly by a lot of hyperventilating about a (fairly large) segment of the American population that finds the Theory of Evolution by (Probably) Natural Selection more than a little problematic.

(Turns out, there are very good reasons as to why the Theory of Evolution, at least as it is currently understood by biologists, has some serious credibility issues.)

The greatest scientists in existence before the Christian monks and friars were Greeks and Romans, who may have lacked the grounding in faith given to their later counterparts, but compensated for it by holding to clearly rational and powerful principles of philosophy that guided them in their investigations. And, since much of that philosophy centres on a search of Truth, and since the Creator is that Truth, ultimately they derived their direction and guidance from pretty much the same source - they just didn't have the doctrinal and scriptural structure for it, at least as we understand that structure today.

The core of the modern dogma - and that is the correct term - about the "war" between faith and science comes from the ancient lie about the way that Galileo Galilei was treated by the Catholic Church.

Or rather, the way that he was supposedly treated.

The story as it is commonly taught in school basically says that Galileo investigated the old Geocentric Model of the Universe, which argued that the entire Universe rotated around the Earth. Galileo discovered through his research that, in fact, the Earth revolved around the Sun instead. The Catholic Church took deep exception to this idea and sicced the Inquisition upon him, and it was only through considerable effort on the part of powerful clerical and lay supporters of his that he avoided the death penalty.

This story is largely nonsense.

In fact, the Catholic Church and especially the Jesuit Order strongly supported Galileo's research. Pope Bl. Urban VIII himself came to Galileo and asked him to present arguments both for and against heliocentrism, which would allow the clergy to debate among themselves based on the facts and the evidence at hand.

There certainly was a great deal of controversy within the Church as to which model of the Universe was correct. Hardline factions within the Church argued that the Copernican model - Copernicus, by the way, was a Catholic monk himself - was a direct challenge to the infallible Word of the Bible and was therefore heretical.

Pope Bl. Urban VIII came to Galileo and specifically stated that it was not the Church's business to decide what was scientifically true; he was more than happy to leave that to scientists, like Galileo. His position was the same that the Catholic Church has often taken in the centuries since: the Church is the spiritual beacon and transmitter of God's Word to His Creation, but the work of discovering and unraveling the mysteries of that Creation is left to scientists, with the Church's blessing.

The real reason why Galileo was condemned by the Inquisition has to do with the fact that his published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems contained a character named Simplicio - basically, "Fool" in Italian, more or less - and that Galileo either accidentally or deliberately put the words of the Pope himself into the mouth of Simplicio, thereby making him, and by extension the Church, look very stupid.

That was a huge mistake. And no matter whether Galileo did so innocently or out of spite, he ended up alienating the very moderates, including the Pope himself, who had supported his research.

That is the real root of the so-called war between faith and science. Depending on how you look at it, the whole thing stems from either an honest mistake, or an act of pure hubris.

Science - or more specifically, scientody, the actual scientific method, and scientage, the body of scientific knowledge - need not be opposed to faith. There is good reason to argue that the two do not merely coexist, but are inseparable.

It is scientistry - basically, what scientists learn to do at universities - and scientism (basically, blind belief in the power of "science") that are the problem. These can most certainly conflict with faith - because when you put highly intelligent, yet flawed and Fallen, men to work discovering the inner workings of the Universe but do not curb their worst instincts through the moral teachings of faith, then you inevitably run into serious problems.

Comments

  1. This has also introduced scientific prejudice--something that is seen nearly every day. When the results do not agree with the hypothesis that is being put forward, simply change the results or method until it does. You know, like suppressing data or repeatedly changing the temperature data and records for "climate change". When scientists disavow or pervert the scientific method, they are reduced to being little more than witch doctors, soothsayers, and modern day alchemists trying to turn lead into gold.
    Nazi grammar note about this comment: Oxford commas are your friend.

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