Christianity vs Science

Question from Moonrunez:
Yo, talk about cover ups and denying bull, I have been trying to find books that list how Christianity killed and abused science, the study thereof, the torture and death of people studying science, and all I get is how Christianity started science, really, who was Hypatia? N.american Indians practised Tesla mathematics thousands of years before Tesla, look at the serpent mound, or the astro-mathematics of Chaco canyon, not one ounce of land has been gained in N. or S.america except by killing American Indians for practicing witchcraft. this was commonly done to get land, Christians from pagans, Christians from Christians, no one seems to know that one half the town of Salem was accused of witchcraft, the ones who admitted as much lost all there land to the other Christians, why? Why the bullshit, or how Christianity is the cause of extinction and justification for animal abuse and scientific study, animals don`t have souls, Black Beauty was written by a man who witnessed the abuse of animals in his time and wrote about it, and I conclude do you know why I have the right to face my accuser, because in the witch burning times you could accuse your neighbor of heresy have them killed, via torture first to get land, that is why the constitution has this, I can`t find a single book listing groups of scientists, and the types of science destroyed, all I find is Christian websites stating they created science, those idiot Egyptians never built pyramids, had math, science, knew the world was round, star charts, physics, medicine, herb lore, surgery, writing, read 42 laws of Mayet! Can you recommend books that tell the truth of how science etc. was held back by Christianity, thanks.

Answer by SmartLX:
Firstly, Christians appear to have a lot of material for arguing that Christianity was responsible for the rise of science because so many of the great scientists were Christians. Where the argument stumbles is in establishing that their Christianity actually helped in their work, rather than that they were simply great scientists who, like nearly everyone else in those times and places, happened to be Christian. People like Hypatia, who was a fourth century Egyptian pagan scholar, demonstrate that plenty of good work was going on outside of “Christendom”.

Anyway, the persecution of individual scientists isn’t good material for a lot of books because there aren’t many well-known cases. There’s Galileo, of course, and in very much the same category there’s Giordano Bruno who was burned at the stake for claiming there were planets outside the solar system (possibly with life on them). William Buckland, Charles Lyell, Louis Agassiz, and Adam Sedgewick set out to investigate the Biblical flood, but ended up dispelling their own beliefs in it and brought condemnation upon themselves from the Church. Feel free to add more, folks, but that about does it for the famous ones.

It’s worth being very specific about the measurable effect Christianity has had on science, rather than simply saying that it held it back. For as long as Christianity has seen itself as a political power in the world, it has encouraged technological advances to keep itself powerful. Strong armies, good medicines and so on were extremely important.

The issue is that Christianity contains a number of doctrines (claims, if you like) which we now know contradict the scientific evidence and have been accepted by the majority as simply false. Special creation of each plant and animal is a big one, but there’s also the idea that the Earth or the Sun is the centre of the universe, that diseases are caused by demons instead of germs and that stars are small enough to be capable of “falling from the sky” onto the Earth. Some of these are claimed outright by the Bible, others were added later by popes and other authorities. Once the reality became clear in each case, even if the scientific community accepted it, majority Christian populations were very slow to adopt the new thinking because it contradicted something that was supposedly sacred. This wasn’t enough to stop the science from advancing, but it sure slowed it down. Scientists need funding and freedom, and the religious tend to be in positions where they can allow or deny both.

And now a little surprise: I didn’t say there weren’t any books at all. In 1896, Andrew Dickson White wrote A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, summarising every conflict he could find. That link is to the entire book, hosted at the University of Michigan. It’s been derided by theologians and accommodationists as propaganda, but whatever you think of it you can’t deny that it’s all there.

3 thoughts on “Christianity vs Science”

  1. Moon – All I would add to LX’s post is that there is ample evidence in the world of science and scientific progress before Christianity. The circumference of the world was calculated in Egypt 200 years before the birth of Christ as an example.

    Christians like to claim that Christianity is responsible for science. For the sake of argument, let’s say that is true. Let’s agree with that. Does that make the discoveries and advancements of science any different? In other words, how does the fact that we know that something like the biblical flood story is absolutely false change in any way if science began because of Christianity?

    Simply put, it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter if science started in Christianity, or Judaism, or ancient Egypt, or on the farm of some ancient Slavic guy named Olaf. The data is still open and available and verifiable by any human on the planet at any time, and the fact that the biblical flood is nonsense doesn’t change.

    The argument about whether individuals doing scientific research were persecuted by Christians, or whether Christianity gave birth to science, is a moot one in my humble opinion. Science exists and it works wonderfully at describing, defining, and discovering the nature of things in our universe, and that is all that really matters.

  2. yes it does matter if Christianity or pagans had math, lies are evil, so is taking credit for other people`s inventions, science really did not take off until this last century, it is very important to give credit where credit is due, stealing from other cultures and claiming you invented it is very wrong, and evil, the Egyptians had a lot more than just the earth measured out, IUD`s tampons, believe it or not, they had knots of Tet they were called, surgery, history of Atlantis, incredible math, they taught the greatest math and science in the world, do you really think Thales and other great math teachers just invented the math they claim they did after studying in Egypt for many years? for me it is a matter of ethics, being very ethical, it is very dishonorable and unethical not to give credit where credit is due, or cover up the great works of others and stick your name on it, if Christians are so ethical, why take that route?

  3. Perhaps I should expound on my statements. It doesn’t matter if Christianity is or isn’t responsible for the birth of science because there is nothing WITHIN that religion that was necessary for someone to create and work good science. In other words, the foundation of science does not come from Christianity even if did come from Christians. Science developed despite people’s religious stances, not because of it. There are plenty of Christians today that do good science all the time. There are also Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and atheists that do good science. That good science is done because they follow the scientific method and use their intelligence, not because of what they worship or don’t worship.

    The credit goes to the people that did it, not to the religion they participate in.

    I agree that stealing others work as your own is wrong, but since we are talking at a macroscopic level I don’t think we run into that kind of moral issue. The issue is whether religious faith is responsible for science, and it isn’t…

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