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Original discussion thread for "SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY" 
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Post Original discussion thread for "SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY"
Dr. Stacy Trasancos has authorized a limited license, at no cost, to members of BookTalk.org to discuss her book, Science Was Born of Christianity - The Teaching of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki.

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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
Please thank Dr Trasancos for this kind gesture.

I plan to download soon (on my mac)

:)



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Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:57 am
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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
Thanks Dr. Trasancos and Stahrwe. ;-)



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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
There is some jockeying of definitions at the start. I only gave it a cursory glance, and will read more later. I'm always skeptical of shoehorning concepts by setting parameters on definitions. For example, science isn't necessarily exact. There are fields that deal in probabilities. Science is also partially semantic, in the creation of models.

Quote:
Solid reasoned discourse, including philosophy and theology, does not need quantification
from exact science to support it, since those discourses ought to be able to stand on their own
merit


At some point, all reasoned discourse must have some sort of anchor to reality. If we're to talk about 'something', then the status of that something is required before we start chopping it up with logic. The status doesn't need to be quantitative, it could be qualitative. Tried and true processes ensure the base material that we reason about is sound.


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Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:25 pm
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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
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Even though almost all historians of science now support the contributions of the Roman Catholic Church during and before the Middle Ages, even Catholic historians of science are reluctant to embrace Jaki’s theological argument that the Christian worldview was responsible for the birth of science.

I've known that historians have said this about Christianity facilitating science, but I'm not too sure that we have to concede the point on that basis. Is the agreement really as nearly universal as she says? This would be the matter to look into first, before we even get to her claim that the religion gave birth to science. There could be other explanations for the success of science if the correlation between the two even holds up.

There is a list of objections to the science/religion nexus on the evolutionistrue website.

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com ... f-science/



Last edited by DWill on Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:27 pm
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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
Chris, Are you going to set up a sub-forum and chapters for this discussion? I think this is way too much for one thread...


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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
There's no question in my mind that religion was crucial in bringing about long periods of social stability that allowed intellectual and artistic achievements to take place. It’s another thing to say that Christianity “gave birth to science” especially when you consider that so much of the groundwork for science came long before Christianity. Indeed, the Enlightenment was a rejection of the Church’s authority on matters of science and rationality. While Catholics in Rome were banning books and forcing Galileo to cease and desist his theories on heliocentrism, the scientific movement was moving to the Protestant north where new ideas were better tolerated.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/enlightenment/

I don't think the idea that science was born of Christianity is something you're going to find in most history books, or at least not stated in such simplistic terms. (However you will find it on Conservapedia (http://www.conservapedia.com/Christianity_and_science)). As such it seems more like religion apologia than actual history, an idealization of a time when science and religion were intermingled and when the Catholic Church did actually veto scientific knowledge.

So I’m not sure I’ll read Dr. Stacy Trasancos’ book, but here’s an article by Fr. Jaki that probably goes into many of these ideas. For example, Jaki claims that much of science is based on supernatural revelation in the Bible. Jaki also seems fairly entrenched in what he calls a “cultural contest” between science and religion. (Read what Jaki says about Carl Sagan and tell me he doesn’t have some sour grapes).

http://catholiceducation.org/articles/s ... c0005.html

I guess I see a fairly liberal definition of what constitutes religion and what constitutes science. For most of humanity it wasn’t possible to separate the two, so what’s the impetus to look back on history and do that retroactively? The Bible includes a lot of history and myth that represents human experience. Much of the source material actually predates Christianity. And, by the way, so does the idea that we should be kind to one another. Some people may believe the idea of altruism is Biblical, but we also see its beginnings in the animal kingdom.

There seems to be an agenda to rack up points for religion when, in fact, science is a very human endeavor. Ever since humans started tinkering with things and trying to figure out how things work, they were dabbling in science to some degree.

Edit: (Perhaps) a relevant quote by William James:

"It does not follow, because our ancestors made so many errors of fact and mixed them with their religion, that we should therefore leave off being religious at all. By being religious we establish ourselves in possession of ultimate reality at the only points at which reality is given us to guard. Our responsible concern is with our private destiny, after all.”


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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
Did you read the Jaki article?

Where did you obtain the William James quote?

I am unclear about your decision not to read Dr. Trasancos' book.
Do you believe you already know all the facts surrounding the history of science and Dr. Trasancos/Jaki/Duhem are wrong?
That is a significant claim given Dr. Jaki's, and Dr. Duhem's reputations and Dr. Trasanco's research.


The premise of the book is not that religion (Christianity) provided a period of stability which allowed for scientific progress. The premise of the book is that prior cultures were inhibited by attitudes which prevented science from progressing. These impediments were eliminated by the church.

You also are falling for the urban legend about Galileo and his trial. The reasons for it, along with the Bruno affair and others, including the Flat Earth Myth, are misrepresentations in order to promote an attitude of dismissal toward Christianity.

These comments are my own and do not include guidance from Dr. Trasancos other than from my reading of her book so I am solely responsible for the above.


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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
Stahrwe wrote:
The premise of the book is that prior cultures were inhibited by attitudes which prevented science from progressing. These impediments were eliminated by the church.


I'm seeing a bunch of correlation and speculation in forming the argument. I read most of it, through Roger Bacon's bit. Every Egyptian had a certain mindset? I would think there are hundreds if not thousands of other variables that were every bit as instrumental in why science failed in earlier cultures, and why it eventually reached critical mass in the middle ages. In many of the earlier cultures, the intellectual infrastructure simply wasn't in place. Not to say the progress of science was linear, but that much of what came before was necessary for critical mass to occur. To use Jaki's analogy, some branches had to grow to fruition to find the anomalies at the tips.

Muslims made contributions to science that were directly motivated by their religion. Islam was a better womb for science than Christianity. The medical contributions were science, and no definition shifting will change that. In both Islam and Christian areas, the adherence to aristotelian physics seems to have been the main impediment. It was a paradigm that needed anomalies for people to shift away from it.

I don't see how cyclical ideologies are supposed to have caused stillbirths. Much of nature is in fact cyclical. Why would this hamper understanding? Sure, there's correlation, but showing causation is a different animal.


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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
What counts as science is to a large degree determined by the historical context.

The translation movements undertaken by Christianity and Islam were monumental in both preserving and building natural philosophy into what we today call "science"

Theological considerations of the monotheistic religions were the lens each used to help understand the natural world. Monotheism did NOT disdained the practice of "science" in the manner that has been popularized today - the conflict between science and religion. That's simply false and something modern historians dismiss as ahistorical.

As I've said many times before, the Galileo saga is the poster child for the mythical conflict thesis. There were many practicing scientists during Galileo's life that were neither persecuted or exiled. Galileo's unfortunate predicament was largely his own doing. This is not something I'm personally promoting as an apologist. It's a historical FACT.

The unfavorable political climate, Galileo's unkind portrayal of his friend (Urban), and his refusal to present heliocentrism as a hypothesis lacking corroborating evidence (there were other natural philosophers at the time that did not accept it as fact) ultimately sealed his fate.

Contrary to what some people believe, Galileo was not thrown into a dungeon and fed bread and water for the rest of his life. He actually was subjected to a hospitable "house arrest."

The historical interaction between religion and science is highly complex. It's easy and intellectually lazy to toss blanket statements around in an attempt to demonize religion.
Honest research will enable you to expose the frauds that play this game.



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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
Quote:
Muslims made contributions to science that were directly motivated by their religion. Islam was a better womb for science than Christianity. The medical contributions were science, and no definition shifting will change that. In both Islam and Christian areas, the adherence to aristotelian physics seems to have been the main impediment. It was a paradigm that needed anomalies for people to shift away from it.


Islamic contributions were in astronomy, mathematics, alchemy, medicine, and optics. I'm actually reviewing a course in the history of science which covers this well.

There were cross cultural borrowings between the two cultures. It's not historically accurate to claim "Islam was the better womb for science" Not when the record indicates the translation movements by both Islam and Christianity looked to preserve Greek writings, INCLUDING those by Aristotle, which men like Thomas Aquinas valued so greatly.



Last edited by ant on Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
So what happened to abort the development of math and science by the Muslims?

The significance of the Condemnation of 1277 continues to be ignored.

The Galileo affair continues along the Urban Legend track.


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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
ant wrote:
Theological considerations of the monotheistic religions were the lens each used to help understand the natural world. Monotheism did NOT disdained the practice of "science" in the manner that has been popularized today - the conflict between science and religion. That's simply false and something modern historians dismiss as ahistorical.

Copernicus, Galileo and Newton, among many others, showed that truth could (and did) exist outside of religious dogma. The implications for the Church were devastating and so it created the Inquisition to combat heresy in an attempt to reign in factionalizing and hold on to power. There certainly was a clash, not so much between religion and science, but between new ideas and old tradition dictated by the Church after more than a thousand years as a quasi-political body.

You can slice and dice it any way you want, but to say Galileo was treated well while under "hospitable" house arrest is a gross oversimplification of the historical facts. Unlike Bruno, we have records of Galileo's trial and judgment. Under threat of torture and imprisonment, he was ordered to renounce Copernican ideas. Significantly, all future works were banned from publication. True, his imprisonment was commuted to house arrest, but that hardly constitutes an atmosphere of intellectual freedom.

As such the Galileo affair is actually a pretty good illustration of the historic clash between the Church and the intellectual movement at the onset of the Enlightenment. That's why, after all, you'll find the well-documented Galileo affair in any credible work of history.

While under house arrest, Galileo wrote his last work—Discourses on the Two New Sciences—which has been described as "the cornerstone of modern physics." But because the Inquisition had banned the publication of any of Galileo's works, it had to be smuggled out of Italy to France to be published (in 1638).

Quote:
Contrary to what some people believe, Galileo was not thrown into a dungeon and fed bread and water for the rest of his life. He actually was subjected to a hospitable "house arrest."

Likewise the Church sentenced Bruno to be killed as "mercilessly as possible, and without the shedding of blood"—i.e to be burned alive.


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Last edited by geo on Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:51 am, edited 4 times in total.



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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
Will Durant, a well-known historian and philosopher, writes a pretty good summary of the world leading up to the Enlightenment in THE STORY OF PHILOSOPHY. This is the intro in the section on Francis Bacon.

Quote:
The Church, supported in its earlier centuries by the emperors whose powers it gradually absorbed, grew rapidly in numbers, wealth, and range of influence. By the thirteenth century it owned one-third of the soil of Europe, and its coffers bulged with donations of rich and poor. For a thousand years it united, with the magic of an unvarying creed, most of the people of a continent; never before or since was organization so widespread or so pacific. But this unity demanded, as the Church thought, a common faith exalted by supernatural sanctions beyond the changes and corrosions of time; therefore dogma, definite and defined, was cast like a shell over the adolescent mind of medieval Europe. It was within this shell that Scholastic philosophy moved narrowly from faith to reason and back again, in a baffling circuit of uncriticized assumptions and pre-ordained conclusions. In the thirteenth century all of Christendom was startled and stimulated by Arabic and Jewish translations of Aristotle; but the power of the Church was still adequate to secure, through Thomas Aquinas and others, the transmogrification of Aristotle into a medieval theologian. The result was subtlety but not wisdom. “The wit and and mind of man,” as [Francis] Bacon put it, “if it work upon the matter, worketh according to the stuff, and is limited thereby; but if it work upon itself, as the spider worketh his web, then it is endless, and bringeth forth indeed cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fineness of thread and work, but of no substance or profit.” Sooner or later the intellect of Europe would burst out of this shell.


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Post Re: SCIENCE WAS BORN OF CHRISTIANITY FULL TEXT LIMITED LICENSE
Quote:
The translation movements undertaken by Christianity and Islam were monumental in both preserving and building natural philosophy into what we today call "science"


Are you saying that Christianity gave rise to naturalism? If so, the rise of naturalism was not due to the teachings of Christianity, since it is an opposing philosophy. Or at least, it was not harmonious to the teachings of Christianity. Instead, it would have developed "in spite of" Christianity.

This is part of the reason shifting definitions is frowned upon. The definition in Trasancos' book takes a similar approach. That science is defined in such a way(exact,noncyclical,quantitative) that when we go back through history, we can see Christian philosophy was amenable to those ways. But science is so much more than those shoehorned definitions, and a refusal to admit that won't change a thing. The aspect that's missing is the procedural, or methodological. That aspect of science has a different history.

Quote:
There were cross cultural borrowings between the two cultures. It's not historically accurate to claim "Islam was the better womb for science"


The Koran has a scientific bend to it that the Christian bible does not. Many historians believe Islam was more conducive to science, I'm just repeating their opinions.

Quote:
So what happened to abort the development of math and science by the Muslims?


I have no clue. Was it their adherence to a cyclical philosophy?

Quote:
The significance of the Condemnation of 1277 continues to be ignored.


From Stanford philosophy: "In the historiography of medieval science, the views of Pierre Duhem, have proven to be extremely influential. Duhem believed that Tempier, with his insistence of God's absolute power, had liberated Christian thought from the dogmatic acceptance of Aristotelianism, and in this way marked the birth of modern science. Especially articles 39 and 49 played a pivotal role in his eyes. Duhem's thesis has opened up the historiography of medieval science as a serious academic discipline. Yet, at the same time, no one in the field any longer endorses his view that modern science started in 1277."

"...medieval scholars generally supposed that in cases of conflict between reason and faith, the truth was always on the side of the faith."


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