375 Years ago Religion Battled Science – No Change?
375 years ago today the catholic church exerted influence over science findings they disagreed with, good thing in today’s progressive, forward thinking society that kind of thing has ceased [sarcasm].
June 22, 1633 • Galileo Renounced His Views before the Inquisition.
There is no doubt the church was in the wrong. A commission formed by Pope John Paul II in the 1980s admitted as much. But was it fully responsible? There were, in fact, two other parties at fault.
One was Galileo himself. His vanity, sarcastic words, contempt for lesser minds and half-truths had earned him fierce enemies among the intellectuals of Europe–especially among the Jesuits. Galileo even fudged at least one experiment.
The second set of culprits were naturalists (the scientists of the day). Advocates of the pagan philsopher Aristotle resisted Galileo’s findings. The pope and cardinals would not have acted if dozens of these “scientists” had not said Galileo was wrong. Some hated Galileo, who had hurt their feelings. Others felt that Aristotle and the Bible should not be overturned without solid evidence. It did not matter that both Kepler and Galileo had shown that the Bible could be interpreted to agree with the new science. Their own eyes showed them that the sun, not the earth moves. Galileo could not provide hard evidence to the contrary. Solid proof for the earth’s movement around the sun was two hundred years away, when tiny shifts in star positions and subtle pendulum motions were finally measured.
Does this sound familiar? Does the fight over stem cell research bear any of the same characteristics? How about the battle of evolution vs. intelligent design? Going to Mars?
So many times in human history the church has gotten ‘offended’ by science disagreeing with mythology books written centuries ago, calling the scientists “arrogant” or “vain”. When in reality the church officials are the ones acting in a close-minded and stoically arrogant manner. Refusing to acknowledge that parchment containing writings from men who hardly understood the world could possibly be wrong, and that men who study the natural world coming to a different conclusions are arrogant, is very regressive and arrogant in and of itself. Science doesn’t speak to the existence of deities, science doesn’t address the supernatural, it only speaks to that which can be inferred through or observed in natural processes.
If these findings disagree with doctrine or dogma, the rudeness and vanity is within those who, in spite of good evidence, want religious texts to be held as the only ‘truth’. The believers do not need to quit believing but their beliefs need to be adjusted to take into account what has been empirically shown to be more likely or even ‘fact’.
Religious beliefs taken without evidence should not ever trump that which can be tested, verified, inferred and observed in the natural world.