Last week, when I posted “Scientists of faith” from THE NAKED TRUTH 2, I received several excellent comments in response. One particular I thought quite good. In his comment, James Atticus Bowden sought to explain the developments that lead to an explosion of knowledge in the West and Christianity role in that explosion.
To enable as many people as possible to see ‘s comment as possible, I have posted it below.
CT: This is a favorite topic of mine to research.
Refer folks to Moises Maimodes to reconcile the Torah and Aristotelian rational empiricism.
Refer folks to Gerard Schroeder to reconcile the Torah with the Big Bang and evolution.
Let’s look at this through time. From Adam and Eve through the end of the last Ice Age to 500 BC many native peoples and the emergent civilizations – Egypt, Mesopotamia, Mediterranean, China, India, Aztec and Inca – there were many discoveries and inventions.
Enter Greek Civilization and human thought and testing of ideas. Rational Empiricism. This is a big deal. This way of thinking goes with the Greek – Western – way of war and conquest to cover 3 of the first civilizations (Egypt, Med and Mesopotamia). Rome builds upon the Greeks until roughly 400 AD.
Then, several things happen. Rome becomes Christian. Rome in the West falls. The Roman imperial civil service is ‘essentially’ transformed to serve the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire (which isn’t) for the 500 year fight against the barbarian invasions.
Western Europe and Rome in the East defended against the invading Muslims from the 600s until Orthodox Rome, the Byzantine Empire, falls with Constantinople (1453) and the last armed invasion is defeated at the gates of Vienna (1683).
Muslim Civilization, like the library in Alexandria, built upon what the Romans-Greeks had done. They did well enough in a few centers of learn until it all came to crashing halt when the Imams decided all knowledge had been revealed by Mohammed (approx. 1250)
Western Civilization was hampered by Augustinian thinking that one had to know God through the Church to know knowledge. Thomas Aquinas sewed a seed for the Reformation when he said one knows knowledge and then chooses to know God or not.
In 1000 AD the Chinese are tops in science and technology. Islam is second. And, the West is third. But, events are in motion – based on ideas. While there are a handful of centers of learning across Islam, there are 40 universities in the West. The Renaissance is an explosion in learning – base on the rational empiricism of the Greeks. Rational empiricism teaches experimentation to test ideas.
Since the Muslims stop learning, the West moves forward. It moves beyond China because the Chinese believe the unseen world is made up of spirits which influence, willy nilly, the physical world. The Christians believe in a created world from an unseen Creator – who established a natural order and laws which can be discovered.
The Reformation puts this learning on steroids. A Created order to the universe is begging men to learn and reveal God’s compelling order throughout the sciences. If a ploughboy can know the Lord of the Universe through the Bible, so can any peasant learn to know any knowledge – and test it through rational empiricism instead bowing to priestly pronouncements.
The Enlightenment adds more energy. The French Enlightenment may be anti-Catholic cleric – in part, but the American and British Enlightenment is enthusiastically Christian (Protestant) because of the unity of Biblical created world and rational empiricism – and the freedom to find out what is what.
From 1000 to 1500 the West gains the advantage. From 1500 until 1975 (ending of colonialism) the West rocks. Christian thinking – improved by Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment – and 3 Great Awakenings in US and UK – provides the cultural world view under the scientific society.
- Why Is the West Pre-eminent? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bertrand Russell on the science v religion debate | Clare Carlisle (theguardian.com)