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Niall Ferguson is wrong to suggest that Christianity stifles scientific enquiry

Rather, there is plenty that encourages it

By on Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (probably the most photogenic city in the world). AP Photo/Murad Sezer

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (probably the most photogenic city in the world). AP Photo/Murad Sezer

Television is a pretty crude medium, a blunt instrument that beats the subtlety out of most subjects. It was easy to be seduced by the latest episode of Civilization: Is the West History? Fronted by Professor Niall Ferguson, the second episode showed some lovely shots of Istanbul, which must be the world’s most photogenic city, and purported to examine, among other things, the reasons for the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

It was lovely to watch, but the viewer, lulled into an oriental reverie, was in some danger of being misled into thinking that the decline of the Ottomans was something to do with religion. It was not. What the professor showed was that at a certain point in Ottoman history, the rulers of the Empire turned their backs on science, at the behest of the powerful Muslim religious establishment (he makes the point at approximately 22 minutes in). Moreover, this happened at just the moment, in 1580, when the churches in the West “were relaxing their grip on free public enquiry”, and thus leaving the West to draw ahead of the hitherto more advanced Turks. The implication is that religion made all the difference: the West, secular and advancing; the Ottomans, religious and stagnant.

But these polarities are misleading. Western scientific advances had little to do with the decline of religion, or religion being shunted off into the private sphere. In fact religious enquiry and scientific enquiry often went together in the Middle Ages. The Renaissance was a religious movement as much as an intellectual one. And in 1580 there was little sign of anyone in Europe getting less religious; in fact quite contrary – most of the continent was in the grip of religious fervour and religious wars raged until 1648 at least. As for the Turks falling into decline because of falling behind in science – that is true enough, but the same fate befell the Chinese, who were not Muslim. The real question here is a difficult one: is Islamic culture hospitable to scientific advancement or hostile to it?

On the one hand yes: the early Islamic world was scientifically advanced and was the first to rediscover Aristotle after the dark ages. On the other hand, a place like Afghanistan under the Taliban was truly a cultural desert. So the real question is in fact: is the co-existence of Islamic culture and scientific enquiry purely accidental? That is to say, when one observes a scientifically advanced Islamic culture, is that culture scientifically advanced because it is Muslim, or despite the fact that it is Muslim? Who were the truer Muslims, great scholars like Averroes, or the dunderheads in Istanbul who disapproved of printed books and astronomy? Is there anything in Islam per se that discourages intellectual enquiry, and in particular scientific enquiry?

To answer that question, you would have to examine the Muslim understanding of revelation, something I am not qualified to do. One who has given an answer is the radical Italian priest Gianni Baget Bozzo, whose Di fronte all’islam: il grande conflitto, Genova, Marietti, 2001, is sadly not translated into English. But one can tackle the professor’s seemingly throwaway point that the West’s scientific advances were connected to the decline of ecclesiastical power. Whatever one thinks of the Galileo case, one simply cannot link Christianity with obscurantism except accidentally. There is nothing in the Christian revelation that discourages scientific enquiry; rather there is plenty that encourages it. Try the 18th psalm for starters. Again, the concept of revelation the Church teaches does not make scientific research redundant. We can never claim, and we simply do not believe, that because God has spoken we can do without science. God has spoken, but the world has its own meaning too. He created it, but he created it with its own autonomy. To believe in God is not to think the world unimportant or unworthy of attention. Quite the contrary. The professor seems to believe in a dichotomy between God and world, a dichotomy that does not exist. You do not have to plump for one or the other. It’s never either/or; it’s always both/and.

As for the Turks and their decline, that is a huge subject I will tackle another day.

  • Anonymous

    It is sad that myths and falsehoods about Christianity’s attitude to science perpetuate, which contrive to ignore the enquiry it promoted and continues to foster, preferring instead to represent the Church as backward-looking and incurably incurious.

    It bears repeating: much complacency of thought still stems from self-serving propaganda, from the 16th to 19th centuries – politically compromised clichés which prevail even to this day – from shibboleths about the Inquisition to those which derogate the Church’s attitude to science (e.g., the re-cycling of distorted narratives, such as that surrounding Galileo, which make science appear incompatible with traditional Christian faith – which, of course, it wasn’t and isn’t) whilst ignoring the literally hundreds of scientists, including priests, religious and lay, not to mention the many major figures, whose contributions to science have not been compromised by either their allegiance to the faith or to the Church.

    Indeed, I wonder where post-18th century Enlightenment Europe would be today if, for example, over-zealous Protestant insistence on the literal interpretation of Scripture as the only source of truth had not been resisted by the Catholic insistence that it wasn’t?

  • ms catholic state

    If Christianity was detrimental to the development of science……then science would have flourished far from the Church’s influence ie in China for instance. But science flourished in Christian Europe…….at lightening pace…..right under the nose and often the patronage of the Church.

    Some people date 1277 as the birth of modern science when the Bishop of Paris forbade the teaching of some of Aristotle’s false scientific and philosophical theories which had been misleading scientists for centuries. Within decades…..science began to flourish. And the rest is history. Google ‘The Condemnations of 1277′.

  • ms catholic state

    If Christianity was detrimental to the development of science……then science would have flourished far from the Church’s influence ie in China for instance. But science flourished in Christian Europe…….at lightening pace…..right under the nose and often the patronage of the Church.

    Some people date 1277 as the birth of modern science when the Bishop of Paris forbade the teaching of some of Aristotle’s false scientific and philosophical theories which had been misleading scientists for centuries. Within decades…..science began to flourish. And the rest is history. Google ‘The Condemnations of 1277′.

  • Anonymous

    The western flavor of religion isn’t opposed to science, well, not all science. Just the parts that disagree with the church’s view of the world.

    Gallileo discovers the earth isn’t flat and isn’t the center of the universe when the church insisted for over a millenia that it was? Can’t have any of that, can we?

    Darwin discovers that humans are primates, linked genetically to one degree or another with virtually every other life form on earth? But what about the Garden of Eden, then? Perish the thought!

    Geological and archaeological research shows that the Earth is a billion years old? Good gracious, no… I thought the Biblical lineage traced us back to Adam and Even in 6,000 years?

    Psychology and common decency shows us that homosexuality isn’t a mental disorder? Did the Bible say to kill or exile homosexuals again?

    Like it or not, the ecclesiastical response to scientific progress (as with change in any sense) is only condoned when it agrees with the church’s teachings. Just because there was no mass “stifling” doesn’t mean that none occurred.

  • ms catholic state

    Where in the Holy Bible does it say the Earth is 6,000 years of age?! And homosexual activity is not a mental disorder…..but a sin. Darwin’s theory is still only a theory…..not exact science……..and haven’t you ever heard of figurative language which is most likely the style of writing employed in Genesis ie mystical and methaphorical.

    Science and Christianity go hand in hand……..history shows this. And Christians have proven themselves to be the master scientists. I don’t like to boast……but credit where credit is due!

  • Anonymous

    Niall Ferguson should make Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation mandatory reading this Lent.
    Clarke writes that western civilisation was basically the creation of the Church.
    He should also read ‘How the Catholic Church built Western Civilisation’ by Thomas E Woods and ‘Those Terrible Middle Ages’ by Regine Pernoud.
    It is regrettable that revisionists like Ferguson will become more fashionable and prominent and get away with more of these silly ideas.
    But Ferguson predicts the demographic decline of western Europe in the not too distant future.
    I think he may be right but he may not agree that this could be due in part to the destruction of traditional Christian morality.

  • English96

    The Bible provides the foundation for scientific endeavour. It tells us to fill the earth and subdue it. It tells us that the earth has been given by God to man. In every non Judaeo Christian society people are prevented by fear from treating the earth as their own. They believe that if they do so they will be upsetting ghosts and goblins. That is why the Christian west led the world in science and technology.

  • brian morris

    This is an ancient canard,popular since the so-called “Enlightenment”…it is no coincidence that Islam has produced no scientific discovery since the 7th century.Why is it that people like Professor Fergusson,who think of themselves as Conservative,denigrate Catholicism,which is the only rational basis for an ordered society?

  • ms catholic state

    No one could logically think that the demographic decline of Europe was due to anything other than the destruction of Christian morality……..and it’s replacement with self-seeking secularism including legalised abortion and contraception. To think otherwise is totally illogical and motivated by anti-Christian sentiments.

  • ms catholic state

    Because Brian……they are Secularists…..not Christians. In fact they are working to an anti-Christian agenda.

  • DDMcGinnity

    Regarding Professor Niall Ferguson,
    May I suggest that we forget about history, philosophy or theology. Niall Ferguson is neither right or wrong, he is a businessman and stands to gain alot of money as prestige from his programme. I enjoy the programme and it is very well made, but I do not have to accept his contemporary, skewed approach to religion. Let him say as he wishes about the church as thousands of others have done before him. Most of them are forgotten and the church is still going. My mother said, “God is a tough guy and he has been around a long time, and he knows all the tricks, so don’t worry about what other people say against him”. She was right: God is still going.

  • Semper Fidelis

    Absolutely correct Diarmuid. Ferguson’s programme is beyond parody. In addition to Prof. Thomas Woods book you refer to, a similar analysis is provided by Prof. Rodney Stark in ” The Victory of Reason : How Christianity Led To western Success “. Ferguson belongs to the infantile school of history.

  • Danielle

    You are exactly right and Ferguson is exactly wrong, which is why he is on TV and you’re not.

  • Ratbag

    Ferguson and Dawkins dine out on their ‘professor’ titles for their own agenda, their delusions of grandeur to spew out their anti-Catholic/Christian agenda with no basis or even a tentative grasp on the truth or the facts. They actually give the impression that they know diddly squittle!

    Have they deliberately stamp on the facts that many Catholics have contributed to medicine and science… like Ampere, Marconi, Pasteur… the list goes on.

  • Ratbag

    Ferguson and Dawkins dine out on their ‘professor’ titles for their own agenda, their delusions of grandeur to spew out their anti-Catholic/Christian agenda with no basis or even a tentative grasp on the truth or the facts. They actually give the impression that they know diddly squittle!

    Have they deliberately stamp on the facts that many Catholics have contributed to medicine and science… like Ampere, Marconi, Pasteur… the list goes on.

  • DBMcGinnity

    Georges-Henri Lemaitre was the father of the Big Bang Theory . He was elected as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1936 and was far on advance of other scientists on the theory of the expanding universe. He purported that the world was not created, but is still being created, and that is what accounts for perpetual change.

    It does not help for people who claim to be commited christians to make ungracious or insulting remarks about Neill Ferguson or Richard Dawkins. They are both accomplished and erudite scientists. Mr Dawkins allows his emotions to interfere with logic insofar that he seems to be “against” religion instead of being “for” science.

    If we resort to insults and name calling instead of reasoning with those with whom we do not agree, then these people are quite justified in not accepting our point of view. Expressions of blind religious zeal does not further the advancement of The Roman Catholic Church. The terms right and wrong are subjective emotional concepts

  • Bede

    A good book on the Church and Science, including the Middle Ages and the truth about Galileo’s trial is God’s Philosophers: How the Medeival World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science. Highly readable too.

  • DBMcGinnity

    Thank you Bede The reviews of this book are excellent and I have just ordered it and I will enjoy reading it.
    God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science by James Hannam
    Hardcover: 320 pages Publisher: Icon Books Ltd; 1st edition (6 Aug 2009) Language English ISBN-10: 1848310706 ISBN-13: 978-1848310704

    Biography of James Hannam copied from Amazon .
    James Hannam took a Physics degree at Oxford before training as an accountant. He enjoyed a successful career in the City, mainly financing film production, but harboured ambitions to write about the history of science. In 2001, he started a part time MA at Birkbeck College, London in Historical Research. The experience only served to further whet his appetite for the subject. In 2003, he was accepted at Cambridge to read a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science. His thesis on the decline of medieval learning during the sixteenth century was completed in 2008. In the meantime, he also worked on his book for the general reader, “God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundation of Modern Science” which was published by Icon in 2009. It was shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books in 2010. James has also written for various magazines and newspapers including the Spectator, History Today, Standpoint and New Scientist.

  • Ratbag

    Richard Dawkins and Neill Ferguson were – and still are – ungracious and insulting about faith… Dawkins spares no vitriol or blasphemy about the Roman Catholic faith or anyone who follows it.

    Being a committed Christian indeed means being gracious, uninsulting and forgiving… but ‘these two’ are unrepentant and unwilling to enter into a civilised dialogue about matters of faith and other matters. It’s laughabel that one minute, Catholics are upbraided for not speaking out against these attacks and many others that we are subjected to – the next, the minute we fight fire with fire we are called ‘ungracious and insulting’

    For your information, DBMcGinnity, this is the only language they understand so the only way to get through is… speak the same language they use when they insult and are ungracious about us!

    So-called learned people like these are warping and conveniently downplaying the part Christianity/Roman Catholic Church plays in science. This is not just unimpartial, it it dangerous.

    There is even a patron saint of scientitsts – St. Albert the Great.

  • Ratbag

    Sorry, I’ve just read my typo – the patron saint of scientists is St Albert the Great.

    Profuse apologies, but there is no facility where I can edit or correct my comments on this board…

    PS: Oh, and a monk called Francis Bacon did scientific experiments…

  • DBMcGinnity

    Dear Mr Ratbag
    Things have not changed very much in sixty years. I recall The Superior Christian Brother giving instruction to a new Brother. He said “Pain and fear this is the only language they understand so that is the only way to get through to them”. I would advocate using kindness, reassurance, dialogue, reason and logic as a tool for change or to get through to them, as you put it.

    I have met both of these men and i have listened to them, and they are not monsters. Mr Dawkins asked a vociferous bigoted zealot who was heckling him. Do you believe in life hereafter? The zealot bumptiously said, “Yes I do”. Mr Dawkins then asked him to explain what has happened to the souls of the head-hunters who lived in Borneo twenty thousand years ago, and to the souls of all those South American Tribes who have never heard of God or Jesus Christ, Where are the souls of the trillions of atheists, pagans and savages who have existed since the dawn of time, but never heard of Jesus? Why do they not visit us”? The poor zealot could not begin to give a reasoned cogent answer, and ended up looking most ridiculous. How would you have answered Mr Dawkins question with reason, logic and conviction?

  • Catholic Reasoner

    If you would actually care to read a history book you would notice that virtually nobody agreed with the heliocentric theory to begin with. Religious and secular philiosophers alike had, until then all believed in Ptolomey’s Universe and it was the lot of them that disagreed. Added to that Darwinism has yet to be proved – we still have Darwin’s doubt; we have no complete fossil record of evolution and no evidenct directly contradicting the story of creation. We’ll all know who is right about religion when we die but until then, if you must insult religion, at least have the decency to insult it on the basis of actual fact. (Also to anyone else all of the pro-Christian comments on this newspaper signed “Anonymous” were posted by me.)

  • Catholic Reasoner

    You are right of course sir about the New Atheists’ inability to say a positive word about religion but I have to say that we must avoid stooping to the same level. If people begin to stray simply because of being insulted then we must simply tell them that faith is nothing to be ashamed of and for the New Atheists we must simply allow them their fun at insulting us and then put forward our justification and the reasoning behind Christian faith (for this I would recommend the debates and books of Professor John Lennox.)

  • DBMcGinnity

    All I know about God and Jesus Christ is from personal experience. In Ireland, I learned that pain suffering, injustice and greed were associated with the Roman Catholic Church. It was like that sixty years ago and it is even worse today as the facts show. Ireland is a rotten place thanks to the Roman Catholic Church

    Two days before my eight birthday it was announced that Pius XII had declared that the Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul. When the zealous Christian Brother announced this to the class, I asked (because I had read a children’s book on astronomy and knew that ther was no oxygen in space) “how does she breathe and eat?”. The response was a thump with his fist on the left side of my head that burst my ear drum and left me permanently damaged. Two years later, with my father I went into a Presbyterian Church to give flowers in devotionfor their harvest thanksgiving and for this I was publicly beaten in the play ground and ostracised by all as a sinner. For this I was called Protestant Dick

    My suffering are but a mild inconvenience compared to others who were beaten and buggered by the Irish Christian Brothers, some of whom are still alive and are still walking about. I accept Almighty God and the pristine teachings of Jesus Christ more than I did when I was a practicing Catholic. When I see a baby take it’s first steps, or formulate it’s first sentence, I realise that there is more spirituality and love of God than in these simple acts than in all the High Mass’s and Vatican Papal Bulls that were ever issued.

    I do not accept that a group of old men dressed in expensive ostentatious vestments have anything to do with a simple itinerant preacher who preached simplicity, love and charity to the poor. The contemporary Catholic church has complete disregard for the poor. Examine the Masonic Knights of Columbanus in Ireland to prove that the church is in the pocket of the Government, or is it the other way around.

    Catholics must realist that the game of the “body and blood”, and life hereafter (hell, heaven, purgatory and limbo) is up. No logical, thinking, reasoning, educated person can accept this nonsense as the truth.

    I am familiar with the Professor John Lennox and I greatly admire his treatise, but it does not prove anything

  • Ratbag

    And neither is Pope Benedict XVI a monster, yet Dawkins and similar minded ladies and gentlement like him had the neck to saturate the media and come on these pages to deliberately and viciously attack us and our Holy Father prior to his State Visit here.

    I, and many others on these pages, tried reason, dialogue, quoting fact after fact after fact from good reference and resources until we got repetitive strain typing it out – by heaven, we really exercised restraint, logic, conviction and tact…

    They would not have any of it. They persisted with their own entrenched prejudices about us and the Pope and were particularly nasty in their responses to what we had to say for ourselves.

    Why? Because, like the guy who heckled Dawkins, they had no answers.

    Unlike the Dawkins heckler, they did not keep their fingers off their computer keyboards… instead, they resorted to the sort of nastiness that would make one sick. Any respect for opinions expressed were lost for good.

    I remember thinking, during those times, that if the Holy Father could sue for defamation of character, libel and slander, he’d be far richer than Bill Gates with all the compensation that would be paid to him.

    He won’t because he is ABOVE all that.

    The moment Pope Benedict XVI touched Scottish soil until he flew home from Birmingham Airport, Dawkins and Co were ‘not singing anymore’. The Pope did not mince his words whilst he was here. He was reasoned and measured yet gentle and courageous. The visit was a success.

    Dawkins comes across as invalidating, patronising, arrogant and smug. If he had a more reasonable, personable side to him, then fine. I’d agree to differ.

    But, from what I’ve seen, read and heard of him – he hasn’t.

    I would neither waste my time nor waste my breath going to any of his meetings.

    If I want a good laugh, I’ll go to professionals who know the comedian’s craft inside out – not amateurs.

    So, Dawkins wants to know what happened to the souls you mentioned. You want ME to answer that?

    Neither you nor Dawkins will get the answer to that question from me. I will neither hazard a guess nor bluff my way out of answering it. This is categorically NOT a cop-out because I do not do cop-outs.

    I will not take 50/50 nor ask the audience nor phone a friend. I will not send him nor you anything by way of an answer on a postcard – except the postage stamp.

    Why?

    Well, someone far, far greater than little me has the answer to that question.

    God Himself.

    I am NOT God.

  • WeMust Resist

    Judaism was the first religion to believe that God was rational, and humans are allowed to be rational. In Job 23 the author imagines a dialogue between Job and God. “I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments….He would give heed to me.There an upright man could reason with him.” In Job 38 God replies “I will question you, and you shall answer me.” Ditto in Job 40. So God orders humans to be rational and to think. Job is the Bible’s oldest book. You can tell because it speaks as if Moses had not been born. Christianity and Judaism are the only religions to have such confidence in argument and rationality. No other religions in the world come close. Does atheism have such faith in rationality? No, because each atheist is allowed a different attitude. An atheist can be a credulous fool, or a stupid skeptic, or a rational sceptic. There is no one rule, no orthodox approach to the question. In Islam no disobedience of Mohammed or Allah is permitted, so free enquiry must be limited to what is already approved. So Ferguson is wrong to link a rise in science to a decline in Christianity. Without a Judean/Christian support science cannot take root. The sower who went to sow did not expect all the seed to take root. He knew some seeds would take root and some would not.

  • DBMcGinnity

    Mr Ratbag
    You are very clearly a very committed Catholic and I genuinely admire your religious zeal. I wholeheartedly accept your point of view. I accept that everyone has the right to be right, and everyone has the right to be wrong. In the great scheme of things, good and bad, right and wrong, right and left, do not matter one jot; they are just superfluous flummery.

    You and me, and Richard Dawkins, and all the Popes and Bishops, Emperors and Kings, The Bible, the Koran, The Mona Lisa, The Vatican etc., etc., are just an arrangement of carbon molecules, and everything including us, can be rearranged in an instant. My parents are long dead and are dust, and prayers and masses being said for something that does not exist is a waste of time and money. They are gone.

    If you put the Bible, The Koran, and all the Holy Books and relics that ever were in the fire, they will burn, and turn to dust and, blow away in the wind, with their molecules changed. Some of these molecules may land in a field and change into grass to be eaten by a cow, and end up in someone’s coffee as milk, or, on someone’s plate as roast beef. That is God’s plan and it includes everyone of all ideological persuasions

    These wonderful molecular miracles are the work of God, The Dead are Dust, and that I think, is it.

  • C.O.

    ummm…. here’s a question.

    The author states “There is nothing in the Christian revelation that discourages scientific enquiry; rather there is plenty that encourages it. Try the 18th psalm for starters.”

    I’ve read the 18th Psalm. I don’t get the author’s point. I don’t see what that Psalm has to do about scientific enquiry Can anyone explain it?

    Thanks!

  • Alexander

    “The heavens proclaim the glory of God…..” which is the opening of the 18th psalm (using the Catholic numbering) is surely motivation enough to study the natural world. The point was that wonder at the glory of nature is something that people of faith and people of science share.

  • NevilleDeVilliers

    Anthony Patrick, you are a hopeless Ultramontanist. Buried in the 16th century and Benedict XVI’s idea of progress and beauty. Like him, forever cocooned in the Council of Trent.

  • NevilleDeVilliers

    Just as Islam today has a significant community bent on the destruction of western knowledge and inquiry, so too, the Roman Church has been guilty of exactly the same thing and it still is. The torch was passed from most of Catholic Europe to the emerging Protestant powers by the 17th century. Biblical research and scholarship in general also passed to the Protestant powers, where with few exceptions, it lies today.

    France has always been a noteworthy exception, but then again, France has a long history of dismissing popes and bishops, and then doing precisely what it wants. La belle France, the last great refuge for Arianism and freedom of thought. The only antidote to the hallmark of Roman Catholicism, freedom FROM thought.

  • Ratbag

    Indeed, we are made up of molecules, microbes and stuff – God is marvellous, isn’t he? – but the finest minds in the world cannot put one’s soul or one’s faith under a microscope, in a petrie dish, bubbled up in a Liebig condenser,burned on a Bunsen burner or tested on mice.

    As The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI says: ‘We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary’.

    If the world starts thinking of humanity in terms of molecules and nowt else, then we are on a slippery slope of being disposable like plastic bags, sweet wrappers… used until rendered redundant. I have a horrible feeling that it is slowly coming to pass…unless the world catches itself on soon!

    So, nope, I WON’T be writing in my will that, when I die, the council takes me off in a wheelie bin to the recycling centre to be made into worm food.

    It’ll be a Requiem Mass and a good knees-up afterwards…

  • DBMcGinnity

    Living has to be worth more than blind obedience, God gave us the free will to choose.

    I was having a chat with a erudite space biologist and astronomer. He said “Only a short time ago we (the profession) were sure of the big bang theory and the beginning of life. We were even going to find the origin of God. Also, we were going to replicate the big bang synthetically with CERN. Now it seems that there may have been millions or trillions of big bangs. So the point is we do not know anything”.

    Maybe this world is but one molecule of God. Maybe the universe is but one molecule of something else that is God, and so on. It could be! So, how can you be so sure of something, that you can prognosticate about what is right, and affirm your self-righteousness with such frightening missionary zeal?.

    The opposite of faith is certainty, because certainty is immutable, and cannot be changed, a bit like the Koran. Faith is flexible and can change in the light of new information like what happened to St Paul, St Augustine and many more. Is that not what conversion is about; a change of opinion, attitude and behaviour, about being enlightened, or am I wrong like everyone else?

    Muslims state that only they know the truth and that they are right. They could be just as right as you. Maybe all religious people who worship an absurd deity are just vulnerable creatures, without the self confidence or self assurance to be independent and self fulfilled. They need to be told what to do and to abide by the rules of someone else’s authority: The Pope. Living has to be worth more than that.

  • Anonymous

    You have misconceptions about Catholicism.

    Had Arianism succeeded, science would not have.

    Catholicism is sacramental, The incarnation is God operating through the physical world of matter, space and time.

    Modernism is anti-realist. It tries to escape reality by re-constructing gender, the world of form and matter, seeks death through abortion, euthanasia etc. It seeks to escape.

    In The book “Real Presences” by George Steiner, a non-Catholic argues in favour of the Catholic worldview being good for civilization.

  • Anonymous

    Neville,

    You are back in the 1st century. Just read Justin Martyr’s Apologia.

  • Anonymous

    A reading of the works of Father Stanley Jaki (R.I.P.) seems to be called for.

    Or perhaps of this: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/M/bo3644646.html

  • Jacob

    Somehow I’m not surprised anymore when people who hate Christianity write a book which suggests that Christianity is a heathen myth. (Yet this people commit mass ritual infanticide and worship some of the biggest idiots society has ever produced.)

  • Jacob

    these people*

  • Ratbag

    Are you telling me, in short, that I should ‘get a life’? Tell you what, I’ll go to the shops and buy a tin of Brasso for yet another neck…yours.

    Since when has healthy obedience become something to be derided and sneered at? It’s a value and a quality to be respected.

    My obedience to The Pope and the Church is not blind. I’m a balanced, informed individual, not some nodding dog in the back of someone’s motor between the ‘baby on board’ sign and the sticker which says ‘my other car’s a Popemobile’!

    It is possible – and healthy – to be self-assured, confident and have a faith.

    People with no belief do NOT have the monopoly on self-assuredness and self-confidence.

  • DBMcGinnity

    Mr Ratbag
    I’ll go to the shops and buy a tin of Brasso
    I am completely lost as to what you mean. I can only assume that you are using Brasso to polish buttons of church brass candlesticks. That is a noble and altruistic thing to want to do, but what the hell does it have to go with my assertion. I am with it now, when the church accoutrements are retrieved for the rivers mentioned, you want to restore them to their pristine condition. I am sorry, they should not have been thrown in the river, they should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Matthew 19:21 How astute you are.

  • Knight

    I would suggest you read Stanley Jaki’s work: A MIND’S MATTER. He also wrote other works specifically about how Catholicism was essential to the rise of science, not incidental to it.

  • Little Black Censored

    Indeed. Isn’t the very notion of a Universe, one system obeying universal laws, based on religious faith? Take that away, and there would have been no reason for scientists to exist.

  • http://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/ berenike

    An excellently done book is James Hannam’s “God’s Philosophers”, on the roots of modern science in Those Horrible Middle Ages :)

  • http://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/ berenike

    whoops, sorry, didn’t see this.

  • JoFro

    So you think that Galileo discovered the world was not flat? Yeah, you just lost the argument, dunderhead! Go and read an actual history book and get out of Dawkin’s arse!