Science and religion

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mark noble
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 11:59 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;172997 wrote:
True one's beliefs are personal. We share this world, though. Sometimes it's good for someone to say: what the heck are you talking about? Both parties can benefit.

That would be my goal for this forum: to somehow end up building each other up without being afraid to set fire to any idea. If it survives the flames, there must be a reason.


Hi Arjuna,

Indeed, question everything, combine ideas, tear Gods from their heavens - shred them and put them firmly back on their relative shelves. But, don't force onto others what they never asked you to, in the first place.

Thank you, Arjuna, and journey well, always.

Mark...
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 05:02 pm
@Jackofalltrades phil,
Jackofalltrades;172882 wrote:
Science and religion - both are ad-hoc understandings of life.
Both are an attempt by mankind to find meanings of the natural world and co-relate them to our sensory and spiritual perceptions.

Science describes what can be observed. Religion attempts to explain what cannot be obesrved.


Thanks for your input. I find it interesting that you distinguish between spiritual and sensual perceptions. In what ways could you or would you further define these terms? For yourself or more generally?

I think highly of a fusion of the spiritual and sensual, but this is not common, in my opinion. Smile
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 05:02 pm
@Arjuna,
Jay;172934 wrote:

Would you be willing to broaden the statement to say that the societies monotheism (Not just Christianity) gave rise to Western science (or science in general)?

The Islamic cultures did have a big part in the development of science.


I am not completely in agreement with Stanley L. Jaki, nevertheless I think it is an argument that needs to be considered, because I think the popular view that science and religion are naturally antagonistic and must be at loggerheads is simplistic and false. Sometimes conflict between them will occur but I am sure it would be better to understand them, as Gould did, as non-overlapping magisteria, rather than regarding religion as primitive science.

As for Islam, it is of course true that Islamic scholars and philosophers from the 'Islamic Golden Age' contributed greatly to science and math, and kept knowledge of the Greek philosophy alive during the European Dark Ages.

Anyway, both these cultures happen to be monotheistic, but I also believe that Buddhism has the potential to provide a progressive spiritual culture, but as it happened, other social and historical factors did not provide the opportunity. And Buddhism is not mono-theistic, in fact it is not even theistic.

I think the key conviction of the higher religions is that the Universe is lawful. I am sure this is the origin of the very idea of scientific law. Now the West wishes to keep the laws but deny the lawgiver. I am not impressed by the result.

Huxley;172973 wrote:
I see the argument as a bit offensive, myself, because it's a big wad of cultural chauvinism, arguing people need Jesus to be curious about the world around them and try to explain what and why it does what it does. Further, Christianity hampered the scientific enterprise in its history, and not in a highly theoretical way -- it threatened people who dared offer explanations about the Cosmos. It's a different beast now-a-days, so I won't hold it against the tradition, but the above argument exhibits some willful negligence, I'd say.



I agree with you in some ways, insofar as there is a degree of cultural chauvinism in Jaki's outlook. One's sympathy with his argument has to be tempered to some degree if one is not actually catholic. But that statement about Christianity hampering the scientific enterprise - I really don't know if that is true. History is a very complex beast, and these kinds of oversimplifications are treacherous. Rel. vs. Sci. is one of those easy dualisms to fall into. There is an interesting recent book called God's Philosophers, by James Hannam, which argues that

Quote:
Medieval people did not think the earth was flat, nor did Columbus 'prove' that it is a sphere. Everyone already knew. The Inquisition burnt nobody for their scientific ideas, nor was Copernicus afraid of persecution. No Pope tried to ban human dissection or the number zero. Medieval thinkers were not uncritical slaves to Aristotle. The Middle Ages were an era of invention and rapid technological change. For example, spectacles, the mechanical clock and the windmill were all invented in thirteenth century Europe. Ideas from the Far East, like printing, gunpowder and the compass were taken further by Europeans than the Chinese had imagined possible. Historians now utterly reject the idea that science and religion have been locked in a great conflict throughout history.


Also, Stanley Jaki had PhD's in both theology and physics. He lectured at Oxford and Yale, delivered the Gifford Lectures in 1974-75, received the Templeton Prize for advancing understanding between religion and science, and there are around 100 books by him or about him still available on Amazon. So whatever else we was, he was no slouch.

---------- Post added 06-05-2010 at 09:24 AM ----------

Huxley;172973 wrote:
Rationality and a rational ethic predate Christianity. See Aristotle and Aurelius (as non-exhaustive examples)


I agree with that too. I personally think the most influential philosopher in Western history was actually Pythagoras. I think you could mount the argument a major reason science arose in the West was because of Greek rationalism in particular, the Pythagorean idea of rationality. Mind you, Pythagoras was also a mystic.

An anti-catholic take would be: that the Church appropriated all the 'good bits' from the traditions which pre-dated it, suppressed and destroyed many elements that did not support its basic dogmas (hermeticism, gnosticism, and so on) and locked the remainder in the vaults of the Vatican, to be made available only to those who were willing to 'sign the contract' (i.e. profess the faith). So, yeah, I don't want to come across as crypto-catholic, because I am really not - but I still reckon the top Catholic intellectuals will run rings around their atheist counterparts.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 07:22 pm
@jack phil,
I have always felt that this man was a great Christian intellectual. His (un-)notion of God was very useful to me.
Nicholas of Kues - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 07:45 pm
@jack phil,
ah yes. My favourite Cusa quote: "The unattainable may only be attained by non-attainment". How Zen is that?

---------- Post added 06-05-2010 at 11:49 AM ----------

From the Wikipedia article:
Quote:
Cusanus said that no perfect circle can exist in the universe (opposing the Aristotelean model, and also Copernicus' later assumption of circular orbits), thus opening the possibility for Kepler's model featuring elliptical orbits of the planets around the Sun.
It would be interesting to know how he came to that view - without the benefit of a telescope!

---------- Post added 06-05-2010 at 11:55 AM ----------

The author of the book I mentioned, 'God's Philosopher's', Dr James Hannam, has a very nice article which summarized some of the key points he makes here: Science Versus Christianity?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 07:57 pm
@jack phil,
jeeprs wrote:
It is an historical fact that modern science did arise in a Christian society and it is also an historical fact that many of the founders of Western science were Christians.


What does that show? I mean, the majority of the world is considered religious, and I believe that Christianity is the world's leading religion. So, the probability that science would become popular in a Christian society seems pretty high. Wouldn't you say? Or did you expect modern science to popularize in some distant part of Anartica by a group of atheists?

By the way, none of what you said shows that modern science couldn't have come to be in a non-Christian society.Why do you think it does?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 08:12 pm
@jack phil,
Actually I think Christianity still outnumbers Islam, mainly due to its popularity in rapidly-growing developing nations, South America and Africa.

If you study the history of philosophy and science, it is evident that up until the second part of the last century, the intellectual milieu was still largely Christian. Of course, this was, as you say, also a matter of history - society was more religious then. But natural philosophy, which is how science was conceived at the time, was in those days a division or part of the wider religious curriculum, which studied 'God's laws' and 'God's creation'.

Whether science could have arisen in the absence of this milieu, we will never know, because it has only happened once. But it didn't happen in China or India, even though between them, they were far ahead of Europe for the 1st millenia A.D. and invented or discovered many scientifically and mathematically significant elements of scientific thinking.

---------- Post added 06-05-2010 at 12:13 PM ----------

I meant 'second part of the 19th Century'....
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 08:14 pm
@jack phil,
jeeprs wrote:
Whether science could have arisen in the absence of this milieu, we will never know, because it has only happened once. But it didn't happen in China or India, even though between them, they were far ahead of Europe for the 1st millenia A.D. and invented or discovered many scientifically and mathematically significant elements of scientific thinking.


So what is your point? What is the significance of modern science popularizing first in Christian societies?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 08:18 pm
@jack phil,
Aristotle didn't check his theory of gravity, because that would be work, and work was for slaves. Perhaps science is largely democratic, and it's arguable that democracy and Christianity are related. Hegel argues that the slave invents a God to put a master above his master, making them both slaves. Eventually society evolves into democracy, or a society where all are citizens. Science's emphasis on consensus may owe a debt to the Christian implication that all are equal before God. Of course the Church is not always friendly to science....
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 08:21 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;173200 wrote:
Aristotle didn't check his theory of gravity, because that would be work, and work was for slaves. Perhaps science is largely democratic, and it's arguable that democracy and Christianity are related. Hegel argues that the slave invents a God to put a master above his master, making them both slaves. Eventually society evolves into democracy, or a society where all are citizens. Science's emphasis on consensus may owe a debt to the Christian implication that all are equal before God. Of course the Church is not always friendly to science....


Consensus is the basis for millions of things, so you would be arguing that Christianity is related to those millions of things. Alright, then Christianity is related to millions of things.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 08:37 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;173196 wrote:
So what is your point? What is the significance of modern science popularizing first in Christian societies?


That the 'religion versus science' dichotomy is simplistic and inaccurate.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 08:40 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;173213 wrote:
That the 'religion versus science' dichotomy is simplistic and inaccurate.


You're saying that, because modern science popularized in a Christian society, it is directly related to Christianity. And I am saying that that is not true. In other words, if your believing the dichotomy not existing is due to a relationship between science and religion, I believe you are wrong.

Or, have I misrepresented your position?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 08:51 pm
@jack phil,
It is a tough argument to fit into single-word sentences, don't you think? I quoted Stanley L. Jaki, who wrote a number of books on it, gave lectures on it, and won the Templeton Prize, which is awarded for those who advance the mutual understanding between science and religion. But, I expect the response of the anti-god-squad to be dismissive and simplistic, and so far, you're going true to form. If you can come up with something other than a sentence or an assertion then it might be worth discussing.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 08:56 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;173219 wrote:
It is a tough argument to fit into single-word sentences, don't you think? I quoted Stanley L. Jaki, who wrote a number of books on it, gave lectures on it, and won the Templeton Prize, which is awarded for those who advance the mutual understanding between science and religion. But, I expect the response of the anti-god-squad to be dismissive and simplistic, and so far, you're going true to form. If you can come up with something other than a sentence or an assertion then it might be worth discussing.


What is dismissive or simplistic about what I have said? If cotton candy became popularized in a Christian society, I would not immediately assume cotton candy had anything to do with Christianity. This has nothing to do with God at all. Even if I was a Christian, I don't think I would draw these odd correlations.

And since you are the one that has made the claim that science is related to Christianity (right?), can you please provide a good reason? And a good reason is not that modern science became popularized in a Christian society (as I have already gone over).
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 09:07 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;173224 wrote:
What is dismissive or simplistic about what I have said? If cotton candy became popularized in a Christian society, I would not immediately assume cotton candy had anything to do with Christianity


Ah! I get it! This is from the same formidable school of argumentation that compares God to Captain Crunch and Mickey Mouse! What can I do, I can see I am outclassed in all respects. I think I will just declare myself defeated and go off to lick my wounds.:surrender:
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 09:11 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;173227 wrote:
Ah! I get it! This is from the same formidable school of argumentation that compares God to Captain Crunch and Mickey Mouse! What can I do, I can see I am outclassed in all respects. I think I will just declare myself defeated and go off to lick my wounds.:surrender:


My point is only that the claim that modern science is related to, or is a direct result of, Christianity, is not supported by modern science becoming popularized in a Christian society. Because, as we know, many things have become popularized in Christian societies, including, I believe, cotton candy. And to say that all those things are all directly related to Christianity is not only wrong, but silly.

Just where do you think I am off base? Don't you see that the conclusion you are drawing is not supported by what you have said?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 09:37 pm
@jack phil,
I think it's arguable that science is an evolution from deism. Once the world is conceived of as the work of a single intelligence, it's not hard to scrap that assumed intelligence and keep the sense of the unity of Nature. Most of the Enlightenment thinkers were deists. Now, I am not a deist. It's all just concepts, concepts, concepts. Science is pragmatically justified on matters that tend toward the objective. The religious traditions contain, under a layer of superstitious misunderstanding, a deep science of the human psyche, and this psyche is not easily quantified, therefore the reliance on metaphor and symbolic narrative.

Personally, I don't think religion should concern itself too much with science, unless we are talking about human goals, and the way we apply science. Whether it's literature, music, or religious myth, we are going to seek something or another to help us realize our emotional potential. The question of value is serious for humanity. Technology alone will not ensure the survival of a group.
 
Soul Brother
 
Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2010 04:49 am
@ughaibu,
Krumple. I hope you did not in any way take offense from what I said to you, you sound as though you are almost belligerent and truculent in a quarrel.

Krumple;172978 wrote:
You exhibit the classic switch logic argument. Where you state the case that you know that god is omnipotent, yet if I were to deduce any traits you tell me I can't determine them. I like how you can place any traits that you want to without anything to back them up, but as soon as I try to reason them out, you tell me that I can't. Very typical and your own argument defeats your own position. How is it you know with absolute certainty that a god is omnipotent?


forgive me but I am ignorant as to a "classic" switch logic argument as I am to any logic arguments. I NEVER stated that I know of God being omnipotent I was simply following with the already affirmed assumption that he is, can you differentiate? Next, my argument is simple, and I do not understand why you cannot see this, it is logical that if something is greater, then that which is lesser cannot better in any way that which is greater, say if numbers could comprehend other values that are lesser or equal to them selves, then obviously 1 cannot possibly comprehend more than infinity, how can you disagree with this?

Krumple;172978 wrote:
If a god required more than one day to create something then by that very definition it can not be omnipotent. Operating at max is a pointless argument because where is your reference to how much power it would have and why would it need to dial it back? Makes absolutely no sense. Just like if it were omnipotent why would it need to rest? It contradicts the definition of omnipotence.


As I said earlier you are but assuming that this God required more than one day, this God never told you that, nor could we ever find out, if we are incapable of asserting as to every reason for why Leonardo took 7 years to paint mona lisa then how could we be so confident as to affirm that this god had not his reasons? if we cannot know that of a mortal being how could we possibly know that of an omnipotent being? ok next, you say that Operating at max is a pointless argument because where is your reference to how much power it would have, first I did not say that he was operating at max I said the opposite, I think operating at max is your argument no? either way I do not understand what this even means, If I am to run my car with the boost controller set to only 15 psi therefore not operating at max (which is what I think you implied) why would I need a reference of how much power it would make to do so? do you think had I not provided reference to how much power it would have the engine would shut down? what do you mean by providing a reference to how much power it would have? how much power when? at full capacity, at a lower capacity? this is like me asking how tall is a human being, but for this to make any sense I would have to specify my question more accurately e.g at age 9 at age 20 e.t.c. So as you see even if providing reference to how much power a system makes made any sense and it was now (hypothetically) a requirement in the physical world to provide reference, why would this be of any concern to a being who is omnipotent and not bound by physical laws? are you again forgetting the meaning of omnipotent? Next, I do not think an omnipotent being would actually need to rest as you said, do you? Either how, your main argument here is that the being cannot be omnipotent since it took him more than one day, but I do not even understand why you would think that this argument has any validity, Mark Noble already pointed out and made clear in page 6 of this thread that these days, however many they were are of no relevance since they are but a human conception of what a day is. So we can see that this entire second argument is a complete failure, now lets move to the third.

Krumple;172978 wrote:
I also like how you take a finite being as an example of why a omnipotent god would not create something in one take. The irony is screaming there especially when you first make the claim that I could not use my finite understanding to comprehend an omnipotent god but then you turn around and use it in your own argument. So what ever works for you, it is reasonable but if anyone else uses it to point out the absurdity in your reasoning then it is a fault.


Most of this is explicable by my first argument above. It is not irony because you can also do this, you can conceive of something greater than you as being greater than you however you cannot conceive of something greater than you being lesser than you, remember 1 cannot possibly conceive of infinity as lesser but only greater. I.e you (a mortal) cannot conceive of a God who is omnipotent ass lesser or equal to you (as you did) but only higher. So you see it is not a matter of irony, I am sure that if you read back through it now you will understand.

Oh and just one thing, if you do indeed decide to reply back, please try to adhere to answering my questions, as I did to yours.

Thank you.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2010 08:31 am
@Soul Brother,
Soul Brother;173319 wrote:
Krumple. I hope you did not in any way take offense from what I said to you, you sound as though you are almost belligerent and truculent in a quarrel.


Na, I try to be as direct as possible, and I don't dance around the issue to try to find words that don't have any bite to them. I just try to use as few as possible without losing the meaning. Sometimes that might come across as if I am wound up, I'm not, in fact I am just the opposite. I rarely ever get annoyed by things, in fact almost to a fault.


Soul Brother;173319 wrote:

forgive me but I am ignorant as to a "classic" switch logic argument as I am to any logic arguments. I NEVER stated that I know of God being omnipotent I was simply following with the already affirmed assumption that he is, can you differentiate?


Yeah, you assume that everyone would just accept the premise that a god or gods have omnipotence. When I argue, it is a factor I keep in mind that it has never been proven that a god would have it. So you have to approach the argument as if it is not a fact. I rarely accept it as a fact in the argument, however; when someone counter argues in this case, typically they use the omnipotence argument as you did.

Soul Brother;173319 wrote:

Next, my argument is simple, and I do not understand why you cannot see this, it is logical that if something is greater, then that which is lesser cannot better in any way that which is greater, say if numbers could comprehend other values that are lesser or equal to them selves, then obviously 1 cannot possibly comprehend more than infinity, how can you disagree with this?


But who is to say that that being is that much greater? You are assuming again that it would have to be a massively greater being to create the universe. But why does that have to be the case? Provide for me something that substantiates the claim that a god would have to be immensely more powerful to a point we couldn't comprehend. It seems as though we figured out a lot of things about the universe, what's to say we won't discover more? Or find ways to manipulate them at the same time?

Soul Brother;173319 wrote:

As I said earlier you are but assuming that this God required more than one day, this God never told you that, nor could we ever find out, if we are incapable of asserting as to every reason for why Leonardo took 7 years to paint mona lisa then how could we be so confident as to affirm that this god had not his reasons?


Okay well what would those reasons be? Is he paid by the hour so he wants to spread out the work over the week, where as he could have completed it all in one day? What is the motivation? Does it drain it's power, it's ability to create things so it can't do it all at once? If that is the case then it does not live up to the omnipotence definition. So what is the reason? Is it just because he wanted to, without any reason? That doesn't rationally make sense.

Soul Brother;173319 wrote:

if we cannot know that of a mortal being how could we possibly know that of an omnipotent being? ok next, you say that Operating at max is a pointless argument because where is your reference to how much power it would have, first I did not say that he was operating at max I said the opposite, I think operating at max is your argument no? either way I do not understand what this even means, If I am to run my car with the boost controller set to only 15 psi therefore not operating at max (which is what I think you implied) why would I need a reference of how much power it would make to do so? do you think had I not provided reference to how much power it would have the engine would shut down? what do you mean by providing a reference to how much power it would have? how much power when? at full capacity, at a lower capacity? this is like me asking how tall is a human being, but for this to make any sense I would have to specify my question more accurately e.g at age 9 at age 20 e.t.c. So as you see even if providing reference to how much power a system makes made any sense and it was now (hypothetically) a requirement in the physical world to provide reference, why would this be of any concern to a being who is omnipotent and not bound by physical laws?


There you go again, making assumptions without any proofs. How do you know that this god is not bound by physical laws? It is funny that you make all these assertions about me not being able to verify the amount of power or ability a god would have but then turn around and make the claim, "not bound by physical laws." How can you make that claim if I can not varify that god's power or ability?

Soul Brother;173319 wrote:

are you again forgetting the meaning of omnipotent?


I haven't forgot, you have not confirmed that any god or gods actually exhibit omnipotence. You are guessing that a god would be, but where is your work? You just keep rehashing it as if I accept the argument that a god or gods are omnipotent in nature. I don't accept it as being the case until you prove it to me.

Soul Brother;173319 wrote:

Next, I do not think an omnipotent being would actually need to rest as you said, do you? Either how, your main argument here is that the being cannot be omnipotent since it took him more than one day, but I do not even understand why you would think that this argument has any validity, Mark Noble already pointed out and made clear in page 6 of this thread that these days, however many they were are of no relevance since they are but a human conception of what a day is. So we can see that this entire second argument is a complete failure, now lets move to the third.


It was not I who made the reference to days. It is a bibilical construct and I would agree with you that the reference is flawed but so is the concept of god itself. It is clear by the story in gensis that it is nothing more than the writings of someone making up the story from a human perspective. There is absolutely no validity in the story at all that would lead me to believe that this is how a god did it or that even a god exists and inspired this work. If a god did inspire the work then it did a horrible job at inspiring it.

Soul Brother;173319 wrote:

Most of this is explicable by my first argument above. It is not irony because you can also do this, you can conceive of something greater than you as being greater than you however you cannot conceive of something greater than you being lesser than you, remember 1 cannot possibly conceive of infinity as lesser but only greater. I.e you (a mortal) cannot conceive of a God who is omnipotent ass lesser or equal to you (as you did) but only higher. So you see it is not a matter of irony, I am sure that if you read back through it now you will understand.


Sure I can. If I view a god that would send a person to damnation for a simple mistake like refusing to believe in it's existence. In my opinion I would be far loftier if I said that I would never place any being into that kind of situation. I would consider anyone who did not believe or follow such a god as being loftier than that god in morality. So you can make the claim that that god also has omnipotence but if this is how it functions and this is how it has designed things. Then by all means I am far better in this regard than that god. Just because you have some mighty power it does not make you right or just.

Soul Brother;173319 wrote:

Oh and just one thing, if you do indeed decide to reply back, please try to adhere to answering my questions, as I did to yours.


Well I try to answer any questions posed to me, but there might be times when I might miss one or two. So if I have missed any of your questions that you find important to the discussion feel free to point them out, or ask them again and I'll respond to them.
 
Jacques Maritain
 
Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2010 11:07 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;173229 wrote:
My point is only that the claim that modern science is related to, or is a direct result of, Christianity, is not supported by modern science becoming popularized in a Christian society. Because, as we know, many things have become popularized in Christian societies, including, I believe, cotton candy. And to say that all those things are all directly related to Christianity is not only wrong, but silly.

Just where do you think I am off base? Don't you see that the conclusion you are drawing is not supported by what you have said?

Allow me to cite one historian of Science, David Lindberg:
Quote:

But Christian theology impinged on science in return and altered its character. Certain aspects of Aristotelian natural philosophy, such as its determinism (everything that will occur must occur) and its denial of a creation, were diametrically opposed to central Christian doctrines. The ensuing struggles (which were not between Christianity and science, but rather, one must note, among Christians holding different views of the proper relationship between Christianity and science) led ultimately to a theological condemnation of these and other philosophical propositions in 1270 and 1277. The complexity of the encounter between Christianity and science is illustrated nicely by the aftermath of these condemnations.13 The condemnations did place a lid on certain lines of scientific speculation; henceforth, philosophers or scientists were forbidden to uphold certain Aristotelian positions and forced to tread lightly whenever they approached theological territory. But while losing certain freedoms, they gained others. Theological condemnation of a considerable body of Aristotelian propositions weakened the heavy hand of Aristotelian authority and freed scientists to speculate in non- Aristotelian and anti-Aristotelian directions. Thus we see in the fourteenth century a steady stream of attacks on various Aristotelian doctrines and a veritable orgy of speculation about non-Aristotelian possibilities, including such notions as the rotation of the earth on its axis.

The condemnations affected the scientific enterprise in another way. One of the central themes of the condemnations was the proclamation of God's absolute sovereignty and omnipotence. From this doctrine fol- lows the absolute contingency of nature-that the course of nature can be anything God chooses it to be and, therefore, that humankind's acquired knowledge of natural causes can be overturned simply by God's decision to do things otherwise. The condemnations thus generated a certain skepticism about the ability of the human mind to penetrate with certainty to the underlying causes of observed events; this attitude encouraged the view that science should restrict its attention to empirical fact and ignore the search for underlying causes, thus influencing the development of scientific methodology. Four hundred years later, the idea of God's absolute sovereignty and its corollary, the total passivity of matter, became central features of Isaac Newton's mechanistic world view.14

DAVID C


The irony that the notion that man should restrict himself to empirical facts was originally derived from a theological understanding of man's limited ability to grasp God's nature.
 
 

 
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