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Three Myths of Conflict Between Science and Religion

Brett Nichols

Posted on January 4, 2021 02:46

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I briefly present three myths between science and religion that are prevalent within popular scientific media.

 

During my Grad studies in science and religion, I have learned that there are a number of myths that pervade the airwaves within media and pop culture regarding the relationship between science and religion. However, as my usage of "myth" implies, these viewpoints are untrue towards more complex themes between the two. In light of this discovery, here is a look at three closely related prevailing myths regarding the relationship between science and religion.

1. Science and Religion Historically Have an Uneasy Relationship Interestingly enough, many voices within popular science have presented the idea that science and religion have been completely at odds with each other throughout the development of the former. However, this simply isn't the case. Historian of science, Michael Newton Keas in his book Unbelievablereveals that in many cases it has been religion that has historically promoted the enterprise of science. This promotion ranges from the Babylonian religion and its emphasis on astronomy, continuing into the Greek culture with the presocratics, to the later Galen and Aristotle into both Islamic and Christian believers preserving and revitalizing Greek knowledge within the Middle Ages. Keas points out that this division actually arose within the 19th century through polemics against certain Catholic doctrines. Needless to say, Keas' book is worth a read!

2. Christians Within the Middle Ages (Also Known as the Dark Ages) Caused an Era of Intellectual Stasis.

Many popular scientific voices state that the Middle Ages was an overall hindrance to the progress of science due to the Church's dogmatic authority. However, as stated above, the Middle Ages was a time of revolution–particularly in part to the church. In fact, many tools within modern society that we deem essential arose within the Medieval period. Such innovations including eyeglasses, universities, modern architecture and even our modern understanding of science as the study of natural law were established in the Middle Ages in close association to the Medieval European church.  Now on to the last and most specific myth.

3. Copernicus and Galileo Demoted Humanity in Their Argument for A Heliocentric Galaxy

A myth that Dr. Keas (mentioned in myth 1) addresses directly is what he calls the "Copernican Demotion Myth." The myth states that Copernicus and Galileo respectively questioned the general narrative of the church that is said to argue that humanity (e.g., the earth) was in the center of the universe and that this effectively demotes the position of humanity in the universe. However, the geocentric universe was a Greek idea and it actually meant that the earth is essentially the trash heap of the universe. Ironically, against this myth, Galileo, in particular, used the heliocentric model to promote humanity in the universe against the Greek notion. Though some Christians held onto the Greek view, it had no rooted connection to Christianity.

Unfortunately, these are but abrupt presentations of these myths. Though, if you are interested in further research, please check out the links to the books referenced. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 
Brett Nichols

Posted on January 4, 2021 02:46

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Source: FT

The veteran musician roams to all points of the compass, fusing religion, myth and reality

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