The Church and Science/Scientists


#1

I had a conversation the other day with a friend who is agnostic/atheist (he can’t make up his mind). He maintains that the Church has shown in the past that it has tried to suppress advances in science and discovery and may continue to do so (he has no items to support the second half of his statement). Of course he points to Galileo which I am quite familiar with I got him to at least admit that much of what is written about the incident is exaggeration (torture, imprisonment, etc). But he also referred to Giordano Bruno and Roger Bacon as other examples. I wasn’t aware of Bruno nor Bacon but upon reviewing information I have found on those men they appear no different than Galileo, except that Bruno was burned at the stake. In all 3 cases the men listed were brought before an inquisition not because of their science but because of their problems concerning theology. The Church obviously has not had a good PR track record concerning these issues so my question is to any scientists out there. How do you view the Church’s history regarding scientific study and advancement. Was it detrimental to scientific advancement? Are you aware of the stories about the men I mentioned and have those stories affected your views on how the Church treats science/scientists? Do you know of any other similar incidences and do they follow the same pattern (tried for theological problems and not for scientific discoveries)?


#2

[quote="talter, post:1, topic:91623"]
I had a conversation the other day with a friend who is agnostic/atheist (he can't make up his mind). He maintains that the Church has shown in the past that it has tried to suppress advances in science and discovery and may continue to do so (he has no items to support the second half of his statement). Of course he points to Galileo which I am quite familiar with I got him to at least admit that much of what is written about the incident is exaggeration (torture, imprisonment, etc). But he also referred to Giordano Bruno and Roger Bacon as other examples. I wasn't aware of Bruno nor Bacon but upon reviewing information I have found on those men they appear no different than Galileo, except that Bruno was burned at the stake. In all 3 cases the men listed were brought before an inquisition not because of their science but because of their problems concerning theology. The Church obviously has not had a good PR track record concerning these issues so my question is to any scientists out there. How do you view the Church's history regarding scientific study and advancement. Was it detrimental to scientific advancement? Are you aware of the stories about the men I mentioned and have those stories affected your views on how the Church treats science/scientists? Do you know of any other similar incidences and do they follow the same pattern (tried for theological problems and not for scientific discoveries)?

[/quote]

I am not a Scientist... but it is important to point out in Bruno's case that he was NOT burned by the Catholic church but a civil authority. It just so happened that the Catholic church investigated the claims against him to make sure they were TRUE and gave him a chance to re-cant.
This was a far more just situation then most Civil societies back then who didn't use "due process" and believe in "innocent until proven guilty" -- those 2 concepts were something you'd find more in a Catholic Inquisitional court then a civil court back then.

Unfortunately in Bruno's case.. the Inquisitionary court found the accusations true and then passed him over to a Civilian court, who considered Heresy illegal and punishable by death.

This may seem like splitting hairs to an anti-Catholic.. but it is TRUE and an important distinction. Both against the charge that the Catholic church was anti-science and that it burned people at the stake.

As for Roger Bacon - He became a Franciscan Friar and as such.. had restrictions placed on him (by choice by becoming a Franciscan) regarding publishing books. According to internet sources.. he supposedly circumnavigated these restrictions by enlisting his friend, a Cardinal Guy le Gros de Foulques, who became Pope Clement IV in 1265

So you can hardly say that the Catholic church opposed his Science on the grounds that he had books published through the man who would become Pope Clement.

Lastly, in his case.. his personality seemed to be part of the problem as he tended to endorse and research just about ANY new philosophy or idea that came along.. and so in his later life, he was warned several times about advocating and spreading liberal ideas. But these are not to say Scientific ideas... because 'science' as we know it NOW, didn't exist then.


#3

A little off topic, but...

If your friend is a true scientist, then he cannot be atheistic. He may be agnostic though.

True scientists NEVER suggest that simply because something has not been observed, that it does not exist. True scientists also insist on firm proofs and strong reasoning before determining that something does not exist. As God's 'non-existence' has not been scientifically 'proven', a true scientist would withold any conclusion until more information is available.

Atheists are loathe to hear this, but atheism is a faith. And it is a much more tenuous faith that theism, as the world points much more frequently to a creator outside of the reality that we can sense than it does not. I have found that it is a faith most often taken up by those that do not want to be 'ruled'. Without any god, they can fill the vacuum of moral authority for themselves.

Who doesn't want to be king?


#4

Where do you read that Bacon was brought before an inquisition? What inquisition?

I am of the very strong opinion that in such charges, the one making the charge MUST present suitable scholarly documentation. Just as Protestants often ask for non-Catholic documentation, ask of him - no, demand of him - suitable non-anti-Catholic documentation.

"Prove it" - perhaps the two most useful words in any debate of this nature. And refuse to even listen to the charges without proof. Do NOT give the benefit of the doubt - there's been 500 years of anti-Catholic polemic poisoning the waters of inquiry.


#5

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