Christianity and Civilisation: Science

Christianity and Civilisation: Science

“Some religions, like Judaism have made many contributions to the civilised world. Others have been much less involved in Western progress. As [historian Rodney] Stark and others have demonstrated, only those religions that have had a place for reason and logic have had a real impact on science, progress and technology. The Judeo-Christian worldview certainly gives reason a good run. Thus important thinkers such as Alfred North Whitehead and Robert Oppenheimer – neither of them Christian – have argued that modern science could not have developed were it not for the Christian worldview that provided the soil from which it arose. The greatest achievements of Western civilisation are mainly, but not completely, the results of the Judeo-Christian mindset.” 

To speak of Western civilisation is to speak about Christian civilisation to a very large degree. Without Christianity (and the Judaism that preceded it), the West as we know it today would simply not exist. One of the most recent commentators to make this case is Tucker Carlson. A few weeks ago he gave a speech on how Western civilisation is under attack.

He emphasised how the secular left is really at war with Christianity itself. As he said in part: “Why are they doing this? The goal is to overthrow Western civilization. What is Western civilization? It’s Christian civilization. That’s what it is.”

Entire libraries are filled with the volumes documenting how so much of the West is the product of Christianity. Some months ago, I listed twenty top books on how Christianity made our world. It included titles such as How Christianity Changed the World and What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? That piece is found here.

Christianity and Science

Simply looking at the arena of science is enough to show any unbiased observer what a remarkable contribution Christians have made here. Even non-Christians have acknowledged all this. For example, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, in America’s Real War (Multnomah, 1999) put it this way:

“Well over 90 percent of all the scientific discoveries of the past thousand years have been made in nations where Christianity is the prevailing religion. Virtually every major discovery in physics, medicine, chemistry, mathematics, electricity, nuclear physics, mechanics and just about everything else has taken place in Christian countries.”

And consider this stunning remark by the atheist blogger Tim O’Neill from a decade ago:

It’s not hard to kick this nonsense to pieces, especially since the people presenting it know next to nothing about history and have simply picked up these strange ideas from websites and popular books. The assertions collapse as soon as you hit them with hard evidence. I love to totally stump these propagators by asking them to present me with the name of one – just one – scientist burned, persecuted, or oppressed for their science in the Middle Ages. They always fail to come up with any. They usually try to crowbar Galileo back into the Middle Ages, which is amusing considering he was a contemporary of Descartes. When asked why they have failed to produce any such scientists given the Church was apparently so busily oppressing them, they often resort to claiming that the Evil Old Church did such a good job of oppression that everyone was too scared to practice science. By the time I produce a laundry list of Medieval scientists – like Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa – and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church, my opponents usually scratch their heads in puzzlement at what just went wrong.

Of interest, this excerpt was taken from a book review he had penned. I happen to have the book, and it could easily have been included in my top 20 listing (along with many others). I refer to the very important volume God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science by James Hannam, (Icon Books, 2010). It was released in America as The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution (Regnery, 2011).

There is so much that can be said about this crucial volume. Perhaps the best I can do here is simply quote from it, hoping that will encourage you to get a copy. In his introduction he says this:

Popular opinion, journalistic cliché, and misinformed historians notwithstanding, recent research has shown that the Middle Ages was a period of enormous advances in science, technology and culture. The compass, paper, printing, stirrups, and gunpowder all appeared in western Europe between 500 and 1500 AD. True, these inventions originated in the Far East, but Europeans developed them to a far higher degree than had been the case elsewhere….

Meanwhile, the people of medieval Europe invented spectacles, the mechanical clock, the windmill, and the blast furnace by themselves.

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