Thursday, September 1, 2011

2 Mutch Stoopid Maik Munkee Brane Hert

I'm sure that the university authorities who prevented David Hume's appointment to the chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh, and the churchmen and scholars who declined to look through Galileo's telescope because Scripture and Church doctrine already told them all they needed to know about the heavenly bodies and their motion relative to the Earth, had long and impressive lists of titles and academic awards.

I was about to say that to someone in answer to his listing some of the academic titles and awards of a professor and author of a book opposing "conflict theory," the crazy notion that at times some opposition between science and religion, specifically Christianty, has hindered the advance of the former. But I decided not to feed that troll, so I'm here instead.

I had never before heard of conflict theory. I suspect that the term may be used mostly by its opponents. Those of us who believe that water is wet don't generally have a name for that belief. I have not heard of a "wetness theory." It necessarily follows that I have not heard of any school of thought defending the "wetness theory," and that if two or three people opposed the notion that water is wet and attributed it to recent cultural bias, they could make a case for themselves that in their field their conclusions were unopposed, simply because they would be in sole possession of the field.

Anyway, the award-laden professor admired by this troll not only opposes "conflict theory," but -- according to the troll, anyway. I haven't read the professor's book -- asserts that no historian subscribes to it. No historian believes that there is an endemic conflict between Christianity and science. To give the professor and author the benefit of the doubt, perhaps in his book he examines the work of a definite group of historians, presumably most or all of them decent conservative Catholics like himself, and determined that all the historians within that group oppose the "Conflict theory." I don't want to make the mistake of assuming that an author is as ill-informed as an enthusiastic and perhaps unwary reader asserts him to be.

"Videns autem diabolus templa daemonum deseri et in nomen liberantis Mediatoris currere genus humanum, haereticos mouit, qui sub uocabulo Christiano doctrinae resisterent Christianae, quasi possent indifferenter sine ulla correptione haberi in ciuitate Dei, sicut ciuitas confusionis indifferenter habuit philosophos inter se diuersa et aduersa sentientes."

("And now the devil, seeing the demonic temples deserted and humanity rushing to the name of the liberating Savior, has caused the heretics who call themselves Christians to resist the Christian doctrine, as if they were to be tolerated indifferently and without correction in the city of God, as the the philosophers who were of diverse and adverse opinions had been tolerated in the city of confusion.")

That's Augustine of Hippo, De civitate dei, XVIII, 51, describing the change in society as the Christians took over. The city of confusion, the Roman Empire before the Christian clampdown, had tolerated diversity among the philosophers. That had been fine for Babylon, but it was over with now. The deserted "demonic temples" weren't some abstraction, they were the old pagan temples, and they were deserted because they were being torn down. And the Christian authorities were going to see to it that the old diversity of religion didn't live on in a diversity of opinion. Christianity's totalitarian attack upon learning and freedom of thought has hardly ever been more clearly and chillingly expressed than here by this supposed "doctor of the Church," this supposed "learned man."

But of course it's perfectly obvious how stifling it is to insist that every thought conform to Christianity, that every theory be forced through that narrow funnel. We're as familiar with it as we are with the wetness of water. We're as familiar with it as we are with the fools and raving lunatics loaded down with academic awards and piety who thwart science and common sense at every turn. We don't have to strain to imagine what Augustine was like, his type is very depressingly familiar -- among others, there are the many academic fools and lunatics who praise him and share his hatred of unruly, unchristian freedom of the mind. What's still largely strange and unimaginable to us is the degree of freedom of intellect and opinion, the degree of tolerance, which Augustine and his cronies crushed.

No comments:

Post a Comment