The title of chapter 3 of AC Graylings book ‘Toward The LIght Of Liberty’ OH MY, what a wonderful read this is!!! That is if you enjoy learning about the history and interactions of religion, theology and science in Europe. Inquisitions, reformations, and enlightenments. All stuggeling to mold what we now consider to be ‘western liberated thought.’ But enough from me…here is a sample-
‘There cannot be a clearer mark of the progress of liberty of thought than the contrast between the worldviews of science and religion, nor of the hard won nature of that progress than the struggle to liberate the former from the latter. Liberty of thought is the essence of enquiry, and free enquiry produces a conception of the universe totally different from any that thinks the world was created as a theater for the moral and spiritual destiny of humankind by anthropocentric gods. The story of the rise of science is also the story of the struggle by religious orthodoxy to retain control over how the universe is to be seen, and where the limits of legitimate enquiry lie. To make science possible, religion’s claim to hegemony over the mind had to be broken.’
Now, go out and get this book. Put it on your shelf and when you get the time, indulge in it. It’s scope is broad, but the reading is fairly easy. Well worth the effort.
The story of the rise of science is also the story of the struggle by religious orthodoxy to retain control over how the universe is to be seen, and where the limits of legitimate enquiry lie. To make science possible, religion’s claim to hegemony over the mind had to be broken.’
Indeed, the rise of science is the struggle against the despotic to control the minds of the masses in many facets of life. The increasing rise of science and its influence in society today is reflective of the shift in power from the pulpit to the lab—the ordained book to the freedom of the mind. Technology has provided many benefits towards the advancement of human knowledge and standards of living, but technology has had many ill effects also, nuclear weapons, entertainment trumping education, the degeneracy and manipulation of new masses for the specifically designed interests of corporate power, etc. Science and technology are only a means to a better end, we must not forget our human aspect in the pursuit of progress. Without an educated mind to distinguish fact from conjecture, business intrerests will manipulate the minds of the people just as well as the toxic venom of religion from years past. The book sounds interesting though, I will add to my “must read” list.
It is indeed interesting that the scientific pursuits needed to divorce themselves from the larger intellectual domain of “Natural Philosophy” at some point in the history of human endeavours. The author of “The Age of Wonder” Richard Holmes makes the case that science would have to create its own “bible” to replace the christian one that held sway over the mnds of both the general populace and a good portion of the intellectuals as well. This was already happening in isolated cases in the 17th and 18th centuries (Voltaire, Swift, Bacon) but what was needed was a new Book of Genesis to really get a secular account of human existence established and to remove religion from the domain of science.
At the 3rd Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) in 1833 William Whewell had a debate with Samuel Taylor Coleridge concerning what these people like geologists, chemists, anatomists, etc., should properly be called. Up to now these were all philosophers so science specialists like Whewell, Faraday, Herschel met together with poets and writers like Coleridge, and also with “Natural Theologians” like William Paley (the divine watchmaker thesis) and Adam Sedgewick. But Whewell suggested, for the first time that those who worked in the sciences should be called `scientists`` since this term would follow in the same way that `economist` and `atheist` already did. It was in the next year that this new term took hold and despite attacks by the Paleys and Sedgewicks who were afraid (and rightly so) that this new designation would tend to leave god out of the formal practise of science.
It is also interesting that at this time 1834, Darwin was already on the Beagle exploring the flora and fauna of Brazil and Argentina. But as Holmes relates to us
However, science itself had yet to produce its own theory (or myth) of creation, and there was no Newtonian Book of Genesis - as yet. That is why Darwin`s On the Origin of Species appeared so devastating when it was finally published in1859. It was not that it reduced the six days of Biblical creation to myth: this had already been done by Lyell and the geologists. What it demonstrated was that there was no need for a divine creation at all. There was no divine creation of species, no miraculous invention of butterflies` wings or cat`s eyes or bird`s song. The process of evolution by `natural selection`replaced any need for Ã¬ntelligent design` in nature. Darwin had indeed written a new Book of Genesis.