Yesterday reader “Py” wrote in trying to add a comment to an old post, “Did Christianity (and other religions) promote the rise of science?” Here’s the comment:
I say without Christianity, there’ll be no modern science. An incomplete list of(i’ve got a link to 80+ more, all YECs) vs. An incomplete list of .
The atheist front is quite lacking.
I wonder if this’ll get posted or strangely moderated away like my other posts. So much for truth huh?
Curiously, checking back through comments using “Py”‘s email address and IP number, I find no comment that he/she has tried to make before. But the sheer ignorance of the comment above mandates that this will be the last one. I’d administer a swift corrective to Py, but I’m way too busy today and thought that the readers might be able to help. Check out those lists.
By the way, the notion that modern science arose in the West beginning in late medieval times (a dubious claim anyway) is made for both empirical and emotional reasons. The empirical claim is that the Church promoted reason (though founding universities, encouraging people to find the hand of God in Nature) in a way that helped give birth to science. The emotional reason is because religious people, seeing how fast science has outstripped religion in understanding the universe, want to claim some credit for science. The emotional reason is clearly true, but I won’t adjudicate the first claim, for I’m not an expert in the history of science. Let me just say that the arguments of people like Rodney Stark (and other theists) that Christianity was pivotal in the rise of modern science have been contested by other scholars.
What is indubitably true is that the proportion of atheist scientists is ten times higher than the proportion of atheist nonscientists, at least in America. And the great majority of accomplished scientists in the U.S. are now atheists: only 7% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, for instance, accept a personal God–while the proportion of the American public that does so is 80% or higher. I believe the figures are similar for members of Britain’s Royal Society. So whatever held true in the past, when everyone was religious, holds no longer.
Christianity can claim credit for science if they want, but it’s not much to brag about. Certainly science would have arisen without that faith.