Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A good Mark Shea quote
The reason the three same names–Hypatia, Bruno, and Galileo–keep getting trotted out by historical illiterates as evidence of “The Catholic War on Science” is because there was no Catholic war on science. Hypatia was killed because she was unlucky enough to live in Alexandria, where civil violence was a municipal sport. Bruno was not a scientist, but a practitioner of what has rightly been described as mystic woo woo. For Cosmos to herald him as a champion of SCIENCE[TM] persecuted by the Church is like wringing one’s hand because the Pope did not convert to Scientology. And Galileo? Well, what you want to do is read Mike Flynn’s magnificent and hilarious account* of how, largely due to the work of Catholic scientists, we got from geocentrism to heliocentrism–and how Galileo being a pain in the neck who went beyond the evidence available at the time and wound up running afoul of a hierarchy reeling from the Protestant revolt and jittery about his rash theological claims.

Next time some historical illiterate talks about the Church’s “War on Science” ask for details on these three. Then give the real details. Then, ask for other names. A “war” with only three casualties is not much of a war, particularly when the Church has canonized St. Albert the Great, has a couple dozen craters on the moon named for Jesuits, was mother to 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 Nicholas of Cusa, and Louis Pasteur (not one of whom the average Cosmos-educated sophisticate has even heard of), carefully fostered the work of Gregor Mendel (the Augustinian monk who founded the science of genetics), and fully supported the work of Jesuit Msgr. Georges Lemaitre, the formulator of the Big Bang hypothesis.

In sum, the iron truth remains that the more ignorant somebody is, the more certain they are they are obviously smarter than the common herd. Seth MacFarlane, the producer of Cosmos, is certain he knows what is talking about, and therefore has never bothered to discover how wrong he is.

Someday, somebody is going to have the guts to tell the story of the history of Science and the Faith that is not a cartoon. But one can hardly expect that from a cartoon maker.
*Incidentally, for the work by Mike Flynn detailing the affair with Galileo, see here:

The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown

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