Guest Post: Dan Brown’s History of Science | MandM
The Da Vinci Code launched the literary careers of a whole faculty previously-obscure professors of New Testament Studies. Admittedly, they had good reason for wanting to put the record straight about Brown’s distortions of early Christian history. This time, it’s historians of science who might be upset by Brown’s misrepresentation. Because his contention that the Catholic Church has spent the last two millennia holding back the advance of science is as wrongheaded as the story that Mrs Jesus retired to the south of France with her kids.
It’s true that the Church did make a single significant mistake in 1616, when it banned Copernicus’s opinion that the earth orbits the sun. But in the subsequent trial of Galileo, the Catholic Church was siding with the scientific consensus of the time. Still, you can’t manufacture an eternal conflict from a single example, so proponents of the hypothesis have had to resort to a different strategy – inventing the evidence.
(tags: error dawkins science)
UPDATE: There’s no denying that Catholic Church made errors in the past, but it’s tried to make amends. Many of its scholars hold to theistic evolution, so it certainly is not hostile to modern science, despite the claims of agenda-driven “New Atheists”.
UPDATE #2: Many arguments advanced at Catholic Encyclopedia “Science and the Church“; among them:
The conflicts between science and the Church are not real. They all rest on assertions like these: Faith is an obstacle to research; faith is contrary to the dignity of science; faith is discredited by history. Basing the answers on the principles explained above, we can dispel the phantoms in the following manner.
A believer, it is stated, can never be a scientist; his mind is bound by authority, and in case of a conflict he has to contradict science.
The assertion is consistent on the supposition, that faith is a human invention. The believer, however, bases faith on Divine Revelation, and science on Creation. Both have their common source in God, the Eternal Truth … In case of an apparent difference between faith and science, he takes the following logical position: When a religious view is contradicted by a well-established scientific fact, then the sources of revelation have to be re-examined, and they will be found to leave the question open. When a clearly-defined dogma contradicts a scientific assertion, the latter has to be revised, and it will be found premature. When both contradicting assertions, the religious and the scientific, are nothing more than prevailing theories, research will be stimulated in both directions, until one of the theories appears unfounded. The conflict about the heliocentric system belonged, theoretically speaking, to the first case, and Darwinism, in its gross form , to the second; practically, however, disputed questions generally turn up in the third case, and so it was actually with the heliocentric system at the time of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galilei.
It is true, the believer is less free in his knowledge than the unbeliever, but only because he knows more. The unbeliever has one source of knowledge, the believer has two. Instead of barring his mind against the supernatural stream of knowledge by arbitrary postulates, man ought to be grateful to his Creator for every bit of knowledge, and, panting for truth, drink from both streams that pour down from heaven.