Because it’s bugging me

I hate it when people leave comments in blog posts that are off the main topic. But that rule is warring with the angst I feel when people get history wrong. So, rather than leave an inappropriate comment, I’ll just write about it on my own blog, get it out of my system where it belongs, in my own personal space.

The issues is this: In her excellent post on marriage and authority, coffee wife of The Walled Garden blog says the following:

“Things are the way they are today because men have come out from under the authority of God.” I went on to explain: When evolution came on the scene it gave men an excuse to throw off the authority of God and become their own authority.Once men threw off the authority of God and declared, “There is no God” then women threw of the authority of men. (Why would they respect the headship of men if there was no God to grant men the God-given right of authority??) Men quickly fell into the worship of Science. Women fell into the worship of the Body. [emphasis mine]

Evolution didn’t start anything of the kind. It didn’t begin the rebellion from God, it isn’t even the start of the most recent wave of intellectual, scientific anti-religiousness.

Intellectual history, the history of ideas, is a bit of a hobby horse with me, so this misunderstanding really irked me. it’s the kind of bad history my students used to spout in my Humanities class that I never had time or ability to go into all the arguments with them. (Mind you, I’m not blaming coffee wife, just infuriated at the fact of her poor education. And she’s in the same boat with the majority of Americans who have almost no sense of history but do not even know that they lack it. Our educational system is broken and we are all suffering because of it.)

Science and faith are not in conflict. Never have been. At least not in the Catholic world. That is the biggest lie ever spun and I really hate that Catholics buy into it.

And the current so-called conflict between science and faith, or if you will between faith and reason, that intellectual trend away from the Church and toward scientific materialism, didn’t start with Darwin or other proponents of evolution. It started much earlier with the anti-Catholic thinkers of the Enlightenment. Enlightenment philosophers like Voltaire created this straw man, the irrationality of religion and of faith, because they couldn’t argue with the reality of the historical Church. They created the myth of the “dark ages” when people were blinded by religion and superstition. But any good history book will show you the opposite was true. The Middle Ages were not an era of ignorance and superstition, but a flourishing of faith and reason side by side.

But before it became popularly “known” that faith was incompatible with reason and science, it was the Church which was the great champion of reason and of science. universities were founded by the church. At that time most scientists were churchmen, faithful Catholics, frequently monks and priests. The Church has never opposed true science and never will. 

Now I understand the source of the confusion and I recognize that CW might be using “evolution” as a shorthand not for the science of evolution but for the neo-Darwinian school of thought that has made evolution into a religion. (see Gerald’s great post about another pseudo-scientific religion, the Church of Global Warming). There are indeed many people for whom “evolution” means not merely a scientific theory about how things happened; but also a materialistic philosophy that insists that evolution= random chance and excludes the possibility that God is the prime mover behind all natural forces.

To protest evolution as a scientific theory on religious grounds makes as much sense as protesting the theory of gravity because we all know it is God who keeps the planets in their orbits and holds the universe together. Science and religion are not in conflict because science only seeks to answer how while religion only seeks to answer why. When science tries to answer the why, it stops being science and becomes a philosophy or a religion. When religion tries to answer the how, it ceases to be religion and tries to be science. Either one is an ugly thing.

And while I’m on the subject, can we finally put to rest the whole lie about the Church silencing Galileo because he insisted that the earth orbited the sun and that contradicted the Bible. It just ain’t so.

I’m pulling my hair and echoing C. S. Lewis’ Professor Kirk: Ah, what do they teach them in schools these days?

And while we’re on the subject of faith and reason, go read Pope Benedict’s address to the University of Regensburg, you know the one that got all the Muslim’s upset because it was supposedly all about criticizing them. It’s actually much more a critique of Western intellectuals who have divorced faith from reason.

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