1) Creation vs. Evolution : Hans Küng is Lousy in Ecclesiology. · 2) What Utter Stupidity in Exegesis, This Modernism! · 3) Stacy Trasancos Gets Condemation of 219 Theses Wrong · 4) Correspondence of Hans Georg Lundahl : With James Hannam on Whether Bible and Fathers Agree or Not on Shape of Earth · 5) Creation vs. Evolution : Dominic Statham and Reijer Hooykaas Wrong on Christian - Pagan Divide · 6) Correcting CMI on Aristotle
Here is a paragraph where Statham quotes Hooykaas:
Hannam also places little emphasis on why science failed to flourish in ancient Greece, but arose instead in Christian Europe. Reijer Hooykaas is much more helpful. In pagan thinking, nature is to be worshipped and feared, whereas the Bible implies it can be understood and mastered. To pagan thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle, the world was an organism that was deified, but to Christian thinkers such as Descartes, Boyle and Newton, it was a mechanism that could be examined and understood. In Greek thinking, nature is constrained and must conform to certain philosophical rules, whereas in biblical thinking, the God of creation needed to obey nothing and was free to make laws as he willed. Consequently, in Christian thinking, the appropriation of scientific knowledge necessitates experimentation. To the Greeks, pursuit of science was considered displeasing to the gods, whereas biblical scholarship led people to see the study of nature as a legitimate means of learning about God. The elite Greek thinkers despised manual work, whereas the Bible respects craftsman whose work is so necessary in facilitating the manufacture of apparatus for scientific experiments.
Next one he quotes Dom Stanley Jaki:
In pagan thinking, the belief in many fickle gods implied an unpredictable natural world, but in Christian thinking, the belief in one unchanging God implied a world with immutable laws which could be studied. Stanley Jaki argues that science was stillborn in all the pagan and Islamic cultures because they failed to muster, in sufficient measure, faith in progress, confidence in the rationality of the universe, appreciation of the quantitative method and a depersonalized view of the process of motion.
Let us break this up a bit!
- Hannam also places little emphasis on why science failed to flourish in ancient Greece, but arose instead in Christian Europe.
- Not quite. He mentions pretty clearly a double starting point : first getting hold of Greek philosophy, then getting beyond it.
- In pagan thinking, nature is to be worshipped and feared, whereas the Bible implies it can be understood and mastered.
- In what pagan thinking? Hinduism? Platonism? Shintoism? Aristotelianism?
Obviously both Hinduism and Shintoism go some way to meeting description (if I were preaching to Shintoists, I would tell them good kamis don't want our worship, bad ones don't deserve it and the one we should worship, with his good kamis, can protect us from the bad ones - that is about all or most of what they would need to learn about kamis, oh, sorry, one more, the real angelic beings have no sex drive - unless you accept angelic theory of Genesis 6).
But however much or little Plato and Aristotle shared with these, none of them was exactly a Pantheist as Hindoos are, they did think nature should be understood so as to conform to it.
They did believe nature should teach us lessons about morals.
The Holy Bible does tell us nature can be understood and mastered fully by God.
It equally tells us, it cannot be fully understood and mastered by man.
See the book of Job on this one.
- To pagan thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle, the world was an organism that was deified, ...
- No, that is Hinduism.
But to them it was a "cosmos" - a harmonic whole - therein like the human organism.
Either created by God (Plato), or self-creating by intense love of God (the late Aristotle).
These two and the successors Plotinus, Porphyry and a few more did make mistakes about theology, notably accepting idolatry.
But St Augustine in chapter 10 of De Civitate finds it worthwhile to refute their mistakes - as if their general understanding of things was enough harmonic with Christianity as to merit consideration.
- ... but to Christian thinkers such as Descartes, Boyle and Newton, it was a mechanism that could be examined and understood.
- THIS is totally referring to Modern Age science and nearly totally bypasses Medieval science.
A Medieval might look at the universe between fixed stars and us as a kind of clockwork, by its regularity, but only as the kind of clockwork that Emmanuel Kant was in Königsberg : persons acting their dance or walk with a very great regularity.
As to a clockwork one is able to wind up and watch doing itself, well, they invented such, to reflect perfect workings of universe, much like one may today construct computers to draw things or work out things more perfectly than one could by hand, but they did not regard the universe as such. God was not a clock maker, but at one and same time buth the harp maker and the harpist.
- In Greek thinking, nature is constrained and must conform to certain philosophical rules, whereas in biblical thinking, the God of creation needed to obey nothing and was free to make laws as he willed.
- The contrast may be overdone.
Bishop Tempier was not exactly saying that Greek scholastics were wrong in saying there were philosophical rules which always held true about the world, he was only saying that Paris University Averroism was drawing these rules too tightly so as to deny God the freedom which according to Holy Bible He has.
But indeed, the condemnations by Bishop Tempier are part of the process here alluded to.
- Consequently, in Christian thinking, the appropriation of scientific knowledge necessitates experimentation.
- This point has been made over and over again, both by Duhem, and by Dom Stanley Jaki, and by Hannam and by his popularisers.
And the fact this was realised and carried out more intensely after the condemnations of Laetare Sunday "1277" as we now say (while back then 1277 started somewhat later in spring, not in winter). But more generally, reasoning scholastically (and always defending scripture against any necessitism found in pagans) helped.
There are points where scholasticism must conclude sth like "either solution would work, so we must look up which one is true" - in Holy Bible when it comes to Theology (as well as in Doctrine Summaries and Church Fathers, and as well as in Canon Law), and in experiment when it comes to nature.
St Augustine denied one could either from philosophy or from Holy Writ know whether stars are progressing in themselves, each on its own, through empty space, or progressing with space and only some of them doing own movements in relation to the daily one of space.
Modern relevant experiment, if you are still geocentric, would be geostationary satellites. They work if they have a movement eastward equal to and opposite the ether's movement westward - or if they and earth are both turning eastward at same rate. But hardly if they are standing still in empty space above a spot on earth, then they would fall down.
- To the Greeks, pursuit of science was considered displeasing to the gods, whereas biblical scholarship led people to see the study of nature as a legitimate means of learning about God.
- The first is really somewhat obscure.
If you were an inventor or scientist, as a Greek you would be worshipping Hermes, as a Roman Mercury and as a Norseman (supposing we had inventors) Odin (poor Hermes/Mercury, poor Odin, btw : one magician and one false god, two lost souls!)
Biblical scholarship lead you to believe studing nature was a way to learning about God ... well, but so did Platonic Philosophy!
Just as a lazy person could get to understand a few points about diligence while patiently and lazily studying ants (Biblical), so a person could learn from fixed progression of stars in same order, either day after day as in constellations, or in periods like for sun and moon among stars, that the laws for our behaviour are as fixed eternally as the stars, and breaking them is as bad manners cosmically as "when Phaeton took the sun carriage too low over Africa" ... in other words, catastrophic.
- The elite Greek thinkers despised manual work, whereas the Bible respects craftsman whose work is so necessary in facilitating the manufacture of apparatus for scientific experiments.
- I agree on the last one on manual work, but not quite the way as stated.
Manufacturing apparatus was not beyond Greeks. Inventor drew design on paper or explained otherwise, and a slave executed the design in the necessary materials. Much as a Troubadour or Trouvère was a Composer, who left the singing performance and playing performance to a Joglear/Jongleur. And, when it comes to scientific apparatus, very much as it is produced today.
What is more to the point is, that a man with the social standing to be a scientist (any which gives him free time and access to what apparatus he needs, not just a high or noble one) may have learnt something from doing some handiwork if he did such things rather than despising them as a Greek and leaving that to slaves (who had no free time).
In other words, the élite person in Middle Ages or later would be better off understanding certain things with his hands, as he might be an amateur potter or macramist.
- In pagan thinking, the belief in many fickle gods implied an unpredictable natural world, but in Christian thinking, the belief in one unchanging God implied a world with immutable laws which could be studied.
- Plato and Aristotle were a pretty far way off the belief in many fickle gids and an unpredictable natural world. Indeed Aristotle and Averroism in Paris overdid the predictability aspect, believing for instance that all things on earth are immutably caused by the stars, according to laws on what must happen when Jove and Mercury meet etc. And this is part of what Bishop Tempier condemned.
- Stanley Jaki argues that science was stillborn in all the pagan and Islamic cultures because they failed to muster, in sufficient measure, faith in progress, confidence in the rationality of the universe, appreciation of the quantitative method and a depersonalized view of the process of motion.
- "confidence in the rationality of the universe, appreciation of the quantitative method"
Good things, which Medievals did muster and so did Plato and Aristotle before them. But Medievals did it better.
"faith in progress, ... and a depersonalized view of the process of motion"
I can't see how either is relevant for good science.
A depersonalised view of the process of motion may be precisely the origin of the Atheistic Methodology in Science which CMI is usually decrying rather than praising. That is at least my assessment.
And "faith in progress"? How is that relevant one way or the other? When Medievals and for that matter some non-Baconian moderns too made discoveries, it was as often as not, in a way of looking around things which were presumed as normally known the right way, just taking an extra look at detail. Not like "once they thought π was a rational number" (false, I think : when they said numbers are all rational they were not counting π as a number, that is all there is too it, but as a size relation, which it also happens to be).
If any of my own discoveries of, not new observed facts, not new useful machines, but simply of argument, has any validity, it was discovered while I was overhauling my Young Earth Creationist argumentation by debating. Not by any idea of progressing beyond YEC or any preconceived idea of progressing more in it than I had learned or was learning.
So much for what I had to object to in Dominic, but I do share his objection against James Hannam's exegesis of Job 38:13.
Hans Georg Lundahl
St Jean-Baptiste de La Salle