Thursday, July 14, 2011
Where The Conflict?
A good place to begin taking that closer look is with a fascinating book edited by Ronald Numbers, a University of Wisconsin historian of science specializing in the interface between religion and science. In Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion, Numbers attempts to set the record straight right at the outset. His very first sentence sets forth his main thesis: "The greatest myth in the history of science and religion holds that they have been in a state of constant conflict."Well said. Read the whole thing.
As with most myths, there is a kernel of truth in Draper's and White's accounts. But, as Numbers says, "Historians of science have known for years that White's and Draper's accounts are more propaganda than history." Both, as Numbers explains, were promoting personal anti-religious agendas and both were engaging in hyperbolic, but very persuasive, rhetoric.
The point is straightforward, the "conflict" between religion and science is agendas placed on religion and science, not the things themselves. The conflict escalates and is carried into the general consciousness by the fact that most people are largely ignorant of both religion and science. Worst of all, the agendas are typically placed on them by people that understand one reasonably well, but are totally ignorant of the other.
My concern is that the "conflict" has grown tot he point where no one will listen to reason - there is too much personal interest in propagating the conflict.