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Thread: What do you make of Tim O'Neil's "History for Atheists"?

  1. Top | #31
    New Member Tim ONeill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post
    The Church most definitely did not welcome religious dissent. On matters of what we call science, however, it did not have any problems with "new ideas and free inquiry".
    So that would make the Roman Church of the time a lot like modern day ISIS. Would you agree?
    Pretty much, yes.

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    New Member Tim ONeill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    I think you are close to the RCC view of science at the time. They were certainly interested in science at the time but in science that supported (or at least didn't challenge) the religious view of the universe. The Jesuit order was funded by the church to further science and did contribute much to our understanding. It was science that challenged the church's official position on reality that the church quashed.
    Ummm, no. Perhaps you need to re-read what I said about the Two Books Doctrine.

    One of the major purposes of science today is to test and possibly correct established understandings of reality.
    Yes. Today. To judge the past by the standards and norms of the present is the historiographic fallacy of Presentism. It usually leads to distortion rather than understanding. I'm interested in understanding the past, not judging it or excusing it, since neither makes much sense.
    Last edited by Tim ONeill; 11-08-2019 at 10:35 PM.

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    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post
    The Church most definitely did not welcome religious dissent. On matters of what we call science, however, it did not have any problems with "new ideas and free inquiry".
    So that would make the Roman Church of the time a lot like modern day ISIS. Would you agree?
    Pretty much, yes.
    The Catholic Church ~ ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)
    You left out AlQaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban.

  4. Top | #34
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    I think you are close to the RCC view of science at the time. They were certainly interested in science at the time but in science that supported (or at least didn't challenge) the religious view of the universe. The Jesuit order was funded by the church to further science and did contribute much to our understanding. It was science that challenged the church's official position on reality that the church quashed.
    Ummm, no. Perhaps you need to re-read what I said about the Two Books Doctrine.
    I don't know your take on the Two Books Doctrine but, according to the church at the time, the book of scripture overrides the book of nature. Both were given to man to understand the universe. The book of nature informs us of reality not revealed in the scriptures but if there is any interpretation of the contents of that book contrary to the revelation given in the book of scripture then the interpretation is wrong (a heresy). Galileo ran afoul of this and was forced to recant. Recanting allowed him to live a life under house arrest rather than execution.

  5. Top | #35
    New Member Tim ONeill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    I think you are close to the RCC view of science at the time. They were certainly interested in science at the time but in science that supported (or at least didn't challenge) the religious view of the universe. The Jesuit order was funded by the church to further science and did contribute much to our understanding. It was science that challenged the church's official position on reality that the church quashed.
    Ummm, no. Perhaps you need to re-read what I said about the Two Books Doctrine.
    I don't know your take on the Two Books Doctrine...
    You'll find it summarised here. That's why I suggested you re-read it. It seems you hadn't read it in the first place.

    but, according to the church at the time, the book of scripture overrides the book of nature.
    No, that is not how it worked at all.

    Both were given to man to understand the universe. The book of nature informs us of reality not revealed in the scriptures but if there is any interpretation of the contents of that book contrary to the revelation given in the book of scripture then the interpretation is wrong.
    No, the other alternative is that it's the interpretation of scripture which was wrong and so had to be adjusted in light of new knowledge about the natural world. That's the principle that Bellarmine notes in his 1615 "Letter to Foscarini". That's what happened when Greek science conflicted with traditional Jewish interpretations of the Old Testament on matters like the shape of the earth. And it's what eventually happened once the scientific consensus on heliocentrism shifted at the end of the seventeenth century. The Bible was considered infallible, but human interpretation of it was not.

    Galileo ran afoul of this and was forced to recant.
    Also wrong. What Galileo ran afoul of was what seemed to be a very solid alignment between the Book of Nature (the consensus of astronomers that Copernicanism was not a valid physical model of cosmology) and the Book of God (exegetes' consensus that the astronomers' ideas fitted nicely with traditional interpretations of certain OT texts).

  6. Top | #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post
    In a period before scientific revolutions and discoveries became commonplace, all intellectual institutions were highly conservative. In that context, the Catholic Church of the early 1600s was actually much more open and nimble than most.
    I'm no historian, I know just enough to be dangerous, but this remark strikes me as overstatement. We are talking about an institution that burned people alive among other things and was as steeped in superstition as any, I would think. Who are the "most" to which you are referring here?

    I think I'm able to make the distinction you are discussing that is between scientific pursuit and maintaining power at any cost, but it is certainly worth mentioning every step of the way that the institution itself was opposed to every civil freedom we take pretty much for granted today. Scientific investigation was allowed and even funded but there wasn't really any freedom associated with it. That's why I've asked you to put your above statement into historical context by identifying those institutions that were not as interested in discovery.

    Perhaps however the Roman Church of the early 1600s was precisely that. The statement is actually vary narrow in its scope. You haven't said "the Roman Church throughout history ..." Clearly, over time it lost this distinction.

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    New Member Tim ONeill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post
    In a period before scientific revolutions and discoveries became commonplace, all intellectual institutions were highly conservative. In that context, the Catholic Church of the early 1600s was actually much more open and nimble than most.
    I'm no historian, I know just enough to be dangerous, but this remark strikes me as overstatement. We are talking about an institution that burned people alive among other things and was as steeped in superstition as any, I would think. Who are the "most" to which you are referring here?
    Read what I said in its context - I was talking about acceptance of new scientific ideas, not religious ones. You don't need to be a historian to know that they were less than tolerant of religious innovations, and that was what the burnings were all about. Contary to the myths, the Church never burned anyone over their scientific ideas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post

    Also wrong. What Galileo ran afoul of was what seemed to be a very solid alignment between the Book of Nature (the consensus of astronomers that Copernicanism was not a valid physical model of cosmology) and the Book of God (exegetes' consensus that the astronomers' ideas fitted nicely with traditional interpretations of certain OT texts).
    Astronomers at the time were primarily clergy. You seem to be attempting to make a distinction between the church and scientists when, in general, there was no such distinction.

  9. Top | #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post
    In a period before scientific revolutions and discoveries became commonplace, all intellectual institutions were highly conservative. In that context, the Catholic Church of the early 1600s was actually much more open and nimble than most.
    I'm no historian, I know just enough to be dangerous, but this remark strikes me as overstatement. We are talking about an institution that burned people alive among other things and was as steeped in superstition as any, I would think. Who are the "most" to which you are referring here?
    Read what I said in its context - I was talking about acceptance of new scientific ideas, not religious ones. You don't need to be a historian to know that they were less than tolerant of religious innovations, and that was what the burnings were all about. Contrary to the myths, the Church never burned anyone over their scientific ideas.
    Every pursuit was a religious pursuit because all those pursuits had to be reconciled with religious teaching. The distinction you are making is hair splitting. People were only free to pursue scientific knowledge if they were willing to live under the censorship of the Roman Church. That's not the free pursuit of scientific knowledge.

  10. Top | #40
    New Member Tim ONeill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim ONeill View Post

    Also wrong. What Galileo ran afoul of was what seemed to be a very solid alignment between the Book of Nature (the consensus of astronomers that Copernicanism was not a valid physical model of cosmology) and the Book of God (exegetes' consensus that the astronomers' ideas fitted nicely with traditional interpretations of certain OT texts).
    Astronomers at the time were primarily clergy. You seem to be attempting to make a distinction between the church and scientists when, in general, there was no such distinction.
    By the sixteenth and seventeenth century, astronomers could be clergy, but many were not. Copernicus wasn't (a canon was an administrative position and he never took holy orders). Neither were Kepler, Brahae, Reinhold, Rothmann, Schöner or any number of other major astronomers of the period. And the arguments presented against Copernicanism were almost entirely scientific - based on physics and mathematics - rather than theological, regardless of whether the astronomer in question was a clergyman or not. So I'm afraid that attempt at imputing bad motives won't work.

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