Monday, September 26, 2011

Newton Was A Christian and other Fallacies

Newton was also an Alchemist and produced several volumes of alchemical works (if I recall correctly they far outnumber his scientific works) - does his contributions to science also prove Alchemy is true? Absurd of course. But tie him to Religion and all of a sudden people assume it has some bearing on the question.

Scientists of the past were largely religious because their culture demanded it on pain of death (primarily Christians and Muslims). Their willingness to spread their religion at the point of a sword doesn't make their religion true. I would argue very much the opposite in fact. Newton had to walk a very fine line with the Church to avoid problems. The fact is he was forced to censure himself. The Church was a force for scientific oppression - only in support when the science could be twisted to their own ends.

The maltreatment of Galileo Galilei in the hands of the Church is well known (despite their far-too-little-too-late and backhanded apology) but what may be less well known is that Galileo got off easy compared to Giordano Bruno who was murdered by the Church. Copernicus suppressed his research due to the church, Campanella was tortured by the church repeatedly for supporting Galileo, Rene Descartes suppressed his research due to Galileo's treatment, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Edmond Halley, Isaac Newton, Georges Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon, William Buckland, Charles Lyell, Louis Agassiz, Adam Sedgewick, Robert Chambers, Charles Darwin... all scientists whose work was negatively affected by the actions of the Roman Catholic Church against the progress of science.

Scientists today are mostly still religious because of inculcation, indoctrination, and socio-cultural expectation. And many also live in parts of the world where religion-by-violence is still practiced.

And if it isn't the state pushing the religion now, then it's probably your family. My mom has been in tears begging me to rejoin the church because she cannot stand the thought of her son burning in Hell while she is in heaven (and honestly, what a horrible lie to have implanted in people's mind in the first place - pretending it's true to manipulate people into joining).

But even in the National Academy of Sciences in the US (which is an outlier for its preponderance of religious belief) some 93% of the members are NON-religious. As the level of education (or more accurately, the level of scientific knowledge) drops the likelihood that you accept the religion of your culture goes up. It's just a correlation but it shows a tension between scientific beliefs and religious beliefs.

If you accept even basic things like the Earth goes around the Sun, Earth is a spheroid which isn't likely to have "stood still" at any point, viruses and bacteria cause disease, life on earth evolved from simpler organisms (and must have started from a replicating molecule of some type, probably RNA-like, based on the heavy natural organic chemistry), there isn't a water layer above the "firmament" of the heavens, the universe is ~13.7 billion years old, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old - then the Bible is clearly and plainly false. There IS no other reasonable conclusion.

Just ask Pope's Paul V and Urban VIII - they knew this very plainly and with the full authority of apostolic succession. They knew what these verses meant and they knew well the implications of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo. It meant their Bible was fundamentally wrong.

But Religion is nothing if not well adapted to the human psyche, so it persists. It feeds off the easy belief that the bad will be punished and the good rewarded, that our life will have had cosmic significance and not have been wasted. It allays our fear of death and gives us false hope. It is a cost borne by the living, attested by the unseen and unknowable, with rewards only promised upon death, the ultimate ponzi scheme.

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