Killing off the Conflict Narrative (of Science and Religion)

Another good blog on the whole issue of the supposed conflict of science and religion.

This should have been a dead duck decades ago , but it is still used as a rod to beat Christians with , comes out in science teaching at schools and in popular culture.

Faith and Wisdom in Science

It’s been a long and tiring century or more of fake news, but I nurture a precious hope (how can one live otherwise?) that the voices of evidence, reason and truth will ultimately prevail.

One of the more persistent myths that have invaded our conversion, media and (very sadly) education, is the late Victorian invention that religious faith and science are necessarily in conflict. So prevalent and normalised is this assumption, that recent surveys in UK high schools find up to 70% of 15 year olds think it (but without being able to say why). I say ‘late Victorian’ for before the publication of two books, now forgotten and unread but best-sellers in their time, there is no great ‘conflict narrative’. The books were: History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896), by Andrew Dickson White, and History of the Conflict between Religion and Science

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3 thoughts on “Killing off the Conflict Narrative (of Science and Religion)

  1. Refracktion

    You’re shitting me Mad Rev! “The late Victorian invention that religious faith and science are necessarily in conflict” – have you never heard of Galileo? late Victorian my arse!


    1. michaelroberts4004 Post author

      I had to approve this wonderfully misguided post from John Hobson aka Refraction of Lytham St Annes. I am afraid I was laughing in my sleep as he failed to understand a lot of things.

      First, he did not realise that this was not my writing , but a blog which I reblogged. The author is Prof Tom Mcleish of York univ and formerly of Durham. He just happens to be a top physicist and also an expert on medieaval science , especially that of Bishop Grossteste of Lincoln.

      secondly, I am quite sure he knows all about Galileo 🙂

      Thirdly he was criticising those late 19th century proponents of the warfare between science and religion notably Draper and Dickson White.

      Fourthly, his views are those of almost all historians of science eg Numbers, Lindberg, Brooke and so many others.

      Fifthly I share Mcleish’s views and have made my own contributions to study on this conflict, for which I got some recognition both by publishing in reputable journals and publishers but also being elected F R Hist S

      Sixthly I suggest that dear Refraction stops being so fractious and actually comments on things he knows something about instead of dismiss the wise writing of a leading scientist

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Refracktion

    Madrev bro! Thanks for allowing my post! Of COURSE I knew you were quoting somebody else! I can read!

    However, that person stated that the idea that religious faith and science are necessarily in conflict is a late Victorian invention.

    Whilst there clearly was a lot of debate on the conflict thesis in the 18th century I think Galileo and Copernicus would have laughed out loud at the idea that the notion of a necessary conflict between Church and Science was a Victorian invention because they actually lived it. Surely you know that Galileo had to hide from the Inquisition and had to couch his theories (which the church would /could not countenance) in ambiguous language, and that Copernicus only evaded their attentions because he conveniently died before they got on to him. In fact any scientist whose books were on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (e.g.Pascal, Bacon, Swedenborg, Erasmus Darwin) would have been well aware that that conflict clearly did not get invented by discussion of itself in Victorian times. It has existed and been recognised from the first times that the scientific and philosophical methods came into conflict with the church’s dogma.

    We may simply be arguing about some lazy wording by your “leading scientist” but wording is of course important in establishing meaning.

    Still I am so glad I managed to amuse you, and I trust you will also publish this reply.



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