Monday, January 21, 2013

What the middle ages did for science

Here's a list of gifts that came down from the Middle Ages (or from 'the age of faith' in the language of those who like to contrast it with a 'age of reason' than followed it) - gifts on whose necessary foundations science is built: All these intellectual achievements were worked out in the so-called pre-Enlightenment times:
  • There is a distinction between a primary cause (God did it) and a natural secondary cause (the machinery of the world has enough vitality and flexibility for things to happen naturally, as a consequence of laws of nature)
  • Nature is intelligible because it has a rational and loving creator
  • Natural philosophy is the study of the ordinary course of nature
  • Nature can be understood through the language of mathematics
  • God freely created the universe so we must observe his work to understand it. 
(From Dr James Hannam , Science and Christianity: An Historical Sketch. This is a Faraday Institute lecture, available from iTunes U.)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Faith and the dying: deathbed repentance is still popular

Am enjoying the British Religion in Numbers website (brin.org). One 2012 figure is at least amusing in the midst of the falling numbers of Christian affiliation elsewhere. Less than 60% of the living claim to be Christians in the UK but this rises to to 83% among the dying. (See Brin.org) Part of this is to do with the fact that the older a person is in the UK, the more likely they are to profess Christianity. But part of it...
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