- Paperback: 919 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (May 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0879758260
- ISBN-13: 978-0879758264
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A History of the Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom (2 Volume Set) Paperback – May 1, 1993
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"It reminds the reader of just how far we have advanced in our understandings of the relationships among religion, science, technology, and theology." --Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
About the Author
Andrew D. White (1832-1918), historian, diplomat, and first president of Cornell University, advocated such progressive causes as equal rights for women and the removal of religious sectarianism from higher education.
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This book first appeared in 1896. Since then, science has advanced and grown faster than ever before--yet Christian religious dogma is unchanged. Incredibly, we still hear from some states, towns, and public school systems (at least in the U.S.) the same biblical-fundamentalist arguments against scientific inquiry that, as Prof. White's book meticulously demonstrates, have been raised and debunked repeatedly over the past two millennia.
It's up to us whether we let religious fundamentalists paralyze progress in our era. Never forget which fruit God told the humans not to eat.
However, the greatest hidden gems in this work are the second-volume chapters on linguistics/biblical analysis and comparative religion/mythology. Not what we would typically call "sciences" (unless they be social sciences) these chapters illustrate why religion had challengers long before the Scientific Revolution: inconsistencies between bible manuscripts and between translations, pre-biblical occurrences in earlier cultures of stories often thought of as biblical, etc., etc., etc.
A great read.
He notes, "Aristarchus had stated the main truth [of the heliocentric theory] with striking precision. Here comes in a proof that the antagonism between theological and scientific methods is not confined to Christianity: for this statement brought upon Aristarchus the charge of blasphemy." (V1, pg. 120-121) Of Galileo's supposed "recantation," White comments, "Here was an old man... broken with disappointments, worn out with his labours and cares, dragged from Florence to Rome, with the threat from the Pope himself that if he delayed he should be 'brought in chains... To the end of his life... the persecution of Galileo continued. He was kept in exile from his family, from his friends, from his noble employments, and was held rigidly to his promise not to speak of his theory..." (V1, pg. 142-143)
He suggests, "A thoughtful, reverent, enlightened clergy is a great blessing to any country; and anything which undermines their legitimate work of leading men out of the worship of material things to the consideration of that which is highest is a vast misfortune." (V1, pg. 239) Later, he adds, "A true and noble theology can hardly fail to recognise, in the love of Nature and care for our fellow-men... something far better... than any efforts to win the Divine favour by flattery..." (V1, pg. 372)
He argues that "under paganism a limit was imposed to the torture which could be administered; but when Christianity had become predominant throughout Europe, torture was developed with a cruelty never before known... The treatise which in recent years has first brought to ilght... gives at the end engravings of the accused subjected to horrible tortures on their way to the stake... [and] is one of the most fearful monuments of theological reasoning and human folly." (V2, pg. 77)
He suggests, "the thinking leaders of theology have come to accept the conclusions of science regarding the origin of language, as against the old explanations by myth and legend. The result has been a blessing both to science and to religion... Nor has any harm been done to the Bible. On the contrary, this divine revelation through science has made it all the more precious to us... Our great body of sacred literature is thereby only made more and more valuable to us..." (V2, pg. 207-208) He adds, "The great sacred books of the world are the most precious of human possessions. They embody the deepest searchings into the most vital problems of humanity in all its stages: the naive guesses of the world's childhood, the opening conceptions of its youth, the more fully rounded beliefs of its maturity. These books, no matter how unhistorical in parts and at times, are profoundly true." (V2, pg. 288)
He concludes, "In this light thus obtained the sacred text has been transformed: out of the old chaos has come order... [now has come] the idea of a sacred literature which mirrors the most striking evolution of morals and religion in the history of our race... with the keys furnished by this new race of biblical scholars, the way has been opened to treasures of thought which have been inaccessible to theologians for two thousand years." (V2, pg. 394-395)
While one might sometimes wish White had given his sources in footnotes (e.g., the Huxley/Wilberforce exchange in Vol. 1, pg. 70-71), this is a marvelous book that is "essential reading" for anyone interested in the relation between religion and science.
What remains after the cloud of misconception has been cleared away is a very inspirational and educational story about deepening human understanding and progress with a message that is still very relevant today.