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Friday, November 09, 2007

Materialist myths: David Warren on anti-Christian rubbish taught in science classes

What I find really helpful about the Ottawa Citizen's David Warren is the historical context he kindly provides. We are so often a-swamp in materialist nonsense. For example, the idea that the culture of Christian Europe promoted the idea that the Earth is flat. I've blogged on this before, here, here, and here, (and this last is David again).

Still, David says it so much better:

One of the constants in the long clash between Scientism & Christianity has been the repetition & elaboration by the Scienticists of quite incredible myths & lies, that are still used in our public schools, media, &c, to mock & slander Christians & Christianity. I know about the potency of these myths & lies, for I myself was taught many of them, in school, saw them endlessly repeated in the press, heard them repeated by all liberal adults, & actually believed several of them until I came to riper years, & began to realize that public atheism requires the defence of a "bodyguard of lies." (And you will find them all repeated uncritically in Dawkins, Hitchens, Sam Harris, & all the current bestselling atheist tracts.)

Many of the specific lies descend from old Protestant broadsides against Catholics -- for instance, the lie that the mediaeval scholastics debated how many angels on the head of a pin, lurid & untruthful accounts of proceedings of the Spanish Inquisition, various folk myths about what Catholics do in Mass, the misrepresentation of the trial of Galileo, &c. All except this last were products of virulent anti-Catholic pamphleteering, in the 17th century. (The Galileo myth was invented later, for in the 17th-C the Protestants themselves were opposing the heliocentric theory, & often trying to suppress it as a popish "heresy" -- on grounds that the people propagating it were all Catholics & often monks & were well-received in the Vatican.)

But while Scientism has taken aboard all the old Protestant smears, & turned them into smears against Christians in general, it has also been industriously manufacturing its own myths, lies, & vitriolic sneers, from the philosophes of the Enlightenment, forward. (The Darwinists of the 19th century were even more inventive, in their determination to associate Christian belief with idiocy.)

Among the most universally taught & least subtle, lies taught to this day, is that Christians throughout the Middle Ages believed the world was flat; & that the Church taught this, & defended it as religious doctrine against Copernicus, Kepler, & Galileo. Yet the Church never taught the earth was flat, nor did any educated person, Christian or otherwise, ever believe it.

Indeed, the old Ptolemaic system -- universally accepted by intelligent Christians, Heretics, Atheists, Jews, Muslims, & even Hindus until the age of Copernicus -- was very clear on the fact that the earth was a sphere.

The American scholar Jeffrey Burton Russell wrote an excellent history of the foundation & propagation of the "flat earth myth" in the 19th century, of which I've just become aware. (His earlier series of books on the historical development of doctrine & beliefs about the monotheist personification of the Devil may be familiar to some of you.) Russell is pedestrian in the best sense: a very thorough scholar who walks patiently through a broad range of evidence, insists on consulting original sources, & writes very clearly.

Here, anyway, is his own summary of his findings in his book, Inventing the Flat Earth (1991).

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