What is the joy that belief kills?
(Page 2 of 2)
At Glastonbury in England and elsewhere the monks pioneered metallurgy. There is strong archeological evidence that at the time when Henry VIII destroyed the English monasteries the monks of Britain had begun to develop blast furnaces. The Church set up and nurtured the University system to not only preserve but, for the first time, to accumulate knowledge, lifting mankind for the first and only time above the “ceiling” of slave labor, animal power, and sails, and, eventually, above an average life-expectancy of about 30 years.
Professor Dawkins’s own discipline of genetics was created by Gregor Mendel, a 19th century abbot. It was the glory of God that inspired and drove onwards Copernicus (a priest), Newton, Boyle, Max Planck and countless other great scientists, as well as, later, the likes of the lay preacher Buzz Aldrin. Even many of those scientists and other geniuses not conventional believers were Deists of one kind or another. Adam Smith, probably the world’s greatest creator of prosperity, said relatively little about religion, but he said enough, including on his death bed, to show he believed. His friend Edmund Burke made the point that without religion men reverted to barbarous and degrading superstition.
The Catholic Church was, for most of history, a greater patron of astronomy than all other institutions combined, for it took knowledge seriously.
In the 18th and 19th centuries men of religion, Catholic and Protestant, continued to play major roles. Among the many great Catholic clerical astronomers might be mentioned Giuseppe Piazzi, who discovered the first asteroid, Ceres, in 1801, and established the observatory at Palermo. Piazzi also obtained modern equipment and instruments for it, and converted Palermo from a backwater in poverty-stricken and ignorant Sicily to a great center for astronomy, a position it has maintained ever since, later being involved with the first imaging X-ray astrophysics. Despite being a Catholic priest and indeed a professor of dogmatic theology in Rome, in 1788 Piazzi traveled to England to work with the astronomer Nevil Maskelyne, a Protestant minister, and the famous instrument-maker Ramsden. A little before this a Jesuit mathematician, R. G. Boscovich, had played a key role in charting the way to modern nuclear physics. Charles Babbage, who designed the forerunner of the modern computer, and was a distinguished scientist and inventor in other fields as well as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge from 1828 to 1839, was also a keen theologian and author of theological writings, including the 1837 treatise On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation. In the 20th century another Catholic priest was responsible for probably the greatest astronomical discovery possible to be made: the Big Bang.
It is still the church as an institution — far more, I think, than any atheistic scientists — which stands against the coming together of bad religion, bad reason and bad science in the so-called “New Age.”
There was, as Chesterton put it, a certain inevitability in the fact that the civilization that believed in the Trinity also discovered steam.
One of the great ironies of atheism is that by denying God it insults man. Atheists often call themselves “humanists,” but it is religious belief that is the only true humanism, for it is only religious belief which holds that man is something more than dust, and holds the human brain to be more than a chance assembly of atoms. For another odd thing is that if you believe in God, you get belief in man added in.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?