Here’s a fairly old post (originally published May 2009) that I stumbled across while trying to find things I’d written in the past about Galileo. I’m republishing it here just because, rereading it, I decided I really liked it.
There’s a really creepy theme I’ve been noticing in Christian apologetics: an apologist will set off with an official mission to, say, show that Christianity is not responsible for the Inquisition. But as you read the argument, you begin to get the feeling he thought the inquisition was a fine idea.
Here’s how it works: if the topic of the day is persecution of dissenting sects of Christianity, you’ll hear about the threat of heresy to the social order. If the topic is what the Inquisition did to the Jews of Spain, you hear about how the Inquisition only targeted Jews who pretended to convert to Christianity, so they could avoid getting expelled from the country. If the topic is Galileo, we are told that the idea that the Church was opposing science is a slander against Christianity, and Galileo was really being punished for either insulting the Pope or trying to interpret Scripture for himself (yeah, that’s so much better).
As far as I’ve seen, no one’s really commented on this, and I didn’t really feel the need to comment until I encountered Hart’s extreme dismissals of modern liberty just recently. Why haven’t other atheist bloggers noticed this before? And could the apologists really be too stupid to notice that this kind of rhetoric is risky? The mysteries of life…