Galileo Goes To Jail, a 2009 collection of essays edited by Ronald Numbers, examines 25 myths of science and religion. The essays aren’t defenses of religion by any means; they instead aim at complicating the received scientific triumphalism and set records straight. Maurice A. Finocchiaro tackles myth #8, that Galileo was imprisoned and tortured by the Inquisition. Finocchiaro admits that court documents make it appear that Galileo was jailed and perhaps tortured. Other evidence indicates that Galileo was treated far… Read more

The late Billy Graham from a 1959 issue of Christianity Today. 1959!! One of the pet words of this age is “tolerance.” It is a good word, but we have tried to stretch it over too great an area of life. We have applied it too often where it does not belong. The word “tolerant” means “liberal,” “broad-minded,” “willing to put up with beliefs opposed to one’s convictions,” and “the allowance of something not wholly approved.” Tolerance, in one sense,… Read more

“Modernity,” writes Jason A. Josephson-Storm, “is first and foremost the sign of a rupture . . . a device for positing significant historical breaks” (The Myth of Disenchantment, 7). By designating something as “modern,” we associate it with novelty, up-to-dateness, “the current.” But modernity is also a spatial reality: “to call a culture modern is to ally it with newness and to consign its opposite to colonization or the scrap heap of history.” Modernity “is as much a project as… Read more

Frances Young (God’s Presence, 173-4) offers this summary of the post-Nicene consensus concerning the image of God in man: “Athanasius and the Cappadocians, those who fashioned the notion of theopoiesis/theosis and recognized that it implied Nicene orthodoxy, were those who had a sense of the interrelationship of differing aspects of God’s image as presented in different parts of scripture. This doctrinal ‘ecology,’ by which key components mutually sustain one another, was rooted in traditional Christian thinking as found in Irenaeus… Read more

Everyone wonders – children, “savages,” men and women at one another. Philosophers wonder too, Rosenzweig says (Understanding the Sick and the Healthy), but they respond to wonder differently from the rest of us. The rest of us are “adrift on the river Life, borne on, wonderment and all.” We drift and go on living, and “at last, the numbness caused by his wonder passes” (40). The philosopher i.e. one who cannot wait, who is “unwilling to accept the process of… Read more

Sociologists, Rosenstock-Huessy charges, often formulate their theories in this fashion: “an obscure Force A and a Relation B . . . affect Mr Y.” Sociologists “pretend that their science address a nameless world” (In the Cross of Reality, 4). No such nameless world exists: “X and Y are unknown to reality, and so are ‘if A, the B’ scenarios.” If sociologists are going to deal with reality itself, they need to take a different approach: “First of all, a state… Read more

Matthew Levering devotes a dense chapter of his Engaging the Doctrine of Creation to a defense of divine simplicity. As one would expect from a leading Catholic thinker, Levering relies on Thomas. God, Levering argues, must be pure act in order to be something other than “a being among beings”: “God can be the source and cause of all finite being, the creator, only if God ontologically transcends all finite being. If divine being were finite, God could not [in… Read more

The following excerpt is taken from the first volume of my Matthew commentary, recently published by Athanasius Press. Jesus announces the new law from the mountain; He is Moses on a new Sinai. But in this passage, Jesus assumes another role for a few moments – the role of Solomon the sage. The end of Matthew 6, more than any other, resembles the wisdom literature, especially the book of Proverbs. Like Solomon, He points us to the natural world to… Read more

An old piece, first published in Touchstone magazine. Contemporary horror films have nothing on Dante. His Inferno is full of terrors that even the most jaded film-maker would shrink from putting on screen: Nightmarish landscapes flowing with streams of boiling blood, deserts of burning sand showered by fire from Heaven, pits and rivers of black pitch, excrement, and muck, a lake eternally frozen that holds Satan, eternally munching on his victims. Noxious smells and putrid fogs fill the air, and as Dante… Read more

In Liberalism and Empire, Uday Singh Mehta calls attention to the neglected link between British liberalism and the British empire. He writes, “We rightly think of liberalism as committed to securing individual liberty and human dignity through a political cast that typically involves democratic and representative institutions, the guaranty of individual rights of property; and freedom of expression, association, and conscience, all of which are taken to limit the legitimate use of the authority of the state. Moreover, at least… Read more

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