The conversation continues…
BOB: “I’m asking for evidence for this remarkable claim” (that Christian cosmology is necessary for science).
Dr. Greg: You mean other than the entire academic discipline of the history of science? I’m afraid you’ve got me there. Start with Stanley Jaki’s foundational book, “The Savior of Science.” Columbia University has a brief summary of some of his major points here.
BOB: “I’ve read this claim from other Christian thinkers, but I didn’t find their claims any better defended.”
Dr. Greg: Not sure what you mean. The history of science and epistemology aren’t primarily the purview of Christian thinkers. How much reading have you done in either field?
BOB: “I don’t see what’s special here. Couldn’t you and I brainstorm and come up with a dozen make-believe religions that also satisfied your need for a cosmology that presents an orderly universe?”
Dr. Greg: We could, but you’re asking me to indulge in a fantasy. There are a million scenarios that we could conjure up in our fantasies, but I’m asking you to stick to how science actually came to be. It has a story. A real story. You should get to know it. That’s not a dig. I mean it. Someone in your position needs to know this stuff. History shows that science, as a sustained, systematic, enterprise was not a gift from the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was a gift of Christianity, and specifically, the Catholic Church.
G: Tell that to these dudes. Bob, I do understand that it is an inconvenient truth, but science is, in fact, founded almost entirely on religious presupposition. You’re flirting dangerously close to scientism. http://carbon.ucdenver.edu/~mryder/scientism_este.html
BOB: “And what happens when there’s a conflict between science and scripture?”
G: Your fundamentalist slip is showing again. Christianity is more than the bible. This particular objection has never been an issue for traditional Christians. 20th Century American fundamentalists? Sure. Traditional Christians? Never. And in anticipation of your Gallileo objection…
BOB: “People are inquisitive and they found that an accurate understanding of the world led to progress. Where’s the puzzle?”
G: So, “Science happens.” THAT’s your argument? Here’s the problem. Science doesn’t just happen. That’s your 21st Century Western Christ-haunted bias talking. I will grant that science tried to happen many times throughout human history but until Christianity came along it did not have the fertile soil it needed (Christian cosmology), a systematic way of conducting it (Bacon’s Scientific Method), the institutional structure to support its growth (monasteries) and a comprehensive means of communicating itself (the Church’s development of the university system).
With that, I do think I’ve done the best I can. I hope at least some of my comments have given you food for thought. I’ll give you the last word. I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to thoughtfully engage these issues with you. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to do it again. God Bless!