Religion and science don’t conflict, apparently

Apparently, the perception that religion has been impeding science is wrong! That’s according to this article in The Guardian, which claims the commonly held belief that science has a history of being suppressed and challenged by religion is false.

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for any compelling arguments in this article, you won’t find any — you’ll be better served by reading this interview with biologist Jerry Coyne on his new book, which prompted the author to write this article in the first place. It seems the author failed to mention the systematic campaign of ignorance that was entirely the product of Christianity’s stranglehold on education and science. Perhaps the most telling example is this story about Archimedes and his notebook. You may remember him from his now famous (and historically inaccurate) story about jumping out of the bath, yelling “Eureka!” after solving the mystery of water displacement. Well, it turns out Archimedes did more than simply discover this scientific gem; he also discovered integral calculus thousands of years before Newton.

This vital discovery in math and sciences in general was almost lost when the only remaining copy of his notebook fell into the hands of the Church. Roughly 700 years ago, a monk took the manuscript, erased the precious notes, flipped it 90 degrees, and converted into a prayer book. It would take another 2000 years for humans to grasp the concept of integral calculus. The loss of this information (and the subsequent recovery by modern scientific techniques) is but one of the myriad examples of how the systematic control of education and information by the Church impeded science.

Now that does not mean the two are completely incompatible. The works of Aristotle and Plato thrived under Christianity, but they did so only because their teachings were found to be compatible with Church doctrine. Anything regarded as heretical was suppressed, locked up, or destroyed. In a world where a religion claims absolute control over all elements of life, any findings or works that contradicted with doctrine was considered seditious and dangerous. We aren’t surprised by this revelation, since still today, religious institutions continue to suppress and undermine scientific discovery. Are there really any creationists that aren’t religious?

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