In discussing the history of science and faith, stereotypes and caricatures come easy. Michael Flynn has written a lengthy but excellent post engaging several distortions and errors about Christianity and it’s impact on the rise of science, particularly during the Middle Ages. His response is to an essay on Christianity, science and the Dark Ages and ably shows why it is important to get your facts straight.
Here are some of the myths he untangles:
- Scientific investigation virtually stopped once Constantine established orthodox Christianity at the Council of Nicaea
- The Christians tried to destroy all pagan and scientific literature, including the great libraries of the world.
- The destruction of the library of Alexandra and the murder of Hypatia in 415 CE by Christians, marked the beginning of the Dark Ages.
- Hypatia was murdered by Christians for religious reasons.
- The priests of Christianity kept the public from education, including the study of their own Bible.
- When Christianity took over Europe, scientific and engineering advancement virtually stopped.
- The Church banned Greek and Roman medicine during the Black Plague and sought religious instead of medical solutions.
- Not until the 1530s, when religious authority was finally under question, did important Roman medical texts get translated
- Priest Giordano Bruno was executed for the charge of holding scientific opinions contrary to the Catholic faith.
- Galileo was imprisoned for his heretical ideas of the heliocentric solar system
- The Greek thinker, Aristarchus, developed the first heliocentric theory in 270 BCE, not Copernicus
- Archimedes invented the concept of infinity and calculus long before the arrival of Christianity.
- There were no Christian scientists in the Dark Ages. And they only began to appear during the Renaissance, as the influence of the church began to wane.
Read the whole post (and browse some of the books on the subject that he recommends).