Posts Tagged 'decline of science'

Christianity and Science

It is commonly believed that there is a war between modern science and Christianity, but such a view has long been discredited by historians and sociologists. No less a figure than Steven Shapin, Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, notes that

In the late Victorian period it was common to write about the “warfare between science and religion” and to presume that the two bodies of culture must always have been in conflict. However, it is a very long time since these attitudes have been held by historians of science.

Moreover, Gary Ferngren, a professor of history at Oregon State University, adds that

Although popular images of controversy continue to exemplify the supposed hostility of Christianity to new scientific theories, studies have shown that Christianity has often nurtured and encouraged scientific endeavour.

It is certain that there is a war between Christianity and atheism, but to portray the Christian faith as being at war with science is nonsense, because the Christian faith pursues, embraces and delights in all truth, since it teaches that all truth is from God. Natural science is simply one aspect of the universe of truth: the truth about the natural world, which God created and upholds. Accordingly, there can never be any truth or fact found by natural science that is inimical to the Christian faith. Neither is there, strictly speaking, such a thing as ‘Christian science’ because such a term implies that truth can be institutionalized, whereas truth is universal, and should be universally disseminated and applied.

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Greenhouse Nonsense

Last month the Royal Society of Chemistry issued a press release, Downing Street petition demands reversal of catastrophic decline in school science exam standards, about the ‘dumbing down’ of school science exams in the UK:

Armed with the first hard evidence of a catastrophic slippage in school science examinations standards, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has launched a Downing Street e-petition calling for urgent intervention to halt the slide.

The RSC report, also being supplied to industrialists and educationalists, raises major concerns over the disappearance from schools science examinations of vital problem-solving, critical thinking and mathematical manipulation.

However, the RSC is hardly free of blame itself. In this post we will demonstrate how the RSC is contributing to muddle-headedness in teaching. For the background, I’m grateful to a friend who works as a lab technician in an English school who brought to my attention that the RSC promotes an experiment in classrooms about the role of CO2 in ‘global warming’; details can be downloaded from the RSC website. Now, it’s one thing to jump on the global warming bandwagon to try to be ‘relevant’ and trendy; it’s quite another to be a party to promoting disinformation and claptrap about physics. The exercise in question relates to the English National Curriculum. Briefly, the trial compares the increase in temperature of a transparent plastic bottle filled with 100% CO2 and illuminated by a heat lamp, with a control bottle filled with atmospheric air under a similar lamp. As the bottle filled with CO2 is seen to warm faster than the control bottle filled with air, the inference to be drawn is that CO2 is contributing to global warming.

Now this is dumbed down science if ever we saw it, and the test is accompanied by teachers’ notes that contain falsehoods about the physics, which the teacher is encouraged to pass on to the class.

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Why science in Britain is in decline

To read the rantings of fellows of the Royal Society recently, one would certainly think that the institution has been taken over by fools and bigots.

Well, it has. It is no wonder that interest in science is declining rapidly, and that physics and chemistry departments at universities are being wound up – who wants to be in a ship of fools? The issue over Professor Michael Reiss (see the post ‘Disgrace at the Royal Society’) brings the matter into sharp focus. Reiss was not teaching that creationism be taught in the schools (he is an evolutionist), but that if the subject of creation is raised by a student, the teacher should engage the student and bring scientific principles to bear on the matter. One way to put pupils off science forever is to tell them to shut up and sit down if they so much as utter the C-word in class. Richard Dawkins would have them humiliated. Ring any bells? Animal Farm? That student, and many other observers in the class, will likely be lost to science forever, for asking a genuine question.

Let’s make ourselves clear. Reiss wasn’t suggesting that creationism be put on the science syllabus, he was merely suggesting that there are benefits in discussing the topic if a student raises the matter, and the fellows of the Royal Society know that’s the case. Thus Sir Richard Roberts, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Medicine:

I think it outrageous that this man is suggesting that creationism should be discussed in a science classroom. It is an incredible idea and I am drafting a letter to other Nobel laureates – which would be sent to the Royal Society – to ask that Reiss be made to stand down.

Well, with friends like this, who needs enemies?

Sir Harry Kroto, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, is even more forthright. He argued that Reiss didn’t have the intellectual integrity to teach science because he believed in God. What a daft assertion: there would be no Royal Society, and there would be precious little ‘modern science’, without the Christian worldview. It was Christianity that gave the motivation (the glory of God) and the theological framework (that God is rational, so his creation can be searched rationally; and that time/history is linear, not cyclical) for modern science. I will be dealing with this in some later posts. With atheistic science, the motivation is money, prestige and power (especially power – that involves keeping others out), and the framework is borrowed (without credit) and secularized for convenience. TRUE science turns to dust in the hands of atheists.

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