Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jaki’s Theses

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., in How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, talks about Stanley Jaki’s “theses” (Science and Creation); that in all the great cultures (Arabic, Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, and Maya) “science suffered a stillbirth” due to a “burden of conceptual frameworks”, and that it was only in a Christian culture that science could, as indeed it did, flourish. Just as the secularist can witness evolution clashing with “conceptual frameworks” of many Christians, and the consequent numbing of the will when it concerns the specific desire for its development in such circles, so can we identify the sudden general halt which the technological advances in each of the aforementioned cultures met as the result of a similar clash; a clash of the scientific will with accepted metaphysical assumptions of a culture.

Galileo’s case, which is often used against Christianity, is actually instructive here. The Church’s opposition was not erected against Galileo’s theory, but against his general treatment of theory as fact. He suspected he was right, but he did not, yet, have the evidence to affirm it as fact. The Church, in this instance, was defending common sense and reason -- though I’m certainly not arguing that the way they defended it was proper. I say this case is instructive because Galileo had an intuition, a feeling, which he sought to explore; in scientific terms, he had a hypothesis, which he sought to verify; in theological terms he had faith seeking understanding. Whichever way you wish to term it, the scientific will precedes the intellect; once scientific presumptions become more intellectually explicit, once they catch up to the accepted metaphysical assumptions -- be they explicit or still implicit – we will find either a “numbing of the scientific will”, or, as in the case of Christian culture, a nurtured one.

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