Time Traveling With Science and the Saints

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9781591020356: Time Traveling With Science and the Saints
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Using the biblical dictum, "by their fruits shall ye know them" (Mt. 7:20), humanist George Erickson surveys the historical record of the defenders of faith and the proponents of reason. His analysis challenges the commonly held belief that despite its many abuses religion on balance civilized the world. Beginning with the unfettered progress of science in pre-Christian, polytheistic societies, he notes that this progress was soon actively thwarted by the growing Christian throng. Aided by the carrot-and-stick appeal of heaven and hell, missionary passion, superstitions, and miracles, Christianity gradually overwhelmed its religious competitors while simultaneously working to destroy all interest in scientific reasoning.

Yet even amidst these suffocating, often bloody conditions, certain individuals doggedly pursued new and dangerous, frequently heretical scientific research, sometimes at the risk of their lives. Erickson briefly profiles such pioneers as Giordano Bruno, Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, Linnaeus, and others.

While condemning the Christianity that produced such abominations as the Inquisition and witch hunts, Erickson concludes on an optimistic note, emphasizing that science and secular society have broken free from centuries of religious opposition, and continue to benefit the world through mass education, modern medicine, and technological progress.

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From the Inside Flap:

For sixteen centuries Christianity dominated Western culture, during which time a powerful church rigidly, and often ruthlessly, imposed its dogma. Under these conditions powerful thinkers who disputed the Christian worldview encountered stiff opposition from ecclesiastical authorities. Persecution by both church and state as a means of stifling heretics became routine. Using the biblical dictum "by their fruits shall ye know them", humanist George A. Erickson surveys the historical record of the defenders of faith and the proponents of reason, and challenges the commonly held belief that, despite its many abuses, religion has civilized the world.

Beginning with the unfettered progress of science in pre-Christian, polytheistic societies, he notes that this progress was soon actively thwarted by the growing Christian throng. Aided by the carrot-and-stick appeal of heaven and hell, missionary passion, superstitions, and miracles, Christianity gradually overwhelmed its religious competitors while simultaneously working to destroy all interest in scientific reasoning.

Yet even amid these suffocating, often bloody conditions, certain individuals doggedly pursued new and dangerous, frequently heretical scientific research, often at the risk of their lives. Erickson briefly profiles such pioneers as Giordano Bruno, Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, Linnaeus, and others. While condemning the Christianity that produced such abominations as the Inquisition and witch-hunts, Erickson concludes on an optimistic note, emphasizing that science and secular society have broken free from centuries of religious opposition, and continue to benefit the world through mass education, modern medicine, and technological progress.

About the Author:

George A. Erickson (New Brighton, MN) is a former director of the American Humanist Association, a member of the Council for Secular Humanism and the National Center for Science Education, and the author of a pro-science, pro-freethought travel adventure book titled True North: Exploring the Great Wilderness by Bush Plane.

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