Monday, January 21, 2013

What the middle ages did for science

Here's a list of gifts that came down from the Middle Ages (or from 'the age of faith' in the language of those who like to contrast it with a 'age of reason' than followed it) - gifts on whose necessary foundations science is built: All these intellectual achievements were worked out in the so-called pre-Enlightenment times:
  • There is a distinction between a primary cause (God did it) and a natural secondary cause (the machinery of the world has enough vitality and flexibility for things to happen naturally, as a consequence of laws of nature)
  • Nature is intelligible because it has a rational and loving creator
  • Natural philosophy is the study of the ordinary course of nature
  • Nature can be understood through the language of mathematics
  • God freely created the universe so we must observe his work to understand it. 
(From Dr James Hannam , Science and Christianity: An Historical Sketch. This is a Faraday Institute lecture, available from iTunes U.)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Faith and the dying: deathbed repentance is still popular

Am enjoying the British Religion in Numbers website ( One 2012 figure is at least amusing in the midst of the falling numbers of Christian affiliation elsewhere. Less than 60% of the living claim to be Christians in the UK but this rises to to 83% among the dying. (See Part of this is to do with the fact that the older a person is in the UK, the more likely they are to profess Christianity. But part of it...