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Slaying the Dragons Destroying myths in the history of science and faith Allan Chapman

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15 Feb 2013
256 pages: 138 x 216 x 15 mm

Are science and faith, particularly Christianity, inevitably in conflict, as the New Atheists proclaim? Have they not always been so? Weren't early scientists hounded for their discoveries until Darwin burst on the scene and sent faith packing? Not if you look at the facts, says Dr Allan Chapman, who teaches the History of Science at the University of Oxford. History shows us that Galileo was not the victim of Church persecution - nor did Huxley "win" the debate with Wilberforce. Drawing on contemporary sources, Dr Chapman proves that the history of science and of faith always have been closely intertwined. From the leading scientists of medieval times, many in Holy Orders, to the seventeenth-century Popes who maintained an astronomical observatory in the Vatican, to the Christian people of science today, science and faith have grown up together.
Acknowledgments 6 1 Myths, Monotheism, and the Origins of Western Science 9 2 The Origins of Unbelief Part 1: Ancients and Early Moderns 24 The Popular Myth That Atheism is New 24 Classical and Medieval Unbelief 26 Thomas Hobbes, Mat erialism,and Man the Machine 31 Atheists, Deists, and Unbelievers 37 3 The Origins of Unbelief Part 2: Dreams of a Brave New World 43 Romantic and Revolutionary Atheism 43 Robert Owen, George Holyoake, and the Victorian Secular Atheists 50 The Myth That Simple Faith Was Destroyed by Darwin in 1859 56 4 The Historical Roots of Anti-Christianity Part 1: Two Persistent Myths 57 The Myth of the Medieval "Dark Age" 57 The Myth of the "Enlightenment" 65 5 The Historical Roots of Anti-Christianity Part 2: Myths of Changing Circumstances 75 The Problem of Eternal Damnation 75 Biblical Criticism, "Myth", and Early Biblical Archaeology 79 Nationalistic Christianity 89 The Growth and Power of Science 92 6 Some Popular Myths about Science and Religion 94 Christianity and Science in "Conflict": Two Nineteenth-Century American "Atheists" 94 All Christians Are Really Biblical Fundamenta lists 98 The Church Has Always Persecuted Science and Scientists 100 Religion Causes the World's Troubles: Only Secularism Can Bring Peace 107 7 Monkeying around with History: The Myth of the Big 1860 "Oxford Debate" on Evolution 113 8 The Myth of the Young Earth and the Origins of Evolutionary Ideas 121 Dat ing the Creat ion 121 The Origins of Life: Pre-Darwinian Ideas of "Evolution" 130 9 Charles Da rwin: Monkey, Man, and Myth 136 10 Countering the "Big Lie" 149 Why Is Nat ure Congruent? 149 Why Do Humans Respond So Positively to Beauty and Elegance? 151 Science Describes Effects, Religion Talks of Causes and Purposes 156 11 Does Science Challenge Religion? The Great Atheist Myth 160 Lack of New Secularist Ideas 160 Why Has Religion Fa iled to Die Away? 166 Are Atheism and Secularism More Superstitious Than Christianity? 169 Doubting Scepticism 173 Seduction by Reduction 176 12 The Age That Lost Its Nerve: The Dilemma of Christendom in the Modern World Part 1: Myths and Mechanisms 180 The Myth of a Secular Society 182 Forced to Act: Mechanism and Evolutionary and Neurological Determinism 186 The Historical Origins of Social Science Explanations, and Their Exploitation by Secularist Myth-Makers 194 13 The Age that Lost its Nerve: The Dilemma of Christendom in the Modern World Part 2: The Myth of Secular Transcendence 204 The Myth of Human Perfectibility 205 The Unacknowledged Pillaging of Christian Morality by Secularists 209 Believing in an External Transcendent Reality 214 Why Must Humans Be Always Saving Something? 216 Reinventing Heaven 218 14 Rediscovering the Compass, or Where Do We Go from Here? 223 Reclaiming Christian Identity 223 How "Enlightened" Are the New Atheists? 234 Conclusion: So Where Do We Stand, and What Do We Do? 238 15 Postscript: Why Do So Many Modern Intellectuals Waste Their Energy Attacking Christianity? 242 Why Get Hot under the Secular Collar? 242 Surviving the Crucifixion 244 History? But the Gospels Were Just Made Up - Weren't They? 247 Further Reading 250 Index 252
Dr Allan Chapman is a historian of science at Oxford University, with special interests in the history of astronomy and of medicine and the relationship between science and Christianity. As well as University teaching, he lectures widely, has written a dozen books and numerous academic articles, and written and presented two TV series, Gods in the Sky and Great Scientists, besides taking part in many other history of science TV documentaries and in The Sky at Night with Sir Patrick Moore. He has received honorary doctorates and awards from the Universities of Central Lancashire, Salford, and Lancaster, and in 2015 was presented with the Jackson-Gwilt Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society. Among his books are Slaying the Dragons. Destroying Myths in the History of Science and Faith (Lion Hudson, 2013), Stargazers: Copernicus, Galileo, the Telescope, and the Church. The Astronomical Renaissance, 1500-1700 (Lion, 2014), and Physicians, Plagues, and Progress. The History of Western Medicine from Antiquity to Antibiotics (Lion, 2016). He is also the author of the scientific biographies England's Leonardo. Robert Hooke and the Seventeenth-Century Scientific Revolution (Institute of Physics, 2005), Mary Somerville and the World of Science (Canopus, 2004; Springer, 2015), and The Victorian Amateur Astronomer. Independent Astronomical Research in Britain, 1820-1920 (Wiley-Praxis, 1998; revised edn. Gracewing, 2017).

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