From Uncommon Descent
From medievalist Tim O’Neill (an atheist) at History for Atheists:
The Church had always accepted that the Bible could be interpreted in a non-literal manner and that it should be if Biblical exegesis and rational analysis of the world conflicted. That’s why all those Biblical references that talk about a flat earth had long since been regarded as poetic rather than literal. So in 1615 Cardinal Bellarmine made it clear in his letter to Paolo Foscarini that the same could potentially happen with passages that were traditionally interpreted as saying the earth was fixed and unmoving:
“[I]f there were a true demonstration that the sun is at the centre of the world and the earth in the third heaven, and that the sun does not circle the earth but the earth circles the sun, then one would have to proceed with great care in explaining the Scriptures that appear contrary, and say rather that we do not understand them than what is demonstrated is false. But I will not believe that there is such a demonstration, until it is shown to me . . . . and in case of doubt one must not abandon the Holy Scripture as interpreted by the Holy Fathers.”
The problem was that Bellarmine was correct: in 1615 there was no such demonstration and the overwhelming scientific consensus was that Galileo and the handful of other heliocentrists were wrong. That consensus did not begin to change for another 90 years. So it was not a case of scientists challenging dogma and theologians ignoring science. It was a case of one or two scientists championing a fringe theory that was still full of holes and using it to reinterpret the Bible and the Church pointing to the scientific consensus of the day and saying they could not do this. The Church had science on its side.
The only other example that people who see medieval science as under the heel of massive theological restriction and “Renaissance” science freeing itself from this oppression is … Giordano Bruno. But as I’ve detailed elsewhere, his condemnation had nothing to do with science. The idea that medieval natural philosophy was constrained by theology and that later science was not is a fantasy, based on ignorance of the subject and patent ideological bias. More.
False history is a big problem in science. To the extent that we can learn anything from history, the first step is to get the story right.
Of course, if you just want to look as cool as a TV anchor’s hair, don’t read stuff like this.
See also: The warfare thesis exploded In general, do not trust science writers on topics involving religion. Too many are shallow thinkers with an aversion to homework. Some give the impression that getting the story wrong doesn’t matter. If we pay any attention to them, they are right.
OK, that’s the quote. But what does that mean to you?
First: while Tim O’Neill is to be respected to telling the truth on this matter, it is generally wise to assume that most atheists will simply repeat the party line. It is what they are taught in the universities, the media, and by their fellow ideologues, after all.
It is long past time that Christians started to value intellectual achievement, and provide for their own defense instead of relying on the generosity of a few old-timers who value truth over ideology. This takes work and time, and it must be done.
If it is not done, we shall be reduced to begging for scraps from our atheistic masters table, including big-hearted and gracious masters like Tim O’Neil… who did the research Christians pointedly refused to do, no matter how beneficial it would be for them.
I am exceedingly tired of seeing Christians beg. Aren’t you?
I have nothing against big-hearted and generous masters: but Christians are expected to be free, and slaves to no man.
Freedom and liberty takes work. Those Christians who refuse to do so can continue to live, dependent on their master’s whims, be they Atheistic or Muslim. I prefer to live otherwise.
Second: If Christians want to win — and I am speaking of the future generation of Christians, as the current generation of believers are happy in their chains, as proven by their (lack of) actions — they had better get their integrity up.
Today’s Ruling Secular Elite can comfortably say any level of pleasing lies, and be certain of media adoration.
You don’t get to lie and live as they do, Christian.
You must pay the full price for your integrity, and build up the truth: almost certainly, outside of academia (from which believing Christians – and not believing Muslims – may well be formally barred). You are going to have to do your work outside of the comfortable mutual-support circles of today’s intensely anti-Christian academic establishment.
AND, you have to get word out to those believers who want to win, who wish to rule themselves, rather than crawl before their enemies.
In order to stay the course, you will need a hardened faith, as well as a strong commitment to work and a solid plan for spreading your findings.