Science and religion …
from the pogo-ing conversations at meta-com-blog…

> but inherent in the idea of science is the idea that each theory is only
> valid until something comes along and disproves it.

Yes this is science’s saving grace — but the empirical critique of
science, as made by Foucault and others, is that it is a lot more
affected by the mind set of its actors and the setting in which it
exists than it is generally prepared to admit. Its theoretical
independence and objectivity is tainted — this is why Heisenberg had
such resonance.

>Compare the evolution of scientific theory over the last 1500 years with
>the evolution of the dogma of the Catholic church. Which one do you
> think has changed the most?

This is an interesting question (UKD collectively stabs the scroll
button…). First, I’m not sure that “science” has existed that long.
Sure you can go back to Pythagoras and indeed shadowy figures before
him, but don’t forget the rationalist materialist paradigm of which
science is the central figure went out of its way to repudiate its
supposedly irrational forebears. I guess science in anything like its
modern form in the west dates back to, what, 1300? Islamic and Chinese
science probably goes back a few centuries before. So in the
comparatively brief period that science has existed, it’s gone through
paradigmatic revolutions under (quick and incomplete guess) Newton,
Darwin, Einstein, a few others. Maybe science’s paradigmatic evolution
hasn’t been that great!

Now let’s look at Catholic theology. Around 500 you still had Gnosticism
hanging around, you still had the Celtic pagano-Xtian church in Britain
and Britanny (they got screwed down by 600 or so), you had the
Albignesian heresy up to about 1200, celibacy introduced around 800
maybe later, Christmas instituted in 800… You had linbks with what
became the Eastern Orthodox church until at least 1100, you had links
with the fucking Ethiopian Catholic church till 700 or so (still
probably the oldest pure Xtianity in the world…). You had the Marian
cult taking off in Spain, southern France and Italy around 1500 (a
co-option of what was effectively a full-on pagan revival). You had
multiple European popes from 1300 to 1500 (IIRC), you had papal
infallibility introduced during the renaissance, you had the church as
war-making nation-state from 1400s on… I could go on, and I haven’t
hit Vatican I and II yet. Each of these changes were seismic shifts in
how Catholicism was constructed politically and ideologically. Maybe
Catholicism has evolved more than science?

I’m not saying I like the changes though…