1) I've enabled comments on this blog. Commenting is regarded as a basic human right among blog readers so I have relented and will encourage them here. I was worried about having to moderate, but realised that my readers would not require moderation as they are such a civil group of people. So feel free to argue, explicate and debate.
2) What is the world coming to? A correspondent pointed out this story about an anti-Shakespeare pressure group trying to publicise the lunatic idea that he didn't write the plays. Fine actors like Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance are making themselves look like complete plonkers. Worse, it seems that Brunel University is launching an MA course on Shakespeare Authorship studies.
3) I've been posting a top ten list of "things you never knew about science and religion" to some discussion boards to gauge debate and publicise my book. Another correspondent has been working on this idea in the past. Here's my list:
1) In the Middle Ages, Christian universities laid down the foundations of modern science and took the subject of rational logic to heights not reached until the nineteenth century.
2) The Jesuits published over 6,000 scientific papers and texts between 1600 and 1773 including a third of those on electricity. They were by far the largest scientific organisation in the world.
3) Copernicus’s book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, was never banned by the church. Instead, the pope’s censors compiled a short insert with ten corrections intended to make clear heliocentricism was an unproven hypothesis. At the time, this is what it was.
4) During the Middle Ages, hardly anyone thought the Earth was flat. The question never arose with Christopher Columbus.
5) No one has ever been burnt at the stake for scientific ideas. The only great scientist to have been executed was the chemist Antione Lavoisier. ‘Freethinking’ anti-clerical French revolutionaries guillotined him in 1794, although for political reasons.
6) Calvin never said “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit.
7) Even by the standards of their time, Sir Isaac Newton, Johann Kepler and Michael Faraday were devoutly religious. During the Enlightenment, when scepticism about religion became acceptable, scientists almost always remained committed Christians.
8) Christians did not try and destroy pagan Greek scientific ideas. Instead, they laboriously hand copied millions of words of Greek science and medicine thus ensuring they were preserved.
9) The church never tried to ban zero, lightning conductors or human dissection.
10) The concept of a good creator god who laid down the laws of nature at the beginning of time was an essential metaphysical foundation for modern science.
Let me know if you think anything is needed to finesse the list, add or subtract or otherwise amend. In fact, I suppose that's what the comments function is for.
Click here to read the first chapter of God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science absolutely free.