Friday, January 13, 2006

An Intelligent Discussion at the Secular Web: Is It Possible?

I have often wondered if it is just me. What, I thought, would happen if a non-theist turned up at the Internet Infidel's discussion boards and suggested, as I have, that Christianity helped bring about the rise of modern science? Well, now I know. Somebody going by the name of Duck, who says he is a non-theist, has asked this very question in this thread. Let me be clear. I am not Duck. I haven't taken on a new persona to discover if a non-theist would get a hearing. However, the headbangers have decided that Duck is a heretic atheist and will not give his question the time of day. He seems to have got bored and gone away.

I think this case pretty much proves that intelligent conversation about topics distasteful to hardline atheists is impossible at the Secular Web. Interestingly, the thread also provided an example of Sumner's Law in action. This states that any historical discussion at the Secular Web will inevitably lead to whether or not Jesus existed. It happens about page three in this case.

Incidently, some of the correspondants bring up Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs and Steel as answering the question why modern science appeared in Western europe only. Actually, it doesn't really answer this question. Rather, Diamond explains why the most advanced civilisations of history have all been in a line running roughly from Japan, across Asia to Europe. What he does not satisfactorily answer is why science appeared in late medieval Europe and not the ancient Mediterranean, the Islamic Caliphate, India or China. It is that question to which Christianity probably supplies a substantial part of the answer.

Comments or questions? Post them at Bede's dedicated yahoo group.

No comments: