What to say science and religion?


The real lesson of the Affair Galilee, is that it does not mix apples and oranges. Or carrots and potatoes. Or laboratories and sacristy, synagogues, mosques and other temples of all religions. And tabarnak!

Let’s be honest, these words are not those used by Quebecer Yves Gingras in his latest book, “ The Impossible dialogue – Science and religion published by Presses Universitaires de France ( PUF, 423 pages, 21 euros). But they summarize his argument, admittedly in somewhat cavalier.

The historian and sociologist of science, early in his career, did not expect to write about it considered outdated. Despite some vague “new age” of which The Tao of physics Fritjof Capra is a major example. Then, in the 1990s, flourished attempts to “ dialogue ” to “ convergence ” and other connections between science and religion. A necessary conversation in one or reunion as others. And the same “ matches ” when scholars claim to coincide with the Bible geology and cosmology or the Koran or Buddhism with quantum physics. Find all strength of acquaintances between the rational and scientific discourse on the material world, societies and human history – not to mention psychology and religion -. And the recent

Millions of dollars Dialogue science / religion

Thus, the term “ dialogue entre science and religion ” in the English corpus of Google Books Ngram Viewer for the period 1939/2008 shows a peak in 2001 after a rapid growth from 1995. the result of the convergent action “ several ideological currents ” shows Gingras. Sometimes under very organized and heavily financed forms of religious fundamentalism as the action of Templeton Foundation whose Islamic counterpart could be the Center for islamic studies founded by chemist Muzaffar Iqbal.

The interference of the Templeton Foundation in the functioning of science and universities with generous scholarships (more than 50 million between 1996 and 2013) enjoyed scientific religious beliefs – as physicists Paul Davies and John Barrow – is very effective (in a fashion already experimented successfully by industrial lobbies such as the cigarretiers ). But that is found even in the academic historical work when “ microhistory ” Science emphasizes the religious views of a particular scientist while the question is that of the relationship between institutions (churches off and science sense) and that the supposed link between research output and the religious belief of researchers is not very heuristic about the success of the first. Denying the conflict, calling for “balance” Bible, Koran, religion and science, this speech peppered scholarly symposia and papers public (as claimed by a managing editor at Libération “as a God and science, it sells! “… initiative that led to this ).

Yves Gingras

In this context, the book of Yves Gingras, a conceptual clarity, easy to read (1) due to its rigorous organization and based on a controlled learning (2), is timely. The reader is first of all a return there on “Galileo Affair” welcome as it has resulted in too romanticized presentations. The latest is that of the Church which, under the mandate of John Paul II, tried to shoot “ this thorn from ” in his honor. What is the least complicated and leads to contortions and untruths. Whether the treatment of the scientist, cruel to his death. Or claim of Cardinal Poupard – in 1994! – To Cardinal Bellarmine better epistemologist Galileo while the Italian scientist proves not only unrivaled in this field but better Christian than the prelate, warning that he takes the risk of the Church one day , treat a heretic one who will deny the motion of the Earth around the sun.

Rather than a friendly dialogue, the relationship between science and religion, particularly the Christian, especially a conflict were some lived “to death.” Not only by the tragic death of Giordano Bruno, burned in Rome in 1600, but especially by the slow, gradual but inexorable process that saw science expel religion from ever wider areas of human thinking about the Universe. Physics, astrophysics, cosmology, geology, biology, and anthropology, history and social sciences everywhere … God has moved from a central position to the “ periphery ” Science. Like when Buffon in his Natural History mentions the action of God as the giver “ the motion ” to the universe then fades to give way to physical and its laws. But the movement continued until his deportation. The triumph of the rationalist approach to elucidate the phenomena was accompanied by “the correlative exclusion of God from scientific field “, writes Yves Gingras. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, cited by the author, said in his own way: “ knowledge is a harder material than faith, so that if they collide, it is faith that breeze.

The slow and inexorable expulsion of God

The thinkers have perceived from the beginning of the adventure. Thus the author points out, is that since 1671 Jacques Rohault wrote: “theology and philosophy (science, note SH) have different principles; theology is based on the authority and revelation and philosophy is based only on reason from which it follows that one can be treated without another “. Theologians concerned with the “ supernatural ‘and’ extraordinary ” and they let scientists care more modestly of “ the ordinary “and” natural “where miracles have no place. This epistemological separation will enable the empowerment of science … and this despite often held religious beliefs of scientists themselves. However, emphasizes Gingras irony absolute space of Newton was much more useful and used by physicists to Einstein that his idea that this was the sensorium Dei .

At this slow but inexorable expulsion, religious institutions have resisted. The Catholic Church in particular has used and abused all its means to “ censor ” science until the early 20th century. In 1950 again, Pius XII, in Humani generis seems to authorize Catholic scientists to conduct research on the evolution of species but “ provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of Church, to whom Christ entrusted the mandate to interpret the scriptures and protect the faith . ” To drive the point then claiming that the hypothesis of the fixity of species is “ equals ” to that of evolution.

Dialogues and ramblings

With such liabilities, Yves Gingras is surprised that historians have subsequently, and especially the past twenty years, advanced the idea that the conflict between science and religion would be a “ myth .” As for “ dialogue ” current, we must admit that only the religions and their spokesmen request it … in a curious quest for credibility with haloed their success sciences. By examining one by one the components of this dialogue, the author reduced to the … “ empty intersection of two universes of discourse” . And rule their accounts with irony “ anthropic principle ” (including the Nobel Prize for Chemistry Ilya Prigogine believed “ it means nothing ” and other Carmelite experiences in meditation under MRI supposed to show that this meditation “ is not reducible to pure neuronal activity “. not to mention the vagaries of physicists based immortality of the soul on quantum physics, commercial dressing slippage of “divine “the Higgs boson and other ” secret melody “combining physical and enchanted vision of nature. the French landscape will be him in the years 1990 and 2000 contaminated by the action of the interdisciplinary University of Paris . (IPU), led by Jean Staune plenty funded by the Templeton foundation as the official line of the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI returned to the “fundamentals” like rugby: submit reason to faith in short, the conflict. between belief and knowledge is still there, as evidenced by the difficulties of American archaeologists faced the refusal of Aboriginal groups to see fossil skeletons under investigation. The book of Yves Gingras therefore comes to the suitable time to set the record straight because of the hour.

Passionate Brother Marie-Victorin one of the founders of the Quebec scientific momentum in the 1920s, Yves Gingras could not fail to reproduce his sound advice, especially perceptive that it comes from a man of faith, to one and all: “ let science and religion go by parallel paths (3) toward their own goals . “

(1) The book is on the whole very well edited but suffers from some rare shells, as that instead of that or incorrectly conjugated verb page 89.

(2) A fine example with the explanation of the character of Simplicio in the “Dialogue on Two Chief World Systems”, which is a tribute to Simplicius, fifth century philosopher, not an anti-papal spades.

(3) in a Euclidean geometry where the parallels never meet … and not in that of Riemann used in general relativity, otherwise the image will not work.

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