In medieval times, during the Renaissance, and right on up to the present, the Church and science have clashed repeatedly. Here are some of the highlights of their squabbles:
Science: the earth revolves around the sun.
Church: the universe revolves around the earth.
Science: the earth is billions of years old. Cities with written records have existed for about 5000 years.
Church: the earth is approximately 5000 years old.
Science: there is such a thing as a vacuum—and it can be demonstrated.
Church: a vacuum is, by definition, a place where nothing exists. So God and His angels couldn’t exist there—so there is no such thing.
Science: there are tiny particles we can't see.
Church: the only things smaller than the unaided eye can see are cherubim.
Science: electricity exists.
Church: no it doesn't.
Science: lightning is electricity and we can protect ourselves from it by use of a lightning rod.
Church: it is heretical to protect ourselves from God's wrath.
Science: life moves from the simple to the complex and has been developing for billions of years.
Church: the earth and everything on it was created in 6 days and nothing has changed since then.
Science: complex organisms have existed for millions upon millions of years. Dinosaurs ruled the earth 65 million years ago.
Church: if dinosaurs existed, they coexisted with humans and missed the boat when the great flood came. God made it LOOK as if they existed long before humans.
[It’s easier, I guess, to believe that God would lie to us than to believe in evolution.]
During the Medieval and Renaissance times, the Church enforced its views by torturing and killing those who dissented—so science was arrested for hundreds of years.
There is evidence that many of the women who were burned as witches were acting as midwives and physicks. The Church viewed aiding childbirth as heretical because God decreed that women were to suffer for Eve's sin.
Likewise, to heal people of disease was to interfere with God's plan [punishment of the sick person for some evil s/he had committed.]
There were exceptions, of course. The clergy and the wealthy were allowed to seek medical care -- but even the accepted doctors [males] were limited in what they were allowed to do. Dissecting human bodies was heretical—so medicine remained a matter of superstition and dogma for centuries when that needn't have been the case.
Today, new battles are being waged:
The abortion battle still rages. Many people [who are, for all their rhetoric, still the minority] are not content simply to make the personal choice not to seek an abortion for themselves. They want to deny that choice to others.
The related issue of contraception simmers. "No you can't" is the watchword when it comes to choosing whether or not to bring a child into the world.
The people who wish to deny the rest of us our own choices bang the Bible to hammer home their points.
And they would halt medicine today by stopping stem cell research. They prefer to throw away thousands of blastocysts daily rather than use them to lessen human suffering. They propagandize that the blastocysts would be created simply to be destroyed when the facts put the lie to their claim.
That doesn't stop them, however, they just keep pushing the lie in order to confuse the people who either don't know how to look up the information for themselves—or don't care to.
There are people who would still attempt to stop others from recognizing evolution. No matter how much evidence supports it, people who follow certain dogmas refuse to recognize it for themselves and seek to keep the rest of us from accepting it for ourselves.
The US may have elected another president with a very different viewpoint, but the belief that evolution is heresy continues among great numbers of people. And they still want to censor it—to force those of us who agree with the theory to denounce it.
We have only to glance at the Middle Ages to find a parallel.
Another we've all heard of is the one about global warming. The information that was being disseminated [and censored] by the recent stand-in for the Church, the Bush administration, was that global warming didn’t exist or, if it did, we had nothing to do with it.
Evidence, however, shows that Greenland’s ice sheets, the Arctic and the Antarctic are shrinking every day. Science has come to the realization that we are approaching a tipping point beyond which we will no longer be able to stop the warming trend we have set in motion.
There are at least two scenarios as to what will happen next. One is that the earth will continue to warm until all life on earth is threatened—including us. Another is that the earth could move into a human-made Ice Age and all life on earth would be threatened—including us.
Both predict an increase in the numbers of and ferocity of storms and droughts around the planet. [Please note Katrina and the massive increase of the number and the fury of tornadoes—and the fact that the Saharan Desert has been growing for the last two decades, at least. And Florida, where one used to be able to set one's clock by the summer rainstorms is in its sixth year of water rationing due to drought.]
I [among many others whose blogs I read] noted for eight years that Bush’s short-sighted policies would probably not trigger the end of the US right away. They could, however, help set off the end of the world as we know it—and begin the backward march of civilization.
It seems some of those predictions are coming true. With the world's finances in such disarray, how can we afford to give science the money it needs to continue the research that might halt global warming? Or bring us cures from the stem cells Obama has, once more, allowed scientists to study? Or search for asteroids that may be on a collision course with Earth?
The Christian proselytizers have shut one door after another that could have moved us forward.
As we are discovering—perhaps too late—humans are not too skilled at standing still. We seem to be able to progress or regress—but not remain static.
And what do many of the obstructionists trot out to back up their assertions that global warming doesn't exist, that we should ignore possible cures, that we should abandon science? The Bible, of course.
Meanwhile, how many of these same people accept medical help when giving birth? How many vaccinate their children? How many of them go to doctors, hospitals, take medication? These are all things that, at one time, the Church viewed as heresy.
Those who would use the Bible to restrict progress are hypocrites of the highest order.
Because our forefathers had studied history and knew what came of combining Church and State, they foresaw the situation we are in now. They did their best to protect us from it. But, today, as the Constitution is losing its strength, the Church is encroaching further and further into government.
As with the matter of global warming, we may be too late to stop the slide.