The folks at RealClearScience do the heavy lifting that MacFarlane, Tyson, & Co., didn’t do.
Like the belief that vaccines cause autism or that GMOs are unhealthy, the notion that science and religion are in permanent conflict is a myth. This superficial argument persists, no matter how much evidence accumulates against it. Mostly, the controversy is kept alive by a handful of individuals — some more obnoxious than others — who have built their careers encouraging and exploiting discord instead of harmony.
The Catholic Church, of course, is the media’s favorite whipping boy. However, the convenient narrative of a Church waging a two-millennia-long battle against science is drastically undermined by a long and inconvenient history of priests who were also productive scientists. Here are a few of them.
You know, Cosmos got their subtitle wrong. It should read, “A Spacetime Oddity.” Friend of the blog, G.K. Chesterton, agrees.
“You hold that your heretics and sceptics have helped the world forward and handed on a lamp of progress. I deny it. Nothing is plainer from real history than that each of your heretics invented a complete cosmos of his own which the next heretic smashed entirely to pieces. Who knows now exactly what Nestorius taught? Who cares? There are only two things that we know for certain about it. The first is that Nestorius, as a heretic, taught something quite opposite to the teaching of Arius, the heretic who came before him, and something quite useless to James Turnbull, the heretic who comes after. I defy you to go back to the Freethinkers of the past and find any habitation for yourself at all. I defy you to read Godwin or Shelley, or the deists of the eighteenth century, or the nature-worshipping humanists of the Renaissance, without discovering that you differ from them twice as much as you differ from the Pope. You are a nineteenth-century sceptic, and you are always telling me that I ignore the cruelty of Nature. If you had been an eighteenth-century sceptic you would have told me that I ignore the kindness and benevolence of Nature. You are an Atheist, and you praise the deists of the eighteenth century. Read them instead of praising them, and you will find that their whole universe stands or falls with the deity. You are a Materialist, and you think Bruno a scientific hero. See what he said, and you will think him an insane mystic. No; the great Freethinker, with his genuine ability and honesty, does not in practice destroy Christianity. What he does destroy is the Freethinker who went before.” —From, The Ball and the Cross
See what I did there?
Daniel Greenfield opines,
Carl Sagan was the country’s leading practitioner of the mythologization of science, transforming a process into a philosophy, substituting political agendas for inquiry and arrogance for research. Sagan was often wrong, but it didn’t matter because his errors were scientific, rather than ideological or theological. He could be wrong as many times as he wanted, as long as he wasn’t wrong politically.