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How far will atheists go to deny the Christian birth of science?

The Crab Nebula (Wikipedia/NASA)

Clashes with atheists such as Richard Carrier show why Christians are needed as leaders of scientific progress: because they have the correct vision of creation.

In a recent critical essay, Richard Carrier, a world-renowned author and speaker, professional historian with a Ph.D. from Columbia University in ancient history, and prominent defender of the American freethought movement, has taken issue with my use of the phrase “stillbirth of science” in ancient Greece. Several years ago, I wrote a series of essays on the stillbirths in an effort to pass on the teaching of the late Fr. Stanley L. Jaki, who coined the phrase.

“Stillbirth” describes ancient cultures that came close to a birth of science but failed to produce science as a universal, systematic, and self-sustaining discipline of physical laws. Carrier says the stillbirth of science in ancient Greece is a myth and that the complementary claim that science was born of Christianity in the Middle Ages is a delusion.

He calls my reliance on Jaki’s work a “huge red flag” because he says he already demonstrated that “everything Jaki said about ancient science is false…” in a chapter of The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (Prometheus Books, 2010). Then Carrier accuses Jaki of dishonesty, “…in some cases so obviously false I strongly suspect him of outright lying.” Carrier says I am just another Christian fundamentalist infected with the disease of gullibility. His entire essay is spackled with insults towards Christians, a tactic common among atheists out to entertain their followers. Unfortunately, Carrier only demonstrates one thing about Jaki’s work: he did not read it.

Carrier’s main contention in his essay is that Jaki (and I) thought Greek science ended with Aristotle, but that is not remotely true. In The Christian Delusion, where Carrier says he refuted all things Jaki, he references Jaki’s 1986 book, Science and Creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe, the most comprehensive volume the priest, theologian, physicist, and historian wrote about the birth of science. What is baffling about Carrier’s accusation is that the chapter in that book about ancient Greece opens with a litany of praise for Hellenistic scientific accomplishments (“The Labyrinths of the Lonely Logos”). The Hellenistic era, as Carrier undoubtedly knows, began after Aristotle’s death.

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