Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Heart of the West


this post I listed a number of outstanding individuals of science and medicine who were also solid -- and in many cases canonized -- Catholics. A key point of the essay was that the Catholic Church has historically been an exemplary sponsor of the sciences. Objectors that say the way the Galileo affair was handled illustrates an inherent hostility for science, I empirically demonstrated, ignored mountains of evidence to the contrary. The Galileo affair, it turns out, was a one-off case, an outlier, an exception. Then how do we explain what happened to Galileo, the modern critic of the Church will ask? The answer is that it had far less to do with the science than it did with the personalities. Galileo was an agitator and a polemicist for views that he had not adequately demonstrated scientifically; though many of his observations and some of his conclusions were valid, a number of his proofs and explanations have long-since been refuted scientifically. When the weakness of his explanations were scientifically demonstrated to him, he abused, humiliated, and denigrated his fellow scientists and Churchmen for differing with his genius. In short, Galileo was told to shut up and stay in his country villa not so much for his science as for being a supreme jerk.

But today the Galileo affair is a side-bar. The source link above to the Iona Institute's web site leads to a report coming from modern China: the reason for the West's success, say China's best thinkers, is due to Christianity.

The source is a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:

"One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world.

"We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had.

"Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system.

"But in the past twenty years, we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful.

"The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible...We don’t have any doubt about this."

For the record, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is an instrument of the Chinese Communist government which spends a not inconsiderable amount of time and money persecuting Christians and is officially atheistic.

The speaker, true to his Marxist stripes, attributes the ultimate success of the West to "the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics." Thus, like Galileo, though some of his reasoning is off, his chief conclusion is sound.

From the article: "It has long been accepted that Christianity is one of the core elements of Western civilisation; it is too little understood that it is also one of the secrets of the stunning success of that civilisation."

This success story is the by-product of Christendom. Wherever Catholicism is the Faith of the land and the Social Reign of Christ holds sway, there you see the spread of culture and the rise of civilization. Anything else devolves into barbarism and tyranny.

No comments: