To the editor:
When Leonard Krishtalka wrote recently that the “most commanding ideas in human thought” are scientific, viz. those in the biological and evolutionary sciences, he left out an important part of the dialogue that has characterized the historic church since the days of the Apostles. A whole body of knowledge, expressed in the liberal (liberating) arts, has shaped Western civilization’s pursuit of the sciences by believing the revelation of an orderly universe based on natural law. That specific “most commanding idea” came from the historic church, and has not been seen so clearly in non-Christian societies.
Galileo’s quarrel with the organizational leadership of the Church was a political quarrel among people all of whom knew the scientific truth of the nature of the solar system. Biologist Steven Jay Gould, speaking here at KU, cited that disagreement as not a scientific conflict but rather as a quarrel about the political policy of how to best present the scientific material to those less educated, within the Church. Therefore the Galileo example (he a devout Catholic until his death) is something of a straw man in the history of the dialogue between scientific and religious paradigms.
In the liberal spirit of our present dialogue, we might look at the words of C.S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Perhaps we can all work to speak in terms of a larger perspective.
Nancy Steere Yacher,