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Letters to the Editor

Natural law

February 25, 2009

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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,
Lawrence

Comments

devobrun 5 years, 1 month ago

WHY: By defining a basis of rational thought in terms of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, you are showing a bias.

You think that wisdom is a result of western rational thought from Socrates to DeCartes, to Popper to Kuhn. These arbitrary parcels of knowledge are not necessarily sufficient or complete.

That is, there just might be other ways to judge the world. There might be other ways to find truth.

Just a small deviation from your outlook might include a concept that all science is physics. Bio is Chem. Chem is Phys. It is a perspective. Is it yours? Maybe not, but entertaining the idea is the heart of liberal thinking.

Spirit cannot be rejected by science. Indeed, spirit is not scientific at all. You imply that this makes the spirit invalid. Well, in a scientific sense, it is. Is that the only way to view the world?

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WHY 5 years, 1 month ago

What is this natural law? Is it Physics or Biology or Chemistry? If it is one of those then I am all for it. I don't understand what reason and order have to do with imaginary friends and spirit beings which break all of the laws of nature. Strange...

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75x55 5 years, 1 month ago

Fantastic letter.

I fear that the usual Larryvillians will turn this into a simple religion-christian bashing thread, and miss the real gem of this letter, that one of the most important formative concepts of western/modern civilization is the acceptance of the idea of natural law.

Far more telling that this basic foundational concept of our country and so many others of the modern world has also been essentially thrown aside in the past century - to the near-complete ignorance and apathy of the populace.

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jonas_opines 5 years, 1 month ago

Could you translate that into understandable English gr? I'll assume you were in a hurry because you're usually clearer than that.

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gr 5 years, 1 month ago

Anyone why so many are out to discredit religion but yet there are not many out to discredit a flat earth or other ideas considered a myth?

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defenestrator 5 years, 1 month ago

I've got a quote too: "Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" --Douglas Adams

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jonas_opines 5 years, 1 month ago

"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.”

That's fine for you. I see no reason to make another reason for why I can see everything else other than because I can, but do what you need to do.

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viewfromahill 5 years, 1 month ago

"Perhaps we can all work to speak in terms of a larger perspective."

... a hope born of and served by the unbridled conversation, dogma yielding to catharsis.

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Tom Shewmon 5 years, 1 month ago

Intelligent and well written. Thank you Nancy.

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