Posted: Apr 21, 2019 2:28 pm
by Spearthrower
Pridefel Knowitelz wrote:Spearthrower I would suggest you read Pebble's post. He/she asks if religious domination of societies has delayed progress in empiricism, which is very relevant to my question. What do you think?

I read Pebble's post.

It's one possible meaning of your question, but as I've already shown - there are many possible responses to your question.

Surely rather than play at guessing your meaning... you could just tell me what you mean.

For example, I already pointed to Thales - a guy who is often cited as the Father of Science.

Singer, C. (2008). A short history of science to the 19th century.

In addition to being viewed as the beginner of Western philosophy, Thales of Miletus is also the first to define general principles and develop hypotheses. He is therefore sometimes also referred to as the “father of science” although this epithet is usually used in reference to Democritus, another prominent ancient Greek philosopher who formulated the atomic theory that states that all matter is composed of particles called atoms. ... s-miletus/

Although Thales of Miletus was actually an Ancient Greek philosopher, he is also considered to be the Father of Science.

As you can see, there is also reference to Democritus.

Many consider Democritus to be the "father of modern science"

Pamela Gossin, Encyclopedia of Literature and Science, 2002.

Given I still don't know what you mean by your question regarding scientific tradition and theism/atheism, these figures could be pertinent, or not at all.

What is interesting is that while Thales appears to have been preoccupied with a universal source or substance of mind but whose notions seem to bounce between deism and theism, Democritus was a staunch materialist who made no reference to gods and, in fact, that earned him some enemies among theists of the time.

So were the tradition you spoke of to include the pre-Socratic philosophers, which undoubtedly form part of a Western scientific tradition, then it is still difficult to be clear whether atheists were more involved in science than was common in the Christian period of Europe.

Of course, we do need to bear in mind that denial of the Christian god throughout the Medieval period would have resulted in mortal repercussions for anyone holding forth such a position, and their works would have been expunged from the record. Were a budding scientist in the Medieval period to have disbelieved in God, I expect we simply wouldn't know because they'd have been bloody stupid to make it public.

Thus my position would then be that it is difficult to say what role atheists may or may not have had in the progression of our scientific tradition. I expect that they have had a role, and I expect that given the post-Enlightenment disposition to do away with gods in favour of naturalistic positions, and given how rapidly scientific knowledge has progressed over that period, then I think scientists (whether theist or not) accrue knowledge more swiftly when not labouring under divine metaphysical assumptions.