Phil Fernandes Show – Episode 2 – What About Those Who Never Heard the Gospel

The Phil Fernandes Show Episode 2

What About Those Who Never Heard the Gospel

Since God doesn’t just show up on mountain tops and say, “Here I am! Believe in me!”, there are people in the world who have never heard of Jesus or the gospel. How will God judge them?

The scriptures give us a clear picture of how this works and what God expects from people, even those who have never heard his name. So listen as Dr. Fernandes explains what the scriptures have to say on this topic.

 

 

The Phil Fernandes Show: Episode 1 – Do All Religions Lead to God?

The Phil Fernandes Show Episode 1

Do All Religions Lead to God?

 

There are people today who would argue that all religions lead to God. Many eastern religious are certainly compatible with such a view.

For example, most Hindu’s would argue this point. Hinduism offers numerous gods and deities to choose from when it comes to devotion. One might ask, “Who are you to say one is better than the other?”

Some western Buddhists would also argue this point – the Buddha himself being agnostic. So, some might say, everyone seeking after the divine will find the it.

Lastly, in our modern world, many people claim to be “spiritual” but not religious. This often results in a return to ancient pagan thought forms where everyone had their own household idols.

What is the truth?

Interview with J. Kerby Anderson on the Jesus-Myth Hypothesis

Recorded on April 20, 2017

First hour of the show today Kerby speaks with Dr. Phil Fernandes, senior pastor of Trinity Bible Fellowship and president of the Institute of Biblical Defense. Frenandes will be speaking about The Jesus Myth Hypothesis.

In an age of uncertainty, can we still have confidence in the Jesus found in the Bible? Can we trust the New Testament text we have today? How do we know that Jesus of Nazareth was not just another myth or legend? Why aren’t the Gnostic writings in the New Testament? Why were they left out of the New Testament canon? Dr. Fernandes will respond to these recent arguments against the true Jesus of the Bible.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

First hour of the show today Kerby speaks with Dr. Phil Fernandes, senior pastor of Trinity Bible Fellowship and president of the Institute of Biblical Defense. Frenandes will be speaking about The Jesus Myth Hypothesis.In the second hour, Dr. Diane Medved, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and columnist for USA Today discusses her book, Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage.https://pointofview.net/show/thursday-april-20-2017/

Posted by Point of View Radio Talk Show on Thursday, April 20, 2017

“Apologetic Methodologies” Book Discussion with Devin Pellew

Recorded May 27, 2017

What are some of the different apologetic methods? Who are some of the major thinkers in the history of apologetics? What is presupositional apologetics? Is the classical method unbiblical? Join us as expert Dr. Phil Fernandes talks about his new book (over 400 pages) on this very important topic! Regardless of what position you hold, this discussion goes far beyond surface soundbites and rhetoric. Join us as we dive deep looking at the different methods and different thinkers from the past! The phone lines will be open (760-542-3907) and we would love to hear your thoughts!

Check Out Christianity Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with TRUradio on BlogTalkRadio with TRULife Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Video Discussion: Did Jesus Exist?

Streamed live on May 23, 2017

One of the arguments which those who reject the Christian faith use is the claim that Jesus never even really existed. Join us on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 from 7:30 – 8:30 PM CST as we look at the question “Did Jesus Really Exist” with Dr. Phil Fernandes

Dr. Fernandes Interview on Tales of the Revolution

Dr. Fernandes shares his journey of faith in this long form audio interview. He goes into details about his life before coming to faith, the mistakes he made, and the pains he experienced. Afterward, Dr. Fernandes highlights how he finally came to faith and the early adventures he had.

Herod the Great: The Rise to Power

The Civil War

After decades of peace and prosperity, a battle began brewing between the two sons of  Salome Alexandra, Queen of the Hasmonean Jewish Kingdom. Both Hycranus II and Aristobulus II claimed they were the rightful heir to the Jewish throne. Without outside interference, it was almost inevitable that this political schism would end in civil war. Such an internal war threatened to divide the Kingdom of Israel, undoing all the work accomplished by Judas Maccabee some 100 years earlier.

Officials in Rome saw a potential civil war as a direct threat to their partial control of the area. In response, Pompey the Great, the Roman general appointed to the area, sent spies to keep an eye on the kingdom. Seeing Rome as the deciding factor in the struggle for power, both brothers appeared at Pompey’s table pleading for his military support. In the end, it was Hycranus II who won the support of Pompey.

In 63 BC, (when Herod was 10 years old) Pompey and his Roman armies laid siege of Jerusalem. Both Antipater and Hycranus the High Priest supported the Roman take over of Jerusalem. Aristobulus II tried to hold out against Pompey in Jerusalem, but ultimately was captured and sent to Rome. He was later executed by Mark Antony at the request of Herod the Great. Hycranus II, Aristolbulus’ brother, continued on as the High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Herod’s Family Seeks Power

It was into this that Herod the Great was born in 73 BC. He was the son of Antipater the Idumaean. Their family came originally from the area of Idumea just south of Judea. Although it had been an area populated by pagans, it had been converted to Judaism by force by Judas Maccabee during the Jewish revolt against the Greek Kingdom. This meant that the Herod’s were known, and even derided, as being half Jewish and half Edomite. And the Jews were no friends to non Jewish rulers.

This helps explain why Herod was so nervous about revolutionaries, but in order to truly understand why Herod would order the death of all the baby boys in Bethlehem, it is important to know about his father, Antipater, and how Herod followed in his father’s footsteps.

First, it is important to know that Antipater was power hungry. He saw Rome’s power grab in the middle east as a chance for him to gain political control of Judea. So Antipater and his family spent years developing a comfortable political relationship with the Romans.

By the time Hyranus II became high priest, Antipater already had a long track record of supporting Julius Caesar in his bid to gain political power in Rome. For example, during Julius Caesar’s campaign in Alexandria, Egypt, Antipater sent Caesar military assistance. Julius Caesar repaid Antipater’s ongoing support by appointing him Procurator of Judea. Caesar also declared that Hycranus II and his family would be High Priests over the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Herod Become Governor of Galilee

In 47 BC, as Procurator of Judea, Antipater appointed Herod Governor of Galilee and Herod’s elder brother, Phasael, Governor of Jerusalem. Both were backed by Rome and each set about consolidating their power in their own way.

Herod wasted no time, and in that same year he put down a Jewish resistance movement led by a rebel named Hezekiah. When finally captured, Hezekiah was dealt with the Roman way: He was summarily executed. This action immediately brought down the anger of the Jewish High Court. The Sanhedrin accused Herod of breaking Jewish Law by killing Hezekiah without giving him a fair trial. That was how pagan’s meted out Justice; God demanded higher standards.

The Trial Before the Sanhedrin

Soon, the Sanhedrin confronted Hycranus II the High Priest concerning Antipater and Herod. They told him to open his eyes. Antipater and Herod were the real rulers of Israel on behalf of the Romans and that Hycranus II was a political and religious leader of Israel in name only. Hycranus II took this to heart and eventually convinced Herod to stand trial before the Sanhedrin.

If the people weren’t already convinced that Herod was a pagan king, Herod marched into the court of the Sanhedrin in full military regalia. Herod elevating himself above Jewish law. In the minds of many, Herod was no longer a Jew. So it came as no surprise that, after a trial before the court, the Sanhedrin pronounced the sentence of death upon Herod.

Hycranus II, the high priest, advised Herod to escape before the Sanhedrin took action. Herod quickly escaped to Damascus. Herod’s father and brother convinced him not to take vengeance upon the Sanhedrin, but to continue in his role as Governor of Galilee.

In the next article, we will at Herod’s elevation from Governor of Galilee to the King of Judea.

Herod the Great: Herod and Jewish Independence

Herod the Great

Article #1: Herod and Jewish Independence

The source of Herod’s trouble: The thirst for Jewish Independence

November 2016 witnessed the death of one of the last soviet era communist dictators, Fidel Castro. He was a man responsible for the death of nearly ten thousand people, most of whom simply wanted human freedom and independence. As with most 20th century communist dictators, Castro thought very little of the value of any single human life.  So it should come as not surprise that, during his time as leader, it is estimated that up to 40% of Cuba’s population tried to flee. It was a terrible era that has now come to an end.

Herod the Great - King of the JewsTwo-thousand years ago, there was another wicked dictator who ruled over the land of Judea in what is modern day Israel. He was Herod The Great. Like Castro was a vassal of Soviet Russia, Herod was a vassal of the Roman Empire. He enforced their rules and kept the population at peace.

Still, what Herod the Great is most famous for is an event that happened around the birth of Jesus. Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and told Herod that they had seen a star in the East. This star, the said, signified the birth of a Jewish king and they had come bearing gifts for the “King of the Jews”. Herod was enraged! He was the only King of the Jews! That child must die!

Herod then calmly asked the wise men to let him know should they find the child. He had a gift of his own to present. God warned the wise men of Herod’s plan to assassinate the child, and the wise men returned home a different way while Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt. When Herod discovered he’d been tricked, he sent out soldier to kill all the children two years and under in Bethlehem.

So what kind of man would order the death of every young child in an entire town in a vain attempt kill the promised Messiah of Israel? In order to understand Herod’s actions in killing the baby boys of Bethlehem, we need to briefly understand the historical background leading up to the life of Herod the Great. We also need to take a brief look at the history of the Jewish struggle for national independence to understand Herod’s  fear of the birth of this new Jewish King.

Jews Exiled to Babylon and Their Return to Judah – (586-536 BC)

Tissot - The Flight of the PrisonersIn the early 6th century, the people of Judah were given into the hands of Babylon for their refusal to give up their idols. They were deported and left in exile in Babylon for 70 years. God gave them warning after warning through his prophets. Return to Him, serve your God, but they would not. So God said through the prophet Jeremiah that they would be sent into exile for a period of 70 years and then they would return.

That is actually extremely merciful of the Lord. He could have simply wiped the nation completely from the face of the earth for their disobedience. But God remembered his covenant with Abraham. It would be through his line that all nations would be blessed. Today we know that Jesus is the blessing he promised to all peoples and all nations. God was faithful despite Israel’s unfaithfulness.

As promised, when the 70 years was up, the exile ended. The empire of Babylon was overthrown by the empire of Persia. Cyrus, the head of the Persian empire, was used by God to fulfill the promise that he had made. Judah would only be in exile for 70 years. And so Cyrus allowed the Jews to return home.

The Greek Empire Rules Over Israel – (333 BC-167 BC)

Mosaic of Alexander the GreatFor about two centuries (333-167 BC), the Jews were ruled by the Greeks. Alexander the Great had swept across the middle east and Asia, conquering all in his path. Greece fell; Egypt Fell; Babylon fell. Persia fell. In a few short years, Alexander had formed a great Greek empire that stretched from Egypt to Greece to India. Alexander and his armies conquered vast areas of land in his brief lifetime.

When Alexander died unexpectedly at the age of 33, his generals ended up ruling over an empire split into three pieces. Then the fight began to reunite the Greek empire under a single ruler.  The land of Israel was ground zero for the war between the Egyptian Greek empire and the Persian one. By the second century B.C., Antiochus the fourth had become ruler over the eastern Greek empire, and he ruled Judea with an iron hand. As the book of Maccabees records, he was very oppressive to the Jews.

Maccabean Revolt – (167-142 BC)

By 167 BC, the Jewish people had had enough of Greek rule. Antiochus the fourth, angry at the rebellious Jews, wanted to carry out an early version of the Nazi “final solution” against the Jews. He tried to prevent the Jews from circumcising their children. He began a campaign to destroy Judaism, but the Jews could only take so much of this. They remembered how they had been exiled into Babylon by God because of the very sin of idolatry, and they did not intend on committing the same sin again.

Maccabean RevoleOne Jewish priestly family, the Hasmoneans, took up arms against Antiochus the fourth. It was Matthias and his five sons who led this Jewish revolt against their Greek rulers. Judas Maccabee was the eldest son and the first of the brothers to lead the Jewish revolt. This Hasmonean Independence movement won many military victories in the span of 3 years.

They eventually captured Jerusalem from the Greeks and rededicated the Jewish  Temple on December 25, 164 (yes, the traditional date of the birth of Jesus).  The Jewish people finally achieved full independence in 142 BC under the leadership of Simon Maccabee, the brother of the Judas Maccabee.  The Jewish nation hadn’t been independent since the time of the Babylon conquest and he founded what is now know as the Hasmonean dynasty. The Hasmonean dynasty continued for generations through the descendants of Simon. This royal line would include Hycranus the first, Aristobulus the first, and Alexander Janneus. These men acted as both the political and religious leaders of this new Jewish independent state.

This arrangement worked for awhile. However, human nature being what it is, absolute power began to corrupt absolutely. Eventually, a queen rose to power over the Jewish state. She was Queen Alexandra. When it came time for her sons to rule, her two sons, Hycranus the second and Aristobulus the second, embroiled themselves in a bitter struggle for control of the empire. This was a full blown civil war.

The Romans had made an earlier agreement with Judas Maccabee to help him achieve Jewish independence. When civil war broke between Queen Alexandra’s two sons, Rome saw they were rapidly losing out on their investment on partial control of Judea, and decided to take full control of Judea. Thus began the Roman period.

In the next article, I’ll use this background about the thirst for Jewish independence to explain the actions of Herod the Great after he arrived on the scene as the principle stooge of the Roman Empire.

Spong’s Spin On Copernicus

By Kyle Larson

Spong On Copernicus (1473—1543)

Throughout his writings and on his website, Spong lists several specific early modern scientists whom he believes sounded the death knell of orthodox Christianity. The scientists that Spong mentions are Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Darwin, Freud and Einstein. As Spong goes through each of these scientists, he highlights a specific scientific accomplishment of each one and then concludes that this is a scientific argument against Judeo-Christian theism.

In this series, we will take a brief look at the life of each early modern scientists, Spong’s spin for that particular scientist and a historical, scientific and theological refutation for each of Spong’s false assertions.

Life Of Copernicus

Nikolaus KopernikusThe first early modern scientist that Spong uses to debunk theism and Christianity is Nicolas Copernicus. Copernicus born in 1473 in Torun, Poland to parents both from wealthy merchant families. Unfortunately, his father died while he was still young, so his uncle took him under his wing.

Coperncicus started his education at St. John’s school in Torun. From there, he went on to attend the Cathedral School at a nearby town. This school prepared Copernicus to enter the University of Krakow. It was at the University that he began studying the Arts.

Later, he focused on various branches of astronomy and mathematics. He became fascinated with astronomy and collected a large number of books on the subject. Copernicus left the University of Krakow and later enrolled at the University of Bologna from 1496-1501. It was here that he became the student of one of the greatest astronomers of his time. It is also here that his interest in astronomy began to sour.

In 1497, Copernicus made his first astronomical calculations about the moon. In 1500, he traveled to Rome where he began another apprenticeship in astronomy. This led to him become a professor of astronomy. During this time, Copernicus also obtained a medical degree at the University of Padua from 1501-1503. In close connection with obtaining a medical degree, he also studied astrology. Both medicine and astrology were considered interconnected disciplines at this period of time.

Kopernikus status in KrakowCopernicus first began developing his heliocentric theory with his short book The Commentaries (sometime before 1514). He later published On The Revolutions in 1543. In 1533, the Pope’s personal secretary heard about the heliocentric theory and passed on the information to Pope Clement VII. At the time, the Pope had no problem with the theory.

Spong’s Conclusions About Copernicus

Spong states concerning Copernicus:

“There was a Polish monk named Nicolaus Copernicus, whose studies shattered the image of the earth as the center of a three-tiered universe, which also assumed that God who dwelled just above the sky, always looking down, always recording in the book of life the good deeds and the misdeeds of each person. The promise of reward with God in heaven or punishment from God in hell after this life constituted the central linchpin of a well-ordered human society” – http://johnshelbyspong.com/2015/12/10/charting-the-new-reformation-part-ii-the-burning-necessity/

“His calculations led him to a startling conclusion. The earth is not the center of a three-tiered universe! This insight, an incredibly great breakthrough in knowledge, also had severe religious consequences. The Bible, for example, was written from the perspective of a three-tiered universe and claims had been regularly made by the church that the Bible is “the inerrant word of God.” With the discovery of Copernicus, however, the inevitable conclusion was that the Bible was wrong! Copernicus did not publish his thinking widely so the hierarchy of the church just ignored his work, hoping that no one else would notice.” – http://johnshelbyspong.com/2015/12/24/charting-the-new-reformation-part-iv-building-the-case-for-the-death-of-theism-the-copernican-revolution

Spong also states a further consequences of following of Copernicus: “ … the earth could no longer be envisioned as the center of the Universe. God might not be so quite involved in the day to day affairs of human beings.” (Why Christianity Must Change or Die)

Where did Spong get the idea that if the earth is not at the center of the universe, then God has no special interest in humanity? This specific myth about Copernicus began about 100 years after his death. There was a concerted effort to show that man is no special creation by God, but simply a “power play” by humanity to show a self specialness to God that never existed. Cyrano de Bergerac asserted this very notion when he said, “The insupportable arrogance of mankind, which fancies, that Nature was only created to serve it.”

Plurality of WorldsAnother writer, Fontenelle, in his book Discourse of the Plurality of Worlds (1686) said that Copernicus had taken “the earth and throws it out of the center of the world … for his design was to abate the vanity of men who had thrust themselves into the chief place of the Universe”. (Danielson 57,58 in Galileo Goes to Jail)

Many things could be said in refutation of Bishop Spong’s statements on Copernicus:

  1. Spong fails to mention that Copernicus dedicated his book to the Pope Paul The Third because Copernicus wanted to make sure that he was not misunderstood as challenging the authority and legitimacy of the Papacy.
  2. Copernicus received the official approval of Pope The Third as well as the financial support of two top Cardinals for his book On The Revolutions. 1
  3. In addition to Pope Paul The Third, after he died, the next 9 Popes following him saw no heresy in what Copernicus was saying with his heliocentric theory.
  4. Spong has a twisted understanding of what the Bible says about humanity and its place in the cosmos. The Bible teaches the vastness of the cosmos and yet God cares for humanity. (Psalms 8:3,4)
  5. Some of the great thinkers of the ages saw earth’s centrality as a negative and not a positive. a
    1. Moses Mainonides: “in the case of the Universe … the nearer the parts are to the center, the greater their turbidness, their solidarity, their inertness, their dimness and darkness, because they are further away from their loftiness element, from the source of light and brightness.”
    2. Thomas Acquinas: In the Universe, earth – that all the spheres encircle and that, as for place, lies in the center, is the most material and coarsest of all bodies.

Many more quotes could be produced that directly refute Bishop Spong’s assertion that people during middle ages believed that because earth was in the center of the universe that that meant it had God’s special care over it. In fact, the opposite was true. Copernicus believed that because the earth revolved around the sun, this gave earth a “specialness to God”

Galileo, when commenting on how sun’s light upon the earth makes the moon shine brighter states: “The earth, with fair and grateful exchange, pays back to the moon an illumination like that which it receives from the moon … those who assert, principally on the grounds that it [the earth] has neither motion nor light, that the earth must be excluded from the dance of the stars. For … the earth does have motion … it surpasses the moon in brightness and … it is not the sump where the universe’s filth and ephemera.”

Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler

Even Johannes Kepler, whom Spong highly respects, states concerning man’s ability to contemplate says, “he [man] could not remain at rest in the center … he [man] must make an annual journey on this boat, which is our earth, to perform his observations … There is no globe nobler or more suitable for man than the earth. For, in the first place, it is exactly in the middle of the principles globes … Above it are Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Within the embrace of its orbit run Venus and Mercury, while at the center the sun rotates.”

Copernicus would find Spong’s assessment of himself strange because Copernicus was an ardent Christian theist as the following quotes from him show 1 To know the mighty works of God, to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power; to appreciate, in degree, the wonderful workings of His laws, surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge.2

“Not the Grace received by Paul do I desire, Nor the good will with which Thou forgavest Peter, Only that which Thou didst grant the thief on the cross, That mercy I ask of Thee.”3

“For who, after applying himself to things which he sees established in the best order and directed by Divine ruling, would not through diligent contemplation of them and through a certain habituation be awakened to that which is best and would not admire the Artificer of all things, in Whom is all happiness and every good? For the divine Psalmist surely did not say gratuitously that he took pleasure in the workings of God and rejoiced in the works of His hands, unless by means of these things as by some sort of vehicle we are transported to the contemplation of the highest good.”4

In conclusion, the example of Copernicus as well as the remaining early modern scientists that we will look at show highly selective Bishop Spong is in what historical and theological conclusions that he is willing to draw for the benefit of his readers. Much of his readership comprises those who have already rejected the Christian Gospel and Bishop Spong wants to supply more reasons they can use to justify their rejection of the Gospel. No serious student of history, science or theology would be hoodwinked by Spong’s deceptive use of the facts.

Resources Consulted on Copernicus

1 http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/copernicus/

2 http://www.christian-apologetics.org/pdf/SpongRev20Web.pdf

3 That Copernicanism Demoted Human From The Center of The Cosmos—Myth 6 Dennis R. Danielson found in Galileo Goes To Jail And Other Myths About Science and Religion. Edited by Ronald L. Numbers Harvard University Press 2009

Bishop Spong’s Imaginary Conflict Between Science and Christianity

By Kyle Larson

Internet atheists and agnostics are well-known for pitting science against religion. They argue that science gives us facts while religion offers only fairy tales. Therefore anyone who believes in religion is denying science. They are rejecting the thing that gave us airplanes, mobile phones, and vaccines. Is this really how it works? Do Christians reject science?

Bishop Spong thinks so.

Before going into Bishop Spong’s post-modern version of Christianity as encapsulated in the twelve theses for his version of a new Christianity for a new world, it is important to look at the false scientific presuppositions Spong uses when recounting the scientific Revolution from the 1400’s through the 1700’s. To build his case for a non-theistic and anti-supernaturalistic Christianity, Bishop Spong relies on a series of specific scientific presuppositions which create a false impression of what happened in Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries during what is known as The Scientific Revolution:

“In the 16th century, the authority of the church could no longer hold the minds of men and women in positions of obedience, so a rigorous challenge to this religious system arose for the first time. It was called “the Reformation.” During this time, the peace and security of Europe were shattered. The unifying truth by which its people and its institutions had lived was broken. Ancient claims of authority were overturned. Wars were fought seeking to restore the old order. It was a time of enormous upheaval Following that Reformation, the years rolled on and human knowledge exploded, cracking assumption after assumption made in the pre-modern world. Following that Reformation, the years rolled on and human knowledge exploded, cracking assumption after assumption made in the pre-modern world.”

http://johnshelbyspong.com/2015/12/10/charting-the-new-reformation-part-ii-the-burning-necessity/

Despite all the questions and the upheaval caused by the Reformation, there was no real conflict between science and Christianity. Most scientists were Christians. There were questions, certainly, but Christianity is a built on the ideas of truth and honesty. So, over the centuries, the ideas of Ptolemy and Aristotle were slowly abandoned in favor of new discoveries made by early scientists like Newton and Pascal.

The modern idea of a “conflict” between science and religion began in the mid 19th century. It was created by two authors: Andrew White (1832-1918) and William Draper (1811—1882).

Andrew Dickson White (1885)Andrew White was President of Cornell. He believed early on in the fundamental conflict between science and Christianity. Many Christians in his day called him an “infidel” for establishing Ithaca College where science would be taught as supreme over Christianity.

In December 1869, White gave a speech entitled “The Battle-Fields of Science”. In it, he tried to use historical anecdotes to prove that Christianity has been an impediment to the advancement of science. White used two famous examples of where the Church of Rome supposedly opposed the advancement of science.

The first was the burning at stake of Dominican friar Giordano Bruno. White claims Friar Bruno was burned at the stake by the Church because of his scientific views rather than because of his unfortunately timed denial of  basic Catholic doctrines during the height of the inquisition.

The second had to do with the torture and jailing of Galileo before being forced to recant his “heresies”. White claimed his persecution by the inquisition was for promoting the heliocentric theory of Copernicus rather than for publishing a book insulting the Pope and alienating his Jesuit allies with infighting.

White took his initial speech and expanded into a book entitled “A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom” (1896). This book forms the basis for much of what Bishop Spong says about the conflict between science and orthodox Christianity, though Spong does not openly acknowledge White’s contribution to his thinking.

John William DraperIn the same vein as White, William Draper was especially antagonistic towards Roman Catholicism for what he believed was its opposition to the advancement of science. It began when one of Draper’s children was very sick and close to death. His sister Elizabeth, who had converted to Roman Catholicism from Protestantism, hid his son’s Protestant prayer book until he died. This infuriated Draper. He asked his sister to leave the house immediately for her “unchristian behavior” towards his son. (Numbers 2,3) This led Draper on to his crusade of denigrating the Catholic Church for its opposition to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

This internal conflict that Draper had with Roman Catholicism led him to write his book “History of The Conflict between Religion and Science” (1874). Later reviews of Draper’s book showed the shallow historical scholarship behind it. (Numbers 3)

To put this in context, before the 1800’s historical records don’t show much conflict between the discoveries of scientists and the philosophy of theologians. As the 19th century wore on, however, battle lines between scientific theory and Christian theology began to form. Darwin offered evolution as an alternative creation account. The history of the Bible, and even Jesus, was called into question by historians. Archaeology began to question the accuracy of the places and events as read in the Bible. It was during this time that White and Draper made their arguments the Christianity had a history of holding back scientific advancement.

Abd al-Ra?m?n I (Umayyad Caliph of Spain)Historians today, of course, realize how historically inaccurate White and Draper were in their assessment of the relationship between the discoveries of science and Christian theology. Yet we can go much further than this and state that the Catholic Church had no part in stifling either innovation or scientific discovery during the Middle Ages. Instead, it was Islamic pirates and warring caliphates that kept Europe in darkness. And it was the Mongol hordes crushing the caliphate that freed them to enter the Renaissance.

So Bishop Spong has not given a fair and accurate retelling of the facts of history when it comes to Christianity’s historic relationship to science, especially during the Middle Ages. Below are some facts that Bishop Spong might want to consider. First, consider the following quote by John Helibon, a historian of science, in his book The Sun in The Church:

“The Roman Catholic Church gave more financial and social support to the study of astronomy for over six centuries, from the recovery of ancient learning during the late Middle Ages into the Enlightenment, than any other, and probably all, other institutions.” (Shrank 21)

Second, Bishop Spong needs to come to grips with the fact that the Catholic Church was responsible for the creation of the University. At the time, thirty percent of the average University curriculum concerned the study of the natural world. This includes the study of rediscovered Greek writings and ancient knowledge reclaimed from Arabic sources. So a University education, far from being anti-science, involved many branches of both ancient and current knowledge. (Shrank 22)

Katholieke Universiteit LeuvenThirdly, the vast majority of these Cathoic Church sponsored Universities never taught on theological or biblical subjects. Instead, they focused on secular areas of learning such as logic, natural philosophy, mathematical science as well as similar subjects. (Shrank 22)

Fourthly, the Catholic Church never issued a blanket condemnation for its Universities teaching the natural sciences. Any ecclesiastical condemnation we have record of was given by a local bishop towards a local University. If the condemnation held, that particular University would no longer teach one of the natural sciences. This was usually because of an apparent conflict between faith and science.

Even when this happened, both students and professors still had many other options when it came to Church sponsored Universities that taught any one of the number of natural sciences that both students and professors might be interested in learning. For example, Toulouse University was one such Church sponsored University. It drew students from the University of Paris because the University of Paris forbade the teaching of the life and works of Aristotle.

Based on these four key historical facts, along with the unveiling of how the myth of the conflict between science and faith as embodied in the writings of White and Draper, Bishop Spong is simply mistaken in his imaginary conflict between science and Christianity

Resources consulted:

Galileo Goes To Jail And Other Myths About Science And Religion Edited by Ronald Numbers Introduction by Ronald Numbers

Myth #2—That the Medieval Christian Church Suppressed the Growth of Science by Michael H. Shrank Harvard University Press 2009