Jaki – Science and Creation

One of the books often cited with approbium on the Christian roots of science is Fr Stanley Jaki’s Science and Creation. It’s one of the best early (1986) attempts to reverse the Victorian myth that science and religion are incompatible, by showing, to the contrary, how only the Judaeo-Christian concept of creation really made science as we know it possible.

Unfortunately the book’s out of print now and sufficiently rare, but in demand, to cost used around £100 here, and $100 across the pond. Fortunately a Christian physicist at Surrey University, Dr Chris Jeynes, has done a useful abridgement and made it available free for download here. It’s a quick read and a useful overview of the philosophical features of the world’s civilisations that militated against science’s progress.

As our friend Eddie Robinson says elsewhere it can get a little polemic, and might do slightly less than justice to some of the cultures handled. But as an introductory text it’s fine. And if we’re dealing with historical injustice it’s worth pointing out that he demythologises the story of Galileo and demolishes the scientific credentials of Giordano Bruno, valid corrections well substantiated in any number of later books (and probably in earlier ones too). And yet that hasn’t stopped, thirty years later, even prestigious high-budget programmes like the new Cosmos from perpetuating them. In such circumstances of prevalent intellectual dishonesty maybe a little polemic is still justified!

Incidently, on a largely irrelevant tack, I wonder what it is that attracts believing physicists to Surrey University? Ian Thompson, who comments here, was such a one until he moved further afield. I only notice it because I happened to live in Guildford when Surrey University came into being around 1969, upgraded from Battersea College of Technology. One of the earliest public events on the brand new campus was a series of meetings on the Christian faith and modern issues (with top-drawer speakers), and whilst other trendier kids were taking their girlfriends to the flicks or Godalming Blues Club, I took mine to these open meetings.

Fast-forward twenty years, through University and Medical School, and I was living in a tiny lost civilisation on the edge of an Essex village, and we were invited to supper by the chap round the corner. He turned out to be the man who organised that inaugural series of open meetings at Surrey University. Small world, innit?

The next time I went on campus there it was to gatecrash a student sit-in to play folk music and sit at the feet of my all-time favourite guitarist …. but that’s another story.

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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One Response to Jaki – Science and Creation

  1. Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

    Incidentally, one mildly interesting fact Jaki cites is the dating for the age of the earth calculated by Kepler and Newton, both of which are a little shorter than the celebrated one made by Archbishop Ussher, ie below the 4,000 year mark.

    Isn’t it interesting how often you hear Ussher cited as representing the Church’s insistence on a young earth. You don’t often hear people say that the greatest scientific minds in astronomy were insisting on the same thing. Science, of course, is self-correcting, except when it’s doing science history!

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