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Posted by John Brook on June 27, 2003 13:43:56 UTC

"Do you feel that 2,000 years of Christian tradition reflect good rigorous physics and science?"

I feel that Christianity, today as much as in the past, is the main driving force behind everything we take pride in our civilization.

"It was the church which suppressed Galileo and burned Bruno at the stake."

These kinds of arguments against the Church are presented so often, in so superficial a way, that they end up becoming mindless slogans. The truth, as always, is far beneath the surface. Too often it is said that Galileo's ideas were suppressed by the Church in defense of orthodoxy, but how does a free-thinking man reconcile that with the fact that, throughout the ages, the Church has actively encouraged the pursuit of knowledge? Too often it is said that the Church burned people alive, as if there were no excuse for such a thing, and yet to this day we still burn people alive, and we always feel as if we're acting for a good cause. Why is it bad to burn a heretic but not bad to burn 100,000 Japanese peasants with an atom bomb? What is the rationale behind the idea that the former was an act of evil while the latter was an act of necessity?

"Christian tradition in most ways does not even trace back to the words of Jesus, does it?"

The same might be said about America. In most ways, other than mindlessely repeating them, most people in this country don't trace back to the words of the founding fathers. That doesn't make them less American, nor does it give them less reason for being proud of what they are. As with being an American, the important thing about being a Christian is the spirit, and the spirit defies verbalization.

"What Christian traditions are you talking about?"

Too many to mention in detail. Briefly, I could point out, for instance, that the pursuit of social equality is a Christian tradition. It's not a tradition in Muslim, Buddhist, or officially-atheist states. I consider that an objective fact; don't you?

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