Il burrascoso matrimonio tra scienza e cristianità

Science and Christianity in Pulpit and Pew by Ronald L. Numbers

In che relazione stanno storicamente scienza e fede.

La posizione ortodossa: conflitto perenne…

… Prominent nineteenth-century scholars such as Andrew Dickson White (1832-1gi8) and John William Draper (1811-1882) assured their readers that science and religion existed in a state of perpetual opposition…

Secondo questa vulgata il “primo aggressore” è la religione…

… Draper identified the primary aggressor as the Roman Catholic Church, whose “mortal animosity” toward science had left its hands “steeped in blood.” Despite the efforts of less bellicose historians during the past quarter century or so to craft a more accurate and less prejudicial narrative, the notion of warfare between science and religion continues to thrive, particularly at both ends of the politicotheological spectrum…

Da allora è passata molta acqua sotto i ponti ma Jon H. Roberts ha definito la visione ortodossa “un’ idea dura a morire”.

I potenti simboli dell’eterno conflitto…

… Everyone knows about the trials of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) in seventeenth-century Italy and of John Thomas Scopes (1900-1970) in twentieth-century Tennessee…

In realtà il conflitto attraversa le diverse confessioni religiose, e questo fatto complica le cose…

… Many of the bitterest conflicts over science have taken place within religious communities, where differences easily mutate into heresies…

Una notizia fastidiosa per gli ortodossi: i religiosi sono stati da sempre in prima fila nello studio della natura…

… Proponents of the warfare thesis have typically failed to recognize that religious people and institutions have often cultivated the study of nature. During the Middle Ages, as David C. Lindberg and other medieval historians have convincingly shown, churchmen were the most ardent supporters of natural philosophy and natural history…

Un amore duraturo: quello tra astronomia e Chiesa Cattolica. Lo storico di Berkley John L. Heilbron…

… “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…

***

C’è poi l’estremo opposto: scienza frutto del cristianesimo…

… Another popular “just-so” story about science and Christianity portrays the latter-or one of its subdivisions, such as Protestantism or Puritanism-as the fountainhead of modern science…

L’esempio della vulgata consolatoria di Whitehead

… Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), in Science and the Modern World, argued that Christianity, by insisting that nature behaves in a regular and orderly fashion, allowed science to develop. Understandably, many Christians have found this self-congratulatory view more attractive than the narrative of conflict…

Ma per arrivare a tanto si devono minimizzare molti contributi difficili da negare…

… it ignores or minimizes the contributions of ancient Greeks and medieval Muslims-it, too, refuses to succumb to the death it deserves…

Un altro apologeta…

… The sociologist Rodney Stark at Baylor University, a Southern Baptist institution, is only the latest in a long line of Christian apologists to insist that “Christian theology was essential for the rise of science…

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C’è infine una terza posizione: capire è difficile. Tutto è più sfumato e le distinzioni attraversano campi di solito visti come compatti…

… historians of science and religion have turned increasingly to what has been called the complexity thesis, the notion that the record of the past is too chaotic to reveal a simple pattern…

Una figura chiave di questo partito…

… No one has advanced this view more successfully than John Hedley Brooke, who has identified a wide range of interactions between scientific and religious impulses. At times, religion has stimulated the investigation of nature; on other occasions it has inhibited it…

Una posizione del genere non solleva polemiche, forse per questo è poco nota…

… However, because this view tends to strip the subject of its polemical value, it has found comparatively little favor with present-day cultural warriors fighting one another in the trenches…

***

Un esempio per comprendere questa terza posizione: la ricezione di Darwin da parte del mondo cristiano.

L’esempio di due posizione estremiste: solo i calvinisti lo capirono. Oppure: solo gli atei lo compresero accettandolo…

… In The Post-Darwinian Controversies (1979) a young James R. Moore underscored the importance of theology in determining individual responses to evolution in Great Britain and North America. He insisted that only “those whose theology was distinctly orthodox”-that is, Calvinist-could swallow Darwinism undiluted. (Contrast this with David L. Hull’s equally hyperbolic claim “that almost all the early proponents of Darwinism were atheistic materialists-or their near relatives.”)… Subsequent studies by Jon H. Roberts, David N. Livingstone, and me have undermined Moore’s sweeping claim…

C’è chi ha visto Darwin come un problema soprattutto per i protestanti

… In a new introduction to his meticulously researched Darwinism and the Divine in America (1988), Roberts argues that “the great majority of American Protestant thinkers who remained committed to orthodox formulations of Christian doctrine actually rejected Darwinism… evolution could not be reconciled with their views of the origin, nature, and `fall’ of man, the nature and basis of moral judgment, and a number of other doctrines-all…

Tuttavia, la verità che emerge è un’altra: la ricezione di Darwin da parte del protestantesimo è stata eterogenea

… Given the theological heterogeneity of Protestantism, it is not surprising to find a range of responses to evolution. But even in the hierarchical Roman Catholic Church, where one might expect relative uniformity, we also find diversity…

Lo stesso dicasi per il mondo cattolico

… In an early essay on “varieties” of Catholic reactions to Darwinism, Harry W. Paul contrasted “the power Catholicism was able to exert against Darwinism in Spain” with its virtual impotence in Italy. Even more telling, however, are the revelations coming out of the recently opened Vatican archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which hold the records of the old Congregations of the Holy Office and of the Index. In researching their book, Negotiating Darwin: The Vatican Confronts Evolution, 1877-1902 (2006), Mariano Artigas, Thomas F. Glick, and Rafael A. Martinez discovered six instances in which the Vatican dealt with complaints about Catholic evolutionists, with two of the accused coming from Italy, two from England, and one each from France and the United States. These complaints resulted in no official condemnation of evolution, though some individual works were proscribed and placed on the Index of Prohibited Books…

L’opposizione, in questo caso, venne dai Gesuiti più che dal Vaticano…

… The strongest opposition to Darwinism came not from the Vatican itself but from La Civilta Cattolica…

Alcuni hanno riscontrato una certa resistenza alle nuove idee nelle organizzazioni più centralizzate, come la CC…

… Glick identified “centralization of power” rather than cultural isolation as the “crucial variable” in determining how various countries responded to evolution. In contrast to the largely Protestant United States, where church and state remained constitutionally separate and Protestant sects competed openly, the more centrally controlled Latin American countries presented an environment relatively inhospitable to new ideas…

David Livingstone mette in guardia dalle semplificazioni: anche tra i calvinisti, per esempio, gli oppositori a Darwin non mancarono…

… even among Calvinists, responses to evolution varied markedly from one locale to another. Irish Calvinists in Belfast, for instance, strongly resisted Darwinism, in large part, it seems, because of John Tyndall’s (1820-1893) infamous 1874 presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of … Calvinists elsewhere had also been influenced by local circumstances…

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Traiamo un piccolo insegnamento da questo excursus…

… Historians, he wisely urged, should quit speaking “of the encounter between science and religion in a generalized, decontextualized, delocalized way…

Tutto va approfondito e contestualizzato. Non esistono regole generali facili da enunciare.

Sull’accoglimento delle idee darwiniane oggi fioccano molti studi su base nazionale ma ancora nessuna regola generale in vista…

… David L. Hull’s decades-old observation that no one had yet demonstrated a correlation “between the reception of Darwin’s theory around the world and the larger characteristics of these societies,” including their religious cultures, still largely holds.’…

C’è molta varietà anche a livello locale…

… Not only did Darwinism mean different things in different countries, but its meaning varied even within national settings…

Sui darwiniani neozelandesi

… John Stenhouse has drawn attention to the way some New Zealanders drew on Darwinism to justify, in terms of “survival of the fittest,” their harsh treatment of the native Maori. But rivalries among white Anglicans, Methodists, and Presbyterians undermine generalizations about New Zealanders as a whole.” …

A volte l’entusiasmo darwiniano era maldiretto e forse più sviante del suo respingimento.

La ricezione dei marxisti

… Adrian Desmond, perhaps the most influential of this group, has noted that the godless “working classes” and the “lowlife in the medical schools,” eager to create a new social and economic order, found Lamarckian evolution especially attractive…

Manche qui: molte fratture interne e nessuna possibilità di generalizzare…

… James Secord, however, looking primarily at responses to one widely read evolutionary tract, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844), has argued that the ensuing debates “contributed to fracture lines within the middle class; they were intra- rather than interclass, with a crucially important religious dimension….

Forse conta di più la psicologia che l’economia. C’è chi si è fissato con l’ordine di nascita: i secondogeniti sono darwiniani doc…

… The historian of science Frank J. Sulloway has also downplayed class-based explanations. In a statistical analysis of the dynamics of intellectual revolutions, including the one associated with Darwin, he makes a strong case for paying more attention to psychosocial than to socioeconomic factors… personalities, formed in large part by the order in which they were born into their families and by the ensuing competitive strategies they adopted in dealing with their siblings… later-borns were 4.6 times more likely to support evolution than firstborns…. the focus of the battle over the theory of evolution was within the family, not between families.1714…

Quanto conta la razza per aderire all’evoluzionismo?…

… Historians of evolution have rarely investigated the importance of race and gender, two analytical categories of great importance to social historians… as Eric D. Anderson has shown, African American intellectuals for decades regarded theories of plural human origins more threatening than Darwin’s monogenetic theory… Jeffrey P. Moran found African American elites much more willing than the conservative black clergy to embrace evolution…

Darwin ha sempre costituito un problema per le donne, specie quelle con figli…

… Because of Darwin’s use of sexual selection and the implications that he drew about female inferiority, gender became integral to the evaluation of Darwinism-and problematic for some feminists. However, religious concerns tended to trump gendered ones. As Moran has shown, antievolutionists often spoke in the name of mothers concerned about the irreligious effects of evolution on their children….

Le grandi sacerdotesse anti-darwiniane…

… Among the mothers who spoke for themselves were Ellen G. White (1827-1915), the founding prophetess of Seventh-day Adventism and the godmother of creation science, who traced evolution back to its “satanic origin,” and Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944), the flamboyant founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, who damned evolution in public debate in the early 1L3 0s.16…

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Ovunque si guardi l’accettazione di Darwin si presenta differenziata, fissarsi sulla prospettiva generica della religiosità sembra eccessivo e strumentale.

Ecco, questa conclusione puo’ essere generalizzata e dà un’idea corretta del rapporto tra scienza e cristianità.

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