Religion and Modernity
Can it be truthfully said that organized religion is a barrier to modernity? In order to determine such an accusation, we must first try to identify how we define modernity as well as the role of religion in science and humanity. To think modernism means the present is a very narrow view. “For many Decades, modernization was depicted in social sciences as a broad series of processes of industrialization, urbanization and social changes through which modern societies arose.” (Lu, 2011) For the purposes of this essay, we will try to limit the discussion strictly to the terms of modernity relative to science and the inequality of women. But why bring up religion in the context of mathematics and science? Because Science does not develop in a social and political vacuum. Imagine a world without the simplest understanding of the world that surrounds us. Without science, man may have never been able to navigate the seas, discover new continents, never developed beyond agrarian commerce, without cures for common ailments, electricity, telephones, and running water or with even the basic understanding of natural phenomenon. For example, in ancient times, thunder was seen by primitive people as God expressing his displeasure or showing his power. However, the scientific method has proven that lightning and thunder are caused by complex electrical processes in the atmosphere. Science and mathematics have provided the world with answers to questions and cures to deadly diseases and has touched the lives of every person in the world today. This clash between modernist thought and Christianity has produced centuries of “accusation, rebuttal and counter-accusation.” (Bogart, 2009) Famous sociologist, Emile Durkheim saw religion as a necessary institution which enabled society to function harmoniously and that religion provides stability by teaching and enforcing a definite moral code. Even with this admirable quality, probably few informed people would want to argue the point that the “bible and religious tradition has often been used to prevent people from pursuing certain avenues of self-expression” (Bogart, 2009) and to deter people from all sorts of activities. In the current view most would agree that it can easily be seen that basic scientific advancements have been beneficial to mankind and most would agree that without the developments in mathematics, and science, the world as we know it could never have existed but it was not long ago when the Christian church persecuted followers of science as heretics. Throughout history, the religious attacks on modernity in the form of mathematics and science is widely documented, forcing religion into a mostly defensive position. Even today, there are still scientific and medical advancements with potentially hundreds of life altering applications that keep religion and science at a standoff in the moral and political spectrum as well as in public opinion. In this essay, we will illuminate how organized religion has been integral in attempting to subvert modernity, from the development of mathematics and science in antiquity, the oppression of art during the Renaissance era, further suppression of secular education through the Age of Enlightenment, the ongoing battle for the rights of women and all of the way through the modern attacks on stem cell research, cloning, family planning and abortion. In as early as In 415 A.D., the last known head of the Department of Mathematics and Philosophy at the Museum of Alexandria, part of the Library of Alexandria, the female mathematician Hypatia was stripped naked in the streets of Alexandria with her flesh scourged from her body by Christian hands and fingers while being dragged to her final death by burning alive by fanatically enraged Christian Coptic mobs, inspired by the leading Christian patriarch, later canonized Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Hypatia's invention of an improved astrolabe and her subsequent book...
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