If you look around today, many people both disbelieve and criticise accepted scientific theories, such as climate change, not because they have any proof to the contrary, but because they do not gel with their preconceived religious notions. But if you look at history, science has trumped the church on countless occasions. How many times must science prove the church wrong before it starts getting the benefit of the doubt?
Possibly the most notable of such clashes between the Church and science was the inquisition of Galileo Galilei over his parlance of the heliocentric model (the theory that the earth revolves around the sun). While Galileo did not invent the heliocentric model (that can be credited to Copernicus), he was instrumental in its advancement and promotion. The church on the other hand observed the geocentric view, which claimed that all “heavenly bodies” revolved around the earth. The Catholic Church tried Galileo, and he was convicted of heresy and placed under house arrest.
Of course, Galileo has since been vindicated, and no one, not even fundamentalist Christians, truly doubts that the earth revolves around the sun. Telescopes like Galileo’s have since been improved to show that we are only one among billions of stars, and that our planet is not entirely unique either. Science – 1, Church – 0.
The next best example of the Church getting it disastrously wrong is their response to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by means of natural selection. From the every beginning, the church criticised Darwin’s theory, and they still largely do. But, the Churches position has “evolved” dramatically, from a point of utter refutation, to a state of almost acceptance. The Catholic has even gone so far as to recently promote the idea of “theistic evolution”, and Pope John Paul II even admitted in 1996, that new findings “lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than a hypothesis”. Science – 2, Church – 0.
I am not advocating that Climate Change is definitively true. I honestly have not studied the issue enough to form an opinion. But what is a fact is that the scientific community is almost unanimous in their acceptance of it. Climate Change enjoys more scientific and peer acceptance than Galileo or Darwin enjoyed from their contemporaries.
Science has taken the Church head on time and time again. It has won every time. The church has been forced to capitulate and evolve their stances and views time and time again. It is all right to be sceptical; it is especially all right to be sceptical of science. But the Church has proven itself incapable of refuting science. It has a horrible track record. And yet religious people still continue to give the Church the benefit of the doubt over science. How many times must the Church be proven wrong?