Who we are as individuals and as cultures can to a large extent, and for better or worse, be traced to those shoulders we have stood on. The expression often heard from someone of great renown is “I stood on the shoulders of giants.”
We don’t even have to be people of great renown to realize the truth of that phrase. The influence of those in our lives, at all stages is evident … our parents, our teachers, our pastors, priests and rabbis … our comrades in arms … our mentors of all sorts provide the platform upon which we advance our own horizons and strive to reach our dreams. And don’t forget, those shoulders provided most of us what was needed simply to grow into responsible adulthood.
In my own career in software development, seldom did I arrive as the new found shining light of invention and innovation … no, on the contrary, the vast majority of my career was spent in building on what others who had come before me had built, and many times those who came before were contemporaries … my colleagues that I rubbed shoulders with on a regular basis.
Modern science and the world it has brought us is a good example of building from the shoulders of giants.
The relative ease and comfort in which most in the modern world lives is tribute to the achievements of the giants of science throughout the centuries. Take a look at the long list below to see the broad sweep of progress and accomplishments credited to great men of science … giants.
JOSEPH LISTER (1827-1912)
LOUIS PASTEUR (1822-1895)
ISAAC NEWTON (1642-1727)
JOHANN KEPLER (1571-1630)
ROBERT BOYLE (1627-1691)
GEORGES CUVIER (1769-1832)
CHARLES BABBAGE (1792-1871)
LORD RAYLEIGH (1842-1919)
|DYNAMICS||ISAAC NEWTON (1642-1727)|
|ELECTRONICS||JOHN AMBROSE FLEMING (1849-1945)|
JAMES CLERK MAXWELL (1831-1879)
|ELECTRO-MAGNETICS||MICHAEL FARADAY (1791-1867)|
|ENERGETICS||LORD KELVIN (1824-1907)|
|HENRI FABRE (1823-1915)|
|FIELD THEORY||MICHAEL FARADAY (1791-1867)|
|FLUID MECHANICS||GEORGE STOKES (1819-1903)|
|GALACTIC ASTRONOMY||WILLIAM HERSCHEL (1738-1822)|
|GAS DYNAMICS||ROBERT BOYLE (1627-1691)|
|GENETICS||GREGOR MENDEL (1822-1884)|
|GLACIAL GEOLOGY||LOUIS AGASSIZ (1807-1873)|
|GYNECOLOGY||JAMES SIMPSON (1811-1870)|
|HYDRAULICS||LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519)|
|HYDROGRAPHY||MATTHEW MAURY (1806-1873)|
|HYDROSTATICS||BLAISE PASCAL (1623-1662)|
|ICHTHYOLOGY||LOUIS AGASSIZ (1807-1873)|
|ISOTOPIC CHEMISTRY||WILLIAM RAMSAY (1852-1916)|
|MODEL ANALYSIS||LORD RAYLEIGH (1842-1919)|
|NATURAL HISTORY||JOHN RAY (1627-1705)|
|BERNHARD RIEMANN (1826- 1866)|
|OCEANOGRAPHY||MATTHEW MAURY (1806-1873)|
|OPTICAL MINERALOGY||DAVID BREWSTER (1781-1868)|
|PALEONTOLOGY||JOHN WOODWARD (1665-1728)|
|PATHOLOGY||RUDOLPH VIRCHOW (1821-1902)|
|PHYSICAL ASTRONOMY||JOHANN KEPLER (1571-1630)|
|JAMES JOULE (1818-1889)|
|JAMJAMES CLERK MAXWELL (1831-1879)|
|STRATIGRAPHY||NICHOLAS STENO (1631-1686)|
|SYSTEMATIC BIOLOGY||CAROLUS LINNAEUS (1707-1778)|
|THERMODYNAMICS||LORD KELVIN (1824-1907)|
|THERMOKINETIC||HUMPHREY DAVY (1778-1829)|
|VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY||GEORGES CUVIER (1769-1832)|
And look at some of the notable inventions and discoveries of these giants of science.
ABSOLUTE TEMPERATURE SCALE LORD KELVIN (1824-1907) ACTUARIAL TABLES CHARLES BABBAGE (1792-1871) BLAISE PASCAL (1623-1662) BIOGENESIS LAW LOUIS PASTEUR (1822-1895) CALCULATING MACHINE CHARLES BABBAGE (1792-1871) CHLOROFORM JAMES SIMPSON (1811-1870) CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM CAROLUS LINNAEUS (1707-1778) DOUBLE STARS WILLIAM HERSCHEL (1738-1822) ELECTRIC GENERATOR BAROMETER MICHAEL FARADAY (1791-1867) ELECTRIC MOTOR JOSEPH HENRY (1797-1878) EPHEMERIS TABLES JOHANN KEPLER (1571-1630) FERMENTATION CONTROL LOUIS PASTEUR (1822-1895) GALVANOMETER JOSEPH HENRY (1797-1878) GLOBAL STAR CATALOG JOHN HERSCHEL (1792-1871) INERT GASES WILLIAM RAMSAY (1852-1916) KALEIDOSCOPE DAVID BREWSTER (1781-1868) LAW OF GRAVITY ISAAC NEWTON (1642-1727) MINE SAFETY LAMP HUMPHREY DAVY (1778-1829) PASTEURIZATION LOUIS PASTEUR (1822-1895) REFLECTING TELESCOPE ISAAC NEWTON (1642-1727) SCIENTIFIC METHOD FRANCIS BACON (1561-1626) SELF-INDUCTION JOSEPH HENRY (1797-1878) TELEGRAPH SAMUEL F.B. MORSE (1791-1872) THERMIONIC VALVE AMBROSE FLEMING (1849-1945) TRANS-ATLANTIC CABLE LORD KELVIN (1824-1907) VACCINATION & IMMUNIZATION LOUIS PASTEUR (1822-1895)
What do you see as a common thread among these giants of science? I’ll let Dr. Henry Morris, from whom I borrowed these lists explain how they came to be included:
“The criteria for inclusion are only the following: (1) the scientist was a person of real achievement and significance in the development of science; (2) he or she was a professing Christian (any denomination) who believed in the inspiration of the Bible; (3) he or she believed that the universe, life, and man were directly and specifically created by the transcendent God of the Bible.”
We have arrived in our modern science and technologically based world thanks to the minds, the curiosity, and the passions for discovery of the giants listed above. Linger again at the lists and imagine a world where such people did not exist, or worse, were not allowed to think and wonder. You don’t even have to imagine such a world … study the history of the civilizations, cultures and religions around the world and through-out the centuries of recorded history.
Where do you find the rise of science? In the Hindu nations of the world? In the Islamic nations of the world? In the Buddhist nations of the world? in the pantheistic religions of the world? In the atheist nations of the world such as the Soviet Union, Communist China, or North Korea?
In none of those times or places do you see the rise of science and the scientific method. Where you do find the rise of science is from within the Biblically based Judeo/Christian tradition, and only from there.
But then in more modern times the much more sophisticated and enlightened minds took over and declared the giants of old to be null and void. A wall was built around “science” and only the anointed priesthood were allowed in, and those with a contrary, and more historically based view of reality were stymied and stopped at the barricades.
The early days of the Berlin Wall
We now have the truths of Materialism which holds:
Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are the result of material interactions.
and Naturalism which holds:
Naturalism is “the idea or belief that only laws of nature (physical law) (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) and forces operate in the world; the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world.” Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.
And here some of it’s most strident adherents speak their wisdom:
“ …the “Big Bang” was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics.” Stephen Hawking
“ … tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged” Stephen Hawking
“Creation … , really does amount to something complicated springing spontaneously into existence”. Richard Dawkins
“If you look at the universe and study the universe, what you find is that there is no evidence that we need anything other than the laws of physics and the other laws of science to explain everything we see. There’s absolutely no evidence that we need any supernatural hand of god.” — Lawrence Krauss, World-Renowned Physicist
And read some of what is said by these modern day prophets towards people of faith (I assume these would also apply to those giants listed above):
“Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.”
― Richard Dawkins
“The take-home message is that we should blame religion itself, not religious extremism – as though that were some kind of terrible perversion of real, decent religion. Voltaire got it right long ago: ‘Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.’ So did Bertrand Russell: ‘Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.”
― Richard Dawkins
“If you don’t understand how something works, never mind: just give up and say God did it. You don’t know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don’t understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don’t go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God.”
― Richard Dawkins
“Religion may be a quest for the truth, but it has no way of finding the truth, or verifying what it claims to find. Our knowledge of what God is like has not advanced one iota over the ideas of the 1500s.
And insofar as theological interpretation has changed, it’s done so not as a result of faith’s quest for truth, but of pressure from science and secular morality. Really, can any theologian, philosopher, or scientist tell me anything about God now that we didn’t know 500 years ago? Then ask a scientist what we know now about science that we didn’t know in 1500.”
“Come on, readers, give me one example of a question that religion has answered to everyone’s satisfaction—one example of a “truth” found in religion’s quest for truth.”
I may be mistaken Professor Coyne, but I believe any and all of the works of those cited above as the Giants of Science would satisfy your challenge … and much beyond.
… Except for this note from a commenter at NCSE:
*Note: “Scientific” obviously precludes you using any theological opinions, biblical verses, pseudoscience texts or gullible references to your favorite, reality-denying, fact-free, science-ignorant, parasitic, god virus infected DI, AIG & CRI websites….
This note summarizes precisely why the Giants of Science have been rendered null and void by the more modern versions of scientists … no logic … no evidence … no reasoning … no facts … no reading or critical analysis of anything religious or divine … or even anything of a contrary point of view … nothing at all will persuade the religionists of modern day Atheism. The only thing that will change these hearts and minds is the gentle hand of divine Grace. The Grace dispensed unexpectedly by the Judeo/Christian God of the Bible … just as in the case of John Newton and Saul of Tarsus, nothing else can break through to such hardened souls and minds … “We must not let a divine foot in the door.” Lewontin
And here are some other comments from the laymen in the field; these comments are taken from the National Center For Science Education blog at http://ncse.com/blog
“Oh, there are many fictional books that try to deny evolutionary biology. I was in the bookstore the other day before a movie and, as usual, I visit the Science section. There I saw a copy of “Darwin’s Doubt.” I took it upon myself to move it to the section for religion and faith.” Wilgus
“Wow! You have laid bare your core ignorance.”
“Your ignorance is amazing because the only beliefs in science are that the cosmos is natural, and that the cosmos is knowable. Your supernatural beliefs, by definition, do not belong to any science.” Wilgus
“I see that BC’s crapitude has now been removed. Good to see how reality can obliterate fantasy where it is so inappropriate. Thanks for the community support in sanitizing this valuable & nice meeting room – just a few more vermin to eradicate [emphasis mine]….” CdnMacAtheist
During my year long tenure in the back and forth with commentators on NCSE, in particular CdnMacAtheist, I have had the following charges leveled against me … primarily and almost exclusively because I hold to Intelligent Design and Creationist points of view:
- I have been accused of child abuse because I believe in the right of parents to teach Biblical creation in churches and in the home.
- I have been accused of being a pedophile because I suggested to a young intern at NCSE to take a look at Intelligent Design ideas and materials.
- I have been accused of being a traitor for being a veteran, taking an oath and then violating that oath by believing in and advocating Biblical Christianity.
- I have been accused of sedition … same rational as above.
- Lately I have been likened to those who advocated and preached slavery in the American South prior to the Civil War.
- The usual insults if IDiot, anti-science, ignorant, stupid, uneducated etc. …
- I am vermin to be eradicated.
- I am the cause of all war, famine, torture and other human depravity.
- I have been accused of being an RCC (I assume that means Roman Catholic Church) … I’m not.
Since the Giants of Science have now been excised from the history and practice of science, I hope they feel welcome in my house. That leaves the house of Dawkins, Wilgus, Coyne, CdnMacAtheist and their band of fellow Materialists rather empty.
Perhaps the void is filled with Dawkins, Coyne, and Lewontin … oh yea and Wilgus.
Don Johnson – October 2014