To boldly go where no man has gone before…
This quote will sound familiar to many of you, but I would like to disengage the sentence from its obvious connotation. No doubt, many 'trekkies' whisper these words to themselves when falling asleep and, accordingly, will have sweet and brave dreams.
I, on the other hand, with this quote would like to honor (honour
if you prefer) the 'founding fathers' of the Royal Society
in getting together at Gresham College, London on November 28th, 1660. Today, exactly 356 years ago, this meeting after a lecture by the astronomer Christopher Wren, was a memorable stepping stone for (experimental) science and reason. The journey which they embarked on, and likewise many of their colleagues all over western Europe, meant: they boldly went where no man had gone before…
It hasn't been an easy path for these 'elitist' enlightened pre-modern scientists. I doubt whether the phrasing 'elitist' had the same ominous, dishonorful meaning as it has today. Science is suspect nowadays, facts hardly matter anymore. Science has been hotly debated upon by many church officials over the centuries who had difficulties in matching the latest discoveries and scientifical theories with the word of god. After the decisive 18th century Enlightenment and the progress made in de 19th and 20th century most bystanders would have guessed that science had been victorious. Science gave us vaccinations, better crop yields, the automobile and a cell phone. Does one need more than this ?
The rapidly developing 'suburbs' of the City of Science virtually swallowed up all of the City of God, to the dismay of many believers who were struggling to uphold Genesis and their faith based morality.
Science is no threat to religion per se, they are just 'working' in different ways. If you are capable of distinguishing between what comes from the head and what comes from the heart, then it should be no problem. Problems only arise when you try to bring god into the scientifical equasion. Then you're mixing up things. Do not try to prove god with science, it simply just doen't work.
Unfortunately creationism and intelligent design, or whatever you call them, is making a remarkable comeback lately, especially in the United States.
The motto of the Royal Society Nullius in verba (take nobody's word for it)
fits nicely to these modern times. Although probably meant in 1660 to incite the scientifical 'play' of formulating questions and theses, and trying to solve these riddles in either verifying or falsfying them with experiments and peer reviews, I would like to suggest to read them like this. As an exhortation to be very cautious in trusting the ones with the biggest mouth. History proves these guys wrong, usually.
Nullius in verba, nullius in verba....