Chronicle: Science has changed

University lecturer and biologist Eric Tonstad thinks about religion and science at But science is something that has changed throughout history. So one must talk about concrete historical examples of science in order to know what one is talking about.

Critics such as Holm, Kvilstad, and Tvetin have tried. They refer to the High Middle Ages as a period when science and religion coexisted happily together, and thus they attempt to use the history of science to refute Tonstad’s claim. But the argument does not have much effect, because Tunstad does not talk about science in history. He talks about science in the singular.

The Norwegian flag as a religious practice

I will give another historical example. Hans Ström was a priest from 1750 to 1797. From taking office until he breathed his last sigh of relief in 1797, he practiced science. He dissected and conducted experiments on animals, collected and described plants, and made meteorological observations. He interviewed people in the parish and studied their boats, their clothes, and their language. Climb the mountains and study the landscape of the parish from the bottom of the sea to the top of the mountain.

Ström was one of the most respected Norwegian scientists of his day and published several thousand scientific pages.

And he was not alone. There were other priests throughout the kingdom who researched, published, and communicated with scholars abroad, used microscopes, subscribed to scholarly journals, and built their own library. Many of these priests were appointed professors, and many argued that Norway should have its own university. In Trondheim, Bishop Johann Ernst Jönerös founded the first scientific society, the Diet Trondheimke Silskab, which received royal permission in 1768 and is still in existence today. Science was a big business for the priests.

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The reason is that the study of nature was seen as a way of studying God. If you know nature better, you also know its Creator better. The natural investigations of Ström and other investigative priests were not just church-funded research, but a form of religious practice. Once upon a time in history, the practice of religion was one of the most important things in Norwegian research.

Tonstad points are not historical

But does this destabilize Tonstad’s vision, though it may be weak? Why do we use examples from the early Middle Ages and the 18th century to tell something about science? Is it because we search for the origin of science, and believe it has been pushed in the same way and according to ideals ever since? No. It has a diverse history. This story means that we cannot talk about science in the singular, and concrete historical examples do not tell us everything about science.

Tunstad operates with a narrow view of science and history. Knowing that religion “never found a singular solution to any practical problem,” it can be seen as a method of historical argumentation. This interpretation includes, among many other issues, a rather narrow view of what science is. The same claim can be made against most of the humanities, about what is sometimes called “basic research” versus “applied research,” and in most other cases where science advocated the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge. personal error.

The search for practical solutions has been the only motivation for pursuing science throughout the ages.

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What about scientific changes?

Although he has written interestingly about the history of science elsewhere, only parts of science are willing to consider it historical. He later wrote that it could be seen that science had made a mistake. But then she corrected herself. The history of the Tonstad flag is about something fixed and immutable (science) that arose in the arena of history and brought to light more and more facts over the centuries. But the essence of science itself has no history.

The facts revealed by science over the centuries are not historical phenomena. It is eternal, untouched by time and space, it seems, as it is believed.

Is it plausible that in Hans Ström’s eyes nothing was real now? Even if our ability is proven to the best of our ability by scientific methods? Is it plausible that Strom would have different criteria for what is true? If one wants to go any way in discussing the impact of science on religion, one has to speak more precisely about science. Learn about several things. And they change through history.

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