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Violence and Reason

During our researches, I often found the back story of British scientific geniuses to be rather moving. Most of them were boys, and many of them floundered in their teens. Poor and unschooled, they struggled until they had an exhilarating encounter with reason, mathematics, and the real world, and other Brits noticed, and helped them out.

There are various reasons why these encounters happened. One reason they occurred, though we don't talk about it much, was reason, particularly reason as an expression of faith.

Reason is a subject that has recently aroused the anger of violent Islamists who apparently believe that reason has nothing to offer religion. My schooling in America was the reverse of theirs, and persuaded me that religion had nothing to offer reason. Reason, I was told, had barely escaped the ravages of religion. It was a close-run thing.

To my surprise, our research for the Ingenious Timeline suggested the exact reverse. Peering through the mists of time I could see what I had never seen before because it was as invisible and pervasive as air: The Judeo-Christian faith called thinkers to celebrate God's world by understanding it. Explore, describe, verify! And Brits did with indescribable intensity and ardor.

Of course they were not all religious, and the Church was not always supportive, but many were, and the Church often was. Supporting their scientific endeavours was the widespread belief that reason was a gift of God. Not surprisingly, Brits also found that thinking rationally could be profitable.

Lee Harris recently discussed the relationship between violence and reason. He observed in the WEEKLY STANDARD >

If it is left up to the individual to use violence or reason, then those whose subjective choice is for violence will inevitably destroy the community of those whose subjective choice is for reason. Worse still, those whose subjective choice is for violence do not need to constitute more than a small percentage of the community in order to destroy the very possibility of a community of reasonable men: Brute force and terror quickly extinguish rational dialogue and debate.

Despite assorted battles, the Glorious Revolution, and an extremely disagreeable period when some of the best of the Brits dared to defend freedom of conscience and were burned at the stake, Brits lived in a country of largely reasonable men and women whose faith taught them to use reason, to help each other, and to search for those Eureka! moments that are known to Christians as epiphanies.

The astonishing results are evident in THE INGENIOUS TIMELINE >