Monday, 26 September 2016

Religion And Science

In an altered timeline, Manse Everard asks about religion because:

"'As Whitehead pointed out, the medieval idea of one almighty God was important to the growth of science, by inculcating the notion of lawfulness in nature.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Delenda Est" In Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 173-228 AT p. 196.

In the Nantucket timeline, when Ian Arnstein is asked, "'What's religion got to do with it?'," he replies:

"'Judaism and its Christian heresy were important in planting the idea that the universe was an orderly place, obedient to a single omnipresent, omnipotent system of laws with no exceptions - it leached the sacred out of the world, putting all the supernatural in one remote place. Call it preparation for the scientific worldview.'"
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Twenty, p. 313.

This contrasts with the ancient Phoenician worldview. A Time Patrol agent says:

"'They don't have our kind of Weltanschauung... To them, the world isn't entirely governed by laws of nature; it's capricious, changeable, magical.'
"And they're fundamentally right, aren't they? The chill struck deeper into Everard."
"Ivory, And Apes, And Peacocks" IN Time Patrol, pp. 229-331 AT p. 254.

The science of quantum mechanics and time travel veers away from an orderly universe back to a changeable one.

In "The House of Sorrows," Anderson shows a history with neither monotheism nor science whereas, in "Eutopia," he shows a history where science grew from Classical philosophy.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

When I read the bit you quoted from Chapter 20 of AGAINST THE TIDE OF YEARS I immediately thought of both Poul Anderson's "Delenda Est" and his similar comments in IS THERE LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS. I would not be surprised if those sources inspired Mr. Stirling to investigate the matter and conclude Anderson was right.

And, yes, quantum mechanics and time traveling (if ever shown to be real), does introduce uncertainty, even chaos, into the picture.

I agree with your comments about "The House of Sorrows" and "Eutopia." I WOULD add that I think the title of the second story was deliberately meant by Anderson to be ironic and sardonic. The word "eutopia" means "good place." BUT, by the end of "Eutopia" we see that the alleged "good place" has grave flaws.