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Hi guys,

I've become very interested in science fiction and technology and have been wondering about technological progress and an environment that can make it possible. I'll be honest in saying that some of my perceptions of Catholic history might be a bit nebulous and in need of correction, but my initial impression is that in a Catholic society where primacy of focus is given to otherworldy things, the state of this world would take back seat in terms of concern and consequently progress would be stiffled. I recall a general remark about how what was called "natural philosphy" (proto-science?) was looked at with disdain and regarded as something of non importance. So what do you guys think? Would a Catholic society foster technology and material progress? Could we really imagine something akin to Star Trek coming forth from such a world? Or would we be perptually stuck in a static world?

Just my random question for the day!

God bless

I think Catholicism works best, in a sci-fi context, in the kind of world Gene Wolfe writes about - a fantasy setting filled with the debris of past technological marvels.

A material wilderness, with nothing except man's relationship to God at the centre of reality.

I'm sure you'll get a wide variety of responses to this question depending on how someone might already view science and technology. For my own answer I would say that in an ideal Catholic society the salvation of the soul and the spiritual would be primary. It seems to me like part of the massive apostasy in the West in the last few centuries has stemmed precisely from the deification of science and technology so I'm radically skeptical of both.
I think that the only way we can achieve a science fiction future with interstellar travel and improved technology is if our love for Christ is bolstered. 

Otherwise, we will see a decrease in tech. 

As minds become attuned to carnal things, attention will become diverted from breakthroughs.  Also, breakthroughs in and of themselves will actually be prevented because of greed.  Just consider the automobile and oil industry, and recall the many times different companies and even the government have sabatogued or bought out inventors of alternative fuel vehicles. 


No.  We will not see Star Trek.  No Babylon 5 station for us.  No Mars colony.  Our future is steampunk, at best.  Only, without the costumes. 

Or, maybe our future is just sort of like "The Road."  Perhaps all those zombie movies we've seen in the last half century are a prophecy of the human zeitgeist, and we'll just eat ourselves alive one day. 



Many many of our most wonderful discoveries and rediscoveries were through the Catholic Church.  The Church is responsible for the current form of what we know as books.  The Church helped discover and investigate genetics. Many sciences from antiquity were preserved by the Church. 

If we were not at each others throats, we would've been exploring the moons of Saturn in person a long time ago. 

But, I feel that mankind will not get to explore these things before the world ends.  The only time we are able to explore a world is with those stupid robots that NASA keeps sending to other planets--and only then do we send something up because NASA and the so-called scientific community is desperately trying to show there's some kind of life--any kind, even pond scum--out there on another planet, because deep down, they think it will disprove Creationism. 
Natural philosophy was placed in a hierarchy of sciences in which it was not the highest, but I do not know that it was looked down upon. Either way, I think it might be problematic to see ancient and medieval natural philosophy as a primitive predecessor to the modern physical sciences. Their goals and methods are, arguably, entirely different.

At any rate, it seems to me unlikely that we would be as technologically advanced as we are now in a Catholic world if by this you mean a world in which the Renaissance, which I think is perhaps more of a mixed bag than some conservative Catholics are willing to admit, and the Enlightenment never occurred. Modern science and technology are, I think, linked to a view of the world and man's relation to the world that differs significantly from the view of these things held by ancient and medieval Christians. This worldview has, of course, given us a great deal of comfort and wealth, but I think it has also had quite a few negative effects that are often overlooked even by conservative Catholics who simply say that technology is morally neutral and leave it at that, ignoring the fact that modern technology brings with it an entire worldview that is most certainly not neutral.

That said, I do think one can easily argue that modern science would never have developed in a non-Christian society. Although the rise of modern science and technology represented a break from the high medieval synthesis, it was still in many ways a result of theological considerations. Here is an interesting article from the historian of science Peter Harrison on the subject: http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/...498202.htm
A Catholic world would not produce a "star trek" future, but neither will the non Catholic world, because there is no star trek universe to discover.  The future of humankind will unfold on this earth, and to a less extent, within this solar system.  After that, the future will unfold in heaven and hell. 
(02-03-2013, 08:58 PM)Warrenton Wrote: [ -> ]A Catholic world would not produce a "star trek" future, but neither will the non Catholic world, because there is no star trek universe to discover.  The future of humankind will unfold on this earth, and to a less extent, within this solar system.  After that, the future will unfold in heaven and hell. 

Well just as an aside Warrenton, why do you so suppose God created such an enormous universe?
(02-03-2013, 09:08 PM)mortify Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-03-2013, 08:58 PM)Warrenton Wrote: [ -> ]A Catholic world would not produce a "star trek" future, but neither will the non Catholic world, because there is no star trek universe to discover.  The future of humankind will unfold on this earth, and to a less extent, within this solar system.  After that, the future will unfold in heaven and hell. 

Well just as an aside Warrenton, why do you so suppose God created such an enormous universe?

So the eggheads can have something nice to look at with their fancy telescopes?  That would be my guess.  God loves eggheads too (somebody has to).
(02-03-2013, 04:38 PM)mortify Wrote: [ -> ]Hi guys,

I've become very interested in science fiction and technology and have been wondering about technological progress and an environment that can make it possible. I'll be honest in saying that some of my perceptions of Catholic history might be a bit nebulous and in need of correction, but my initial impression is that in a Catholic society where primacy of focus is given to otherworldy things, the state of this world would take back seat in terms of concern and consequently progress would be stiffled. I recall a general remark about how what was called "natural philosphy" (proto-science?) was looked at with disdain and regarded as something of non importance. So what do you guys think? Would a Catholic society foster technology and material progress? Could we really imagine something akin to Star Trek coming forth from such a world? Or would we be perptually stuck in a static world?

Just my random question for the day!

God bless

Smile
I truly do not see why not. The Church has never been an enemy of science.
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