It’s truly a tired mantra. Under the pretense that they own a corner on the Market of Reality while ignoring the fact that they are merely presuming upon the efforts of their relatively recent philosophical parents (many of whose principles are derived from the truths of Christianity), the New Atheists, evangelizing from their Holy Bible of Naturalistic Science and Witless Retorts written by their own venerated prophets, proclaim loudly and often, “Christianity hinders scientific progress.” And of course, as is commonly the hazard of religious discourse, there’s a good bit of nuance to hack through.
First, what is meant by “science” when this pronouncement is made? Is it knowledge and discovery in general, i.e. a general desire and pursuit of knowledge? Or are the particular sciences (biology, chemistry, etc.) in view here? Or is evolutionary science solely in view? We aren’t told. We are to assume “progress” equals “good” and “science” equals “non-negotiable.” Not too long ago Bill Nye intimated that denial of evolution (the object of a particular science) entails denial of knowledge. Sort of a bait-and-switch, depending on which side you’re on.
Second, what is “progress?” We can speak of many things as “progressing,” but they’re not all necessarily good things (e.g. disease progressing, global warming progressing, terr’ists progressing). From the tone of the statement, we’re led to believe that “progress” is what defines “good.” Or alternately, “progress” is what leads to “truth.” Indeed, this is the fundamental assumption. But why should anyone believe that “progress” is necessarily something that should not be “hindered?” How does one know that he is progressing toward truth and not simply a more realized falsehood? Experimentation can yield consistent results, but people can consistently interpret the results incorrectly.
Third, let’s see a few things that “scientific progress” has brought us:
Science gave us the Morning-After Pill.
Science gave us internet pornography.
Science gave us LSD.
Science gave us the Atomic Bomb.
Science gave us eugenics.
Science gave us the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.
On second thought, I suppose Christianity really does seek to hurt scientific progress. In the same way a troubled teen is “hurt” by those trying to pull him away from progressing off the edge of the bridge. If Evolutionary Theory really does do away with the necessity of God (it doesn’t, of course), then naturally Christianity would seek to hinder further development of a God-denying rationale.
Furthermore, there is nothing in the Holy Bible of Naturalistic Science and Witless Retorts that can possibly condemn the actions of those in charge of the Tuskegee Experiment. It simply keeps its mouth shut for the sake of “progress.” There’s no provision for a distinction between “right” and “wrong.” It’s quite ironic that the New Atheists pick and choose what they want from their worldview, such that they can make it mean whatever they want it to; affirming the parts they like while denying and ignoring the parts they don’t. This is plain hypocrisy. It seems that this is what identifies “New Atheists” from atheists in general – their fundamentalist, assertive, and shallow evangelistic speech and manner. And don’t you dare ask questions, you ignorant, science-hindering bigot. Don’t you know that all truth is mere Opinion? Well, except for that one right there.
Atheists are hypocrites, therefore Atheism is false.
Christianity is true, therefore Atheism is false.