Today, I have a more innocuous topic that I think we might learn from. During the Middle Ages in the West, Aristotle was seen as so great that his ideas were a barrier to further scientific development. In 1277, the West started to leave Aristotle. God is bigger was the start.
How About the East?
In China Confucius was almost deified and held China back for hundreds of years until roughly 1919. Only the disastrous Treaty of Versailles saved China. China is a big country- like the West was big with Aristotle thought everywhere. So in China, all stood below Confucius. China helped the Allies in World War 1, and so thought the German colony of Shandong would go back to China after the War. To China’s great shock, the treaty gave Shandong to Japan which had given up standing under Confucius! May 4, 1919, Chinese students rebelled against useless Confucian thought and started wearing Western clothes and other customs. That spread to the rest of Chinese culture step by step. It was a huge event among others that helped China escape being under Confucius.
Mongolians have done almost nothing since Genghis Khan as they say they are descendants of Genghis Khan. Mongolia still has not escaped their great man.
However, how did the Europeans as the first region to break free of the great thinkers do it? Other countries have used Europe as a model or a push, but Europe started from zero.
Some History of Western Thought
Circa 1100 AD, Committed Catholics started the first universities in Bologna, in London and in Paris at about the same time. The West held Aristotle in high regard in each university.
In 1277, important Catholics, with input from agitators in the University of Paris, issued the Condemnations of 1277. The critical point is they advanced thought that clarified that God is greater than Aristotle. In many cases across Europe, they even banned Aristotle due to this Condemnation. This was a key step for the beginnings of scientific inquiry in the world. Europe had made its first big stand against Aristotle, and more would come till finally Europe could stand above Aristotle.
What can we learn here? 1. Many Evangelicals consider that after New Testament times till Martin Luther in 1517, all faith was a total loss. In fact, God is and was working all the time. 2. God can help us break free of thoughts limiting us if we keep learning from Him. God is bigger than principles that personally enslave us.
Christians have the advantage of believing God is bigger and can do miracles defying even modern science. That is true.
One weakness is that our belief to leap in thought does make us more susceptible to conspiracy thinking than pagans. we can accept certain things without proof just as we believe that God made the heavens and the earth without proof. That is good.
God is Bigger and Sets us Free
However, we should not take statements like vaccines are untrustworthy and believe despite overwhelming proof that they are much safer then not vaccinating. Some people will get sick and even die from vaccines but millions will die without them. The Bible and God’s sense of order would teach us no less.
The Condemnations were a first step with God to look more clearly at what is true and not accept frivolous proof and outright conjecture. For example, recently some posited that certain Republicans were chosen by God and could not lose. Therefore, they posited there must be like 100,000 fake ballots. That is a huge leap beyond what the Bible or raw fact teaches. We Christians will have such weakness and need to guard against it.
We are free as all Western thought is free to believe that present facts can be improved. That goes for history and science. We should not randomly doubt science as a process, but respect scientists. Most scientists respect our belief that Jesus rose from the dead 2000 years ago. They should not make conjecture against this faith, and we should not make conjecture against vaccines and such.