Guest / Limited Access /
What Galileo's Telescope Can't See
Image: Copyright: www.bridgemanart.com
What Galileo's Telescope Can't See

Analogies have persuasive power, a suggestive force that operates on an almost unconscious level. To say that A is "like" B is to suggest that everything we associate with A should also be associated with B—whether good, bad, or ugly.

So, for example, if I describe American soldiers as "crusaders," I have just painted them with an analogical brush that colors them as religiously motivated warriors guilty of the worst bigotries of the West. The analogy is loaded with a moral depiction that exceeds what's actually said. So all the disdain we have towards our (usually caricatured) understanding of the Crusades is now overlaid on our perception of military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Conversely, if I describe the proponents of my cause as "prophets" or "martyrs," I have loaded the perceptual deck with images of heroism and purity. Just by the analogy, we get to don our white hats and claim the moral high ground. Or if we describe our regime as "Camelot," we associate ourselves with romance and royal privilege. Never underestimate the power of an analogy. And never simply accept it.

We are all Galileans now

There is a particular analogy often invoked in current discussions about the relationship between Christian faith and science. Ours, we are told, is a "Galilean" moment: a critical time in history when new findings in the natural sciences threaten to topple fundamental Christian beliefs, just as Galileo's proposed heliocentrism rocked the ecclesiastical establishment of his day. This parallel is usually invoked in the context of genetic, evolutionary, and archaeological evidence about human origins that challenges traditional Christian ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedWhy You Can't Read Scripture Alone
Subscriber Access Only Why You Can't Read Scripture Alone
Studying the Bible in light of the Great Tradition.
TrendingA Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
A Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
The grand jury has made a decision in Ferguson, now we have to make ours. How will we respond?
Editor's PickFull Bellies, Thankful Hearts
Full Bellies, Thankful Hearts
God designed your stomach and your heart to be intimately connected.
Comments
Christianity Today
What Galileo's Telescope Can't See
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.