Re: Foss on China, Thunder Rites, etc.

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Thu, 12 Oct 1995 15:09:08 +0900

Two remarks:
(1) In re science and mysticism. It is a well-known fact in the history of
science that Sir Isaac Newton devoted more pages to writing about astrology
than he did to the scientific work for which he is remembered. I also
recall, in re Birt's example of Ptolemaic vs. Copernican astronomy, that
the spread of solarcentric cosmologies was linked to mystical ideas
associated with Neo-Platonism. :-)) [All this is from memory. Take with
large grains of salt.]

(2) While trying to figure out the explosive elaboration of religious
buildings, cults and activities in Taiwan as the island's economy
began to take off, I toyed with the notion of pent-up demand
released by increased economic well-being, an equivalent to the
post-WWII "edifice complex" that saw a spate of church-building in
Eisenhower-Kennedy America. Then it occured to me that in a situation
where worshippers ask their gods for practical benfits--healthy
kids, successful businesses, wealth, long-life and material happiness--
rapid economic development ensures that many of them will encounter
empirical evidence that their prayers were answered. Empiricism alone
does not good science make.

John McCreery