A Disgrace to the Forces of Evil



Cardinal Newman once opined that to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.  Most atheists I have encountered lend support to this adage by their shocking ignorance of the most basic facts of History.  Unlike the atheists of yesteryear, some of whom could be quite challenging with their knowledge of History, most contemporary atheists are so ignorant of History that debating them is to engage in instruction rather than debate.  John C. Wright, a science fiction author and convert from atheism to Catholicism, encounters one of the new breed of ignorant atheists:



Hmph. I just came across another antieducated sophophobe who declared there to be a war between science and faith, especially the Roman Catholic Church.

I asked him to name the Papal Bull or Encyclical, or any other official document of the Church prohibiting or condemning the practice of scientific inquiry. He did not know what a ‘bull’ was.

I asked him if he knew anything about science and the history of science, and he said yes. I asked him for the evidence of any Catholic interference, or even lack of enthusiastic support, for any scientific inquiry of any kind, in any time or place?

He mentioned Galileo. I asked him if he knew the circumstances of Galileo’s trial, or what Galileo was accused of? He said no. I asked him if he knew who Cardinal Bellarmine was. He said no.

I asked him if he had read Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences? He did not even know what the book was, much less who the characters in it were, or what positions in the contemporary debates they represented.

(Do I need to mention that I read this book in school? I went to a good school, where the education is what mathematicians call a ‘positive sum game’ that is, I ended up more educated than when I went in. His school left him with less education than when he went in.)

I did not bother to ask him if he knew what, precisely, Galileo had discovered, or what proofs he gave to support his various theories.

I did not ask him to tell me what the Galilean satellites were, much less name them (off the top of my head: Io, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede. If I am wrong, and Amalthea is one of them, shame on me. If got them in order, more to my glory.)

Calibrating my questions to the level of someone without a Saint John’s College level of education,  I asked him if he knew who Abertus Magnus, William of Ockham, Roger Bacon, Nicholas Steno were. He said no.

I asked him who invented the mechanical escapement used in clockwork. Or when. He did not know what mechanical escapement was. (Villard de Honnecourt circa 1237, in case you are wondering.)

Recalibrating my question to the high school level, I asked him if he knew who Pascal was, Copernicus, Descartes. He said no. Mendel. No. Still no.

He then told me that all the European inventions in mathematics and medicine came from the Muslim world. I asked him if he knew where Andalusia was, or when the Reconquista happened. Did not recognize those terms. I asked him what religion the people were in the lands conquered by the Muslims in the Seven, Eighth, and Ninth Centuries, et cetera? He guessed that they were some sort of pagans.

I did not bother to ask him if he knew who Abu Hamid al-Ghazali was.

He did not even know enough to raise and throw into my face the old, tired, and oft- efuted slander about Hypatia the neoplatonic philosopher (always described as a female scientist) being flayed to death by a Christian mob wielding sharpened clamshells.

In other words, I could have argued in favor of the War between Science and the Church better than he. He had not even memorized his side’s own talking points.

He was a disgrace to the forces of evil.

Go here to read the rest.  One resource we will never run short of in this Vale of Tears is human ignorance.

More to explorer


  1. I’ve also noticed the same mindset in many Protestant Anti-Catholic bigots. They’re just as ignorant as Mr. Wright’s atheists are.

  2. Paul W Primavera: “Today’s atheists are ignorant equally of history and science.”
    What is horrifying is that this ignorance, which must be worked at to maintain, is their own act of free will, a free will for which they refuse to be grateful and for which they refuse to acknowledge their Creator. How absolutely pitiless is their void.

  3. Recently I’ve noticed a lot more nominally-other– wishy-washy agnostic? Sometimes with a random religion thrown in– who are just flat-out hostile to the Church. Everything gets interpreted with an eye to “because you’re evil.”
    The Obama crusades thing brought out a lot more of this– and showed me that I’d been accepting some slams, like the idea that the sacking of Constantinople was “part of the crusades.”
    Uh, if folks were already excommunicated once for doing it, and their nobles screwed up, and then their nobles decided to throw in with someone who claimed to be a rightful ruler and go sack towns for debt relief, totally ignoring the Pope… the only connection is that they originally headed out to do the crusades.

  4. I do recall (thanks to this article) a situation attributed to the brilliant –if pompous–Francis Bacon (also known in some circles as the father of science) when challenged on something, he commented wryly that “I’d debate you, but first I’d have to educate you…”

  5. From the article – “It is not merely the ignorance that bothers me. It is the ingratitude.” I’ve never heard that expressed before, but I recognized it immediately.

    Meanwhile, on another site, I’ve got someone telling me that Aristotelianism is an important part of Muslim philosophy…and hey, I didn’t learn the truth in school either; I just hope I wasn’t spouting nonsense until I finally did learn something.

  6. I have come to believe that everyone believes in God. Even atheists. The bible says that everyone has some amount of knowledge of God, so to say that God doesn’t exist is a lie against the atheists own mind.
    I would guess that atheists are the most bothered by the existance of God because their own mind is convicting them and they are running in the dark to get away from God. Foolish people, they can’t run from God, and the fact that they are running is proof of their guilt.

  7. Great post – thanks to Donald and John Wright and the maker of that great video, great song “In the Morning when the Clouds shall roll away!”
    You all (above mentioned and TAC posters) lift my spirits – sometimes it seems that there is No one to talk to– but, there you are, just when needed!

  8. Randy – I know what you mean. In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis wrote that he wasn’t afraid that he’d stop believing in God; he was afraid that he’d start to believe bad things about Him. I think that there are some people who genuinely don’t believe in God, but it’s probably pretty rare. It just seems less human. It’s like people who say they don’t believe that there’s such a thing as love are more likely to be people who are very aware that love is real, but have been burnt by it.

  9. Since when is deism atheism? Or am I missing the point that the guy who put the graphic together is just as pathetically ignorant as is Wright’s antieducated sophophobe?

  10. My take is on those “professional atheists” who are so insecure in their self-adoration that they need to remove God from everyone else’s universe.
    I therefore see people like Christopher Hitchens (God forgive him) and Richard Dawkins as people who have spent their entire life fighting a God they claim doesn’t exist–a sure evidence of either insanity, ignorance, or most probably, a simple case of; “I will not serve.”

  11. When a scientifically gifted friend (who has a vehemently anti-God website) tried to goad me with the “anti-science of the Church” screed, I mentioned the Belgian cleric who is referred to as the “father of DNA” …. He shut up, bless his heart!

  12. Ernst- it’s even richer. Einstein believed in Intelligent Design– he didn’t think God was involved in day-to-day stuff, but he did think it blindingly obvious that He’d set the system up; God the Greatest Thinker.
    I’m sure that others in there are similar examples of “you have got to be @#$# me, dude” ignorance.
    Don Lond-
    I don’t know hard-core atheists for very long– they tend to get angry at things like checking their claims– but the most common theme seems to be the kind of lashing out you get when someone hurts, a lot.
    My husband was agnostic– he was taught just enough Catholicism to disillusion him with it, and not enough to learn more. So he got angry with the Church, because as far as he knew, he’d been lied to. Back when we were barely friends, I told him that he was a natural Catholic– the way his mind works fits in perfectly with the systematic methods that gave us Natural Law theory, and I used that for conversations with him.
    Thank God, he didn’t quit asking questions and taking the answers when they were well enough supported, and his love of history has also drawn him in– he’s now a regular church-goer, hard core enough that he doesn’t like the feeling that he’s “cheating” by going to Saturday mass, even though he’d rather sleep in until well after Sunday mass starts.

  13. I guess I should point out that ID– Intelligent Design, or “Creationists,” or basically anybody who says any supernatural power has ever actually done anything— is one of the nasty-athiest boogie monsters. Slap the card down and act like it discredits the argument you couldn’t answer. (Yes, the irony of religious folks using logic and “rational” ones using emotion is strong….)

  14. The card I slam down most frequently is that what we moderns call science was invented by Catholic churchmen. The earliest description of the scientific method known to historians was written by a medieval Catholic priest. The Church ‘punished’ him by later elevating him to bishop. (Ha, I joke. The real punishment was assigning him a diocese in England.)
    Truth messes with the atheists’ heads big time.

  15. Well, I use the term antitheists to describe people who claim there is no God. They are very virulently opposed to any notion of God – always reminds one of Satan’s scornful attitude witnessed in Exorcism. If you point out that it is an irrational leap of faith(lessness) to insist there is no God, they really get malevolent. We must tell them to open their hearts and their minds and they will come to realize the inherent truth of the Almighty that resides in their spiritual essence. We must let them know that religion is not necessary to comprehend the existence of the Almighty. But we may say that religion is supposed to exist to help us in our search for a greater understanding of God and like all works involving mankind it entails many foibles.

  16. Also, anyone who has trouble with friends or family who insist upon an absolutist Darwinian evolution, take a look at Stephen Meyers “Darwin’s Doubt” about intelligent design. It is fascinating.

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