Re: [asa] science martyrs

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sun Mar 01 2009 - 20:10:01 EST

Marcio -

Yes, I realize that you were using the term "martyr" in a broad sense which is fairly common usage. Without intending to reject that sense I thought it worthwhile to note the more limited definition.

It would be hard to come up with a genuine "science martyr" - i.e., someone who has been killed for his/her scientific beliefs - in a Christian culture.A case might be made for Hypatia, the 5th century neoplatonist astronomer & mathematician of Alexandria who was killed by a Christian mob, but it's not at all certain that her distinctively scientific beliefs - or the fact that she wasn't a Christian - were the cause of that.

"Science confessors" are easier - Murray and Michael have suggested some contemporaries. I think Galileo could be put in this category. Certainly there was a lot involved in his condemnation besides just his scientific claims but those did play some role.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Marcio Pie
  To: 'ASA list'
  Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 1:13 PM
  Subject: RES: [asa] science martyrs


  Hi George,


  Of course, I was using the word "martyr" in a loose way, just to make my point. Anyway, who could you name as a "science martyr"? or at least a "science confessor"? I'm not being confrontational or anything like that, I'm genuinely curious, since I can't find examples myself.




  De: [] Em nome de George Murphy
  Enviada em: domingo, 1 de março de 2009 15:03
  Para:; 'ASA list'; Marcio Pie
  Assunto: Re: [asa] science martyrs


  Gregory -


  You beat me to a mention of Vavilov. Velikovsky did indeed get some unfair criticism from scientists who knew his ideas only superficially, but when one examines them in more depth they still turn out to be wildly wrong. Counting him as a martyr is pretty far off. A guy who was out of his depth in fields he didn't know much about would be a more accurate decription. I once heard him speak in the 70s when there was a bit of a Velikovsky revival - a rambling talk that was so long that the scheduled Q & A time had to be omitted.


  In response to the original question: The traditional definition of a martyr in the Christian tradition is a believer who is killed "because of hatred of the faith" (per odium fide). A person who is persecuted because of the Christian faith but not killed for it is a "confessor." If we use similar criteria for scientists there have been very few "science martyrs" but a lot more "science confessors."




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Received on Sun Mar 1 20:11:36 2009

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