- Here if one scrolls down to the random links noted after the main post, we see this: “Hooray for modernity. And rationalism.”
Now, if you read the essay noted in the link, there isn’t a single place where the writer connects the cause of increased life-span to “modernity” or “rationalism.” That is simply presumed by Burk; he reads that into the text. What the writer does note is this:
“The credit largely goes to a wide range of public health advances, broadly defined, some of which were explicitly aimed at preventing disease, others of which did so only incidentally.”
Beyond that, we see that many of the reasons for the advancements in medicine are a result of the advancements in science- in general. Again, when we think about the rise of modern science we see that it arose because of key ideas or concepts and because of a certain environment. As I already noted here:
“Could modern science have arisen outside the theological matrix of Western Christendom? It is difficult to say. What can be said for certain is that it did arise in that environment, and that theological ideas underpinned some of its central assumptions. Those who argue for the incompatibility of science and religion will draw little comfort from history.”
And this is all to say that the advancements in medicine are linked to the rise of modern science, so we see a tributary running off the main stream, which finds its head source in the ‘theological matrix of Western Christendom.”
But more specifically to the credit going largely to a “wide range of public health advances” we see the rise of modern hospitals, philanthropy, and the systems of care originally founded by the early Church and arising out of that theological matrix. See here for example.
Now, we could clearly disagree here on whether or not any of this could be attributed solely to the Christian narrative or what it means or proves (and that would be a reasonable disagreement issue–nothing else). I’ve already addressed that here, here, and here. What I find really interesting is that Burk wants us to link the outcome here (longer life-span) to a certain narrative (modernity/rationalism) and he thinks this says something about the truth of that narrative. He thinks we should all say “hooray”- this proves or means something significant about that narrative.
What Burk is doing is just using common sense. I disagree with his assertion that long life-span in people is attributable to the narrative of modernity/rationalism, but he certainly isn’t illogical for thinking a connection of that nature might say something true about the ideas, the narrative, that led to that outcome. This is sort of like not touching the hot stove a second time. And I’m also sure he would say that even if we could directly link this outcome to the narrative of modernity/rationalism, such would not “prove” or demonstrate empirically/scientifically that God didn’t exist. I think he would say something more along the lines of it is “plausible;” it is likely, it may hint or point strongly toward the truths of that narrative.
Interesting argument…it sounds familiar. I guess he never received the memo that he’s committing a logical error to even suggest it.