“Archeologists believe they’ve discovered the mystery factor that has allowed Roman buildings to continue standing for 2,000 years,” according to a recent post by Daniel Payne over at Not the Bee.
As it turns out, scientists now believe a particular variety of quicklime was added at high temperature to form compounds in the concrete, which allow for an automatic regeneration to take place within Roman concrete, filling in cracks as they form, and binding the whole together again in short order, through a kind of self-maintaining process.
So also, I think here of a conversation my dad, eldest son, and I had the other night after watching Top Gun: Maverick for our weekly family movie night. More specifically, we were discussing how Nazi Germany made some incredible technological advances, particularly in rocketry, which made much of modern air transportation, including the space program, possible, as German scientists were taken in by the U.S. and the Soviet Union at the close of World War II.
There is no denying, then, that Germany in the early 20th century made incredible technological breakthroughs, and could boast being home to the leading universities, research laboratories, and scientists of the world. The downfall, I would argue, despite these incredible facts, was to be found in the erosion of Christian faith in Germany, due in large part to the undermining and arguing away of the authority and infallibility of The Bible as God’s inspired Word.
Simultaneous to this erosion, or else a consequence to the vacuum it created, which nature reliably abhors, as we all know, was the rise of neo-paganism. As it turned out, the desire, on the part of the leadership of the Nazi party, to return Germany to the worship of the old Norse gods – Odin, Thor, Freyr, and the like – meant that country was unable to sustain its hyper-aggressive progress, and that it destroyed itself as a result.
What has been too much forgotten is that it was Christian faith that gave rise to, and stabilized, the restoration and advancement of science as we know it in the West.
Particularly after the fall of the Romans to the barbarians, who had become more proficient at imitating Latin success than the biological heirs of Romulus and Remus, what with their self-indulgence and folly, and loss of conviction with regards to the original vision of productive virtue inherent to the founding ideals of that Republic, Christians protected the books and manuscripts, as well as how to read and understand them, all due to the conviction held to, as a foundational presupposition, that the truth is critically important, and knowable, because the God who made us, and who we worship, is a God of truth, who calls us to know the truth and be set free by it.
By contrast, as Herman Bavinck explained in A Christian Philosophy of Science, the Christian worldview and message, what with its emphasis on faith, confession of sins, repentance, and grace, set the stage, for what we know of as the scientific method, inspiring explanations for the relationship between phenomena to be speculated on, hypothesized, tested, and then converted, into practical theories, through a very similar progression, motivated and inspired by that self-same commitment to truth inherent to Christianity.
In our day, tragically, this is almost entirely forgotten, and moreover denied when someone reminds us of it. Like a daily and cumulative fulfillment of what happens to most modern concrete, when it has been exposed to sun’s rays, and the rain, for even a few, short seasons. Cracks appear in our scientific pursuits, also, apart from the stabilizing agent of Christian faith. And the results are much the same, with science as with concrete, that pathways, driveways, roadways, and institutions of all kinds, keep on breaking down, either to eventual destruction, or else requiring constant and costly maintenance.
The Northman religion is a far cry from even the vestiges of Christian ethos which remain in Top Gun: Maverick, as we are still living in a kind of Roman ruins which do not wear out so quickly, without intentional dismantling, sabotage, and vandalism.
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