Nurturing British genius
Looking back at the post called Violence and Reason, I wish I'd written it better, but I still think it says something true about what shaped British scientific geniuses. Here is part of it, with a few tweaks -
During our researches, I often found the back story of British scientific geniuses to be rather moving. Most of them were boys, and many of them floundered in their teens. They struggled until they had an exhilarating encounter with reason, mathematics, and the real world, and other Brits noticed, and helped them out.
My liberal schooling in America had persuaded me that religion had nothing to offer reason. Reason, I was told, had barely escaped the ravages of religion. It was a close-run thing.
To my surprise, my research for the Science Timeline suggested the exact reverse. Peering through the mists of time I could see what I had never seen before because it was as invisible and pervasive as air - In Britain the Judeo-Christian faith had called thinkers to celebrate God's world by understanding it. Explore, describe, verify! And Brits did with indescribable intensity and ardor.
Of course they were not all religious, and the Church was not always supportive, but many were, and surprisingly the Church often was. Nurturing scientific endeavours was the belief that reason was a gift of God. Not surprisingly, Brits also found that thinking rationally could be profitable and improve our lives.
Today, James Bartholomew writes that -
All the leading teaching hospitals in London were originally charitable hospitals. They were created by wealthy people encouraged by the church.
Typically they were named after Christian saints including St Thomas, St Mary, St Bartholomew and St George.
Young British geniuses entered schools, universities and scientific associations which had been created and supported by individual Brits over the centuries. You'd almost think they were growing up in a country whose defining Christian culture said, help your neighbour, help the stranger, build schools and hospitals.
There must have been something tremendously exciting and gratifying about doing that - making a difference with your time and money and ideas and skill.