There's a disturbing trend across the Christian blogosphere. Creative interpretation of the history of science. Let's get this straight. Religion is the enemy of science, and it always has been. Science prospered in spite of religious efforts to suppress it.
Here's how the story goes:
1) Religionist cooks up non-predictive fairy tale about some natural phenomenon, e.g., lightning strikes. His prescription: do what he says, or, what he says God says. If you get struck by lightning, you deserved it.
2) Scientist comes up with new, predictive, scientific explanation of lightning. His prescription: find shelter, build lightning conductors, etc.
3) Religionist assaults scientist for stealing God's thunder (or lightning, or mojo, or whatever).
4) Assuming scientist survives, his theory is vindicated, lives are saved, there is much rejoicing, etc.
5) After the original stick-in-the-mud religionists expire, the religious establishment embraces the scientific theory as a miracle of God, or as having been forecast by a holy book. Or, they simply claim that all regularity and predictability are gifts from God.
Is religion the power behind science? Of course it isn't. Religion is a parasite that feeds on science.
The thing that's changing today is that history is being more aggressively rewritten by religionists. Some bloggers have told me that Galileo wasn't imprisoned by the church for his ideas about heliocentrism, but because he published his ideas with inadequate experimental rigor. Say what!?! As if this would be okay now that science is God and all. This is just ridiculous. Galileo challenged the Pope's grip on totalitarian power, usurped supernaturalism, and challenged the church's worldview. They locked him up and threatened to kill him. It's that simple.
The same story is played out over and over again. Seeing human physiology as machine, human mind as mechanism, the universe as physics - all these things challenge the role of God and ethereal spirits. Each was challenged as offensive to religious belief, vindicated, then hailed as a contribution of theology.
Religion was responsible for scientific advance in the same way that the Third Reich was responsible for the modern state of Israel. The influence of the church on science is undeniable, but it's not a causative relationship. Religion was dragged kicking and screaming into a scientific world. And it's still kicking and screaming.