• arts & sciences •
a collection of written work
by David Snoke
Ideas have consequences, especially ideas about new ways of thinking about all of society. It has become common among Christian conservatives to say that the Enlightenment movement of the 1700’s led eventually to the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism. In this essay I will give qualified agreement with that statement. There are two qualifications to this, however. One is the question of whether the Protestant Reformation laid in many ways the basis of the Enlightenment, so that Christians themselves were partly responsible for the movement. I will reserve this question for a future essay, but just mention here that I believe the Reformation did lay some of the basis of the later Enlightenment. The second is the question of whether the Enlightenment was correct, at least to some degree, in its critique of prior systems of thought. I will address this at the end of this essay; I think that it did have many valid points, but threw out the baby with the bathwater.
David is a physics professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He received his bachelors degree in physics from Cornell University and his PhD in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has worked for The Aerospace Corporation and was a visiting scientist and Fellow at the Max Planck Institute. His experimental and theoretical research has focused on fundamental quantum mechanical processes in semiconductor optics, i.e. phase transitions of electrons and holes. Two main thrusts have been Bose-Einstein condensation of excitons and polaritons. He has also had minor efforts in numerical biology, and has published on the topic of the interaction of science and theology.