08 March 2009

EOS–1 / JOHN McLEISH: THE ORIGINS OF SCIENCE







God suffers nothing from the motion of bodies; bodies find no resistance
from the omnipresence of God... and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature.
Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica, bk. iii







I. BACKGROUNDER. In his book The Story of Numbers, How Mathematics Shaped Civilization, John McLeish, Emeritus Professor at the University of Victoria (British Columbia), had the following to say on the relation between Catholicism and science:
...ecclesiastical absolutism of the Christian Church crippled discussion of intellectual matters, substituting faith for reason as a criterion of truth. Expectation of the imminent Second Coming of Christ... made people intellectually lazy... Led by the Churchmen, the Europeans were trapped in a primitive fundamentalism... [There was] unwavering hostility of the medieval Christian Church towards ‘free’ scientific thinking of any kind... [1]
This commentary will challenge McLeish’s stereotype and unsubstantiated assertions.

II. The recognition of the scientific theories and experimental techniques of the Scholastics of the Middle Ages as those which formed the essential principles needed for and leading to Newtonian physics and the development of Western science in general, has increasingly been noticed by a growing number of twentieth–century scholars. This recognition has been due mainly to the prolific studies of the French philosopher and historian of science, Pierre Duhem (1861–1916), whose ten–volume Le Système du Monde has set the benchmark for science as it was in the Middle Ages. In the last few decades, and following upon the investigations of Duhem, Fr. Stanley Jaki has won international renown from his copious writings on how only the monotheistic Christian world view of the Medieval Schoolmen, with their espousal of a rational encounter with a physical universe operating autonomously and distinctly from man, could foster the germination of science and permit it to flourish in succeeding centuries. This claim, perhaps arousing astonishment in the Catholic unaware of his intellectual heritage, has been expertly documented by Jaki in his book Science and Creation, From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe (Scottish Academic Press, 1986).[2] This book convincingly evidences that only Christian monotheism has the inbuilt principles required to engender and maintain a rational cosmology.
III. Still, however, one will find questionable scientific popularizations, sometimes imbued with anti–Christian prejudices, which bypass altogether the Medieval scientific era as swiftly as these types of books are forgotten after publication. The jump from the Greeks to the modern era, without the necessary bridge of Medieval inquiry, still seems to be a dominant presumption. The atrocious evidence which betrays the “stillbirths of science”, to use Jaki’s phrase, in all other cultures except that of the Christian West must indeed incite discomfiture in the historian of an exclusively secularist view of science when, alone in his office, he sees the blatant facts sitting on his desk.

IV. Now the aforementioned will provoke three reactions: indifference, if one is a stoic or agnostic; shock, if one assumes that all Western science is directly related to, and the outcome of, the ancient Greek mindset; or undisguised contempt, to present day vilifiers of religion, particularly those with anti–Christian predispositions. Indeed, Jaki himself has been labelled “a dangerous man”, and rightly so! A fair number of his critics have branded his works to be “apologetic” in essence. All of this, however, only proves that Jaki’s thought has touched a sensitive nerve. And if we touch a sensitive nerve, it will react.

V. THE MODERNIST VIEW OF SCIENCE. The prevalence of Western science and technology, now extending through all cultures on the globe, more than indicates the success of the Western scientific enterprise. Yet, when this success is recorded in history books, when various cultural milieus are assessed in terms of their various scientific achievements and failures, it is, with the exclusion of a few medievalists, generally figured that the origins and development of modern
–day science are not associated with a world outlook, a particular view of reality. Instead, it is commonly held that science, as a field of knowledge, is a wholly separate construct, unconnected to traditional epistemological premises (that is, premises of how the mind knows itself and the nature and operations of things in the world), including, due to the atheism involved, theological principles, as we shall soon see.
VI. Many a modern day scientist, if he chooses to delve into the lands of theology and metaphysics (places where he, qua scientist, does not, nor is qualified to, belong) only ends up echoing the falsehood of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1824), namely that the world is merely a projection of the mind alone, indistinguishable from man.[3] This subjectivism thus does not allow for theory made in the mind to be really correspondent with and cross–linked to the workings of the physical world, which should, in actuality, be exposited to be something differentiated from the mind as such, and not only a kind of mental effluent. Hence, in any new vogue philosophy of science, or in the latest bestseller of the thermodynamicist–turned–theologian, one will frequently come across flowery conclusions which say that all scientific explanations are “myths”, meaning that physical theory does not really explicate empirical phenomena (that is, they are only symbolizations of how we think they function), or that even the material world itself (matter) is unreal, in the sense that it perpetually fluxes and changes, thereby making it “indeterminable”.[4] But does not movement imply a move away from that which is still? How can movement be movement without a reference to that which is in a state of immobility?

VII. It is this subjectivist view which befuddles and misleads many a philosopher and popularizer of science, past and recent. The consequences of this presumption is the widespread belief in a developmental notion of science which advances not in any universal and immutable framework of understanding that searches purposefully for facts and truths. Rather, science is falsely cognized to push forwards through fits and starts. Multi
–conceptual and non–purposeful “revolutions” are claimed to “overthrow” the so-called “ignorance” and “superstitions” of times past. For example, a famous book from the 1960s, entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, asserted that scientific theories (which he called “paradigms”) compete with each other, acting out some kind of random and meaningless warfare, where the flag of scientific knowabililty is not the prize of the victors. Instead, Kuhn’s thesis alleges that germane discoveries are merely happenstances that result from these conflicts. Purpose and direction in scientific pursuit are not even considered.

VIII. Hypotheses such as Kuhn’s, and those which are now enjoying a transient popularity, always exhibit one commonality: they are founded on subjectivist principles. They are not realist in character. There is the presumption by both the historian and philosopher of science that the mind, which formulates a physical theory, has priority over the mechanisms which actually work in the material and sensorial orders. In simpler words, and in the final analysis, the world is told how to operate. We do not discover how the material realm functions, the physical world is not something distinct from us, so it has been propounded. Rather, it is the scientist who dictates the functionality of things. And it is quite easy to glean that all of these proclamations are in consonance with, and repetitions of (be they explicit or subtle), Kant’s enunciation that the world is but a foggy emanation of the mind. And there is no lack of thinkers who mistakenly attribute to Kant the setting of the stage for the growth of modern science.[5]

IX. THE REALIST VIEW OF SCIENCE. On the contrary, science, as a field of endeavor and discovery, must concern itself, if it is to be viable, with objective properties and processes of phenomena which are distinct from, and not a function of, the mind of man. Irrespective of what is conceptualized, an equation or a system of rules (that is, symbols of reality) must conform to really functioning material phenomena so as to be coherent in actuality and to be really applicable in the physical universe. In science, a theory is just a theory unless it is verified by observations made in the real world. Only then, when modifications are made to theory so that it can correspond to and representationally approximate empirical phenomena, does a theory become a recognized and actually workable physical law. Scientifically speaking, a system of equations postulated to be representative of a specific material phenomenon must have realworld validation to justify its truthfulness. Otherwise the theory is but a mere collocation of symbols (whether they be mathematical or graphical), inapplicable to and uncorroborated by physical phenomena. More plainly, the theory remains as a mental product alone.[6] Yet, this is just common sense, and is a trait certainly lacking in many a writer who devotes himself to science issues.

X. Now when the topic of medieval science arises, what demands recollection must not be the battle between the Church and Galileo (now an affair overemphasized by the media who extrapolate this episode in history to be entirely indicative of the Catholic Church’s “unwavering hostility” to science), but how a specific vision of the world acts as a foundation for the origin or even stagnation of science in succeeding times. And when one peruses the annals of the history of science, when a search is effectuated for those first promising hypotheses and experiments which deemed the physical world as an entity really distinct from man operating independently by way of natural law, and when one inspects the origins of the notion of looking at the world disinterestedly and objectively so as to permit it to be examined and disassembled as an inanimate, de
–spiritualized machine, we encounter the most neglected fact of the history of science which many secular writers have attempted to conceal: namely, that it was not the ancient Greeks nor the Arabs, neither the moderns nor Copernicus and Galileo, but it was the medieval schoolmen of Europe, those religious of the “Dark Ages”, who first defended and promoted this world view. And they did so because their science was associated with their metaphysics and Christocentrism.

XI. ISLAMIC SCIENCE. With their military conquests from the seventh to tenth centuries, the Arabs were brought into direct contact with the Hellenic scientific and philosophic corpus, itself storehoused and translated by the Nestorian Christians. By the turn of the millennium, from occupied Spain and throughout their dominion, the Arabs were engaged in the study of astronomy, physics, mathematics, and medicine. But the question which emerges here is this: why did science not develop within Arab environs? By the time of the dissolution of their culture, the Greeks had failed to produce a self–sustaining scientific enterprise. They did not make the significant transition from theory to experimentation. If the Arabs were then in possession of Greek know–how, and if the elementary principles of the Greek world view were the precursors of modern day science, why is it that the Arabs did not eventually break away from the Aristotlean–Ptolemaic conception of the universe? Or, to employ the words of one historian, why did Galileo not “show up”?[7]

XII. The Arabs did produce some notable scientific achievements. In medicine, for example, al
–Razi (865–925) gave detailed descriptions of small pox and measles. Al–Nafis (1210–1288) made hypotheses concerning the lesser circulation of blood. In astronomy, alBattani (877918) corrected errors in lunar orbital patterns as calculated by Ptolemy. The famed al–Khwarizmi (ca. 680–750) wrote his treatise A Brief Account of the Methods of Al–Jabr and of Al–Muqabal. It is from the title of this work that the word algebra is derived (al–jabr, meaning restoring). Ibn–Ishaq (ca. 809–877) conducted studies in ophthalmology. Important is the Treasury of Optics by IbnalHaitham (965–1038), better known as Alhazen in the West. Confuting Ptolemy and Euclid, he said that light, instead of effusing outwards from the eyes, suffuses spherically from an object source, entering into the eyes. The problem with Alhazen, however, is that his commentaries are steeped with occultic ideas. In the natural sciences of the Arabs, theology and mythology are mixed therein. According to al–Quazin, zoology is conglomerated with philology and literature. Geology and mineralogy are but sub–branches of alchemy. Rocks, stones, gems and metals are ascribed magical attributes, and it is this factor the attribution of occultic qualities to natural substances – which should be made central when assessing Arab science. This, no doubt, being interlinked with religious and philosophic underpinnings. Like the Greeks, the Arabs had to confront the supereminent question of whether the universe was a free creation of God (the position of the Christian medievals), or to side with the necessitarian universe of the Greeks which said that the divine was somehow encased within the material order of being.

XIII. THE KORAN AND SCIENCE. What does the Koran have to say? Occultism and astrology are certainly not endorsed therein. But was the world, as told by Mohammed, a free creation of Allah? Or are occurrences in the world some how tied in with the divine will? The Koran categorically enforces and overplays the omnipotent, all–manoeuvering will of Allah in the world. The Prophet states: “It is God who hath created you, and hath provided food for you: hereafter he will cause you to die... Say, Go through the earth, and see what hath been the end of those who have been before you: the greater part of them were idolators... for he [God] loveth not unbelievers... It is God who sendeth the winds, and raiseth the clouds, and spreadeth the same in heaven... It is God who created you in weakness, and after your weakness hath given you strength; and after strength, he will again reduce you to weakness, and grey hairs: he createth that which he pleaseth.”[8] What statements such as these do, which span throughout the Koran, is to eventually lead to a world view where man is caught up in a universe replete with fatalistic proclivities. It is entirely up to Allah to puppeteer his human beings to their destinies: “for if God pleased he would bring all to the true direction... God will lead into error whom he pleaseth, and whom he pleaseth he will put in the right way”. Not only is freewill impaired, but also natural reasoning faculties are inhibited from approaching the world in a rational manner: “With him [God] are the keys of the secret things; none knoweth them besides himself”.[9] Now, at first glance, this may seem not to inhibit man from rationally encountering the world. It may refer mainly to divine rather than natural things (expressing Mohammed’s reverence for God), and there are no salient indications in the Koran of Allah’s direct regulation of natural phenomena. Yet some verses in Mohammed’s purported revelations can be quoted to lean in this direction. For instance: “...then he [God] set his mind to the creation of heaven; and it was smoke: and he said unto it, and to the earth, Come, either obediently or against your will. They answered, We come, obedient to thy command.”[10] Verses such as these have piloted subsequenting orthodox Islamic thinkers to transmute this idea as also pertaining to the workings of the natural world.

XIV. One such thinker was al
Gazali (1058–1111), known amongst Arabs as the “Renewer of Islam”. He had intractably instilled the will of Allah into the mechanics of nature and left even more so a residue of the sacred, and hence a sense of an irrational untouchability and unobservability within the natural world as such. He wrote: “Nature is in subject to God the most high, not acting of itself but serving as an instrument in the hands of the Creator. Sun and moon, stars and elements, are in subjection to His command. There is none of them whose activity is produced by or proceeds from its own essence.”[11] Clearly, al–Gazali does not allow the natural world to function autonomously from God. In another place commenting on the natural sciences, he will expound that “the connection between what is customarily believed to be a cause and what is believed to be an effect is not necessary.” [12] But how can physical law be physical law without the deterministic causeeffect relationships that are implicit to the actions of natural phenomena? How can the natural world naturally operate with the assumption that the supernatural always interferes with what is natural? Al–Gazali’s was oblivious to these crucial questions because his occasionalism said that Allah continually brings into being things and processes throughout space as the time occasions. How can science come to be in such a world view which makes the divine irremediably interlocked within the physical world? The disinterested attitude towards nature, which is the hallmark of a good scientist, is not at all permitted al–Gazali’s cosmological schema.

XV. AVICENNA AND AVERROES. It was not an orthodox Islamic thinker per se who sidetracked the possibility of a prosperous Arab science. If blame is to be given, it must more so be directed to two unorthodox and very influential thinkers, namely ibn
Sinha (980–1037) and ibnRushd (1126–1198), respectively known in the West as Avicenna and Averroes.

XVI. In the cosmological speculations of Avicenna, the overarching influence of Aristotle’s necessitarian–pantheistic universe is manifest. The totality that is the universe is an emanation from the “Necessary Existent”, from which flows a multiplicity of Intelligences. In Avicenna’s universal scheme of things, God cannot know specific things in the world. He receives his knowledge of the world, which is eternal, by way of intermediary spirits and angels who preside over the heavenly spheres. All generation and decay in the world is moderated by the heavens which yield order and pattern. Similar in view with his pagan predecessors, Avicenna predicated that human mental operations are directly animated from that which is outside the world as such. Even though his world design is not altogether accordant with the tenets of Islamic orthodoxy, his contention of the governance of otherworldly intelligences is still commensurate with the all–empowering will of Allah as upheld in the Koran. God, in parity with Aristotle’s Prime Mover, is restricted by a necessitarianism to whom, as Avicenna said, all “causes culminate... All things exist due to It in the same manner as the light of the sun.”[13] Thus, this blending of the physical with the metaphysical will not procure the rationality needed to properly encounter an autonomously operating world, as Avicenna’s world was not fully desacralized.

XVII. It is within Aristotle, said Averroes, where all knowledge and truths, including those scientific, are to be found. To be sure, Averroes hailed that physics itself was both “invented” and “terminated” by Aristotle. Like Aristotle, Averroes affirmed the eternality of the world, motion, and time. There is an “eternal mover”, he mused, who continuously and forever keeps all things in motion. As for man, “the soul cannot survive because some of its faculties have their existence tied to matter.”[14] So, once again, we see the Arab incapacity to disengage properly the spiritual from the physical universe.

XVIII. In general, when we scrutinize Arab theology, metaphysics, and natural philosophy, one conspicuous error always arises: the divine is somehow encapsulated within the realm of physical phenomena. For orthodox thinkers, the all
pervading and ironlike will of Allah actuates happenings in the social order. Those with heterodox minds, like Avicenna and the Brethren of Purity, magic, astrology, numerology, eternal cycles, and gnosticism sink into the muck of a pantheistic necessitarianism.[15] The “eternal mover” of the rationalistic Averroists was not correctly disengaged from the workings of natural phenomena. The Arabs had not escaped from the necessitarian universe of the Greeks. Unlike the Christian medievals, the Arabs did not see the universe as a soulless and inanimate machine freely created by God, operating independently of and distinct from man. As Christopher Dawson observed: “In spite of its achievements, Arab science belongs to the same world as the Arabian Nights - a world of magic and mystery and the scientist was the man who could control these mysterious forces by the power of secret knowledge.”[16]

XIX. A NEW DIRECTION FOR SCIENCE. With the traveler and translator of Arab writings, Adelard von Bath (fl. 1130), we see the first glimmerings of an approach to the natural world, within the Christian outlook, which will distinguish it from all other cultures. By this I mean Adelard’s advocacy of a freely created world by God which can be rationally studied by man. For Adelard, reason alone, without reference to the theological, can be employed to investigate and understand natural phenomena. Because the natural world is self–governing, running independently from the heavenly abode as it were, God is not profaned when it is examined, and neither are the Creator’s attributes minimized or affected because God is in no manner dependent upon man or the world.

XX. Let us elaborate on this by looking at one case where Adelard discusses the chilling response felt by a person who hears and sees thunder and lightning which accompany a rainstorm. While keeping in mind the times in which Adelard lived, listen to his new, clear and disinterested view of nature. In his Quaestiones Naturales he writes: “The mind imbued with wonder and a sense of unfamiliarity shudderingly from a distance contemplates effects without regards to causes and so never shakes off its perplexity. Look more closely, and then you will not be surprised at effects. Do not be one of those who prefer ignorance to close examination.”[17] Look more closely, says Adelard, stay calm and try to rationalize this great phenomenon of nature which only seems to be a manifestation of the anger from the gods. For what you perceive is physical law at work, and not a direct, divine interruption in the world. It was Adelard’s type of scientific rationalism, buttressed by strong religious convictions, which laid the tracks of reason upon which the train of science could travel. The scholar L. Cochrane noted that Adelard’s “insistence that natural causes could be studied without impinging on theology, and that it was essential to assemble and correlate facts as part of one’s reasoning process was new to many of his contemporaries... he was the key contributor to the conceptual revolution which initiated scientific methods.”[18]

XXI. With their necessitarianism, both the Greeks and the Arabs had locked the gods and God within the confines of the material world. Allah was the singular, naturalistic dictator, and the Immovable Mover of Aristotle only liberated by dispersing itself pantheistically. Only the proper coordination of the natural with the supernatural, via the key of rationality, could free the created from the Creator and it was Adelard who first signaled this turn in view.

XXII. Another sign of the eradication of the occult by the Scholastic mindset is evidenced in Peter of Maricourt’s Letter on the Magnet (1269). This work, “not excelled until the publication of Gilbert’s work on the magnet in the sixteenth century”,[19] outlines designs of compasses, the reactions of iron to lodestones, and how two magnets result when one is broken in half. In its elementary make–up, Peter submits just a basic explanation of the effects of magnets. The magnet as such is devoid of magical attribution. But even this was not enough for Peter. Elsewhere, it was his view that speculations on and calculations of natural phenomena were insufficient in themselves. “Manual skill”, he said, must be married to mathematics and physics so that errors undetected by theory and calculation may be ameliorated. With the addition of manual skill as a compliment to science, we also notice the prefigurement of real–world experimentation, a step never fully appreciated by the Greeks. Manual skill as a sort of tool of science, later matured into “experimentation”, and thus a method for the verification of theory.

XXIII. Now it was not as if this type of encounter with the world was utilized at once following Adelard. Indeed, some of the medieval schoolmen expounded ideas which aligned themselves too much with Greek and Arab world pictures. One of the purposes here is to illustrate that, once a correct theological view was established, time (not the stereotypical and instantaneous “revolution”) was requisite for the development of a fecund idea. Common sense tells us that errors must first be recognized, thought through, and argued over before emendations are officially promulgated with vigor anew. Ptolemy and Aristotle had to be studied, understood, and commented upon before falsities could be reworked or elementary ideas further extended. Debate and controversy, sometimes of the most tedious kind, always appear before the discovery of truths about the world. Attacks and rebuttals, disputes and insults commonly prevailed. And is this not what we see in the controversies of the modern
–day scientific community?

XXIV. A PROPHET OF MODERN DAY SCIENCE. One of the most famous of medieval scientists, who called Peter of Maricourt the “master of experiments”, was one friar Roger Bacon (ca. 1214
1294). Bacon was a man who, almost two centuries before Leonardo da Vinci, had spoken of telescopes, flying machines, horseless carriages, suspension bridges, submarines and self–propelled boats. He said that the Milky Way was an agglomeration of stars. In his theory of optics, he even envisioned weapons of mass destruction which would eliminate entire cities.

XXV. If the natural world is to be genuinely studied, then, said the English friar, “the gate and key is mathematics”. Though Bacon did profess mathematical truths to be “innate”, this did not mean that he made objectivity or the world secondary to scientific pursuit. Not at all: “the natural road for us”, he insisted, “is from sense perception to the intellect”.[20] The thing first, then the mind, then science. For Bacon, mathematics, in conjunction with experimental science (scientia experimentalis), proffers certitude about the operations of the natural world.

XXVI. There have been some popularizers of science who, in their coffee
–table books, have labeled Bacon as being a kind of magician or necromancer revolting against Church authorities. This is a myth and only indicates ignorance on the part of these writers. Though he ran into some troubles with the Church, which resulted in his imprisonment for propounding “novel” ideas, historical evidence shows that the friar was an earnest Catholic, both in thought and action. Bacon always contested and condemned obscurantism which posed as a science. He was no friend of the gnostics who “...defile their studies in regard to the heavenly bodies by circles and figures and very silly characters and very foolish incantations, and irrational speeches... they have recourse to fraud in their acts, perpetuation by means of collusion, darkness, fraudulent instruments, sleight of hand, and [in] which they know there is deception."[21] If alive today, the good friar would be one of the staunchest critics of the pseudosciences, such as we find in J. Lovelock’s “Gaia Hypothesis” or F. Capra’s The Tao of Physics.

XXVII. Bacon, as with most of the medieval Scholastics, has also been branded to be a determinist in the sense that he believed that the celestial spheres regulated human affairs. This is another untruth. Admittedly, Bacon did go overboard by claiming that the arrival of the Antichrist could be predicted by planetary conjunctions. He was also prone to accept uncritically the fantastical and hilarious accounts of explorers who spoke of “cows of which do not allow themselves to be milked unless they are sung to.” Yes, Bacon did speak of “monsters”, “flying dragons”, “centaurs”, “Amazon women”, and gigantic dogs which men hitch to chariots and plows. At first glance, one would think that his mind was preoccupied with necessitarian–like esoterica.[22] Nevertheless, an important point is always missed here. Man’s will and understanding as such are unimpeded by astronomical influences. Whenever Bacon does discuss the impact of the heavens on man, for example, we notice that he is always quick to mention the freedom of the will right afterwards. Man’s will and reason are free for him to use. By this, Bacon and the Scholastics evaded the necessitarianism of the Greeks and Arabs. Only in a material sense did the medieval schoolmen allow for the impacts of the heavenly engine on the human being. The failure to recognize this has led many a critic to presume that the schoolmen asserted theories which said that man was motivated absolutely by planetary or magical factors – yet another chimera which vainly rallies against the medieval world view.

XXVIII. THE MEDIEVAL SCHOOLMEN’S UNIQUE VIEW OF REALITY. As prejudices of this type were translated into creeds and then into clichés through the centuries, more and more were the scientific innovations of the Latin medievals buried in the dunghill of slander and shibboleths. From the times of Voltaire and Kant to Comte and Condorcet it was presumed that medieval science was as nothing, or it was merely extolled to be the result of “faith alone”, a catchphrase which correctly follows from Luther onwards and not the Roman Catholic insistence on the authority of the Church’s teaching and tradition. Disremembered is Jordanus de Nemore’s (fl. 1170
–1237) theory of motion, or Blasius of Parm’s work on hydrostatics, or Gerard of Brussel’s formulations on the angular velocities of bodies, or the kinematic studies effected by those at Merton College in England. Little is it known that Richard of Middleton (fl. 1250–1300) had studied the rise and fall of projectiles. In plain contestation against Aristotle, he surmised that the velocity of a falling body was somehow a function of time and space. Or what about Dietrich of Frieberg (d. ca. 1310)? He tells of a way whereby magnifying lenses can be employed to improve one’s sight. Also, by putting water into crystal bulbs, and thereafter placing the glassy spheres into direct sunlight, he observed the breakdown of solar rays into the colour spectrum. The rainbow, he said, is the product of reflection and refraction in water droplets.

XXIX. Is all of this speculation indicative of a medieval Church whose members were “intellectually lazy”? Is it so that the medievals had added nothing “new” to the Peripatetic system of the world? Do we find the origins of modern day science in the ruminations of the schoolmen? This will depend on one’s perspective. If it is avouched that theological and metaphysical principles have no import whatsoever (we mean this in a relational way, and not that transcendent principles determine scientific methodologies), then it follows that medieval science offered nothing unique to the Greek and Arab cosmologies. This is the common stance today, no doubt harbored by an atheistic world. Kant is the primary culprit here.

XXX. The second position entertains the notion that the Scholastic contributions to science were only logical continuations of antecedent ideas. Metaphysics, for example, may have played a role in their scientific know–how, but its conduciveness was only the outcome of “cultural transmission”, or that the situation was “cross–culturally comparative”, as two historians of science have penned so as to water down matters. But this standpoint does not explain the failures of science in those cultures other than Christian. Why did they not, already armed with some elementary principles, continue to grow and flourish? How are to explain the Greek idleness? Why did not they proceed from theory to experiment? What about the Arab and Chinese stagnations? Or the backwardness of Egyptian, Persian, and Indian “science”? Some answers to these questions have been that “political issues” or “socio–economic factors” engendered the breakdowns, or even, in the case of Islamic science, that “conservative forces made themselves increasingly felt.”[23] These are usually mentioned offhandedly by many authors. Never do they sufficiently elaborate upon their positions and, if they do, the argumentation is replete with vagaries and imprecise circumlocution. [24] Why? Because these are escapist routines. Knowing that they have hit a barrier, they avoid the real issue which demands to be confronted and dealt with in the appropriate fashion.

XXXI.
The third stance states, as Duhem and Jaki have evidenced, that only a particular view of reality which is rooted in Christian monotheism will first permit for the birth of science and, once and when these principles are adhered to (whether knowingly or not), science will thus be able to develop into a successful and self
–perpetuating enterprise. To be sure, the medieval Peripatetic model of the universe was erroneous. But the main observation at these crossroads is nearly always disregarded: if the Peripatetic conception of the universe was exhibiting signs of decay in the late medieval era, it was not the science of Christianity, but that of the Greeks. The medieval commentators were, over time, gradually discovering oversights and incongruities in Greek cosmology. True, some fell victim to, or were too much persuaded by, the pantheistic aspects of Aristotle’s natural philosophy. But this again is to neglect essentials. A different theological view was required to assess precisely and correct the Greek’s errors. It was the prerequisite for the reinvigoration of a science that was increasingly evidencing faults. Without the Christian–monotheistic insight, the Aristotlean–Ptolemaic universe would never have been proved to be a falsehood.

XXXII. Let us recall that the Greek and Arab universes worked top downwards. The divine or Intelligences or the transrotation of the celestial spheres modulated happenings in the world. Contingency between the transcendent and immanent, the supernatural and natural, were not, so to speak, properly arranged and configured. The world was incorrectly contrived to be a living organism in totality, or a manifestation of numbers and signs, or directly activated by divinity. This situation completely changes with the arrival of the medievals. For them, the world worked bottom upwards. Their realism made them concentrate first on the thing in the world below
– the particular, then the universal. The Scholastic system of knowledge and classification embraced all of reality, from biology to theology, from the natural to the supernatural [25]. The world was created freely by God, and creation was contingent upon, yet in no way embedded in, the attributes of the Creator. God is both transcendent in relation to, though immanently present to, the world. God is not in the world (materialistically speaking) as in pantheism or animism. [26] The natural world is a machine which cranks away; it is cold, dark and dirty, though beautiful in itself as it is the handiwork of the Creator. Since the universe is abundant in its patterns and forms, because natural law is the product of Divine Reason, and since the world’s design was envisaged to have a particular purpose, the world was approached in an entirely new way: for the God–Man had landed and upset man’s vision of reality; the Cross was injected into the earth and incited a natural and theological earthquake. Myth became history because of God’s Incarnation into the world rendered asunder the perpetually revolving cyclic view of the pagans (there is a Real Presence, not a symbolic or mythological one, such as the Hellenic gods). The eternal recurrence of the same was translated into the singular occurrence of events and personages. The world was not something eternally existing, as the pagans had presupposed, but was created, said the medievals, out of nothing, ex nihilo. A certain first impetus, so to speak, was given to creation by God, setting forth all into motion, moving freely in the straight line of history, heading towards a particular ending point, which is the consummation of the Kingdom of God with the Second Coming of Christ. All of this goes against the Hellenic and Islamic world views, and radically so.

XXXIII. THE CONDEMNATION OF 1277. Before the Latins had acquired the more decisive Greek works from the Arabs, their knowledge of the Hellenic outlook was fragmentary and rudimentary. This was owing to the fact that, prior to the regularity of contact with the Arabs, the Christians had a diffused version of Greek understanding from the not so speculatively inclined Roman compilers. And the logical works of Aristotle, which the Latins garnered from the translations of Boethius (ca. 480–524), did not have the impact to deflect the neoplatonic leanings of, for example, St. Anslem of Canterbury (1033–1109). The medieval atmosphere was, so to speak, clear and Platonic, and Platonism is easily perceived in the science of many of the Scholastics. A dirty and earthly counterbalance was needed, and it was Aristotle who provided the shovel.
XXXIV. With the infusion of pagan and Arab works from Muslim–occupied Spain, via the travelers and translators, new and sometimes alien ideas to the Catholic instinct were introduced into the rest of Europe. They were forging themselves into an ideational storm which had to be dealt with in an apt manner, for these world views either interfere with or give credence to the human being’s vision of reality and, indirectly, science. Generally, the process was that of an Aristotelian influx being balanced by a Christian Platonism.

XXXV. If there was one event that had the greatest impact on the development of science in the West, it was, said Pierre Duhem, the Condemnation of 7 March 1277 by Bishop Etienne Tempier. It had laid out the chief errors associated with the Greek and Arab world views which were then increasingly pervading the schools in Europe. The decree did not so much suggest anything unknown at the time, yet it gave a concise summary of those ideas which were comprising the signs of the times, and it described how they, if unheeded, would act as a threat to the official teachings of the Church by encouraging the propagation of error.

XXXVI. The Condemnation negated tenets that are irrational: pantheism, polytheism, the incorruptibility of celestial bodies, the influences of astronomical bodies on the soul and will, those who dismissed the plurality of worlds, those who did not affirm creation out of nothing, the eternal cyclical recurrence of persons and events, and many more (a total of 219). The purpose and the effect of the Condemnation were to set straight and coordinate the supernatural and the natural. Freewill, trust in reason, and a world freely created by God were defended in Tempier’s decree. Wild extremities were denounced: at one end there were hermeticism, astrology, astronomical determinism, and the pure and synthetic Platonic planets; at the other pole, a stringent rationalism and the utter despair of eternal time, matter, and motion.

XXXVII. There has been debate amongst scholars as to what degree, if any, the Condemnation of 1277 had on Scholastic thinking. Cases have been presented both for and against. When we look at the two giants of medieval science, however, namely Jean Buridan (d. 1358) and Nicole Oresme (ca. 1323
–1382), the imprint of the Condemnation on their postulations is incontrovertible.

XXXVIII. JEAN BURIDAN’S IMPETUS TO SCIENCE. We see the imprint of the Condemnation in the reconsideration by Buridan of the theory of impetus, first proposed by John Philoponus, an Alexandrine Christian monophysite of the sixth century [27]. To Buridan the world is not eternal because “God can annihilate it”. Motion is also not eternal since the “motive action [of a body] is dependent on the celestial bodies and God” [28] who, instead, imparted all into motion at the beginning of time. He also affirms the plurality of worlds. These and more of Buridan’s conjectures directly correspond with Tempier’s decree of 1277.

XXXIX. In accordance to his belief in eternal motion, Aristotle had said that when an object is thrown its mobility is maintained by “pockets of air” which incessantly replace the air displaced by the mobile, thus imparting a continual force on the object. Aristotle’s pantheism gave air itself a life
–like quality, and a psychological one at that. This postulate rang false for Buridan. How, he questioned, could a spinning top rotate and yet remain stationary when air is not displaced? His solution to the puzzle was as follows: a certain impetus (or impulse) is given by a mover to an object, setting it in motion. The impetus itself is a function of both the volume and density of the object, including the speed of the actuation of the mover. Now two forces go to work: the initial impetus keeps the object in motion while the counteracting force of air resistance increasingly mitigates the velocity of the mobile. Gradually, the object experiences a diminution in velocity and gravity then induces it to fall to its “natural place”. If we momentarily neglect Isaac Newton, and if we ponder upon the time at which Buridan made this proposition, the idea is quite explanatory and makes good sense, resolving a long–standing puzzle.

XL. Let it be known that Buridan’s theory of projectile motion was copied almost verbatim through the writings of Albert of Saxony (Buridan’s pupil) by none other than Galileo himself, who never made reference to sources. Let it also be known that Buridan was the first to dispose of the idea of celestial intelligences being the cause of earthly mechanisms.

XLI. NICOLE ORESME AS PRECURSOR TO MODERN SCIENCE. “That Nicole Oresme was one of the most significant authors of mathematical and physical works during the Middle Ages is now beyond dispute.” [29] What prompts the medieval scholar M. Clagett to say this is that Oresme’s thought prefigured three great scientific advancements, previously figured to be solely attributable to those who followed in Oresme’s wake: [i] the diurnal rotation of the earth (anticipating Copernicus); [ii] the use of a coordinate system to graphically represent mathematical functions (anticipating Descartes); and [iii] the law of freefalling bodies (anticipating Galileo).

XLII. The idea of a diurnally rotating earth was not unique to Oresme as it was generally known at the time to others at the University of Paris. What distinguishes him from his colleagues, however, was that he was the first to link the notion of diurnal rotation with the supposition of impetus [30].

XLIII.
Battling against Aristotle’s notion of the eternal motion of celestial bodies in his Book of the Sky and the World, Oresme disputed that Greek determinism which said that “if God is, the heavens are”. Not so, answered Oresme, since this would mean that the movement of the heavens would by necessity be intertwined with God, and would thus incur a change in God. God is perfect, he continued, and: “...divine perfection cannot grow or decrease... in truth, all things depend freely on the will of God without any necessity that He cause or produce such things or that He should cause or produce them eternally".[31] If the heavens move, does this mean that the earth remains stationary and immobile, as Ptolemy had conjectured? “I say no”, continues Oresme, and using the analogy of a mill wheel, he notes on how the centre of the wheel still rotates even while it does as a whole “save in an indivisible point which is nothing more than imagination”. He later concluded that it is possible “to imagine that the earth moves with the heavens in their daily rotation” [32] and that this can be demonstrated by experimentation. It would take a Copernicus to bring such an idea to its logical conclusion, officially making the shift from geocentrism to heliocentrism. Let us also note here that the principles discussed in Oresme’s Book of the Sky and the World are in consonance with those listed in Tempier’s decree. He even went so far as to refer to the decree itself in this text.

XLIV. Oresme also devised a graphical coordinate system which exhibited how the distance traveled by a falling object (plotted on the horizontal axis) could be correlated with its velocity (plotted on the vertical axis). He classed motion into three types: [i] “uniform”, the distance traveled by a body at a constant velocity; [ii] “difform”, distance travelled with a varying velocity; and [iii] “uniformly difform”, motion with a constant acceleration.

XLV. To say that we cannot see the aforementioned as precursors to Copernicus, Galileo and Descartes is, to be blunt, a falsity. Assuredly, Oresme’s suppositions were not the result of a “lazy” mind swimming through the murky waters of the “Dark Ages”. Some would agree with this and stop here. But to say with Jaki that “if one is to trace the antecedent of Newton’s definitions of motion, momentum, and inertia, the line of investigation leads inevitably to Oresme’s inquiring mind, guided by a firm profession of faith” [33] would compel many to a dissenting response.

XLVI. What other recourse do we possess? Are we to say that Galileo just “showed up”? That it was mere happenstance that Copernicus, so to speak, moved the center of gravity? How would it ever have been possible to make that giant leap to heliocentrism from Ptolemy’s geocentrism which said that “the earth cannot have any motion... or indeed move at all from the center [of the heavens]”? [34] Is it not true that past scientific achievements, including errors and failures specially errors and failures! – direct, teach, and supplement present endeavors? If so today, why not during the medieval era? Are we to ascribe the science of the medievals as eternally suspect just because it appears “superstitious”? Is not our view of it distorted because we see science in its infancy, as if groping, gradually escaping from the presupposed allpervading effects of the heavens?

XLVII. What many critics fail to consider is that, even though the medievals did not have a full
–fledged science in their possession, they had expended much of their time translating, studying, commenting on, and arguing over the principles of the Aristotlean–Ptolemaic system of the world. Even though they did not link all of the “pieces of analysis” [35] together, wrote one unconvinced medievalist, it was still the medieval schoolmen who broke the Stagirite system into the pieces from which a new system of the world could subsequently be remade. With all of its scientific errors, it would expected that Greek cosmology would be, so to speak, disassembled and reassessed, that some principles would be extracted and further developed, and that erroneous ones would be exposed as untenable. To focus only on the fact that the medievals did not bring everything together, culminating in a universal physical law, is exercise by the critic to detract from the main issue which explicitly demonstrates that the new science could only have come into being with a rational–metaphysical outlook girded by strong Christian convictions on the part of those religious thinkers who explored scientific topics.

XLVIII. IN THE SHADOW OF OCKHAM. There is no question that the origin and growth of modern day science is linked in with the rejection of Aristotlean
–Ptolemaic cosmology. To say that this repudiation began with Copernicus and Galileo is illusory. In actuality, this change in view was not an instantaneous one, as Pierre Duhem attempted to demonstrate. The change in scientific outlook was gradual. We observe the first signs of this rejection with John Philoponus in the sixth century. Its penultimate rejection comes with the arrival of Oresme in the fourteenth century. And is it not all too revealing that it is precisely within the period between approximately AD 500 (the time almost corresponding with the dissipation of ancient Roman civilization) to the 1400s (the ending of the medieval era and the time of the Reformation) that science has been pigeonholed as “irrelevant”, and this specifically because of the “ecclesiastical absolutism” and the "primitive fundamentalism" of the Catholic Church which permitted no “free scientific thinking”? One can only imagine the amazement which would be provoked in John McLeish by Duhem’s counterclaim “of the extreme liberality of the Catholic church during the close of the Middle Ages towards the meditations of the philosopher and the experiments of the physicists.” [36] The response would speak volumes.

XLIX. And the generic response goes something like this: If we must refer to the Middle Ages, William of Ockham (ca. 1280–1349) must be identified as preparing “the stage for the scientific revolution of the sixteenth century.” [37] So states a well–known popularizer of the medieval era. This is because, so it is held, Ockhamist nominalism asserted that the mind cannot understand anything beyond experience, nor can it know the nature of reality. It had severed faith from reason, giving priority to the latter in its applicability to the comprehension of the workings of the immanent world. Never, however, is it mentioned by these proponents that these very same nominalists claimed that all knowledge and truths are ultimately enclosed within the confines of the mind alone. Metaphysics was not rooted in the objective world. It was transformed into a logical formalism founded upon “mental qualities” which are detached from, and not correlated with, the material order of existence.

L. It is another escapist routine when it is held that Ockham’s radical empiricism assisted minds to focus upon the mechanisms of the physical world as such. His dicta maintained that the thing as an exclusive singular does not permit secondary causes to exist in the empirical order. For Ockham, there was no intrinsic association amongst the entirety of things comprising the universe which would give it a unity in totality.[38] His occasionalism, like that of al
–Gazali’s, eliminated causality in the natural world. He subscribed to the position that God continually actuates physical processes throughout time and space.

LI. These proponents also make sure to indicate that both Buridan and Oreseme were nominalist thinkers, which they were. This only convolutes the issue. The historical record shows that Buridan, though a nominalist, signed a decree prohibiting the teaching of Ockham’s views.[39] Further, Oresme’s logic may have been nominalist, though his natural philosophy unquestionably bears the mark of a realist perspective. [40]

LII. As we come to the modern era, we can easily see that Kant follows Ockham. Further, Kant wrote: “The true method of metaphysics is fundamentally the same as that which Newton had introduced into natural science.”[41] Hence physics becomes equivalent to, and is later elevated above, metaphysics. Science, which pertains to the immanent material order, is seen to be in conflict with religion, which is rooted in transcendence. From this time onwards, any contribution by the Christian world view to science is placed into omission in a growing secularist culture. All great scientists who have lead the directions of physics, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, biology, and so forth are thus presumed to be indifferent or antagonistic to Christianity.

LIII. Another falsehood.

LIV. Again, the historical record clearly indicates that many of the greatest scientists, not the popularizers, before the twentieth century were deeply religious. A recently re
–issued book by the Jesuit Karl Kneller [42] illustrates, by reference to original documentary sources, that the most important scientists in the modern era were either devout Catholics and Christians, or at least believing theists. The list of these scientists is impressive: Ampere, Faraday, Ohm, Foucault, Dalton, Lavoisier, Coulomb, Volta, Galvani, Herschel, Olbers, Bessel, Laplace, Hermite, Maxwell, Riemann, Cauchy, Gauss, Euler, and others.





LV. Thanks to Kneller, and especially to the industrious labors of Duhem and Jaki, Catholics and even Protestants can be confident that not only is the Church supportive of science, for she has nothing to fear from its discoveries, [43] but also that science, as we know it today, could only originate within an orthodox Catholic world view. This stance will, of course, always be disputed, mocked, and submerged in a secularist–controlled academia. Furthermore, let us not take seriously the words of Professor McLeish quoted at the beginning of this essay. Like so many others, he has succumbed to a stalwart belief in anti–Catholic stereotypes.[44] But if this writer can offer the reader some quiet consolation, it would be the dictum of G.K.Chesterton: "Catholics first and to be forgotten."[45].


NOTES / REFERENCES


1. The Story of Numbers, How Mathematics Shaped Civilization (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1991), pp. 91, 247.

2. See also Fr. Jaki’s, The Savior of Science (Washington: Regnery Gateway, 1988) 22
45. One might also peruse the chapter entitled “The Origins of Modern Science” in A.N. Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World (New York: The Free Press, 1967), pp. 118. Lowell Lectures (1925).

3. E.g. “It is... solely from the human standpoint that we can speak of space, of extended things, etc. If we depart from the subjective condition under which alone we can have our intuition... the representation of space stands for nothing whatsoever.” The Critique of Pure Reason, trans. N.K. Smith (London: Macmillan Education Limited 1990 [1787, second edition], I, pt. 1, sec. 1 (B43), p. 71.

4. See, for instance, two recent popularizations on cosmology: D. Lindley, The End of Physics, The Myth of a Unified Theory (New York: Basic Books, 1993); P. Davies and J. Gribbin, The Matter Myth, Dramatic Discoveries that Challenge our Understanding of Physical Reality (New York: Simon & Shuster/Touchstone, 1992).

5. Kant was a dilettante in science. He feigned an understanding of mathematics and Newton’s Principia. See S.L. Jaki, Planets and Planetarians (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1978),
pp. 111–122, 145–148.

6. See discussion in P. Duhem, The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory, trans. P.P. Wiener (Princeton University Press, 1982), pp. 132
–179. Second edition. Originally published in 1914.

7. H.F. Cohen, The Scientific Revolution, A Historiographical Approach (University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 414.

8. The Koran; commonly called the Alkoran of Mohammed, trans. G. Sale, (New York: A.L. Burt, n.d.), Sura XXX, pp. 305
–306.

9. Ibid., Sura VI, pp. 91
–94, passim.

10. Ibid., Sura XXX, p. 304.

11. Quoted in Islam, ed. J.A. Williams (New York: George Braziller, 1962), p. 202.

12. This comes from al
–Gazali’s The Incoherence of the Philosophers, in a section entitled “Concerning Natural Sciences”.

13. The Metaphysics of Avicenna (Ibn Sina), trans. P. Morewedge (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973)
, Persian Heritage Series, No. 13, ch. 28, p. 60.

14.
Ibn Rushd’s Metaphysics, trans. C. Genequand (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1986), p. 103.

15. A fact misconstrued by S.H. Nasr, An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrine (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993), who considers the “domain of gnosis” to be the “meeting ground of faith and science” (p. 214). Nasr’s reluctance to specify a distinction between religious belief and natural phenomena can only permit for numerology to pass off for number theory, astrology for astronomy, alchemy for chemistry, and so on.

16. C. Dawson, “The Scientific Development of Medieval Culture” in Medieval Essays (New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1968), p. 159.

17. Quoted in L. Cochrane, Adelard of Bath, The First English Scientist (London: British Museum Press, 1994), p. 49.

18. Ibid., p. viii.

19. M. Clagget, “Some general aspects of physics in the Middle Ages” in Studies in Medieval Physics and Mathematics (London: Variorum Reprints, 1979), Paper I, p. 38.

20. The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon (New York: Russell & Russell, 1962), vol. 1, pt. 4, dist. 1, cc. i, iii, pp. 116, 125. Before Bacon, Robert Grosseteste (1175
–1253), Bishop of Lincoln, asserted the necessity for the application of mathematics to physics. Both had similar epistemologies. Grosseteste: “The way to knowledge is... from confusedly known whole complete objects... into the parts themselves by which it is possible to define the whole object itself.” Quoted in A.C. Crombie, “Grosseteste’s Position in the History of Science” in Science, Optics and Music in Medieval and Early Modern Thought (London: The Hambledon Press, 1990), p. 120.

21. Opus Majus, vol. 1, pt. 4, dist. 4, ch. xvi, pp. 262
–263.

22. Ibid., vol. 1, pt. 4, dist. 4, ch. xvi, p. 386; vol. 2, pt. 6, ch. xii, EXAMPLE III, pp. 630
–631. If Bacon was sometimes undiscriminating, it was due to an intellectual humility, provided there was a “trustworthy authority”, the “genius of these men I admire more than I understand”, etc.

23. D.C. Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 180.

24. For example, D.C. Lindberg will remark in a flowery parlance that Bacon’s science was “an intelligent and creative response to a variety of ancient traditions.” See Roger Bacon’s Philosophy of Nature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), p. liii.

25. The medieval historian M. DeWulf characterized the work of the Schoolmen as “a vast classification, a gigantic work of systematization”, Philosophy and Civilization in the Middle Ages (New York: Dover Publishers Incorporated, 1953), p. 81.

26. As the preeminent classificationist, St. Albert Magnus (1206
–1280) said in his Book of Minerals, trans. D. Wyckoff (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), bk. II, tract i, ch. 1, p. 57: “it is madness to say that God is diffused in things, in such a way that he is united and mixed with them like some essential property.”

27. See article by R. Sorabji, “John Philoponus” in Philoponus and His Rejection of Aristotelian Science (London: Gerald Duckworth & Company, 1987), pp. 7
–13.

28. Quoted in P. Duhem, Medieval Cosmology, Theories of Infinity, Place, Time, Void, and the Plurality of Worlds, ed. and trans. R. Ariew (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), pp. 409, 467. Selections from Duhem’s Le Système du Monde.

29. Nicole Oreseme and the Kinematics of Circular Motion, Tractatus de commensurabilitate vel incommensurabilitate motuum celi, trans. M. Clagett (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1971), p. xi. Oreseme was a student of Buridan.

30. See S. Mason, A History of the Sciences (New York: Collier Books, 1962), p. 120. Originally published in 1956.

31. Nicole Oreseme, Le Livre du Ciel et du Monde, trans. A.D. Menut (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968), bk. II, ch. 8, fols. 92a
–92c, p. 365.

32. Ibid., bk. II, ch. 8, fols. 92d
–93a, p. 367.

33. S.L. Jaki, Science and Creation..., p. 240.

34. Ptolemy’s Almagest, trans. G.J. Toomer (New York: Springer
–Verlag, 1984), bk. I, 7, H22, p. 43.

35. E.A. Moody, “Galileo and His Precursors” in Studies in Medieval Philosophy, Science and Logic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Pub. 7, p. 408.

36. P. Duhem,
Medieval Cosmology..., p. 510.

37. N.F. Cantor, Civilization in the Middle Ages (New York: Harper, 1994 [1963]), p. 534. This falsity was also spoken in a popular three
–volume analysis of the history of mathematics by M. Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times (Oxford University Press, 1972), vol. 1, p. 209, and a more recent popularization of Western culture from a post–modernist perspective, R. Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991), p. 207.

38. William of Ockham, Quodlibetal Questions, trans. A.J. Fredesso and F.E. Kelly (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1991), quod. 4, q. 32 (vol. 1, pp. 375
–376). See also quod. 6, q. 15 (vol. 2, pp. 536–539).

39. See E. Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York: Random House, 1955), p. 512.

40. See the discussion in B. Hansen’s commentary
–translation, Nicole Oreseme and the Marvels of Nature, A Study of his De causis mirabilim (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1985), Studies and Texts 68, pp. 104–109. It is also interesting to subnote that Thomas Bradwardine (d. 1349), himself theorizing on the laws of acceleration, had reacted to Ockhamism (skepticism, dichotomy of faith and reason, arbitrary will of God) by endorsing a vicious theological determinism. He described a God “from whom all motions proceed and between whom and the things he moves there exists no proportion”, Tractatus de Proportionibus, trans. H.L. Crosby, Jr. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1961), ch. 4, p. 141. This is a kind of theo–mechanism, acting as a precursor for modernist determinism, minus theological aspects (e.g. behaviorism, socio–biology, psychologism, mechanism). Bradwardine’s writings influenced Wycliffe and Calvin. G. Leff maintains that “it is hard not to see the influence of science upon his thought in general... Bradwardine the scientist was able to confirm and support Bradwardine the theologian.” In Bradwardine and the Pelagians, A Study of his "De causa Dei" and its Opponents (London: Cambridge University Press, 1957), p. 18.

41. In the preface to the second edition of The Critique of Pure Reason (p. 25) Kant states that the main objective of his book is to completely revolutionize metaphysics “in accordance with the example set by the geometers and physicists.”

42.
K. Kneller, Christianity and the Leaders of Modern Day Science, A Contribution to the History of Culture during the Nineteenth Century, trans. T.M. Kettle (Fraser, MI: Real View Books, 1995). Originally published in 1911.

43. Why would God create a universe whose laws of operation, understood by a science initially fostered by the Church, are contradictory to the teachings of His Church? It would be illogical. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles, lib. i, ch. 7 [4]: “No opinion or belief... is implanted in man by God which is contrary to man’s natural knowledge.”

44. See the vitriolic remarks against Jaki’s works by D.C. Lindberg, R.L. Numbers and W.B. Ashworth, Jr. in God and Nature, Historical Essays on the Encounter Between Christianity and Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), pp. 5, 136, 160ff.1. See also Cohen, op. cit., p. 528ff.13. That only Jaki, “a dangerous man” and a Catholic priest, is in reception of such calumny evidences much more that what his critics write against him. These aspersions form a stark contrast to a disclosure made by none other than Sir Karl Popper. In a personal letter to Jaki, Popper wrote: “Let me tell you that I am most impressed by your writings... I am not a historian of science, but it seems to me that you are not only an extremely competent historian of science but also an outstanding philosopher of science. Your criticism of my views on Kant’s cosmology are very fair and probably right.” Quoted in P. Haffner, Creation and Scientific Creativity: A Study in the Thought of S.L. Jaki (Front Royal, VA: Christendom Press, 1991), p. 119.

45.
G.K. Chesterton, The Thing (London: Sheed and Ward, 1929), p. 100.

Share/Bookmark

No comments:

Post a Comment