Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some Words From Our Masters

Let us keep Wednesdays as a day for setting forth some thoughts from our two masters: two fellow students who have preceded us on the path we struggle along...
From its birth, Greek science is all impregnated with theology, but with a pagan theology. That Theology teaches that the heavens and the stars are gods. It teaches dial they cannot have other motion than circular and uniform motion which is the perfect motion. It curses the impiety that would dare to attribute a motion to the earth, sacred foyer of the divinity. If these theological doctrines have furnished some postulates, provisionally useful for the science of nature, they quickly became for physics what harnesses become for children: fetters. Had the human spirit not broken those fetters, it would not have been able to surpass Aristotle in physics and Ptolemy in astronomy.
Now, what has broken these fetters? Christianity. Who, above all, profited by the liberty so acquired for pushing on for the discovery of a new science? The Scholastics. Who, in the middle of the 14th century, dared to declare that the heavens were not at all moved by divine or angelic intelligences but by an indestructible impulsion received from God at the moment of creation? A Master of Arts in Paris, John Buridan. Who in 1377 has declared the diurnal motion of the earth, a motion more simple and satisfactory for the mind than the diurnal motion of the heavens? Who has neatly refuted all the objections raised against the former of these movements? another Master in Paris, later the bishop of Lisieux, Nicole Oresme. Who has founded the dynamics, discovered the law of the fall of bodies, posed the foundations of geology? The Parisian scholastic and in times when the Catholic orthodoxy of the Sorbonne was proverbial all over the world.
[PD quoted in Hélène Pierre-Duhem's Un savant français:Pierre Duhem; translation from Jaki's Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem, 238-9]

That the casting of one's lot with Christ is also an act most worthy of science, may undoubtedly be a comforting thought in an age or science. It is a thought with many aspects. In it one can see Christ as the assurance for such notions as creation out of nothing, creation in time, a fully ordered universe, and purpose (cosmic and individual) - an assurance that alone assured the rise of science.

The truth of all this will seem natural for Catholics ready to reflect on the true grandeur of Christ. A truly divine Incarnate Logos, the Creator and Redeemer of the universe, should, even in a purely conceptual perspective, appear to have universal significance. The same Logos should therefore appear most significant for the rise and future of science which has nothing less than the universe for its framework and subject.
[SLJ The Savior of Science, 192]

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