Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Faith and Science: Joined Since the Middle Ages

Illegitimi non carborundum est could well have been the motto of Pierre Duhem.

...Duhem, ostracized by his own peers, never did teach in Paris. He spent the last 22 years of his life as a professor of theoretical physics at a provincial school, the University of Bordeaux. His magnum opus is his Le Système du monde: les doctrines cosmolologiques de Platon à Copernicus (The Structure of the World: Teachings on Cosmology from Plato to Copernicus).

The first five volumes — each more than 500 pages in length — were published in consecutive years, from 1913-1917. Although another five volumes were ready for publication when Duhem died in 1916, they were not published until four decades later (1954-59).

The reason for the long delay in publishing the last five volumes of this masterpiece, which is without parallel in its field, was due to the strong opposition by influential academics who did not want to consider the demonstrable fact that modern science cannot be divorced from its religious foundations.

In the intervening years between the publication of the first and second group of five volumes, many studies of medieval science were conducted — by Anneliese Maier, Marshall Clagett, E. Grant, Alistair Crombie and others. These studies served to extend and confirm Duhem’s work and add credibility to his central thesis concerning the continuity between Medieval and modern science.

As a result of Duhem’s pioneering research and the contribution by other historians of science, the value of studying medieval science is now well established and can no longer be dismissed by honest scholars.

Templeton Prize winner, Stanley Jaki, who holds doctorates in both physics as well as theology, has this to say about Duhem’s work: “What Duhem unearthed among other things from long-buried manuscripts was that supernatural revelation played a crucial liberating role in putting scientific speculation on the right track. … It is in this terrifying prospect for secular humanism, for which science is the redeemer of mankind, that lies the explanation of that grim and secretive censorship which has worked against Duhem.”

Peter Hodgson, who is university lecturer in nuclear physics at Oxford University, has this to say about Duhem’s scholarly accomplishment: “The work of Duhem is of great relevance today, for it shows clearly the Christian roots of modern science, thus decisively refuting the alleged incompatibility of science and Christianity still propagated by the secularist establishment. Science is an integral part of Christian culture, a lesson to be learned even within the Christian Church.”

Duhem’s study and documentation of the Christian origin of modern science has been deliberately neglected because it is unwelcome both to the disciples of the French Enlightenment and those of the Reformation. For different reasons, they would like to paint the Middle Ages as dark as possible.

Duhem’s work is all the more prodigious when one realizes that he had no research assistant at his disposal or dictaphones or even ball-point pens. Furthermore, he often had to use his left hand to hold firm his trembling right hand.

When he passed away at age 54, he had left to posterity 40 books, 400 articles, and 120 large-size notebooks, each 200 pages long, containing excerpts from medieval manuscripts.

Demonstrating once again that the best tool of the Modern Establishment is the denial of historical fact--or the deliberate distortion thereof--in hopes that nobody will ever figure out the game.

HRC's "sniper visit" is merely a pimple on that large elephant's rear end, but it's the same thing.

HT: CustosFidei


Random10 said...

My initial reaction is “well duh”, but this deserves a more reasoned comment. Medieval Europe no longer doubts humanity is the creation of the loving God. Having moved beyond the basic who, what, where, when and why theological questions, Medieval intellectuals turn their curiosity towards the how. How did God make his creation? How does creation work to give life to creatures in the image of God, capable of awareness, capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong? This is why true science is always faithful to reality, to the creation.

Dad29 said...

Yah, well, "True" science, yes.

But there's a helluvalotta "fake" science out there, and practitioners of fake history, too.

Random10 said...