International Society for Philosophers

International Society for Philosophers

Wisdom begins with wonder

PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS                   ISSN 2043-0728


Issue number 96 13th December 2004


I. '"Creation Science" vs Evolution Theory, or Science vs Mythology'
   by Charles Hlavac

II. 'Philosophy for Younger People: A Polemic' by Constantine Sandis

III. 'Natural Philosophy and the controversy concerning the Church's position
     in the development of science during the European early modern period
     (1500-1800)' by John J. Eberts -=-

Editor's Note

There are some interesting overlaps between the three articles in this issue.

Charles Hlavac in his essay on evolution and creationism, discovers a web of questionable assumptions which have given undeserved plausibility to the promotion of so-called 'creationist science' in US schools.

Constantine Sandis from Reading University, UK promotes philosophy in British schools on behalf of the Royal Institute of Philosophy. In his polemic, he articulates the reasons why school students not only can but should study philosophy.

John Eberts, a College lecturer from Florida gained his Philosophical Society Associate Award in 2001. His essay looks at the history of the controversy between the Christian Church and science, and the emancipation of science from the influence of Aristotelianism.

This is the last issue of Philosophy Pathways before the New Year. May I wish all readers happiness, peace of mind and prosperity for 2005!

Geoffrey Klempner



While the desire for knowledge for its own sake is the basis for 'science' and 'philosophy', it seems to be susceptible to various 'filters', some of which state that 'knowledge' comes also from sources other than observable events, rational deduction, or scientific analysis. These interpretations further imply that 'human knowledge' is insufficient to discover the 'truth', and that "God' is the keeper of the 'mysteries of life'. As Ernest Cassirer remarked when discussing Thomas Aquinas: 'Religious truth is supra-natural and supra-rational...'. He reminds us of Kierkegaard's 'religious life as the great paradox', and Tertullian's 'Credo quia absurdum'. (Cassirer, 72). These historical antecedents to our current 'creationism' vs 'evolution' debates have been further influenced by the advent of 'postmodern' philosophy and its impact on the meanings of 'truth', 'relativism' and 'science'. Further, various misinterpretations of the meaning of 'postmodernism' and 'science' themselves have given 'creationists' a segue to the introduction of their mythological 'sciences' into American public education and into circles of scientific and philosophical debate. These, along with political pressure from Christian fundamentalist groups on the public school systems and some Christian 'charter schools', have permitted a mythological approach to science to gain a foothold in the United States:

     Moreover, nature is always stronger than principles.
     (David Hume, quoted in Kahan, Le Lionnais, ed., 104).

     Science is on its theoretical side... one of the most
     subversive agents ever invented by man... controversy
     whirls around the figures of Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin,
     Einstein, and Freud like black clouds rumbling with
     (Burr and Goldstein, 398)

It is when science, as pure method, overthrows and/ or refutes cherished 'principles', that it becomes subversive, almost surrealistic. And philosophy is always there, challenging even the results of the 'method', the 'limits of knowledge', and creating the systematic (Socratic) 'doubting of the truth of what is claimed to be known' (Burr and Goldstein, 399). And as Bertrand Russell reiterates:

     Philosophy arises from an unusually obstinate attempt to
     arrive at real knowledge.
     (Burr, 406).

The traditional method of science is a combination of observation, experiment, hypothesis, and more observation leading to a theory or principle that can be repeated by others. The traditional mistake of science is sometimes it believes it's own results, and turns them into principles, such as the 'ether'. Philosophy then arrives with it's skepticism, and wants to know 'why are you convinced of the reality of the "ether"?'. Philosophy then becomes more 'subversive' than science itself. The 'weakness' of science in this respect is a really a fiction, but it is one which both postmodernists and creationists alike have used to 'prove' the 'fallibility' of science. It has become the modern essence of 'scientific method to limit its own pretension.' (Cohen and Nagel in Burr, 454). Scientific method concerns itself now more with 'verification', as a result of its encounters with philosophical skepticism, and less with attempts at 'universal principles' or metanarratives, as the postmodernists have claimed. The major criticism of the 'Creationists' and some postmodern philosophers is that science itself is a system of beliefs and that these beliefs involve a 'rationalistic-scientific-humanist' interpretation of life, or 'metanarrative'. As so defined, science then becomes another 'religion'. We even speak of Darwin's ideas as the 'Theory of Evolution' instead of the 'fact' of evolution.

Armed with that idea, Creationists then step in for equal time in public schools, claiming that Biblical theories of evolution are as valid as the 'humanist-science theories' .

The key word is 'Biblical'. While there have been creation myths in every culture and in every time, the keynote of the current debate is specifically the Christian fundamentalist's literal interpretation of the Bible. Imagine this 'debate" in terms of Nordic mythology:

     Before the world, there was a great gulf of twilight. North
     of this was the Home of Mist, full of ice, and to the South,
     the Home of Fire, guarded by a giant with a flaming sword. A
     day came when the twilight came to life, warmed by the fires
     but shaped by the ice, and became the Giant Ymir, with a
     living body and cruel, cold heart. When he looked for food,
     he saw a gigantic cow, from whose udders flowed streams of
     milk, licking the salt from the glacier until a head of
     hair pushed itself up through the ice and revealed a mighty
     man, Odin, with a heart warm and kind. The sons of Ymir
     became a race of giants who worked evil on the earth, and
     the family of Odin began a war against the Ymir and his
     (paraphrased from E.M Wilmot-Buxton, How All Things
, The Junior Classics, Vol.3, p.197)

While this story is commonly regarded as a 'myth', 'scientific creationism' is considered to be a viable theory of evolution by many. Why? Some of the 'Tenets' of Scientific Creationism are (to quote):

     2. The phenomenon of biological life did not develop by
     natural processes from inanimate systems, but was specially
     and supernaturally created by the Creator.

     3. Each of the major kinds of plants and animals was
     created functionally complete...

     4. The first human beings did not evolve from animal
     ancestry, but were specially created in fully human form
     from the start....
     Tenets of Scientific Creationism, Institute for Creation
     Research Graduate School (ICRGS), p. 50.

One of the 'sophistic' methods for inducing belief in 'scientific creationism' is the use of the word 'science' itself. Among many Americans, any use of the word 'scientist', 'doctor', 'expert', etc., leads to a certain credibility in that person's remarks, however absurd. In the catalog of the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (ICRGS) and in many other Creationist publications, there are lists of 'prominent' scientists who support creationism. These include Ph.D's in geology, biology, astrophysics, physics, astronomy, and others. (See the ICRGS catalog, pps 10-12). The ICRGS purpose is to 'discover and transmit the truth about the correlate and apply such scientific data within...the framework of Biblical creationism....The long range goal is to prepare talented graduates in science and education for future Christian leadership' (ISRGS Catalog, p.4).

Some the 'lessons' learned by students of 'scientific creationism' follow directly from their version of a literal interpretation of Genesis. In order to maintain the 'reasoning' implied in a literal Biblical interpretation, two, among other, 'truths' have been put forward: First, since at the Beginning, there was only one Man and one Woman, who did Cain, their son, marry?:

     The Wife: If we now work totally from Scripture...than back
     at the beginning, when there was only the first generation,
     brothers would have had to marry sisters or there wouldn't
     be any more generations!
     We're not told when Cain married or many of the details of
     other marriages and children, but we can say for certain
     that Cain's wife was probably his sister or a close
     relative....The law forbidding close marriages was not
     given until the time of Moses (Leviticus 18-20)
     (Hamm, Where did Cain get his Wife?, 18-19)

Second, and one my favorite examples of the logical necessity of literal interpretations is whether or not Adam and Eve had belly buttons!:

     No... Why? Because your belly-button (navel)... is a sign
     that you were once attached to your mother....But our first
     parents, Adam and Eve, did not develop that way. I believe
     that God would not have planted on them a false indication
     that they had developed in a mother's womb... the day they
     were created they might have appeared to be, say, 30 years
     old... (navels) would develop in their offspring as a
     result of processes later on.
     (Parker, Creation News, p.4)

The difference between 'science' and 'creation science' is not one of degree, or knowledge, or method. It is simply the difference between pursuing knowledge 'for it's own sake' and 'filtering facts' to support one's beliefs, as did early Marxist 'scientists' such as Lysenko.

Should the Norwegian myths have sustained their power over the centuries and became a predominant religious and political force, perhaps there would be 'ice creation stories' explaining where Odin's children came from and whether he had had a belly button!

In fact, I would recommend that all public school districts who have agreed to the elimination of 'evolution' as a science subject, and/ or to the inclusion of 'scientific creationism' in classrooms be also forced to include other creation stories such as those of the Rig-Veda, the Hopi Indians, and so on, if only to prove the point that 'science' is one thing and myth another.

To go back to Creationist mythology, there appears to be a mistake in Genesis, where God has an 'afterthought'. Can God have an afterthought, if He is perfect and omniscient? This occurs in two ways.

In Genesis:

     And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be
     alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." (2:18)
     Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made
     into a woman, and He brought her to the man. (2:22)
Notwithstanding feminist agreement as to the idea of woman being 'comparable to him (Adam)', woman is still an afterthought in this story of Adam and Eve. Since scientists are like 'detectives', as Copi tells us in his Sherlock Holmes analogy (Burr, 446), they would likely agree that under such circumstances of birth as described in Genesis, that neither Adam nor Eve had navels. As for Cain and Abel, however, such scientists would also wish to inquire as to the causes of their origins. If Adam was created first, and Eve only later, as an 'afterthought', did Adam have a penis and sperm-filled genitalia when he was initially 'created'? If so, why? Or were these, along with Eve's sexual organs, added when Eve was created, or perhaps later, after the feast from the 'Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil'? Was the original Adam genderless before Eve?

Karl Popper writes that 'All that we can do is to search for the falsity content of our best theory' (Magee, 223) and in defining scientific method, perhaps that part of science most vulnerable to criticism from the postmodern left as well as the Christian right: 'Science is perhaps the only human activity in which errors are systematically criticized time corrected' (Magee, 222). It is this aspect of science which makes it available to an 'open society' and makes it appear 'subversive' to closed societies. It is just this aspect of philosophy, also, which, as Cohen and Nagel state, make it:

     ...something nobly devoid of all pettiness. Because it
     requires detachment, disinterestedness, it is the finest
     flower and test of a liberal civilization.
     (Burr, 457)

     By skepticism... we arrive first at suspension of judgement,
     and second at freedom from disturbance.
     Sextus Empiricus (Magee, 43)


Burr, John R. Philosophy and Contemporary Issues, 4th Edition Goldinger, Milton New York: Macmillan, 1984

Cassirer, Ernest  An Essay on Man New Haven: Yale University Press, 1944

Creation Science Facts of Science, No.1: Amazing Fossils...But How Old? Acacia Ridge D.C., Australia: Creation Science Foundation, 1996

Hamm, Ken  Where did Cain get his Wife? Florence, Kentucky: Answers in Genesis, 1997 (pamphlet)

Institute for  Institute for Creation Research Graduate School, 1996-1997 Catalog Creation Research Santee, California, 1995

Magee, Bryan  The Story of Thought New York: DK Publishing (Quality Paperback Book Club), 1998

Parker, Gary  'Did Adam have a belly-button?', Creation News, p.4 Bayside, California: Creation Research of the North Coast, Spring, 1998

Le Lionnais, F., ed. Great Currents in Mathematical Thought, Vol II New York: Dover Publications, 1971

Nagel, Thomas  What Does It All Mean? New York: Oxford University Press, 1987

Williams, Mabel and The Junior Classics, Vol. Three: Myths and Legends Dalphin, Marcia, Eds. Connecticut, USA: P.F. Collier and Son, 1948

Siegel, Harvey  'Why Everything Is Not Relative', p.35 Free Inquiry, Fall, 1998 Amherst, New York

(c) Charles Hlavac 2004


P.O. Box 1962 Windsor, CA 95492 USA



     Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn;
     and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking;
     learning naturally results.

     John Dewey

Recent years have seen a high increase in the teaching of Philosophy in schools. Programs such as Pathways Schools in Australia (International Society for Philosophers, since 2003), 'Philosophy in Schools' in the UK (Royal Institute of Philosophy, since 1999), and 'Philosophy for Children' in the USA, Australia, and the UK (International Council for Philosophical Inquiry since 1985 & Society for Advancing Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education since 1993) are spreading around the world. Within a decade of its introduction Philosophy (AS/A2) has become one of the most popular standard subjects taught across UK secondary schools.

Why is it so important to teach philosophy to younger people? After all philosophy - one might think - is a complex subject, too difficult for children to get to grips with, and too abstract to have any practical value. One answer is that this prepares children for the possibility of doing philosophy at A-level and/ or University standard. Another is that they would be exposed to the ideas of some of some of the most profound thinkers in human history. Both answers make sense. But there also exists a more pertinent answer, best summed up by the following excerpt from a report of research recently undertaken in the field:

     Evaluations show positive side effects along many
     dimensions other than standard achievement tests, for
     example, in terms of the quality of children's discussion
     and argumentative skills, ability to formulate questions,
     self-esteem, and so on.

     (Philosophy for Children [P4C] Department for Employment
     and Education Research Report 115).

In other words, thinking about philosophical questions helps children to develop their reasoning capabilities in general. Although often branded as some kind of 'ultimate quest for knowledge' more often than not the practice of philosophy has much more to do with understanding, rather than knowledge. Understanding what it means for one thing to follow another logically, for something to be an open question, be evidence for some new belief, or a reason for abandoning an intuition. Philosophy in schools need not aim at getting children to memorise many new facts. Instead, it can, does and should, aim at training children to think more clearly about the facts they learned in other subjects: how we come to know about them, why they are important, and how they relate to each other.

As they grow older, philosophical skills can help children to understand more clearly just what the theories and assumptions found in physics, biology, history, chemistry, law, politics etc. amount to. Epistemology, for example, is important, not because it leads us to doubt whether anything can be known for certain, but rather because it helps us to think about how moral and scientific practices work, and gives us tools with which we can better evaluate the claims of specialists in those areas.

My own experience (teaching for the R.I.P., as well as for the GCE and GCSE OCR and AQA examination) has mainly been with 14-18 year olds interested equally in literature, religious studies, social sciences, and natural sciences. From the very first lesson they are quick to point out differences and similarities between methods of philosophical enquiry and methods used in other disciplines, and draw important conclusions from their methodological observations.

At a time when are overwhelmed with information coming from potentially unreliable sources - be they poor journalism, badly researched books, so-called 'experts' speaking on television programmes, or random internet sites (this list is not intended to be exhaustive) - it is vital that we be able to distinguish reasons from rationalizations, good arguments from a bad ones, and genuine insight from conceptual confusion. No doubt, some people will have a natural talent for this, but, as most life-long learning university departments divisions have come to see, this is no reason to not teach these essential skills to all. Philosophy for younger people helps to foster such abilities from an early age, before the seeds of intellectual gullibility begin to grow within.

Needless to say, the pupils are not the only ones who benefit from Philosophy in Schools programmes. The multifarious ways in which younger people react to philosophical questions and hypotheses can reveal hidden facets and bring to light unimagined practical implications. In philosophy it's all-too-easy to fail to see the wood for the trees, and at times the best cure for this is discussion with people of varying backgrounds and ages. To end with another quote by Dewey:

     There is more than a verbal tie between the words common,
     community, and communication... Try the experiment of
     communicating, with fullness and accuracy, some experience
     to another, especially if it be somewhat complicated, and
     you will find your own attitude toward your experience

(c) Constantine Sandis 2004


University of Reading United Kingdom


    (1500-1800)' BY JOHN J. EBERTS

The controversy over the church's position and its influence in the development of modern science has occupied a central position in intellectual history dating back to the medieval period. J. W. Draper and A. D. White have argued that science and religion contain conflicting mentalities. In the works of R. K. Metron, A. N. Whitehead and Duhem-Jaki, the analysis has gone to the other extreme, stating that science and religion developed a relationship of intimacy where one area influenced the development of the other. Residing in the middle of these polar opposites is the theory of complementarity. Rudolph Bultmann demonstrates that in the final analysis, each area deals with its own discipline in a manner conducive to its own structure. The controversy was more than just a squabble between the church and science; it was a shift in power. Power is not a thing but a process, and it was this process in scientific development, which could be circulated and productive, that created a shift of authority from Aristotelian natural philosophy to mathematics, or the new science. What I would like to consider in this paper is that it was the re-interpretation of nature and the challenges to natural philosophy rather than a direct challenge to the church's doctrine which laid the foundations for development of science in early modern Europe. This challenge, directed toward natural philosophy and more specifically toward Aristotelianism, was political and social in nature and had repercussions within the Church.

In any exploration of the relationship between the Church and Science, the usual starting place is a study of the classic works of John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White. J. W. Draper provides the reader with catalogues of assumptions stating that what was at stake were disputes concerning cosmological constructions. He infers that the construction held by the Church was forced into the background as a result of new scientific theories concerning astronomy. Draper also states that this in fact was necessary and was the intention of the new developments in scientific thought. 'Religion must relinquish that imperious, that domineering position which she has so long maintained against science.' (Draper, p. 367. 1979). Both Draper and White repeatedly present challenges that were launched against religious and Church dogma. White states ' all modern history, interference with science in the supposed interest of religion no matter how conscientious such interference may have been, has resulted in the direst evils both to religion and to science...' (White A. D., p. 8. 1876). Brought to our attention are the inquisition, the Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation's zeal in elimination of heretical ideas. Draper sees theologians as, '...hounding the pioneers of science 'with a Bible in one hand and a fiery fagot in the other...' (Lindberg & Numbers, p. 2. 1986). Conflicts in doctrine and religious disputes are tied together with scientific inquiry, when in fact many of the early advances in science came from within the ranks of the clergy and went unhampered by the Church. The historical perspective that is presented is one in which science is seen as waging war with the Church head-on, hoping to scale the walls of dogma and lay waste the foundations of religion.

It is important to remember that White was antagonistic towards the Church. According to Brooke, White had run up against clerical opposition at Cornell University when he proposed a nonsectarian charter. White also felt that science should play a predominant role in the curriculum at Cornell. In England, Draper developed similar animosity toward the Church. Draper had played a role in the Darwinian controversy at Oxford and he also was reacting towards the Quanta Cura issued by the Church in 1864.

It also must be remembered that in any reconstruction of history, a focus on only the extremes of an event may overlook factors which played a significant part in the event's historical development. A. Wolf, in his definitive A History of Science and Technology and Philosophy in the 16th & 17th Centuries Vol. 1, maintains the same view of the role of the Church. 'The chief obstacle in the path of science during the Middle Ages was the Christian Church. Even the Renaissance and the Reformation afforded no direct help to the advancement of science' (Wolf, p. 8 1959). Again, just as Draper and White had generalized or made assumptions concerning the relationship between the church and science, Wolf arbitrarily states that religious movements in general disregarded or showed intolerance toward science.

The process of evaluating the impact of the church on science or science on the church is not as simple as these scholars would have us believe. 'Conflict between science and theology rarely arose in the technical sciences, but developed in that part of natural philosophy concerned with the larger principles of cosmic operation, especially where science and theology sought to explain the same phenomenon' (Lindberg & Numbers, p.49. 1986). The religious disputes unleashed during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation had a major impact on how scientific innovation and new cosmologies such as Copernicus' On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres were received. 'The way in which the relationship between scientific and religious claim has been perceived in the past has depended on social and political circumstances that the historian cannot ignore' (Brooke, p.10. 1999).

As a result of doctrinal disputes raised by the Reformation/ Counter-Reformation, attitude toward Church Doctrine became less flexible. At this point, the question arises as to how Church Doctrine and scientific development came into conflict, if in fact they did. To answer this question, one must first look at what science consisted of during the Reformation period and how it was defined.

The acceptance of Greek philosophy and science came at the hand of the early Church fathers. Although some were hostile to its inclusion within Christianity, in the end it was accepted when 'Philosophy and science could be studied as aids in understanding Holy Scriptures...' (Grant, p. 4. 1996). In essence, philosophy and science became tools in helping one understand theology. It was felt that natural philosophy and science would provide a better grasp on explaining creation. This acceptance and use of the natural sciences had long-range effects. 'As a consequence of the emergence of natural philosophy within the unique University system of the Latin Middle Ages, the revolutionary developments in science of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries were made possible' (Grant, p. 9. 1996).

With the translation of Aristotle into Latin, a pivotal point occurred in the development of natural philosophy and science. Aristotle's works transformed the intellectual domain in Europe. According to Peter Dear, Aristotle's work only considered the realm of explanation: 'Aristotle was not interested in 'facts' themselves...' (Dear, p. 4. 2001). Scholars following Aristotle's philosophical framework felt that nature consisted of what they could see and infer from experience. Aristotle's philosophy became the backbone of intellectual life in Europe, with effects felt down into the seventeenth century. Aristotle's works become the crux of this natural philosophy. It was his writings which are the heart of medieval science, a science with order and coherence, and a world that was 'unchanging' at its core. The goal of the natural philosopher or Scholastic was not to discover; in their opinion, there was nothing new. The job of the natural philosopher was only to explain the 'Known'.

The natural philosophy of the Reformation period '...was to describe and analyze the structure and operation of the cosmos, with all its objects and creatures' (Grant, p. 133. 1996). Within the system of natural philosophy, there was a dual aspect; one dealt with the structure of the cosmos, the other with its operation. The conflict which resulted, was due to interpretations of the latter. But why did these controversies develop? The controversy developed as a result of a challenge to the Aristotelian model, not as a direct challenge to the Church. But Grant raises a point of contention. For Grant, the threat to theology and the church's doctrine came from that very source that had helped support the Church - natural philosophy. 'The impact of Aristotle's thought can not... be overestimated. For the first time in the history of Latin Christendom, a comprehensive body of secular learning, rich in metaphysics, methodology, and reasoned arguments, posed a threat to theology and its traditional interpretation (Lindberg & Numbers, p. 52. 1986). Grant does not consider this as a drawback. He supports the premise that in reality, rather than suppressing science, the controversy over interpretation may have in fact stimulated the development of science. Grant develops the idea that with this divergence, the Aristotelian natural philosopher considered other alternatives and other avenues of exploitation concerning cosmology.

Dear points out an important development that most historians have overlooked. Until the discovery of new lands, there were no new things to be found, according to the Scholastics. With the discovery of the new world, not only were there new geographic locations, but new species, and different inhabitants that did not fit the model of what the world since creation was allegedly composed of. Natural philosophy cannot be characterized as always dealing with the natural world as a creation of God. Problems resulted when some scholars went outside of religion and Church doctrine and developed alternative interpretations of what was considered natural philosophy. Both Grant and Dear suggest that it is the discovery of the New World that first subverts Aristotelian Natural Philosophy. These new discoveries proved that many classical scholars were wrong in their findings.

Aristotle had become an integral part of the Church; to be anti-Aristotelian was to be anti-Thomistic. 'However, as far as its fundamental concepts were concerned, Aristotle's philosophy proved to obstruct the development of science' (Nebelsicki, p. x. 1992). In challenging Aristotle's universe, one challenges the authority of the Church. 'It is important to understand these indirect effects of religion on science. The defensive measures taken by the Catholic Church against what was perceived as a Protestant cancer altered the criteria of truth, allowing authority on scientific issues to be wrested from scholars, and vested in a Roman bureaucracy' (Brooke, p. 99. 1991). Given the political and religious atmosphere during the Reformation, this could and did result in confrontation.

Luther saw Aristotle as a vice in Christianity, and into this milieu came the need for the Catholic Church to reestablish its authority. The world of Aristotle in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation '...made sense within the philosopher's overall world view' (O'Connell, p. 339. 1974). Aristotle had dominated thought in Europe since the 12th century. By challenging the Church, as the Reformation attempted, and by challenging the cosmos and the prevailing natural philosophy, as the mathematicians did, Europe began to divest itself of Aristotle's influence. 'The Counter-Reformation was, therefore, the last age of the ancient world, not because of its religion or politics or economies, but because it was innocent of that mathematical physics which has created the modern world' (O'Connell, p. 341. 1974). It becomes for O'Connell the final stage in an ongoing revolt against Aristotelian Doctrine. This final battle was to be fought on the home-front of Science in its assault on a natural philosophy based on Aristotle but not against the church in particular. For the first time, science was looked upon for it own sake. As a result of the new discoveries of land, people, and differing life styles created new vistas and strained old doctrines established by the church. Even with these new developments, the growth of science was not initiated to undermine church doctrine. It was a response to the inadequacy of the Aristotelian model.

It was this disintegration of the Aristotelian model more than anything else that caused the great confrontations during the early modern historical period according to most historians. The controversy that results from this interpretation of history, then, raises the question as to whether it was between the Church and science or between intellectuals. In undermining Aristotle, scholars undermined the legitimacy of the European worldview. If in fact the development of the new science (Mathematics) resulted in a breakdown and collapse of natural philosophy, and this took place in the battle for academic supremacy between Aristotelians and mathematicians, why did some scholars remain true to the former when it was no longer accurate? These are questions that need to be addressed. The historian needs to move from the academic issues to the individuals involved. An in-depth study needs to be directed at several of the key individuals of this controversy. In searching archival material, journals and correspondence between scholars, the historian could better understand how these individuals saw not only their world, but their place and interaction with it.

We began with a general universal, the Church and science, and have spiraled down to reach the human aspect that really makes the history. Without delving into the personal and professional lives of the scholars involved, we may never see the true controversies that took place. To get a better knowledge of the scholarly debates that transpired during the formative years of science, one must look to the true source - the scholars that created the atmosphere that gave birth to the 'new science'.


Brooke, J. H., (1991). Science and religion: some historical perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University press.

Dear, P., (2001). Revolutionizing the sciences. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Draper, J. W., (1874). History of the conflict between religion and science New York: D. Appleton & Co., James R. Moore, the post-Darwinian Controversies: (1979). A study of the protestant struggle to come to terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America, 1870-1900. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Grant, E., (1996). The foundational of modern science in the middle ages: their religious, institutional, and intellectual contexts. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University press.

Lindberg, D. C. & Numbers, R. L. (Eds.). (1986). God and nature: historical essays on the encounter between Christianity and science. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Nebelsicki, H. P., (1992). Renaissance and reformation. Scotland: T&T Clark. O' Connell, M. R., (1974). The Counter reformation 1559-1610. New York: Harper& Row Publishers.

White, A. D. (1876). The warfare of sciences New York: D. Appleton & Co.

Wolf, A., (1959). A history of science, technology & philosophy in the 16th&17th centuries. Vol. 1, (original pub. 1950) .New York: Harper Torchbooks.

(c) John Eberts 2004


© Geoffrey Klempner 2002–2020