Review of “God’s Philosophers”

The Thinking Christian blog reviews this interesting book on the Medieval contributions to modern science.

[Author James] Hannam speaks of the myth that “there was no science worth mentioning in the Middle Ages,” and “the Church held back what meager advances were made.” These beliefs took flower as late as the 19th century with Thomas Henry Huxley, John William Draper, and Andrew Dickson White, who tried to paint religion as the enemy of science. Their story has been told often; Hannam himself has blogged on it.

A.D. White’s part is particularly unfortunate, in that he produced a highly influential, heavily footnoted, apparently scholarly tome on the historic warfare between science and religion. Hannam assesses his work this way:

Anyone who checks his references will wonder how he could have maintained his opinions if he had read as much as he claimed to have done.

Others have treated White less gently than that.

Hannam situates these myths in historical context:

The denigration of the Middle Ages began as long ago as the sixteenth century, when humanists, the intellectual trendsetters of the time, started to champion classical Greek and Roman literature. They cast aside medieval scholarship on the grounds that it was convoluted and written in ‘barbaric’ Latin. So people stopped reading and studying it…. The waters were muddied further by … Protestant writers not to give an ounce of credit to Catholics. It suited them to maintain that nothing of value had been taught at universities before the Reformation. (Continue)

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God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science

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