In the last article, we saw how William of Ockham developed his nominalist philosophy in the context of disputes within the medieval Franciscan order. Ockham’s nominalism—the thesis that there are no real, abstract universal concepts, but that these terms refer only to ideas that we have—undercut Aristotelian arguments about the naturalness of property ownership, based as they were on the Continue Reading …
How an important element of both modern philosophy and science emerged from an obscure dispute within the medieval Franciscan order involving Plato, Aristotle, the Roman Catholic Church, and William of Ockham, among others.
“Next to the word ‘Nature,’ ‘The Great Chain of Being’ was the sacred phrase of the eighteenth century, playing a part somewhat analogous to that of the blessed word ‘evolution’ in the nineteenth.” –Arthur O. Lovejoy
From, whence, then, could arise the solitary and strange conceit that the Almighty, who had millions of worlds equally dependent on his protection, should quit the care of all the rest, and come to die in our world because, they say, one man and one woman had eaten an apple. –Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
We are often told that Europeans, in the medieval times, believed that Earth was at the center of the universe, and therefore especially good and important. An anthropocentric point of view flattered human vanity, according to this story. Sigmund Freud was perhaps its most famous representative. He wrote: Humanity has in the course of time had to endure from the Continue Reading …
In the previous article, we saw how geometry set the standard for knowledge in the world of ancient Greek philosophy, and how Christian theology emerged out of an effort to harmonize the very different traditions of Greek and Hebraic thought. Plato’s theory of the forms is perhaps his most famous contribution to philosophy, and requires no extensive discussion. But, as Continue Reading …
“Let no one ignorant of geometry enter.” –Said to have been inscribed above the doorway of Plato’s Academy
“Serious scholarship in the history of science has revealed so extraordinarily rich and complex a relationship between science and religion that general theses are difficult to sustain. The real lesson turns out to be complexity.” –Jonathan Hedley Broke
“I need the binocular approach of science and religion if I am to do any sort of justice to the deep and rich reality of the world in which we live.”
–John Polkinghorne (Physicist, Anglican Priest)
“God is also glorified in astronomy through my work.” –Johannes Kepler
“The Goal of Science is understanding lawful relations among natural phenomena. Religion is a way of life within a larger framework of meaning.”–Ian Barbour
“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” –Richard Dawkins
What are science, religion, and secularism? How have they interacted, historically, and what are the major issues in contemporary reflection on them? A new series explores these questions through the works of the scientists, theologians, and philosophers who have shaped the dialogue over the last century and a half.
One of the points that creationist Ken Ham made in his debate with Bill Nye, and presumably is still making on his site “Answers in Genesis,” is that we have to distinguish between experimental and historical sciences. According to his argument, physics is an experimental science, evolution and geology are historical. Since the first type produces testable knowledge, and the Continue Reading …
“But one thing this doctrine, so clear, so venerable, does not contain: it does not contain the secret of what the Sublime One himself experienced, he alone among the hundreds of thousands.” –Hermann Hesse
According to Noson S. Yanofsky, the universe does not contain contradictions, but our thinking about it does and must. If this is true, any representation of the universe must be inaccurate, not simply in details, but also in substance.
“The crisis of modernity reveals itself in the fact … that modern western man no longer knows what he wants – that he no longer believes that he can know what is good and bad, right and wrong.” –Leo Strauss
“I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.” –Friedrich Hayek
“Of all the patterns that occur at many different scales, the most fundamental is the existence of pattern itself.” –David Christian
Part two of a two-part discussion of Peter Novick’s That Noble Dream: The Objectivity Question in the American Historical Profession.