Religion and Science, 1450 - 1750, pp. 721 - 68
Note Bene (or NB = note well): Use the charts on p. 721-outline, p. 725-religion, and p. 743-science as
an infrastructure for understanding the material in this chapter.
Theme: Religion and science are cosmogonies addressing the eternal questions posed by human beings--WHO, WHAT,
and WHERE. Who are we, what should we be doing, and where are we going?
1. Religion: L-re = back, again, ligare = to tie, = to retie, to reconnect.
2. Science: L- scire, sciens = to know, to understand.
3. The same questions but different answers; one with God and miracles, the other with facts and experimentation.
I. By 1500 Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church were in complete disarray.
(Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant)
Avignon Papacy, 1305 - 68. In 1368 - 2 popes, 1409 - 3 popes, "The Western Schism", 1368-1417. In 1415
Pope Gregory XII resigned in order to bring some stability and reform to the Roman Catholic church. He was
succeeded by Pope Martin V. The present Pope, Benedict XVI (2005-2013), is the first to resign since Gregory XII,
598 years ago.
Pope Martin V and his successors (1417-1545) did little to change the church, and instead started an aggressive
fund raising campaign to build a more glorious, elegant church (St. Peter's, 1506) showing the power of Rome
instead of listening to the overwhelming calls for reform. So St. Peter's was built, but so was the Protestant
The Reformation Wall, Geneva. 1909 Martin Luther, 1483-1546
1500 - Martin Luther (95 theses, faith & grace), John Calvin (presbyters and predestination) King Henry VIII
and Thomas Cranmer founded the Anglican (Episcopal) church. Many other reformers attacked the church & pope.
1531 - 1648: wars of religion, Inquisition, Treaty of Westphalia 1648 = beginning of the Nation State System.
1546 - Johannes Gutenberg - movable types, Bibles in the vernacular (common language), broadsheets.
II. Results of the Reformation: hope & enthusiasm, education, self confidence, materialism, skepticism, war.
1. Missionaries: Jesuit Matteo Ricci (in China 1582 - 1610) and many other Jesuits (Society of Jesus) from all
over Europe converted Chinese, and taught sciences, medicine, and painting.
Matteo Ricci's and other Jesuit graves still cared for (2012).
Ironically they are within the gated campus of the Beijing Administrative College of the Chinese Communist Party
2. Protestant missionaries worked in colonies owned by Protestant countries, during the 17th and 18th centuries,
but in 1806 a worldwide Protestant missionary movement got its start at Williams College, sending
missionaries to China, Hawaii, and S.E.Asia. The Haystack Monument on campus commemorates the event.
One of the famous missionary children of these thousands of protestant missionary families was Pearl Buck
who wrote The Good Earth, 1931. She was fluent in Chinese, and her English translations of Chinese classics are
still studied in Chinese universities. The Chinese are very proud of her, but unfortunately her reputation in the USA
has suffered from the 1950's anti-communist fanaticism of Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin.
Our love-hate relationship with China just seems to go on and on.
Haystack Monument, 1806 1931
3. The Reformation loosed a new optimism and dogmatism on the world, but non-European religions did not share
in this optimism nor in the Christian message which seemed more imperialist than uplifting. With Christianity
came imperialism and vice versa. Now-a-days most Christian missionary work emphasizes helping people,
not necessarily converting them or denigrating their culture. In many ways the new approach is more Christian.
II. Non-European Religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Japanese Shinto did not disappear but grew quietly and
became reservoirs of cultural traditions and breeding grounds for future liberation movements.
1. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Japanese Shintoism were not adversely affected by Christianity, since
these religions were strong and growing. Christianity was easily accepted as a form of Buddhism and Daoism.
But Japan reacted violently against Christian missions and converts because they were thought to undermine
the emperor's power, and in 1715 the Chinese emperor Kangxi forbade Jesuits from preaching in China, though
they stayed in Beijing teaching science and mathematics. Strayer, 732-734. Link
2. Muhammed ibn Abd Al-Wahhab (1703 - 92) introduced a very strict, austere form of Islam in (Saudi) Arabia
that eventually influenced other muslims and political Islamicists. Wahhabism demands the use of Sharia law
- law based on the Quran (Koran) and Islamic practice. Salafism (Ar, salaf - ancestor) is an Islamic
fundamentalist movement in modern Syria working to create an Islamic state instead of a democratic one.
3. The Chinese renewed Confucianism under the influence of Wang Yangming (1472-1529) and a variation of
Western scientific methods called kaozheng = textual criticism.
4. In India a reform movement called Sikhism (Sanskrit = follower,disciple) was founded by Guru Nanak(1469-1539)
according to the principles of the holy book Guru Granth, a blend of Islam and Hinduism. The Sikh holy center is
the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. Sikhism evolved from a peaceful religion to a militant one due to government
attacks. Eventually the Sikh military became a crack fighting unit in the British army until the Amritsar Massacre of
1919, which led to the eventual independence of India in 1947. In 2012 there was yet another infamous massacre of
Sikhs but in Wisconsin.
5. "African ideas and practices, for example, accompanied slaves to the Americas. Common African forms of
religious revelation--divination, dream interpretation, visions, spirit possession--found a place in the
Africanized versions of Christianity," resulting in "syncretic (blended) religions such as Voodoo in Haiti,
Santeria in Cuba, and Candomble and Macumba in Brazil," including "various West African traditions
and featured drumming, ritual dancing, animal sacrifice, and spirit possession." Strayer, 734-735.
III. The Birth of Modern Science In the West, but WHY in the West and Not Somewhere Else? Strayer, 740-742.
(Science: L- scire, sciens = to know, to understand through a logical, empirical, objective methodology.)
1. The WEST had a rich heritage of Greek and Roman logic, science, engineering, literature, individualism, and
democracy. Plato, Aristotle, Pericles, Cicero, and Julius Caesar represented parts of this heritage.
2. Christianity had a core of individualism, optimism, self worth, human dignity, and "God on our side"!
3. Medieval Europe (476 - 1400) had an infrastructure of law (OE, lagu = that which is laid down) and
self-government (cities, guilds, universities and monasteries).
4. The WEST underwent a series of SHOCKS in the 16th century that forced a new outlook on life --belief,
geography, economic competition, and technological pressure (shipping, banking, agriculture, accounting).
5. The West was small, poor, and backward, so necessity was indeed the mother of the West's invention of itself.
See the Chart "Major Thinkers and Achievements of the Scientific Revolution" on page 743 of Strayer.
Add to that list, the Dutch textile worker Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632 - 1723) who invented the
microscope, thus making it fourteen major thinkers (philosophes) that we will be looking at.
The New European of the16th Century !
Michelangelo's "David" (as in anti-Goliath), 1501-04
Gallery of Fine Arts, Florence, Italy
6. The central theme of the Enlightenment, i.e, the scientific revolution and its meaning for human society, was
the Idea of Progress, the fact that society could change and "was not fixed by tradition or divine command."
For many the Idea of Progress was "virtually a new religion". Strayer, 748.
a. Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1803) asked the question "What is Enlightenment" and answered, "It is man's
emergence from his self-imposed ... inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance ...
Dare to know!" Sapere Aude! The word or thought truly heard round the world--eventually.
b. The Englishman John Locke (1632 - 1704) wrote in favor of a social contract and helped depose
King James, II of England in the "Glorious Revolution of 1688". The revolution and John Locke firmly
placed the power of politics into the hands of the Parliament, although since Britain joined the European
Union (EU) in 1973 Parliament is limited by EU treaties. [NB: In the USA, power is in the hands of the
three branches of government--legislative, judicial, and executive through the Constitution].
c. The three great French philosophes (political writers)--Voltaire, Condorcet, and Rousseau, wrote about
deism, superstition, toleration, freedom, progress, constitutions, romanticism, etc. These three along with
others contributed to the new bible of the Enlightenment, Denis Diderot's 32 volume, Encyclopedie, 1751.
Denis Diderot, 1713 - 1784
1. Religion and Science are still clashing and competing to answer the questions WHO, WHAT, and WHERE?
But is there an absolute, final answer, or should we just agree to disagree, and live with it --calling it diversity,
compromise, and mutual respect?
2. What did Religion and Science do for Europe?
a. Religion gave the West the optimism to build a "Brave New World".
b. Science gave it the methodology and knowledge to explore and conquer (?) the heavens and the earth
and to develop the technology to create the Industrial Revolution (Chapter 17) and the atomic bomb