Ten Questions With “The Genesis of Science” Author


10 questions with ‘The Genesis of Science’ author James Hannam

(Related: Book Review on The Genesis of Science)

6 Responses

  1. Holopupenko says:


    Given this post and your earlier post reviewing Hannam’s book, I would now ask you to be more precise in your wording and to give credit where it’s due. It’s not the “Church” or the “Christian Church” that laid the fundamental philosophical and theological groundwork for the modern empirical sciences to emerge and which engaged in early “real” science, but much more precisely the Catholic Church—beginning hundreds of years before the Reformation. Such blurring occurs often: William Lane Craig, for example, is guilty of it. Peter Harrison (“The Bible and the Emergence of Modern Science”) promulgates the myth that the science arose as a direct result of the Reformation. In fact, given Luther’s fideism, anti-rationalism, and Reformation theology’s absorption of Ockham’s nominalism, and the terrible influence of the heretical plain-reading Scriptural hermeneutic (and incorrectly applied to interpreting the Book of Nature), the opposite is likely the case.

    It’s important to tear down secular and atheist myths regarding the origins of the modern empirical sciences, but the same should also apply to those who incorrectly take credit for the emergence of the MESs.

  2. Tom Gilson says:

    I’m sorry, Holopupenko, but I haven’t read what Craig or Harrison wrote on this so I’m not about to take up your call to refute them. Hannam’s book is about the genesis of science in medieval Europe, starting from the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The Reformation began in 1517. I hope that much is clear enough.

  3. Holopupenko says:

    Hi Tom:

    My point can be summed up as follows: when it’s the Crusades, it’s the Catholic Church; when it’s the establishment and rise of the sciences, it’s the Church.

    Also, regarding time lines:
    ~750 AD Charlemagne through his Benedictine advisory Alcuin instituted the “palace schools” which in the 1100’s became the universities.
    late 1100’s and into the 1200’s, the foundational principles of the MESs were established
    between the 1100’s and 1425 people like Grosseteste, Bradwardine, Buridan, Oresme, and Cusa introduced quantitative experiments, formalized algebra, provided equations for physical processes, solved the Aristotelian problem of momentum, introduced the concepts of mean and instantaneous velocities, introduced exponents, graphs, acceleration, heliocentrism, and that all celestial bodies are in motion… and this is just the tip of the iceberg. There were, in fact, a scientific and mathematical revolution preceding the currently understood “scientific revolution” by hundreds of years.
    1350 – start of the Renaissance
    1517 – start of the Reformation
    1543 – start of the (second) “scientific revolution”, i.e., at best–but actually not because institutional momentum shifts take decades or more–the Reformation and Scientific Revolution were concurrent but not causal.
    1688 – start of the Enlightenment… oh well, so much for the myth of the Enlightenment giving rise to the modern empirical sciences.

  4. Tom Gilson says:

    Point taken, except you won’t find me treating Catholicism or the Church that way. In Europe until after 1517 there was the Catholic Church, which was the Church, and there was no distinction to be made.

  5. Holopupenko says:


    Hmmm… I guess I owe you an apology. From that perspective, you are correct. My criticism of Craig (less so) and Harrison (very much so) stand.

  1. March 22, 2011

    […] Tom Gilson blog comments powered by Disqus /* Expand next […]