My article in The Objective Standard
Here is a link to the issue: The Objective Standard.
Thoughts on the history of science, with a special focus on the relationship between religion and science through history, all coming from an Objectivist perspective. ("Seiler" is pronounced "Sy-ler")
Western civilization was formed by two contrasting traditions, the empirical-rationalistic perspective of the ancient Greek philosophers and the mystical-revelatory approach of the Hebraic-Christian prophets. (p. 490)This is an excellent observation which identifies the fundamental philosophic conflict continuing throughout the history of western civilization. On the one hand, there is a philosophy of reason (based on observation and logic), and on the other hand, there is a philosophy of mysticism, revelation, and faith.
If we mean, then, to turn the soul's native intelligence to its proper use by a genuine study of astronomy, we shall proceed, as we do in geometry, by means of problems, and leave the starry heavens alone. (530c; also see all of 529-530)Turning to the Dark Ages, Schlagel points out the dominance of the attitude that studying the natural world is worthless, since what counts is God's word (the Bible) and the next world. Here is this idea expressed by Saint Ambrose, one of the patristic fathers of Christianity:
To discuss the nature and position of the earth does not help us in our hope of the life to come. It is enough to know what Scripture states, 'that He hung up the earth upon nothing' (Job, xxvi, 7). Why then argue whether He hung it up in air or upon the water [the views of Anaximines and Thales] … Not because the earth is in the middle, as if suspended on even balance [the position of Anaximander], but because the majesty of God constrains it by the law of His will, does it endure stable upon the unstable and the void. (p. 198)Given Schlagel's generally good understanding of the relation between science and religion (as opposed to that of most historians of science today), I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately the book has a very serious flaw: a consistently poor quality of writing. Painfully awkward sentences are found on almost every page, and I even found a number of sentence fragments masquerading as complete sentences! In addition, many non-essential details interrupt the flow of the text, and some paragraphs leave the reader guessing what the main point is.