WHY DID SCIENCE START?
The Questions Posed
Any intelligent child may well ask: "Why did this happen?" Any adult might further ask: "Why was Newton European rather than Greek, Arabic, Hindu, Hebrew or Aztec? Why did Science not arise among the Hebrews 5000 years ago, or the Greeks 3000 years ago, or the Chinese 7000 years ago?" This article will answer these questions.
A Summary of the Answer
What Duhem discovered was that this "law of inertia" was discovered, not by Newton (who published it in his famous "Principia" of 1687 AD), or by any of his immediate predecessors (Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Huygens), but by Jean Buridan, of the Sorbonne University, Paris, in about 1330 AD! Buridan's discovery was beautifully developed by his pupil Nicole Oresme (also of the Sorbonne); both used the word "impetus" for what we call "inertia". The work of Buridan-Oresme was slowly developed in European universities for 350 years, by a series of intermediate philosophers (unearthed by Duhem) before being formulated in precise mathematical terms by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Huygens and finally Newton. Duhem traced the source of Buridan's discovery to the theological imposition, by Etienne Tempier (Bishop of Paris), of the creation of the world, by God, "out of nothing, in time", on the teaching in the Sorbonne, in 1277. The second "detective" is the Hungarian physicist-philosopher-historian Professor (and Father) Stanley Jaki (1924-present), who, among his many books, has written an excellent account of Duhem's life and work(1) as well as a magnificent account of ancient cosmologies, putting all of this in perspective(2).
Where did science
What happened on that
Why was Aristotle
being taught at the Sorbonne?
Who was the censor?
Who was Tempier answerable to?
Who was censored?
What did the censorship consist of?
What was the result?
What was this discovery?
What happened after that?
And after that?
What was the result?
And the result of that?
Who unearthed all this?
Why was I not told all of this before?
Why the modern censorship?
Remind me what was censored in Paris
What do the present day academic censors
Why do they believe that?
Beliefs & Bishop Etienne Tempier's Condemnations of March 7th,
1277, Sorbonne, Paris
Eternalism : The belief that the world (universe) has always existed. Example: For, Aristotle this followed from the proposition: "It is impossible to make something out of nothing."
Animism : The belief that the universe is an animal. Example: Aristotle asks: "In the form of which animal is the world constructed?"
Pantheism: The belief that the ultimate entity, and cause of all things which take place (i.e. "God") is the universe itself. Example: Aristotle believed that the "heavens", including the stars, were divine, whereas the earth was not divine.
Astrology: The belief that all earthly phenomena are influenced, or caused, by the movement of the stars. Aristotle subscribed to this, along with his pantheism.
Cyclic History: All events in history, after a sufficiently long time interval (hundreds of thousands, or millions, of years; the exact time depends on the culture), will repeat exactly, and in the same order, and have already happened, infinitely often. This belief was derived from astrology and the cyclic movement of individual planets (which was supposed to result in exact repetitions of all planetary positions after sufficiently long periods). Example: Aristotle asserts that "There is no point in inventing new technological devices for the increased comfort of man, for all such devices have already been invented, infinitely often, in the past." This is hardly an encouragement to scientific research!
In 1277, Bishop Tempier issued a list of condemnations of 219 propositions taken from the philosophy of Aristotle, and forbade their teaching in the Sorbonne (where the main philosophical teaching was from Aristotle). His condemnations included all of the above beliefs. Eternalism was replaced by the creation of the world, out of nothing, in time. The world was declared inanimate. God was declared separate from the world; He created the world from nothing. Astrology was forbidden. And the cyclic nature of history was replaced by a history starting at the creation point, and developing along a straight line (rather than a circle) since the creation. This history was unearthed by Pierre Duhem (1861-1916).
As mentioned earlier, Stanley Jaki (1924-present) has undertaken a magisterial study of all the major ancient cultures in his book Science and Creation. In it, he shows the amazing degree of agreement between all of the major ancient cultures with the above beliefs of Aristotle, condemned by Tempier. He includes the Hindus, the Chinese, the Aztecs, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and, of course, the ancient Greeks. In addition, he discusses the ancient Hebrews (from the perspective that they eventually produced Christianity), and the Muslims (who never quite succeeded in "getting the balance right" between their theology and Aristotle's philosophy; this prevented the birth of science among them). When I first read Jaki's book a few years ago, I could hardly believe that the vast majority of people had held such beliefs for most of human history. However, a few simple questions to people from different cultures confirmed that, even today, many people still hold beliefs like the above (about cyclic history, for example). After these condemnations, a purified and Christianised version of Aristotle (due, mainly, to St. Thomas Aquinas) was taught at the Sorbonne, leading, as we shall see, to probably the greatest dividends produced by any university before or since the 14th century Sorbonne.
Origin of the Belief
that the Universe was Created "Out of Nothing, in Time"
"God, at the beginning of time, created heaven and earth. Earth was still an empty waste, and darkness hung over the deep; but already, over its waters, stirred the breath of God." [Gen 1, Vs. 1-2]
Here, at the very beginning of the Old Testament, the word "created" means "made", in the sense that, for example, a potter makes a pot out of disorganised pre-existing material (clay). This is indicated in the second sentence, which refers to the pre-existing material. The author of Genesis 1 was not in any sense trying to teach physics, however, but asserting that everything was made by, and utterly dependent on, God. His method of doing this, for the simple people of his time, was, it seems, to portray God as the perfect workman. The whole of the Old Testament constantly re-iterates the theme that everything was made by this perfect craftsman, and depends completely on Him.
We have to wait until the very end of the Old Testament until a far more precise and exalted meaning is first given to God's creation of the world (universe). The book concerned is Machabees II, which recounts an attempt to force the Jews to accept pagan customs of worship (to become Hellenic), especially by the king, Antiochus IV. This diabolical king wanted to wipe Judaism from the face of the earth, very much in the style of Adolph Hitler; he failed completely, thanks to the heroism and holiness of the Machabee brothers.
In Machabees II, Chapter 7, the tale is told of a very holy and heroic mother of 7 sons, who encourages her sons to stick to the Jewish beliefs of their ancestors, even in the face of horrific tortures and death. The oldest son refuses to leave the laws of his fathers, and in particular, to eat pork. Antiochus IV has his tongue cut out, his scalp torn off, his hands and feet mutilated, before slowly roasting him to death on a hot cauldron of bronze, in full view of the rest of the family. Five more sons follow suit, all speaking frequently of God's mercy and of their resurrection to new life. We read of the amazing courage of the mother (whose name is not even recorded) as follows:
"One by one, in the speech of her own country, she put heart into them; Into this womb you came, she told them, who knows how? Not I quickened, not I the breath of life gave you, nor fashioned the bodies of you one by one! Man's birth, and the origin of all things, he devised who is the whole world's Maker; and shall he not mercifully give the breath of life back to you, that for his law's sake hold your lives so cheap?" [Machabees II, Ch. 7, Vs. 21-23].
Antiochus then promises wealth and happiness to the youngest son, if only he would deny his Jewish faith and blaspheme God, and tries to get the mother to support him in this. In reply, the mother leans over her last son to say (emphasis added by me):
"And a fine trick she played on the bloodthirsty tyrant, leaning over her son and counselling him in her own native speech, to this effect. Nine months in the womb I bore thee, three years at the breast fed thee, reared thee to be what thou art; and now, my son, this boon grant me. Look round at heaven and earth and all they contain; bethink thee that all this, and mankind too, God made out of nothing. Of this butcher have no fear; claim rightful share among thy brethren in yonder inheritance of death; so shall the divine mercy give me back all my sons at once." [Machabees II, Ch. 7, Vs 27-29]
The youngest son then bravely suffers, worse than the rest, and finally the mother herself. All of this happened around 165 BC. In 90-92 AD, the Jewish Pharisees (at Jamnia) rejected nine books, including Machabees I and II, from their Old Testament, since they found them too much in line with Greek culture and the new "sect" of Christianity. In the sixteenth century, for similar anti-Christian reasons, the Reformers followed their example(3). As a result, this epoch making assertion of this brave and holy Jewish mother survived only in the Catholic Church, where it eventually became a dogma (Rome, 1215 AD, 4th Lateran Council), and finally, was made compulsory in the teaching at the centre of European learning (Sorbonne, Paris, 1277 AD), about 1,400 years after she said it! This, in turn, led to the birth of modern science. Frequently, Protestants assert that they are more "Biblical" than Catholics. But the above story, is a proof (among many others) that Catholics are the most Biblical people on earth !
The Main Physics Discoveries
of Professor Jean Buridan
Buridan's explanation was completely different, in a passage (written about 1330, in shorthand for his Sorbonne lecture notes):
I have added the part in brackets for increased clarity for the modern reader; the rest is literally what is contained in Buridan's lecture notes for the Sorbonne students.
The second Buridan passage, which follows on from the first one, makes it quite clear that, in making these discoveries, Buridan was pondering the manner in which God created the world. Unlike projectiles on earth, Aristotle required, for celestial bodies, "intelligences" to push them constantly. Buridan discards these intelligences:
Anyone with some knowledge of Newtonian physics (say, to A level standard) will recognise that these passages state the law of inertia ("Newton's" first law of motion). The only difference is that the motions involved here are circular (whereas Descartes, and after him, Newton, refer to straight line motion). Both of these passages were deciphered by Pierre Duhem around 1906, and published in his magnificent 10 Volume Systeme du Monde(4). We owe the full publication to the heroism of Pierre's daughter Helene Duhem. This heroic lady had to battle for decades, almost single handedly, against a very hostile atheistic French academic and publishing establishment, who viewed Pierre's discoveries with extreme distaste, before finally succeeding, in 1959 at age 65, in getting them published, 43 years after the death of her beloved father, and all of this despite no formal training in science, history or philosophy(5). In this article they are quoted from Clagett, The Science of Mechanics in the Middle Ages, Madison, University of Wisconsin, 1961.
According to Duhem, Buridan's removal of Aristotle's "intelligences" is the real dividing line between Ancient and Modern Science.
Pagan Pantheism vs.
Also, long before both
Buridan and Franchesco de Marchia, John Philoponus, a scholar who
taught at Alexandria, formulated essentially the same idea of impetus
in his commentary on Aristotle's Physics, written in 517 AD.
Philoponus was the most learned man of his time, and a convert to
Christianity. His scientific ideas were extraordinarily modern; he
asserted that the stars in the heavenly region were made of the same
material as the earth, and that bodies with greatly different weights,
when dropped from the same height, hit the ground at practically the
same time (this is fundamental in Einstein's General Relativity, where
it is called the "equivalence principle"). He also asserted that projectiles
move across the air not because the air keeps closing behind them,
but because they were imparted a certain "quantity of motion." Again,
about heavenly bodies, he says:
However, it is interesting
to note that these (true) ideas of Philoponus were ridiculed by a
Greek pagan philosopher, Simplicius, who, as a pantheist, violently
attacked the idea of creation out of nothing, in time, thereby showing
the same pattern of thought as king Antiochus, Aristotle, all other
ancient cultures, and, in our own day, Alexandre Korye, and most academic
scientists, philosophers and historians. Simplicius ridiculed the
notion of "such a strange God who first does not act at all, then
in a moment becomes the creator of the elements alone, and then again,
ceases from acting and hands over to nature the generation of the
elements of one out of another and the generation of all the rest
out of all the elements."
The Birth of Science:
Fruit of Catholic Truth
The real historical record,
unearthed initially by Duhem's energy and honesty, serves massive
evidence, from every human culture for all of recorded history (except
for Christian Europe during the last millennium), that, for making
scientific discoveries, pagan pantheism is almost completely sterile.
And more; all of recorded history shows, with heartbreaking certainty,
that pagan pantheism is, with all of the stupendous cruelties for
which it is responsible, the mortal enemy of the human race. However,
at present, academic pagan pantheists appear to be winning what is,
essentially, the pagan Hitler/Antiochus battle against Judeo-Christianity,
by ridiculing the latter, and repeatedly implying that science was
given to the world by virulent enemies of Judeo-Christianity, namely,
by pagans like themselves. The audacity of this monstrous inversion
of the truth would be beyond belief, if it were not an everyday reality
in the present academic world, and in the world of journalism. Here
also lies the true explanation for the fact that Helene Duhem had
to devote her entire adult life to getting her father's handwritten
manuscripts into print.
Dr. McCarthy is Reader in Mathematics at London University, specialising in General Relativity, Group Representations and Elementary Particle Physics. He would be pleased to provide further details of this research on request, and happy to oblige any group interested in hearing a talk about it. He may be contacted at: 123 Horn Lane, Woodford Green, Essex IG8 9AF U.K. Ph/Fax: 020-8505-3075 E-mail: email@example.com
(1) Uneasy Genius:The Life and Times of Pierre Duhem, Stanley L. Jaki. Martin Nijhoff, Dordrecht, 1987.
(2) Science and Creation, Stanley Jaki, Scottish Academic Press, Revised Edition, 1986.
For a short
account of the rejection of the so-called "Apocrypha" by the Pharisees
(in 90-92 AD) and the Reformers of the 16th century, see The Holy
Bible, Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Introduction
(pp. v-vii), Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1966. A more detailed account
of the decisions of the Rabbis at Jamnia, under Rabbi Johanan ben
Zaccai, in 90-92AD, is given on the web page www.soc.appstate.edu/~davisct/canon/canon03.html#A4.
(4) Systeme du Monde: Histoire des doctrines cosmologiques de Platon a Copernic, Tomes I-X, Paris, A. Hermann et Fils, 1913-1959.
(5) Reluctant Heroine: The Life and Times of Helene Duhem, Stanley Jaki, Scottish Academic Press, 1992.
(6)Hitler asserted, very frequently, that Christianity had been invented by the Jews in order to ruin the world. Here are two examples: "The Jew who fraudulently introduced Christianity into the ancient world - in order to ruin it - re-opened the same breach in modern times, taking as his pretext the social question." [Hitler's Table Talk, 1941-44, London 1953, p. 314]. Speaking of Christianity and Christian clergy, he says: "I will shoot the lot of them. This filthy reptile raises its head whenever there is a sign of weakness in the State, and therefore must be stamped on. We have no sort of use for a fairy story invented by the Jews." [Ibid. page 625]. These examples are taken from Alan Bullock's Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Pelican Books, 1962, pp. 672-673.
Hitler was, of course, quite right that Christianity was brought to the world by the Jews. But they did not "invent" it: God did that; the Jews were merely His chosen messengers. And they did not bring it in order to destroy the world, but to do the exact opposite; namely, to save it. One aspect of the "saving" function is precisely the function of Judeo-Christianity in causing the birth of science, through the mother of the 7 sons in the Machabees II story, and Bishop Tempier's condemnations of 1277 at the Sorbonne. In a sense, we can summarise the whole story (of the birth of science) by saying that this holy Jewish mother's resistance to the horrific tortures and killings of the 'Old Testament Hitler', Antiochus Epiphanes, was the primary cause, after a delay of one and a half millennia, of the birth of science in Catholic Europe. While Hitler's mind was irreducibly every bit as coarse, brutal, vulgar and murderous as that of Antiochus, Hitler did appreciate the wonder of modern science. Were he alive today, he would be very shocked indeed to discover where science really came from.
(7) Details of Korye's rejection of Duhem's main thesis are given in Stanley Jaki's book The Origin of Science and the Science of its Origin, see pages 83-84 and note 54 to lecture four (on page 152). Jaki's book was published in 1979 by Regnery/Gateway, Inc., Book Publishers, Indiana. Briefly, Korye explicitly denies the assertion that Buridan and Oresme were the precursors of classical physics, and asserts that the real precursor was Archimedes. Duhem proved, in his Etudes sur Leonardo de Vinci [Paris, Hermann, 1913, pp. 582-583], that Galileo referred to George Lockhart's collection (published twice in Paris, once in 1516, and again in 1518) of works by the Parisian Doctors (or, as Galileo calls them, Doctorum Parisiensium) John Buridan, Themon son of the Jew, and Albert of Saxony. The latter two were disciples of Buridan and Oresme. Jaki, in his book cited above, also points out that Archimedes, for all his genius, only deals with geometry or statics; the great Greek geometer never mentions dynamics. For these reasons, Korye's assertion is completely untenable, and Duhem's main thesis is beyond any doubt.