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History of Science

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  • History of Science

  • It all starts with the GreeksThe Ancient Greeks are seen, in the west, as our intellectual forefathers. From Greece was born philosophy, drama, western artistic aesthetics, geometry, etc., etc., etc.

    Theology was never an important aspect of Greek thought and Orthodoxy was practically anathema.

  • Ancient Greek society did not have a permanent priestly class that imposed dogma.

    Greek Gods & Goddesses were NOT omnipotent nor omniscient.

  • Aristotle (384-322 BCE)Tutor to Alex the GreatScala NaturaHis philosophy later adopted by the Christian WestFounded the Lyceum, (peripatetic school) which emphasized natural philosophy.

  • Aristotle created a hierarchy of all living things, from simple to more complex. Although he did not mean to imply evolution, it nevertheless ranked all of creation from great to small.

    This later became the Great Chain of Being a hierarchically ordered system with God & angels at the top, progressing downward from more to lesser developed (moral/perfect) beings.

  • PtolemyCreated a Geocentric model of the universe.

    This worked pretty well for a long time especially for planets. But, eventually, errors would be detected (once math & technology developed more).

  • Greek CivilizationIt is difficult to underestimate the contributions of Greek philosophy, science, art, literature, etc. to our Western way of thinking. Although they were pagans (as later Christians would think), much Greek thought was incorporated into the Christian European tradition. Nevertheless, the sense of curiosity that drove Greek intellectual developments would not be adopted in the west until the Renaissance.

  • European Medieval thinkingAfter the fall of the Roman Empire (~478 AD), Europe would be politically fragmented and a period of intellectual conservatism would be the norm.

    Meanwhile, Arab civilization would be the center of intellectual development esp. in mathematics, optics, medicine.

    In Europe, intellectual activity would be under the purview of the church monasteries would be the loci of study, contemplation, documentation.

  • According to the Church, all that could be known about the world came from the bible.

    Creation had been perfect

    Degeneration: after people were tossed out of Eden, it was all down hill the further history moved away from creation, the more evil grew and the 2nd coming would restore Gods kingdom.

    Likewise, the further one got from the holy land, the more degenerate would be those societies.

  • The Day the Universe Changed

  • The New WorldThe discovery of the Americas was one of the most important events in European history (although historians mostly focus on the impact of Europe on the Americas).

    There were several troubling aspects to the discovery.

  • First, the Bible had absolutely nothing to say about the Americas not its location, people, history, etc.

    Europeans came into contact with people entirely ignorant of God, Christ, etc.

    The plants and animals of the Americas were unknown although there were some that were the same.

  • This led to

    1) recognition that the Bible was not the ultimate authority on nature

    2) debate over the nature of Indigenous people (were they animals or humans?)

    3) classification of the animals & plants.

    4) the fact that no one knew anything about the Americas sparked curiosity the need to know.

  • Of course, there were many other ramifications toEuropean domination of the Americas

    Economic: commerce would eventually lead to the industrial revolution

    Power: struggles over control of the colonies and their wealth would spark intense competition between European nations (Spain vs. Britain, etc.)

    Politics: Liberalism (our current form of government) would have its first experiment in the Americas (USA).

  • Our concern here, however, is in science.

    The discovery of the new world began a process of separation of church and science.

    Many would try to reconcile science & religion, but ultimately, science would largely reject theology as a way of knowing the natural world.

    This would be a difficult period with many wounded but the process was more or less inevitable.

  • Rene Descartes (1596-1650)Descartes is often called the 'father' of modern philosophy.

    Descartes argued that knowledge is genuinely possible, and that a mathematically-based scientific knowledge of the material world is possible.

  • Cogito, ergo sumhe rejected religious authority in the quest for scientific and philosophical knowledge (but he was a devout Catholic)

    He argued for a rational justification for a universal, mathematical/ quantitative understanding of nature.

    We still rely largely on the Cartesian view of the universe a mechanistic view of nature.

  • Although Descartes and other philosophers established spaces for coexistence between science and religion, it would still be quite some time before Europe would be able to embrace evolution.

  • Up until Darwin, the predominant understanding of the world came from the Bible and Church doctrine. In this respect, truth had been revealed (via the Bible and Christ) . . . There was no need to question Gods creation . . . .

    This set of beliefs meant that people were highly resistant to evidence to the contrary and even went so far to create elaborate explanations to fit contradictions into religious belief.

  • CreationismSeveral compelling Christian dogmas are important to note:

    Genesis: GOD created earth in 6 days (dont forget he took the last day off).Creation was also centered around Earth & Man (we are in his image).

  • 2) Relative Youth of the Earth

    there was a lot of debate about the exact age . . . but most theologians agreed it wasnt so long ago.

    If the earth was indeed less than 6000 years old, then gradual change could not have occurred.

  • Bishop Ussher (1581-1656) By working backwards from the Bible (so-and-so begat so-and-so), he calculated the first day of creation to have been Sunday, October 23rd, 4004 BC!

    Although many have ridiculed this attempt to date the age of the earth, Ussher diligently correlated Middle Eastern and Mediterranean history and scripture to arrive at what was a reasonable calculation.

  • 3) The Permanence of the Earths Physical StructureAccording to Christian thought, the appearance of earth is the result of two factors:

    Original creation by God.The damage done by the great flood.

    Otherwise, the earth had not changed overtime, it was in a state of stasis.

  • 4) The Fixity of Species

    Likewise, after God created plants & animals, these retained their true, original form, generation after generation. - no species had been lost- no species had changed

    Nevertheless, people did understand the process of selective (or artificial) breeding.

  • Crack in the armor #1Fossils figured stones . . . for some time people considered these evidence of Gods playful nature . . . that he had decorated some rocks to as replicas of living things.

  • John RayNatural theology: the doctrine that the wisdom and power of God could be understood by studying His creation.

  • Ray spent a great deal of time pondering the relationships of organismal form to function. Living things showed adaptations to their environments, which for Ray were signs of God's design and hence worthy of study. Unlike Linnaeus, who focused almost exclusively on classification for its own sake, Ray began to use classification to address questions in physiology, function, and behavior

  • Argument from DesignRev. William Paley Natural Theology

    The marks of design are too strong to be got over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is GOD

    Nature is a watch & GOD is the watchmaker.

  • EssentialismDue to neo-Platonism, variation in species was disregarded.

    As long as the ideal form existed (in Gods mind), then subtle, minute variations were insignificant and did not demonstrate change over time.

  • Evidence supporting evolution prior to Darwin

  • UniformitarianismJames Hutton : came up with the observation

    Lyell made the ideas popular.

  • Sir Charles Lyell (1797 1875)

    Wrote: Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man in 1863 and Principles of Geology

    Lyell argued that presently observableGeological processes were adequateto explain geological history; the actionof the rain, sea, volcanoes, earthquakes,etc., explained the geological history ofmore ancient times.

  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) Inheritance of acquired characteristics

  • Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) Catastrophism

    Opposed Lamarck

    Convinced others thatextinction was a fact

    Known as the father ofComparative anatomy

  • ExtinctionCuviers work demonstrated that somespecies had become extinct this raised two issues:

    1) Why would God allow some of his creations to disappear.

    2. Young earth theory: how could so many strange species go extinct, be covered by sediments, if the earth was young?

  • Sequence of Fossil typesBy the 1830s there was general recognition that fossils had been organisms.

    Further, it was apparent that older strata contained very simple animals. As one moved through time, the organisms became more and more complex.

    There was no reason to believe that catastrophes had occurred . . . .

  • Existence of Rudimen

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