Sunday, July 9, 2017
God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science
James Hannam starts God's Philosophers by criticizing a list of historians, including James Burke who's one of my favorites. I'll forgive Hannam, though, because his book is so interesting and his premise so strong. We've been taught that the Medieval period was the Dark Ages, a time when scientific discovery stopped dead and people fell back on superstition. Obviously, that wasn't true, and Hannam shows how the discoveries of the Sixth through Fourteenth Centuries laid the groundwork for the scientific breakthroughs of the Renaissance. More importantly, he breaks the myth of the dogmatic, unreasoning, anti-science Church of the Medieval era. Members of religious orders were almost the only people who were literate or had any sort of education, and instead of relying to bling reputation of legends, they engaged in scientific experiments and rational thought. If not for the monks of the so-called Dark Ages, there would be no scientific revolution.