Re: royalty

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Sat Sep 20 2003 - 20:56:29 EDT

  • Next message: Glenn Morton: "RE: royalty"

    As a former medievalist who studied medieval science many years ago, and
    respects and appreciates its attention to the world that God created, I must
    challenge strongly any belief that medieval clerics burned at the stake
    anyone who believed that the earth went around the sun. As far as I know,
    the idea itself was not entertained in any serious way before the early
    16th century.

    Our culture still suffers from the negative images of medieval thinkers that
    their Renaissance successors pinned on them. They were far more bright and
    capable than we have been taught to recognize. Medieval thinkers were
    firmly anchored in the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic model of the cosmos, and had
    the writings of Greek and Muslim astronomers sources for their
    own thinking. They were not slavish imitators, however. Read Roger Bacon
    on the Ptolemaic model of the heavens and a curious thing emerges: he cannot
    make up his mind whether Ptolemy's model was merely a mathematical model or
    a description of the cosmos as it was.

    Medieval thinkers gathered and mined all of the data that they inherited
    from their predecessors. They wrote extensive commentaries on Aristotle's
    "On the Heavens." They wrote detailed works on plant and animal life and on
    minerals, e.g., the writings of Albert the Great. In many respects they
    were precursors of modern science, not a group of people who resisted
    learning about the world God created. Fourteenth century mathematicians at
    Oxford, e.g., did some interesting work on motion that serves as a step in
    the process that led eventually to the work of Galileo.

    In fact, relatively speaking, there were relatively few persons burned at
    the stake by the Inquisition during the Middle Ages, and most of them were
    mystics or Cathars charged with theological heresies. The wave of burnings
    that stick in people's minds are the product of the Renaissance/Reformation
    period and arose with the wars of religion and the witch craze that swept
    Europe. Those who know Kepler's story are familiar with the fact that his
    mother was accused of witchcraft and he spent many anxious hours and no
    little money in her defense. Perhaps Ted and others know more about this
    than I do, but the only person I can think of who was burned at the stake
    for holding a scientific concept was Giordano Bruno, in 1600.

    Bob Schneider

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "George Murphy" <>
    To: "Glenn Morton" <>
    Cc: <>
    Sent: Saturday, September 20, 2003 4:19 PM
    Subject: Re: royalty

    > Glenn Morton wrote:
    > >
    > > This royalty thread seems amazing to me. If the medieval clerics would
    > > bar-b-que you for claiming that the earth went round the sun or for
    > > suggesting that one could read the Bible apart from the clerics, it
    seems to
    > > me that any claim to be descended from a sinful affair between Jesus and
    > > Mary Magdalene, would gain one quick entry into the afterlife.
    > It wasn't generally held in the Middle Ages that it was wrong for the
    laity to
    > read the Bible. Of course most laypeople couldn't read anything &, while
    there were
    > vernacular versions available, most Bibles were in Latin. & it's true
    that laypeople
    > generally weren't encouraged to read the Bible. But the chains sometimes
    seen on
    > medieval Bibles were to keep them from being stolen, not to keep people
    from reading
    > them.
    > Shalom,
    > George
    > --
    > George L. Murphy

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