I may be preaching to the choir here at catholicism.org when I state that the “dark ages” is a myth fabricated by the Protestant “reformers,” then picked up by the rationalists of the “Enlightenment,” which has grown darker and darker ever since its eighteenth century dawning. The Middle Ages were anything but dark. The culture was Catholic and part of that culture was the appreciation for God’s creation which was manifested in science and discovery.
Catholicism.org.’s Eleonore Villarrubia wrote an excellent book review in February 2010 of Michael Foley’s, Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday, which you can access here. The subtitle of the book is, The Catholic Origins of Just About Everything. That may not have sold as well as the Fish On Friday title, but it is the actual subject of the book. I was particularly impressed with the chapters on Clothes & Other Sundry Inventions * Education & Superstition * Art & Science * and Law & Architecture. It is incredible how many inventions were the fruit of the work of Catholic scientists and religious. Yes, religious — priests and brothers. And with astronomy, the field was dominated by religious, mostly Jesuits. I forget how many craters on the moon are named after Jesuit astronomers. Copernicus, as you may know, was a Franciscan friar. I am not saying that this was a good thing. Saint Francis Xavier certainly would not have thought so, being that he wrote from India to the universities begging the faculties to send healthy and disciplined missionaries to the East and forego the degrees. Included in the science chapter is a particularly proud list of Catholic accomplishments in medicine. Need I mention that the hospitals of the “dark ages” were Catholic institutions run, almost always, by religious sisters or consecrated lay women. The list could go on and on. This all brings me to the following:
Quodcumque Dixerit Blog ran a fascinating segment yesterday from a book titled, “The Christian roots of modern science” by Dr. Donald DeMarco (Adjunct Professor, Holy Apostles College & Seminary, Cromwell,CT.) catholicinsight.com 2008. Here is the lede:
The most comprehensive and detailed treatment of the history of science was given to posterity by a distinguished physicist and mathematician, Pierre Duhem, (1861-1916) in his 10-volume magnum opus, Le Système du monde: les doctrines cosmologiques de Platon à Copernicus. The first five volumes—each more than 500 pages in length—were published in consecutive years, from 1913-1917. Although another five volumes were ready for publication when Duhem passed away in 1916, they were not published until four decades later (1954-59) thanks, in great part, to the courage and determination of his daughter Hélène. You can read the rest here.