View Full Version : Q & A With "Genesis of Science" Author

03-21-2011, 07:04 PM
10 questions with ‘The Genesis of Science’ author James Hannam

James Hannam is the author of “The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution,” set to be officially released Monday.

Hannam earned his undergraduate degree in physics from St. Anne’s College at Oxford University and a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He has been published in numerous scholarly and non-scholarly publications and is also the author of “God’s Philosophers.”

Hannam recently agreed to answer 10 questions from The Daily Caller about his new book and other topics of interest:

1. Why did you decide to write the book?

As someone with a physics degree who is also a Christian, I was puzzled about why science and religion were supposed to be in conflict. They certainly weren’t for me. So, I dug deeper and found that throughout history, the reality has been very different. I also discovered a host of fascinating but forgotten Christian thinkers in the Middle Ages who deserved to be brought back to light. In short, there was a fantastic story that no one knew and which was waiting to be told.

2. You contend that contrary to popular belief, there was great scientific advancement during the Middle Ages because of the Church. How did the Church help spur this scientific discovery and why do most people believe the Church was a hindrance to science?

The Church made math and science a compulsory part of the syllabus at medieval universities for anyone who wanted to study theology. That meant loads of students got grounding in these subjects, and professors could hold down jobs teaching it.

The myth that the Church held back science dates from the “enlightenment” when Voltaire and other French philosophes invented it to attack the Catholics of their own day as impediments to political progress.

3. What are the most important and lasting scientific advancements to come out of the Middle Ages?

Fourteenth-century natural philosophers developed the arguments on relative motion used by Copernicus to explain why we cannot tell the Earth is moving; the mathematical formula that Galileo used to describe how objects fall under gravity; the concept of inertia and human dissection. All these achievements were used by later scientists without acknowledgement. And medieval inventors gave us eyeglasses, the mechanical clock, the horse harness, the printed book, and reliable handguns.

4. You write that it is a myth that people in the Middle Ages believed the world was flat. How did this supposedly erroneous notion about the Middle Ages become part of our conventional wisdom?

The earliest record I’ve found of this myth is from a book by Sir Francis Bacon written in the sixteenth century. Sir Francis was a Protestant who claimed believing the Earth is flat was evidence for medieval Catholic stupidity. So the myth started off as Protestant propaganda but was soon used to denigrate the Middle Ages in general.

Rest of the Q/A (http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/20/10-questions-with-the-genesis-of-science-author-james-hannam/#ixzz1HHI2T5UW)

This book looks fascinating, and now I definitely plan on giving it read. I agree with Hannam's point of view on how science and religion aren't mutually exclusive and in many ways go hand in hand.

Wei Wu Wei
03-21-2011, 07:13 PM
Many people think of the middle ages as a dark time in the history of progress, a stain, a time of fantasy and myth with an anti-science and anti-reason bend.

While there may be some truth to this, it's absurd to think it could have gone any other way. That is, you could not pass from the fall of Rome towards the Enlightenment without passing through the middle ages, the religious-based philosophic issues of the middle ages created the conditions for the Enlightenment to occur.

As i was once called out by a poster on this site: it is a case of "good math" being based on "bad math", to put it into a crude metaphor.

03-22-2011, 09:46 AM
Politics now has entered the domain that used to belong to science. That has happened before, but it has gone to extremes.