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Thread: Interaction between science and religion in the 17th century

  1. #1 Interaction between science and religion in the 17th century 
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    I am writing an essay for a course regarding the history and philosophy of science. The topic is:
    "During the 17th century, there was intense interaction between science and religion. Using examples, mount an argument that takes a position on this interaction. In other words, with reference to some hisotrical examples, discuss whether you regard this relationship as positive, negative, or a combination of both."

    What I get from this is that the examples must be from the 17th century. I am only aware of Galileo's trial, the conflict with the church of whether the Earth is stationary or moving. Other than this, I am feeling blank. I can't think of any other figures with examples of interaction between science and religion, can someone kindly remind me of some other examples?

    Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks for helping! :wink:


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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    The Seventeenth century was the age of the Enlightenment. Many thinkers adopted a rational and an empirical approach to an understanding of nature. This was the age of Newton, Boyle, Galileo, of Descartes and Pascal, and the philosphers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
    There belief systems varied from devout Christian to closet athiest. You should be able to find something of relevance by exploring the work of some of them. You may find this site a useful introduction:
    http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/ENLIGHT/PREPHIL.HTM

    Edit: Remember that at this time the church impinged on every aspect of life. Consequently any activity, in any field, including science, had to take place within a framework in which belief in God was paramount.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    The Seventeenth century was the age of the Enlightenment. Many thinkers adopted a rational and an empirical approach to an understanding of nature. This was the age of Newton, Boyle, Galileo, of Descartes and Pascal, and the philosphers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
    There belief systems varied from devout Christian to closet athiest. You should be able to find something of relevance by exploring the work of some of them. You may find this site a useful introduction:
    http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/ENLIGHT/PREPHIL.HTM

    Edit: Remember that at this time the church impinged on every aspect of life. Consequently any activity, in any field, including science, had to take place within a framework in which belief in God was paramount.
    Thanks!

    But "the Enlightenment" is an 18th century thing, isn't it?

    My essay requires 17th century examples of interaction between science and religion.
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  5. #4  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwinner
    But "the Enlightenment" is an 18th century thing, isn't it?
    What's a hundred years between friends?
    The link I gave you argues that the start of the Enlightenment is difficult to pin down. All the names I suggested lived the greater part of their lives in the seventeenth century.
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    You will probably want to include Kepler in the discussion.
    Kepler also incorporated religious arguments and reasoning into his work, motivated by the religious conviction that God had created the world according to an intelligible plan which was accessible through the natural light of reason
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Kepler
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    How about Napier (1550-1617)?
    Napier used some of his mathematical talents for theology, as he used the Book of Revelation to predict the Apocalypse. Napier believed that the end of the world would occur in 1688 or 1700. He is also sometimes claimed to have been a necromancer; however, it was common for scientifically talented people of the period to be accused of such things without basis.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Napier

    or Descartes (1596-1650)?

    Notable ideas: Cogito ergo sum, method of doubt, Cartesian coordinate system, Cartesian dualism, ontological argument for God's existence; regarded as a founder of Modern philosophy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes
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    Forum Professor captaincaveman's Avatar
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    dont forget johann van helmont (1579-1644) put under house arrest by the church in 1621(and spent much of his life under house arrest) for putting work down to natural phenomenon and in no way being miraculous

    worked in many fields including chemistry, biology(studies in nutricion and digestion) as well as physiology

    And not forgetting he introduced the new word "gas" into the scientific world too
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    You will probably want to include Kepler in the discussion.
    Kepler also incorporated religious arguments and reasoning into his work, motivated by the religious conviction that God had created the world according to an intelligible plan which was accessible through the natural light of reason
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Kepler
    How did Kepler use religious arguments in a positive (or negative) way in his scientific work?
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  10. #9  
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    Does this help? This is a quote from the Wikipedia article I linked earlier,

    As he indicated in the title, Kepler thought he had revealed God’s geometrical plan for the universe. Much of Kepler’s enthusiasm for the Copernican system stemmed from his theological convictions about the connection between the physical and the spiritual; the universe itself was an image of God, with the Sun corresponding to the Father, the stellar sphere to the Son, and the intervening space between to the Holy Spirit. His first manuscript of Mysterium contained an extensive chapter reconciling heliocentrism with biblical passages that seemed to support geocentrism.
    As the Catholic churchmen used the bible to prove the earth is the center of the universe, Kepler thought the bible supported the heliocentric theory. In this case his religious argument resulted in the scientifically correct answer. Also, his desire to reveal God's plan was a positive motivation for his reserarch.
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