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The Medieval Church: Heresy Or Science - Essay Example

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Science and religion are often perceived as two opposing forces. While scientific inquiry demands scrutiny and reason, religious faith places no such burden on the believer. The paper "The Medieval Church: Heresy Or Science" looks into a few isolated incidents and the church's pace of progress…
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The Medieval Church: Heresy Or Science
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Download file to see previous pages  The Christian universities of Cracow, Bologna, Padua, and Ferrera were the centers of scientific inquiry.  Copernicus studied at these universities and it was here that he learned the heliocentric theory of the solar system (Williams). Many of the Church's priests were Jesuit scientists in astronomy, meteorology, medicine, and solar physics. In fact, the story of Copernicus' conflict with the church is sometimes misstated. Cromer contends that "In 1533, he even went to Rome to lecture Pope Clement VII on the subject and received papal approval of his work" (Cromer 133). Scientists such as Galileo were often the subject of church disapproval due to their arrogance in other church matters and not the science. Though there was some fear among church leaders of spreading heresy, the case of Roger Bacon more accurately accounts for the Church's stand on science. Bacon was delving into experimental science, astronomy, and examined astrological treatises on magic. He joined the Franciscan order in 1256 and taught at the Franciscan Studium in Paris. The order did not promote intellectual freedom, but Bacon was in contact with Cardinal Guy le Gros de Foulques, papal legate to England. In 1265 the cardinal became Pope Clement IV, and Bacon received a "request to submit "quickly and secretly" the material of his project" (Schulman 80).  During the period of 1267-1270, Bacon produced numerous treatises on the sciences of perception, optics, alchemy, and natural philosophy.
The promotion of science during this period is also exemplified by the life of Alexander Nequam. According to Schulman, "Around 1175, he went to Paris where he studied theology, medicine, and law in the school of Adam of Petit Pont"(309). Here he wrote De nominibus utensilium, a work, which first described the magnetic compass outside of China. Though he was enthusiastic about Aristotle, he was not considered an original thinker. Yet his works, written in Cirencester, "provide our leading evidence for trends of scientific and philosophical thought in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries" (Schulman 309).
Medicine was another science that had proven valuable and was promoted by the Church. The Tuscan Faritius was one of the most notable clerical medical practitioners of the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. By no accident of fate, in 1100 he was named abbot of Abingdon, near Oxford. According to Getz, "a reason for his ecclesiastical preferment was revealed when he was summoned to attend Queen Matilda at the birth of her first child, to extend care and to interpret prognostications ("curam impendere, prognostica edicere")" (13). Though the child died ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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