On religion and medieval science

The church should have a say in what should be done, and what shouldn't

This is part 2 of my notes on the thoughts and ideas of Christopher Dawson. (In brackets the page numbers of each quote from TRBRAC, unless another book mentioned. “PwG” refers to my own thoughts.)     

“Dawson recognizes that the Western thinkers [of the Middle Ages] were aided by the Arabs and the Jews of the Western Mediterranean world.” (p. 183)

Connor quotes Dawson: “But if the scholars of the West had a great deal of ground to make up, they lost no time in doing so.” (p. 183)

“The introduction of the new science into Europe constituted a danger to the Christian religion, even as it did so to Judaism and to Islam.” (p. 183)

“Nevertheless, the task of reconciling the Aristotelian science with the teachings of the Christian religion was not abandoned: it found able and successful protagonists amongst some of the greatest minds of the Church. . . . it was St. Thomas of Aquin who actually accomplished the reconciliation.” (p. 184)

“[Medieval English philosopher and Franciscan friar Roger] Bacon realized the possibilities of science; he believed that it should be controlled by the Church and directed along lines that would enhance the spiritual power and prove socially beneficial.” (p. 187, my emphasis)

Dawson: “When Bacon sings the praises of experimental science that can create automobiles and flying machines and devices that will destroy a whole army at once, he is the prophet of modern science, nor can we, in these days of mechanized warfare and mechanized production, afford altogether to despise his warnings of the danger of allowing these vast forces to escape moral direction and social control.” (p. 188, my emphasis) (from: Mediaeval Religion, 1935)

(PwG:) In other words: The fact that we can do something doesn’t imply that we should. The church is the one institution that should and could play a much stronger role in the discussion as to what science should and shouldn’t do. We need God’s guidance not so much on what to discover, but on what to put into use. However, nowadays nothing is discovered “by chance” anymore. The “lab leak” theory of the Covid virus indicates that research was and is going on about how to change features of viruses to make them more dangerous/deadly to humans. The churches should ask the question, loudly: What’s the point? And excommunicate politicians, scientists, engineers etc. involved in such research. (On the force of excommunication nowadays I hope to post another text in future.)