Science and absolute theological truths

Charles Freeman replies to James Hannam’s reply to Freeman’s criticism of Hannam’s book God’s Philosophers.

My most important point, and one that Hannam does not even address in his response, is that, in comparison to the Greeks the natural philosophers operated within the context of a much more authoritarian society. Christianity brought the concept of absolute theological truths, many ring-fenced as “articles of faith” which, as Hannam notes, apparently with approval, were unchallengeable.

That has to have been a considerable stumbling block, surely.

As intellectual life evolved in the Middle Ages, no one quite knew where the boundaries lay, the threat of heresy was used all too widely in personal power struggles between opposing factions and individuals and the ultimate punishment was burning on earth as a preliminary to eternal burning in hell. If Hannam cannot see how this affected free discussion in the Middle Ages, there is little hope for him. Yet, as I show in my critique, he even seems to be sympathetic to the process.

Well that would slow me right down, I can tell you. Burning? Oh well I guess I’ll just stick with making shoes.

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