Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/453

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
437
NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

The direct influence of the Reformation was at first unfavorable to scientific progress. Nothing could be more at variance with any scientific theory of the development of the universe than the ideas of the Protestant leaders. The strict adherence to the text of Scripture which made Luther and Melanchthon denounce the idea that the planets revolve about the sun, would naturally be extended to every other scientific statement apparently at variance with the sacred text. There is much reason to believe that the fetters upon scientific thought were closer under the strict interpretation of Scripture made by the early Protestants than they had been under the older Church. The dominant spirit among the reformers is shown by the declaration of Peter Martyr to the effect that, if a wrong opinion should obtain regarding the creation as described in Genesis, "all the promises of Christ fall into nothing, and all the life of our religion would be lost."[1] Zwingli, broad as his views on other subjects generally were, was closely bound down in this matter, and held to the opinion of the Fathers, that a great floor separated the heavens from the earth, that above it were the waters and angels, and below it the earth and men. The only scope given to independent thought among the reformers was in a few minor speculations regarding the rivers which encompassed the paradise of Adam and Eve, the exact character of the conversation of the serpent with Eve, and the like,[2] And in the times immediately succeeding the Reformation matters went from bad to to worse. Under Luther and Melanchthon there was some little freedom of speculation, but under their successors there was none; to question any interpretation of Luther came to be thought almost as wicked as to question the literal interpretation of the Scriptures themselves. Examples of this are seen in the struggles between those who held that birds were created entirely from water and those who held that they were created out of water and mud. The accepted belief being that the "waters above the heavens" were contained in a vast receptacle upheld by a solid vault, when Calixt ventured, in interpreting the Psalms, to question this interpretation, be was bitterly denounced as heretical.[3]

Musæus, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, interpreted the account of Genesis to mean that "first God made the heavens for the roof or vault, and left it there on high swinging until three days later he put the earth under it."[4] In the city of Lubeck, the ancient center of the great Hanseatic League, close at the beginning of the seven-

    other scholar found as much trouble from Mohammedan as his contemporaries found from Christian religion.

  1. See his commentary on Genesis, cited by Zöckler, "Geschichte der Beziehungen zwischen Theologie und Naturwissenschaft," vol. i, p. 690.
  2. See citations in Zöckler, vol. i, p. 693.
  3. See Zöckler, vol. i, p. 679.
  4. See Musæus, "Auslegung des ersten Buch Mosy," Magdeburg, 1576, cited by Zöckler, vol. ii, pp. 673-677, 761.