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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/305

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

JANUARY, 1893.


 

NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

XVIII.—FROM MAGIC TO CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS.

By ANDREW DICKSON WHITE, LL.D., L. H. D.,

EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.

PART II.

WE have seen thus far, first, how such men as Eusebius, Lactantius, and their compeers, discouraged scientific investigation as futile; next, how such men as Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the multitude who followed them, turned the main current of mediæval thought from science to theology; and, finally, how such Church authorities as Popes John XXII and Innocent VIII, and the heads of the great religious orders, endeavored to crush what was left of scientific research as dangerous.

Yet, injurious as all this was to the evolution of science, there was developed something far more destructive; and this was the influence of mystic theology, penetrating, permeating, sterilizing nearly every branch of science for hundreds of years. Among the forms taken by this development in the earlier middle ages we find a mixture of physical science with a pseudo-science obtained from texts of Scripture. In compounding this mixture, Jews and Christians vied with each other. In this process the sacred books were used as a fetich; every word, every letter, being considered to have a divine and hidden meaning. By combining various scriptural letters in various abstruse ways, new words of prodigious significance in magic were obtained, and among them the great word embracing the seventy-two mystical names of God—the mighty word "Schemhamphoras." Why should men seek knowledge by