drawn from Scripture were many facts and reasonings taken from investigations by naturalists; but all were carefully permeated by the theological spirit.
The inquiry into Nature having thus been pursued nearly two thousand years theologically, we find by the middle of the sixteenth century some promising beginnings of a different method—the method of inquiry into Nature scientifically—the method which seeks not plausibilities but facts. At that time Edward Wotton led the way in England and Conrad Gesner on the continent, by observations widely extended, carefully noted, and thoughtfully classified.
This better method of interrogating Nature soon led to the formation of societies for the same purpose. In 1560 was founded an Academy for the study of Nature at Naples, but theologians, becoming alarmed, suppressed it, and for nearly one hundred years there was no new combined effort of that sort until in 1645 began the meetings in London of what was afterward the Royal Society. Then came the Academy of Sciences in France, and the Academia del Cimento in Italy; others followed in all parts of the world, and a great new movement was begun.
Theologians soon saw a danger in this movement. In Italy, Prince Leopold dei Medici, a protector of the Florentine Academy, was bribed with a cardinal's hat to neglect it, and from the days of Urban VIII to Pius IX a similar spirit was there shown. In France there were frequent ecclesiastical interferences, of which Buffon's humiliation for stating a simple scientific truth was a noted example. In England Protestantism was at first hardly more favorable toward the Royal Society, and the great Dr. South denounced it in his sermons as irreligious.
Fortunately, one thing prevented an open breach between theology and science; while new investigators had mainly given up the mediæval method so dear to the Church, they had very generally retained the conception of direct creation and of design throughout creation—a design having as its main purpose the profit, enjoyment, instruction, and amusement of man.
On this the naturally opposing tendencies of theology and science were compromised. Science, while somewhat freed from its old limitations, became the handmaid of theology in illustrating the doctrine of creative design, and always with apparent
- For Franz and Kircher, see Perrier, La Philosophie Zoologique avant Darwin, Paris, 1884, p. 29; for Roger, see his La Terre Saincte, Paris, 1664, pp. 89-92, 139, 218, etc.; for Hottinger, see his Historiæ Creationis Examen theologico-philologicum, Heidelberg, 1659, lib. vi, Quæst. Ixxxiii; for Kirchmaier, see his Disputationes Zoologicæ (published collectively after his death), Jena, 1736; for Dannhauer, see his Disputationes Theologicæ, Leipsic, 1707, p 14; for Bochart, see his Hierozoikon, sive De Animalibus Sacræ Scripturæ, Leyden, 1712.