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Last evening in Holden Chapel Professor Shaler gave a very interesting talk before the Catholic Club on the Development of Science. The substance of his remarks was briefly as follows:
The study of science arises from curiosity. As an intellectual property in all intelligent beings, curiosity is well developed in mankind. Every intelligent individual must at least make a classification of things which are hurtful and things which are not hurtful. Such a classification naturally leads to inquiry, the seeking for an explanation.
Science is primarily a characteristic of the Aryan race. The earliest idea was that all things were ordained by a power greater than man. Invariably there is the idea of a god or a number of gods resembling mankind in form. The first great step in the advance of science was the dehumanizing of the causes which brought about all natural phenomena. This was due to Plato who founded that school of philosophers known as the Sceptics. Aristotle carried Plato's idea further. He conceived that the production of everything was due to antecedent causes. Thus science departed from the theistic conception. For a while Greek learning made rapid progress, but by the advent of the Romans it was crushed. Science ceased to have a place among the arts in Greece. Many learned Greeks found their way to Alexandria, where, until the burning of the library, science was fostered.
During the Mohammedan government at Bagdad, science made great headway. The Arabians were essentially a scientific people. They invented a new branch of mathematics, algebra, and were skilful in chemistry and astronomy. Constantinople became the greatest seat of learning in the world. With the fall of the Turkish Empire came the Renaissance, and Greek learning was spread throughout Europe. It was accompanied by a decay in morals which pervaded the whole social organization. This explains the hostile attitude which the church took toward the New Learning.
From the Renaissance scientific movement passes to modern times. Some quality inherant in the Teutonic race made it capable of greatly advancing scientific development. The Greek seed reaped a rich harvest. The development of science was simultaneous with the reformation. Science and religion parted in the Greek days and they have had many conflicts since. At present one can look forward to a future time when they will be reconciled from a greater conception of the infinite nature of the universe.
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