500 Year-Long Nap

David Cowles

Feb 24, 2022

It’s 1000 A.D. and Pope Sylvester II is the undisputed leader of the Christian Church in Europe. He is also generally regarded as the continent’s most accomplished scientist.

Faith was strong at that time, but it did not interfere in any way with the exploration of nature. The relationship between Science and Religion was symbiotic…and synergistic. It was widely accepted that God revealed himself through the structures & processes of the universe as well as in Scripture & Tradition.

It’s 1000 A.D. and Pope Sylvester II is the undisputed leader of the Christian Church in Europe. He is also generally regarded as the continent’s most accomplished scientist.

Faith was strong at that time, but it did not interfere in any way with the exploration of nature. The relationship between Science and Religion was symbiotic…and synergistic. It was widely accepted that God revealed himself through the structures & processes of the universe as well as in Scripture & Tradition.

So, no apparent contradiction could be real! If ever a contradiction does arise, rerun the experiments, review the data, reread the scriptures, and pray for inspiration! (Hmm, this might not be a bad practice for all of us, every day.) A major tenet of that faith was that no such contradiction could remain unresolved for long. Why? Because ‘faith was strong at that time’! Fast forward 500 years: now this same church is persecuting Galileo Galilei for his groundbreaking astronomical discoveries. What happened? Fear happened! The Inquisition was never a manifestation of faith; it was always a symptom of the lack of faith – bishops asking, “What if we’re wrong? Do we have a Plan B?” Unfortunately, that Plan B plunged the Atlantic community into a true dark age that lasted half a millennium.

But now fast forward another 500 years! Two Jesuit astronomers from the Vatican Observatory played key roles in two recent discoveries: One found a new member of our solar system (2021 XD7) in orbit beyond Neptune; the other found evidence for a long-lost galaxy, Pontus, apparently “eaten” by our Milky Way.

It’s not easy to wake up from a 500 year long nap, but we’re trying! Since the middle of the 20th century, there has been growing evidence of a tenuous rapprochement between the scientific community and its theological counterpart. It can’t happen soon enough!

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