Mosaic Physics

Mosaic Physics November 28, 2018
But there is a clear hierarchy here. Reason judges and corrects sense experience, and reason has to be corrected by faith, albeit that the correction is “not violent . . . but gentle, so that that very thing which is corrected, acknowledgeth, and admits it of its own accord, and with joy.” Comenius admired Bacon, but was impatient at the slowness of Bacon’s method, which would require generations of experimental scientists. Comenius believed that the Bible could speed up the progress of discovery.
The results were meagre. Some pious philosophers simply discussed biblical topics that were relevant to natural philosophy (animal classification, salt), as a kind of appendage to biblical commentary. In others, biblical exposition became an adjunct to the existing body of natural philosophy, often drawn from pagan sources, even from Aristotle.
By the end of the seventeenth century, pious philosophy had been largely abandoned in favor of two alternative strategies, which Blair labels “separationist” and “natural theology. “For those who advocated a separation of the natural philosophic spheres, the natural philosopher dealt exclusively with philosophy and might be left, in the long run, with little sense of a religious motivation or constraint.” Natural philosophers saw their work as a support for the worship of God, but as independent of revelation. Many eighteenth century scientists were, of course, Christians, but the project of Mosaic physics was largely abandoned.

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