Today’s pre-Renaissance Men…

Today’s pre-Renaissance Men… October 24, 2020

In the early Renaissance, polymath artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, made observational drawings of anatomy and nature. Da Vinci set up controlled experiments in water flow, medical dissection, and systematic study of movement and aerodynamics, and he devised principles of research method that led Fritjof Capra to classify him as the “father of modern science”.

A suitable environment had developed to question previous doctrine. The discovery in 1492 of the New World by Christopher Columbus challenged the classical worldview. The works of Ptolemy (in geography) and Galen (in medicine) were found to not always match everyday observations.


Some historians posit that the Renaissance was a short period covering the 15th and 16th centuries while others favour a ‘Long Renaissance’ from the 14th to the 17th century. Regardless, we can agree that it was a time when the focus of our route to understanding changed from armchair cogitation to active investigation. Ptolemy’s model of the solar system and Galen’s ideas about the function of the heart were challenged and found to be inaccurate. The attention moved from thought and argument to observing nature for a match, or not, to inferences. Methods of discovery involving investigation, experiment and observation came to pre-eminence; Natural Philosophy evolved into Science proper. Observations are king; they trump arguments, that fact became recognised.

Except by some!

There are a few apologists who have ignored the last few centuries and persist in thinking like pre-Renaissance men. They think they can construct a syllogism that ‘proves’ the existence of their god (not anyone else’s, of course)!

They start with a proposition (it’s not a premise, premises should be true) like, “P1: If God, i.e. that than which none greater can be conceived, exists in some way, then God exists in the most robust way.” They ignore the fact that this consists of nothing more than definitions of words – human fabrications, and then make a second “P2:  God exists in some way”, which is nothing more than a bald claim, and go on to draw a ‘Conclusion’ – “C. God exists in the most robust way”!

Not an observation in sight! No scrap of evidence! Nothing more than pure thought.

It has no more relevance than me contemplating Humpty Dumpty!

Meanwhile, in reality, last week we sucked up some dust on an asteroid to bring home and analyse!

Image By Livioandronico2013 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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