A Short History of Science and Religion - Dark and Middle Ages
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Article Index
A Short History of Science and Religion
The Ancient World
The Greek Contribution
Rise of Christtianity
Dark and Middle Ages
Rise of Science and Philosophy
Galileo, Newton, Kant
Modern Times
Personal Theology
All Pages

The Decline - The "Dark" and Middle Ages

Ibn HaithemThe Invasion - The Germanic tribes from northern and eastern Europe began to overrun the Roman Empire in around 400-500 CE. This started a decline in learning as people fled the cities and abandoned many of the developments of society that were in evidence during the height of the Roman Empire.

The Attempt to Preserve Learning - Between roughly 400 -1400 CE we have what are called the Middle Ages. During this time learning was kept alive in the Christian monasteries (abbots, priories, hermitages, etc.), but only the science that was written in Latin was preserved. Again, there were few that could read or write Greek.

Universities began to appear across Europe and Great Britain during this time (in Oxford, Bologna, Paris, e.g.).

The Great Islamic Handoff! - Although the Roman Empire was uneducated in the Greek language, not so with the Islamic world. Islamic scholars not only transcribed the Greek science into their own language, they carried forward the science and made their own contributions (see Teresi's book, Lost Discoveries, for more details or go here for more details). In fact, the period 700 - 1400 CE is known as the Islamic Golden Age. Beginning in about the 13th century or so, the science that had been nurtured by Islamic scientists began to make its way back into Western Europe ... across the Pyrenees from the Moors in Spain and from documentation from the Christian crusaders returning from the Middle East. The Renaissance was beginning to bloom in Europe as knowledge began to once again grow and new thinking began to flourish.

Unfortunately, Islamic science began a decline about that time - between the 10th and 13th centuries - due to several reasons, but primarily due to conservative and restrictive interpretations of the Qur'an and a turn from thought-based on reason to thought based on strict beliefs. That situation persists today in some sects of Islam.