There is a very general impression in many minds in our time that from the very beginning of Christianity the interest of Church men in the other world was so great that human attention was diverted just as far as possible from concerns of all kinds with the stage of existence through which man is passing here and now. As a consequence, there has been the feeling that from the earliest time the Church was opposed to science and scientific education, partly because this represented a rather compelling diversion from other-worldly interests, but mainly because it gave men control over natural forces which made life more comfortable, raised men up in their own estimation and was opposed to the spirit of humble faith best suited to the adherents of Christianity. Hence it is concluded that there was always a Church policy of deliberate opposition to science and indeed to all intellectual development. This attitude is often declared to be best represented by the expression attributed to one of the Fathers of the Church, “Heaven lies open to the simple of mind, the little ones of the earth, and the ignorant bear it away better than those who are proud of intellect.”

Any such impression with regard to the Fathers of the Church as to the establishment of a policy of opposition to science and education is quite erroneous and entirely contrary to the general trend of their writings, even though it may be apparently substantiated by expressions taken at random from the writings of the Fathers at moments when they were emphasizing the truth that has always been so manifest, that from the knowing ones of earth,–and our use of the word knowing in the phrase is not complimentary,–especially from those who are conceited in their knowingness, many things are concealed that are revealed to those who are simple of heart and mind.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)


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