Albert’s great pupil, Roger Bacon, is rightly looked upon as the true father of inductive science, an honor that history has unfortunately taken from him to confer it undeservedly on his namesake of four centuries later; but the teaching out of which Roger Bacon was to develop the principles of experimental science can be found in many places in the master’s writings…Albert was a theologian rather than a scientist, and yet, deeply versed as he was in theology, he declared in a treatise concerning Heaven and Earth, that “in studying nature we have not to enquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power; we have rather to enquire what nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass.”

This can scarcely fail to seem a surprising declaration to those who have been accustomed to think of medieval philosophers as turning by preference to miraculous explanations of things, but such a notion is founded partly on false tradition, with regard to the real teaching of the medieval scholars, and even more on the partisan declarations of those who thought it the proper thing to make as little as possible of the intelligence of the people of the Middle Ages, in order to account for their adhesion to the Catholic Church.

As a matter of fact, Albert’s declaration, far from being an innovation, was only in pursuance of the truly philosophic method which had characterized the writings of the great Christian thinkers from the earlier time.

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

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