[Professor Andrew] White alleges (Warfare, Vol. I, p. 91) that Eusebius endeavored to bring scientific studies into contempt, and quotes him as saying, “It is not through ignorance of the things admired by them [scientific investigators], but through contempt of their useless labor, that we think little of these matters, turning our souls to better things.”

Who would guess from this brief epitome of Eusebius’ views that the latter had devoted to the subject more than thirty pages? Who could possibly surmise that he had taken pains to write out, under the guidance of Plutarch, all the known opinions of the Greeks on some thirty-nine problems, all but two or three of them astronomical? Let the curious read Eusebius for themselves in the fifteenth book of his Praelectio Evangelica. They will there discover what White might have well acknowledged, that on not one of the problems are the Greek philosophers in agreement. On the nature of the sun there are nine opinions, on its size four, on its shape an equal number, on the moon’s nature seven. And this discrepancy of judgment continues to the end. Moreover a large proportion of the theories are of the most fantastic sort.

In the face of this chaotic wilderness of diverse, fluctuating and contradictory teachings, what could Eusebius do but turn away in impatience, and take up in their stead the only truth of which he felt certain, the truth of the Gospel? Such was his actual procedure. “Does it not seem to you that we have rightly and deservedly departed from the curiosity of all these men, so idle and so full of error?” He confesses frankly that he can see no fruit or utility for man in the teachings he has quoted. And he appeals for his complete justification to Socrates, the wisest of the Greeks, who in his day had adopted precisely the same stand. This and no other is the argument and spirit of Eusebius.

Father George Vincent Leahy, Astronomical Essays (1910)


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