The “Fathers” of Science

A brief glance at to some Catholic Priest and their contribution to Science

Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175-1253)

Historians of science claim that Robert was the founder of the scientific movement at Oxford University and so sparked a pursuit of excellence that has continued to today. Among a few of his achievements was a commentary on the Physics of Aristotle, a critique of the Julian calendar that anticipated the reform of the calendar under Pope Gregory XIII 300 years later, and treatises on optics, music, and mathematics. Such was his reputation for genius and knowledge of the natural world that he was also reputed in some unlearned circles to be a wizard and sorcerer.

Ignazio Danti (1536-1586)

He was especially renowned for his skills as an astronomer. In 1574, he made a set of important observations that found the equinox to be 11 days earlier than the calendar. He consequently played a role in the reform of the Julian Calendar under Gregory XIII. But Danti left his real mark as a cartographer. Cosimo de’Medici commissioned him to prepare maps and a large terrestrial globe for his own collection.

Marin Mersenne (1588-1648)

In La vérité des sciences (Truth of the Sciences) , he argued for the value of human reason. He corresponded with the foremost figures of his age, including Pierre Gassendi, René Descartes, Pierre de Fermat, Thomas Hobbes, and Blaise Pascal. He organized colloquia of scientists from around Europe to read their papers and exchange ideas. The gatherings became known as the Académie Parisiensis but were also nicknamed the Académie Mersenne, and the number of scientists whose careers were given direction by the colloquia is impossible to underestimate. In keeping with his commitment to science, he left instructions that his body be used for research.

Jean-Felix Picard (1620-1682)

Picard was the first person in the Enlightenment to provide an accurate measure of the size of the Earth through a survey conducted 1669-1670. His calculation of a terrestrial radius of 6328.9 km is off by only 0.44 percent, and his continued progress in instruments proved essential in the drafting of Isaac Newton’s theory of universal gravitation. Picard also worked and corresponded with a vast number of scientists of the time, including Isaac Newton, Christian Huygens, and a great rival, Giovanni Cassini.

Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)

Mendel earned his place in science by working with simple pea pod plants. He loved to take walks around the monastery and noticed that some plants were radically different in their traits and growth patterns. As any high school student today can attest, Mendel spent years examining seven characteristics of the pea pod plants and determined the basic laws that govern the passage of traits within a species. Especially crucial was the discovery of dominant or recessive genes, a key to modern genetics and the study of dominant and recessive traits, genotype and phenotype, and the concept of heterozygous and homozygous.

Armand David (1826-1900)

Sent to the missions in Beijing, he served with distinction in the community. He found China a remarkable opportunity for exploring the natural sciences. Such were his finds in the areas of zoology, botany, geology, and paleontology that the French government asked him to send specimens of his finds back to Paris for further study. These samples, seen for the first time in the West, aroused such a great interest that Fr. David was commissioned by French scientists to explore China in the search for other new discoveries. Upon his return to France in 1888, he gave a celebrated address in Paris at the International Scientific Congress of Catholics in which he documented his study of more than 60 species of animals and more than 60 species of birds, all of which had been previously unknown.

Julius Nieuwland (1878-1936)

In 1904 at he served as a professor in botany and then chemistry, a post he held until his retirement in 1936. In the quiet halls of scientific study, he successfully polymerized acetylene into divinylacetylene. Elmer Bolton, the director of research at Du Pont, used this basic research to achieve the development of neoprene. In effect, this humble priest was the inventor of the first synthetic rubber. Embraced by the Du Pont Company, the invention had a major impact on many industries and our daily lives. For example, neoprene is used for electrical cable insulation, telephone wiring, rug backings, and roofing.

Georges Lemaître (1894-1966)

Where Einstein saw that the universe was actually moving-either shrinking or expanding-and devised the cosmological constant that maintained the stability of universe, Lemaître concluded that the universe was expanding. Not only that, Lemaître proposed that from this it could be concluded that all matter and energy were concentrated at one point. Hence: The universe had a beginning. This theory, at first met with great skepticism, was termed rather sarcastically the “Big Bang.” For his part, Lemaître elegantly described this beginning as “a day without yesterday.” Today, astrophysicists readily accept the Big Bang and the continuing expansion of the universe.

Stanley Jaki (b. 1924)

In a modern scientific world so steeped in Enlightenment philosophy and so opposed to a relationship with religion, Fr. Jaki’s assertion that science and religion are consistent and that scientific analysis can shed light on both scientific and theological propositions is a bold one.

As Jaki contends, discoveries of nuclear physics and astronomy have given confirmation of an essential order within the universe. While it is true that our understanding of both fields is incomplete, the Christian perspective demonstrates that the order of the cosmos is entirely consistent with the biblical view of Creation.

Michal Heller (b. 1936)

Fr. Heller is engaged in the highest regions of mathematics and astronomy. Currently, he is researching the singularity problem in general relativity and the use of non-commutative geometry in seeking the unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics. He also concerns himself with philosophy and the history of science and science and theology. In Heller’s view, all of these different facets of science point to something truly important about the “blueprint” of Creation-and the teachings of the Church help us to understand that blueprint.

5 thoughts on “The “Fathers” of Science

  1. Pingback: Pakistan Blasphemy Law Rimsha Masih Economics Family Science | Big Pulpit

  2. Wonderful but the “brief glance” is too brief! Fr. Grosseteste (later a bishop) was also the first to put the scientific method down in writing. That’s certainly worth a mention for it shows that the Church was not merely present at the birth of modern empirical science but that said science is a fruit of the Church herself.

    In my experience, pointing that out undermines the false – yet often repeated – claim that “the Catholic Church hates science”.

  3. That Catholics, or rather Catholicism, Have/has to roll out lists of Catholic scientists and now Catholic priest scientists as a means to show Catholicism is not against ‘science’ is one of the pathetic results of the Copernican heresy and its about time this farce was exposed for what it is, having to rely on propaganda to defend the Catholic faith.

    To understand the above opinion one has to ask: ‘What do they mean Church and science, or as the poster on the blog says; “the Catholic Church hates science”.

    We all know truth cannot contradict truth. So, they say, the faith cannot contradict science, or is it the Scriptures cannot contradict science?

    What science is the Church supposed to hate? Acoustics, bacteriology, cardiology, dendrology, ecology, floristry, gastronomy, horticulture, immunology, kinetics, lepidopterology, mechanics, neurology, odontology, papyrology, quinology, reflexology, spermology, toxicology, urology, vinology, xylology, zoology etc? Surely not, for they and other sciences only study what is. How can the Catholic faith be opposed to what is demonstrable?
    No, what the Catholic faith, the Church is supposed to be against is not SCIENCE., it is theories, assumptions, hypotheses, presumptions, conjectures, suppositions and guesses that contradict revelation.

    In the wake of the U-turn on the doctrine of geocentrism to the heresy of heliocentrism, an assumption, a theory, a hypothesis, a presumption, a conjecture, a supposition, a guess, a preference, THEN churchmen gave such IDEAS the status of science. First Catholic Copernicans like Copernicus and Galileo were hailed as ‘our scientists.’ Now we see priests put on the list, including three below,

    Jean-Felix Picard (1620-1682). Wili says:
    ‘Picard collaborated and corresponded with many scientists, including Isaac Newton, Christiaan Huygens, Ole Rømer, Rasmus Bartholin, Johann Hudde,[1] and even his main competitor, Giovanni Cassini, although Cassini was often less than willing to return the gesture.’
    Fr Picard collaberated with Newton trying to PROVE heliocentrism. He obviously believed in heliocentrism even though it was still a heresy on the Index.
    Wiki continues:
    He was the first person to measure the size of the Earth to a reasonable degree of accuracy in a survey conducted in 1669–70, for which he is honored with a pyramid at Juvisy-sur-Orge.

    Newton said if the earth is spinning (heliocentric), there would be a bulge around the equator. Fr Picard provided this for him.
    Domenico Cassini, believed the measurements made by Jean Picard in 1672 were not accurate enough, as a true empiricist, decided to measure for himself.
    King Louis XIV of France approved Cassini’s last great expedition. With the aid of his son Jacques Cassini and others, he measured the arc of meridian from Paris north to Dunkirk and south to the boundary of Spain, and, in addition, he conducted various associated geodesic and astronomical operations that were reported to the Academy. The Cassinis knew that it would be virtually impossible to measure every kilometre of meridian from Pole to Pole at the time. At best, all that could be achieved was a partial measurement. Consequently they decided to measure where it was most convenient, restricting their efforts to Europe in the northern hemisphere.
    The results showed the length of a meridian degree north of Paris was 111,017 meters or 265 metres shorter than one south of Paris (111,282 meters). This suggested that if this trend occurred in the southern hemisphere, the earth has to be a prolate spheroid, not flattened at the poles as Newton proposed, but the opposite, slightly pointed, with the equatorial axis shorter than the polar axis, that is, kind of egg-shaped.

    This finding, of course, was completely at odds with Newton’s theory. Nevertheless, incredibly, or should it be, predictably, in spite of the Cassinian figures, and we are talking about one of the most respected measurer in Europe at the time, the Pope’s territorial measurer, the British scientists William Whiston (1667-1752), John Keill (1671-1721) and John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683-1744) continued to acclaim Newton’s theory as true. Then, in 1732, at the Paris Academy of Sciences, Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis joined Newton’s supporters to be followed by the prominent scientist Clairout. Indeed, such was their quest for a bulging earth that they decided to try to falsify Cassini’s figures and thus clear the way for a triumphant Newtonianism. To this end they decided they would conduct a new survey that they believed would show Cassini’s measurements as erroneous. This time though, they would measure two points on earth where the differences would be greatest if it were an orange shape, at the Equator and at the Poles. This they claimed would confirm the Newtonian theory.

    In 1735, with Government finance, one group went to Peru under Pierre Bouguer and Charles Marie La Condamine and a year later another group went to Lapland under Maupertuis. The polar expedition, after the conditions nearly killed them, completed its mission by 1737. Measuring only one baseline, 14.3 kilometres (8.9 miles) long, they ‘found’ their bulge. On hearing this, Voltaire, that infamous Antichrist, dubbed Maupertuis:

    ‘ “Marques of the Arctic Circle,” “dear flattener of the world and of Cassini,” and “Sir Isaac Maupertuis”, for his vindication of Newton.’ —T.L. Hankins: Science and the Enlightenment, Cambridge books, 1985, p.39.

    Note the Mason Voltaire’s need to ‘flatten’ Cassini and perhaps we can grasp the conflict ongoing between the two forces in the Melchisedech battle of Principalities and Powers.
    As a reward Maupertuis was invited to Berlin by the King of Prussia, and appointed President of the Academy there. So, did that settle the matter? Well no, for if one reads the small print one finds:

    ‘This result… proved that the Earth was flattened at the Poles. Later, large errors were found in the measurements, but they were in the “right direction.” ’ –Encyclopaedia Britannica, p.535.

    Errors ‘in the right direction’, he says? See how there is a ‘right’ result and a ‘wrong’ result in modern science. If it can be made endorse Copernicanism, then it’s ‘right’, if not, it’s ‘wrong’.

    Ten years later, after measuring two baselines, one 12.2 and 10.3 kilometres (7.6 and 6.4 miles), La Condamine and his group emerged from the Amazon with their mission accomplished, confirming Newton’s theory of course. But again, in the small print we read:

    ‘Bouguer and La Condamine could not agree on one common interpretation of the observations mainly because of the use of two baselines and lack of suitable computing techniques.’ —Encyclopaedia Britannica, p.535.

    Nevertheless, as mentioned heretofore, such things mean nothing to the Copernicans for they still churn out their programme:

    ‘The source of these astronomical discoveries is, as we have emphasised, the Newtonian System of the World. Among the many consequences of universal gravitation treated in that part of the Principia is the fact that the earth must be flattened at the poles, that is, its shape is that of an oblate spheroid. In France Giovanni Domenico Cassini, director of the Paris Observatory, and his son Jacques, who succeeded him in the position, were misled by erroneous geodetic measurements’ …’ —Kramer: op. cit., p.211.

    See how they do it. Simply state Cassini’s original measurements are the erroneous ones and that will suffice for their purpose.
    In 1909 the geophysicist Hayford presented the world with ‘the most accurate’ measurements, since adopted internationally for use in all data concerning the form of the earth.’ He gave an oblateness of 1/297 based on figures of an equatorial radius of 6,378,388 metres (3,963 miles) and a polar radius of 6,356,912 metres (3,950 miles), giving an oblateness of 21,474 metres (13.42 miles).

    in 1959 another measurement for the earth was achieved, this time using a satellite called Vanguard. It found Newton’s ‘bulge’ was 25 feet (7.6 meters) – yes a mere 25 feet – higher south of the equator, and announced the earth was shaped like a pear, that is, it has a bulgier bulge in the southern hemisphere.
    Seeking a few more details of this curious revelation we find that according to this latest measurement the South Pole is flatter by 50 feet and the North Pole higher (pointed) by 50 feet

    Now if this is true, no matter how it was reasoned out, does it or does it not confirm the Cassini measurements of 1720 that found the northern hemisphere was narrower at the hips and higher at the Pole, a measurement that was rejected on principle to allow PROOFS for HELIOCENTRISM to undermine the Church’s stand of 1616? And does this not show Fr Picard was WRONG.
    But then who would know that?

    Fr Georges Lemaître (1894-1966). Big Bang Copernican and evolutionist.
    Fr Stanley Jaki (b. 1924-2009) —Templeton Prize (probably Freemasonic)winner. Copernican and evolutionist, second onlt to Fr Tielhard de Chardin. -yes where is Ft Chardin?
    Fr Michal Heller (b. 1936)— Templeton Prize winner. The 72-year-old plans to spend the prize money to establish a research institute—named in honor of Nicholas Copernicus—that will seek to reconcile science and theology.

    So much for CATHOLIC priest scientists.

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