Thread: Religion
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Old February 15th, 2009, 02:55 PM  
dyslexiaa
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Default Re: Religion

(I apologize for the Wikipedia-ing of all of my topics, but my internet is working in bursts today so I can't form a heavily backed argument, so I'll just keep things as vague as possible)

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dyslexiaa: You'll have to forgive me as I'm slightly unsure on the exact dates, however, it was in the 17th century. A man named William Harvey was studying the embryos of chickens and possibly deer. To little surprise, at that time, the church wasn't very fond of his studies but Charles I was, and was fairly intrigued, wanting Harvey to conduct more studies. However, Charles I was executed and England lost a leader who had an interest in experimental embryology. Why? Because the church at the time was strongly against it, and chased Harvey out of one area where he was doing research on chicken embryos. This was from the book entitled Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body by Armand Marie Leroi.
I found this topic on the Catholic Church and medical history in the renaissance (which was around Harvey's time).

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The Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church during this time was due to many things, including the perception of corruption within the Church. The ideas of Galen, a Greek physician of the 2nd century AD, had been heavily promoted and adopted by the Church, because he was a Monotheist and his ideas did not clash with any of the Church's, and had been the accepted wisdom of the medical world for over a thousand years; anyone who went against these ideas were either punished or suppressed, and that was unlikely considering that the Church controlled the teachings that went on inside the medical profession and universities. Individuals such as Vesalius (see below) found it very difficult to overcome such opposition and were forced to dissect human subjects in secret, because it was banned. However once they began investigating they found things which challenged Galen's theories on the human body,[10] because Galen had only been able to dissect animals. In 1531 Johannes Guinter published a Latin translation of 'On Anatomical Procedures', written by Galen, in which he stressed the need to dissect human bodies, bringing to light a previously unknown approval of human dissection. This discovery would prove vital in the lifting of the ban on human dissections. Thanks to the recent invention of the printing press (see above), news of the discoveries made by invididuals such as Vesalius was impossible for the Church to stop spreading, having been severely weakened by the Reformation.
Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_Renaissance
and on Harvey and the Church, this is what I found:

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Harvey's ideas were eventually accepted during his lifetime. His work was attacked, notably by Jean Riolan in Opuscula anatomica (1649) which forced Harvey to defend himself in Exercitatio anatomica de circulations sanguinis (also 1649) where he argued that Riolan's position was contrary to all observational evidence. Harvey was still regarded as an excellent doctor. He was personal physician to James I (1618-1625). After his and others' attempts to cure James of his fatal illness failed, he became a scapegoat for that failure amidst rumours of a Catholic plot to kill James, but was saved by the personal protection of Charles I (to whom he was also personal physician, from 1625 to 1647). He took advantage of these royal positions by dissecting deer from the royal parks and demonstrating the pumping of the heart on Viscount Montgomery's son, who had fallen from a horse when he was a boy, leaving a gap in his ribs, subsequently covered by a metal plate, which he was able to remove for Harvey. "I immediately saw a vast hole," Harvey wrote, and it was possible to feel and see the heart's beating through the scar tissue at the base of the hole.[3]

Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Harvey
(Bear in mind these were just two Wikipedia searches, I'm sure there's more you could find. I'm awfully lazy and I don't want to play devil's advocate more than I have to. )

So I see what you mean by the Church holding back science now, but there really wasn't a whole lot of science going on in the first place. I'm sure you've heard that the growth of science is exponential. These scientists really didn't have a lot to work with in the first place as far as technology and wisdom goes.

Undoubtedly, the Church and religious thought held back science in this period, but to say it absolutely maimed it would be an overstatement.

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Another example, demonology (study of demons) which was practiced alongside exorcism to relieve a person from what was said to be a demonic spirit possessing them resulting in a certain mental illness. Instead of doing all this crap, the brain or if you want the psyche or mind could be studied.
Leaps and bounds in modern psychology occurred in the late 1800s. At that point, the Church was much weaker and freedom of religion was already law in America. My (ever-so-faithful) Wiki search on freedom of religion in Europe stopped around the 1600s. With the American mentality of freedom of religion having about a hundred years to sink in to the rest of the world, I don't think religion crippled psychology a lot.
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