Natural Philosophy and Theology in the Late Middle Ages: A Surprising Relationship?
The John Templeton Oxford Seminars in Science and Christianity Lecture Delivered at Wycliffe hall, Oxford University Wednesday, July 28, (1999)
During the Middle Ages, the relations between science and religion are much more appropriately represented by the relations between natural philosophy and theology. Although there were recognizable sciences in the Middle Ages astronomy, optics, and statics, for example which had some relationship with theology, it was natural philosophy that had the most significant connection. In order to grasp the relationship between natural philosophy and theology, it is advisable to treat each discipline independently in two phases. Thus I shall first consider natural philosophy from two aspects: the first will be about the nature of the discipline itself, followed by the second aspect which will determine the extent to which natural philosophy was affected by theology. Theology will be treated similarly. I shall first convey a sense of theology as a discipline, and then describe how it was affected by natural philosophy and, to a lesser extent, logic, that is, how theology was affected by the two most important, widely studied, secular disciplines in the Middle Ages.