jeeprs wrote:I think the biggest problem in modern western theologies can be attributed to the influence of Calvinism and the core ideas of 'salvation by faith alone', the condemnation of human reason owing to the idea of 'total depravity', and the repugnant 'doctrine of the elect' which condemns the vast majority of mankind to eternal hellfire. It is an intrinsically authoritarian model in my view.
I read a fascinating book in 2009 called The Theological Origins of Modernity in which Michael Allen Gillespie argues 'that from the very beginning moderns sought not to eliminate religion but to support a new view of religion and its place in human life. He goes on to explore the ideas of such figures as William of Ockham, Petrarch, Erasmus, Luther, Descartes, and Hobbes, showing that modernity is best understood as a series of attempts to formulate a new and coherent metaphysics or theology.'
The key background factor in all of it was the influence of the nominalists and the overthrow of medieval scholasticism, which gave rise to today's scientific empiricism. The nominalists put great emphasis on the total unknowability of God, who was said not to be bound by any ideas of human rationality whatever. These he contrasted with the scholastics, who valued reason and saw the 'intelligible order of the Universe' as evidence of the divine intelligence. (I think that many of the mathematical physicists to this day have been much nearer to scholasticism and platonism.)
Of particular importance in that book were the debates between Luther and Erasmus - the latter seems far more humane, rational, and intelligent - and between Hobbes, the influential materialist, and Descartes. (Critical review here.)
Very interesting Jeeprs. I agree that the rise of nominalism was very influential in shaping the empirical branches of modern science. That the battles over that ground were so intense tells us much about just how orthodox Christian Aristotelianism was through the (long) medieval period. It wasn't 'a few adherents' - it was the undisputed normative cosmology, metaphysics, logic, morality and politics. I think that Hobbes in particular was the thinker to really break with this (his distaste for Christian Aristotelianism was unmistakable).....and so the seeds of modernity were laid.