Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Prior to the very late 19th century, the preeminent theory of conception basically asserted that that during coitus the male inserted into the woman a complete but very tiny unformed human being. This theory is referred to by historians of science as “preformation”. This is to be distinguished from emboitement, in which a fully formed but very tiny human was believed to reside in the woman’s generative organs. From Eve’s firstborn all the way down to you, Gentle Reader, every human being was encased in her ovaries. If you don’t get it, think of Russian nesting dolls.

Prior to 1651, the prevailing view on reproduction was that of the two great ancient Physicians, Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.) and Galen (129-200 AD). (The Gospel writer Luke, who was a physician by trade, would have been trained in the teachings of Hippocrates.) The general theory held that the entirety of a babies identity came from the male, while the woman provided the environment in which the baby grew. If the “seed” for the baby came from the right testicle (which contained the “strong” seed), the child would be a boy, but if it came from the left or “weak” testicle, it would be a girl. Alternatively, there was a theory which said that the woman carried the “weak” seed, while the man carried the “strong” seed and that after copulation, the woman “decided” which seed would win. This, however, was a far less popular theory.

In 1651, William Harvey (yeah, the same William Harvey who discovered that blood circulates throughout the body!) published a book called De generatione animalium, in which he asserted that the preformed embryo resided not in the man, but in the woman. Ex ovo omnes (from the egg comes everything) was the famous slogan from the book. (We should note that in publishing this work, Harvey vindicated Henry VIII, who had executed various wives for not “giving” him a male heir.)

Now a debate raged, between the “old guard” who held that the males held the preformed embryo, and the ovists, who argued for the woman.

Spermatick worms (or animalcules) were first observed by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek ca. 1677. Their exact role in conception was not immediately understood, and indeed, for nearly two centuries, a primary school of thought was that tiny creatures were actually parasites. In fact, the very name we now use still bears this stigma: the organisms came to be called “spermatozoa” (singular: spermatozoon) because they were classified as parasites (entozoa, family prothelmintha) by the Anatomist Richard Owen in 1835.

Anyway, the debate raged between the ovists and the animalculists who asserted that it came from the sperm and was merely nurtured by the female. This debate continued for another 200 years. The mammalian oocyte (the ovum) was not actually observed until 1827 (even though Harvey had postulated its existence in 1651). Mammalian fertilization was not observed until 1875!

Amongst the scientific and medical communities, the ovists generally became the dominant faction. But (and this is very important!) amongst the general population (including the theological faculties of the Universities!), the animalculists remained dominant. Thus, it is completely understandable that almost universally in theological circles, contraception was condemned as sinful, because when a man prevented his semen from reaching its goal, he was killing a pre-formed embryo. Not until after 1875 could this opinion have changed, and frankly, not until this idea had fully germinated (pun intended) would the general public even remotely comprehend the idea.

Thus it should be of no surprise at all that it was not until the Lambeth Conference of 1930 that the first Christian church opted to stop calling (some forms of) contraception a sin.

For further reading, I recommend two books, both readily available at your local University library:

E. B. Gasking, Investigations into Generation, 1651-1828, London: Hutchinson, 1968.
C. Wilson, The Invisible World. Early Modern Philosophy and the Invention of the Microscope, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.
 
posted by Kepler at 13:02 |


12 Comments:


At 9/27/2006 06:52:00 PM, Blogger solarblogger

When pseudoscience and religion get tied together, you get funny results. Like the story in Albion's seed where the the one-eyed Puritan farmer was put to death when his sow gave birth to a one-eyed pig. He would have done better if his community hadn't been "so wise in the ways of science."

 

At 9/27/2006 06:54:00 PM, Blogger solarblogger

Should have been Albion's Seed, but I left it incomplete. Poor Albion.

 

At 9/27/2006 07:04:00 PM, Blogger Kepler

In my scant reading in Albion's Seed, I do remember that the Puritans held to the prevailing theory that babies were born on the same day they were conceived. So, if a woman gave birth on a Wednesday, everyone knew that 9 months prior, she and hubby had done the nasty on a Wednesday.

If the child was born on a Sunday, Mum and Da would be pilloried because everyone knew what they had been doing on the Lord's Day nine months ago!

And then one Sunday, the Pastor's wife gave birth...which put the kibosh on that theory!

 

At 9/28/2006 06:57:00 PM, Blogger solarblogger

What are you reading now?

 

At 10/02/2006 08:52:00 AM, Blogger Kepler

Sorry for the delay; the sis-in-law was in town over the weekend, so I wasn't online very much.

For pleasure, Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.

For work, I'm transcribing the minutes from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, from about 1695-1705.

In theology, the new Concordia tanslation of Gerhard's Loci On the Nature of Theology and Scripture. Veith had made an uncharacteristically inane comment equating Gerhard's use of the term inerrant to Warfield and Hodge's use of the word.

Even if, in principle, they meant similar things, Hodge's and Warfield's use of the term was loaded with Enlightenment baggage that Gerhard's was not.

I wrote a blog post on it, but was never particularly happy with it, so I never posted it.

 

At 10/02/2006 12:41:00 PM, Blogger Caspar

Gerhard's Loci in English will be quite a treasure. I have the first volume on my shelf and have only had time to read small selections so far. Rev. McCain told me it's going to take about 7 years to get all the Loci published. With regard to early dogmatician's understanding of the word "inerrant," have you read The Inspiration of Scripture by Robert Preus?

Now, as to your post above, I have a few comments.

Throughout the historic teachings on procreation, family planning is not described as a sin primarily for its debatable relationship to murder, but rather a sin of unchastity and, more importantly, unbelief. It is often noted as being contrary to natural law. Misconceptions about the biology of conception prior to the modern period has absolutely no bearing on these aspects of the sin of family planning.

Luther referred to Onan's sin not as murder, but as a Sodomitic sin:

"Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment. He was inflamed with the basest spite and hatred. Therefore he did not allow himself to be compelled to bear that intolerable slavery. Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore God punished him."

[Luther's works, vol. 7 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44 (Ge 38:9-10)]

In fact, it was believed by most of those who came before the modern age that life (ensoulment) did not even begin in the womb until "quickening" occurred (when fetal movement became detectable). I do not have the reference, but Augustine declared that abortion, though a grave sin, is not murder until after quickening. In 1140, Canon law confirmed that abortion is murder only after quickening. Indeed, for centuries, both English common law and American law (during both colonial and national periods) permitted women to have abortions until the time of quickening.

Since Roe v. Wade legalized the teachings of Margaret Sanger, we have certainly corrected this erroneous position regarding the beginning of life. My point in bringing this up is that since abortion (though always considered a sin against life) was not considered by these biologically ignorant theologians to be actual murder until after quickening, that likewise, contraception was not considered actual murder but a sin against life, against the wife, and, most grievously, against God, the author, creator, and sustainer of all life.

In addition to the above Luther quote, I have a collection of quite a number of ancient fathers and Lutheran theologians' comments on family planning, and rarely is this sin equated with murder.

Augustine provides a prime example of the argument:

"And why has Paul said: 'If he cannot control himself, let him marry?' Surely, to prevent incontinence from constraining him to adultery. If, then, he practices continence, neither let him marry nor beget children. However, if he does not control himself, let him enter into lawful wedlock, so that he may not beget children in disgrace or avoid having offspring by a more degraded form of intercourse. There are some lawfully wedded couples who resort to this last, for intercourse, even with one's lawfully wedded spouse, can take place in an unlawful and shameful manner, whenever the conception of offspring is avoided. Onan, the son of Juda, did this very thing, and the Lord slew him on that account. Therefore, the procreation of children is itself the primary, natural, legitimate purpose of marriage. Whence it follows that those who marry because of their inability to remain continent ought not to so temper their vice that they preclude the good of marriage, which is the procreation of children."

In criticizing the Manichees, Augustine still does not equate family planning as murder, but rather a sin of fornication:

"Is it not you who used to warn us to watch as much as we could the time after purification of the menses when a woman is likely to conceive, and at that time refrain from intercourse, lest a soul be implicated in the flesh? From this it follows that you consider marriage is not to procreate children, but to satiate lust. Marriage, as the marriage tablets themselves proclaim, joins male and female for the procreation of children. Whoever says that to procreate children is a worse sin than to copulate thereby prohibits marriage; and he makes the woman no more a wife but a harlot, who, when she has been given certain gifts, is joined to man to satisfy his lust. If there is a wife there is matrimony. But there is no matrimony where motherhood is prevented; for then there is no wife."

You are, of course, correct that prior to the age of modern medical knowledge the process of conception was not well understood. However, you have failed to show a causal relationship between this and the historic teaching on family planning. You have also failed to show a causal relationship between the advent of modern knowledge and the modern acceptance of family planning by various church bodies.

Once it became certain just what the sperm was, the Church at large didn't say, "Doh! Guess we can give up on that opposition to birth control. . ." The Lambeth Conference you mention above as the decisive point in history when this teaching changed certainly didn't say that. They said that contraception was only deemed permissible “where there is a clearly-felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood.” Contraception was still considered sinful in general, though this was the beginning of the acceptance of it to say there were exceptions to the rule.

With regard to our own Missouri Synod, Tony Gerring researched and documented the history of the change in this teaching. I have photocopies of all the original sources he collected. The history shows a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Alfred M. Rehwinkel, was most instrumental in beginning the move to accept family planning.

Tony writes: "In the early 1940s Rehwinkel began critiquing the stand against birth control, a position he advanced over the next 20 years. In 1959 he finally put his views in print in a book entitled Planned Parenthood and Birth Control in Light of Christian Ethics. In it he defended Margaret Sanger’s motives and work, calling her a 'brilliant young woman' (p. 32) and a 'sensitive soul' (p. 34)."

I highly recommend that before you post more faulty speculation on why and how this teaching was changed that you read The American Religious Debate Over Birth Control, 1907-1937 by Kathleen A. Tobin.

Cordially,

Caspar Heydenreich

 

At 10/05/2006 01:20:00 PM, Blogger Kepler

To reply adequtely to the previous comment will require supplying a great deal of background information to my readers. In order to accurately evaluate the time period in question, one must be able to understand the world-view in which many of the writings were composed.

It takes a great deal of effort to do this, viz, to divorce oneself from a comfortable world-view and really understand the way people thought in the 13th or the 16th or even the 19th century.

I'll try to demonstrate by way of example. Most of us alive now understand very well that blood circulates throughout our bodies, following a (loosely) figure-8 pattern. We undertand that "poor circulation" leads to a host of medical problems, up to and including death.

Try, however, to imagine a time when it was not only unthinkable to believe this, but actually (almost) heretical.

Heretical? How can circulation be heretical?

Here's how: the former understanding of the flow of blood in the body was that blood was produced (manufactured) in the liver, traveled to the heart, where it was impelled out to the rest of the body where it "nourished" the various parts of the body and was consumed, to be expelled in the various forms in which it was broken down (sweat, urine, vomit and feces). The was a constant and ongoing process. While the mechanism by which the liver manfactured the blood (what would have been called the 'instrumental cause') was not understood, the 'primary' cause behind it most certainly divine action. God made the liver manufacture blood, all the time, every day, dat in and day out. God's activity in manners such as these is normally called (in that time period) 'ordinary providence'.

So, what if someone comes along and says, "No, the liver is not continaully manufacturing blood; in fact, the same blood is continually circulating through the body." Well, someone did say that. William Harvey published his De Motu Cordis in 1628, and was rebuked across theological lines (meaning he was attackd by Roman Catholics, Calvinists, Lutherans, and Anglicans), precisely because his theory removed God from His providential role.

It is extremely difficult for us to understand how shocking Harvey's discovery actually was. I submit that without a thorough understanding of how closly wedded theology and Aristotelian philosophy were at the time, it is impossible to understand.

I have neither the time nor the space to make an adequate reply here, but I do have the inclination, to wit, at some point in the not-too-distant future I will present a position paper dealing with this topic.

In the meantime, for anyone inclinced to do some deep-background reading on the topic, I highly recommend Edward Grant's Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages and Science and Religion, 400 B.C. to A.D. 1550.

 

At 10/05/2006 05:47:00 PM, Blogger Caspar

Kepler,

It would, indeed, be a very interesting paper you are proposing to write. I'd love to read it when you get done. However, it would still fail to show a causal relationship between this and the historic biblical arguments against family planning. It would also fail to show a causal relationship between the advent of modern knowledge and the modern acceptance of family planning by our church body.

The valid biblical arguments against family planning have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with biological misconceptions and everything to do with trusting God to give us his good gifts, including children and the means of caring for them.

Making a connection between a theologian's argument against family planning and the misconceptions of his historical period regarding the science of procreation is only valid if such misconceptions are essential premises to the given argument. You might be able to find a few biologically based arguments from ancient theologians to refute, but these are not the arguments on which we Lutherans base our understanding of God's law.

I cannot think of a single argument by Luther (or Lutherans) on family planning that would have been refuted by a correct understanding of the biology of procreation.

This is why, when the correct biology was finally understood, Lutherans did not say in response: "Doh! Guess we can give up on that opposition to birth control. . ." The history of Lutheran acceptance of family planning shows it was other issues that served as the arguments in favor of birth control. To say otherwise is to completely misunderstand the theological basis for the orignal position of Lutheranism on family planning and to ignore the historical evidence of why it changed.

You are spinning your wheels if you are doing this to refute the historic biblical teaching on family planning.

Nevertheless, I look forward to your paper. It sounds very interesting.

I appear to be spinning my wheels here too. Your mind seems less than open on this issue. As for me, on the other hand, I would LOVE for someone to convince me that God's law doesn't say what it does about family planning. It would certainly make my life more relaxing and luxurious, even if less fulfilling. However, you would actually have to refute the theological and exegetical arguments. Proving that biological knowledge was faulty at the time of these arguments is irrelevant, and a conceded fact.

The one thing the ancients and I agree on, which I'm not sure you do, is the fact that God is the sole creator and sustainer of all life. We are just the means by which he does it. All we are capable of doing of our own will is frustrating his purpose. We cannot create or sustain life where he does not will it. This is beautifully analogous to the new life in Christ, where all we can do of our own will is reject his life-giving gift of faith, it is entirely God's doing if we accept it and maintain it.

I am making the same biblical arguments as Luther and all orthodox theologians throughout history, and my mind and arguments are not influenced in the least by any faulty biological knowledge. Just for the record, I majored in biology at the liberal University of Michigan and I have a doctorate (dental) from the same institution. My arguments are based entirely on Scripture, as are theirs. Yours are based on science and sophistry.

Cordially,

Caspar

 

At 10/06/2006 12:54:00 PM, Blogger Kepler

Well, of course, I would expect you to deny the utiltiy of such a paper. In fact, that's the point of writing such a paper. With all due respect, you simply don't understand the worldview of the time period in question. I'm not faulting you for that...it's not a Dentist's job to immersed in the theological-philsopical zeitgeist of the middle ages.

Hermeneutics simply do not happen in a vaccuum. 1900 years of consistency in interpretation means one of two things: either 1) the interpretation was correct on its face, or 2) the interpreters all shared a set of a priori assumptions. I have already proved (granted, not to your satisfaction) that (1) is false, and in the proposed paper I can demonstrate that (2) is true.

Yes you are making the same arguments as Luther, et al. But a mistake made 1000 times is nevertheless a mistake.

As for my mind not being open on the issue...perhaps not. My mind has a tendency to be closed when people invent laws where no such laws exist. I reject the baptist prohibitions against alcohol consumption on the same grounds that I reject this argument.

On the other hand, I can most certainly be swayed by a solid biblical argument. Heck, that's how I became a Lutheran. I tried so hard to defend my pentecostal beliefs!! But as it became more and more clear to me that Justification by Grace alone through Faith alone, on account of Christ alone undermined the entire theological premise of "second blessing" type of thinking, the house of cards collapsed. It has all but ruined my relationship with my parents. My mother doesn't understand why I am "quenching the Spirit" and my Dad (who is, quite literally, a rocket scientist) reads Tim LaHaye's stuff like it was another letter from Paul.

Yes, much to my dismay, I can most certainly be swayed.


Good day.

 

At 10/07/2006 05:31:00 PM, Blogger Caspar

I am glad you can be swayed in the right direction, as AWAY from pentecostalism and TOWARD Lutheranism is certainly the right direction.

You write: "With all due respect, you simply don't understand the worldview of the time period in question. I'm not faulting you for that...it's not a Dentist's job to immersed in the theological-philsopical [sic] zeitgeist of the middle ages."

I'm a busy man, but I would like to assure you that I am not as uninformed about the history of science and religion as you would like to believe. One of my best friends, a fellow Lutheran, is the Dean of Faculty and Chairman of the History Department of one of the best (in my opinion, THE best) conservative private colleges in the nation. His specialty is the history of science and religion. Having him as a friend has taught me a great deal about the relationship of science and religion, and also makes it possible for me to see that you are not as knowledgeable on these matters as you would like people to think. With all due respect, please consider the following comments:

The preformationist debate (sperm vs. egg) see-sawed back and forth until the late 18th (not 19th) century when Caspar Friedrich Wolff called for a return to epigenesis. Following the work of Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876) who did a lot of work on the embryological development (his term was entwickelungsgeschichte), epigenesis was almost universally accepted by the mid-19th century. By the late 19th-century the debate had shifted considerably in an effort to understand the way the “germ plasm” carried genetic information. So your claim about the timing of the rejection of preformationism is off considerably and does not show sensitivity to the fascinating nuances of the debate as it unfolded in the two centuries following Harvey’s publication of De Generatione Animalium.

Your comments about Harvey and the circulation of blood are even more bizarre. Harvey was a Christian. His worldview (shared by his Christian contemporaries) was that the universe was the product of divine design. Therefore created things were the product of intentional purpose. This conviction inspired Harvey in his theory of the circulation of the blood. Rather than removing God from his providential role, as you assert, Harvey was inspired in his scientific methodology by his Christian conviction that the human body is the designed creation of a Providentially ruling God. The system of Galen that had governed medicine since the second century AD was not necessarily bound to Christian orthodoxy, but did have a certain harmony with some Aristotelian ideas. Of course, the middle ages also showed how Christianity could accommodate Aristotle too. But Galen was no Christian. Rather he ridiculed Christian beliefs.

All this being said, it is true that the mechanical philosophy of nature that emerged in the work of Boyle, Decartes, and others in the 17th century seemed, to some, to open the door to atheism if it was interpreted as a revival of ancient Greek atomism (cf. Leucippus and Democritus). But as Boyle and others were at pains to argue, there was no need to see the mechanical philosophy this way. More, they argued that his was a way science could support orthodox Christianity.

I suggest you read: WILLIAM HARVEY AND THE USE OF PURPOSE IN THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION: COSMOS BY CHANCE OR UNIVERSE BY DESIGN? by Emerson Thomas McMullen, my friend's best friend from grad school. This same friend also has produced the newest translation from the Latin of Harvey’s De Motu Cordis.

There’s another curious thing about what you have written here. You recommend a couple books by Edward Grant. My friend has at least half a dozen of Grant’s books in his personal library, including the two you recommend for background reading on the topic. He tells me, however, that in neither book is William Harvey even mentioned.

Ed Grant is a medieval historian. His specialty is 13th and 14th century science and intellectual and religious history, not the 17th century. How do I know all this? Grant was my friend's professor in grad school. He took many courses with him and Grant was on his doctoral dissertation committee.

I suggest you get all your sources and facts in line a little better before you write that position paper. And stop thinking that this dentist is ignorant regarding the theological-philsophical zeitgeist of the middle ages.

Now, I really need to get back to my family!

Cordially,

Caspar

 

At 10/08/2006 12:30:00 AM, Blogger Kepler

Dr. Heydenreich,

First of all, I apologize for the Dentist crack. I didn't mean for it to be a "crack", but it most certainly came out that way. My point is that as a "professional" historian, I live in this stuff. I've logged well over 5000 hours in European archives. That may sound like an exaggeration, but I assure you, it's not. It's the equivalent of 2.5 years of full-time employment.

CH said:I am glad you can be swayed in the right direction, as AWAY from pentecostalism and TOWARD Lutheranism is certainly the right direction.

You write: "With all due respect, you simply don't understand the worldview of the time period in question. I'm not faulting you for that...it's not a Dentist's job to immersed in the theological-philsopical [sic] zeitgeist of the middle ages."


Yeah, thanks for not pointing out both of my typos. ;-)

CH said:I'm a busy man, but I would like to assure you that I am not as uninformed about the history of science and religion as you would like to believe. One of my best friends, a fellow Lutheran, is the Dean of Faculty and Chairman of the History Department of one of the best (in my opinion, THE best) conservative private colleges in the nation. His specialty is the history of science and religion. Having him as a friend has taught me a great deal about the relationship of science and religion, and also makes it possible for me to see that you are not as knowledgeable on these matters as you would like people to think. With all due respect, please consider the following comments:

The preformationist debate (sperm vs. egg) see-sawed back and forth until the late 18th (not 19th) century when Caspar Friedrich Wolff called for a return to epigenesis. Following the work of Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876) who did a lot of work on the embryological development (his term was entwickelungsgeschichte), epigenesis was almost universally accepted by the mid-19th century. By the late 19th-century the debate had shifted considerably in an effort to understand the way the “germ plasm” carried genetic information. So your claim about the timing of the rejection of preformationism is off considerably and does not show sensitivity to the fascinating nuances of the debate as it unfolded in the two centuries following Harvey’s publication of De Generatione Animalium.


Ahem... The guy who coined the term "germ plasm" was August Weismann (d. 1914). Weismann was a preformationist. An amusing (cough!) work on the topic is Clara Pinto-Correia's Ovary of Eve. I say amusing because of her fanciful feminist theories which flow around the book like little wisps of bubbles in the wind....nevertheless her book is descriptively accurate.

Preformationism continued -- as I said -- well into the late nineteenth century.

CH said:Your comments about Harvey and the circulation of blood are even more bizarre. Harvey was a Christian. His worldview (shared by his Christian contemporaries) was that the universe was the product of divine design. Therefore created things were the product of intentional purpose. This conviction inspired Harvey in his theory of the circulation of the blood. Rather than removing God from his providential role, as you assert, Harvey was inspired in his scientific methodology by his Christian conviction that the human body is the designed creation of a Providentially ruling God. The system of Galen that had governed medicine since the second century AD was not necessarily bound to Christian orthodoxy, but did have a certain harmony with some Aristotelian ideas. Of course, the middle ages also showed how Christianity could accommodate Aristotle too. But Galen was no Christian. Rather he ridiculed Christian beliefs.

Excuse me? Dude...Whatever you're smoking, common decency requires that you share!

When did I say anything about Harvey not being a Christian? Go back and read what I actually wrote, not what you think I wrote.

Harvey's discoveries were ridiculed on theological grounds. Now, just to be clear, I've made an objective statement. But I have not made a comprehensive statement, to wit, I did not say, "Harvey's theories were ridiculed by everybody on theological grounds," nor did I say, "Harvey's theories were ridiculed on only theological grounds." For but one example of the scholarship on this, see Roger French, "Harvey in Holland: Circulation and the Calvinists," in The Medical Revolution in the Seventeenth Century, ed. Roger French & Andrew Wear, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 46-86.

CH said:All this being said, it is true that the mechanical philosophy of nature that emerged in the work of Boyle, Decartes, and others in the 17th century seemed, to some, to open the door to atheism if it was interpreted as a revival of ancient Greek atomism (cf. Leucippus and Democritus). But as Boyle and others were at pains to argue, there was no need to see the mechanical philosophy this way. More, they argued that his was a way science could support orthodox Christianity.

Ummm, yeah, thanks for that...

***scratches head***

CH said:I suggest you read: WILLIAM HARVEY AND THE USE OF PURPOSE IN THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION: COSMOS BY CHANCE OR UNIVERSE BY DESIGN? by Emerson Thomas McMullen, my friend's best friend from grad school. This same friend also has produced the newest translation from the Latin of Harvey’s De Motu Cordis.

I'll add it to my Amazon wishlist, thanks. It has, however, absolutely nothing to do with what I was talking about.

CH said:There’s another curious thing about what you have written here. You recommend a couple books by Edward Grant. My friend has at least half a dozen of Grant’s books in his personal library, including the two you recommend for background reading on the topic. He tells me, however, that in neither book is William Harvey even mentioned.

Ed Grant is a medieval historian. His specialty is 13th and 14th century science and intellectual and religious history, not the 17th century. How do I know all this? Grant was my friend's professor in grad school. He took many courses with him and Grant was on his doctoral dissertation committee.

I suggest you get all your sources and facts in line a little better before you write that position paper. And stop thinking that this dentist is ignorant regarding the theological-philsophical zeitgeist of the middle ages.


Again, sorry for the crack.

When did I say anything about Grant discussing Harvey? I ended the discussion of Harvey with the paragraph talking about how shocking his discovery was. I followed that with the paragraph where I said that while I don't have time to reply (READER'S CLUE: reply to WHAT? The previous comment!! IOW, my parenthetical example of Harvey was over and done with!) I do want to write a position paper dealing with the topic.

THEN, in the last paragraph, I recommended Grant's work as "background reading". Background reading on what? Background reading on the reply I would like to prepare.

CH said:Now, I really need to get back to my family!

As do I. Cheers.

 

At 10/08/2006 09:16:00 AM, Blogger Caspar

Do you always have such difficulty with transitions? Thanks for the clarifications, but you still have a few errors of fact even after explaining your cloudy lines of rhetoric. Let's hope you correct them when you write your paper. It will also be interesting to watch the sophistic gymnastics you will have to perform to make this in any way applicable to the biblical arguments against family planning.

Be sure to let me know when your performance is ready. That's something I don't want to miss.

Caspar

 


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