By Jennifer Trusted
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Extra resources for Beliefs and Biology: Theories of Life and Living
A similar fate befell Servetus (1511–53) at the hands of Calvin in Geneva. Servetus practised medicine and lectured in astronomy and astrology, but he also had new and heretical ideas on the nature of Christianity. In his writings we see an unusual blend of mystical religious speculation and sharp and acute observation. Servetus dissected the human body and became convinced that only a small amount of blood, if any, could pass through the septum dividing the two sides of the heart, for like those before him, he could detect no pores and suggested that if they existed, they must be very fine.
In ethics it is indeed an act of piety to say that God made everything for our sake, that we may be the more impelled to thank him, and the more on fire with love of him; and in a sense this is true; for we can make some use of all things – at least we can employ our mind in contemplating them, and in admiring God for his wonderful works. But it is by no means probable that all things were made for our sake in the sense that they have no other use. 3 Francis Bacon and Physical Causes The dismissal of the notion that a search for ultimate (final) causes was an avowed purpose of inquiry is more explicit in the writings of Francis Bacon (1560–1626).
Paracelsus made a flamboyant and explicit break with ‘authorities’; he showed his contempt for slavish and uncritical dependence on Galen and Aristotle by publicly burning their works before starting his course of lectures at the University of Basel in 1526. However, we must not think that he therefore approached the study of medicine uninfluenced by earlier work and free from religious presuppositions. His natural philosophy is clearly grounded in Greek writings and along with constant reference to arcane texts and rites he appealed to religious beliefs and to Old Testament and New Testament stories.
Beliefs and Biology: Theories of Life and Living by Jennifer Trusted