Dr. Trevor on Reason Supplanting Dogma
The Church could only fall back on her ancient claim of oneness and individuality. To her boasted unity of form she was astute enough to add the philosophic conception of the essential oneness of all truth, and laid claim to both alike. Truth was not biform as those dualists asserted — a kind of centaur, half divine, half human. On the contrary, truth was ex vi termini, whole, complete, and indiscerptible, fully embodied and revealed in her own doctrine, form, and polity. It was to no purpose that divines like Abelard and Aquinas, and philosophers like Giordano Bruno, pleaded for the separate existence of secular truth, and expatiated on the natural diversity in object and method between Religion and Philosophy. Both the reasoning and the conclusion were alike disclaimed. As the virtues of the heathen were to earlier ecclesiastics only''splendid vices,' so the mediaeval Church was eager to pronounce all truths not originated by herself, and which had never received her sanction, mere plausible forms of falsehood. Nor is this prejudice confined to any one part of the history of Romanism. Up to the present day she has reserved her most implacable hostility, her choicest vocabulary of vituperation, for the daring propounders of truth, of whatever kind, outside the limits of her own dogma. What was true of philosophy in the time of the Schoolmen became true of astronomy in the time of Galileo, and of general physical science in all subsequent periods.
Declaring Reason to be autonomous, it demanded scope for its free exercise. Nor was the territory thus claimed a small one. With a true perception of the rights of Reason, it required a field for criticism and research in every direction. 'Philosophy,' said the maintainers of double-truth — perhaps in satirical imitation of the claims of theologians — 'should be conversant with all things.' When we come to the Renaissance we shall find how much this encyclopædic view of knowledge governed human research. In this commencement of science the human mind, on account of its long starvation, claimed to be omnivorous. All knowledge, real and supposed, was devoured with a passionate craving which men nurtured on regular and plentiful diet fail to understand.