Did the Church suppress science in the Middle Ages?

A really worthwhile article debunking the Age of Enlightenment’s myth that there was no scientific advancement in the Middle Ages, and that the Catholic Church suppressed scientific advancement. The author, Tim O’Neill, is an atheist, BTW, but is rigorously fair to the Church:


It’s revisionism to say that the Church is anti-science. It’s even false to say of the Church today. However, science has slowly become anti-Church. This problem of science and religion opposed to each other is a novel thing. It recently came about. The Church has historically been a great patron of sciences (as well as the arts) and many advancements would never have come about if it were not for the Catholic Church.

Thank you, Arizona Mike. I’d like to add:



Thank you Mike, that was very interesting.


I think that’s still inaccurate. More like: a loud group of scientists has become anti-Church.

Science itself actually backs up Catholic doctrine wherever it intersects with it. At least, that is how I understand it.

The media has done much to help spread this idea. Since the late 1800s, much has been written to paint the Church as anti-science. Posts appear here bringing up various events which prove the Church is that way. Of course, it’s not true. When science intersects with Church teaching and divine revelation, the Church does comment on it. In other cases, when the Church objects to something scientific, it is criticized to varying degrees depending on the subject.


It’s amazing how prejudices can become so deeply engrained into a culture that false history can be perpetuated for centuries. it makes me wonder how many things I think I know but really don’t.

Of course, it’s impossible for everyone to know everything but with Church history, it pays to do what research you can.

Fulton Sheen: “There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

"Foreword to Radio Replies Vol. 1, (1938) page ix."


Thanks Arizona Mike,

I added to my list of documentation on this subject.



A few more…

An encapsulated view by James Hannam on The Church and Galileo:


On the alleged conflict between the Church and science…

This is an overview of Hannam’s case that the conflict is a myth. It was written in 2007 and Hannam later published his much more complete case in the book God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science:


The following is a more academic article detailing some of the facts about medieval science and how it has been unfairly given short shrift by modernity.


This blog by Tim O’Neill, the atheist historian who also wrote your article:


The Church did give the world William of Ockham though.

Thank you Peter. Perhaps you recall the long and heated debate we had on the Galileo affair.


Book review:

Ask someone today where Western Civilization originated, and he or she might say Greece or Rome. But what is the ultimate source of Western Civilization? Bestselling author and professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr. provides the long neglected answer: the Catholic Church. In the new paperback edition of his critically-acclaimed book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, Woods goes far beyond the familiar tale of monks copying manuscripts and preserving the wisdom of classical antiquity. Gifts such as modern science, free-market economics, art, music, and the idea of human rights come from the Catholic Church, explains Woods. In How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, you’ll learn:

  • Why modern science was born in the Catholic Church
  • How Catholic priests developed the idea of free-market economics five hundred years before Adam Smith
  • How the Catholic Church invented the university
  • Why what you know about the Galileo affair is wrong
  • How Western law grew out of Church canon law
  • How the Church humanized the West by insisting on the sacredness of all human life

No institution has done more to shape Western civilization than the two-thousand-year-old Catholic Church-and in ways that many of us have forgotten or never known. How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization is essential reading for recovering this lost truth.

available at amazon.

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