Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Thomas Arnold on science

This morning I picked up A Feast of Days by Paul Jennings, a book with a saint and a diary extract for every day of the year. Today's diary extract from the nineteenth century English educationalist, Thomas Arnold, touched a nerve.

1836 ... physical science, if studied at all, seems too great to be given a secondary place in one's studies: wherefore, rather than have it the principal thing in my son's mind, I would gladly have him think that the sun went round the earth, and that the stars were so many spangles set in the bright blue firmament. Surely the one thing needful for a Christian and an Englishman to study is Christian and moral and political philosophy, and then we should see our way a little more clearly without falling into Judaism, or Toryism, or Jacbinism, or any other ism whatever.
I'm sure Charlotte Mason would not have agreed. And neither do I. Important as is the study of philosophy and theology, so is the study of God's world and how it works. And great as that study is, it need not become the be all and end all of one's studies. Sorry Dr.Arnold, I prefer polymaths!

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