Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/597

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579
NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

Under such pressure this scientific truth seems to have disappeared for nearly two hundred years, but by the eighth century the sphericity of the earth had come to be generally accepted among the leaders of thought, and now the doctrine of the antipodes was again asserted by a bishop, Virgil of Salzburg.

There then stood in Germany, in those first years of the eighth century, one of the greatest and noblest of men St. Boniface. His learning was of the best then known. In labors he was a worthy successor of the apostles; his genius for Christian work made him unwillingly primate of Germany; his devotion to duty led him willingly to martyrdom. There sat too, at that time, on the papal throne a great Christian statesman—Pope Zachary. Boniface immediately declared against the revival of such a heresy as the doctrine of the antipodes; he stigmatized it as an assertion that there are men beyond the reach of the appointed means of salvation; he attacked Virgil, and called on Pope Zachary for aid.

The Pope, as the infallible teacher of Christendom, makes a strong response. He cites passages from the book of Job and the Wisdom of Solomon against the doctrine of the antipodes; he declares it "perverse, iniquitous, and against Virgil's own soul," and indicates a purpose of driving him from his bishopric. Whether this purpose was carried out or not, the old theological view, by virtue of the Pope's divinely ordered and protected "inerrancy," was re-established, and the doctrine that the earth has inhabitants on but one of its sides became more than ever orthodox, and, in the mind of the Church, necessary to salvation.[1]

This decision seems to have been regarded as final, and two centuries later the great encyclopedist of the middle ages, Vin-


    antipodes "nulla ratione credendum est." Also citations in Buckle's Posthumous Works, vol. ii, p. 645. For Procopius of Gaza see Kretschiner, p. 55. See also, on the general subject, Peschel, Geschichte der Erdkunde, pp. 96, 97. For Isidore, see citations already given. To understand the embarrassment caused by these utterances of the fathers to scientific men of a later period, see Letter of Agricola to Joachimus Vadianus in 1514. Agricola asks Vadianus to give his views regarding the antipodes, saying that he himself does not know what to do, between the fathers on the one side and the learned men of modern times on the other. On the other hand, for the embarrassment caused to the Church by this mistaken zeal of the fathers, see Kepler's references and Fromund's replies; also De Morgan, Paradoxes, p. 58. Kepler appears to have taken great delight in throwing the views of Lactantius into the teeth of his adversaries.

  1. For Virgil of Salzburg, see Neander's History of the Christian Church, Torrey's translation, vol. iii, p. 63. Also Herzog, Real Encyclopædic, etc., recent edition by Prof. Hauck, in verb. Virgilius. Also Kretschmer. See Whewell, i, p. 197; but for best choice of authorities and for most careful winnowing out of conclusions, see De Morgan, pp. 2426. For very full notes as to pagan and Christian advocates of the doctrine of the sphericity of the earth and of the antipodes, and for extract from Zachary's letter, see Migne, Patrologia, vol. vi, p. 426, and vol. xli, p. 487. For St. Boniface's part, see Bonifacii Epistoke, ed. Giles, i, 173.