This whole theory [of John Law and Jean Terrasson], as dear to French financial schemers in the eighteenth century as to American " Greenbackers " in the nineteenth, had resulted, under the Orleans Regency and Louis XV, in ruin to France financially and morally, had culminated in the utter destruction of all prosperity, the rooting out of great numbers of the most important industries, and the grinding down of the working people even to starvation.
Even before Melanchthon sank into his grave, he was dismayed at seeing Lutheranism stiffen into dogmas and formulas, and heartbroken by a persecution from his fellow-Protestants more bitter than anything he had ever experienced from Catholics.
The young man [Turgot] destined for an ecclesiastical career was placed within walls carefully designed to keep out all currents of new thought; his studies, his reading, his professors, his associates, all were combined to keep from him any results of observation or reflection save those prescribed: probably, of all means for stifling healthy and helpful thought, a theological seminary, as then conducted whether Catholic or Protestant, Jewish or Mohammedan, was the most perfect.
In all modern history, interference with science in the supposed interest of religion, no matter how conscientious such interference may have been, has resulted in the direst evils both to religion and to science, and invariably; and, on the other hand, all untrammelled scientific investigation, no matter how dangerous to religion some of its stages may have seemed for the time to be, has invariably resulted in the highest good both of religion and of science.
My early years abroad were spent mainly upon the European Continent, and public duties since have led me to make prolonged stays in various Continental states France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Russia where the study of Continental statesmen has been almost forced upon me.
After Bruno's death, during the first half of the seventeenth century, Descartes seemed about to take the leadership of human thought... in promoting an evolution doctrine as regards the mechanical formation of the solar system... but his constant dread of persecution, both from Catholics and Protestants, led him steadily to veil his thoughts and even to suppress them. ...Since Roger Bacon, perhaps, no great thinker had been so completely abased and thwarted by theological oppression.
In an address before the "Academia," which had been organized to combat "science falsely so called," Cardinal Manning declared his abhorrence of the new view of Nature, and described it as "a brutal philosophy to wit, there is no God, and the ape is our Adam." ...These attacks from such eminent sources set the clerical fashion for several years.
A new danger now beset him [Grotius], the danger of becoming simply a venal pleader, a creature who grinds out arguments on this or that side, for this or that client: a mere legal beast of prey. Fortunately for himself and for the world he took a higher view of his life-work: his determination clearly was to make himself a thoroughly equipped jurist, and then, as he rose more and more in his profession, to use his powers for the good of his country and of mankind.
The inquiry into Nature having thus been pursued nearly two thousand years theologically, we find by the middle of the sixteenth century some promising beginnings of a different method the method of inquiry into Nature scientifically the method which seeks not plausibilities but facts.
For similar folly, our own country, in the transition from the colonial period, also paid a fearful price; and from a like catastrophe the United States has been twice saved in our time by the arguments formulated by Turgot.