Cosmology, God And Why ‘The Big Picture’ Needs To Be Bigger

John Farrell in Forbes:

ScreenHunter_2089 Jul. 13 22.44I’ll apologize in advance for a long review. And it’s a long review because Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture is an important book that needs to be read by a much wider audience than popular science aficionados. But let me start with a short historical prologue:

Back in the 12th century, a trickle of monks flowed from Europe into the Iberian Peninsula, at the time still heavily dominated by Muslim rule, though Christian princes were beginning to retake the territories city by city. The pilgrims needed access to better lunar and planetary charts. They had heard from travelers, that Arab star watchers had a wealth of superior data.

So, the heads of the new cathedral schools on the continent sent these clerics down to Spain to get translations: First, and foremost, of the astronomical tables, so that the popes could make more accurate assessments of when Easter should be determined in the Gregorian calendar.

They could not imagine what they were getting themselves into. In Toledo they gained access to Latin translations of far more than astronomical tables. Medical books. Philosophy. Zoology. What became known as The Translation Movement, over the next two centuries, opened to Europe access to all the best sources of Ancient Science and Philosophy that existed and had been lost to the West since the fall of the Roman Empire, from Aristotle and the Greeks onward to the greatest physicians and philosophers of Islam.

More here.