Christianity had been in existence fifteen hundred years, and had not produced a single astronomer.

Although written well over a hundred years ago, John Draper’s History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science took a clear-eyed and caustic view of traditional Catholicism.

Reference to Authority

“The Ptolemaic system is, therefore, essentially a geocentric system. It left the earth in her position of superiority, and hence gave no cause of umbrage to religious opinions, Christian or Mohammedan. The immense reputation of its author, the signal ability of his great work on the mechanism of the heavens, sustained it for almost fourteen hundred years—that is, from the second to the sixteenth century.

In Christendom, the greater part of this long period was consumed in disputes respecting the nature of God, and in struggles for ecclesiastical power. The authority of the Fathers, and the prevailing belief that the Scriptures contain the sum, of all knowledge, discouraged any investigation of Nature. If by chance a passing interest was taken in some astronomical question, it was at once settled by a reference to such authorities as the writings of Augustine or Lactantius, not by an appeal to the phenomena of the heavens. So great was the preference given to sacred over profane learning that Christianity had been in existence fifteen hundred years, and had not produced a single astronomer.”

History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science. By John William Draper. Published 1875 by D. Appleton and company, New York.. Ch. VI.