No matter who you were in sixteenth-century Europe, you could be sure of two things: you would be lucky to reach fifty years of age, and you could expect a life of discomfort and pain. Old age tires the body by thirty-five, Erasmus lamented, but half the population did not live beyond the age of twenty. There were doctors and there was medicine, but there does not seem to have been a great deal of healing. Anyone who could afford to seek a doctor's aid did so eagerly, but the doctor was as likely to maim or kill as to cure. His potions were usually noxious and sometimes fatal-but they could not have been as terrible and traumatic as the contemporary surgical methods. The surgeon and the Inquisitor differed only in their motivation: otherwise, their batteries of knives, saws, and tongs for slicing, piercing, burning, and amputating were barely distinguishable. Without any anesthetic other than strong liquor, an operation was as bad as the torments of hell.
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APAPhilip Ball Quotes. (n.d.). Jar of Quotes. Retrieved , from JarofQuotes.com Web site: https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=no-matter-who-you-were-in-sixteenthcentury-europe-you-could-be-sure-two-things-you-would-be-lucky-to-reach-fifty-years-age-you-could-expect-life-discomfort-pain-old-age-tires-bod
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Peasants brought up on a tradition of superstitious magic could hardly be expected to distinguish between such ostensibly Christian rituals and the mumbled incantations of the local wizard. And so, to the discomfort of the priests, many came to regard elements of Christian devotion as simple magical spells. The Latin Mass was, after all, incomprehensible to the common people, so it already had the aspect of an occult formula. It came to be seen, like magic, as an essentially mechanical rite through which absolution was achieved by observing the correct procedures. In that case, there was no real need for faith.
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Forty of Paracelsus's theological manuscripts still survive, as well as sixteen Bible commentaries, twenty sermons, twenty works on the Eucharist, and seven on the Virgin Mary. Half of these have never been properly edited, let alone printed in modern form. There is no question that Paracelsus thought long and hard about Christianity, and by styling himself a professor of theology (without, it seems, any official academic sanction) he implies that he regarded this component of his output to be the equal of his medical and chemical theories. That his role in the history of science and medicine has received far more attention than his theological oeuvre is, however, understandable and probably apt, for it cannot be said that he had much influence even on the religious debates of his day. In theology he never aspired to be a Luther, and that would in any case have been a futile aspiration for one so lacking in political acumen or the ability to foster disciples.
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It is only rather recently that science has begun to make peace with its magical roots. Until a few decades ago, it was common for histories of science either to commence decorously with Copernicus's heliocentric theory or to laud the rationalism of Aristotelian antiquity and then to leap across the Middle Ages as an age of ignorance and superstition. One could, with care and diligence, find occasional things to praise in the works of Avicenna, William of Ockham, Albertus Magnus, and Roger Bacon, but these sparse gems had to be thoroughly dusted down and scraped clean of unsightly accretions before being inserted into the corners of a frame fashioned in a much later period.
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Better still [than pure sugar] was the remedy known as theriac, the root of the English word 'treacle, ' which was kept in ornate ceramic jars on the shelves of every self-respecting apothecary shop. The name comes from the Greek therion, meaning 'venomous animal, ' for theriac was supposed in Classical times to counteract all venoms and poisons.
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What is striking is these things [patterns in nature, e.g. fish stripes] do look like something that has been crafted. We are conditioned to think that a pattern needs a patterner and so at first glance it seems incredible to us that nature is able to do this, without any sort of blueprint, without any sort of plan. These patterns organise themselves, that is the amazing thing.
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