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The stars, at the boundary of the Universe, were quite different; they were fixed, unchanging, divine and eternal, a view held by Plato, which clearly influenced Aristotle. The stars therefore had to be made of something quite different to anything existing on Earth and he proposed that they were made by a sublime element, ether, which had the property of self-luminescence, thereby explaining the light emission from them. His creation of this fifth element is the origin from which the word quintessence derives.

I have extracted a piece from one of Tertullian’s writings which most effectively demonstrates the conflict that was to occur between the developing Christian church and the nascent world of science: What has Athens to do with Jerusalem, the Academy with the Church? ¼We have no need for curiosity since Jesus Christ, nor for inquiry since the Gospel. This is expressed in quite magnificent language in which the great ancient works of Athens and its Academy are taken to represent activities based on curiosity and inquiry—the basis for what we now call science.

These were stimulated by the Christian Church, which, as has already been said, did not greatly encourage the pursuit of scientific or philosophical activities, but it did encourage the pursuit of another area demanding human creativity —architecture—for the purpose of designing and building cathedrals. These were the palaces in which the bishops, among the most powerful dignitaries in Europe, presided, and the results were accordingly marvellous demonstrations of human art and ingenuity. One example is the magnificent cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres, France, which lies on the left bank of the River Eure some 80 kilometres southwest of Paris.

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