Leibniz, science, and theology

From The New Atlantis — "At fourteen, he enrolled at the University of Leipzig to study philosophy. “I was very young when I began to meditate,” he would later write, “and I was not quite fifteen when I strolled for whole days in a grove to take sides between Aristotle and Democritus.” Even then, Leibniz was nagged by the tension between the teleological account of nature inherited from Aristotle and engrained in academia, and the new mechanical physics, represented by Galileo and Descartes, that hearkened back to the ancient Greek atomist Democritus. Early in Leibniz’s career, mechanism won out and led him to focus on mathematics, but, as we shall see, he later appropriated into his system something akin to the substantial forms of Aristotle. "For reasons not entirely known, Leibniz was denied the doctor’s degree of law at Leipzig and left the city, never to live there again. After quickly finishing, defending, and publishing his dissertation at the University of Altdorf at age twenty, he turned down the offer of a professorship, presumably to pursue his independent work of reforming the sciences — a project involving far more than the academy."