"A faith that can not survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets" - Arthur C. Clarke
- R. Totten (c) '99
In their book, The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Crossway,'94), Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton explain how, in all the history of mankind, the modern scientific method and philosophy originated in only one culture (& religious worldview), and that is: --in Christianized Western Europe.
In balance, however, Pearcey and Thaxton note that it is true that several ancient cultures --such as the Arabs (along with India's mathematics), the Egyptians and Chinese-- did come up earlier with more advanced levels of practical technology, mathematics and learning than medieval Europe did, but still, because of their worldviews, those more technically advanced cultures did not come up with "modern science as a systematic, self-correcting discipline" (p.21, my emphasis). --Also, it should be remembered that the various technological advancements of Islamic culture developed within the worldview of the Quran, which was written down after Mohammed engaged in extensive discussions about the Bible with both Jews and Christians as he developed his theology and worldview, and so, much of the biblical worldview was foundational to the Quran, which benefited Islamics.
In agreement with this, science writer Loren Eiseley (a non-Christian) maintains that the most curious thing about the modern scientific method and philosophy, is that mankind has come up with it at all, because it is not "natural" to mankind. Worship of nature comes more naturally to people, as well as superstition.
--In contrast, however, science "demands some kind of unique soil in which to flourish," says Eiseley, and he (somewhat reluctantly) identifies that soil as "the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear, articulate fashion to the experimental method of science itself" (Darwin's Century, '61, p.62, my emphasis). Up through the middle ages and until the 1800s, modern science (and its method) was shaped and developed largely by discussions about nature among Bible-believing Christians, such as Buridan, Copernicus, Kepler, Paracelsus, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Boyle, Linnaeus and Cuvier. -- (See lists of great scientists and inventors below).
So, why did modern science arise only out of Western Europe's Judeo-Christian worldview? Pearcey and Thaxton explain that the reason is because only that worldview of the Bible provided the key presuppositions required for modern science and its methods :
However, since the biblical view sees the things of nature as realities, they are therefore possible objects of study and understanding.
Contrast this to Eastern religions, which are basically all pantheistic or polytheistic worldviews, where anything and possibly everything may be a god or a part of god (or the "One"). --Or compare the biblical view to pagan Animism which believes that all natural things --both animate and inanimate (such as rocks, plants, animals, thunder or planets)-- are indwelt and "animated" by some form of spiritual and divine life-forces within them, which shape all reality. --In such worldviews, a person conducting science might be (for example) dissecting a god or its body, which would be an horribly impious offense of sacrilege. Such views undoubtedly destroyed the possibility of modern science in the cultures which held them.
--In contrast, the Bible teaches that the universe and the natural order is God's creation... objects and forces, not part of God himself. Therefore, says science historian R. Hooykaas, Judeo-Christianity "un-deified" nature, and this was an essential pre-condition for the endeavor of modern science to exist.
Of course, the fact that nature is a created "thing" does not mean people should be free to harm and abuse nature ...on the contrary, we --as stewards-- are to respect a protect these things which have been put in our charge.)
(A NOTE of CONCERN: In recent years, as a few scientists are tending back toward an "Eastern" worldview --including pantheism-- which is actually regressive, and promises to be a threat to an effective scientific method.)
The work of astronomer J. Kepler illustrates this beautifully, because he struggled for years over the small difference of eight minutes between the observed orbit-time of Mars, compared to what the calculated time should have been if the orbit were circular in shape. This "small" discrepancy drove Kepler to postulate that the orbit was elliptical instead of round. He hit upon this because of a conviction that God's work in designing nature must be mathmatically precise and logical --otherwise Kepler would not have worried about it, and would not have decided against a two thousand year-old belief in circular orbits. Kepler spoke of those eight minutes gratefully, as a "gift of God."
By contrast, for example, the Greeks expected a good amount of imprecision and "fuzziness" in nature, because their concept of a creator (demiurge) was an inferior deity who had to "struggle" against the stubborn properties of matter. Greeks thought, therefore, that nothing in the physical world could be described with exact precision, by mathematically precise concepts. In addition, they thought the material world was somewhat evil and disorderly, ---and so, many historians believe these are the major reasons why the ancient Greeks never developed anything like an experimental scientific method using empirical facts.
But in contrast, in his book, The Grand Tradition ('69), J. Needham --an expert on Chinese culture-- maintains that the Chinese never developed modern analytical science, because they did not think there existed either a definite understandable order in nature, nor the human ability to figure it out. To the Chinese, whatever order did exist in nature "was not an order ordained by a rational personal being, and hence there was no guarantee that other rational personal beings would be able to spell out ...laws which he had previously formulated" (p.327).
On the other hand, in Christian Europe, scientists did have such a guarantee, because they believed that a rational and orderly Creator had made everything --including man as a rational personal being. The resultant outcome is that, to a meaningful extent, man can "think God's thoughts after Him", and thus understand much of the rationally logical order of nature. --Note, however, that this possibility of "orderly thinking" is not a perfect picture, because of "the Fall" of man into sin, which left man's spirit dead towards God, his understanding impaired --and the creation damaged, dying, and condemned to decay and entropy (Romans 8:20-21).
So, the charge that the Bible and Judeo-Christianity is hostile to science, is basically a completely inaccurate notion ...which was a deceptive fiction, whatsmore. In fact, in his book The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers, Carl Becker shows that Enlightenment philosophers such as Voltaire, Condorcet, Hume, Montesquieu and Gibbon intentionally endeavored to discredit Christianity by portraying it as an "enemy" of science. Likewise, in the 1800s, A. Comte and A. White carefully combed through Western history for examples of Christians who resisted change in scientific concepts. ---However, these "triumphalist" writers were actually not being honest enough to bring out that almost all such resistance was from "status quo" science, and that change in scientific views often meets resistance during any period of history. But despite such ideological efforts at deception, the facts of science history are now dismantling these false stereotypes of "anti-scientific" Christianity.
Although people from all major non-biblical worldviews employ modern scientific methodology today, those people have the framework of the worldview of Biblical truth to thank for this original connection to reality. ---However, if non-biblical worldviews and philosophies take over, this would create a threat to good science.
Pearcey and Thaxton sum it up: "The Christian religion ...has motivated, sanctioned, and shaped large portions of the Western scientific heritage. Modern Christians ought to drink deeply at the well of historical precedent. If we do, we will never feel intimidated by positivists and others who deny that religion has any role in genuine scholarship. In the broad scope of history, that claim is itself a temporary aberation ---a mere blip on the screen, already beginning to fade" (p.248).
Christians can confidently obey the Lord's call to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2Cor. 10:5).
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) - Hydraulics, Anatomy
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) - Celestial Mechanics, Astronomy
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) - Hydrostatics, Fluid Pressure
Robert Boyle (1627-1691) - Chemistry, Elements, Gas Volume & Pressure, Scientific Method
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) - Calculus, Laws of Gravity & Motion
John Woodward (1665-1728) - Paleontology
Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) - Systematic Biology Classification
Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) - Comparative Anatomy, Vertebrate Paleontology
Michael Faraday (1791-1867) - Electromagnetics, Field Theory
Charles Babbage (1792-1871) - Computer Science
Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) - Ichthyology, Glacial Geology
James Joule (1818-1889) - Reversible Thermodynamics
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) - Genetics
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) - Bacteriology, Germs cause Disease, Law of Biogenesis
Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) - Thermodynamics, Energetics
William Ramsay (1852-1916) - Isotopic Chemistry
And considering many others working from a biblical worldview of nature, read down through a list of
Notable Inventions and Discoveries from the past 800 years.
And you, dear reader, are loved and valued by God, who sent Jesus Christ to pay the death-penalty for the sins of anyone who will surrender and entrust their life to him. (see John 3:16 and Rom. 10:9).
Blessings to you!
Other Old Earth (& Universe) Sites:
Directory to TestingWorldviews.comHome Page
$1,000,000 Prize for Abiogenesis, & $2K for Evolution
Abiogenesis : Hopeful Distortions and Spontaneous Generation Redux
Evolution is Partly True
Mathematical Proof of Intelligent Design in Nature
Science Facts Confirm the Bible
Evolution vs Creation Articles
Truth Tests for Worldviews
The Worldview of Naturalism
The Eastern Worldview: Pantheism
The Worldview of Theism
Prophecy Proves the Bible's Authority
Archaeology Confirms Biblical History
How You Can Be Saved
Who We Are
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Links to Biblical Apologetics Web Sites