Christianity and Science
(Investigator 169, 2016 July)
In The Bible on Tolerance (No
167, page 37) anonymous makes the claim
that "modern science itself began in Christianity."
No doubt Christians have made contributions to science. Science,
however, had its origins in Classical Greece, where people
were largely free from the supernaturalism of theology, which in turn
gave them the opportunity to seek naturalistic explanations for the
There really was no Greek theology in the sense that theology provides
a coherent and profound explanation of the workings
of both the cosmos and the human heart. Hence, there were no easy
answers to inquiring Greek minds. The result was that ample room was
left for a more penetrating
and ultimately more satisfying mode of inquiry. Thus were philosophy
and its oldest offspring, science, born. (1)
Islamic scientists and philosophers preserved and added to the legacy
of the Greeks when classical civilisation ended. During the 12th
century this knowledge began to flow back into Europe via Islamic
Spain, and provided the intellectual stimulation which eventually gave
rise to the European Renaissance. (2)
In the fourth century B.C., when Alexander the Great conquered Asia
Minor and founded Alexandria, he set the stage for the great migration
of Greek philosophy and science to that part of the world. During the
Ptolemaic period, Alexandria, Egypt, was the radiant centre for the
development and spread of Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean.
That great centre of learning continued after 641, when Egypt became
part of the Muslim state. Thereafter Syria, Baghdad, and Persia became
similar channels for the communication of essentially Greek, Syriac,
pre-Islamic, Persian and
Indian cultural values. As a result, Islamic philosophy was influenced
by the writings of Socrates, Plato, and
The great Muslim philosophers such as Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), Ibn Sina
(Avicenna, d. 1037), Ibn Rushd (Averroes, d. 1198),
al-Farabi and al-Ghazali translated the works of earlier Greek
philosophers and added their own significant
contributions. It was essentially through such works, intellectually
faithful to the originals, that Western civilization was able to
benefit from these earlier legacies. In fact,
St. Thomas Aquinas, the founder of Catholic naturalism, developed his
views of Aristotle through the translation of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and
Ibn Rushd (Averroes).
These great philosophers produced a wealth of new ideas that enriched
civilization, particularly Western civilization which has depended so
much on their works. The influence of Islam
ultimately made possible the European Renaissance, which was generated
by the ideas of the Greeks filtered through the Muslim philosophers.
Science has been advanced by the work of many people from diverse
cultures, with each civilisation building on the foundations laid down
by the previous. Science is a collective enterprise, and any attempt to
arrogate science solely to Christianity is unjustifiable.
Modern science commenced to emerge with the scientific revolution,
which occurred during the 15th to• the 17th centuries
and began with Copernicus (1473-1543) who questioned the Ptolemaic view
of the universe — that the Sun, Moon and planets orbited the Earth and
proposed that the heliocentric
theory (an idea first formulated by the ancient Greek Aristarchus of
Samos: ca. 310-230 BC), which postulated that the planets orbited the
Sun, was more in keeping with astronomical observations.
At the time Aristotelian physics (based on perceptible qualities and
verbal logic rather than mathematics) dominated scientific thinking. By
contrast Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo embraced the spirit of
Neo-Platonic and Pythagorean philosophy, which saw nature as
comprehensible in terms of harmonious mathematical qualities.
In addition to this shift away from Aristotelian ideas was the
rediscovery of the ancient Greek philosophy of atomism as espoused by
Leucippus (fl. 5th century BC) and Democritus (c. 460 -
c.370 BC) and their successors, Epicurus (341-270 BC) and the Roman
Lucretius (c.99 BC - c.55 BC), which also played a significant role in
the emergence of modern science.
Atomism was to provide other and no less consequential contributions to
the developing cosmology. For not only was the
structure of the atomistic cosmos congruent with the Copernican theory,
but, in addition, the atomistic conception of matter itself was
singularly appropriate to the working principles of the new natural
scientists. Democritus' atoms were characterised exclusively by
quantitative factors — size, shape, motion, and number — and not by any
perceptible qualities, such as taste, smell, touch, or sound. All
apparent qualitative changes in phenomena were created by differing
quantities of atoms combined in different arrangements, and therefore
the atomic universe was in principle open to mathematical analysis. (4)
As can be seen, the emergence of modern science occurred due to a shift
in the scientific conceptual schema — a movement towards an atomistic,
naturalistic world view, and the adoption of mathematics as the
foundation for the elucidation of the cosmos.
Anonymous mentions scientists he considers Christian. But a scientist's
religion is a separate issue because science and religion operate under
different paradigms as shown in the table below. (5)
|Object of study
Scientists, regardless of whether they are Muslims, Christians or
members of any other faith, make contributions to our understanding of
the world not because of their religion, but because they apply
scientific principles to their investigations and use logic to draw
deductions from the evidence. These deductions become formalised
theories if the evidence warrants it, and these theories are then
tested by independent researchers to ascertain their validity.
(2) Bernal, J.D. Science in History,
Vol 1: The Emergence of Science,
Penguin Books, England, 1969
(3) http://www. mei.edu/content/islamic-civilization
(4) Page 266 in Tarnas, R. The
Passion of the Western Mind,
Ballantine Books, New York, 1991
(5) Based on table 1.3, page 65 in Casti, J.L. Paradigms Lost, Sphere
Books Ltd., London, 1989
ORIGIN of MODERN SCIENCE
(Investigator 170, 2016 September)
Mr Straughen (Investigator 169) challenged my statement that: "modern
science itself began in Christianity."
The book 100 Scientists Who Changed
The World (2003) presents the
following numbers of world-changing scientists:
Straughen attributes the origin of science to Greeks
and Arabs. But it
can be traced back much further, to when humans first controlled fire.
- 1st to 14th centuries
- 15th to 19th centuries 52
- 20th century
However, I specified "modern science".
Modern science required the social conditions inaugurated in
Christianity such as widespread free secular education, opposition to
slavery and idolatry, establishment of Universities, empowerment of
women, the Protestant work ethic, and equality before the law.
Many of the 100 scientists who "Changed The World" had Christian
backgrounds. Achievements by ancient Greeks and Medieval Islam were
primitive compared to scientific disciplines founded in recent
centuries and discoveries made.
A "Professor of the History of Science" writes in his "Epilogue"
…one has to recognize
as a simple fact that 'classical modern science'
rose only in the western part of Europe in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. Once the right methods had been discovered and
solid foundations laid, each new development in the fundamental science
of nature (physics) refines and corrects, but does not completely
overthrow, the older one. Henceforth, from this point on, anyone with
the necessary talent may help to build up science on solid established
foundations. Scientists from nations whose own culture did not give
birth to anything like western science have already made notable
contributions to it. Western people who have lost all contact with the
religion of their forebears continue in their scientific activities the
tradition inherited from them…
The confrontation of Graeco-Roman culture with biblical
engendered, after centuries of tension, a new science. This science
preserved the indispensible parts of the ancient heritage (mathematics,
logic, methods of observation and experimentation), but it was directed
by different social and methodological conceptions, largely stemming
from a biblical world view… (Hooykaas 1972)
LIBRARIES AND MANUSCRIPTS
Straughen says Syria, Baghdad, and Persia became "channels for the
communication of essentially Greek, Syriac, pre-Islamic, Persian and
Indian cultural values" and "The influence of Islam ultimately made
possible the European Renaissance, which was generated by the ideas of
the Greeks filtered through the Muslim philosophers."
What Straughen quotes is discredited. The greatest collection of Greek
and Latin learning after Barbarians destroyed the Western Roman Empire
was not in Syria or Iraq, rather:
2. Europe's monasteries.
Bonnell (2008) writes:
Sawa (2006) estimated
that at least 75% of the known Greek classics in
existence today are Byzantine copies…
With collapse of the Roman Empire and the destruction
of the great
libraries of the ancient world, advocacy for learning passed from the
government to the church…
The main contribution of the monks who managed the
was the preservation of the Greek and Latin writings of the ancient
world. These writings formed the foundations of the great library
collections of the period. Every monastery had scriptoria a room where
Greek and Latin manuscripts were hand-copied by monks. The monks also
instituted the first inter-library loans…
From the monasteries the manuscripts passed in various
gift, theft, looting—to form the core of the important libraries of the
late Middle Ages and the Renaissance…
In the late twelfth
century, universities emerged as institutions of
higher learning… The University of Paris in 1289 had round 1,000 titles
in its collection…
Monk (2016), reviewing The Myth of
the Andalusian Paradise, writes:
Islam was not the
vehicle through which classical Greek learning was
preserved, as is often claimed. It was chiefly Constantinople that
archived and protected the patrimony of Greek antiquity, philosophical,
medical and mathematical. The Arabs acquired all this through Greek
Christian scholars translating the classics for them. Greeks from the
east and Christians in the west revived such learning for themselves.
Pope Sylvester II (940-1003) collected classical manuscripts and:
He endorsed and
promoted study of Arab and Greco-Roman arithmetic,
mathematics, and astronomy, reintroducing to Europe the abacus and
armillary sphere… He is said to be the first to introduce in Europe the
decimal numeral system using Arabic numerals. (Wikipedia)
Much of the knowledge entering Western Europe from Byzantium went via
Italy and Spain where Spanish monasteries had copies of books held in
the library of Cordoba.
DEGREE OF DIFFERENCE
Also, note the level of difference between Greek discoveries with
today. Hero of Alexandria (10-70 CE) used steam to rotate a sphere for
amusement. And that was it. No Greek philosopher imagined an industrial
revolution, powered by steam, propelling thousands of trains and ships,
and generating prosperity for billions of people.
Or consider medicine:
In the Hellenistic
world, the study and practice of medicine was
inextricably bound up with religion and superstition … charms and
potions, of the Evil Eye and curses, of the influence of the stars and
so on, which even educated men believed. (Marlowe 1971)
Or atomic theory: Greek philosophers thought of atoms as the tiniest
indivisible units of matter, having shape and hardness, and
indestructible. This was not evidence-based, and wrong. Correct is
modern science which uses the "Large Hadron Collider" to smash atoms
into hundreds of different types of particles.
Mathematics, however, is different in that Euclid and others
established an excellent foundation — see Waerden (1963).
Straughen wrongly claims, "…in Classical Greece … people were largely
free from the supernaturalism of theology…"
The truth is that Greece
had thousands of myths attached to 12 major gods, 11 important
secondary gods and hundreds of minor gods. Greece was saturated with
"supernaturalism". Half the people were slaves, illiterate, ignorant,
The idea of Islamic Spain as tolerant and free where cultural
coexistence and science flourished and inspired Europe's "Renaissance"
is myth. (Fernandez-Morera 2016)
Spanish Islam was often like ISIS today — intolerant with a religious
mandate to kidnap, enslave, exploit, and fight "infidels", thereby
ensuring paradise for themselves.
For around 500 years Arabs, Berbers and Syrians in Spain, besides
fighting each other, inflicted on Catholics and Jews massacres,
forced conversions, slavery, crucifixions, beheadings, impalings,
protection tax (i.e. extortion), and kidnappings for ransom and for
harems. For Muslims it was harsh Sharia Law. Women suffered
suppression, clitorectomies and stoning. Splendid Islamic monuments
were funded with stolen wealth and built largely by slaves.
Despite several famous achievers, such as Al-Zahrawi (800-850) "Father
of Algebra", the milieu of discrimination, bigotry and persecution
could not source the Renaissance or the modern scientific revolution.
Science is difficult; therefore scientists require high intelligence
and talent. To find that talent requires universal basic education, and
this began in Europe when kings (e.g. Alfred the Great), bishops, and
wealthy individuals sponsored talented children or founded schools —
schools that slowly grew in number to hundreds, then thousands.
Universal education has a biblical basis in counsel meant for everyone
Get wisdom, and
whatever else you get, get insight. Prize her highly
and she will exult you. (Proverbs 4:5-9)
An intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of
the wise seeks
knowledge. (Proverbs 18:15)
After basic education, outstanding students often proceeded to
university. Haskins (1957) writes:
The Greeks and the
Romans … had no universities… Much of their
instruction in law, rhetoric, and philosophy it would be hard to
surpass, but it was not organized into the form of permanent
institutions of learning.
Only in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries do there
emerge in the
world … all that machinery of education represented by faculties and
colleges and course of study, examinations and commencements and
academic degrees. In all these matters we are the heirs and successors,
not of Athens or Alexandria, but of Paris and Bologna…
The occasion for the rise of universities was a great
learning … which historians now call the renaissance of the twelfth
century. (pp 1-2, 4)
Greeks, Romans and Arabs in contrast suppressed much of the talent in
their empires by slavery, denial of education, suppression of women,
and discriminatory taxation.
European science was, however, helped by Greek mathematics and
Hindu-Arab digits (in place of Roman numerals). Hindu-Arab digits were
promoted by Sylvester II who may have learned of them while living in a
monastery in Spain and who applied them to create his abacus which
entered wide use in 11th century Europe.
The chief discoverer of Natural Selection [Evolution] believed in
As a boy Charles Darwin (1809-1882) attended church, received religious
training at boarding school, then studied theology at Cambridge
University and believed in God and "every word in the Bible".
While writing Origin of Species
Darwin still believed in God as an
intelligent First Cause. However, he increasingly regarded the
brutality of slavery and suffering-in-general as inconsistent with God
being both omnipotent and kind. His daughter's death in 1851 increased
his questioning but he still assisted with local parish work. By about
1870 Darwin was agnostic, rejected the Bible as divine revelation, but
wrote: "I have never been an atheist…" Darwin was buried in Westminster
Abbey, a Christian Church. (Comfort 2009)
Pioneers of science who believed in Christianity include:
scientific thought at Oxford
||A "Father of
empiricism and induction
A founding member
||Father of Modern
surgery; Bone fracture
Electricity supply system
|| Big Bang theory
Planning of Moon
| Boyd (1922-2004)
Some scientists not noted for Christian commitment nevertheless must
have endorsed the Church. Otherwise would have been "Dissenters" and
barred from university. For example:
In Hooke's case, his father and brothers were ministers
- Gilbert (1540-1603) Father of
- Harvey (1578-1657 Blood
- Hooke (1635-1703) Elasticity;
Gravity; Balance spring
Thousands of others not classed as scientists, nevertheless, promoted
scientific knowledge or methods. For example:
- St Isidore (560-636)
- Bede the Venerable (673-735)
Commentaries on science
- Sylvester II (950-1003)
- Gutenberg (1400-1468)
press with moveable type
- Colet (1467–1519)
- Nightingale (1820-1910)
- Drummond (1851-1897)
- Muir (1838-1914)
- Pinchot (1865-1946)
Mr Straughen's "Table 5" lists nine alleged differences between
Scientific and Religious Paradigms — Subject matter,
Information-source, Object of study, Language, Method, Results,
Validation, Limitations and Community.
The Bible has hundreds of statements about the natural world and
teaches that creation reveals the power, wisdom and greatness of God.
Briggs (1969) writes: "St. Augustine … recognized that God manifested
himself in the world, and that study of the world could therefore help
to reveal divine wisdom."
Many scientists therefore aimed to uncover or discover the works of
God. George Carver (1864-1943), for example, believed God created
plants and animals for human benefit and therefore it was a human duty
to discover their uses.
Eckland (2012) found that 80% of top American
scientists had religious backgrounds and: "The insurmountable hostility
between science and religion is a caricature…"
I'm not a scientist but got a Science Degree to assist my Biblical
research. At University I consulted scientific publications to check
many biblical statements — thereby uniting all nine alleged paradigm
Modern science, technology and prosperity originated in Christianity.
Billions of beneficiaries have much to be grateful for.
Balchin, J. 2003 SCIENCE 100
Scientists Who Changed The World
Bonnell, K.L. 2008 Doctoral Study, Walden University
Briggs, R. 1969 The Scientific
Revolution of the Seventeenth Century
Longman, p. 9
Comfort, R. 2009 The Origin of
Species 150th Anniversary Edition
Eckland, E.H. 2012 Science vs.
Religion: What Scientists Really Think
Oxford University Press
Fernandez-Morera, D. 2016 The Myth
of the Andalusian Paradise
, ISI Books
Haskins, C.H. 1957 The Rise of Universities, Cornell University
Hooykaas, R. 1972 Religion And The
Rise of Modern Science
Lamont, A. 1995 21 Great scientists
who believed the Bible
Marlowe, J. 1971 The Golden Age of
Monk, P. Challenging the idea of a tolerant Islamic Spain, The Weekend
, July 9-10, 2016
Waerden, B.L. van der 1963 Science
, Wiley & Sons
Origin of Modern Science - A Final Reply
(Investigator 171, 2016 November)
In his article (No. 170, pg 35) Anonymous attempts to show that
Christianity was instrumental in the emergence of modern science.
However, in my opinion he has overstated his argument.
I'll begin by examining the origin of European universities. The
genesis of the university began with Carolingian educational reforms
brought about by Charlemagne (d. 814) who needed a body of educated men
to manage his empire. At the time the church was the only source of
education and so naturally he turned to this institution and issued a
decree that all cathedrals and monasteries were to establish schools
and provide free education. The idea was to build up a body of educated
priests that could serve the empire and local communities as leaders
Unfortunately, Charlemagne died, civil wars broke out, and the attacks
of the Magyars, Vikings, and Saracens began before his plan could be
Some Cathedral and monastery schools, however, had been established and
continued to function during the chaos of the empire's collapse. Their
concern was with the training of priests only, and the curriculum
consisted of grammar, rhetoric, logic arithmetic, geometry, astronomy,
and music. The purpose of the curriculum was as follows:
Arithmetic served as the basis for quantitative reasoning; geometry for
architecture, surveying, and calculating measurements — all essential
to managing a church's property and income. Astronomy was necessary for
calculating the date of Easter, predicting eclipses, and marking the
passing of the seasons. For some time, about all the cathedral and
monastery schools could manage was to train enough priests to provide
the bare essential of educated local leaders. (1)
In 1079 Pope Gregory VII issued a papal decree ordering all cathedrals
and major monasteries to establish schools for the training of clergy.
This decree resulted in a significant expansion of education with Paris
becoming the most noteworthy and influential of a number of centres of
The universities of Paris; famed for theology and the liberal arts and
patronized by the papacy, and Bologna, notable for law and with a
development under imperial auspices, were the models for the systems
which were adopted by the other universities of Europe when they came
Paris, whose government was carried out by the masters,
the masters constituting the university, was the prototype of the
majority of the universities of northern Europe. Bologna, on the other
hand, was rather a guild of students, who as a body possessed the
supreme active power, while the professors formed themselves into a
college of masters isolated from the students, and so outside the great
university corporation which the students formed.
This system was followed in general by the universities of southern
Europe. The third great university of the Middle Ages was Oxford, which
followed Paris. These three universities were the only ones founded ex
consuetudine,that is they were already in existences as studia
generalia in all but
name when recognized by the pope. All the rest that followed were
either founded by potentates and recognized in time by the papacy, or
were founded by the papacy for the furtherance of its own influence,
and as their origin was ex privilegio they never enjoyed the same
As we can see, universities were initially established largely to train
priests to administer the Church and to be administrators for secular
authorities. The development and promotion of science was not a
consideration, except possibly where it could serve to bolster
theology. But if scientific discoveries contradicted the doctrines of
the day then a scientist could find himself in serious trouble with the
religious authorities as did the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei
(1564-1642) when he advocated the heliocentric theory of the solar
Over many centuries universities gradually became increasingly secular,
and today are largely free from religious influences.
In the past any scientist who doubted or disbelieved a fundamental
Christian doctrine would hardly advertise the fact in the light of what
happened to Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), a Dominican friar,
mathematician and philosopher who was tried for
heresy by the Roman Inquisition on charges including denial of several
core Catholic doctrines (including Eternal Damnation, the Trinity, the
divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and Transubstantiation. (3)
In addition Anonymous' list of allegedly Christian scientists is an
example of conformation bias. One could also draw up a list of atheist
scientists who have publicly acknowledged their unbelief as is
shown on Wikipedia. (4)
No doubt Christians have promoted science and contributed to its
development, but to claim (as seems to be implied by Anonymous) that
Christianity gave rise to modern science is to overstate the case.
MODERN SCIENCE and CHRISTIANITY
(Investigator 172, 2017 January)
Mr Staughen says I "overstated" my case when demonstrating that modern
science began in the Christian setting of Europe and USA.
My list of scientists who founded scientific disciplines or made
significant discoveries is easily expandable:
- Nicolas of Cusa (1401-1464): "Cardinal, scholar,
and an important figure in the history of science". (Wikipedia)
- Wilhelm Schickard (1592-1635): Built the first
- Nicolas Culpeper (1616-1654): Physician and
botanist who produced The Complete
Herbal (1653) — "The systematisation
of the use of herbs … was a key development in the evolution of modern
- Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694): "Father of
microscopical anatomy, histology, physiology and embryology". "In 1661
he identified and described the pulmonary and capillary network
connecting small arteries with small veins, one of the major
discoveries in the history of science." (Wikipedia)
- Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712): "Father of plant
- John Parkinson (1567-1650): English botanist who
produced the 1800-page Theatrum Botanicum with information on 3800
- Joseph Priestly (1733-1804): Researched the
chemistry of gases.
- Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786): Many
- Charles Goodyear (1800-1860): Vulcanisation of
rubber. Rubber was virtually useless because it melted in hot weather
and cracked in cold weather. But vulcanisation made rubber useful.
Today virtually all vehicles and machinery include rubber.
- Cyrus McCormick (1809-1884): Invented a
reaper which sparked an agricultural revolution.
- Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979):
Astronomer and astrophysicist. She explained the composition of stars,
surveyed all stars brighter than the tenth magnitude, and with her
assistants made millions of observations on variable stars laying the
basis for all subsequent work on them.
- Elinor Catherine Hamlin (b. 1924): Co-founded the
Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) Fistula Hospital which has treated 45,000 women
and is: "recognised by the United Nations agency UNFPA as a pioneer in
fistula surgery..." (Wikipedia)
WERE THEY CHRISTIANS?
Straugthen apparently doubts that the Scientists I listed were/are
Jesus taught that only God knows genuine Christians from imitations.
(Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) Jesus also cautioned against being
judgmental. (Matthew 7:1-5) However, I Corinthians 6:9-10 and
Revelation 21:8 list the sins that exclude people from "God's kingdom".
Therefore Christians who avoid these sins are probably genuine.
Some scientists involved in the "scientific revolution" studied for the
ministry or had a father who was a minister. Others were elders in a
denomination. Some were not university-trained but consciously expected
their work to enrich civilization. Perhaps some scientists faked
Christian commitment to get into university — if so the Christian
setting was still indispensible to their scientific work which
otherwise they could not have done.
I here comment on a few scientists to illustrate what I considered
adequate reason to count them as Christian rather than atheist:
- Nicolas Culpeper: Son of a clergyman.
- Marcello Malpighi: In 1691 the Pope appointed
Malpighi papal physician
in Rome where he also taught in the Papal Medical School. Therefore,
presumably, Malpighi was a practicing Catholic of good reputation.
- Nehemiah Grew: A believer although of
"non-conformist religious views".
- John Parkinson: "saw the botanical world as an
expression of divine
- Joseph Priestly: A theologian.
- Michael Faraday (1791-1867): Faraday is listed in
my previous list in
#170. He was a church elder. He worked on magnetic theory and electric
power and was the first to produce mechanical motion from electricity,
laying the scientific foundation for the electrified world of today.
- Henry Drummond (1851–1897): Listed in #170.
Drummond was a scientist
who accepted evolution besides being an evangelist and theologian.
- Charles Goodyear: A Congregationalist who
believed he had a mission
from God to benefit the entire world.
- Cyrus McCormick: Attributed the idea for his
mechanical reaper to God
and poured his wealth into gifts and loans to schools, churches and
- Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: "She and her family
were members of the First
Unitarian Church ... where she taught Sunday school. She was also
active with the Quakers." (Wikipedia)
- Elinor Catherine Hamlin: "Both [Elinor and her
husband] were practising
Christians, with missionaries in their respective families... She's an
early riser, usually up at 6 am ... drinking tea and reading her
Bible." (Sydney Morning Herald — Wikipedia)
Straughen thinks that because the first universities taught fewer
topics, and taught science not for its own sake but to manage church
property, this downgrades Christianity's role in the birth and growth
of modern science.
Everything that exists starts somehow and somewhere. The fact that
changes follow does not refute where and how the start was made.
University subjects and courses gradually increased as did the
practical tasks to which scientific methods were applied. This does not
refute where, how and why modern science began.
Straughen says: "it doesn't follow that just because some scientists
believe in God that science resulted from their belief." Agreed — their
discoveries resulted by doing research, and not from "belief in God"
without research. Christianity and its emphasis on education along with
European universities provided the cultural setting for science to
flourish. In America too, of the first 100 colleges and universities
founded almost 90% were Christian.
Straughen mentions scientists who suffered church opposition.
Such scientists created problems for themselves by publicly declaring
as factual, ideas that were still hypothetical. In addition there were
countless cults and self-interest groups promoting sectarian or
partisan nonsense. The Church tried to control the fragmentation of
society by insisting that new things be taught as hypotheses or
propositions until proved. Giordano Bruno did not conform to this and,
for example, proclaimed that people lived on numerous other worlds in
Space. More circumspect than Bruno was Newton who although being
anti-Trinitarian kept this to himself.
For centuries most scientists worked within boundaries set by the
Church, were allowed to do their work, and inaugurated the "scientific
Straughen mentions a Wikipedia list of scientists who declare their
unbelief. However, I don't think an impressive list of atheistic
founders of scientific disciplines and innovators can be composed for
the 12-18th centuries.
I included some 20th century science-innovators in my lists not to
imply most scientists today are believers but to show that scientific
work and discovery still has a substantial Christian component.
If most scientists today are unbelievers, it does not alter the history
of how modern science started or the fact that for centuries the
majority believed in God. A "Professor of the History of Science"
Scientists from nations
whose own culture did not give birth to
anything like western science have already made notable contributions
to it. Western people who have lost all contact with the religion of
their forebears continue in their scientific activities the tradition
inherited from them… (Hooykaas 1972)
Hooykaas, R. 1972 Religion
Rise of Modern Science