Article: Is Christianity At War With Science? (8/20)June 22, 2007
The following is a continuing list of Christians down through the centuries who, far from being constantly at war with science (commonly called ‘natural philosophy’ in previous times), took an active interest in seeking to understand how the universe worked. The first page in this list is here.
1401-1464: Nicholas of Cusa: Applied the scientific method to his investigations of the natural world. He made important contributions to mathematics, astrophysics, and optics. In the field of astrophysics he made the significant discovery that the earth is not a perfect sphere that it orbits the sun, and that stars are distant suns of other solar systems. In the field of optics, he corrected short sightedness with convex glass lenses, a technology still used in today’s glasses and contact lenses.
He proposed revolutionary ideas in astronomy, such as that the universe (instead of being a finite sphere with a definite centre, as Aristotle had taught), was a limitless expanse filled with countless stars, without a definite centre, that the earth was not the centre of the universe, and that the stars themselves rotated (rather than being fixed to a larger spherical body which carried them as it rotated, the model held by Ptolemy). He further suggested that the movements of the stars and planets were not perfect circles.
1452-1519: Leonardo Da Vinci: Applied the scientific method to his investigations of the natural world. He made a massive number of discoveries in optics, physics, astronomy, light, anatomy, engineering, aerodynamics, physiognomy, and designed the first robot. He preceded Sir Isaac Newton in a number of discoveries.
1488-1534: Otto Brunfels: Called the ‘father of botany’ by Carolus Linnaeus (the famous 18th century botanist who contributed to modern botany, taxonomy, zoology and ecology), he contributed significantly to botanical science because of his practice of relying on personal experience and discovery, rather than simply repeating the opinions of previous men who were held to be ‘authorities’ on the subject.
His work on the medicinal properties of plants was based on scientific principles, and made contributions which helped discredit the superstitious herbalism of earlier ages, laying the foundation of modern pharmacology.