Article: Is Christianity At War With Science? (12/20)

June 30, 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.

1629-1695: Christiaan Huygens: A notable physicist, astronomer, and mathematician, Huygens made an extraordinary number of significant contributions to a range of fields. In mathematics he contributed to the development of modern calculus and wrote the first work on probability theory (1657).

In physics he correctly argued that light exists in the form of a wave (later studies showed that it exists as a wave and particle), formulated a law which Newton later developed as the second law of motion, and made discoveries regarding the motion of pendulums (published as ‘Horologium Oscillatorium’, 1673), which led to his revolutionary new designs in time keeping devices, specifically the pendulum clock (which he patented in 1657), the balance spring clock (though he was narrowly preceded in this invention by the Englishman Robert Hooke), and the pocket watch (which he patented in 1675). His improvements in time keeping contributed significantly to naval navigation, a field in which accurate time keeping was essential.

In astronomy Huygens invented a new telescope design (used in today’s modern telescopes), discovered Saturn’s rings (which he correctly identified as consisting of rocks), as well as Saturn’s moon Titan, examined the Orion Nebula (his drawings of which were the first ever made), accurately identifying it as made up of different star groups. He believed the universe must be full of life, and speculated that there existed earth-like conditions and inhabitants on other planets (‘Cosmotheoros: The celestial worlds discover’d: or, conjectures concerning the inhabitants, plants and productions of the worlds in the planets’, 1698).

Article here.


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