Is Christianity At War With Science? (3/20

It cannot be denied that the greatest number advances in scientific knowledge and achievement have taken place in Western Europe, during the Christian era.  No other place on earth, and no other era in recorded human history, has achieved anything comparable.

If Christianity has genuinely been a repressive and persecuting enemy of science, retarding progress and knowledge, then we would expect to see some evidence of this.  In fact, we would expect to see a very great deal of evidence for this, given that Christianity has been the dominant religious influence in Western Europe for over 1,500 years.

The historical evidence, however, is the exact opposite of what we expect:

‘The Greek concept of God caused a deep confusion between cosmology and theology and was a dead-end to science, as we know it in our time.

The Judeo-Christian God provides the ground upon which a scientific culture can be pursued.  This is a fact not well enough appreciated in our time.’

John McKenna, article ‘John Philoponus, Sixth Century Alexandrian Grammarian, Christian Theologian and Scientific Philosopher’, Quodlibet Journal, Volume 5, Number 1, January 2003

Over the following pages, a large body of evidence will be presented demonstrating that Christians down through the centuries, 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.

It will be seen that the dominant thought within Christianity was that the Scriptures would always be found to be in complete harmony with truths about the universe, and that it was the responsibility of good Christians to discover the laws of creation, since this brought glory to God.  Instead of being seen as antagonistic to the Bible, the universe was seen as a powerful witness to the truth of the Scriptures, and the existence of God.  Christians studying the universe often did so out of a deep sense of reverence to God, considering it their duty to discover the hidden workings which God had ordained at the beginning of creation.

Far from being universally suppressed by Christianity, scientific investigation was actively encouraged, and almost all of the scientific advances of greatest significance in Western history were made by dedicated Christians who saw no conflict between the Bible and science, and who took an active role in building the vast body of scientific knowledge inherited today.  Reason, rather than mere authority or blind faith, was held up as the rule by which truth should be discerned, and reason was applied as much to the Scriptures as to the natural creation.

Not all of the Christians used in the following examples contributed major scientific advances, and not all of them made highly significant breakthroughs in the understanding of the laws of the universe.

But throughout all of these examples, it can be seen that Christianity – far from being the ignorant oppressor of scientific discovery – was the culture in which scientific investigation was encouraged and advanced, leaving a contribution to science far beyond that of any other culture.


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