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From Y1K to Y2K

by David F. Coppedge
c. 2000 David F. Coppedge, Master Plan Productions

Welcome to this special millennium presentation sponsored by the Bible-Science Association of the San Fernando Valley, California.  We are about to embark on a journey of discovery covering a thousand years, a journey into the history of modern science.   We’re going to hear true stories about the world’s greatest scientists, what they believed, and what prompted them to make their great discoveries: discoveries that have brought our civilization to a high level of comfort, convenience, health and prosperity.

It’s important to recognize that our advanced technical lifestyle, with its instant worldwide communication, computers, speedy travel on land, water, air and space, electrically powered machinery, our long life expectancy and advanced health care, painless surgery, disease control and countless other benefits and marvels of science, did not just drop into the 21st century fully formed.  On the contrary, it was built up, like a great cathedral, a brick at a time from the ground up by the dedicated scientists who sought to understand the workings of nature.

Let’s take a look back through history, and see how far we’ve come.

Everyday Life in 1000 A.D.

A thousand years ago, life expectancy was less than 30 years.  People often lived in filth and squalor without proper sanitation, and little understanding of disease prevention and cure.  Except for occasional help from water and wind, all work was accomplished by human and animal muscle power.   Communication was limited by how fast you could write or how loud you could shout.   There was no concept of the vastness of the universe, and erroneous beliefs about the nature of biological life and physical law were commonly taught and accepted as true.

How did modern science get a foothold in such a world?  Who were the pioneers and discoverers that have made such a difference between 1000 and 2000 A.D.?  What motivated them to seek after the truth of natural laws, and even to believe that there were such things as natural laws?

Certainly it wasn’t Christian faith, was it?  A scientist must be unbiased, but a religious person has to believe in dogma handed down by authority, right?

Science is often presented today as an enterprise requiring materialist philosophy: religious faith has no place in the scientific method.  Some even claim that a sincere belief in God, the Bible, or especially its account of creation, is detrimental to science.  The American Association for the Advancement of Science echoed the sentiments of many scientific organizations today when it said, “the theory of creation is neither scientifically grounded nor capable of performing the roles required of scientific theories . . . ‘Creationist Science’ has no scientific validity.”

Well, we have a few witnesses to bring to the stand.   Read on for our presentation of The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.

What This Study Can Do For You

If you are a curious reader, but not a Christian, we hope you will examine the following evidence carefully.  If you went to public schools, it will probably sound very different from what you have been taught.  In the first place, not much attention is usually paid to the religious beliefs of historical figures, especially scientists.  If mentioned at all, a scientist’s religion is pictured in passing as a curiosity or sidelight, rarely the central force in his or her work.  Rarer still is any mention of the Christian roots of science, as if science began with Darwin, or as a reaction against religion.  We hope the evidence presented here will be just an introduction to a new perspective.  Read the disclaimers below so there will be no misunderstanding of what we are saying, and then feel free to research further by looking at the links scattered throughout the book.

If you are a Christian, here are some benefits you can expect from reading and studying this material:
Confidence that what you believe is true to reality.
Witness: great evidences to defend your faith.
Understanding of how our civilization came to be.
Appreciation for what we have in the Third Millennium A.D.
Inspiration from the lives of great Christians.
Joy and Wonder at the marvels of God’s creation.

Some Clarifications

Before continuing, in order to prevent misunderstandings, we want to answer in advance some counter-arguments that might be put forth by observant readers.

We are not saying that these scientists were always correct.  Science by nature is tentative and cumulative.  Some of these scientists believed and taught things which have subsequently proved erroneous.  To be fair, we should acknowledge the same fault in our day; every week in Science News someone announces a finding that overthrows previously held beliefs.  Rather than pointing out these scientists as infallible, we are saying that their drive for knowledge of nature was motivated by their Christian world-view, and at least in one significant way, their faith led to a major discovery that has advanced our health, our welfare, or our understanding of the world.

We are not claiming that these scientists were always exemplary personalities.  They were as human as we, subject to the same whims and foibles of mankind in general.  Several had some noticeable rough edges; Francis Bacon fell from grace by accepting a bribe, and even Isaac Newton, greatest of all, could be petty and vindictive.  These observations, rather than diminishing the force of our thesis, underscore how faith and thirst for knowledge can cause individuals to rise above their human weaknesses.

We are not saying that all these scientists were genuine Christians.  Some, like Maxwell, Carver, Faraday, and many others, clearly understood the gospel of Christ and lived according to their Biblical beliefs.  Some were ostensibly more devoted to their state church than to Christ, others were members of questionable denominations or unorthodox sects, some denied fundamental Biblical doctrines, and several might not have felt comfortable identifying themselves with today’s creation scientists.  All of them, however, had a fundamental belief in God as Creator, a deep respect for the Bible, and would have opposed the rampant materialism of our day.  And to demonstrate that not all scientists joined the Darwinian bandwagon, a few are included who, although non-Christians or not identifiable as to religion, strongly opposed evolutionary theory.

We are not saying that “Christian Europe” was a model society.  There were times and places of honorable civilization in Europe, but no one would be quicker than the authors to denounce in the most vociferous terms the horrors of church-state corruption in much of medieval society, the Inquisition, the religious wars, the classism, and other related evils perpetrated in the name of Christ.  What we would say is that the state church was evil to the extent it was far from Scripture.  Ironically, we would be among those burned at the stake for studying the Bible, because at times some religious leaders forbade the reading of the Bible in the common tongue!  This illustrates how far they had strayed from the teachings of Jesus, who encouraged study of the Scriptures (John 5:39, 17:17).  Most of the atrocities were committed by wicked rulers and religious leaders, not by the philosophers and monks in the seminaries who, like Roger Bacon and Robert Grosseteste, could read the Scriptures in the original language and on whom the first light of scientific thinking dawned.  It was Christian ideas that led to scientific principles, notwithstanding the practices of the corrupt religious leaders whose lives as well as their cathedrals, were, as Jesus described, “like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).  To be fair, a look at history will reveal similar corruption in any society where power is absolute, because human nature at its core is sinful.  Modern science arose amidst Europe’s corruption only because the light of God’s special revelation in Scripture was smothered less than in other cultures.  It was fanned into flame by the Reformation and the printing press, when Biblical literacy escaped from its monastic prisons into the villages and towns.  Thus our thesis stands: Christian philosophy is the mother of science.

We are not listing all great scientists.  There were and are many atheists, agnostics, and followers of other religions among the roster of exceptional scientists.  Most of them came on the scene after science became self-sustaining, and its benefits to society made science a bandwagon.  This presentation unapologetically focuses on great Christians, not to slight the contributions of others, but to illustrate how science in large part is the product of a Christian world view.  It should be clear by anyone’s measure that (1) the spark of scientific thinking was ignited among those who understood Biblical principles, and (2) most of the big names in science, the gold medalists, the ones whose discoveries changed the world, were Christians.

What this presentation DOES claim:

And, as a corollary, it should become abundantly clear that, contrary to the claims of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, you can be a Christian and a creationist and do great scientific work today!  We hope this presentation will inspire some young new scientists to join the likes of Robert Boyle, James Clerk Maxwell, Louis Pasteur and George Washington Carver.  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).

Note on our use of the word “Scientist” – historians will object to calling any of these characters a “scientist” before William Whewell coined the term in 1833.  Investigators into the workings of nature in those days were called natural theologians, virtuosi, or simply “men of science” (not fair to the women, moderns would now complain).  Also, the philosophy of science underwent numerous evolutions and revolutions from 1000 to the present (which still show no sign of abating), meaning that the medieval conception of science differed radically from the modern.  However, if “science” is taken etymologically as a synonym for “knowledge,” it seems fair to apply the derivative term “scientist” to anyone who investigated the workings of nature in a systematic way; at least, that is the layman’s understanding of the word scientist, sufficient for our purposes.  (Historians still unhappy should consider that Dr. Whewell himself would probably be appalled at the way his label is so carelessly applied today – political scientists, social scientists, etc. – so this objection cuts both ways.)

The Origins of Science: Contrasting World Views

Many have written scholarly works on the philosophical origins of science, and in order to move ahead to the biographies, we shall only touch on it here, providing hyperlinks for further study on this interesting subject..  Suffice it to say that even secular writers have concluded that only the Christian world view, in contrast to the views of other religions and cultures, succeeded in generating true modern science – a self-sustaining, self-correcting search for natural knowledge for its own sake, using the scientific method of induction, observation, collection of data, proposing of a hypothesis, confirming or falsifying it by experiment, making predictions, and building collected hypotheses into theories, general principles and laws.  We take it for granted that these ideas make sense, but underlying them are assumptions about the nature of reality that are very different from those of many cultures around the world.  Your assumptions about the nature of reality comprise your world view.

What is meant by a world view?  It is your answer to life’s basic questions:  Who am I?  How did I get here?  What should I be doing?  Where am I going?  The Christian answers are clear from the Bible: We are created in the image of God, an infinite, personal, transcendent, eternal Being who created the universe and all that it contains.  We live to glorify and enjoy Him.  We are fallen into sin, and live in a world that simultaneously manifests God’s goodness and wisdom but His curse on sin.  We are headed for either heaven or hell, depending on what we do with His offer of salvation.  What, if anything, do these beliefs have to do with science?  A great deal.

To see how pro-science the attitudes of Christianity are, and how anti-science the attitudes of pagan cultures can be, let us compare and contrast their assumptions about various aspects of reality.

Note: we use the term “pagan” not in any derogatory sense but in its generic meaning of “non-Christian.”  No particular culture is here in mind; “pagan” is merely a catch-all category for world views that are fundamentally different than those of Judeo-Christianity.  Particular cultures will, of course, vary widely in their fit to these assumptions, and also in their degree of scientific thinking.

  • God.  Pagan concepts of God range from no God (atheism) to many gods (polytheism) to “all is God and God is all” (pantheism).  Which concept of God supports science?  If there is no God, then life and existence are fundamentally irrational, arising from chaos and ending in the heat death of the universe.  But if all is God, then nothing is God, and you have the same problem; good and evil are different sides of the same coin, and the universe is, again, irrational.  If there are many gods (from dualism to polytheism), then good and evil are co-eternal and therefore equally valid and equally meaningless; commonly, in most polytheistic cultures, the gods are at war with each other, making human life a vain attempt to appease whatever god seems to be the biggest threat at the time.  As we proceed, it should become clearer why these concepts of God are inimical to science.  If the universe is fundamentally irrational, for whatever reason, then it is irrational for humans to seek to understand it.

    In contrast, the Christian God is rational.  He has attributes of personality, omnipotence, omnipresence, eternality, and immutability.  In addition, He has moral attributes of truthfulness, righteousness, holiness, wisdom, love, justice, grace, mercy, and goodness.  He is sovereign, yet not capricious – He can do anything except act against His own nature, including his rationality (that is why He would never create a rock bigger than He could move, to answer the naive skeptic’s favorite conundrum).  He is a Trinity, one God in three persons, giving rise to both unity and diversity from the beginning; creative, yet being self-sufficient, not needing to create.  Most important, He is transcendent: He lives eternally self-existent, omnipresent yet independent from the universe He created – He is other than nature.  Finally, He is the Law-Giver, meaning His rule is according to moral and natural law.  The Christian concept of God supports scientific thought, therefore, because rationality, order, logic, reason, truth, law, unity, diversity, personality and purpose are built into the very fabric of the universe, having sprung from the mind of a Being characterized by these attributes.

    We acknowledge that many non-Christian cultures achieved magnificent cultural feats, particularly in mathematics, engineering, architecture, logic and philosophy.  The Greeks are a notable example.  Historians generally agree, however, that the various Greek concepts of God, whether polytheism, atheism or pantheism, were a hindrance to true “modern” science as described above, causing Greek science to be stillborn.  Greek thinkers exalted the mind of man and considered it beneath their dignity to do experiments.  With a few notable exceptions, Greek “science” was deductive, not inductive; an attempt to figure out the nature of things by reason alone.  To a Christian, this is an exercise in futility, because man’s mind is corrupted by sin.  Rationality must begin with God, and like Kepler, we can only succeed as we attempt to “think God’s thoughts after Him” with regenerate minds.

    The Islamic concept of God is perhaps the closest to the Christian view, and it is interesting to note that Muslims made some of the most significant advances in medieval science, particularly mathematics, medicine and chemistry.  Islamic science never fully developed into a self-sustaining enterprise, however, partly due to its concept of God.  Like the Christian God, Allah is sovereign and omnipotent, but the Koran so emphasizes His sovereignty that it diminishes His rationality, tipping the balance away from belief in regularity in the universe that can be studied to uncertainty about what He might do next.  The references at the end of this section deal with this phenomenon in more detail.

  • Nature.  Non-Christian beliefs about nature vary from materialism to animism: from the belief that nature is no more than physics and chemistry to the superstition that it is animated with spirits, or is even imaginary - an illusion.  In many tribal cultures around the world, nature lives and breathes with spirits, who must be understood through the shaman.  Native American natural religion is politically correct these days, and often preached with evangelistic zeal at our national parks.  With all respect to their varied and colorful cultural traditions, what do most Indians believe about nature?  That there is the spirit of coyote, the spirit of the mountains, the spirit of the crow, the spirit of the bear, and we must go on a vision quest to gain contact with the spirits.  As appealing as this may sound to reason-jaded urbanites and moviemakers, it is diametrically opposed to science.  Natural law cannot exist, because nature is not a mechanism apart from God, it is a god, and the world is ruled through magic, incantations and divination, not by natural law.  It is understood through the imagination, not reason.  The more the culture depends on its shaman for understanding the spirits of nature, the less it is inclined to do inductive experimentation and develop a scientific outlook on life.

    One Navajo park ranger explained that in their culture, it is considered taboo for a child to ask questions.  When it is the right time, she explained, the father or shaman will tell the child what to believe.  This is authoritarianism, the same dogmatism that scientists usually despise in organized religion.  Good science teachers and parents know it is healthy to encourage children to ask questions and be curious about the world.  Rather than exalt the irrationality of tribal cultures, we should empathize with the poor people held hostage to powerful witch-doctors who, through their traditions, train them not to think, and frighten them into believing falsehoods to their own detriment.  These often self-serving charlatans give their people worthless potions to heal diseases whose causes and cures were uncovered by scientists like Pasteur who, overcoming centuries of superstition applying the scientific method, have saved millions of lives.
    At the opposite extreme, the materialist must face the conundrum expressed by C. S. Lewis, that if the universe is composed of matter in motion without purpose, and therefore my brain is so composed of mindless atoms, I have no objective criterion by which to believe my brain is composed of atoms.  Finally, it should be evident with little reflection that if I believe the universe is imaginary, it does not lend itself to serious study.  If I cannot correlate my imagination with yours, or even know that you exist, how can I expect to publish my findings and be understood?  Life becomes a quest not to understand the world, but to ignore it and achieve nirvana or some other altered form of consciousness.

    By contrast, the Christian has a balance between spirit and object.  Nature is not God, it is a mechanism created by God.  God is not nature, and nature is not God; but being the divinely ordered creation of an all-wise, all-powerful Being, it reflects His orderliness, wisdom, creativity and rationality.  Believing that God is rational, and that He rules by law, we would expect to find elegant natural laws underlying His handiwork.  When we study nature, therefore, we learn to appreciate and contemplate His wisdom and truth.  Science, therefore, becomes a holy calling, an act of worship.

    The worship, however, is directed at God, not nature itself.  The Bible teaches that nature is under the curse of God because of sin.  We see a world of good and evil, of beauty and pain.  But the Bible teaches that in the beginning, God declared everything that He had made to be “very good,” and that someday it will be restored to its original perfection.  This means two things for science: first, that evil is not eternal, and second, that through science we can hope to alleviate some of the effects of the curse, as we have done with medicine (see Pasteur, Lister).

  • Phenomena.   A lightning bolt strikes.  A flood occurs.  A comet appears in the sky then vanishes.  An epidemic ravages the countryside.  What happened?  In many cultures, the gods were angry, and must be appeased.  The shaman looks into the liver, consults the horoscope, or sacrifices a hapless slave on the altar.  The rationalist Greek seeks to explain it by reason.  The Eastern mystic calls it karma.  The atheist seeks material causes, but has no ultimate reference point to gauge anything as true, or else falls into the fallacy of reductionism.

    But, someone will argue, Christians believe in miracles.  Is not the Old Testament filled with pestilences and floods caused by a wrathful God?  Miracles, yes, but miracles rare.  If it were the norm, they would be normals, not miracles, and both Christians and Jews would differ little from the animists in outward faith and practice.  If you study the Biblical miracles, you see that they are notable for their rarity.  They clustered about the lives of Moses, a few of the prophets, Jesus Christ, and the twelve apostles.  The extreme rarity of true natural miracles served their purpose as signs from God at special epochs in His plan, as revealed in the Bible.  For the entire lifetimes of most people in the Biblical world, natural law was the norm.  God could and still does intervene in answer to prayer, but most often by altering the normal course of natural law, such as steering a storm or pestilence around the praying servant.  None of these considerations alters the Christian presupposition of a universe governed by natural law.

    The “God of the gaps” fallacy.  There have been Christians (and non-Christians) too quick to attribute unexplained phenomena to acts of God.  Consider, however, whether the materialist is without fault in this respect.  Some phenomena show such clear evidence of design, such as even the simplest living cell and the DNA code, that evolutionists often commit a similar fallacy when called to explain their origin.   They attribute almost godlike powers to natural selection, a mindless, purposeless principle, which would have had nothing to do with the origin of either the cell or the DNA code. This borders on pantheism – attributing intellect, purpose and will to inanimate objects.  Or, they shrug the question with faith in the religion of what science will do someday.  Either way, the a priori commitment to materialism, held to with as much zeal as that of the most ardent churchgoer, causes the avowed atheist to ignore evidence that God exists and commit a similar fallacy of “pantheism of the gaps” or “future success of materialism of the gaps.”  While science should concern itself with finding natural causes for most present-day, repeatable phenomena, it is a different sphere of research to explain the origin of things.  And if there is a God, answers to prayer would be singular, unrepeatable events not subject to scientific testing, unlike lightning, floods, comets and diseases that have been observed for thousands of years.
  • Time.  Another concept deadly to scientific thinking is that of cyclical time.  The belief that the universe undergoes infinite cycles of birth, death, and regeneration produces fatalism; what’s the use if everything I work to build will be destroyed and dissolved, and the memory of it forgotten, only to have to be built again by another soul with no memory of my world and my work?  Furthermore, cultures believing in eternal cycles tend to blur causes and effects, removing an essential assumption of science.  Yet the materialist who thinks beyond the immediate must despair at the future heat death of the universe, at which all consciousness, work and reward ceases to exist (see quotation by Lord Kelvin).  Interestingly, recent cosmological observations have ruled out a cyclical universe, once a popular model for explaining away a beginning.

    The Judeo-Christian cosmology is one of linear time: creation, history, and consummation.  There was a finite beginning (affirmed somewhat reluctantly by modern cosmologists), and history is racing toward a consummation.  True, the Christian believes this world and its works will be burned up, but not the soul.  There are rewards for faithful servants of God, and a new heavens and new earth from the hand of the same Creator who never changes.  This gives hope that our lives can count, and we can engage right now in a joyful enterprise – science – which we can also enjoy for eternity, exploring the wondrous works of God.

  • Knowledge.  A culture’s epistemology (the study of how we know what we know) is an outgrowth of its theology.  In many civilizations throughout history, tradition has been the seat of knowledge.  Believing what the authorities say, or what the diviners divine, has been drummed into the populace of most societies from youth to old age, often with the threat of reprisals for thinking independently.  Curiosity about the world and how it works has been frowned on, even today in many parts of the world.  Sad to say, even among Jews and Christians this has often been a problem.  Jesus excoriated the Jewish leaders of his day for their slavish devotion to tradition against the revelation of God.  In the early church, having endured persecution for centuries then the political turmoil of the fall of Rome, the discovery of the scientific method was delayed in part due to the rising dogmatism of the church leaders and its dependency on pagan Greek philosophers who were deemed the experts in logic and natural knowledge.  As we shall see, the scholastic philosophers of the middle ages, forced to search the Scriptures and re-examine their beliefs due to the inroads of Greek and Islamic philosophers, began to appreciate that such human authority was needless and essentially worthless, even a hindrance to true knowledge.  This appeared to break the logjam of tradition and get science back to its Biblical, theological roots.

    The Scriptural doctrine of knowledge begins with the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).  God communicates to us through natural revelation (conscience and nature as perceived by our senses), and special revelation (the Scriptures and Christ).  Because God is rational, and because we share some of His rational nature, having been created in His image, and because nature is governed by the natural laws He designed, each one of us can observe, gather data, do experiments, and obtain knowledge inductively about the natural world, without having to rely on tradition or authority.  It may not be exhaustive knowledge, and is subject to human error, but as every school child in a science fair knows, the scientific method can help us discern truth from myth about natural phenomena, at least in areas subject to observation and repeatable experimentation.  Armed with the scientific method and a Biblical world view, Sir Isaac Newton believed he was helping fulfill the prophecy of Daniel 12:4: “[at] the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

    Thomas Aquinas made a grave mistake that led to today’s great divide between science and religion, according to Francis Schaeffer in his book Escape from Reason.  He assumed that the spirit of a man is fallen into sin, but his mind is not.  This implied that unregenerate man could gain reliable truth about the universe apart from Divine revelation.  This led to a false dichotomy between natural knowledge and spiritual knowledge.  The result was that science was viewed as a path to ultimate truth, independent of God’s grace, and worse, that issues of faith and spirit became utterly detached from nature, history, the tangible and the rational.  Increasingly, nature was seen as superior to grace; as Schaeffer says, nature devoured grace.  Christianity in many circles has become other-worldly to the extreme, having nothing to say or to do with the natural world, while unregenerate science increasingly asserts supremacy in all matters of natural knowledge.  The end result is becoming apparent in our time: science has become a religion, and assumes near divine attributes in its quest to explain everything, even the evolution of religion.  To see how extreme it has become, consider that social scientists today routinely describe rape and infanticide not as moral evils but as Darwinian survival mechanisms.  Christians need to recognize that the mind of man is as fallen as his spirit, and that though natural man can collect facts through his senses, to understand them in their context and assimilate them into their relationship to ultimate reality, we need regenerate minds that build on the foundation of God’s natural and special revelation.
  • Technology.   How does a culture build a civilization?  There is no question that non-Christian cultures have achieved exceptional heights in art, architecture, and technology; one only has to picture the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the Great Pyramid, the Mayan observatories, the Parthenon and much more.  These, however, are not the fruits of science.  Logistics, pragmatics, trial-and-error, and politics can have a great deal to do with finding ways to get things done that must be done, and rewarding those who succeed.  Science, however, does not necessarily have technology in mind; it is a search for understanding of nature’s workings, whether or not a practical result will follow.  When technology builds on a scientific foundation, as Morse did with the telegraph, it seemingly knows no bounds.  As we shall see, much of the science and applied science that led to our 21st century levels of comfort, health and safety came from Christians living out these principles.

  • Man’s Role.   Examples are plentiful in non-Christian cultures for two anti-scientific philosophies of anthropology, or study of the nature and duty of man.  (1) To the Egyptians, the Spartans, and most recently the communists, man is a pawn of the state; he is merely a slave, a tool of the pharaoh, the oligarchy or the state as a whole.  (2) In other cultures, less totalitarian but no less Christian, man’s role in life is to have harmony with the spirits of nature.  This is popular among immigrant admirers of Native American religion, to whom materialism has become a spiritual void.  We must be at harmony with nature, at harmony with the coyote, the grizzly bear, the rattlesnake, and the black widow, and be at one with the mosquito (some of us have personal experience).  For all its aesthetic appeal, the one-with-nature spirituality is not conducive to a scientific mind, but to acquiescence and accommodation.  There are native American scientists today, but native American religion did not produce science; it borrowed it.

    Christian theology responds to these two views as follows.  To the first, the Bible teaches that we are individually accountable to God, and individually have value because we are created in His image.  Throughout the Old and New Testaments, individuals are noted for their faith and personal diligence.  To the second, Christians would say being in harmony with nature is a half-truth.  Yes, we are part of nature; we are creatures, not gods.  The world belongs to the Lord, and not to man; “lord man” whom John Muir denounced, man who ravaged the forest and cut down the giant Sequoias, is a perversion.  Yet the Bible teaches we have a special role in creation above that of the animals: possessing God’s image, we are to be stewards and managers under God for the enjoyment and conservation of creation.  The fears of some environmentalists and materialists are unfounded: Christian anthropology, when properly understood, is the friend of the environment.  Many theologians have seen the so-called “Genesis mandate” to subdue and have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28) as a mandate to do science – a benevolent science that seeks to understand and be good stewards of nature.  This mandate was given to the first human pair before sin entered the world, but it was echoed after the Fall in Psalm 8:6-8 and in the New Testament in Hebrews 2:6-8, meaning it is still the will of God.  But now that the whole creation “groans and labors” under the curse (Romans 8:22-23), and that our life and work is hard, painful and sweaty (Genesis 3:16-19), the Genesis mandate takes on a merciful aspect; science can help us alleviate some of the suffering and hardship under which humans and other creatures endure.

  • Ethics.   Needless to say, scientific research presupposes honesty, integrity and a love of the truth.  Whether or not Christians always exemplify these qualities, they are unquestionably Christian ideals and virtues.  Can the same be said of a scientific establishment, or any culture, whose supreme principle of nature is survival of the fittest?
This brief look at contrasts between the Judeo-Christian world view and that of other cultures underscores some of the many ways in which Christian thought is the progenitor and patron of science.  The finale of the argument is history itself: it was the culture closest to the Biblical world view where science originated and flourished.  The time has come to see these principles in action in the lives of real people.

For additional study on the Christian world view and science, we recommend the following online sources:

Christianity and the Birth of Science:  Why modern science arose in Christian Europe and not in other cultures.  Dr. Michael Bumbulis proposes four evidences and anticipates objections.

Luther and Science:  An essay on relation of Protestant thought to the advancement of science, and an important refutation of the claim that Luther and his followers ridiculed and repressed Copernicanism:

ICR article: Christianity, the Cause of Modern Science?  Explains the historical research of Duhem, Jaki, and Merton.

ICR article: Christianity and Technological Advance

Article by Ben Clausen on the origin of science, and examples of believers, with bibliography:

Preface Table of Contents Early Roots