Robert Grosseteste

I just discovered an interesting article on Robert Grosseteste, from Creation Evolution Headlines. There are numerous Christian scientists in history, but this one stands out for just how he thought.

This brings us to the scientific side of this amazing individual. The encyclopedia goes on to describe the tremendous breadth of his knowledge and interest, from liberal arts to music to husbandry to finance to classical literature: “Besides being learned in the liberal arts, Grosseteste had an unusual interest in mathematical and scientific questions. He wrote a commentary on the ‘Physics’ of Aristotle; and his own scientific works included studies in meteorology, light, colour and optics. Amongst his mathematical works was a criticism of the Julian calendar, in which he pointed out the necessity for the changes introduced in the Gregorian. He attempted a classification of the various forms of knowledge; and few indeed, among his contemporaries, can have had a more encyclopedic range.” Why would a bishop be interested in science? The Grosseteste website explains,

During his lifetime, Grosseteste was an avid participant in European intellectual life. His early education had given him a taste for natural philosophy. He began producing texts on the liberal arts, and mainly on astronomy and cosmology. His most famous scientific text, De luce (Concerning Light), argued that light was the basis of all matter, and his account of creation devotes a great deal of space to the biblical text of God’s command, ‘Let there be light.’ Light also played a significant role his [sic] epistemology, as he followed the teachings of St. Augustine that the human intellect comes to know truth through illumination by divine light. Grosseteste’s interest in the natural world was further developed by his study of geometry, and he is one of the first western thinkers to argue that natural phenomenon [sic] can be described mathematically.

Notice how Genesis gave him the inspiration to pursue a mathematical analysis of light. Robert Grosseteste is a prime example of how a Biblical worldview stimulated science. In more than one case, an actual Bible verse was the stimulus. This counters the criticism of naturalistic scientists that presume scientific research comes to a halt when the answer is “God did it.” On the contrary, the question How did God do it? often spurred great thinkers to uncover the laws that they believed the great Lawgiver had designed.

While I am not a scientist, I hope to encourage others who desire to better explore and understand the magnificent Creation all around us, driven by the question, “Just how did God do it?”

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