Christians and Science

A fine article from Stephen Rees on Christians and Science was published by Banner of Truth.

He notes the general claimed hostility the anti-Christian mob has:

They all know it’s true. Christianity has been the great hindrance to science. And what proof do these online experts offer for their assertions? Well, it’s always the same – Galileo!

 

But it isn’t enough to attack the Catholics who actually attacked Galileo (rather mildly, if you look at the records – and primarily because Galileo challenged Aristotle, a pagan philosopher the Catholic Church exalted), they have to drag the Puritans in it as well.

[They] also talks about ‘every Protestant church before 1800′ and their bitter opposition to Galileo. Well, I have read quite a few Protestant writers from that era. Take Richard Baxter, next to Bunyan the greatest and most popular of English Puritan writers. In the closing paragraphs of his vast Christian Directory (1665) Baxter muses on the pleasures of life such as

making discoveries of some mysterious excellencies in arts and sciences . . . What delight had the inventors of the sea-chart and magnetic attraction, and of printing, and of guns, in their inventions! What pleasure had Galileo in his telescopes, in finding out the inequalities and shady parts of the moon, the Medicean planets, the adjuncts of Saturn, the changes of Venus, the stars of the Milky Way, &c . . .

Does that sound as if Baxter was in ‘bitter opposition’ to Galileo and his researches?

Baxter was not alone among the Puritans in admiring Galileo and endorsing his work. The position that first Copernicus and then Galileo argued for and the Roman Catholic Church condemned – that the earth moved around the sun – was upheld by a string of prominent Puritan scholars. R. Hooykaas in his book Religion and the Rise of Modern Science lists a whole string of pioneering scientists in England who were forthright and fervent Puritans and who were convinced followers of Copernicus and Galileo.

Mt. Rees continues with a brief discussion of Sir Thomas Gresham, John Wilkins (Oliver Cromwell’s brother-in-law), and that

it is estimated that 62% of the members of the Royal Society in 1663 were Puritan in outlook.

Whatever the truth about the Roman Catholic Church, it would seem absurd to suggest that Protestants in England were hostile to science. The Puritans were the most consistent of English Protestants – and they were at the forefront of scientific progress in 17th century England.

I think that the sophisticated leadership of our intelligentsia would reply ‘don’t confuse me with the facts: my mind is made up!’

And then there is Calvin himself, who wrote:

Both the heavens and the earth present us with innumerable proofs: not only those more recondite proofs which astronomy, medicine, and all the natural sciences are designed to illustrate, but proofs which force themselves on the notice of the most illiterate peasant, who cannot open his eyes without beholding them. It is true, indeed, that those who are more or less intimately acquainted with those liberal studies are thereby assisted and enabled to obtain a deeper insight into the secret workings of divine wisdom . . . To investigate the motions of the heavenly bodies, to determine their positions, measure their distances, and ascertain their properties, demands skill, and a more careful examination; and where these are so employed, as the Providence of God is thereby more fully unfolded, so it is reasonable to suppose that the mind takes a loftier flight, and obtains brighter views of his glory . . . The same is true in regard to the structure of the human frame. To determine the connection of its parts, its symmetry and beauty, with the skill of a Galen requires singular acuteness; and yet all men acknowledge that the human body bears on its face such proofs of ingenious contrivance as are sufficient to proclaim the admirable wisdom of its Maker . . . (Institutes Book 1, chapter 5).


But all of the above is tied to the media-driven controversies of the day: a phenomenon that is tied to the secularist university, handmaid of the secularist state – both of which will drown in the onrushing tide of red ink, uncontrolled information, and the end of the current Establishment’s power structure over the coming decades.

It is needful to reveal lies for what they are, and I’m thankful for Reess’ work here: but of greater interest to me is his creation of a clear, well-structured thought to guide Christian believers as they push on to further expand human understanding and dominion, as commanded by God.

I have always focused on the following logic structure in my own thoughts:

  • God made an orderly universe;
  • God wants us to have dominion over it, use it, and nurture it;
  • God gave us the minds and the desire to use it and to use it well (with His Word defining ‘well’, rather than following the definitions of powerful, self-serving men);
  • We glorify God more, the more we understand the complexity and wonder of Creation;
  • We can heal the Creation of its flaws and dangers, and help it recover from the corruption we (through Adam) inflicted on her.

Stephen Rees provides a better outline in understanding the Creation, picking up parts and aspects that I have missed:

No. 1. God the Creator has made the world orderly and predictable

No. 2. Christians should study God’s works for his glory and their delight

No. 3. Mankind was created to investigate, subdue, and rule creation

No. 4. Christians should seek to relieve the suffering of others

No. 5. Manual work is honourable

Rees expands on each of these points in a forthright and intelligent manner, that’s worth reading up on.

And even better is the writer’s ending:

Giving thanks to God

Every one of us today benefits from the extraordinary achievements of scientists over the past four hundred or so years. We live in houses that are warm in winter and cool in summer. We eat plentiful and safe food. We go to the doctor and are supplied with medicines that work. I sit at a computer, press keys, and send messages to people across the world. I wear vari-focal glasses – without them the world would be a blur to me.

We must never take those things for granted. Atheists, ignorant of history, may say that all this is just natural progress – evidence of Man’s capacity to overcome all obstacles. But the explosion of scientific knowledge in the Western world did not come about by some inevitable law of development. It came about because God in his grace set people reading the Bible and discovering the truth about himself and his world. Modern science was not born in Africa, or Australia, or India, or China. As one writer puts it, ‘only one civilization developed a self-sustaining modern science’ – and that civilization was a civilization shaped by fifteen hundred years of Christendom, and then purified by the Reformation.

We owe thanks to God. And let’s not forget to honour those Christian men and women whom God has called to serve him and the world as scientists. Let’s pray that in their work they’ll bring glory to God and good to mankind. We’re horrified by some of the ways that science is misused today. Science cut off from the fear of God can become a terrible weapon for evil. But we thank God that there are still godly believers who pursue science out of love for God and compassion for the world. May God strengthen their hand.

Every blessing to you all,

Stephen

Something worth chewing on, as we

  • ready our people for the end of our morally & financially bankrupt culture,
  • determine how to regain lost ground,
  • and push on to the holy goal: universal righteousness, compassion, wisdom, prosperity, and peace, ‘as the waters cover the earth’.

Christus Victor!

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