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Part of "Science":

The Foundation Of Modern Science Is:
The Biblical Worldview

- by Rhett R. Totten - (c) 2000, 2018

In popular opinion, there has long been a widespread impression that natural science and the scientific method has always been at odds with the Biblical Worldview --always needing to fight against "religious ignorance." Though there have been some instances of science in conflict with biblical religion, when it comes to the Judeo-Christian Theistic worldview, that general impression is actually far from the truth. In reality, modern Western science was founded upon Judeo-Christian presuppositional foundations from the Bible. And whatsmore, the scientific method today --with an emphasis on logical experimenation and mathematical formulation-- still operates on those biblical assumptions.

In their book, The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Crossway,'94), Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton explain how, in all the history of mankind, the modern scientific method and philosophy originated in only one culture (& religious worldview), and that is: --in Christianized Western Europe.

In balance, however, Pearcey and Thaxton note that it is true that although several ancient cultures --such as the Arabs (along with India's mathematics), the Egyptians and Chinese-- did come up earlier with more advanced examples of practical technology, mathematics and learning than medieval Europe did, still, because of their worldviews, those more technically advanced cultures never did come up with "modern science as a systematic, self-correcting discipline" (ibid, p.21, my emphasis). --Also, it should be remembered that the various technological advancements of Islamic culture developed within the worldview of the Quran, which was written down and their worldview developed after Mohammed engaged in extensive discussions about the Bible with both Jews and Christians as he developed his theology and worldview, and so, much of the Bible's worldview was foundational to the Quran, which benefited Islamic thinkers.

In agreement with this, science writer Loren Eiseley (a non-Christian) maintains that the most curious thing about the modern scientific method and philosophy, is that mankind has come up with it at all, because it is not "natural" to mankind. Worship of nature [and things like ancestral spirits] comes more naturally to people, as well as superstition.

--In contrast, however, science "demands some kind of unique soil in which to flourish," says Eiseley, and he (somewhat reluctantly) identifies that soil as "the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear, articulate fashion to the experimental method of science itself" (Darwin's Century, '61, p.62, my emphasis). Up through the middle ages and until the 1800s, modern science (and its method) was shaped and developed largely by discussions about nature among Bible-believing Christians, such as Buridan, Copernicus, Kepler, Paracelsus, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Boyle, Linnaeus and Cuvier. -- (See lists of great scientists and inventors below).

So, why did modern science arise only out of Western Europe's Judeo-Christian worldview? Pearcey and Thaxton explain that the reason is because only that worldview of the Bible provided the key presuppositions required for modern science and its systematic method:

* * *

So, the charge that the Bible and Judeo-Christianity is hostile to science, is --historically-- an inaccurate notion ...and this was a deceptive fiction in the first place. In fact, in his book The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers, Carl Becker shows that Enlightenment philosophers such as Voltaire, Condorcet, Hume, Montesquieu and Gibbon intentionally endeavored to discredit Christianity by dishonestly portraying it as an "enemy" of science. Similarly, in the 1800s, Andrew White (in his History of the Warfare of Science and Theology) and also John Draper carefully combed through Western history for examples of Christians who resisted change in scientific concepts. ---However, these "triumphalist" secular writers were actually not being honest enough to bring out that almost all such resistance was from old-guard "status quo" scientists (whether "Christian" or not), and that change in scientific views usually meets resistance from other scientists who are protecting their scientific "turf" during any period of history. But despite such ideological efforts at deception, the facts of science history are now dismantling these false stereotypes of "anti-scientific" Christianity. Historians Alfred Whitehead and Michael Foster, for example, demonstrated that history supports the fact --rather-- that Christianity and its worldview encouraged and stimulated the birth of modern science and the scientific method.

In addition, scientists foundational to the modern method, thought that nature and its laws are a freely chosen and directed product of God. For example: Jan B. van Helmont --an early Chemist-- said: "I believe that Nature is the command of God, whereby a thing is that which it is, and [does] that which it is commanded to do or act." --And Robert Boyle maintained that the laws of physics have been totally produced by the will and power of God, making Him the "free establisher of the laws of motion," and adding that the sustaining of these laws "depend perfectly on His will." --And then, Isaac Newton declared that "The world might have been otherwise than it is (because there may be worlds otherwise framed than this). 'Twas therefore [not] necessary but a voluntary & free determination [it] should be thus."(ref. Pearcey & Thaxton, ibid, p.32). --These foundational modern scientists were students of the Bible as well as of nature.

Although people from all major non-biblical worldviews employ modern scientific methodology today, those people have the framework of the worldview of Biblical truth to thank for this original connection to reality. ---However, a caution: If non-biblical worldviews and philosophies take over (mentioned above), this would create a threat to good science.

Pearcey and Thaxton sum it up: "The Christian religion ...has motivated, sanctioned, and shaped large portions of the Western scientific heritage. Modern Christians ought to drink deeply at the well of historical precedent. If we do, we will never feel intimidated by positivists and others who deny that religion has any role in genuine scholarship. In the broad scope of history, that claim is itself a temporary aberation ---a mere blip on the screen, already beginning to fade" (ibid, p.248).

So, Christians can confidently enjoy science, and obey the Lord's call to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2Cor. 10:5).

Great Scientists working from a biblical worldview
(...who established the modern scientific method)

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) - Hydraulics, Anatomy
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) - Celestial Mechanics, Astronomy
Jan B. van Helmont (1580-1644) - Chemistry, Physiology
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) - Hydrostatics, Fluid Pressure
Robert Boyle (1627-1691) - Chemistry, Elements, Gas Volume & Pressure, Scientific Method
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) - Calculus, Laws of Gravity & Motion
John Woodward (1665-1728) - Paleontology
Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) - Systematic Biology Classification
Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) - Comparative Anatomy, Vertebrate Paleontology
Michael Faraday (1791-1867) - Electromagnetics, Field Theory
Charles Babbage (1792-1871) - Computer Science
Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) - Ichthyology, Glacial Geology
James Joule (1818-1889) - Reversible Thermodynamics
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) - Genetics
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) - Bacteriology, Germs cause Disease, Law of Biogenesis
Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) - Thermodynamics, Energetics
William Ramsay (1852-1916) - Isotopic Chemistry

And considering many others working from a biblical worldview of nature, read down through a list of
Notable Inventions and Discoveries from the past 800 years.

And you, dear reader, are loved and valued by God, who sent Jesus Christ to pay the death-penalty for the sins of anyone who will surrender and entrust their life to him. (see John 3:16 and Rom. 10:9).

Blessings to you!

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