The Soul of Science

In today’s culture, there is a general idea that science and faith occupy two different categories and are even opposed to one another.

Scienceandreligion

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by fusky: http://flickr.com/photos/fusky/15462959014

However, in her book, The Soul of Science, Nancy Pearcey does the research to show that this idea is a recent invention and that, in fact, Christianity was the worldview that provided the foundation that fostered scientific discovery.

“Through sheer practical know-how and rules-of-thumb, several cultures in antiquity–from the Chinese to the Arabs–produced a higher level of learning and technology than medieval Europe did. Yet it was Christianized Europe and not these more advanced cultures that gave birth to modern science as a systematic, self-correcting discipline” [1]. Why is that?

“Science is the study of nature, and the possibility of science depends upon one’s attitude towards nature. Biblical religion gave to Western culture several of its fundamental assumptions about the natural world” [2].

For example, God made the world, and it is real. The world is not an illusion as Hinduism teaches. If all we see is an illusion, nothing can be trusted so what would be the point in studying it? Rather, the Christian worldview sees the world as created reality that can be interacted with reliably.

Another example is that in the Christian worldview, God deemed the world good. Physical reality was worth something to God; after all, He created it. The Greeks believed all things physical were evil and to be avoided or denigrated. Such a view cannot foster scientific study.

Pantheistic religions viewed nature as divine – all of creation had spirits. This view only fostered subjugation to nature and the worship of idols. In the Christian worldview, however, God is the creator of nature, not a part of it. He gave man dominion over it in order to study it and care for it. The Bible says that one of the first things Adam was tasked with was naming each animal (This could be a whole blog post in itself!).

Because the God of the Bible is rational, orderly and intelligent, it was understood by Christians that His creation must display the characteristics of its Creator. Thus, it could be studied and understood. This belief in an orderly universe came to be summed up as “Natural Law”. Did you know that the concept of “Laws of Nature” was rooted in Christianity? “The early scientists did not argue that the world was lawfully ordered, and therefore there must be a rational God. Instead, they argued that there was a rational God, and therefore the world must be lawfully ordered” [3].

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[1] Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton, The Soul of Science (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1994), 21.

[2] Ibid., 22.

[3] Ibid., 27.