Friend or Foe?

Are science and Christianity mortal enemies? Many people think so. They point to the classic controversies over questions like: Did humans evolve?, How old is the earth? There are even people who think science disproves Christianity. Well, there's a simple answer you can give these people: Tell them that without Christianity, we wouldn't even have science. The case was made in a recent article in a journal called First Things. If you think back, most of the early scientists were Christians: Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Pascal. They believed the world had an orderly structure, which could be scientifically studied, because it was created by an orderly God. This alliance between faith and reason endured for more than 300 years. But only a century ago, a new slant crept into history books. People who wanted to discredit Christianity began to write books that said faith and science were locked in mortal combat. the most influential was Andrew Dickson White's book, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology. It's an image we've all grown up with. But in recent years, there's been a reversal among historians of science. The more they study the historical record, the clearer it becomes that science could never have developed were it not for Christianity. For example, Loren Eiseley, a well-known science writer, says many civilizations developed great technical expertise--Egypt with its pyramids, Rome with its aqueducts--but only one produced the experimental method we call science. That civilization was Europe at the end of the Middle Ages--a culture based on Christianity. The reason, says Eiseley, was the biblical teaching of a rational God. He says, "Experimental science began its the faith...that it was dealing with a rational universe controlled by a Creator who did not act upon whim." The very idea that there are "laws" in nature is not found in any other culture. Science historian A.R. Hall says the idea comes from "the Hebraic and Christian belief in a deity who was at once Creator and Lawgiver." And sociologist R.K. Merton, in his famous Merton thesis, says modern science owes its existence to the Christian notion of moral obligation. Since God made the world, it is not to be despised. The Christian is under obligation to study it and use it to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind. The interesting thing is that the scholars I just quoted are not Christians. But what they are expressing is a new consensus among historians that Christian faith actually propelled the development of modern science. So the next time you get into a discussion about whether science disproves the Bible, remind your friends that without the Bible, science wouldn't even exist. It's true that God Himself can't be put in a test tube or studied under a microscope. But it is God who created and sustains the natural laws that scientists build their theories on. And scientists who reject Christian faith are actually cutting off the branch they're sitting on.  


Chuck Colson


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