Part 1: Christianity and the Scientific Revolution
by Kevin Clancey
The late Christopher Hitchens wrote a book telling us why religion ruins everything. Western religions, according to Hitchens, have been a force for evil and repression and destroy what is good about being human.
Indeed, the flaws and sins of religious institutions and people can be seen throughout history. As a Christian, I am aware of how imperfect the church is and painfully aware of how flawed I am. Yet is Hitchens’ claim valid?
Has religion, specifically Christianity, been a bad influence on the world we live in now or a great force for good?
The case can be made that, in fact, much of what we enjoy and assume about our world and Western civilization has come about primarily because of the influence of Jesus of Nazareth and his followers throughout history.
None of us have the advantage of George Bailey, the character in the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George got a glimpse of what the world would have been like if he was never born, a great gift to George Bailey and a great story. Unfortunately, this is impossible for the human race outside of the movies.
We don’t know what the world would be like without Jesus Christ coming into history.
Still, we do have evidence that His life and teaching have had an enormous and positive impact on the world in which we live. There are several areas where this is demonstrably the case.
This article aims to examine Christianity’s influence on the scientific revolution. Most of us would agree that the advances in science over the last four hundred years have helped create a world where we have a greater understanding of nature, a greater prospect for longer and healthier lives, a more significant opportunity for greater comforts, and wealth unheard of throughout most of the history of the world.
In our modern worldview, religion, and science have often been pitted against each other, but is this true?
History tells us differently. Christians believe and have believed that nature is orderly and created by an intelligent being.
Because of this, it can be studied, and the truth can be discovered. Pre-Christian pagan ideas about nature had no such presuppositions. Pagan ideas about nature and the gods were more random and erratic.
Christianity laid the foundation for the scientific revolution, which is why the movement’s founders were almost exclusively Christians.
The Christian view of loving your neighbor was and is a driving force for scientific discovery. As we have seen, scientific developments can improve life for people on Earth.
An emphasis on improving healthcare, the environment, advancing time-saving technologies, and more food-producing agriculture are all positive gains for people and help alleviate hardship and suffering.
The moral influence behind the advances in science comes directly from the idea we find in Jesus of a good God, an orderly Creator, and the command from God to love our neighbor.
God’s glory and greatness are revealed in scientific discovery. When the mysteries of the universe are discovered, they draw us toward God, not away from Him.
Creation from nothing, the universe’s beginning, points us to a Creator God. The fine-tuning of the universe allows for life to appear and continue on Earth and point to a benevolent designer entirely consistent with God as seen in Jesus.
DNA, the code that directs life, is a brilliant language written into every living thing and points to a creator of that language and an author of life, again consistent with the life and teachings of Jesus.
Even the scientific method of investigating, researching, and testing come from a Christian foundation. The assumption that truth can be looked for and found out if diligently looked for and analyzed is teachings clearly found in Jesus.
The impetuousness to know more about God and nature and the holy curiosity to seek and find our central teachings in the Christian faith. Theology and science don’t always agree, but our knowledge in both fields is incomplete.
What is true is that all truth is God’s truth, and the vast advances in science made in recent history clearly found their source in the Christian worldview brought about by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Copyright 2023, FamilyConservationPAC.com
Kevin Clancey, a devoted pastor with 36 years’ experience, holds an M.Div from Fuller Seminary. He and his wife, Jill, have three children and six grandchildren. Kevin’s leadership and writing reflect his compassion and wisdom.