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Science & Christianity: Friends or Foes? Weighing the Historical Evidence

Wed, Mar. 18, 2015 Posted: 04:14 PM


I will highlight resources that support my 2015 Stand Firm Conference presentation, which carried the same title as today's blog. As a historian and philosopher of science, I address the question of whether Christianity has fostered scientific discovery. Earlier I published an essay that addresses some aspects of this question:

  • In the Beginning: Episodes in the Origin and Development of Science,” Salvo Magazine (September 2013). Abstract: Belief in the Judeo-Christian God supported the idea that the universe is predictable and knowable, which is foundational to scientific research. This Salvo article debunks common science-religion myths and shows how Christianity contributed to the rise of modern science.

Discovery Institute hosts a website that explores science and faith. Here are some of its resources that support my main point today:

  • The Roots of Intelligent Design: Use this free collection of readings, audio clips, and discussion questions to explore the intellectual roots of intelligent design in Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, and modern thought. Especially suitable for small group discussions or an adult education mini-course of 2 or 3 sessions. This collection is the fourth one listed on the above-linked resource webpage.

Are Christianity and science at war with one another? Not according to leading historians. "The greatest myth in the history of science and religion holds that they have been in a state of constant conflict," wrote historian of science Ronald Numbers in 2009. Dr. Numbers is not an adherent to any religious faith. He is also a leading expert on the history of science and religion. Why does the popular "science vs. Christianity" stereotype continue despite the impressive historical evidence otherwise? While some perpetuate this stereotype out of a deep desire to descredit Christianity, others simply repeat the stories in ignorance of their mythical status.

The truth is that science and biblical religion have been friends for a long time. Judeo-Christian theology has contributed in a friendly manner to such science-promoting ideas as discoverable natural history, experimental inquiry, universal natural laws, mathematical physics, and investigative confidence that is balanced with humility. Christian institutions, especially since the medieval university, have often provided a supportive environment for scientific inquiry and instruction.

Mike Keas