Christianity and the Foundation of Science

The "father of genetics" ironically took a vow of poverty

One thing that many people do not realize is that almost all the early scientists were devoutly Christian. A lot of people assume that everyone was sort of religious back then and that maybe they went along with the crowd. But they were not just go-along-with-the-crowd religious. They were not just avoid-being-burned-as-a-heretic religious. No. They were extremely religious. More religious than the people around them.

Isaac Newton? The guy that basically created modern physics, discovered gravity, built the first reflecting telescope, and invented calculus on the side? Did you know he wrote more on religion than he did on science? He was a zealot by almost any definition. .

What about Robert Boyle? You know, the guy that pretty much created modern chemistry? Boyle's Law? He was obsessed with Christianity and when he wasn't creating new scientific fields, he wrote whole theological books like, "Disquisition about the Final Causes of Natural Things," arguing that science at its best draws us closer to God. And he dished out a ton of his own money to support apologetic efforts to defend the faith.

But... you say.... Galileo. The heretic! Convenient that you didn't mention him, Lewis Ungit!

Well, I was getting to him. Did you know that most people in that era did not attend church weekly? It is true. Rodney Stark, in Triumph of Faith cites studies that show that the number of churches in relation to the population of Europe meant that probably about 15% of people attended church weekly. Most people were Christmas and Easter sorts of people. But Galileo attended mass DAILY. That is like church secretary devout.  He was personal friends with the pope! Yes, he got reprimanded by the church but they only sentenced him to house arrest (in a mansion) and the charges were brought by fellow academics (not churchmen). He was super devout.

Move forward a bit in time and think about the discovery of genetics. You know who did that?
Gregor Mendel. And you know what he did for a living? A monk. The father of genetics, ironically, committed himself to celibacy to serve the Lord.

Since we moved to something small like genes, what about Microbiology? Who is the "father of Microbiology?" A guy named Antonie van Leeuwenhoek usually gets that title. Leeuwenhoek was a super strict Dutch Calvinist who believed that his amazing discoveries were merely further proof of the great wonder of God's creation.

As we are going super small, why not go smaller? Who pioneered atomic theory? A man named John Dalton. Dalton was such a devout Quaker that he refused to live a normal life and instead lived a life of poverty. He spent the last 26 years of his life as a border in a buddy and his wife's house.

Who discovered the Big Bang? A guy named Georges LemaƮtre. Care to guess his profession? If you said monk you are wrong. He was a priest.

I could go on almost all day. But you get the point. In almost every field of science you see some of the earliest and most important titans and founders and fathers of that field being not only Christians but especially devout Christians. For all those that claim that science and Christianity conflict or that somehow religion slows scientific progress, the facts confront you - far from slowing down science, it appears that being extremely religious has been beneficial for the advancement of science.


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