Christianity plays big role in modern science

It is fascinating to me that one of the least-scientific events of recorded history has been the most significant event in the history of science. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is without precedence in human history. Scientifically it is impossible and miraculous — words scientists eschew. Yet it is Christianity, depending on the idea of Christ’s resurrection, that gave birth to our modern scientific method and ideas.

Christianity did not invent reason, knowledge, or the idea that the universe is a logical and rational place. Many early philosophers postulated that our universe was understandable according to natural law. Algebra was invented through ancient Islamic culture. However, these early philosophers and ideas did not spark the methodical and experimental study we know as science. In fact, all were ignored for centuries during the dark ages. But the ideas were recorded and preserved by Christian scribes in monasteries and later rediscovered by the same. 

It was in these Christian monasteries where methodical experimentation with methods of manufacture, agriculture and other practical matters was first attempted. In fact, monasteries eventually gave rise to the first universities, which were all religious-based institutions. Science became an expansion of this experimentation, as well as an effort to learn more about God, by studying the world and the universe which Christians believe were His creation.

Christianity resurrected the idea of an orderly universe because Christians believe that such a world has a rational cause: God. The Judeo-Christian ethic teaches that the world operates according to divine reason. If the world was created by a reasonable God, it must be a reasonable place. If we are created in God’s image, and God is a logical, orderly and a reasonable God, we must also possess these attributes. 

Of course, this is all based on basic Christian assumptions. By contrast, some scientists of today assume there is no God. However, this is a relatively recent belief. It should be noted, though, that until a couple of hundred years ago scientists were believers. The atheistic scientist is a relatively recent phenomenon, but they have gained some prominence in modern culture. Their assumption is that the creation of the world and universe are random events that took place without divine intervention. Scientists base their beliefs on reason alone. However, reason always begins with initial assumptions. Science began with the assumption that there is a rational God. 

Until recently, when other cultures have adopted Western scientific methods, the overwhelming majority of scientific discoveries have been made by people who had absorbed the Judeo-Christian ethic. This ethic is based on the idea that if man makes a study of the way the world works, mankind will better understand the mind of God. Ninety percent of all scientific discoveries of the last several hundred years have been made in countries heavily influenced by the Judeo-Christian ethic. The list of scientists who were devout Christians is long and is fundamental to our modern understanding of the world.

The universal laws discovered by science, and our ability to predict and control the world when using them, have been a great gift to all of mankind. It isn’t necessary that you believe in God to have the advantage of gravity. Electricity works just fine for atheists. Much of modern medicine was developed by overtly-religious individuals of the Judeo-Christian heritage but is a benefit to people of all faiths. If humans educate themselves and use knowledge in a beneficial way, science can improve the lives of all mankind, in spite of men’s varying religious beliefs.

The unscientific resurrection of Jesus Christ has blessed mankind in ways little understood by modern man. The scientific influence of Jesus Christ goes unrecognized by much of the world, just as his religious role is unknown and unappreciated by huge portions of the world’s population. For those who recognize his religious role in our lives, it is interesting to understand Christianity’s role in scientific discovery.

Gary McCallister, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), is a professor of biology at Colorado Mesa University.


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