There are many who would say that, as Christians, we cannot be on the side of science. While this statement is wholly false, it is also ignorant. It is ignorant not only because it is spoken without an understanding of what Christianity is or what we as Christians believe in, but also because it lacks a knowledge of history.
To begin, science once encapsulated more than the fields we have limited it to today. Those who studied what we now call science were typically those who were in the church, even to the point that universities were founded at and by monasteries. Additionally, the word science simply meant the pursuit or study of knowledge and understanding. Thus, people have been studying since there were people. This is why some might say that the Greeks or Egyptians or Babylonians were the first to study “science”, but in truth, we could just as easily say it was begun by Tubal-Cain, who figured out the science of metal-working, Cain, who is noted for city-building, Abel, who probably knew animal husbandry, or Adam, who named the animals.
But what about the modern fields of science, the ones that we today call actual science , the ones with specific names and definitions? Were those not started by naturalists, those who belive in evolution? That would surely be the answer we would get if we asked most people. In fact, even you reading this may think that. Was it not Darwin who founded the study of genetics? Or even if those founders of science claimed to be Christian, were they really Christians or were they ignorant of so-called “facts”?
In truth, most of the founders of science were in fact Christians. They believed in the God of the Bible and pursued knowledge to the glory of God. There have always been opposing views towards God’s Word, and naturalistic thinking is not a modern idea. Science was knowledge, and its pursuit part of the calling for many christians, not only for personal fame or advancement. They studied to know what God had made and how He made it. This, in fact, it what science meant. To know “what is known, knowledge acquired by study”, and the study of what? What is already known by God and to study what He has created. In fact, I think Kepler sums up this idea when he said:
O God, I am thinking Thy thoughts after Thee.
So then, who were these founders of science, founders that study for the pursuit of knowledge to the glory of God? There are many who dedicated their work to the Lord, many more than who cam be named here. In fact, this post speaks little of the earliest forerunners, but hopefully most of these names will sound familiar even if their dedication to the Lord is not already known.
We will begin with Francis Bacon. Bacon was a Christian and is in fact the father of the Scientific Method that secularists claim to hold so dear. In many ways, he stabilized and better defined the subject of science. The same Johannes Kepler mentioned above is the one who observed the laws, physics, and mechanics of astronomy. He truly saw the Lord in everything. Though the life of Galileo is marred with the false idea that the Church was against science. Instead, it was people within the church who had begun to hold Greek philosophy above the Word. In spite of, or rather because of, his religious beliefs, Galileo has been referred to the father of modern science. He studied astronomy and mathematics, and considered his theories in harmony with the Bible as he strove to explore the world as God gave him the ability.
Copernicus, of course, is best known for his Copernican model of the solar system, which stated that the sun, not the earth, was at the center of the solar system. This was further supported by Galileo’s findings. Though many have used his classification system for wrong, Carolus Linnaeus was a Christian who founded taxonomy, began the use of binomial nomenclature, and attempted to discover what the original kinds recorded in Genesis were. He did not believe that animals were evolving into one another, rather, he simply wanted to understand the animals and other things God had created by organizing them. Much can be said about Newton as Newton did and discovered much: gravity, calculus, dynamics, reflecting telescopes, and much more. He was as influential as he was helpful in the field of science, and over all, he was a man of God, for he did not only study God in the world but also in the Word.
This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being….This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God “pantokrator,” or Universal Ruler….
Robert Boyle, the father of modern chemistry, praised God in all that He had made, seeing Him in nature much as Newton Had. Moreover, he even worked to aid missionaries and Bible translators in the East. His dedication to God is unquestionable.
When with bold telescopes I survey the old and newly discovered stars and planets when with excellent microscopes I discern the unimitable subtility of nature’s curious workmanship; and when, in a word, by the help of anatomical knives, and the light of chymical furnaces, I study the book of nature I find myself oftentimes reduced to exclaim with the Psalmist, How manifold are Thy works, O Lord! in wisdom hast Thou made them all!
While Darwin is praised as a scientist, a naturalist, and sometimes as a geneticist, he was none of these things. Not only is falsely credited for ideas discovered by others, which he distorted, but his theories were also disproved by the scientists of that day and those thereafter. The first is Edward Blyth who, though it is not widely known, actually developed the concept of natural selection years before Darwin published his Origin of Species (Patterson 79). He was a creationist and a Christian, seeing natural selection as a way “intended by Providence” to preserve a kind over the years even if species within a created kind change (Humber). Gregor Mendel, a contemporary of Darwin, is now known as the father of Modern Genetics. His work showed how traits descend from parents, a fact which came to be known as Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance. His work showed that information cannot be added to genes, thus putting him in conflict with Darwin, whose theories gained precedence despite the fact that they were unscientific. Sadly, Mendel’s work was not found until the 20th century. Mendel, though, was not only a man who studied nature and science but also one who studied the Bible, as he was an Augustinian monk. Finally, there is Louis Pasteur. We owe much to the work done by Pasteur, especially in the medical field. During his days, the idea of spontaneous generation was widely held, but his experiments confirmed once and for all that life could not arise spontaneously. Thus, he founded the law of biogenesis, which states that life can only arise from life. He led the way for studying germs, bacteria, sterilization, and “pasteurisation” (named after the man himself), and vaccinations. We have much to be thankful for because of this man of science who was both Christian and creationist.
And there is hardly time to write about so many other Christian scientists. There is Blaise Pascal, John Dalton, James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, Nicolaus Steno, James Joule, Andrew Ure, and George Young, not to mention the number of inventors who sought to please their creator, such as Samuel Morse, Gerdardus Mercator, and Joseph Henry. All these men were either founders in their fields or well-respected in them because of their discoveries. Even so, these are not all of the scientists of the past who believed in the Creator, and this list does not even note all of those of the present who still work for His glory. They pursued their work because they knew this:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
~ Proverbs 1:7 ~
God made this whole world. His creation is recorded in His Word, first in Genesis. When we say we study science, we say that we are studying knowledge. And what knowledge, what thing to know is it that we look for? It is God and all that He has made. What we observe, discover, and document is only what He has made and set in place first for us to find. He is a God of reason and order, so it is only fitting that we should seek out, find, define, and record the laws of physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy, and all else that He has made. He set the planets and stars in place, formed every part of who you are, and placed within you a soul that He desires to be in Him. He also “set an eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecc. 3:11). And yet, we still strive to discover all that He has made, because God also placed within us a mind to reason, a curiosity to sate, a creativity to mimic, and the eyes to see and ears to hear all that He has done for us.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
~ Genesis 1:1 ~
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
~ Hebrews 11:1-3 ~
The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of His hands. Day after the day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
~ Psalm 19:1-2 ~
When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
~ Psalm 8:3-4 ~
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse
~ Romans 1:20 ~
Blessings to you and yours,
Dao, C. 2008. Man of Science, Man of God: Galileo Galilei. Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him. 5.
Dao, C. 2008. Man of Science, Man of God: Gregor Johann Mendel. Acts & Facts. 37 (10): 8.
Dao, C. 2008. Man of Science, Man of God: Isaac Newton. Acts & Facts. 37 (5): 8.
Dao, C. 2008. Man of Science, Man of God: Johann Kepler. Acts & Facts. 37 (3): 8.
Dao, C. 2008. Man of Science, Man of God: Louis Pasteur. Acts & Facts. 37 (11): 8.
Dao, C. 2008. Man of Science, Man of God: Robert Boyle. Acts & Facts. 37 (4): 8.
“Francis Bacon.” Evolution the Great Debate, Vernon Blackmore & Andrew Page, Lion Publishing, 1989, p. 22.
Jerry Bergman, Ph.D. 2014. Carolus Linnaeus: Founder of Modern Taxonomy. Acts & Facts. 43 (11).
Morris, H. M. 1982. Bible-Believing Scientists of the Past. Acts & Facts. 11 (1).
Paul G. Humber, M.S. 1997. Natural Selection – A Creationist’s Idea. Acts & Facts. 26 (1).
Patterson, Roger. Evolution Exposed Biology. Hebron: Answers in Genesis. 2008. 79. Print.
A great book on christian scientists is Men of Science, Men of God: Great Scientists who Believed the Bible by Dr. Henry Morris.