Stephen Snobelen Assistant Professor of History of Science and Technology,
University of King’s College,
Here is a final paradox. Recent work on early modern science has demonstrated a direct (and positive) relationship between the resurgence of the Hebraic, literal exegesis of the Bible in the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of the empirical method in modern science. I’m not referring to wooden literalism, but the sophisticated literal-historical hermeneutics that Martin Luther and others (including Newton) championed. It was, in part, when this method was transferred to science, when students of nature moved on from studying nature as symbols, allegories and metaphors to observing nature directly in an inductive and empirical way, that modern science was born. In this, Newton also played a pivotal role. As strange as it may sound, science will forever be in the debt of millenarians and biblical literalists.
Some brief thoughts, skeletal in scope, on the above quote:
I have participated in more than one conversation wherein the assertion is made that Intelligent Design (ID) is no more than a sophisticated ‘God of the gaps’ argument. Further, I have been told that ID has no practical application; it predicts nothing, and, in fact, science could not have arisen from a milieu where religion, inferred to be synonymous with superstition, predominates.
In counterpoint, I find it interesting that many of the fathers of modern science were Christian. They inferred that natural laws pointed towards a Law Giver. They understood on a fundamental level that the universe was coherent and, given time and application of proper methodology, understandable because there was a Divine origin to the material world. Indeed, could science, dependent on, among other things, repeatability of phenomena, have risen in a milieu where the universe was understood to be random and driven by chaos? Quite frankly, much of modern physics seems so counter-intuitive and bizarre (to me), but, and again, I do not think we could not have gotten to where we are in our understanding of the created order without a foundational inference of a Creator. Could ramble for hours and flesh these thoughts out more (and, given I will have some time off for the holidays, perhaps I will), but it is 4:00AM, I am sick, and the cold and sinus meds are kicking in. Becoming soooo sleepy……..
Psalm 19:1 (English Standard Version)
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.