There are people who say that science and Christianity are incongruous, but history says otherwise.
“A scientific discovery is also a religious discovery. There is no conflict between science and religion. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make about the world. —Joseph H. Taylor Jr., Nobel Prize laureate in (astro)physics.
As we continue our review of “Person of Interest” by J. Warner Wallace, we find much information concerning scientific developments in the past 2500 years on pages 179-185.
There’s a relationship between the progress of science and the appearance of Jesus in history. First, let’s look at scientific developments and significant scientists from 2022 BCE to 2022 CE. Science advanced slowly in the first two thousand years, as the ancients laid the foundation for mathematics and natural philosophy. But in the next two thousand years, scientific developments progressed at an exponential rate, with several key “bursts” of activity, including the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Where does Jesus fall in this timeline? Interestingly, he appears right before the growth curve. Was this a coincidence or was Jesus somehow a catalyst?
The first small increase in scientific activity just happens to occur after the Edict of Milan (AD 313, Christianity was no longer an outlaw religion) and Edict of Thessalonica (AD 380, Christianity became the state religion of Rome). After the Roman Empire ended its persecution of Christians and adopted Christianity as the religion of the empire, science began to advance. The next increase occurred at the same time monasteries and cathedral schools were being established.
Another increase occurred, but not because of Christianity, but because of Islam, which lasted until sometime before the scientific revolution in the 1600’s.
The next major increase in activity happened to coincide with the Christian founding of the first universities at Bologna (1088), Oxford (1096), and Paris (1170). Another major increase occurred at about the same time as a Jesus follower (Johannes Gutenberg) invented the printing press (1455). The last impressive explosion of scientific activity occurred at the scientific revolution, and this historic period of discovery happened to coincide with the Protestant Reformation (1517).
Jesus followers dominated this burst of activity in which modern science emerged and developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, and chemistry changed the way humans thought about themselves and their world. Christian scientists dramatically outnumbered all other contributors combined. Why? Was it a coincidence or was there something about the worldview Jesus established that served as a catalyst for this historic Christian contribution? The latter seems to have been the case. Jesus matters to the progress of science, and scientific exploration as we know it is yet another piece of Common Era fallout pointing back to Jesus of Nazareth.
(from page 177) Christianity isn’t anti-science, but it is anti-scientism. Scientism is the belief that science is the only way to know anything. But there are many things we know without the benefit of science at all, like logical and mathematical truths, metaphysical truths, moral and ethical truths, aesthetic truths, and historical truths. Christians believe that science can tell us many important things but not all of the important things.
Tomorrow, we will look at how Jesus’s worldview ignited a scientific uprising.
Abba, everything I read about science makes me praise You all the more. From Creation to the Flood, from the ice age to the current age, You have always displayed Your glory in the heavens and in this world. We praise You, Abba! Amen.