Christian Roots of Modern Science

From my discussion.

15.04.2013 19:47

The modern science seems to have strong roots in Christianity. You may want to look at

Edward Dolnick, The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World

The book nicely shows that god has played the crucial role in the scientific revolution of the 17th century:

The Lord is rational and He has created a rational world. He has also created a human being in such a way that he/she can comprehend the created world. This was the framework in which the science had grown up.

15.04.2013 21:15

The main difference of the science in the 17th century with Aristotle was the use of mathematics to describe nature. On the other hand, if you read the scientists of the 17th century, the Christian rational god has played the major role in the reasoning. The modern science has started with Galileo’s God-the-Mathematician. And if to look at historical facts, this was not trope, but rather a true belief.

16.04.2013 20:09

I was raised in the Soviet Union where the story looked as follows. Clever progressive scientists in 17th century fought with stupid and reactionary priests. During this fight the modern science has been born.

The deep influence of Christianity on the birth of the modern science for me personally is a new idea. Hence I read books in this respect and I should say that I enjoy this reading. By the way, many of my colleagues in modern Russia still firmly believe in the myth above.

I do not have though concrete ideas on would be implications. I am in the process of thinking this historical fact over.

See also: Ancient and medieval philosophy. The lectures also nicely displays the strong influence of Christian ideas on the further development.

19.04.2013 21:02

I would agree that such a historical fact cannot be employed to discredit the idea of science. On the other hand, it partly discredits views of some military atheists.

More interesting would be to look at how the original dogmas of Christianity have been transformed during the science development. Below I take Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design as an example of modern scientific views.

The basic assumption of Grand Design is the existence of physical laws (the M-theory). To this end, there is an interesting analysis in Coolingwood’s An Essay on Metaphysics that shows that the absolute presuppositions

A) God exists

B) Laws of Nature exist

are quite similar. At the end, it is basically change of names. Let us compare a quote from Hawking

It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.”

with Westminster Confession of Faith

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.”

From Hawking’s book, it is quite clear that God has predestined Hawking to tell the truth about the universe to those who are predestinated to stupidity.

The second assumption was the intelligibility of the world. This question has been transformed into endless discussions of anthropic principle/fine tuning by modern cosmologists. Hawking offers solution to this end as follows:

The laws of M-theory therefore allow for different universes with different apparent laws, depending on how the internal space is curled. M-theory has solutions that allow for many different internal spaces, perhaps as many as 10500, which means it allows for 10500 different universes, each with its own laws.”

This explains fine tuning perfectly. Our universe is just one among 10500 other universes. Hence there is nothing special that by chance in one of universes that develop in parallel, excitations of natural neural networks in authors’ brains allow them to comprehend the Nature and its grand design. One could though say that God has brought that chance to Hawking.

See also: Stephen Hawking: Philosophy is Dead


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