Today, there is a common view that faith and science are in conflict, irreconcilable opposites. The view is a myth, popularized by those who seek to avoid accountability to God and ultimately deny His existence. Actually, modern science emerged from a Judeo-Christian worldview. What happened? It is an amazing story.
The Middle Ages was not a period devoid of progress. The Middle Ages were not the “Dark Ages.” Actually, the term “Dark Ages was not coined until the 19th Century. During the so-called Middle Ages, Europeans invented spectacles, the mechanical clock, the windmill, the blast furnace, lenses, cameras, and almost all kinds of machinery. In addition, they developed to a far higher level other inventions that originated in the Far East, including the compass, paper, printing, stirrups, and gunpowder.1
The Church has been accused of obstructing of even blocking scientific investigations. The truth is “the Church never supported the idea that the earth is flat, never banned human dissection, never banned the zero, and certainly never burned anyone at the stake for scientific ideas.” During that period, the priests were among the most educated people. They began studies of nature as a way to improve their understanding of God. They taught that God created an orderly universe that was amenable to human understanding, if investigators proceeded in an orderly manner with each generation peeling back successive layers of the cosmic onion. Sir Isaac Newton’s famous quote, “If I have seen a little further, then it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” was actually originated by the theologian Bernard of Chartres (died about 1130). “Science” had a far broader definition at that time.
The word, science is derived from the Latin word scientia meaning knowledge. Science originally included the entire realm of human knowledge, including politics, theology, and philosophy. Theology, the study of God and His relation to man and the world, was known as the queen of the sciences. The study of nature was known as natural philosophy. Emerging as a distinct discipline, science became widely known as the handmaiden of theology (servant). The prevailing view was that mankind could learn about God from two books, the book of nature and the book of revealed knowledge (scriptures). However, human pride is tenacious and easily inflated, especially among those gifted with higher than average intelligence. The ability to reason is itself clearly a gift as well as an important and useful tool to learn about everything in the universe. Faith and reason are a powerful combination for discerning the whole of creation. However, an accumulating array of small, pride-induced compromises within the Church allowed reason to overtake faith and in some cases replace faith in the marketplace of ideas. The trend gave birth to the “Age of Reason.” When reason is not tempered by faith, reason tends to puff pride. Satan has never stopped asking the question, “Did God really say_______?” [Genesis 3:1 NIV] However, placing reason before faith puts mankind in the position of judging God, a fearsome place to be, indeed.