Science, as we know it in the West, began in Christian Europe. And that was despite the fact that many other cultures had some of the elements for creating a scientific culture. Greece had developed philosophy, including some empirically minded folks such as Aristotle (the Renaissance rediscovery of which helped to promote the rise of science). China had invented gun power and moveable type. Egypt had developed mathematics and geometry. Rome had some mechanical inventors, etc. But none of those cultures developed science as a culturally sustained effort to understand the reasonable structure of the cosmos.
The reason was quite simple: only the Biblical worldview (both then and now) holds that the cosmos is not only by nature (i.e., by design of God) a reasonable and ordered universe, it is also a good place. Greek philosophy, despite Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, et al, could not provide a basis for a rational cosmos, or see the material world as good. Both paganism and secularism believe that the cosmos is at bottom an inherently irrational and chaotic place, to be left for the spiritual realms as soon as possible. Order in the material world came to be understood as imposed by human effort, often by force of arms, order is not found naturally in nature.
Clue: one can tell whether a cosmic view will end up being rational and orderly or the reverse by asking whether one can say or know anything specific in that view about Ultimate Reality. In the Biblical view we can, in non-Biblical views, the divine always drifts off (either in principle - paganism, or in fact - secularism) into unknowability.
So nobody was looking for reasonable and rational order, such as scientific efforts might discover. Christians were. And did. Almost all the early pioneers of western science were Christians, not atheists or agnostics. They understood themselves to be "discovering God's laws after Him", as one of them said. The rationality of the Creator set the Biblical cosmos off from the irrationality of the secular/pagan cosmos. The testimony to the reasonableness of the cosmos is clearly found in Hebrew and Christian literature.
The last 600 years, however, has been the tragic story of the Christian community slowly sinking into irrationalism, rejecting science as dangerous to their beliefs. In the 1800's, both Roman Catholicism and much of Evangelicalism were persuaded that reason and revelation were opposed to each other, with the gleeful support of the emerging atheist and agnostic forces.
Christians retreated into very unBiblical theories of "infallibility" and "inerrancy", thus undermining their ability to engage the world in reasonable discussion (as in, "Come, let us reason together..." Isaiah 1:18). Christians abandoned their intellectual heritage and retreated from public discussion, leaving the 20th century an open field for atheism. Today, one can hardly find an articulate spokesman for Christianity in higher education. And Christianity has been outlawed in government-controlled education. With hardly a whimper from Christian leadership.
It is our contention that the only fully reasonable way to engage life is the Christian way, that all other contenders will either fall into self-contradiction or will fail to account for the available evidence of experience. Furthermore, all non-Biblical ways of life will drift strongly toward emotional and relational defensiveness, and hence be unable to enjoy the deepest joys of life.
The Bible has historically been the primary inspiration for literacy because people who think that God speaks to us through a written word want to know how to read. When the Bible is abandoned in a culture, literacy and education begin to tumble. The last 150 years of American education is a perfect illustration. We have slid from being the best educated people in the world to being consistently at the bottom among industrial nations. Much of that slide has been planned and deliberate (see the Education Library). We have have lost our Biblical foundations, we are also losing our grip, therefore, on science itself.
Signs of Christian intellectual renewal are showing, however. And the emergence of a Judeo-Christian intellectual heritage foreshadows a spiritual renewal, the likes of which the world has never seen.
In the early 1960's, I completed my doctorate on the relation between science and theology at Oxford University. My thesis was entitled, "Personality, Empiricism, and God", in which I present the evidence to show that inductive reasoning does not get off the ground without presupposing the Biblical Creator. That work is scheduled for publication at some time in the future. Keep tuned.
See also "Definition of Science" page.
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