Role of Faith in the Origin of Science

"The founders of modern science needed to assume that if they studied nature carefully, it would reveal its secrets."(Meyer, Signature in the Cell, p142) Certainly it would seem that the beginning of modern science depended upon the faith that nature was ultimately rational and dependable, and that real progress could be made in understanding it. Many worldviews saw their world as a place governed by capricious influences, spirits, demons, etc. But the Judeo-Christian heritage saw the universe as created by one God and controlled by Him according to dependable laws and principles - a cosmos, not a chaos. Some of the ideas about the role of faith, and specifically Christian faith, will be explored here.

Alfred North Whitehead
"There can be no living science unless there is a widespread instinctive conviction in the existence of an Order of Things. And, in particular, of an Order of Nature" He argued that this confidence was inspired by the "midieval insistence upon the rationality of God". "Science and the Modern World", 1925. Reprint, New York, Free Press, 1967. p 2-4, 13.

Steve Fuller

Western science is grounded in "the belief that the natural order is the product of a single intelligence from which our own intelligence descends." "Science vs Religion? Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution", Oxford: Polity, 2007, p15

Johannes Kepler

Scientists have the job of "thinking God's thoughts after Him".

Peter Hodgson

"According to Judeo-Christian beliefs the world is the free creation of God from nothing. The structure of the world cannot therefore be deduced from first principles; we have to look at it, to make observations and experiments fo find out how God made it. This reinforces the Aristotelian principle that all knowledge comes through the senses, but requires that it be situated within a wider set of beliefs concerning the nature of the world that is implicit in the doctrine of creation. " "The Christian Origin of Science", Logos 4, 2001, p 138-159. (p145)

Hodgson notes that early scientists assumed that the world was both rational - because it was created by a Mind -- and contingent -- because that Mind had acted freely. These assumptions led to "a fresh style of scientific thinking," one that "was made possible by the Judeo-Christian vision of the world."(p142)

Windows of Creation
Evidence from nature Is the universe designed?
Scientists of Faith
  Reasonable Faith Go Back