Before moving on to my next post, I came across this and it of course speaks to many areas I’ve brought up in the past. Again, when we think about the impact of narratives upon cultures, can it tell us something “true” about those narratives in the sense I’ve been talking about in these last posts on that very subject? I think it can.
Putting that aside, for those who still think there is some conflict between science and Christianity, I hope they can begin to see it is little more than a modern myth. The first scientists were also theologians or those who were influenced by them. The modern scientist rests upon the shoulders of theologians. And even the modern atheistic scientist is still a philosopher first—just one who’s forgotten where he came from or who opened up this world for him he now thinks is devoid of anything but the material. He is a philosopher because only a philosopher can make a case for atheism. It certainly can’t be made by a scientist. And the case for God can’t be made by a scientist either. What must haunt the atheistic scientist however is that he would probably not exist except for this thing he rejects. He must always feel like the young man or woman who feels their parents are just so uncool, outdated, and wrong about everything. And yet, they are his or her parents. It’s a tough road that one.
Could modern science have arisen outside the theological matrix of Western Christendom? It is difficult to say. What can be said for certain is that it did arise in that environment, and that theological ideas underpinned some of its central assumptions. Those who argue for the incompatibility of science and religion will draw little comfort from history.
What historical record also suggests is that insofar as modern science posits natural laws and presupposes the constancy of nature, it invokes an implicit theology. Most important of all, perhaps, religious considerations provided vital sanctions for the pursuit of scientific knowledge and, arguably, it is these that account for the positive attitudes to science which have led to the high status of science in the modern West.
This is not to deny that there have been those in the past who have opposed certain scientific views on religious grounds. This has been especially the case since the advent of Darwinianism, which met with a mixed reception in religious circles. It is often forgotten, however, that Darwinism met with a mixed reaction in scientific circles, too.
Those who have magnified more recent controversies about the relations of science and religion, and who have projected them back into historical time, simply perpetuate a historical myth. The myth of a perennial conflict between science and religion is one to which no historian of science would subscribe.