Monday, October 29, 2007

Origins of Scientific Method

Most people do not know that Christianity played a major role in the development of modern science and in establishing respect for the "scientific method" which propelled the advances of science since mid-renaissance times. A list of well-known scientists of that era includes many devout Christians who were not ashamed to express their faith.

These early scientists perceived the rules governing the realm in which we live -- its matter, forces, energy, processes, and life forms -- as constant and harmonious. They observed the apparent order and beauty of the visible universe through systematic visual observations and through their instruments ranging from telescope to microscope. Their study of earth's myriad life forms revealed incredible beauty and interdependence. Judeo-Christian scripture in dozens of passages pointed to the distinctives of the universe, the earth, its life, and humanity. No other holy book remotely approaches this level of accuracy. Scientists of faith were propelled forward in their pursuits by the statements of scripture.

Genesis 1 reads like a primer in scientific method from its opening statement clearly identifying the frame of reference and initial earth conditions to the orderly description of a chronological sequence of events, final conditions, and conclusions. Other passages in the New Testament encourage us to test and study, certainly a hallmark of scientific method. Thomas Torrance, Scottish theologian, has written how Reformed theology, at about the time of the Protestant Reformation, played a vital role in helping early scientists develop some of the tenets of scientific method which laid the groundwork for advances in scientific knowledge. In the last few centuries and, in particular, in the last few decades, this knowledge has revolutionized our lives. Let's give thanks to God that He has permitted humanity to discover and apply HIS laws.