Christianity and the Origin of Science

Stephen C. Meyer and the origin of science
Stephen C. Meyer

One of the most prolific writers in the field of apologetics is Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute. His book Return of the God Hypothesis has stirred up a great deal of discussion in academic circles, and Prager University has been promoting his work on the web. One of his interesting points relates to the origin of science.

Stephen Meyer points out that science began in western Europe, and he attributes that to the tenants of Christianity. However, all cultures have made significant contributions to human progress and technology. For example, the Chinese perfected the use of gunpowder and rockets. Islam contributed to the field of mathematics and applications of math to astronomy. The Incas and various Central and South American native populations made significant progress in agriculture, irrigation, and land use. Egyptian and African cultures built marvelous pyramids and employed incredible engineering techniques to build great memorials.

In all of these cases, there was no advancement of science as occurred in western Europe. The science of western Europe culminated in enormous progress in chemistry, physics, biology, and medicine. It resulted in industrialization and the high standard of living that we enjoy in America today. While ignorance, greed, and selfishness may have contaminated that progress in modern times, the origin of science is in the belief system of Christianity.

The biblical concept of the natural world shows us that it is intelligible. If you believe there is design and order in nature that we can understand, we can study that design and use it. The great heroes of western science saw that there was order and planning in what they were investigating. The “Scientists and God” column in our quarterly journal contains quotes from the great minds in western science expressing that the universe is orderly because the Creator made it that way, and we can understand it. The Christian system was the basis of their work. The Bible condemns witchcraft, spiritualism, sorcery, and multiple gods and goddesses fighting each other, resulting in chaos.

The orderliness of the universe is based on laws such as the laws of thermodynamics. Fixed laws guide the fields of astrophysics, geology, and oceanography. The whole basis of Darwin’s understanding of biology was that there is an order to life that depends on the environments in which living things find themselves.

Webster defines science as “knowledge,” and modern knowledge has come from the biblical beliefs of a creation that can be understood and has order and design. The origin of science did not come from a chaotic belief system that embraced mysticism and spirits.

— John N. Clayton © 2022