Must science and religion be opposed to one another?
Often times I have encountered people who justify their lack of a belief in God because they “believe science.” Although it is true that many of the biggest names in science nowadays are atheists, this definitely hasn’t always been the case. Many people have no idea that the greatest scientific minds of past generations were also Theists. In fact, most of the founders of the various scientific disciplines were religious men and women who had worldviews that were thoroughly integrated with their scientific practice. Consider some of the following examples of scientific greats who were also very devout Supernaturalists:
Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)—A Polish astronomer who demonstrated mathematically that the planets travel around the sun (heliocentrism). The previous model, developed by Ptolemy, had the earth at the center of the universe, so Copernicus’ model began a scientific revolution. Many believe he is the father of modern astronomy.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627)—An Englishman credited with establishing the scientific method of study based upon inquiry, experimentation and inductive reasoning. The methodology he developed is still adhered to by scientists to the present day.
Sir Issac Newton (1643-1727)—Though many merely equate his name with apples and gravity, Newton is considered to be the greatest mathematician ever known. He was responsible for the development of calculus; the mathematical analysis of curves and change; optics (he built the first reflecting telescope); a theory on color from prisms; sound; and some of the fundamental laws of physics. As brilliant as he was in the sciences, most don’t realize that he actually spent more time studying Theology.
Blaise Pascal (1632-1662)—A mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and theologian. He is known for laying the foundation for today’s probability theory. He realized that events don’t just happen randomly, but that they rely upon what directly preceded them. He also made discoveries in atmospheric pressure, worked in barometric pressure, and even developed an early form of a calculator—the precursor to the modern computer. He also authored many theological writings in which he gave defenses of Christianity.
Michael Faraday (1791-1867)—Known today as the Father of Electricity, he discovered electromagnetic induction, the principle that voltage is induced in a changing magnetic field. This is the basis for all electric dynamos—electrical generators. He also discovered the concept of harnessing electrical fields both inside and outside of a cage, known today as a Faraday cage. This concept is used today for the protection of electrical equipment, and even our modern televisions and microwave ovens rely upon this concept.
Does it follow that a scientifically minded person has to avoid religious beliefs?
Clearly, the historical record shows that a scientifically-minded person does not need to avoid a spiritual worldview or religious beliefs. Science and religion do not need to be opposed to each other. In fact, the evidence shows that most of the greatest scientific breakthroughs and discoveries ever made were done by people who held a belief in a Creator, a Designer, who was behind the physical world we see around us. The view that science and God are opposed is simply not true.