When it came to science, Huxley had the following to say:
"All truth, in the long run, is only common sense clarified."
"Science is nothing, but trained and organized common sense."
I wholeheartedly agree. Since many have been taught to believe that science has supplied the truth about the origins of life and our universe while debunking any idea of creation, thus the God of that creation, that we check it out before we decide to journey any further.
Therefore, as we begin to wade through the marshes we will need to apply a healthy dose of this common sense and for us to think on our own. This will be our first serious test as to whether or not there is a God. In fact, this is without question one of the most significant topics of our generation. There is a clear reason why there is a battle within the sciences and belief systems, although you may find it surprising that it has not always been that way.
John Maddox, the past editor of "Nature", the world's most prestigious science journal that practically defined what counted as science, had also described religion as "anti" science", or against science. This idea would have been a shocking statement to those early scientists, mathematicians, chemists, and astronomers who founded modern science and were themselves Christians:
Nicolaus Copernicus - A Polish astronomer, philosopher, mathematician, Catholic cleric, philosopher, and astronomer who lived from 1473-1543. Without telescopes, he proposed that the planets went around the sun instead of the Earth (the first modern heliocentric (sun-centered) theory of our solar system. His conclusion was based on the sole fact that it was simpler mathematically to have a sun-centered system. Since he was convinced that God had made the world mathematically, that was good enough for him. Later, he was proved right. His text "On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres" is often stated as the starting point of modern astronomy. His work is considered among the most important landmarks in the history of science.
Johannes Kepler - A German astronomer and mathematician (1571-1630) was convinced that all creation was precisely what God wanted it to be. That God was a mathematician and therefore was precise. Based on that, he discovered, for which he is famous, that the orbits of the planets were not circles but ellipses, all due to the fact that he noticed a mismatch between mathematical calculations of Mars's orbit and actual observations. A difference so tiny other scientists shrugged it off. Kepler first discovered his distance-cubed-over-time-squared, or "third" law of planetary motion on March 8, 1618. However, it was rejected until May 15, 1618, when he verified his result.
This result was published in his "Harmonices Mundi" in 1619. He quoted the following:
" I am stealing the golden vessels of the Egyptians to build a tabernacle to my God from them, far, far away from the boundaries of Egypt. If you forgive me, I shall rejoice; if you are enraged with me, I shall bear it. See, I cast the die, and I write the book. Whether it is to be read by the people of the present or of the future makes no difference; let it await its reader for a hundred years if God himself has stood ready for six thousand years for one to study him."
In fact, many early scientists felt that they were literally uncovering the mind of God, His creative genius, and thought processes as they sought to understand how things worked and why they existed as they did. If God was Creator and Law-giver then He established laws that would govern that creation. Laws within nature that supplied order, function, and purpose. And, that man could discover, study and understand. Reasonable men sought out rational explanations of those things they believed were produced by a reasonable God. This inspired them, even more, to investigate the wonders of the world around them.
Galileo was an Italian astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, and physicist (1565-1642) who has been referred to as the "father" of modern astronomy, as the "father" of modern physics, and as the "father" of science. And, is thought to have contributed more to the creation of the modern "natural sciences" than anybody else. He contributed to the sciences of motion, the strength of materials, along with the development of the scientific method. His telescopes revolutionized astronomy. He built the thermoscope, invented and built the geometric and military compass. He discovered Jupiter's moons and was the first to note the Sun's spots. He developed the first known example of the microscope, patented a model for a pump, and developed the idea of the pendulum clock.
He is quoted as saying, Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.
Isaac Newton - An English mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer that lived from 1642 to1727. He is regarded by many as the greatest figure in the history of science. He formulated the binomial theorem, the laws of gravity and motion, and the elements of differential calculus. He was the first to show that the motion of objects on the earth and of the celestial bodies were governed by the same set of natural laws. He invented the reflecting telescope, formulated an empirical law of cooling, and studied the speed of sound. He proposed a theory on the origin of stars and was involved in the development of calculus. English poet Alexander Pope was moved by Newton's accomplishments that he wrote the famous epitaph:
"Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night; God said "Let Newton be" and all was light."
Although Newton's best discoveries of the laws of motion and universal gravitation were well accepted, he warned against using these discoveries to view the universe as a mere machine, like some great clock. He stated that:
"Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done... This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being, ... This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called "Lord God" or "Universal Ruler" ... absolutely perfect. Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors."
It may surprise you, as it did me, that Newton's greatest passion though was the study of the Bible. He said:
"I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily."
It was Newton who calculated and placed the crucifixion of Jesus as April 3, 33 A.D. which had been accepted as the traditional date until recently when it was adjusted to 30 A.D. Although he focused and wrote more on theology than science, he nevertheless tested and investigated his theological claims with scientific methods, something that has been discarded over the last 100 years or so, for he saw both science and religious experiments as the same thing as he sought to understand how the universe worked.
Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884) An Austrian monk and botanist. Often called the "Father of Modern Genetics" for his work and study of the inheritance of traits of pea plants.
It was through his studies at the monastery's experimental garden that he cultivated and tested 28,000 pea plants, of 34 varieties available to him. He used the pea plant because it had a flower that lends itself to self-pollination. Having, in a sense both male sperm and female egg. This study lasted eight years. He developed yellow peas, wrinkled peas, small peas, large peas, and so on. But no matter what he did, he always got peas. You may laugh but... that is the law of genetics. It only reproduces its own kind. A dog will always reproduce a dog, a gorilla always reproduces a gorilla, a horse is a horse... of course. Keep that in mind with regard to evolution. We will revisit this again.
Through his study, Mendel showed that the traits of plants follow particular laws. At first, Mendel's work was rejected due to the belief at the time that pangenes, or pangenesis, were responsible for inheritance. Pangenesis was thought that males and females formed "pangenes" in every organ. These genes moved through the blood to the genitals and then to the children. This thought originated with the ancient Greeks and influenced biology until a little over 100 years ago. In fact, the terms "blood relative", "full-blooded" and "royal blood" are the relics of this mindset. It was tested and disproved during the 1870s by Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin, of all people. Even Darwin's theory of evolution used pangenesis instead of Mendel's demonstrated model of inheritance. Unfortunately, his work, known today as "Mendel's Laws of Inheritance", was not recognized until after his death, and not until the turn of the 20th century. His work, and the rediscovery of it, prompted the foundation of modern genetics as we know it today.
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). A French microbiologist and chemist best known for "pasteurization", showed how to stop milk and wine from souring. And yet his work goes far beyond that. Considered the father of "bacteriology", along with Cohn and Robert Koch, he created the first vaccine for rabies. His work with micro-organisms and his proposal of preventing them from entering the human body led Joseph Lister to develop antiseptic methods in surgery that are used today. And his work in immunology and vaccines opened the door to future discoveries.
Pasteur's work demonstrated that the fermentation process was the result of the growth of micro-organisms, and not "spontaneous generation". A theory that was held for 20 centuries. This delivered the fatal blow to the doctrine of spontaneous generation of organic material, and a deadly blow to evolutionary theories. Because of Pasteur's findings, there has been a scramble to somehow still legitimize the spontaneous generation theory, for, without it, evolution has no explanation of the beginnings of life from non-life.
With regard to faith, Louis Pasteur was a deeply committed Catholic, who saw no conflict with his Christian faith and with science that would lead him to disavow, like Mission Impossible, the existence of God.
These are just a few of past, renowned scientists who, if they were alive today would most likely be labeled as some kind of, "right-wing, anti-science, religious fanatic, backward thinking, dark ages, mentally deficient goofball" by their peers, rather than the revolutionaries that they were. My, how the climate has changed.
It may surprise you then to find that science and religion in the past have been, in fact, allies and not enemies. It was a belief in God, specifically of the Christian faith, that inspired, motivated, and drove these esteemed men to discover the great milestones that have changed the world and established modern science. Their Christian worldview broadened the understanding and knowledge of the universe, not diminish it. Pagan cultures generally saw the world as alive with river goddesses, sun gods, astral deities, and the worship of nature. It was Judaism and Christianity that stood apart in that nature was not divine but God's handiwork. This set the stage to seek out and understand His creation and laws, its order and function.
Paul Davis, a physicist who authored a book entitled "The Mind of God", chose that title to point out that modern science started out with the belief that it was uncovering the very thoughts of God. That science started with the conviction that by studying the mathematical structure of creation, scientists could catch a glimpse of the Creator's mind.
For three centuries since its inception, biology was dominated by the Christian concept of creation and of intelligent design brought about by a creating God. This was the driver that inspired those who laid the foundation in the field of science. It wasn't until Darwin's theory of evolution that some in the science community were able to immediately embrace an alternative to the only other game in town, the Book of Genesis. Evolution offered a way to remove the "divine providence" and "supernatural" means from creation and in its place establish a different belief system complete with its own principles, faith, stories, and manufactured history.
Since then there has been a battle within the scientific community. There exist disagreements over the validity of evolution, but few scientists today can afford to be vocal enough for fear of being branded by their peers, losing funding, or endangering their career and tenured position.
Why this conflict? It is over the growing evidence contrary to the evolutionary theory. A small sampling of discovered fossils in the left column have been dated in the hundreds of millions of years in age. The column on the right (if viewing other than a smartphone) is of their more advanced, evolved counterparts from today. See the difference? Yea, that's the problem, there is no difference.
The evolutionary theory is the belief system of today. Not only can it not prove evolution is real, it is not capable of disproving intelligent design either.
It is important to note as we conclude this segment that it was due to men of faith and in their quest to understand God, His laws, and His creation, that developed the foundation of the field of science. It was their discoveries that opened the door. They saw no conflict with faith and science.
Having briefly covered the early years of science, what may have been discovered since? Up ahead is a signpost to our next destination, it takes us to the life sciences.