In 1633, Galileo Galilei was ordered to turn himself in to the Holy Office of heresy to begin trial for holding the belief that the Earth revolves around the sun, contrary to the Catholic church’s view that earth was the immovable centre of the universe.
After the trial, Galileo was directed not to teach the 'heresy' anymore and would spend the rest of his life under house arrest. It took more than 300 years for the Catholic Church to admit that Galileo was right and to clear his name of heresy.
Agnostics believe this trial was the beginning of the centuries-old public rift between the church and science. But that notion couldn't be further from the truth. Some of the core aspects of modern scientific thought were discovered by very devout Christians.
Isaac Newton (1643 - 1727)
Isaac Newton, a brilliant mathematician, the most popular figure in modern science, is often referred to as the "father of modern science." By his mid-twenties, he had already made his most significant contributions to modern science — the invention of calculus, discovery of the fundamentals of optics, and development of his famous law of gravity and three basic laws of motion. Virtually every aspect of modern life rests, in some way, on Newton’s findings.
And yet few people know that Newton spent much more time researching and writing on theology than science. Most of his time was consumed with harmonizing biblical history and the chronology of other ancient peoples, as well as attempting to decode biblical prophecy. He ended up writing 10 times as much on theology as he ever did on math and science.
Indeed, Newton believed Moses’ account of creation in Genesis 1 in its entirety. In his magnum opus, Principia, which describes his laws of motion and gravity, Newton spoke fondly about God: “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. . . . The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.”
Gregory Mendel (1822 - 1884)
Gregory Mendel is known as the "father of genetics." In a monastery, he experimented with pea plants and came to realize that traits were passed on in independent pairings of what he coined “dominant” and “recessive” factors (now called genes), not inherited in equal proportions from each of the preceding generations as previously thought.
Both the ability to identify genetically inherited diseases and to engineer plant varieties for more desirable qualities (e.g., corn with optimal kernel size, shape, color, durability, and resistance to pests) are indebted to the work of Mendel.
Mendel saw in his rigorous investigations a path toward union with the divine, a relationship between the Creator and the natural world in which we live. An Augustinian monk, prayer and praise were a major part of Mendel’s exploratory search for truths about life on our planet.
Mendel died at 61 years of age after serving as a botanist, monk, and author. It was not until decades after his quiet death in the monastery that his genius was recognized by the international academic community, and his important role in this history of human self-understanding confirmed.
Some of his techniques and findings were later used by James Watson and Francis Crick to unravel the DNA double-helix structure.
Robert Boyle (1627 - 1691)
Robert Boyle is considered one of the founders of modern chemistry. His scientific work covered many areas including hydrostatics, physics, medicine, earth sciences, and natural history.
Boyle's prolific output also included Christian devotionals and theological tracts on biblical language. He sponsored many religious missions as well as the translation of the Scriptures into several languages.
Boyle while working at Oxford discovered several physical characteristics of air, including its role in combustion, respiration, and the transmission of sound. One of his findings, published in 1662, later became known as "Boyle's law."
This law expresses the inverse relationship that exists between the pressure and volume of a gas, and it was determined by measuring the volume occupied by a constant quantity of air when compressed by differing weights of mercury.
His contributions to chemistry were based on a mechanical "corpuscularian hypothesis" — a brand of atomism which claimed that everything was composed of minute (but not indivisible) particles of a single universal matter and that these particles were only differentiable by their shape and motion.
Overall, Boyle argued so strongly for the need of applying the principles and methods of chemistry to the study of the natural world and to medicine that he later gained the appellation of the "father of chemistry."
For Boyle, studying nature as a product of God’s handiwork was an inherently religious duty. He argued that this method of study would, in return, illuminate God’s omnipresence and goodness, thereby enhancing a scientist’s understanding of the divine.
James Maxwell (1831 - 1879)
The Scotish physicist James Clerk Maxwell was one of the chief figures among 19th century physicists. His most notable achievement was formulating the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism, and light as manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell’s equation for electromagnetism have been called the “second great unification in physics” after the first equations by Isaac Newton.
Maxwell saw great significance in a universe where the laws of nature fit together like pieces in a giant puzzle. In those puzzle patterns, he saw the existence and goodness of God and the mystery of the divine.
His Christian faith permeated his scientific work and, according to his own testimony, was a source of inspiration in his scientific works.
Maxwell's Christian faith was the core of his being. It guided his life’s work and personal habits, and motivated him to search out the laws of the great Lawgiver with diligence, as a mission from God.
James’ early education was given by his mother, a dedicated Christian, and included studying the Bible.
His mother taught him to see God’s scientific genius and compassionate hand in the beauties of nature, telling him: "look up through Nature to Nature's God." This conviction, that there was complete harmony between scientific investigation and God’s teachings in the Bible, had a great influence on James’ life and work.
One of Maxwell's prayer devotionals read: "Almighty God, Who has created man in His own image, and made him a living soul that he might seek after Him, and have dominion over Your creatures, teach us to study the works of Your hands, that we may subdue the earth to our use, and strengthen the reason for Your service; so to receive Your blessed Word, that we may believe in Him Whom You have sent, to give us the knowledge of salvation and the remission of our sins. All of which we ask in the name of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord."
By unifying the theories of electricity and magnetism, Maxwell established a sure foundation for modern physics, electrical engineering and astronomy and prepared the way for radio communication, satellite telecommunication, GPS, mobile phones, radar, x-rays, wireless technology, and television. Any and every means of transferring information through thin air or the vacuum of space, comes out of Maxwell's work. The inventors of all these devices built on his exceptional discoveries in electromagnetism.
Michael Faraday (1791 - 1867)
In 1831 Michael Faraday proved that magnetism could generate an electric current, thereby establishing the field of electromagnetism and leading to the invention of the dynamo, the first electricity generator.
In 1845, he discovered the phenomenon now called the Faraday effect, concerning the relationship of light and electromagnetism.
While working on electromagnetic induction, Faraday produced one of his greatest inventions — the transformer. By making iron into a complete ring and winding another coil of insulated wire on the other side, when an electric current was turned on and off in one circuit, it caused a changing magnetic field which produced an electric current with a different voltage in the other circuit.
Because electricity is generated and transmitted at high voltages and must be converted to lower voltages before it is safe for domestic use, the transformer is an indispensable part of the modern power supply network.
Although extremely busy with his research and lecturing, Faraday always took an active role in his church. He was an elder in the Church for more than 20 years. The elders, including Faraday, took turns at preaching the sermons and leading the worship.
Faraday’s church emphasized living by Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount. The Christian principles embodied there, such as generosity, humility, and forgiveness, were clearly evident in Faraday’s life.
He gave generously to charities and to the poor whom he also visited.
Faraday also discovered benzene, isobutylene, and two chlorides of carbon. Benzene was subsequently found to be important in the manufacture of many useful organic compounds such as dyes, nylon and plastics.
But despite these and other major accomplishments in chemistry, he is chiefly remembered for his work in physics.
George Boole (1815–1864)
George Boole was an English mathematician who helped establish modern symbolic logic and whose algebra of logic (now called Boolean algebra) is basic to the design of digital computer circuits. Boolean algebra is the foundation for all modern electrical and electronic devices including smartphones, microprocessors and computer chips. The famous mathematician has been variously called “the father of pure mathematics” and “the father of the digital computer age”.
Boolean, or Boolean logic, is a subset of algebra used for creating true/false statements. Boolean expressions use the operators AND, OR, XOR, and NOT, to compare values and return a true or false result.
George Boole was born November 2, 1815 in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England, to John Boole senior, a shoemaker and Mary Ann Joyce. A young George Boole was christened at St Swithins Church and attended the church regularly in his early life. Boole was an intensely religious man and his mathematical research was significantly motivated by his faith. He had a spiritual experience as a teenager, which he interpreted as a divine call from God to explain and elucidate the mathematical laws of thought.
George Boole was however struggling to understand the biblical concept of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). He figured that the trinity could be number representations based on different parameters. An algebra concerned with logic rather than quantity, and could therefore be used to calculate truth or falsity rather than numerical values.
Boole’s new algebra only allowed values that could be 1 or 0, and even then only on its own terms. The 1 in Boolean algebra was not a quantity (as in the difference between 5 and 4) but a subtle abstraction that pertained only to logic. The 1’s and 0’s in Boolean algebra didn’t have to represent anything in particular: One and zero could represent true or false, all or nothing, on or off, existence or non-existence, or any other pair of concepts whose values toggled only between two absolute states. Boolean algebra followed many of the same rules as the algebra of quantities. In both, for example, 1–1 = 0. But there was one important difference: in Boolean algebra 1 + 1 = 1, reflecting the fact that, for example, “two true statements taken together are true” and “everything combined with everything is everything.”
Therefore George Boole’s problems with understanding the divine Holy Trinity indirectly led him to create the fundamentals of the modern computer, laying the foundations for today’s digital age.
More than 70 years after his death, the method was used to develop electronic switching circuits for telephone exchanges and Boolean logic is now at work in everything from smartphones to smart cars.
His system of Boolean Logic paved the way for modern electrical engineering and computer science.
Charles Babbage (1791–1871)
Charles Babbage was an English polymath. A mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer. Babbage originated the concept of a digital programmable computer. Babbage is considered to be the “father of the computer” and one of the most influential scientists in history.
Born to a wealthy banker in 1791, Charles Babbage designed the first automatic computing engines. Babbage’s ‘Difference Engine Number 1’ was the first device ever designed that could calculate and print mathematical tables. He invented the principle of the analytical engine, the forerunner of the modern electronic computer.
In the early 1820s, he began constructing a calculating machine with a capacity for 20 decimal places. He accomplished this by making a smaller, six-wheel calculating machine which performed calculations accurately, and demonstrated it to the Royal Society, who gave him their enthusiastic support. As a result, the government agreed to contribute financially to the continued development of his ‘difference engine’.
Babbage designed the difference engine to automatically calculate and print mathematical tables, thus removing human error. He produced logarithm tables in 1827 using the smaller engine.
He continued improving the difference engine into the 1830s. During its improvement, he conceived the idea of the ‘analytical engine’. Up to 1,000 numbers with 50 digits in each number would be stored.
Unfortunately, Babbage didn’t construct a working model of his analytical engine. He continued to have financial problems because of the cost involved in designing and manufacturing new machinery.
Not only did Babbage conceive the forerunner of today’s computer hardware (the machinery), but he also conceived the necessity for a program (which is how today’s computer software functions). Babbage’s conception of how programs would be written closely resembles the techniques used in modern computer programming.
Babbage was raised in the Protestant form of the Christian faith, his family having inculcated in him an orthodox form of worship. Babbage’s father, Benjamin Babbage, was warden of a church in Teignmouth, Devon. The parish register of St. Mary’s Newington, London, shows that Babbage was baptized on January 6, 1792.
Babbage’s beliefs went well beyond merely recognizing the compatibility of science and Christianity. Babbage believed that the study of the works of nature with scientific precision, was a necessary and indispensable preparation to the understanding and interpreting their testimony of the wisdom and goodness of their Divine Author.
Charles Babbage stated — on the basis of the design argument — that studying the works of nature had been the more appealing evidence, and the one which led him to actively profess the existence of God. Advocating for natural theology, he wrote:
“In the works of the Creator ever open to our examination, we possess a firm basis on which to raise the superstructure of an enlightened creed. The more man inquires into the laws which regulate the material universe, the more he is convinced that all its varied forms arise from the action of a few simple principles … The works of the Creator, ever present to our senses, give a living and perpetual testimony of his power and goodness far surpassing any evidence transmitted through human testimony. The testimony of man becomes fainter at every stage of transmission, whilst each new inquiry into the works of the Almighty gives to us more exalted views of his wisdom, his goodness, and his power.”
— Babbage, (1864)
Charles Babbage authored several articles on the relationship between faith and math, and continued to publish philosophical essays on religious subjects into his twilight years.
Charles Babbage died in London on October 18, 1871, aged 79. At death, Babbage drew great comfort from his religious beliefs, particularly the assurance which Christians have of a life beyond the grave.
Thomas Young (1773–1829)
Thomas Young was the first person to develop the double-slit experiment to study the behavior of light and show that light acted as a wave and not just as a particle. This discovery was vital for our later understanding of physics — directly spawning entirely new scientific fields such as Quantum Physics.
Thomas Young was a genius. In 1792 Young began to study medicine and went to Edinburgh University. He was called ‘Phenomenon Young’ by his classmates because of his extraordinary abilities. At the age of two he had learnt to read. He seemed to absorb information like a dry sponge and became a private tutor in the classics by the age of fourteen.
Young’s Christian faith was clearly evident from an early age. By the age of four he had read through the Bible twice; by the age of six he was a scholar in Latin. His Christian faith was very much a part of his scientific work, so much so that on discovering light waves, he initially named the phenomenon the ‘Holy Spirit’.
It's naive to claim that science and Christianity are in some endless war. On the contrary, some of science's key pillars were unearthed by devout bible-believing Christians.
The fundamental principles of classical physics were first expressed as mathematical formula by Isaac Newton, a practicing Christian. Genetics, a key pillar of biology, was discovered by Gregory Mendel, a devout Christian Monk. The existence of atoms and molecules, a fundamental aspect of modern chemistry, was first envisioned by Robert Boyle, another bible-believing Christian. There's also no argument that the pioneering works on electricity and electromagnetism by James Maxwell and Michael Faraday, both devout Christians, are the basis for all modern electronics and telecommunications.
Agnostics may again claim that these were just brilliant works of science by brilliant individuals, nothing more.
That would be wrong again.
Competence comes from God (2 Corinthians 3:5). These were not just the individual works of brilliant scientists who happen to be Christian — these were ordinary men doing brilliant works of science because of their God given talent.
Each member of the church is gifted differently (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). Some have a gift in preaching the gospel, and others are gifted with the ability to unravel the secrets of God’s creation.
But ultimately; all church members are one body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).
Since its birth, more than 500 years ago, modern science has been slowly hijacked by false teachings (read heresies), that have blindly steered it away from the notion of a Creator. The Church is the pioneer of modern science; but along its way, the discipline was hijacked by false teachers.
During these last days — much like the story of man’s redemption — science and technology will return back to its rightful owner, the church.
In the words of Albert Einstein: "Science without religion is blind."
Research References and Additional Materials from;
Institute of Creation Research:
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