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 with that statement. Many have been taught to believe that science has settled the truth about the origins of life, having debunked the notion of creation and the God of that creation. However, in reality, this is not the case. Therefore, as we begin to wade through the informational marshes we will need to apply a healthy dose of some good old common sense. Be sure to put on your high waders, it may get deep.
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 as to why this remains a very heated topic, not only within science, but among those of faith as well. However, you may find it surprising that it has not always been that way.
John Maddox, past editor of "Nature", the world's most prestigious science journal that practically defined what counted as science, had 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 - Was a Polish astronomer, philosopher, Catholic cleric, mathematician, philosopher and astronomer who lived from 1473-1543. Without telescopes, he proposed that the planets went around the sun instead of the earth. This is the first modern heliocentric, or sun-centered theory, of our solar system. His conclusion was based on the sole fact that it was simpler mathematically to have asun-centered system. Since he was convinced that God had made the world mathematically, that conclusion 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 - German astronomer and mathematician (1571-1630). He 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, for which he is famous for, discovered that the orbits of the planets were not circles but ellipses. This was all due to the fact that he noticed a mismatch between mathematical calculations of Mars's orbit and actual observations. A difference seemingly so trivial that other scientists shrugged it off. Kepler first discovered his distance-cubed-over-time-squared, or "third" law of planetary motion on March 8, 1618, but rejected the idea until May 15, 1618, when he verified his result. This result was published in his Harmonices Mundi (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. Laws that man could discover, study and understand. Reasonable men that 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). He has been referred to as the "father" of modern astronomy, the "father" of modern physics and as the "father" of science. He is thought to have contributed more to the creation of the modern "natural sciences" than any other individual. Galileo stated that the book of nature was written by the hand of God in the language of mathematics. He improved the telescope, 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.
Isaac Newton - Issac was an English philosopher, astronomer and mathematician (1642-1727). He is regarded by many as the greatest figure in the history of science. He formulated the binomial theorem (algebraic shortcut for raising a mathematical equation to any power), the laws of gravity and motion, as well as 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 so 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 that the crucifixion of Jesus took place on April 3, 33 A.D. This became the traditionally accepted date of the crucifixion until recently. Although he wrote more on theology than science, he nevertheless tested and investigated his theological claims with scientific methods. He saw science and religious experiments as the same thing in his study to understand how the universe worked. Something that seems to have been discarded the last 100 years or so.
Gregor Johann Mendel - An Austrian monk and botanist (1822-1884). 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 for it has 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 and large peas. 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 he 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 the notion that male 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 1870's 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 the turn of the 20th century, long after his death. 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 is best known for "pasteurization", a process that demonstrated how to stop milk and wine from souring. 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". This delivered the fatal blow to the doctrine of spontaneous generation of organic material, as well as a deadly blow to evolutionary theories. A theory that held for twenty centuries. Because of Pasteur's findings there has been a scramble to still somehow legitimize the spontaneous generation theory, for without it evolution has no explanation for the beginnings of life from non-life.
With regard to faith, Louis Pasteur was a deeply committed Catholic. He saw no conflict between his Christian faith and 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 now be labeled as some "right-wing, anti-science, religious fanatic, backward thinking, dark ages, mental deficient, goofballs" by their peers. 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 has 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 (with some exceptions of course), but especially the worship of nature. It was Judaism and Christianity that stood apart in that nature was not divine but of God's handiwork. This set the stage to seek out and understand His creation and laws, and of creations 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.
Since its inception, biology had been dominated for three centuries by the Christian concept of creation. Over time there began a rejection of what helped establish and shape modern science in the first place, that being intelligent design brought forth by a Creator. The science field had nothing else to really go to until Darwin's theory of evolution came on the scene. It was immediately embraced as 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, a different belief system was born. Complete with its own principles, faith, stories and manufactured history.
A battle within the scientific community emerged that continues today outside the earshot of the public. There does exit disagreement over findings and the validity to evolution. However, few scientists today can afford to be vocal for fear of being branded by their peers and endangering their careers. The public at large seems mostly unaware of the growing conflict and assume more than they should.
Why the conflict? It is over the growing evidence contrary to evolution. Here's a primer for what we will delve into in the next chapter. A very small sampling of discovered fossils in the left column have been given dates in the 100's of millions of years in age. Please note the stark contrasts of these early species with their more developed and evolved modern self in the column on the right. I am being facetious of course.
Evolution is the "belief system" of today with a concerted effort to keep it that way.
The thought that science has since disproved the Bible, and that evolution has been demonstrated to be factual, are actually false claims. Still, this continues to be the common assumption. The reasons for this are numerous, little of which has to do with empirical evidence. Before we can look at those reasons, we should first cut back some brush to help reveal the answers. So let us get to chopping.