I’m not claiming this is my idea…

Sir Francis Bacon and The Foundations of Science (this is a long one)

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was not a scientist or “natural philosopher” as they were known in his time. He worked in the British government. He left office in disgrace, having been convicted of bribery. His writings, however, described the method of studying the workings of nature as natural philosophers had begun to do, putting in print the heart of what was to become known as science. It was an exciting, turbulent time. Even back in the so-called “Dark Ages” a number of technological and social changes had begun. The Renaissance; Reformation; Counter-Reformation; wars of religion and succession (with increasingly advanced and deadly weapons); voyages of exploration (and acquisition) by Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Henry Hudson and others; the printing press; the works of Da Vinci, Galileo, and Kepler — all had begun to transform the world from the way things had been (more or less) for thousands of years into the modern world we’re living in.

One thing should be made abundantly clear, because it is a truth that contradicts what seems to be a popular misunderstanding: Science did not come about because newly-discovered Greek texts inspired radical thinkers (agnostics or atheists) to reject religion and seek a new means of discovering truth. Increased trade and travel had indeed brought to Europe new texts by Greek philosophers, but these, along with new discoveries and new and revived religious movements, encouraged people to reject the authority of the revered Greek scholars and seek to confirm truths about the workings of nature for themselves, or discover new ones.

I would emphasize “about the workings of nature,” because none of the great early pioneers of science — from Copernicus through Newton — expressed serious doubts about Biblical revelation or presented science as a means for determining everything about reality, nor even for puzzling out what happened in the natural world in the ancient past. It would be a hundred years or more after Bacon died before many people of any profession openly attacked belief in a Divine Creation accomplished in six days, less than six thousand years before, and a Flood that covered the world. Both before and after that, a number of natural philosophers and scientists showed by what they wrote that they personally, sincerely believed these things.

As it happens, Bacon’s major science-oriented works were produced in between two major milestones of Christianity that relate to the grassroots strength of Biblical, “Young-Earth” creationism:
[1611 “Authorized version of the Holy Bible-‘King James Bible’-published.]
1620 “Francis Bacon’s … Novum Organum Scientiarum
1622 “Francis Bacon’s Historia naturalis et experimentalis
1627 New Atlantis by Francis Bacon, published posthumously. Scientific utopia. [“plans for a national Museum of science and art”]
1650 James Ussher — Earth’s age = 5,994 years
{Timeline based on notes from The Faces of Origins: A Historical Survey of the Underlying Assumptions from the Early Church to Postmodernism by David Herbert, M.A., M. Div., Ed. D.; D & I Herbert Publishing, London, Ontario, 2004, and [in brackets] The Timetables of History (The New Third Revised Edition), by Bernard Grun, based upon Werner Stein’s Kulturfahrplan, A Touchstone Book, Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 1991.}

So much for the introduction. Now for some quotes from Bacon himself.

Notes from The Complete Essays of Francis Bacon, Including The New Atlantis and Novum Organum with an introduction by Henry LeRoy Finch, Washington Square Press, Inc, New York, 1963.

p. 6 (of this book), Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral 1: “Of Truth”: [I think this contradicts the view of modern “free thinkers” who attribute to their past counterparts the source of the Scientific Revolution] “Certainly there be that delight in giddiness and count it a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free will in thinking, as well as in acting. And though the sects of philosophers of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits which are of the same veins, though there be not so much blood in them as was in those ancients.”

p. 44: In his essay #16, “Of Atheism,” Bacon (in arguing from apparent design) contradicts the view that one can believe that the universe shows no sign of design without supporting atheism, and shows that the more modern (atomic) view of the basic elements of matter make it even harder to be an atheist. “I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. … depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes… when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus and Democritus and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty without a divine marshal.”

Likewise, in Bacon’s point that atheism, as it also denies the human spirit, makes man nothing more than another animal, we can see that studying humanity as nothing more than part of the animal kingdom also supports atheism. (pp. 45‑ 46): “They that deny a God destroy man’s nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and, if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. … Therefore, as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty.”

(Bacon also notes that atheists apparently need constant reassurance of their belief, noting that the Scripture doesn’t say “The fool hath thought in his heart” that there is no God, but “hath said,” indicating he has to keep telling himself that; and indeed atheists seem to need to constantly talk about and defend their belief, “Nay more, you shall have atheists strive to get disciples… you shall have of them that will suffer for atheism, and not recant; whereas if they did truly think that there were no such thing as God, why should they trouble themselves?”)

Bacon also draws a line between true religion and mere superstition in his Essay #17, “Of Superstition.” (p. 47) “It were better to have no opinion of God at all, than such an opinion as is unworthy of him.” One might draw parallels here with atheistic evolutionists and theistic ones. Bacon may give too much credit to atheism when he says that it “leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation,” for although certainly atheists to this day cling to such things, Bacon wrote before the full implications of atheistic thought, the logical conclusions and the natural reductio ad absurdum had been played out, producing anarchism, existentialism, and nihilism. Likewise, he wrote “Therefore atheism did never perturb states” before the French Revolution and all the communist revolutions.

Still, looking at the mess of vaguely “New Age” philosophies and the whole range of other ills infecting religions today such as emotionalism, existentialism, and all the various compromises with atheistic science, it’s clear that Bacon had a point when he wrote that “superstition dismounts all of these [virtues he claimed atheism left alone], and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men.” Generally, when you argue with an atheist, you can feel there’s some common ground of logic and reason, but when you argue with some of these modern mugwumps, you can’t use logic or Scripture with any confidence that it will have significance to your opponent. They “just know” or “feel” a certain way, or believe that two diametrically opposed points can both be right in the same sense, or that “everyone has their own Truth…” Bleagh.

One of Bacon’s main points about superstition may apply equally well to theistic evolutionists who must jump through mental hoops to reconcile a totally atheistic view of the entire universe for all time (or at least all of the past) with their religious beliefs (or at least the formalities), and to evolutionists who must invent many ways to explain why facts that don’t support their beliefs actually do support them… (p. 47) “It was gravely said by some of the prelates in the council of Trent… that the schoolmen were like astronomers, which did feign eccentrics and epicycles, and such engines of orbs, to save the phenomena; though they knew there were no such things.” Of course, the “astronomers” in this case held to the geocentric view and the invisible celestial mechanisms had been around since the ancient Greeks had thought them up. Nowadays we have the inflationary Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, “ghost lineages” when the fossil patterns don’t line up, rigged computer simulations when studies of real mutations and heredity don’t produce evolution, etc.

In the Preface of his The Great Instauration, Bacon sets out the need for a new approach to science, as he would describe in his later works (and which actually was already taking shape). One point of criticism of earlier scientific endeavors might well be applied to evolutionism (p. 156): “…if sciences of this kind has any life in them, that could never have come to pass which has been the case now for many ages ‑ ‑ that they stand almost at a stay, without receiving any augmentations worthy of the human race; insomuch that many times not only what was asserted once is asserted still, but what was a question once is a question still, and instead of being resolved by discussion is only fixed and fed…” Do we not see evolutionary studies still trying to establish minor points, even ones that are compatible with creationism, such as the basic effects and power of natural selection? Yes, and in the last couple years we’ve seen fanfares for studies that supported “evolution” in the sense of slight difference in the average size of a population, or the loss of a pair of spines. For every new “transitional form” they discover, re‑examination of another shows it was really a special case off to one side of their imagined lineage, and a half‑dozen more unique fossils needing more intermediate forms are discovered. Things like Mendelian inheritance patterns, DNA, and bacterial resistance to antibiotics have been discovered without regard to evolution, and only later grafted into evolutionary studies and arguments.

As described in “The Plan of the Work,” Bacon regarded “his” alternative, organized approach to scientific studies or “art,” as “a kind of logic,” but one grounded firmly on concrete observations, rather than relying on logical, mental constructs. The universities up to that time held the deductive logic developed by the Greeks in the highest regard. It is often illustrated by the example, “1) All men are mortal. 2) Socrates is a man. 3) Ergo, Socrates is mortal.” A very clear and mathematically precise and certain form of reasoning ‑ ‑ as far as it goes. Bacon wrote (p. 167) “I on the contrary reject demonstration by syllogism, as acting too confusedly, and letting nature slip out of its hands.” For all the consistency and certainty of the formal proofs using inductive logic, if the meaning of the words don’t have a proper connection to their application to the natural world, then the “proofs” also are inapplicable. A parallel problem in a broad sense exists with evolutionism, in which SOME form of evolution is the ONLY possibility for “scientific” explanations, GIVEN the (false) premise that ONLY entirely natural explanations must be used and everything that ever existed in this universe must be so explained.

Bacon did not disdain theory and logic, but only those forms that could stand apart from the physical world but were supposedly used to describe or explain the physical world. These were (p. 168) “Barren of works, remote from practice,” as noted earlier.

In place of this barren, distant form of logic, Bacon wrote, “…in dealing with the nature of things I use induction throughout… For I consider induction to be that form of demonstration which upholds the sense, and closes with nature, and comes to the very brink of operation, if it does not actually deal with it.” Furthermore, Bacon’s plan was to avoid jumping to generalizations and broad theories that would then drive all further investigation. “Now my plan is to proceed regularly and gradually from one axiom to another, so that the most general are not reached till the last.”

As noted in the introduction, Bacon’s plan was not to use a simplistic inductive logic “which proceeds by simple enumeration,” but “a form of induction which shall analyse experience and take it to pieces, and by a due process of exclusion and rejection lead to an inevitable conclusion.” We see here the seed of the reductionism which has often been taken too far and has become the handmaiden of materialism, but what Bacon was getting at was simply that, rather than concluding from a number of examples that a general statement could safely be made, scientists should thoroughly and carefully examine the examples to see what (if any) was the reason for what appeared to be a general rule, tendency, or law of nature. Furthermore, rather than being a closed, self‑ sufficient system (p. 169), “…I hold that true logic ought to enter the several provinces of science armed with a higher authority than belongs to the principles of those sciences themselves, and ought to call those putative principles to account until they are fully established.”

I would say that the key to the success of the Baconian system was and is the checks and balances built into it, the caution and distrust towards proposals until they had proved themselves trustworthy by both logic and testing or thorough examination in the physical world. Even simple direct observations were not to be trusted on their own: “Then with regard to the first notions of the intellect; there is not one of the impressions taken by the intellect when left to go its own way, but I hold it for suspected, and no way established, until it has submitted to a new trial and a fresh judgment has been thereupon pronounced. And lastly, the information of the sense itself I sift and examine in many ways.” This is the basis for the ideal self‑ correcting nature of science ‑ ‑ not the modern, facile sense of making corrections years after hasty conclusions have been reached, but not making statements in the first place greater than the data can truly support.

Furthermore, experimental testing was not to be an accessory to observation, but the foundation of all scientific progress. “To meet these difficulties, I have sought on all sides diligently and faithfully to provide helps for the sense… and this I endeavour to accomplish not so much by instruments as by experiments. For the subtlety of experiments is far greater than that of the sense itself, even when assisted by exquisite instruments; such experiments, I mean, as are skilfully and artificially devised for the express purpose of determining the point in question.” (p. 170) Modern philosophers of science cannot really go farther than this ‑ ‑ they merely point out that there is even less certainty involved than Bacon realized, even with experiments, and that science can’t prove anything with the level of certainty Bacon seems to have anticipated. What it comes down to is that, with all the weaknesses of our senses, the only areas of science we can have confidence in are those that are subject to direct and repeated examination and testing, using our senses with the aid of instrumentation. “And thus I conceive that I perform the office of a true priest of the sense (from which all knowledge in nature must be sought, unless men mean to go mad)…” Note that he specified, “in nature,” reserving knowledge of the supernatural to Divine revelation.

All of the controversial areas of science, especially in creation vs evolution, concern statements that depend on assumptions applied to circumstantial evidence. Wherever science stays within the bounds of Baconian caution, there is no controversy, and the farther it goes on simple observations and applications of logic that assume naturalism, the more it falls prey to being impractical, barren, controversial and just plain false. It’s all very well for modern philosophers to tout the “bold leaps” of theorists, but only those theories that can be submitted to extensive testing or at least direct observation in different ways have produced results everyone can agree on, let alone be of practical use.

(p. 171) Bacon saw his system, replacing older frameworks for studying nature and taking into account the difficulties in acquiring true knowledge of nature, given the nature of our minds, “as the strewing and decoration of the bridal chamber of the Mind and the Universe, the Divine Goodness assisting; out of which marriage let us hope (and be this the prayer of the bridal song) there may spring helps to man, and a line and race of inventions that may in some degree subdue and overcome the necessities and miseries of humanity.”

Excuse me for belaboring a point, but as Bacon neared the end of sketching out “The Plan of the Work” for The Great Instauration (which he never did complete), he proposed what amounts to an experimental test of his system itself, on one of the main points of criticism of the old, haphazard and esoteric ways of studying nature (p. 176): “the fortune of the human race will give the issue; ‑ ‑ such an issue, it may be, as in the present condition of things and men’s minds cannot easily be conceived or imagined.” Whereas, as he’d pointed out, earlier endeavors seemed to be going in circles or throwing revolutions only to build different but still untrustworthy systems, and producing little that was new, if he was right, “his” system would produce both “a line and race of inventions” for practical benefits, and also discover things so new that nobody at that time could imagine them. (Indeed, Bacon’s attempts to imagine such things in The New Atlantis are quite laughable on many points.)

If Bacon did not originate the concept of “knowledge is power,” he certainly was a believer and advocate (p. 177): “And so those twin objects, human Knowledge and human Power, do really meet in one.” It was only hundreds of years later that we could directly see how horrible a formula that could be when Knowledge was cut off from the tether of Morality. The knowledge of things that couldn’t be imagined also produced more power to destroy than they could have imagined.

Scientific knowledge drifted further away from its moorings as it drifted from the anchor holds that Bacon (and other founders of modern science) held to and advocated: sticking close to the facts, and not wandering off on the basis of humanistic philosophies: “And all depends on keeping the eye steadily fixed upon the facts of nature and so receiving their images simply as they are. For God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world; rather may he graciously grant to us to write an apocalypse or true vision of the footsteps of the Creator imprinted on his creatures.”(p. 177) In other words, the vision of God’s handiwork (intelligent design) was to be (and for hundreds of years, it was) the very rail-bed and track for scientific progress, and Bacon foresaw that inserting an imaginary framework which ignored that vision (as scientists began to do a generation or two before Darwin) would lead to a God‑ forsaken end.

It’s important to note that, just as he did not rely on a simplistic form of induction, so Bacon did not slavishly embrace empiricism when he wrote of the importance of sticking to facts. In The New Organon, Book I, section LXIV (p. 206 in this book), he wrote: “But the Empirical school of philosophy gives birth to dogmas more deformed and monstrous than the Sophistical or Rational school. For it has its foundations … in the narrowness and darkness of a few experiments. … I foresee that if ever men are roused by my admonitions to betake themselves seriously to experiment and bid farewell to sophistical doctrines, then indeed through the premature hurry of the understanding to leap or fly to universals and principles of things, great danger may be apprehended from philosophies of this kind; against which evil we ought even now to prepare.” Unfortunately, men let their guard down and allowed a few experiments or even isolated and untested observations to inspire the fantastic idea that everything in the universe could be explained by natural forces as they were (then) known, and even with no significant variation in the level or degrees of natural processes.

The very next section, LXV (p. 207), is the one that evolutionists like to throw at creationists, but what Bacon objects to is not a system of science that works with the acceptance of Scripture, but a human‑ devised *system* supposedly based on partly on Scripture and partly on theology, sophistry and abstract philosophy, producing “an heretical religion.” It is not faithfulness to the true, traditional religion he is concerned with, but the superstitious counterfeit thereof. At least, that’s my (somewhat defensive) impression. Without knowing exactly who and what examples he had in mind, it may be debatable, but at any rate, it seems clear that he didn’t have “creationists” in mind, as virtually everyone at that time was a creationist, including himself. Here’s some excerpts of section LXV: “But the corruption of philosophy by superstition and an admixture of theology is far more widely spread, and does the greater harm… we have among the Greeks a striking example in Pythagoras… another in Plato… It shows itself likewise in parts of other philosophies, in the introduction of abstract forms and final causes and first causes, with the omission in most cases of causes intermediate, and the like. . . Yet in this vanity some of the moderns have with extreme levity indulged so far as to attempt to found a system of natural philosophy on the first chapter of Genesis, in the book of Job, and other parts of the sacred writings; seeking for the dead among the living… from this unwholesome mixture of things human and divine there arises not only a fantastic philosophy but also an heretical religion.”

Bacon provides more potential fodder for opponents of “creationism” in section LXXXIX (jumping ahead to page 232, to keep these related excerpts together): “Neither is it to be forgotten that in every age Natural Philosophy has had a troublesome adversary and hard to deal with; namely, superstition, and the blind and immoderate zeal of religion. For we see among the Greeks that those who first proposed to men’s then uninitiated ears the natural causes for thunder and for storms, were thereupon found guilty of impiety.”It is unfortunate that he didn’t note the contrast with certain observations in Job, which seem to recognize both natural conditions in the water cycle and the working of God through them. “Nor was much more forbearance shown by some of the ancient fathers of the Christian church to those who on most convincing grounds (such as no one in his senses would now think of contradicting) maintained that the earth was round…” The “flat earther” is a favorite pejorative of evolutionists for creationists, but note that Bacon ascribes this attitude only to “some” church fathers, and those “ancient” or very early on.Bacon is here going after (attacking) “the summaries and systems of the schoolmen; who having reduced theology into regular order as well as they were able…ended in incorporating the contentious and thorny philosophy of Aristotle… with the body of religion” and “the speculations of those who have taken upon them to deduce the truth of the Christian religion from the principles of philosophers…” Also, there were those who “are weakly afraid lest a deeper search into nature should transgress the permitted limits of sobermindedness; wrongfully” applying the Biblical injunction against prying into “sacred mysteries, to the hidden things of nature, which are barred by no prohibition.” There were also those who expressed an extreme “God of the gaps” attitude, who “surmise and reflect that if second causes are unknown everything can more readily be referred to the divine hand… which is in fact nothing else but to seek to gratify God with a lie.”

Yet another group Bacon criticizes seems to have had some reason on their side: “Others fear from past example that movements and changes in philosophy will end in assaults on religion. And others again appear apprehensive that in the investigation of nature something may be found to subvert or at least shake the authority of religion…” Of course, Bacon was quite right, too, in pointing out here that such thoughts, as they are described here, suggest a lack of faith. The problem turned out to be that “the investigation of nature” was turned on its head and transformed into the effort to explain everything as natural, entirely separate from the work of God. In Bacon’s plan, however, “natural philosophy is after the word of God at once the surest medicine against superstition, and the most approved nourishment for faith, and therefore she is rightly given to religion as her most faithful handmaid, since the one displays the will of God, the other his power.” So we see that for Bacon, the “two book” approach was not of two *equal* books, but rather the book of (human studies of) nature was subordinate to the word of God, and meant to support religion, not rival it.

I do not say that Bacon was a creationist lightly, on the mere assumption that he was a man of his time and not “ahead” of it on this subject. Several of the previous quotes indicate that an appreciation of nature as the work of God was at the very heart of his system. But there is also reason to believe that he accepted the description of creation in Genesis 1 in its particulars as well as in a general sense. In section LXX he writes, “Now God on the first day of creation created light only, giving to that work an entire day, in which no material substance was created.” Clearly, Bacon not only accepted this detail, but understood it in a specific literal sense. We may never be able to understand just *how* God created light, but Bacon accepted *that* God created light and nothing else on the first day, even though the context here is of Bacon’s use of this as an example of how “So must we likewise from experience of every kind first endeavour to discover true causes and axioms; and seek for experiments of Light, not for experiments of Fruit.” In other words, although Bacon saw science primarily as a means of producing practical benefits for humanity, he saw the importance of putting basic research, the “what’s a baby good for?” studies, first.

Bacon repeats these thoughts in CXXI (pp. 254‑ 255), in defending his work against the criticism that “many things…will seem to be curiously and unprofitably subtle,” arguing “at first and for a time I am seeking for experiments of light, not for experiments of fruit; following therein, as I have often said, the example of the divine creation; which on the first day produced light only, and assigned to it alone one entire day…” We may take as a sign of his true belief in a literal six‑ day creation the fact that he also uses as examples things that nobody would say are mere allegories, such as “the letters of the alphabet” and “the seeds of things.” He contrasts these “subtle” studies of nature with the abstract reasonings of the scholastics, “useless not only in their origin but also in their consequences; and not like those I speak of, useless indeed for the present, but promising infinite utility hereafter.”

Another example of Bacon’s emphasis on judging science by its eventual products is in LXXIII (p. 216), “Of all signs there is none more certain or more noble than that taken from fruits.” Of course, this is in harmony with the Biblical principle of recognizing things by their fruit. Again, in LXXIV (p. 217): “Signs also are to be drawn from the increase and progress of systems and sciences. For what is founded on nature grows and increases; while what is founded on opinion varies but increases not.” Yet again, LXXXI (p. 222): “It is not possible to run a course aright when the goal itself has not been rightly placed. Now the true and lawful goal of the sciences is none other than this: that human life be endowed with new discoveries and powers.”

In section LXXII (p. 224), Bacon writes that “the true method…first lights the candle… even as it was not without order and method that the divine word operated on the created mass.”

Haven’t we all seen some evolutionist disparaging the idea that science is based on experimental confirmation? Even the author of the introduction to this book emphasized the importance of theory. Evolutionists say things like, creationists will “drag us back to the dark ages,” but it is their emphasis on consensus, plausibility, logical parsimony, etc., and their downplaying of facts and experiments that would return science to that state. There was a similar attitude hampering science before the 17th century: “an opinion … vain and hurtful… that the dignity of the human mind is impaired by long and close intercourse with experiments and particulars, subject to sense and bound in matter… experience being…rejected with disdain.”

(LXXXIII, p. 225) “Again, men have been kept back as by a kind of enchantment from progress in the science by reverence for antiquity, by the authority of men accounted great in philosophy, and then by general consent.” (LXXXIV, p. 225)

Another reversal we see today is the return (if it ever went away) in academia and government‑funded science to what is now called “political correctness” or censoring of ideas outside the established views ‑ ‑ only now, the ancient authority is Darwin and the “common way” of thinking is evolutionism. Section XC (pp. 232‑ 233): For the lectures and exercises there are so ordered, that to think or speculate on anything out of the common way can hardly occur to any man. And if one or two have the boldness to use any liberty of judgment, they must undertake the task all by themselves… For the studies of men in these places are confined and as it were imprisoned in the writings of certain authors, from whom if any man dissent he is straightway arraigned as a turbulent person…”

At the start of XCIII (p. 236), Bacon emphatically states, “The beginning is from God… who is the author of good, and the Father of Lights.” When science was cut off from God, is it any wonder it wandered into the darkness that made Finch so much more cynical than Bacon about its benefits? If I hadn’t given the reference before, it is here (and perhaps elsewhere) that Bacon wrote, “Nor should the prophecy of Daniel be forgotten, touching the last ages of the world: ‑ ‑ ‘Many shall go to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased;’ clearly intimating that the thorough passage of the world… and the advancement of the sciences, are destined by fate, that is, by Divine Providence, to meet in the same age.”

Bacon saw his method as a sort of path between extremes (XCV, p. 237): “Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas… from a closer and purer league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational…much may be hoped.”

CIII (p. 242) ‑ ‑ Bacon describes how his system carefully builds from particulars to “axioms,” which in turn give “light” for seeking new particulars, and so on…

CIV (p. 242) ‑ ‑ He emphasizes that “The understanding must not however be allowed to jump and fly from particulars to remote axioms,” but only by “a just scale of ascent, and by successive steps not interrupted or broken…” It seems to me that this is exactly where the early non‑ Scriptural geologists and Darwin went wrong ‑ ‑ they took simple observations and jumped to conclusions far beyond what they could actually justify by them.

CV (p. 243) He rejects “the induction which proceeds by simple enumeration” as “childish.” His form of inductive research “must analyse nature by proper rejections and exclusions…” He foresaw that his method would eventually result in “very many things … which no mortal has yet thought of…”

CXXI (p.254) He acknowledges that at first many aspects and products of his system “will seem to be curiously and unprofitably subtle,” but emphasizes “that at first and for a time I am seeking for experiments of light, not for experiments of fruit; following therein, as I have often said, the example of the divine creation; which on the first day produced light only and assigned to it alone one entire day, nor mixed up with it on that day any material work.” He also compares this early work to “the letters of the alphabet” and “the seeds of things.” He contrasts this with the efforts of “the schoolmen… such as were useless not only in their origin but also in their consequences.”

CXXIX (p. 261) “Again, discoveries are as it were new creations, and imitations of God’s works…” (p. 262‑ 263) “But if a man endeavour to establish and extend the power and dominion of the human race itself over the universe, his ambition (if ambition it can be called) is without doubt both a more wholesome thing and a more noble than” ambition for self or country. I’m afraid Bacon underestimated the power and potential for corruption in the pride of humanism.

New Atlantis
(p. 286) A New Atlantean describes “an Order or Society which we call Salomon’s House; … dedicated to the study of the Works and Creatures of God.” It is “called … sometimes the College of the Six Days Works; whereby I am satisfied that our excellent king had learned from the Hebrews that God had created the world and all that therein is within six days; and therefore he instituting that House for the finding out of the true nature of all things, (whereby God might have the more glory in the workmanship of them…) did give it also that second name.”

(p. 287) “God’s first creature, which was Light

(pp. 297‑ 307) A fuller description of this institute by one of its “Fathers” describes its purposes or aim as “the knowledge of Causes, and the secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible.” In all the details of their work and researchers, nothing is said about discovering the origins of things. Some of Bacon’s attempts to imagine the unimaginable produce results that are now laughable, such as reproducing rains of small animals: “also generations of bodies in air; as frogs, flies, and divers others” and “means to make divers plants rise by mixtures of earths without seeds…” and again, “We make a number of kinds of serpents, worms, flies, fishes, of putrefaction…” Perhaps worst of all is the mention of “perpetual motions.”

However, most of the works are of a practical nature, such as refrigeration; medicine and other treatments for health; applied botany or scientific husbandry; breweries, bakeries, and kitchens; mechanical arts; furnaces of various sorts; “demonstrations of all lights and radiations”; the study of precious stones and fossils; “we practise and demonstrate all sounds, and their generation; artificial scents and flavors; “instruments for all sorts of motions”; “We have also a mathematical house… all instruments, as well of geometry as astronomy”; and “houses of deceits of the senses… juggling, false apparitions, impostures, and illusions; and their fallacies.” The items of spontaneous generation and the perpetual motions are scattered through these, but also in them are almost prophetic pictures of modern lighting, lasers, radio or other means of sound transmission/reproduction, aircraft and submarines.

(p. 306) “We have certain hymns and services, which we say daily of laud and thanks to God for his marvellous works; and forms of prayers, imploring his aid and blessing for the illumination of our labours, and the turning of them into good and holy uses.” How sad that, from this model, we have come so far that many see science and religion as enemies, or at best, things which must be kept apart!