Religion antithetical to science? Obviously not …

Notes based on Men of Science — Men of God by Henry M. Morris, copyright 1988, 13th
printing 1997. (with plenty of my own thoughts and recollections added in) I hope they encourage you to look up the book and buy it so you can get the full stories.

 

I think the hardest part was to just note a few of the names and pertinent facts, and not give in to the temptation to copy the whole book. I’m going in chronological order. Anything not in quotes (other than the dates and names) is probably not in the book.

 

A lot of people may not see a lot of significance in these cases, but there are some people who seem to think that religion of any sort or degree is totally incompatible with science. However, it’s also been argued that it was the Christian worldview in which modern science flourished which was primarily responsible for its strength and vigor, and indeed science as we know it may never have formed under other cultural conditions. It seems enough to me to show how many different fields of science were founded by men who were sincere believers, even if some of them had unorthodox religious ideas.  It is also telling that some of the greatest scientists of all  are included in this list.  Some cases seem so significant to me that they could stand alone as refutations of the idea that religious thought is anathema to scientific research and the scientific mind. Perhaps you will feel the same about others.  When I saw the first one, it seemed that alone was “enough said” on the subject, but there were four or five more that seemed to have that status, along with all the other cases, examples of religious scientists spread all across the fields of science and over centuries of time.

 

1473-1543 Nicholas Copernicus — wrote the first major modern proposal of the heliocentric  theory. It did not draw a great deal of attention at the time, nor did it generate any significant opposition.

 

1561-1626 Francis Bacon (see separate notes on Bacon’s writings) If nothing else, Bacon set forth the most famous proposal for a systematic, organized approach to science in general, based on direct observation, experiment, and judicious application of inductive logic. His description of the fictional scientific society of New Atlantis, which paid homage to a six-day creation, was a major inspiration for the Royal Society (the first major scientific association).

 

1564-1642 Galileo — though often cited as an example of a free-thinking scientist persecuted by ignorant churchmen, recent studies have shown that this is inaccurate. Galileo promoted an idea that basically had been accepted as a theory worth consideration, but his insistence that it be accepted immediately as a fact, combined with personal frictions with both the Pope and leading academics, brought a relatively mild censure upon him.

 

1571-1630 Johann Kepler — one of the founders of modern astronomy, along with Galileo and Tycho Brahe (1545-1601). “Kepler was an earnest Christian and studied for two years in a seminary… He was apparently the first scientist to state that in his astronomical researches, he was merely ‘thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” While Galileo prominently championed the heliocentric theory of Copernicus and Brahe founded the organized astronomical observatory system, Kepler’s description of the laws of planetary motion provided the foundation for the modern mathematical precision in astronomy and played a role in many further advances in science.

 

1627-1691 Robert Boyle — “one of the founders of the Royal Society of London, is generally credited with being the father of modern chemistry… he was also a humble, witnessing Christian and a diligent student of the Bible… profoundly interested in missions…”

 

1627-1705 John Ray — “has been called the father of English natural history…was one of the founding members of the Royal Society. He was the greatest authority of his day in both botany and zoology. Ray was also a strong Christian and creationist…”

 

1631-1686 Nicolaus Steno — “also known as Nils Stennsen… with his extensive field studies, developed the principles of stratigraphical interpretation… interpreted the strata…in the manner of flood geologists, attributing their formation in large measure to the Great Flood.”

 

1639-1723 Increase Mather — Included here because, although “best known as a clergyman and leading theologian” (and with his son Cotton, often mis-used to illustrate “benighted” American puritanism), “He was also an avid avocational astronomer and promoter of science … the primary founder of the Philosophical Society and one of the first presidents of Harvard.”

 

1642-1727 Isaac Newton (’nuff said) His contributions to our understanding of gravity, motion, optics and mathematics are legendary. Recent studies of unpublished or forgotten works show that he was also deeply religious. Recent studies of unpublished writings show that he doubted or plain disbelieved the deity of Christ, but was a strong believer in God as Creator and in the Bible as a true revelation from God. “He even wrote a book defending the Ussher Chronology… wrote strong papers refuting atheism and defending creation and the Bible. He believed that the worldwide Flood of the Bible accounted for most of the geological phenomena, and he believed in the literal six-day creation record.” He regarded the workings of the solar system as evidence for an intelligent creator. He did not share the view that scientifically-identifiable secondary causes such as gravitation were sufficient to explain everything.

 

1646-1719 John Flamsteed — “the founder of the famous Greenwich observatory and the first Astronomer Royal of England… He was also a faithful clergyman…”

 

1662-1727 Cotton Mather — as noted earlier, a favorite whipping-boy and bogeyman of anti-Christians, was also “president of Harvard… and was probably the first American to publish original contributions in science, with many publications in the _Transactions of the Royal Society_.”

 

1707-1778 Carolus Linnaeus — “widely regarded as the father of biological taxonomy. The
standard classification system of plants and animals still used today is known as the Linnaean system… One of his main goals in systematizing the tremendous varieties of living creatures was to attempt to delineate the original Genesis ‘kinds’.” Later, evolutionists would take the variations within his “species” as evidence that “fixity of species” was false, rather than considering the probable inaccuracy of this first attempt, and of a set of variations within true species or “kinds.”

 

1738-1822 William Herschel — “has long been recognized as both an outstanding Christian and an outstanding astronomer. In astronomy he made many great discoveries, perhaps the most notable being the recognition of double stars and the discovery of Uranus. … As a Christian, Sir William was…noted for his kindness and his sublime conception of the universe as a marvelous witness to the handiwork of God. It was Herschel who said: ‘The undevout astronomer must be mad’.”

 

1761-1826 Jedidiah Morse (father of the inventor of the telegraph) — “the leading geographer of America during his lifetime. He wrote the first American textbook of geography, almost universally used in the schools of the day and going through 25 editions, many of them after his death. He was a strong advocate of flood geology and the literal-day Mosaic chronology of earth history.”

 

1769-1832 Georges Cuvier – “is considered to be the founder of the science of comparative
anatomy.” Although his theory of multiple global catastrophes unintentionally(?) contributed to attacks on Biblical authority, he did believe that the Flood of the Bible was a global event (if only the most recent of many) and “He was a firm creationist, even participating in important creation/evolution debates.” Note that these debates took place long before Darwin presented his “scientific” book on the subject. There was little if any fully original thought in Darwin’s work.

 

1785-1873 Adam Sedgwick – “one of England’s leading 19th century geologists, long-time professor of geology at Cambridge, especially famous for identifying and naming the major rock systems known as Cambrian and Devonian. He was also a clergyman and Bible-believing Christian… a friend of Charles Darwin, he always opposed his evolutionary ideas…”

 

1791-1867 Michael Faraday “is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest physicists of all time… particularly in developing the new sciences of electricity and magnetism. … Two basic units … are named in his honor.” He was raised and remained a member “of the Sandemanian sect, a small fundamentalist church whose teaching included emphasis on God’s creation as purposeful and harmonious, designed for man’s well-being.” (another “’nuff said” case)

 

1792-1871 Charles Babbage “developed the first actuarial tables, invented the first speedometer, and the first skeleton keys, as well as the first ophthalmoscope and the first locomotive ‘cowcatcher’.” He is best known, however, for his description of a mechanical computation device with the main concepts (programming, data storage, input, processing unit, output) needed for modern computers — unfortunately, it was impractical if not impossible to construct at the time. “As a Christian, he wrote the ninth and last of the Bridgewater treatises, a remarkable apologetic including a mathematical analysis of the Biblical miracles.” A major argument against miracles at that time seems to have been that it would be illogical for God to break the laws of nature which He had established by performing miracles, and God cannot behave illogically, so He wouldn’t do it. Babbage argued, using his theoretical calculating machine as an example, that only the Creator
of such a complex thing could know if the laws of its operation had been “broken” by an
exception to a “law” that was merely the description by an observer of the normal output.

 

1793-1864 Edward Hitchcock “was one of the first American geologists of importance… During his later years he also was state geologist for Vermont… As a Christian, he was a strong creationist … He became probably the strongest opponent of Darwinism and evolutionism in America during his later years. He preached vigorously on the theme that belief in evolution led to atheism …” He must have started by responding to pre-Darwinian evolutionary ideas (such as Lamarckism), as he only lived 4 years after the publication of Darwin’s _Origin_.

 

1797-1878 Joseph Henry — “discovered the principle of self-induction… and invented the
electromagnetic motor and the galvanometer. He was the first Secretary and Director of the Smithsonian Institution, one of the charter members of the National Academy of Sciences, and a founder and early president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also a devout Christian, in all his experimentation making it a regular practice to stop, to worship God, and then to pray for divine guidance at every important juncture of the experiment.”

 

1804-1892 Richard Owen “was one of he strongest scientific opponents of Darwinism” in his day. “Although he was not a Christian in the Biblical sense, he was a strong theist… His scientific specialties were zoology, comparative anatomy, and paleontology. … He was also one of the first of the dinosaur hunters, having the distinction of coining the name _dinosaur_…”

 

1806-1873 Matthew Maury “was, to all intents and purposes, the founder of the modern sciences of hydrography and oceanography.” Inspired by the mention in Psalm 8:8 of “paths of the seas,” he “dedicated his life” largely to “charting the winds and currents of the Atlantic…”

 

1807-1873 Louis Agassiz — although “he seldom attended church, and many have questioned whether he was a Christian in the Biblical sense” he “was the son of a preacher and descended from a long line of Huguenot clergymen.” Morris also describes him as “a great Christian paleontologist .. recognized as the father of glacial geology and the science of glaciology. His studies of fishes, both living and fossil, were definitive, and have never been equaled.” Furthermore, “He profoundly believed in God and His special creation of every kind of organism…he was an inveterate opponent of evolutionism to the very end of his life.”

 

1811-1870 James Simpson “is best known as the discoverer of chloroform in 1847, helping to lay the foundation of modern anaesthesiology. He is said to have derived the motivation for the research leading to his discovery by the record of Adam’s ‘deep sleep’ in Genesis, when Eve was formed.”

 

1818-1889 James Joule — “his greatest discovery…was the value of the constant known as the ‘mechanical equivalent of heat,’ … this conversion factor led to the formulation of the law of conservation of energy. … a man of sincere Christian faith.”

 

1820-1899 John William Dawson “was the first president of the Royal Society of Canada and also was elected president of the American Association for Advancement of Science. He was knighted in 1884. Sir William was a devout Christian and anti-evolutionist, even though he accepted the long-age concept of geology.”

 

1822-1884 Gregor Mendel — I was frustrated in my very modest attempts to find (on the Web) any certain indication that Mendel had strong religious convictions or, for that matter, any strong opinion of Darwin’s theory one way or the other. Still, while “we know little of his personal beliefs” it is true that “he chose a monastic calling at a time when this certainly included belief in the basic docrines of Christianity.” Morris claims “He was a creationist and rejected Darwin’s evolutionary ideas,” but doesn’t provide any quotes. The best (most relevant) quote I could find seemed to indicate that Mendel thought it was too early to scientifically judge Darwin’s work, but that his method of studying heredity (and the results he had obtained) would be the beginning of putting Darwin’s ideas to the test. At any rate, he conducted his scientific work within a religious institution and “is rightly considered the father of genetics” even though those who saw his work did not recognize its value at the time and so science had to wait decades to get its studies of heredity on solid ground, in the meanwhile languishing with false ideas similar to Darwin’s.

 

1822-1895 Louis Pasteur (a third ” ’nuff said” case — but there’s a lot to say anyway) — “one of the greatest names in the history of science and medicine, chiefly because of his establishment of the germ theory of disease and his conclusive demolition of the then-prevalent evolutionary concept of spontaneous generation.” He also worked on chemistry, fermentation, and of most practical importance, “he isolated a number of disease-producing organisms and developed vaccines to combat them — notably the dread diseases of rabies, diphtheria, anthrax, and others.” Oh yes, and of course he came up with “the processes of pasteurization and sterilization.” Morris says Pasteur “undoubtedly made the greatest contribution of any one man to the saving of human lives, and most scientists today would say he was the greatest biologist of all time.” I dunno about that last one — these days, I think most would say Darwin was the greatest biologist if they knew their answer would be published, for fear of being called a “closet creationist” or something. And in Pasteur’s “lifetime, he was the object of intense opposition by almost the entire biological establishment, because of his own opposition to spontaneous generation and to Darwinism.”

 

Pasteur had to perform many experiments involving various conditions to rule out all sorts of possibilities to prove that even the simplest forms of life do not form from inorganic matter. Yet today, a number of scientists continue work that has been going on for decades, trying to discover some way that life could have formed from nothing but raw elements and energy — all the while demanding that children be taught that it did happen, by not allowing them to be given a hint that intelligent input might be required; and claiming that if creationists want equal time, they have to somehow absolutely prove that life could never, under any circumstances, form spontaneously!

 

Evolutionary sophists regard their evolutionary beliefs as a sign of intelligence and belief in creation (or even intelligent design) as a sign of ignorance or worse, but Pasteur found that the more he learned, the more he drew near the simple faith of the unlearned. “Could I but know all, I would have the faith of a Breton peasant woman.” (This is perfectly harmonious with what Francis Bacon had written centuries earlier, to the effect that a bit of learning and philosophy lead to doubt, but a deeper understanding of things lead back to faith.)

 

1823-1915 Henri Fabre “was… a great Christian biologist. He was a lifelong and vigorous
opponent of the idea of spontaneous generation and of the entire theory of evolution. … he is generally considered the father of modern entomology.” His “many books on science for children… were very popular textbooks in French state schools until the intellectuals of the day reacted vigorously against his frequent references in them to God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things.” He said (or perhaps wrote) regarding his religious belief: “Without Him I understand nothing; without Him all is darkness… Every period has its manias. I regard Atheism as a mania. It is the malady of the age. You could take my skin from me more easily than my faith in God.”

 

1824-1907 William Thompson, Lord Kelvin (“‘nuff said” #4) “was a physical scientist of the same stature as Newton and Faraday before him” and his greatest scientific claim to fame was probably that he “established thermodynamics as a formal scientific discipline and formulated its first and second laws in precise terminology…. Lord Kelvin was a strong Christian, opposing both Lyellian uniformitarianism and Darwinian evolution… he always remained a humble Christian, firmly believing the Bible and supporting its teaching in the schools of England.”

 

1827-1912 Joseph Lister, “whose great contribution was the development of antiseptic surgery through the use of chemical disinfectants… Of Quaker background, Lord Lister was a firm believer throughout his life. He wrote: ‘I am a believer in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity’.”

 

1831-1879 J. Clerk Maxwell (#5) “One of the greatest scientists of all time, he was also a sincere Bible-believing Christian. … he developed a comprehensive theoretical and mathematical framework of electromagnetic field theory… Albert Einstein called Maxwell’s achievement ‘the most profound and most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.’ … His Christian beliefs were essentially ‘fundamentalist’ in nature. He was strongly opposed to evolution and was able to develop a rigorous mathematical refutation of the famous ‘nebular hypothesis’ of the French atheist LaPlace. He also wrote an incisive refutation of the evolutionary  philosophies of Herbert Spencer…”

 

1845-1933 A.H. Sayce “an English philologist and archeologist… When he began his career, he was steeped in higher criticism, but the hard facts from the archeological and linguistic investigations in which he played a leading role contributed to his conversion to Biblical Christianity.”

 

1849-1945 John Ambrose Fleming “could well be recognized as the father of modern electronics, devising the first true electron tube. … He was also a founder and the first president of the Evolution Protest Movement.”

 

1851-1939 William Mitchell Ramsay “was among the greatest of all archeologists. A liberal in theology as a result of his university studies, he was converted to true Biblical Christianity as a result of his own uniquely extensive archeological discoveries in Asia Minor…”

 

1864 “717 scientists signed a remarkable manifesto entitled ‘The Declaration of Students of the Natural and Physical Sciences,’ … This declaration affirmed their confidence in the scientific integrity of the Holy Scriptures. The list included 86 Fellows of the Royal Society.”

 

1864-1943 George Washington Carver (#6 in my book) of course is famous for having
“developed over 300 products from the peanut and over 118 from the sweet potato.” This
biochemical wizard “was also a sincere and humble Christian, never hesitating to confess his faith in the God of the Bible and attributing all his success and ability to God.”

 

1875-1957 Douglas Dewar “was a founder of the Evolution Protest Movement in London in
1932… He had been a graduate of Cambridge in Natural Science and was an evolutionist in his early career… He had a distinguished career…as a naturalist and ornithologist… After he became a Christian and a creationist… he wrote numerous papers and books expounding the scientific basis of creationism. … and participated in a number of … debates with leading British evolutionists…”

 

1878-1940 Paul Lemoine “was President of the Geological Society of France, Director of the Natural History Museum in Paris, and a chief editor of the _Encyclopedie Francaise_, 1937 edition” which included this comment on evolution: “The theory of evolution is impossible… a kind of dogma which the priests no longer believe…” even though “LeMoine had once been an evolutionist himself.”

 

1882-1954 Charles Stine “was for many years Director of Research for the E.I. duPont company. As an organic chemist with many degrees and honors, he developed many new products and patents… Dr. Stine gave this testimony of the Creator. ‘The world about us… bears the signature of its Creator’…”

 

And of course the book also mentions that there are several Creation Science organizations such as ICR and CRS that employ a number of PhD scientists. CRS has hundreds of members with advanced degrees. On the major creationist websites, you can find lists of practicing scientists who disagree with evolutionism, believe in Divine creation, or are full-blown “young-Earth” creationists.Again, I encourage you to look up the book and buy it so you can get the full stories: Men of Science — Men of God by Henry M. Morris, copyright 1988, 13th printing 1997.