We hear this claim all the time from the new atheist crowd. So, is it true? The idea that science and religion are opposed is absolutely ludicrous. However, the religion of atheism is definitely opposed to science. And for obvious reasons.
Something far too many people, including an embarrassing number of PhD scientists, are woefully ignorant of the fact that all science is founded upon philosophical and religious assumptions. Atheism provides no metaphysical assumptions upon which any science at all can be rightfully rooted.
FACT: Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Walter Reed, Dmitri Mendeleev, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Kelvin, Faraday, Pasteur, Townes, Mendel, Marconi, world leader in sickle cell anemia research, Dr Felix Konotey-Ahulu, Werner von Braun, Pupin, Walter Lammerts, AE Wilder Smith – with 3 earned doctorates in science! Raymond Damadian Inventer of the MRI, … and on and on the list goes … were all men of very strong religious beliefs. Indeed, they were all theists and creationists and IDists.
FACT: Modern science and the modern scientific method were founded and established by creationists, not merely religious people but creationists.
Thus the exceedingly foolish claim of the new atheists, that science and religion are somehow opposed, and that one must choose one or the other to establish ones’ facts, is simply stunningly wrong. That claim means that the people who started modern science were the same people whose beliefs opposed science. So what do the atheist do in response to the historical facts? They pretend that somehow, these creationists, these deeply religious people who founded modern science, did so without any reference to their beliefs, that their science had nothing to do with what they believed. And of course, that is more utter nonsense.
FACT: The founders of modern science rooted that science in their theism. As C.S. Lewis so rightly stated,
“Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator.” – M. D. Aeschliman C. S. Lewis on Mere Science 1998 First Things 86 (October, 1998): 16-18.
And as even atheist philosopher of science, Michael Ruse wrote,
“Most people think that science and religion are, and necessarily must be, in conflict. In fact, this ‘warfare’ metaphor, so beloved of nineteenth-century rationalists, has only a tenuous application to reality. For most of the history of Christianity; it was the Church that was the home of science.” – p. 671 in Ruse, Michael Introduction to Part X (Creationism) in The philosophy of biology edited by David L. Hull and Michael Ruse. 1998
In fact, virtually all the historical experts agree on the fact that it was withing the Christianity that modern science was founded and grew. Indeed, a fact that ought to be disturbing for atheists, but obviously isn’t because their ignorance of the history of science is so profound, is that virtually NO atheists were involved in the establishing of modern science. And for good reason. Atheism does not allow for any view of the world that includes a reason to believe that law, order and comprehensibility ought to characterize the universe. This fact has been discussed in great detail in the philosophy of science by people like Rodney Stark in his book, “For The Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts and the End of Slavery”.
Or even Loren Eiseley who wrote,
‘The philosophy of experimental science … began its discoveries and made use of its methods in the faith, not the knowledge, that it was dealing with a rational universe controlled by a creator who did not act upon whim nor interfere with the forces He had set in operation… It is surely one of the curious paradoxes of history that science, which professionally has little to do with faith, owes its origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption.’ – Eiseley, L., Darwin’s Century: Evolution and the Men who Discovered It, Doubleday, Anchor, New York, 1961
And distinguished University Professor at Seton Hall University, in South Orange, New Jersey, Stanley Jaki, a leading contributor to the philosophy and the history of science wrote,
“The scientific quest found fertile soil only when this faith in a personal, rational Creator had truly permeated a whole culture, beginning with the centuries of the High Middle Ages. It was that faith which provided, in sufficient measure, confidence in the rationality of the universe, trust in progress, and appreciation of the quantitative method, all indispensable ingredients of the scientific quest.” — Jaki, Stanley L., Creation and Science (1974)
“The birth of science came only when the seeds of science were planted in a soil which Christian faith in God made receptive to natural theology and to the epistemology implied in it. The transition from that first viable birth to maturity was made neither in the name of Baconian empiricism nor in the name of Cartesian rationalism. The transition was made in a perspective adopted by Newton, chiefly responsible for completing that transition. The next two centuries saw the rise of philosophical movements, all hostile to natural theology. Whatever lip service to science, they all posed a threat to it. The blows they aimed at man’s knowledge of God were as many blows a knowledge, at science, and at the rationality of the universe. All those philosophical movements from Hume to Mach also meant an explicit endorsement of the idea of eternal returns, an idea which from the viewpoint of science acted as the chief road into its great historical blind alleys.” – S. Jaki, The Road of Science and the Ways to God, p. 160
Dr. Ronald Numbers, Professor of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin–Madison stated,
“The greatest myth in the history of science and religion holds that they have been in a state of constant conflict. No one bears more responsibility for promoting this notion than two nineteenth-century American polemicists: Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918) and John William Draper (1811-1882)… Historians of science have known for years that White’s and Draper’s accounts are more propaganda than history.” (Galileo Goes to Jail. pg.1,2,6 https://goo.gl/F65JJD)
Indeed, White is one of the principle characters responsible for the lies and false ideas that have spread opposing science and religion. Again, there were virtually no atheists involved in the founding of modern science. Atheism offers no grounds for any belief in any kind of science whatsoever. Atheism has no reason to believe the universe is ordered and understandable.
FACT: 65% of all Nobels were won by Christians.
Worse still, the Christian founders of modern science managed to open the world and change world history by developing a method of inquiry into the natural world based on that which is allegedly “diametrically opposed” to everything they believed! Thus making the founding of modern science a MIRACLE.
The ignorance and stupidity of claiming science and religion are opposed, is thus revealed to be simply astonishing.