By Melissa Cain Travis
It has been my experience that materialist proponents of the natural sciences become rather irritated when someone brings up the fact that most of the great fathers of modern science were Christian theists. Typically, I will raise this point whenever someone claims that a theistic worldview is irrational or that the idea of a Maker of all things is anti-science. The response I receive is almost always something along the lines of: “Yes, those were brilliant men of science, but there was so much they did not know—that we now know—about the natural world. If they lived today, it’s likely that none of them would be religious. It’s pointless to bring them up in defense of the compatibility of science and faith.”
There are several problems with this response, but the one that I find most glaring is the unfounded presumption that scientific and mathematical thinkers such as Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Boyle believed in a creator God based upon a lack of scientific knowledge. This betrays an ignorance about the actual writings of these great thinkers, writings which clearly show that it was their discoveries—an increase in understanding—that incited their expressions of praise and reverence for an ingenious, omnipotent Maker. During their time, it increasingly appeared that the cosmos was crafted in a manner that allowed it to operate according to a preordained set of universal mathematical laws. The pursuit of knowledge about the workings of the natural world was seen as deciphering God’s “book of nature”—both its language and its content.