|a history of science|
| The belief in God was a driving force among scientists in the 1600s. Sir Isaac Newton and other early scientists wanted to “think God’s thoughts after Him.” They believed in a divine lawmaker, and they expected to find order in his creation.
In the 1700s, the Enlightenment hit the western world with a school of thought known as “deism,” which in its extreme form considered God like a watchmaker who put the universe together and let it go. I don’t think that science drew people away from the notion of a personal God. Perhaps, they wanted the benefits of science without the accountability.
This might explain why so many were excited in the 1800s when Charles Darwin entered the scene. They rejoiced in what they considered a triumph of “science” but was really a change in philosophy. Michael Denton points out, “The facts were the same in 1850 as they were in 1870, only the perception of them had changed.” *
It is true that something shook Darwin’s theology. It is likely that it happened after his trip to the Galapagos. However, it was not merely the facts of nature but the suffering he saw in nature that caused him to turn from God. A statement from Darwin’s autobiography reveals this; “A being so powerful and so full of knowledge . . . is to our finite minds omnipotent and omniscient, and it revolts our understanding to suppose his benevolence is not unbounded, for what advantage could there be in the sufferings of millions of the lower animals throughout almost endless time? This very old argument from the existence of suffering against the existence of an intelligent first cause seems to me a strong one . . .” *
In 1877 Charles Spurgeon described the way he saw the situation; “We are invited, brethren, most earnestly to go away from the old-fashioned belief of our forefathers because of the supposed discoveries of science. What is science? The method by which man tries to conceal his ignorance. It should not be so, but so it is. You are not to be dogmatical in theology, my brethren, it is wicked; but for scientific men it is the correct thing. . . . Forsooth, you and I are to take our Bibles and shape and mould our belief according to the ever-shifting teachings of so-called scientific men.”*
Naturalism set the stage for postmodernism in the late 1900s. If we could separate the cosmos from God, we could separate ourselves from the cosmos. We could determine our own value, and I could believe in one thing, and you could believe the opposite, and we wouldn’t see a contradiction, because I have my reality, and you have yours. Taking God out of science left us cold, and relativism filled the void. Maybe that was the plan all along.
|* Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Pg 74
* Darwin, Autobiography, pg 90. Darwin considered himself agnostic. He believed in an impersonal deity, a kind of universal force.
* Charles H. Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry, pg 85.