“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” – Proverbs 25:2
Christians persecuted men of science, thus showing that Christianity is against progress.
Anyone who has seen an episode of Cosmos knows that this is the typical view. The great men of science are seen as pioneers—and indeed they were—struggling to unchain themselves from the shackles of the church. The church is thus equated with prison and confinement: churchmen want to hold on to an antiquated idea, even at the cost of suppressing new discoveries.
While I have no desire to defend everything the Roman Catholic Church has done with regard to the cause of science in the Medieval period, we should have proper historical nuance. Historically speaking, the reason people rejected, for instance, that the sun was the center of the galaxy was not because of the church, but because of Aristotelian cosmology. As Bavinck stated:
“Resistance to the new Copernicans cosmology did not chiefly come from the church and orthodox as such, in spite of claims so often made by critics of the faith. Instead, it was Aristotelianism…”
The philosopher Aristotle postulated that the earth was the center, and the planets and sun rotated around the earth. It could, therefore, be argued that the church held too tightly to secular wisdom. Rejecting new scientific data was done, ultimately, on the basis of Aristotle—rather than biblical exegesis.
Also, a word must be said about the notion of “progress.” If by “progress,” you mean that we get to continually discover the ways in which God does things in the natural world, then Christians are completely for progress. (see: God of the Gaps). If, however, by “progress” you mean that we should pretend that God doesn’t exist and that the Bible is not the inscripturated word of God, then, no, the Christian would not be on board with this, for this would be regression, not progression. To treat the main reality in the universe as a non-reality would have negative ramifications for science.
Also in this series:
© copyright J. Brandon Burks
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Abridged in One Volume, ed. by John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 289.