by Bill Nugent
The year is 1683 in the north of England. You see a man take a sample of reddish soil in order to take it to his laboratory to do experiments on it. You wonder why an intelligent man would do such a thing. The reason why he does experiments is because of the inductive principle. The inductive principle is the fundamental axiom forming the basis for all experimental science. The inductive principle is derived from teachings contained in the Bible. The whole edifice of modern science and high technology rests squarely on the biblical worldview.
The ancient and medieval thinkers who studied the material world did not use the biblical inductive principle but instead used deductive reasoning. To deduct means to subtract. Deductive reasoning meant that a scientist (called a natural philosopher in medieval times) would consult an authority such as the writings of Aristotle and deduce or subtract his conclusion from the wisdom and general observations of the expert.
Aristotle (384-322 BC), son of a physician and student of Plato did much study of the material world. He did not formulate any scientific experimental methodologies, however, because he regarded the material world as random and disordered. The ancient Greek worldview considered the natural world to be chaotic and inconsistent. No one with such a worldview would do much experimentation because in this worldview the results of an experiment would not be conclusive but just be considered a chaotic event.
Even a secular source such as Chambers’ Biographical Dictionary admits that the preoccupation with Aristotle’s teachings during medieval times held up the advance of science.
Inductive reasoning is an entirely different way of looking at the world. To induct means to add. Inductive reasoning means to draw general conclusions from particular cases. You add the findings of your experiments together to draw your conclusion.
The inductive approach to physical science is inferred from the biblical worldview because the Bible teaches that God is a lawgiver who created an orderly, consistent universe. Scientists with this view reasoned that, for instance if water freezes at 32 degrees in one place it freezes at the same temperature in all places. Therefore experiments can be done and the results can be generalized to the entire universe and general principles, called scientific principles or natural laws, can be discovered. God gave laws to govern man and God also gave laws to govern nature.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a devout believer in the Bible, was the formulator of the scientific method, the basic underpinning of all modern science. Bacon wrote “There are two books laid before us to study…first, the volume of the scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the creatures, which expresses his power,” (from Men of Science, Men of God by Dr. Henry M. Morris p. 15)
More than 200 years after Bacon’s death, modern experimental science was still called “Baconianism.” Bacon did much to repudiate Aristotelian deductionism and to promote inductive reasoning. Virtually all founders of modern scientific disciplines were either ardent Christians or held to a biblical worldview.
It is not mere coincidence that a century after the Bible was translated into the language of ordinary people in the 1500s that the fundamental scientific breakthroughs occurred. Biblical literacy and biblical reasoning hit the European people like a tidal wave.
The ancient Greeks did engineering and mathematics but no inductive science. The Greek Pagans believed in a random universe. The Hindus of the East believed the physical universe is “maya” or illusion. Hindus did virtually no scientific inquiry. The Islamic intellectual elite was heavily influenced by Aristotle and his deductionism. The Animists of Africa believed that spirits inhabit trees and animals and therefore they typically did no experimentation on nature.
Modern secular man looks with pride on the wonders of science and technology as if it was all the work of human minds and hands. The Bible is disdained as an archaic book yet it is the Bible alone that gives the very basis for science!
When you start your car or turn on your computer or use any other high tech equipment remember that the Bible made it possible. Let’s give thanks to God who inspired the Bible. The fact that the Bible gives the correct worldview for physical science is just one more reason to trust the Bible in other areas including spiritual matters. The Bible gives the message of salvation through Christ who died for our sins.