How Authoritarianism in Science Slows Down Scientific Progress

Article #353
by Bill Nugent
I wish to show you how authoritarianism in science held back scientific discovery for nearly 2000 years. Science was suppressed from ancient times to medieval times.

I also wish to show you that a new authoritarianism has arisen in science and this is holding back scientific discovery in our own time. It may be surprising to learn about the current authority figure in postmodern America and Western Europe that is suppressing scientific progress.

First, let’s take a brief look at the history of scientific authoritarianism. From the time of Aristotle in the 4th century BC to the time of Francis Bacon, formulator of the scientific method in the 1600s, scientific discovery was largely stagnant.

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle lived in ancient pagan Greece centuries before the time of Christ. They were towering figures in philosophy. Aristotle was a student of Plato and Plato and was a student of Socrates. They gave brilliant insights into logic and rational thought. They gave powerful insights in philosophy.

Regarding science however, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were woefully inept. They did no experimental science. Modern science is based on experimentation. The reason why they did no experimentation was because of their worldview which was in turn shaped by their religion.

Their religion was Olympianism. Olympianism is polytheistic paganism and it has some points in common with Hinduism. The ancient Greeks regarded nature and the physical universe as being disorderly and chaotic. The Hindu view of nature is that the physical world is “Maya” meaning illusion. This low view of nature is why the Greeks and the Hindus did no significant experimentation on nature. They studied nature and they did engineering and construction but no rigorous experimental science.

The early church fathers were heavily influenced by Plato and Aristotle. Augustine (354-430) was a neoplatonist. Augustine was a brilliant theologian, perhaps the most brilliant theologian of the early church. Nevertheless, he saw the Bible through the lens of Plato. He harmonized the logic and insights of Plato with the Bible. He didn’t compromise the Bible but gave it some skewed Platonist interpretations.

More than 700 years after Augustine, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), was a brilliant theologian. He was strongly influenced by Aristotle. He wrote a dozen commentaries on the works of Aristotle. In his scholarly writings, Aquinas frequently referred to Aristotle as “the philosopher.” Thomas Aquinas interpreted the Bible through the lens of Aristotle. He agreed with Aristotle’s logic and rationale on many issues. Aquinas didn’t reject biblical revelation but Aristotle certainly influenced his views and the views of many other medieval scholars.

The universities were first forming around the time of Thomas Aquinas. There were Christian men who were interested in science and studying nature. At that time, science was called natural philosophy. Aristotle was the authority figure.  Aristotle’s book on nature, titled “Physics” was studied in the universities along with Aristotle’s other works.

Science at that time was deductive. Let me explain the difference between deductive science and inductive science. To deduct means to subtract and in deductive science people look to the body of authoritative literature written by philosophical authority figures such as Plato and Aristotle. They deduce from their writings what they believe about nature and science. In deductive science they don’t question the findings of the authority figures. The writings of Plato and Aristotle regarding nature were the gold standard. They seldom did experimentation because they simply followed Plato and Aristotle.

Inductive science is very different. To induce means to add. In inductive science people do rigorous experimentation and add the results of the experiments together in order to understand nature. They start with experiments in nature and add the results together to draw a conclusion. This is modern science.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was a Bible believing Christian who did extensive experimentation on nature. Francis Bacon formulated the scientific method. The scientific method revolutionized science. In fact modern science is sometimes referred to as Baconian science. So revolutionary was Bacon’s influence on science that Thomas Jefferson said Francis Bacon was one of the three most influential men who ever lived.

The Christian view of nature is that nature is real; it is not an illusion. Nature is orderly. It was created by God. Nature was created originally good but fell because of the sin of man which brought the curse into nature. Nature will be redeemed. God is rational and gives rational moral laws and God also gives rational laws of nature governing the physical universe. God’s laws are consistent throughout His universe. This consistency of natural laws is called the regularity principle or the inductive principle.

To give an illustration, let’s take the example of the freezing temperature of water. People who didn’t have the Christian worldview and thought that nature was disorderly would be inclined to think that the freezing temperature of water is different in the valley than it is at the mountain top and that’s why you see snow on the mountain top. They didn’t know that water freezes at the same temperature everywhere throughout the earth. They wouldn’t do experiments on water to discover the precise freezing temperature because they didn’t believe that natural laws were consistent.

The regularity principle or inductive principle is derived from the Bible. It’s derived from Christian theology which is our our understanding of God and God’s authority over nature. This is why modern experimental science arose in the West.

David Klinghoffer, writing in an article in the magazine Intelligent Design quotes historian Rodney Stark. “The success of the West . . . including the rise of science rested entirely on religious foundations and the people who brought it about were devout Christians.”

All of the founders of the major branches of science where Bible believing Christians and their major breakthroughs occurred in the 1600s and 1700s. This is immediately after the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s in which the Bible for the first time in all of world history was made fully available to the masses of people across the entire continent of Europe.

The men who were the founders of modern science were Christians and if not personally devout, we’re certainly raised in a culture in which the Christian worldview was the only worldview that was taught.

Francis BaconSir Isaac NewtonBlaise Pascal, Robert Boyle (founder of modern chemistry) and other Bible believing scientists essentially overthrew the authoritarianism of Plato and Aristotle.

Centuries later, there arose a new authority figure in science. This man’s name was Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) and his books in the 19th century promoting the evolution hypothesis began to gain sway over science.

Darwin’s atheistic materialistic evolution essentially denies God as creator and claims that human beings are nothing more than descendants of apes and have no souls. This denial of God had great appeal to people who wanted to free themselves from God’s moral laws and God’s moral authority.

Darwin himself was too weak and frail to do much travel or even take speaking engagements. Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) was called Darwin’s bulldog and he promoted Darwinism throughout England. Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899), a prominent agnostic lecturer, promoted Darwinism in the United States.

Darwinism began to gain influence because in the early days of Darwinism, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, microbiology was not an advanced field. Bacteria cells were considered to be just tiny sacks of fluid. Darwin thought that cells could form by chance in a “warm little pond.”

We now know that a simple bacteria cell is more complicated than a smartphone. They also didn’t understand that DNA, which wasn’t discovered until the 1950s, is an immensely complex molecular information storage and retrieval system. They didn’t understand that mutations are destructive errors that result in a net loss of information in DNA and don’t add useful information to DNA that would cause uphill evolutionary change. The immense complexity of cells is proof that life could never form by chance. There had to be a Creator God who designed and built all living things!

However, by the time microbiology and genetics were fully developed and offering reams of evidence against the evolution hypothesis, evolution was firmly established in the universities and think tanks. It has come to the point that anyone who dissents from Darwinism is persecuted. Persecution has a chilling effect on scientific discussion and research.

The Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture based in Seattle Washington has documented many examples of people that were persecuted. These are scientists and professors that were persecuted for dissenting from Darwinism. Examples include David Coppedge, an IT specialist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who was demoted and terminated because he had expressed Intelligent Design views. Astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez was refused tenure at Iowa State University because of his views on Intelligent Design. Richard Sternberg, an evolutionary biologist at at the Smithsonian institution, was harshly penalized for his views that dissented from Darwinism.

Science is seen through the lens of Darwinism. Even surgeons are influenced by Darwinian principles when deciding on how to perform surgery. I’ve read that surgeons routinely would cut a piece of cartilage off the knee that looked like it was not of any use. They assumed it was an evolutionary vestige. They cut this cartilage but they found that the knee performed poorly after it was removed. It was not a vestige but was designed and built  by God to stabilize the knee.

There’s a growing movement of scientists who are opposed to authoritarian Darwinism and have dissented from Darwin as an authority figure. Centuries ago, scientists dissented from Aristotle. There is a new movement of scientists called the Intelligent Design Movement. More than a thousand scientists have publicly dissented from Darwinism and have signed a statement on the website dissentfromdarwindotorg.

Scientists who adhere to intelligent design do not necessarily consider themselves to be religious. However, many scientists are taking a new look at Christianity and becoming believers in Christ.

Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 predictive prophecies recorded in the Old Testament hundreds of years before his birth. The fulfillment of these many prophecies is certainly miraculous and gives proof that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that Christianity is the true religion leading to salvation.

The prophet Isaiah wrote the following words 700 years before the birth of Christ: “All we like sheep have gone astray . . . and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).. This is a predictive prophecy of the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Substitutionary atonement means that Christ bore the penalty of our sins upon Himself. He took our punishment upon Himself so that we can receive forgiveness of sins. Christ was raised from the dead to offer salvation to all who turn to Him in repentance and ask for forgiveness. I invite you to turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins.

Steps to salvation:

Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

  • 1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah (Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
  • 2) Believe that Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible prophecies to die for you, to take upon Himself the penalty of your sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18).
  • 3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins (Romans 10:13).
  • 4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth (John 1:12, Acts 2:38).
  • 5) Follow Jesus Christ as Lord (John 14:21).

Prayer to receive salvation:

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:

“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!

(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

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