Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the editor
The Sources of Science
From: JASA 19 (June 1967): 63
Re the article by Mr. Siemens in the September, 1966, issue. If I understand it correctly, he bases his argument on these ideas:
1) Christianity was the first philosophy to believe in the order of the universe.
2) The development of science was in large part due to a desire to benefit mankind, as a result of Christian thinking.
3) The "virtues" of the scientist are Christian virtues.
First, it is really unimportant which philosophy recognized the rationality of the universe. Mr. Siemens makes a good deal more of the mutual rationality of man and the universe than he should. This is no remarkable belief necessitating a "blind" leap of faith; the agnostic holds that man's rationality is an effect of the universe, just as his senses are adapted to his environment. If the Universe were rarational, man would be rational in an identical way.
Second, Christianity should not want, logically, to benefit mankind. This is a purely cultural phenomenon of Western civilization. In this connection I invite you to read Letter VII of Mark Twain's Letters From The Earth.
Third, the "virtues" of the scientist have only this in common with Christian virtues; they derive from necessary rules of successful human relationships. It has been my feeling that Christian virtues do have some success in this area, but they are not sufficient.
I am afraid I have not developed these arguments enough to be convincing, but I hope you can see what I'm getting at mainly. I would be glad to have an opportunity to enlarge them, if some points are not clear.