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Modern science owes much to straightforward understanding of Scripture

Stephen Snobelen, Assistant Professor of History of Science and Technology,
University of King’s College, Halifax, Canada

Here is a final paradox. Recent work on early modern science has demonstrated a direct (and positive) relationship between the resurgence of the Hebraic, literal exegesis of the Bible in the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of the empirical method in modern science. I’m not referring to wooden literalism, but the sophisticated literal-historical hermeneutics that Martin Luther and others (including Newton) championed. It was, in part, when this method was transferred to science, when students of nature moved on from studying nature as symbols, allegories and metaphors to observing nature directly in an inductive and empirical way, that modern science was born. In this, Newton also played a pivotal role. As strange as it may sound, science will forever be in the debt of millenarians and biblical literalists.

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Reference

  1. Isaac Newton and Apocalypse Now: a response to Tom Harpur’s Newton’s strange bedfellows; A longer version of the letter published in the Toronto Star, 26 February 2004.

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