History of science

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The history of science goes back into the dim and musty reaches of antiquity, when philosophers first began to speculate about what causes things to move and grow. Early views were hardly distinguishable from mythology or superstition, lacking the accountability of the modern scientific method.

Robert Heinlein wrote:

  • Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.
  • One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen. - [1]

By a process of regular observation and classification, ancient Greek philosophers tried to make sense of the natural world.

  • Socrates, a philosopher and lover of wisdom, tried to elicit the truth by what has become known as the Socratic method, in which by a series of probing questions he forced successive further clarification of thought. [2]
  • Though Aristotle's work in zoology was not without errors, it was the grandest biological synthesis of the time, and remained the ultimate authority for many centuries after his death. His observations on the anatomy of octopus, cuttlefish, crustaceans, and many other marine invertebrates are remarkably accurate, and could only have been made from first-hand experience with dissection. Aristotle described the embryological development of a chick; he distinguished whales and dolphins from fish; he described the chambered stomachs of ruminants and the social organization of bees; he noticed that some sharks give birth to live young -- his books on animals are filled with such observations, some of which were not confirmed until many centuries later. [3]
  • Aristotle's approach to science differed from Plato's. He agreed that the highest human faculty was reason, and its supreme activity was contemplation. However, in addition to studying what he called "first philosophy" - metaphysics and mathematics, the things Plato had worked on, Aristotle thought it also very important to study "second philosophy": the world around us, from physics and mechanics to biology. Perhaps being raised in the house of a physician had given him an interest in living things. [4]
  • It is a common misconception that Greek theories were based on abstraction and observation, and not subject to experimental test. For example, some claim that Galileo dropped a cannonball and a musketball simultaneously from a tower, observed that they hit the ground at nearly the same time, and contradicted Aristotle's long-accepted idea that heavier objects fell faster.[5] However, Aristotle never said that heavier objects fall faster, and Galileo never did that experiment.


Science becomes systematic

  • Aristotle's observations had been incomplete, and his physics was qualitative and not quantitative. Others, like Ptolemy, carried out systematic quantitative (numerical) measurements and developed a more systematic science.

Christianity and Science

For additional details please see: Christianity and Science

A notable fact in relation to Christianity and science is that the birth of modern science (see: Scientific Revolution) occurred in Christianized Europe.[1] Sociologist Rodney Stark investigated the individuals who made the most significant scientific contributions between 1543 and 1680 A.D., the time of the Scientific Revolution. In Stark's list of 52 top scientific contributors,[2] only one (Edmund Halley) was a skeptic and another (Paracelsus) was a pantheist. The other 50 were Christians, 30 of whom could be characterized as being devout Christians.[2] Sir Francis Bacon, sometimes referred to as "the Father of Modern Science", wrote: "I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind."[3]

External links


  1. http://www.ldolphin.org/bumbulis/#anchor5343749
  2. 2.0 2.1 Williams, Alex,The biblical origins of science, Journal of Creation 18(2):49–52, August 2004.
  3. Bacon, Francis, Of Atheism
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