by Sean McDowell
The claim that Christianity is at war with science is one of the most common claims I hear from young people today. In fact, the belief that Christianity is opposed to modern science is one of the top reasons young people cite for leaving the church. That’s why in the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict, my father and I respond to this charge before advancing the historical evidence for Christianity.
But where did this idea come from? Is it accurate? In 1896 Cornell University president Andrew Dickson White released a book entitled A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. White is largely credited with inventing and propagating the idea that science and Christianity are adversaries in the search for truth. White cast Christians as fanatics who clung to scriptural claims that the earth was flat. But is this account true? Sociologist Rodney Stark responds,
White’s book remains influential despite the fact that modern historians of science dismiss it as nothing but a polemic—White himself admitted that he wrote the book to get even with Christian critics of his plans for Cornell . . . many of White’s other accounts are as bogus as his report of the flat earth and Columbus.
The Warfare Myth
Why has this warfare myth been so influential? The truth is that the supposed warfare between religion and science is a polemical device used in the secular attack on faith. In reality, theology was essential for the rise of modern science…
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