Those of us who care to look into history even the slightest can see that both devout Christian laymen and Christian leaders have been make scientific strides for almost two millennia. Some examples will be sited below. In spite of these facts, I often hear claims from secularists along the lines of "Christians may donate to [insert medical cause here], but an atheist is the one who finds the cure to [insert modern medical issue here]." And, similarly, but not the same: "Medieval Christians are responsible for a lack of scientific advancement in that era."

So, if people like Gregor Mendel (https://www.google.com/#q=Gregor+Mendel) and Georges Lemaitre (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre) were doing scientific work, why is there this huge misconception that Christianity was against and/or is currently against Scientific discovery? Specifically, my question is, which recent (last 300 years or so) writings can be attributed to creating and perpetuating this divide in spite of historical evidence which supports that devoted Christians did important scientific work in their day, and how have they been so convincing for the general public (on both sides) in spite of all of this readily-available historical evidence?

Note: Perhaps the second part of my question is more opinion-based, but I am interested in some speculation as to why these writings would have such a powerful effect, whether from S.E. users or from another source.

  • You're implying that Christianity is completely against Science. Whereas, Christianity is against Science which conflicts with the doctrine UNTIL it's completely proved - such as the Earth being round. Both parts of your question are opinion based. I cannot see how someone could answer w/o causing a debate. May 6, 2014 at 17:45
  • @TheFreemason That's exactly the opposite of what I'm doing. I'm asking why people think Christianity is completely against science, when the opposite is completely true (specifically, which recent writings egged this on i.e. not opinion based). Additionally, scripture does not say the Earth is flat, and also contains passages which imply it is round. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth
    – jaredad7
    May 6, 2014 at 18:22
  • 1
    Sorry; You're implying that non-Christians believe that Christianity is completely against Science. Either way, it's opinion based. May 6, 2014 at 18:56
  • Quite a tricky question you are actually asking and so far it has been missed or ignored. I would also like to see somebody tackle the question of 'why' these writings have such a powerful effect. Richard Dawkins wrote books that looks as if they were written in a week by a drunk. Everything about them is bad and still they sold records. Why? Dawkins admits that it is because he left out the serious science because he wanted lots of money. He sells popular science that Christians try to counter with bad science as you can see in the answers. That is the 'why'. May 7, 2014 at 8:19
  • Sorry, I don't think this question can be reworded to fix that issue. It just needs to be closed.
    – jaredad7
    May 7, 2014 at 13:07

4 Answers 4


The essence of any answer to your question must emphasize that the misconception about Christianity and science is very modern. It is modern secularists that desire to rewrite history by making claims that Christianity's job, as it were, is to hinder scientific advancement. For every example they cite, like the church vs. Galileo (his observations proved the earth was not the center of the universe), there are thousands more that prove otherwise. Many of these can be found in secular shows on the History channel. In a recent example about the Dark Ages (sorry can't remember the shows name) they concluded that, without the church keeping reading and writing alive, the Dark Ages could easily have lasted much longer. So any arguments that assert some general obstruction by Christians of scientific advances pre-Darwin are weak. I could go on: the USA exists because of good Christian men; the country's oldest university, Harvard, was founded to train clergy...

After Darwin, it became much easier to inflate the conflict between the Christian and secular worldviews since the secularists could "explain" away life without relying on God. Christians in those times felt just as threatened as those who convicted Galileo of heresay. Look at any modern astronomy text to see this taken to its ultimate absurdity - that the Big Bang started itself. They have to overlook a big contradiction born of the laws of physics (an external force is required to change a system in equilibrium). Fortunately, the archaeological evidence of the past hundred years and the biological evidence since DNA was discovered has disproved macro-evolution (that one species can evolve into another). This has finally begun to turn the tide against evolution but it is still taught in classrooms and promoted by secularists as fact. After the Garden of Eden fiasco, truly evolution has to be Satan's biggest win.

Which brings me to the bottom line answer to the question of "Why?". The problem is not that the secularists are stupid or are ignoring the compatibility of the Bible, Christianity, and science. The problem is that they are blind. The Bible points this out many, many times. Man's soul was corrupted by sin because he wanted to do things his way and not God's way. Until that is fixed, there will always be misconceptions about Christianity by those who oppose it.

Your question is not simple and so my answer is not short. I hope it added something positive to the discussion.

  • Galileo is actually the subject of a myth of his own. Just about everything that "everyone knows" about him is flatly contradicted by the historical record: that he was right about the solar system (he wasn't; he believed in heliocentrism but got all the other details wrong,) that he made great scientific discoveries in astronomy (there was nothing unique or groundbreaking about his work,) and that he was unjustly persecuted by the church for teaching heliocentrism. (See above re: he wasn't actually right.)
    – Mason Wheeler
    May 7, 2014 at 2:02
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    At the start of the Big Bang there were no physical laws that we know about. Evidence is pouring in that disproves Steady State while proving the Big Bang. But this does not exclude other possibilities. You are going to have to prove that archaeological and biological evidence disproves macro-evolution. What it does is prove a macro-evolution closer to what we find in the Bible. May 7, 2014 at 8:08

I think a lot of it has to do directly with Darwinian evolutionary commitments around the creation of life on earth and the contrasting commitments of the "young earth" creationist view, and the way the conflict between those two positions became a key way of framing identity for some of the most vocal and visible Christians (and some of the most vocal and visible scientists) over the course of the last century.

In particular, I would look at the books of Richard Dawkins as some of the most influential recent writings that promote the notion that Christianity and science are incompatible.

Personally, however, I think the current estrangement between Christian and scientific belief is a historical anomaly. Even now, I would say the polarization is much less than even twenty years ago, and continuing to lessen.


All truth is compatible with itself.

No religion on this earth has all the answers, neither does science. Otherwise we would be as God, having all knowledge. But as you come closer to pure truth you will realize that it has no distinctions such as science or religion. They are just the means of discovering truth. (They are very good too).

Truth is truth and is not divisible unto itself.

I hope this helps and makes sense, because it is true.


If you want a book about this topic, check out the Dallas Willard book: Knowing Christ Today, especially Chapter 3: How Moral Knowledge Disappeared.

A very short answer is that when science started revealing mistaken assumptions in Christian theology, the Christians of the time ended up ceding the realm of knowledge and drawing a false distinction between knowledge and faith.

For a video answer, I LOVE Ask the Smart Man Q&A between Dallas Willard and John Ortberg. There are bookmarks to topics w/in the two sessions of the Q&A session. Of particular interest are the questions labeled Knowledge and Science and Faith.

For an article by Dallas Willard about Christianity and logic see Jesus The Logician. One quote from it is:

There is in our culture an uneasy relation between Jesus and intelligence, and I have actually heard Christians respond to my statement that Jesus is the most intelligent man who ever lived by saying that it is an oxymoron. Today we automatically position him away from (or even in opposition to) the intellect and intellectual life. Almost no one would consider him to be a thinker, addressing the same issues as, say, Aristotle, Kant, Heidegger or Wittgenstein, and with the same logical method.

His concluding paragraph is:

Paying careful attention to how Jesus made use of logical thinking can strengthen our confidence in Jesus as master of the centers of intellect and creativity, and can encourage us to accept him as master in all of the areas of intellectual life in which we may participate. In those areas we can, then, be his disciples, not disciples of the current movements and glittering personalities who happen to dominate our field in human terms. Proper regard for him can also encourage us to follow his example as teachers in Christian contexts. We can learn from him to use logical reasoning at its best, as he works with us. When we teach what he taught in the manner he taught it, we will see his kind of result in the lives of those to whom we minister.

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