'God Never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it.' Francis Bacon
I have often wondered what Christianity would look like if Jesus had appeared after the Scientific Revolution. Would our awareness of the vast cosmos and the likelihood of other life forms have altered the emphasis on the universal character of the Incarnation? How would our understanding of nature's order and rationality have informed the doctrine of Creation and God's revelation in nature? Would we be so inclined to say that "all Creation is fallen" if we knew that Creation included planets orbiting stars a billion light years away that are perhaps populated by creatures cavorting in blissful ignorance of Eden's shenanigans? How would knowledge of our kinship with the rest of the animal world, especially our primate cousins, reshape our understanding of humanity and our role in Creation?
These questions burned in my mind as I read Nancy Frankenberry's ambitious new volume, The Faith of Scientists: In Their Own Words (Princeton University Press), a collection of the writings of leading scientists from Galileo to Richard Dawkins.
Advisors who were totally unskilled at astronomical observations ought not to clip the wings of reflective intellects by means of rash prohibitions.
Frankenberry's volume is a frustrating reminder of science's struggle against numerous would-be wing clippers to find a home within the Christian faith. This struggle, I suspect, has much to do with its arrival so long after the biblical canon was closed and the creeds created.
Frankenberry starts with Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, and Isaac Newton, who all lived in the deeply religious 17th century. ...1