Today it would seem that many people believe that science and Christianity are incompatible and that the Christian faith should be kept away from science, otherwise we will be brought back to the ‘Dark Ages’ of ignorance and superstition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Modern science was actually born out of great Christian movements of the past. Peter Harrison, Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, has written:
Strange as it may seem, the Bible played a positive role in the development of science…. Had it not been for the rise of the literal interpretation of the Bible and subsequent appropriation of biblical narratives by early modern scientists, modern science may not have arisen at all. In sum, the Bible and its literal interpretation have played a vital role in the development of western science.
‘The Bible and the rise of science’, Australasian Science 23(3):14 – 15, 2002
Many scholars who have studied the link between science and the Christian faith have acknowledged that the Reformation in the 16th century was foundational to the rise of modern science, and that it was this movement that prepared the West for its huge scientific advances in the 19th century.
In Edinburgh it was the church that founded Edinburgh University and encouraged the study of science. This paved the way for many inventions in the centuries to come. In the 19th century at least seven of the Presidents of the Royal Society were dedicated Christians. In this little booklet we shall look at just four key Edinburgh scientists who shaped our lives by their discoveries and who were devoted Christians.