Age of the Earth Belief in God Creation/evolution History Physics Roman Catholic church Science

Development of an “old” universe in science

Notes of a lecture on the historical philosophical development of the notion that the universe is very old. The lecture was given August 1st 2015. See Age and Reason Seminar Adelaide for details.

Bishop James Ussher was the Irish Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland. He excelled in education, was fluent in Arabic and Hebrew. In 1654, after an exhaustive investigation, he published his date for the Creation of the Universe – 4004 B.C..When Ussher published this Creation date it was believed. There was nothing remarkable about that. If you add up the genealogies in the Bible, and with a bit of historical knowledge, you can easily get a time since the beginning of the world of around 6000 years. It was believed that God created the world as He said in Scripture about 4000 years before Christ. For roughly 18 centuries of the Christian era such a time period was widely believed.

In the 17th century Sir Francis Bacon developed the ideas of the modern scientific method – scientific empiricism—where one developed a thesis and did experiments to test it. Bacon has been called the ‘father of the scientific method.’

Middle ages onAnd it was from the Middle Ages science was nurtured in the Christian universities of Europe and flourished after that, from the Reformation on, underpinned by the rich Christian worldview that held that the Universe was created by a rational trustworthy God, and the unchanging laws of nature are His creation.

Age of the Earth Belief in God Creation/evolution Meaning of life Science

Religion in science

Four hundred years ago most physical scientists held strong faith in God as Creator. In the United Kingdom, Germany and several other European nations their religion was largely biblical Christianity, and because of the result of the very successful Reformation (c. 1550 -1650) of the Church from the teachings of the corrupt Church of Rome, many in the post-Reformation period were protestant Bible believers.  Nevertheless, during the Renaissance period (14th to 17th centuries), under the auspices of the pope and the Church of Rome, science was nurtured and innovative advances made by some, for example, Nicolas Copernicus (1473 – 1543), who developed the idea of a heliocentric universe. That hypothesis was supported by Galileo (1564 – 1642) who inferred from his observations of the moons of Jupiter that Earth also must orbit the sun.

Role of belief in God in science

Galileo Galilei Credit: Wikipedia

The Bible never taught the notion of a stationary Earth and an absolute geocentric universe. Galileo had the pope’s approval to explore the idea of heliocentrism and showed that it was compatible with the Bible.  It was in fact the belief in the trustworthiness of the Scriptures and stationarity of natural law because it was the product of a divine Creator that inspired great scientists like Newton, Kepler, Copernicus and Galileo to seek elegant yet simple answers to great questions about our universe.