Has religion continually opposed the development of science? Many people think so but historians of science agree that this is not correct. Although there have been times when the two clashed, these events are not as simple as “religion opposing science.” Many other factors were in play that made the situation more complex. Furthermore, religion, and especially Christianity, has actually supported and promoted the development of science.
Peter Harrison, former Professor of Religion and Science at the University of Oxford and current Research Professor at the University of Queensland shows how closely intertwined the rise of science was with certain theological ideas found in Christianity. For example, in his book The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science (2009), he explains how early modern scientists promoted the scientific method as a way of overcoming mankind’s cognitive limitations (i.e. poor thinking). This conviction, that mankind had cognitive deficiencies, was based in the view that humans had “fallen” as a result of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. The methods of science were understood as a way of allowing people to return to the conditions in which Adam had once existed. This is just one of many examples in which Christianity had a positive effect on the development of science.
Peter Harrison, The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science (Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).