How Protestantism influenced the making of modern science

This is from a historian on the team consulting the Museum of The Bible.


Reductionism doesn’t work in this case. Religion, sociology, economics, geography, and technology are all feeding into each other, so I think it is impossible to say that one of these influences gave rise to modern scientific thinking. It could just as easily be argued that Protestantism is as much a product of society and culture as it is an influence on that culture. Would sola scriptura work without easy access to the written Bible made possible by the printing press? Would there be a scholarly class without improved agricultural technologies and economies capable of supporting a thinking class that didn’t produce food? Would modern science have emerged without the Protestant revolution?

I also wonder if we aren’t witnessing the effects of the second printing press in the form of the internet. Are we in the midst of yet another revolution of thought spurned by the emergence of new information technology? Just a thought . . .


Who is advocating reductionism? Certainly not Harrison, in the essay cited. Arguing that Protestantism was an influence on modern science doesn’t commit one to arguing that it was the only influence, and Harrison doesn’t make that error.

I agree that the influence of Protestantism and science on each other was reciprocal, and that other causes were involved, and I don’t see where Harrison denies these things, or “reduces” the rise of science to Protestantism alone. And in one short article, one would expect a scholar to focus primarily on one causal influence; to trace the multiple influences in their interaction would require a book-length treatment. This doesn’t lead to distortion, as long as the article acknowledges the complex interaction of the proposed cause with other causes – which Harrison does.

Why Christianity is the Worldview that Best Supports Science