Theology of the Fall Lays Foundation for Experimental Science

This book constitutes a welcome study among the variety of histories about the emergence of modern science. Along with Steven Shapin s books, Peter Harrison shows how the emergence of science did not necessarily coincide with the triumph of reason. Rather, Harrison shows that in fact it was a mistrust of reason based on Augustinian anthropology and the constant preoccupation with the effects of the fall that lay behind the new attitude toward nature. 'The birth of modern experimental science was not attended with a new awareness of the powers and capacities of human reason, but rather the opposite - the consciousness of the manifold deficiencies of the intellect, of the misery of human condition, and of the limited scope of scientific achievement" (p. 258).
"The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science" by Guiu, Adrian - Anglican Theological Review, Vol. 93, Issue 2, Spring 2011 | Online Research Library: Questia

Having read Novum Organum from Francis Bacon (@rcohlers) it is hard not to see this thesis as correct. In our context, I imagine the thesis is controversial here. I’m curious what people think.

It certainly makes sense in the 17th century theological context. And even without reading the case, it’s inherent in the conscious departure from Aristotle, which was in effect a denial of the power of reason to discover the truth about the world without empirical investigation.

In part that was related to the freedom of God to create from choice, not simply necessity. But I can imgaine that our ignorance of God’s will was logically related to the Fall.

In fact, I can remember from long ago a quote from Bacon extolling the ability of natural philosophy to mitigate, to a degree, the effects of the Fall. And that would be les to do with any supposed crookedness of creation than our loss of true reason to understand it.


What, if any, are the implications for either science or religion if this thesis is correct?

At the least, it is an interesting true story.

In the Amazon description of the book it says:

Is this a extra-biblical church tradition? I don’t know of Bible verses that describe Adam as having a perfect or deep understanding of nature. If anything, I have always had the impression that Adam and Eve were somewhat innocent and naive before the Fall of Man. Am I getting this wrong?


like Genesis? :sunglasses:

Perhaps. They are different types of origin stories. Most of care a great deal about science. It seems we should care how it arose.

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