Cosmology and Theology

Authored by: Antje Jackelén

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Science

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415492447
eBook ISBN: 9780203803516
Adobe ISBN: 9781136634178

10.4324/9780203803516.ch13

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Abstract

The history of the relationship between theology and the natural sciences in the Western world is not unlike the dynamics of a growing family. In medieval times, theology was the queen of sciences. In the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas created a powerful synthesis of the best knowledge about religion, philosophy, and nature. His principal resource was the philosophy of Aristotle, which had come to Christian Western Europe thanks to the high standards of Muslim scholarship. Christian theology in and of itself also inspired scientific inquiry. Where God is understood as the creator who has endowed the cosmos with order and humans with creative rationality, inquiry into how the cosmos works can indeed become a way of worship. Reading and understanding both “the book of scripture” and “the book of nature” can be noble and necessary enterprises. In that sense, early modern science was very much a child of theology. Quite a number of the pioneers of modern science were close to theology or the church (Brooke 1991). When Johannes Kepler formulated what has become known as his third law of planetary motion, he felt “carried away and possessed by an unutterable rapture over the divine spectacle of the heavenly harmony” (Caspar 1959: 267).

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