Contributions to science and medicine are just a portion of the overall influence Christianity has had on the world. Christian influence has been so positive and pervasive in the west that many likely take it for granted. However, a careful consideration of history reveals that much of what has made the western world so advanced and so prosperous and been a direct reflection of underlying Christian values.
There is a growing question related to the overall impact religion has had on the world. A 2014 HuffPost poll revealed more than half of Britons believed religion did more harm than good, a sentiment shared even by 20% of those self-described as “very religious.” This appears to go hand-in-hand with a sharp decrease in Christianity in the country, from 72% to 59% between 2001 and 2011.
A Pew Research study of Americans also conducted in 2014 found that 34% of the religiously unaffiliated believed “religion’s declining influence… [is] a good thing.” Given the growing belief that religion does more harm than good, it is worth considering the influence Christianity has had, both in the past as well as the present. A careful study of the Christianity reveals the faith has had an extremely positive impact.
Christianity has had a positive impact on the development of the sciences. Central to the Christian worldview are three intellectual presuppositions necessary for the advancement of scientific study: 1) the intelligibility of nature, 2) the idea that the details of nature can be known by observing them, and 3) an affirmative attitude towards nature. Christianity teaches a high value for truth and teaches that the truth about the existence of God can be discovered through observation of the natural world. In Romans 1:20 the Apostle Paul wrote:
Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
These concepts, and the encouragement to embrace study of the natural world, were carried along with Christianity as it spread throughout the Roman empire and the rest of Europe.