Jesus Christ taught his disciples, ‘Heal the sick’. This was understood by the Early Church to mean that God would miraculously heal people in answer to prayer, but that also the medical practice should be an important part of the church’s ministry. Clearly the apostle Paul understood this as he took along Luke the medical doctor on his mission trips.
The earliest proper hospital founded by the church was through Basil the Great in Cappadocia in AD 370. In Scotland the first Celtic monks, following the inspiration of these early pioneers, offered both prayer and medical help for the sick, and their centres became the basis of our hospitals today. They encouraged research into natural herbal remedies and means of medically healing the sick.
Outside Edinburgh, just off the A 68 near Fala, is Soutra Aisle. Although there is only a tiny part left today, there used to be a hospital called ‘The House of the Holy Trinity’, measuring about 700 square metres, which was the largest hospital in Scotland in the Middle Ages. This was run by the Augustinian monks and nobody was turned away who needed treatment.
It was also used as an almshouse for the poor and needy and as a place of hospitality for the weary traveller. Originally founded during the reign of Malcolm IV in 1164, it continued until the 1460s, when the work was transferred to Edinburgh to a spot just below Calton Hill, overlooking the Royal Mile. It became known as Trinity College Hospital. The church pioneered medical care in Scotland and although this hospital no longer exists today, Edinburgh eventually became a world-famous centre for medicine.
Sir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), physics
Formulator of the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics.
Do not be afraid of being free thinkers. If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to the belief in God, which is the foundation of all Religion. You will find science not antagonistic, but helpful to Religion.
The Times, May 2, 1903, Lord Kelvin on Religion and Science, corrected by Lord Kelvin himself in The Life of William Thompson, Baron Kelvin of Largs, by S.P. Thompson
Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1907), pioneer of anaesthetics
But again I looked and saw Jesus, my substitute, scourged in my stead and dying on the cross for me. I looked and cried and was forgiven. And it seems to be my duty to tell you of that Saviour, to see if you will not also look and live: How simple it all becomes when the Holy Spirit opens the eyes!
From his own personal testimony, St Columba’s Free Church, Edinburgh, where he was an elder, reproduced by Sovereign Grace Union
Lord Joseph Lister (1827-1912), pioneer of antiseptics
I am a believer in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.
Ann Lamont, 21 Great Scientists who believed the Bible, p.196, Creation Science Foundation, © 1995
Sir Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945), pioneer of electronics
There is abundant evidence that the Bible, though written by men, is not the product of the human mind. By countless multitudes it has always been revered as a communication to us from the Creator of the Universe.
Ann Lamont, 21 Great Scientists who believed the Bible, p.217, Creation Science Foundation, © 1995
George Washington Carver (1864-1943), pioneer of agricultural chemistry
Without my Saviour I am nothing.
The Lord has guided me. He has shown me the way, just as he will show everyone who turns to Him.
Ann Lamont, 21 Great Scientists who believed the Bible, p.228, Creation Science Foundation, © 1995
Max Planck (1858-1947), pioneer of quantum physics
Both religion and science need for their activities the belief in God, and moreover God stands for the former in the beginning, and for the latter at the end of the whole thinking. For the former, God represents the basis, for the latter – the crown of any reasoning concerning the world-view.
Max Planck, Religion und Naturwissenschaft, Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth Verlag, 1958, 27
Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977), pioneer of space rockets
An outlook… at the vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator.
[Scientific concepts] exist only in the minds of men. Behind these concepts lies the reality which is being revealed to us, but only by the grace of God.
Ann Lamont, 21 Great Scientists who believed the Bible, p.250-1, Creation Science Foundation, © 1995
Many more pages of quotations of famous scientists and medical pioneers could be put together, but it would become a book, which is beyond the purpose of this article. The reader will also notice that I have not included anybody since Wernher von Braun died in 1977. This is not because there have not been any important scientists and medical pioneers who are Christians since then; on the contrary there have been many. However, many of those I have cited here were key founders of most of the major branches of science, and my purpose has been to show that Christians have clearly been heavily involved in the foundation and development of modern science, despite what today’s myth-makers would claim.
Europe saw a huge upheaval during the Reformation, starting with Martin Luther in Germany in 1517. This movement sought to reinstate the authority of the Bible for belief and practice, which had been lost over the centuries. Out of this thinking there arose many scientists with a strong Christian faith who began to critically re-evaluate the way science and medicine were being done in Europe. This biblical movement overturned the pagan philosophies of Aristotle, Ptolemy and Galen that ruled science at the time and set in place a method based on empirical investigation; it was this method that paved the way for modern science.
It would be too lengthy a task to compile the hundreds of key people of science and medicine that came from this biblical movement, so I have selected only a small number. Underneath each person is a quotation about faith. In some cases I have chosen biographical quotes and I have also put the people in chronological order.
This was a critical period for forming the foundation of modern scientific and medical practice. Christians were at the forefront of founding such great institutions as the Royal Society in London in 1660.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), astronomy
How exceedingly fine is the godlike work of the Best and Greatest Artist.
Nicolaus Copernicus, The Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres (Amherst: Prometheus Books, [1543, 1939] 1995), pp. 6, 27. The original title in Latin was De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. Quoted from James Nickel, Mathematics: Is God Silent? (Vallecito, CA: Ross House, 2001), p. 112
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627), pioneer of modern science
It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.
Francis Bacon, Essays, Civil and Moral, Chapter 16: Of Atheism
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), astronomy
The laws of nature are written by the hand of God in the language of mathematics.
Galileo Galilei (Il Saggiatore, 1623)
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), astronomy
I had the intention of becoming a theologian… but now I see how God is, by my endeavours, also glorified in astronomy, for “the heavens declare the glory of God”.
Ann Lamont, 21 Great Scientists who believed the Bible, p.23, Creation Science Foundation, © 1995
The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics.
Johannes Kepler, Defundamentis Astrologiae Certioribus, Thesis XX (1601)
Rene Descartes (1596-1650), pioneer of modern philosophy of science
But as regards God, if I were not overwhelmed by philosophical prejudices, and if the images of things perceived by the senses did not besiege my thought on every side, I would certainly acknowledge him sooner and more easily than anything else. For what is more manifest than the fact that the supreme being exists, or that God, to whose essence alone existence belongs, exists?
Adam, Charles, and Paul Tannery. 1964–1976. Oeuvres de Descartes, vols. I-XII, revised edition. Paris: J. Vrin/C.N.R.S., 7:68-69
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), maths prodigy
So I hold out my arms to my Redeemer, who, having been foretold for four thousand years, has come to suffer and to die for me on earth, at the time and under all the circumstances foretold. By His grace, I await death in peace, in the hope of being eternally united to Him. Yet I live with joy, whether in the prosperity which it pleases Him to bestow upon me, or in the adversity which He sends for my good, and which He has taught me to bear by His example.
Blaise Pascal, Pascal’s Pensées, trans. W.F. Trotter (London & Toronto: Dent & Sons; New York: Dutton, 1931), 222-223
Robert Boyle (1627-1691), pioneer of modern chemistry
We ought, whenever we speak of God, and of His attributes, to stand in great awe.
Boyle, R., 1772. Of the high veneration man’s intellect owes to God, peculiarly for his wisdom and power. In: The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, T. Birch (ed.), J. Rivington et al., London, Vol. 5, p. 157
Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689), pioneer of modern medicine
Regarded as the ‘Father of English medicine’ or ‘England’s Hippocrates’, such was his great standing in medical science.
‘Whoever applies himself to medicine should seriously weigh the following considerations:
First, that he will one day have to render an account to the supreme Judge of the lives of sick persons committed to his care.
Next, whatever skill or knowledge he may, by divine favour, become possessed of, should be devoted above all things to the glory of God and the welfare of the human race.
Thirdly, he must remember that is no mean or ignoble creature that he deals with. We may ascertain the worth of the human race since for its sake God’s only begotten Son became man and thereby ennobled the nature that he took upon him.
Finally the physician should bear in mind that he himself is not exempt from the common lot but is subject to the same laws of mortality and disease as his fellows and he will care for the sick with more diligence and tenderness if he remembers that he himself is their fellow sufferer.
Kenneth Dewhurst, Dr. Thomas Sydenham (1624–1689): His Life and Original Writings, section: Theologia rationalis, in a message to his students in 1668, London, 1966
Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738)
Founder of the Leiden Medical College in Holland (1700s), which became the role model for other medical colleges, such as Edinburgh Medical School.
He asserted, on all occasions, the divine authority and sacred efficacy of the holy scriptures; and maintained that they alone taught the way of salvation, and that they only could give peace of mind. The excellency of the christian religion was the frequent subject of his conversation. A strict obedience to the doctrine, and a diligent imitation of the example of our blessed saviour, he often declared to be the foundation of true tranquility.
From Dr Samuel Johnson’s biography, Life of Hermann Boerhaave: His religious thinking, 1739
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), pioneer of modern physics
Discovered the laws of gravity and motion, and invented calculus, the reflecting telescope and optics.
All my discoveries have been made in answer to prayer.
I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.
Edinburgh has been called ‘The Athens of the North’, and ‘The Capital of the Mind’. Since the Enlightenment (1750 – 1800) this city has become a world centre for science and philosophy. Three intellectual giants here paved the way for our modern thinking: David Hume, James Hutton and Charles Darwin. With this there has been a strong movement towards atheism as many people here think that science can explain everything, and as such ‘scientism’ is the ruling paradigm today in our culture.
Edinburgh Creation Group was established in 2006 by a group of scientists and an historian to challenge the atheism and naturalism of our culture. Debates, lectures, articles and resources are part of this work. For those interested in this important subject, you are welcome to view our website edinburghcreationgroup.org.
For example in this video Professor John Walton asks the question “Could life have started through chance chemical reactions on the primordial Earth?” John is Head of Reactive Chemistry at St Andrews University and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Chemistry.