Clement, Augustine, Bacon, and the Historiography of Science
The historiography of the relationship between science and religion has a complex history. Since the 19th century, views of the relationship between science and religion have varied from “conflict,” to “concord,” to “complexity.” Most modern historians of science, however, have concluded that this relationship was, and still is, far too complex to characterize either as conflict or concord. They have all argued that the relationship between science and religion has often been affected by cultural, social, psychological, political, and historical elements. But one modern sociologist, Rodney Stark, has essentially argued the exact opposite. In his "For the Glory of God," Stark argues that modern science has its foundations in a uniquely Christian theology. But this argument seems to me to be overly simplistic. In this essay I shall seek to demonstrate that Stark has rarified both "science" and "Christianity." I shall trace the development of the ideas of leading figures in the history of Christianity that can be said to have provided both the philosophical framework for modern science and Christian theology; namely, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, and Roger Bacon. It is my hypothesis that by analyzing the ideas and works of these figures, it shall be demonstrated that the development of modern science was a historically complex synthesis of Greek, Jewish, Arabic, and Christian ideas. Contrary to Stark, what we shall discovery is that the relationship between science and religion has been a relationship between ideas and people, and not a unique Christian theology.