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Protestant Reformation and Scientific Revolution

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I feel that both the Protestant Reformation and the Scientific Revolution have had an equal influence on the religious nature of Europe in 1500 to 1800. But I also am convinced that the Scientific Revolution had a longer lasting influence in Europe. The Reformation destroyed the unity of faith and religious organization of the Christian peoples of Europe, cut many millions off from the true Catholic Church, and robbed them of the greatest portion of the valuable means for the cultivation and maintenance of the supernatural life. Immeasurable harm was thus created from the religious standpoint. The false fundamental principle of justification by faith alone, taught by the Reformers, produced a regrettable shallowness in religious life. Passion for good works disappeared, the simplicity which the Church had practiced from her foundation was despised, charitable and religious objects were no longer properly cultivated, supernatural interests fell into the background, and naturalistic aspirations aiming at the purely ordinary, became widespread.

The denial of the Divinely instituted authority of the Church, both as regards doctrine and religious government, opened wide the door to every strangeness, gave rise to the endless division into sects and the never-ending disputes characteristic of Protestantism, and could not but lead to the complete unbelief which necessarily arises from the Protestant principles. Of real freedom of belief among the Reformers of the sixteenth century there was not a trace; on the contrary, the representatives of the Reformation displayed the greatest tyranny in matters of conscience. Thus arose from the very beginning the various Protestant “national Churches”, which are entirely discordant with the Christian universalism of the Catholic Church, and depend, alike for their faith and organization, on the will of the secular ruler. In this way the Reformation was a chief factor in the evolution of royal absolutism.

In every land in which it found ingress, the Reformation was the cause of indescribable suffering among the people; it occasioned civil wars which lasted decades with all their horrors and devastations; the people were oppressed and enslaved; countless treasures of art and priceless manuscripts were destroyed; between members of the same land and race the seed of discord was sown. Germany in particular, the original home of the Reformation, was reduced to a state of wretched distress by the Thirty Years’ War, and the German Empire was thereby dislodged from the leading position which it had for centuries occupied in Europe. Only gradually, and owing to forces which did not essentially spring from the Reformation, but were conditioned by other historical factors, did the social wounds heal, but the religious corrosion still continues despite the earnest religious sentiments which have at all times characterized many individual followers of the Reformation.

The influence of Christianity in providing an appropriate intellectual ethos for a rational understanding of the universe is at least one reason for the development of modern science in Europe. The origin of the belief was the medieval insistence on the rationality of God. In this view, every detail of the universe was Supervised and ordered by God. The search into nature could only result in the justification of the faith in rationality because a rational being had created nature. Modern science developed during the Reformation. Without the Reformation, modern science would probably have developed in any event because of the culture of wisdom and the doctrine of creation helpful to it. The Reformation, however, hastened the development by criticizing scholasticism and by putting emphasis on the direct observation of nature.

The Scientific Revolution brought many different changes. Cutting themselves loose from theology, philosophers discovered new allies in science and mathematics. For thinkers such as English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon and French philosopher René Descartes, the destiny of the soul was of less concern than the operation of the natural world. The idea that the sun not the earth was the center of the cosmos was a dramatic change in the way people viewed their place in the universe. Invention such as the telescope and microscope made new scientific discoveries possible.

The printing press was a very important discovery that made it possible to spread ideas far and wide. Astronomy, mechanics and medicine were the areas that were affected the most during the scientific revolution. It was proven that the planets and the moons revolved around the sun in circular orbits. These discoveries were made possible due to new mathematical theories of Copernicus and Kepler. Newton’s universal law of gravity was essential to the historic changes in mechanics and the way the motion of the universe was now observed. More people day remember these inventions and discoveries compared to the Protestant Reformation in general.

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