At the turn of the twentieth century most scientists believed that the universe had existed forever, but soon new information would transform the concept of our universe from an unimaginable forever to one which had a beginning and a beginner. And this new theory of the universe sent shock waves through the belief system of many scientists.
During the 1920’s three very bright men became convinced of the fact that the Universe could not have been in existence forever; and therefore, the universe had a beginning.
First there was Albert Einstein who in 1917 published his general theory of relativity in which he made sure that it fit with the general belief among scientists that the universe had existed forever.
And at about the same time William Albright, a young American archaeologist, was completing his indoctrination into German rationalistic criticism which included Documentary Hypothesis. Thus, Albright had been taught that the Old Testament, before the Israeli monarchy, was legend and totally untrue.
In addition to Albright and Einstein, C.S. Lewis who at about the same time was serving in the British army. Lewis at the time had been thoroughly educated in materialism and was a true atheistic non-believer.
A few other scientist thinkers had been working on solving Einstein’s formulas and in the process discovered that the universe could not be infinitely old and as well had to have had a beginning, and thus also the question of how that beginning began. Of course, this caused problems with atheism and especially the implications with some who began to point to a Creator. It was scientist Sir Arthur Edington in 1927 who observed that religion for a reasonable scientific person was becoming a reality.
And, at about the same time the astronomer Hubble with his telescope found that many of the stars that were appearing in his telescope were actually in other galaxies outside our Milky Way. He also found that other galaxies further from us were travelling away from us at high speeds and the furthest galaxies were travelling at faster speeds. And after Einstein himself had a look through Hubble’s new 100” telescope, he agreed with Hubble and had to admit that he had made a mistake. The influence on the scientific community slowly began to increase that the premise that the universe must have had a beginning.
In 1929 while Hubble’s discoveries were creating a new general belief in the scientific community of a universe which had a beginning, Albright was excavating a line of mounds in Bronze age regions in the middle east and in the process discovered a route of a military campaign from Abraham’s time. And this discovery was just as described in Genesis 14. In addition, after further excavations that Albright would make in the area, he would become convinced of the true historicity of Genesis 14. Albright’s work along with that of others in this same area convinced the archaeological community that the Old Testament narrative was true and as well the timing was significantly before Moses’ time.
Also, in 1929 C.S. Lewis at one time was a part of a discussion with one of his atheistic friends who was informing Lewis that he heard some evidence that seemed to confirm the reality of Jesus and that he really existed. Through a number of other encounters Lewis had with others over a number of months, Lewis was finally convinced that the existence of a supernatural God was likely. Ultimately Lewis admitted to a belief in God but wasn’t sure whether he would believe Hinduism or Christianity. Over time, after significant reading of the Hebrew Bible, Lewis was converted to Christianity.
And in addition to Einstein, Albright, and Lewis, the number of other scientists who had also changed their minds became a topic of great interest to not only the scientific community but as well to the general public.
As an example of the number of scientists who have changed their minds, I will list some examples as part of this article:
- Louis Agassiz (1807-1873). Father of glacial science.
- William Foxwell Albright (1897-1971). Foremost archaeologist of the 20th century.
- Charles Babbage (1792-1871). Creator of the computer.
- Francis Bacon (1561-1626). Father of the scientific method.
- Roger Bacon (1214.1294). Forerunner of the scientific method.
- John Bartram (1699-1777). First American botanist.
- Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842). First to extensively map the brain and nervous system.
- Robert Boyle (1627-1691). Chief founder of modern chemistry.
- William Buckland (1784-1856). Foremost English geologist before Charles Lyell.
- George Washington Carver (1864-1943). America’s most prominent agricultural researcher and developer.
- Georges Cuvier (1769-1832). Founder of the studies of paleontology and comparative anatomy.
- John Dalton (1766- 1844). Father of modern atomic theory.
- Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Greatest French philosopher and inventor of analytical geometry.
- Jean Henri Fabre (1823- 1915). Chief founder of modern entomology.
- Michael Faraday (1791-1867). Discoverer of electromagnetic induction and founder of electromagnetic field therapy.
- John Flamsteed (1646-1719). Maker of the first modern star catalogue.
- Samuel Morse (1791-1872). Developed the first working model of the electric messaging device.
- Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Discoverer of the universal law of gravitation.
- Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). Formulator of the germ theory of disease.
- William Whewell (1794-1866). Inventor of the anemometer.
This list of twenty scientists who were also believers in a supernatural God is only a partial list of many, many more. Many people do not know that the pioneers of science, in many cases, were outspoken Christians. So, an obvious question is what could the Bible have to offer the scientist? For one thing the traits of a believer closely correspond to those of a scientist: humility, diligence, and honesty (among many others) are a necessity for both a believer and a scientist.
Of the few scientists I chose to list here who were also believers in God, there were some who became believers during their career in science. For example, William Albright, the archaeologist, is one who found Christ through his excavations in the middle east.
And the real revelation here is that God was moving among scientists not just in America, but all over the world; and He had started a transformation that would reinforce the concept that there should not be disagreement between science and the Creator of the universe.