Following the 16th century scientific revolution, Western Europe entered into a period known as the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, which lasted for most of the 18th century, gets its name from the fact that people who lived during that era believed that they were living in enlightened times. They believed that they were living in an age that was far more civilized and advanced than previous generations. With respect to science, they were correct; theirs’ was a prosperous time unmatched by the previous millennium. Unfortunately, however, the Enlightenment was un-enlightening in a spiritual sense. It produced a spiritual malaise in science that continues to this day.     

            Belief in an active and purposive creator began to wane as Enlightenment scholars downplayed the role of God in the universe. Efforts to minimize the role of deity were largely spearheaded by French thinkers known as philosophes, such as Diderot (1713-1784), Voltaire (1694-1778), and Montesquieu (1689-1755). The philosophes were writers and publicists who read abstruse scientific treatises and books by theistic scientists like Newton and Galileo, and re-wrote them in the vernacular. In these re-writings the philosophes downplayed the role of deity and eliminated references to a higher power while elevating human reason and scientific experimentation as the great arbiters of truth.  As a result, Western European science became prideful of its scientific accomplishments as few scholars were willing to recognize the influence and handiwork of the Almighty.

            One can imagine how the theist pioneers of the scientific revolution might have felt about the secularization of the science they helped build. Science historian Brian Silver gives us some idea. He wrote, "Newton neither foresaw nor intended any of this. He was not the John the Baptist of [i.e., the one who prepared the way for] the Enlightenment, and he would not have been at home with its ideals."  I am certain that the same could be said for Boyle, Descartes, and Galileo.

            As the influence of deity was being removed from science, many scholars began championing a watered down belief system about God known as deism. Bruce R. McConkie described deism as "the partial acceptance of God, that is, deists profess to believe in him as the Creator of the world . . . but they reject the idea that he rules over or guides men during the interval between the creation and the judgment."  In other words, deists believe that the Lord is a disinterested creator whose only involvement with humanity occurred during the creation. They assert that after the creation, He left the world to run on its own according to natural laws that He had established. He is like a watchmaker who, after building a watch and setting it to work on its own, has no continual involvement with its function. Most importantly, as McConkie also pointed out, deism rejects Christianity because the Savior's divine mission of redemption and His earthly miracles violate the deist concept of divine uninvolvement.   

(Source: Truth and Science: An LDS Perspective)

Continue reading at the original source →