Knowledge versus belief

For centuries, Christianity and science fought over the true worldview, until faith and knowledge eventually became separate concepts. This was needed to gain a better knowledge of the world.

For centuries, Christianity and science fought over the true worldview, until faith and knowledge eventually became separate concepts. This was needed to gain a better knowledge of the world.

Among the ancient Greeks, there was no omnipotent god who with his own hands drove the world forward.

Their gods stood at a distance and were amused by the ways of men.

With almighty God behind you, there is no reason to be surprised at the world around us – after all, God controls it in his own inscrutable way. But since the Greeks had none, they had to think independently. They introduced one of the main principles of science, ie. the observation.

A critical and reflective being

It can be said with some right that the natural sciences have, in their more than 2,000 years of development, made modern man a critical and independent thinking being.

The beginning can be traced back to when Greek philosophers such as Democritus, Pythagoras, Aristotle and Archimedes began to meditate on phenomena they saw in nature and sought to explain the processes behind them.

One example of the scientific way of thinking of the Greeks is the work “Geographia” that the geographer Ptolemeos made around the year 150 AD. ISK

About the year 150 e. ISK scientist Claudius Ptolemy developed a number of methods for drawing maps. His work was the basis of cartography until the 17th century.

In it, he collected a large part of the geographical knowledge of the time about the known continents of Africa, Europe and Asia.

Ptolemy, however, believed that the junction of the south was to find the fourth continent, “Terra Incognita” – The Unknown Land – because otherwise the globe would be out of balance.

Ptolemy was one of the main authorities in geography and his drawings and maps were used until the 17th century.

Referred to the Holy Scriptures

But the Christian Church, which set its sights on European thought, simply rejected the idea of an undiscovered continent.


The church father Augustin thus rejected around the year 400 AD. ISK this possibility by referring to the Holy Scriptures.


There you could read that Noah’s three sons each settled on their own continent – Europe, Africa and Asia – and therefore there were simply no more continents to be found.


Augustine was, at least here, bound by creeds. He did not waver in his faith.


However, Ptolemy showed that the earth was a globe and that only a small part of it was still known. There was therefore sufficient space for an undiscovered continent to the south. “Terra Incognita” was certainly only a hypothesis, and even a rather flawed one, but today people know that he was right – up to a point.


A wrong assumption led to progress

This story about the continents clearly shows the problems with creed-based knowledge.


The question was eventually answered by the many explorers who traveled around the world from the 15th century.


But history also shows that the scientist Ptolemy was right on the wrong premise. In part there were more continents than the four he predicted.


But we also now know that the earth is not unbalanced even though all the land mass is gathered together, as has actually been the case in the past in the earth’s geographical history.


But even though the hypothesis turned out to be wrong, it was a step forward in the factual process.


First and foremost thinkers

The hypothesis could be tested, and so did thousands of sailors and explorers in the following centuries. Along the way, it was refined and people gained new and unexpected knowledge. This is natural science in a nutshell.

Although the Greeks laid the foundation for modern science, they were first and foremost thinkers.

For instance, there are only a few examples of them conducting experiments, but that’s another principle of science.

Experiments then only became part of the process when the scientific revolution took place from around 1580 – 1680.

It was also during this period that the natural sciences took their place from the beliefs of religion, and then the sharp contrast between religion and science began.

The Church silenced Galilei

Many of the pioneers of science were burned at the stake by the Inquisition for their heresy.

The trial against Galileo Galilei in 1633 has become a touchstone for the struggle between natural science and the church’s worldview.

Galilei was forced to recant his support for Copernicus’ heliocentric theory.

He had also been found guilty of describing phenomena he had observed through his telescope, but the scriptures said nothing about such phenomena.

Galileo is said to have tested one of his theories by throwing unbalanced balls from a tower.

According to popular legend, the learned men of the church did not even want to look into Galileo’s telescope when he tried to show them the moons of Jupiter.

With reference to Aristotle, they could simply deny the existence of the moons, and their faith was so faith-based that they did not even stoop so low as to look into the matter.

Galilei had to spend the rest of his life confined to his house near Florence.

Before this happened, however, Galilei managed to establish the tradition of publication of research, which is another principle of science.

In his time, it was most common for scientific publications to be in Latin, which was only read by a small group of people. But Galileo wrote in Italian and his observations and thoughts were read by a large number of educated people.

Nowadays, English is the main language of science and new discoveries are revealed in international journals. Although one needs extensive knowledge to read articles there, they are always public.

The last great battle for the world scene

Galilei was also among the first scientists to use experiments in some way.

By dropping balls of the wrong size from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, he showed, for example, that the speed of the fall was independent of weight. With this simple experiment, he debunked Aristotle’s theory that heavier objects fall faster—a theory that had stood unchallenged and marked physics for nearly 2,000 years.


Galilei’s confrontation with the church turned out to be one of the last great battles for the right worldview.

In the age of information, science finally broke away from religion. It was no longer the scriptures that became man’s source of doctrine, but observations of nature.

Related Posts