Christians or Theists Were the Founders of 115 Scientific Fields

Christians or Theists Were the Founders of 115 Scientific Fields September 10, 2015
+ 34 Prominent Priest-Scientists and Mathematicians

Georges Lemaître, Belgian Catholic priest (1894-1966), c. 1933.  He proposed the theory of the expansion of the universe, widely misattributed to Edwin Hubble. He was the first to derive what is now known as Hubble’s law and made the first estimation of what is now called the Hubble constant, which he published in 1927, two years before Hubble’s article. Lemaître also proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe, which he called his “hypothesis of the primeval atom” or the “Cosmic Egg”[public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


This constitutes Chapter Nine of my book, Science and Christianity: Close Partners or Mortal Enemies? (2010, 301 pages).

* * * * *

[asterisk after dates signifies a Catholic priest]

Joseph Henry (1797-1878)
Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919)

Aerodynamics / Aeronautics
Francesco Lana de Terzi (c. 1631-1687*)
George Cayley (1773-1857)

Analysis Leonhard Euler (1707-1783)
Augustin-Louis Cauchy (1789-1857)
Karl Weierstrass (1815-1897)

Anatomy Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564)

Anatomy, Comparative
Georges Cuvier (1769-1832)

Anesthesiology James Simpson (1811-1870)

Antiseptic Surgery Joseph Lister (1827-1912)

Applied Science Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)

Astronautics Robert Goddard (1882-1945)
Hermann Oberth (1894-1989)

Astronomy, Big Bang Cosmology Georges Lemaître (1894-1966*)

Astronomy, Galactic
William Herschel (1738-1822)

Astronomy, Heliocentric Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

Astronomy, Physical
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

Astronomy, Solar Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944)

Atomic Theory Roger Boscovich (1711-1787*)
John Dalton (1766-1844)

Bacteriology Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Biochemistry Franciscus Sylvius (1614-1672)
Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794)

Biogeography Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)

Biology / Natural History John Ray (1627-1705)

Biology, Molecular Oswald Avery (1877-1955)
George Wells Beadle (1903-1989)

Botany Otto Brunfels (1488–1534)
Carolus Clusius (1526-1609)
Carol Linnaeus (1707-1778)

Calculus Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Calculus, Infinitesimal Pierre de Fermat (c. 1607-1665)
Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)

Cardiology William Harvey (1578-1657)

Chemistry Robert Boyle (1627-1691)

Chemistry, Agricultural Joseph Henry Gilbert (1817-1901)

Chemistry, Isotopic William Ramsay (1852-1916)

Chemistry, Nuclear Otto Hahn (1879-1968)

Chemistry, Organic Thomas Anderson (1819-1874)

Chemistry, Physical Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903)

Computer Science Charles Babbage (1792-1871)
George Boole (1815-1864)

Cryology Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

Cytology Robert Hooke (1635-1703)
Jean Baptiste Carnoy (1836–1899)

Dimensional Analysis Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919)

Dynamics Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Ecology Carol Linnaeus (1707-1778)

Electrical Engineering William Gilbert (1544-1603)
Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Electrochemistry Alessandro Volta (1745-1827)
Humphrey Davy (1778-1829)
Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Electrodynamics André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836)
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

Electromagnetics André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836)
Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
Joseph Henry (1797-1878)
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

Electronics Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
John Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945)

Electrophysiology John Eccles (1903-1997)

Embryology Julius Caesar Aranzi (1529-1589)
William Harvey (1578-1657)
Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694)

Energetics Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)
Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903)

Entomology William Kirby (1759-1850)

Entomology, of Living Insects Henri Fabre (1823-1915)

Epidemiology Girolamo Fracastoro (1478-1553)

Evolution / Natural Selection Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

Field Theory Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Fluid Mechanics George Stokes (1819-1903)

Gas Dynamics Robert Boyle (1627-1691)

Genetics Gregor Mendel (1822-1884*)

Genetics, Clinical Medical Victor A. McKusick (1921-2008)

Genetics, Population Ronald Fisher (1890-1962)

Geology Blessed Nicolas Steno (1638-1686*)
James Hutton (1726-1797)

Geometry, Analytical René Descartes (1596-1650)
Pierre de Fermat (c. 1607-1665)

Geometry, Differential Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855)

Geometry, Non-Euclidean Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866)

Geophysics Jose de Acosta (1540-1600*)

Glaciology Louis Agassiz (1807-1873)
Arnold Henry Guyot (1807-1884)

Gynecology James Simpson (1811-1870)

Histology Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694)
Marie François Xavier Bichat (1771-1802)

Hydraulics Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Hydrodynamics Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Hydrography Matthew Maury (1806-1873)

Hydrology Edme Mariotte (c. 1620-1684*)

Hydrostatics Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Ichthyology Louis Aggasiz (1807-1873)

Immunology Edward Anthony Jenner (1749-1823)
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Laser Science Charles Hard Townes (b. 1915)
Arthur Schawlow (1921-1999)

Mathematical Analysis Leonhard Euler (1707-1783)

Mechanics, Celestial Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

Mechanics, Classical Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Mechanics, Quantum Max Planck (1858-1947)
Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976)

Mechanics, Wave Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961)

Medicine, Modern William Harvey (1578-1657)

Meteorology Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647)
Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799*)
Matthew Maury (1806-1873)

Microbiology Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680*)
Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694)
Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723)

Mineralogy Georgius Agricola (1494-1555)

Mineralogy, Optical David Brewster (1781-1868)

Model Analysis Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919)

Morphology Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Nanotechnology Richard Smalley (1943-2005)

Neurology Charles Bell (1774-1842)

Number Theory Leonhard Euler (1707-1783)
Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855)

Obstetrics William Smellie (1697-1763)

Oceanography Matthew Maury (1806-1873)

Optics Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
Francesco Maria Grimaldi (1618-1663*)
James Gregory (1638-1675)
Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Ornithology John Ray (1627-1705)

Paleontology John Woodward (1665-1728)

Paleontology, Vertebrate Georges Cuvier (1769-1832)

Pathology Marie François Xavier Bichat (1771-1802)
Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866)
Rudolph Virchow (1821-1902)

Physics, Atomic Joseph J. Thomson (1856-1940)

Physics, Classical Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Physics, Experimental Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Physics, Mathematical Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695)
Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Physics, Nuclear Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)

Physics, Particle John Dalton (1766-1844)

Physiology William Harvey (1578-1657)

Probability Theory Pierre de Fermat (c. 1607-1665)
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695)

Scientific Method Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655*)

Seismology John Michell (1724-1793)

Stellar Spectroscopy Pietro Angelo Secchi (1818-1878*)
Sir William Huggins (1824-1910)

Stratigraphy Blessed Nicolas Steno (1638-1686*)

Surgery Ambroise Paré (c. 1510-1590)

Taxonomy Carol Linnaeus (1707-1778)

Thermochemistry Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794)

Thermodynamics James Joule (1818-1889)
Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

Thermodynamics, Chemical Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903)

Thermodynamics, Statistical James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

Thermokinetics Humphrey Davy (1778-1829)

Transfinite Mathematics Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848*)
Augustin-Louis Cauchy (1789-1857)
Karl Weierstrass (1815-1897)
Georg Cantor (1845-1918)

Transplantology Alexis Carrel (1873-1944)
Joseph Murray (b. 1919)

Volcanology Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680*)
Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799*)
James Dwight Dana (1813-1895)

Zoology Conrad Gessner (1516-1565)

* * *[for further reference, see: Wikipedia: “List of persons considered father or mother of a scientific field”]

34 Prominent Catholic Priest-Scientists and Mathematicians: 1500-1950

Francesco Maurolico (1494-1575; Benedictine abbot) Mathematician, astronomer.
Christopher Clavius (1538-1612; Jesuit priest) Mathematician, astronomer.
Jose de Acosta (1540-1600; Jesuit priest) Geophysicist, meteorologist.
Christopher Scheiner (1575-1650; Jesuit priest) Astronomer, optician.
Benedetto Castelli (1577-1644; Benedictine abbot) Mathematician; hydraulics.
Nicolas Zucchi (1586-1670; Jesuit priest) Optician.
Johann Baptist Cysat (c. 1587-1657; Jesuit priest) Astronomer (expert on comets).
Giovanni Battista Zupi (c. 1590-1650; Jesuit priest) Astronomer.
Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655; priest) Astronomer.
Giovanni Battista Riccioli (1598-1671; Jesuit priest) Physicist.
Jacques de Billy (1602-1679; Jesuit priest) Mathematician, critic of astrology.
Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680; Jesuit priest) Geologist, microbiologist, inventor, Egyptologist, medical theorist (infectious disease).
Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz (1606-1682; Cistercian and archbishop) Mathematics, astronomy, physics, and probability theory.
André Tacquet (1612-1660; Jesuit priest) Mathematician.
Francesco Maria Grimaldi (1618-1663; Jesuit priest) Optician.
Jean-Felix Picard (1620-1682; Jesuit priest) Geologist (size of the earth), astronomer, inventor.
Edme Mariotte (c. 1620-1684; priest) Physicist, chemist, optician, hydrology.
Francesco Lana de Terzi (c. 1631-1687; Jesuit priest) Aeronautics.
Blessed Nicolas Steno (1638-1686; bishop) Geology (particularly stratigraphy), mineralogist.
Pierre Varignon (1654-1722; Jesuit priest) Statics and mechanics.
Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri (1667-1733; Jesuit priest) Mathematician.
Jean-Antoine Nollet (1700-1770; priest) Electricity, osmosis.
Vincent Riccati (1707-1775; Jesuit priest) Mathematician.
Roger Joseph Boscovich (1711-1787; Jesuit priest) Physicist (atomic theory), astronomer, field theory.
Christian Mayer (1719-1783; Jesuit priest) Astronomer.
Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799; priest) Microbiologist, volcanologist, meteorologist, biologist.
Juan Molina (1740-1829; Jesuit priest) Biochemist; anticipator of evolution.
Giuseppe Piazzi (1746-1826; priest) Astronomer.
Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848; priest) Mathematician and philosopher of science.
Pietro Angelo Secchi (1818-1878; Jesuit priest) Astronomer (especially spectroscopy and the sun).
Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884; Augustinian priest) Father of genetics.
Blessed Francesco Faà di Bruno (1825-1888) Mathematician.
Armand David (1826-1900; Lazarist missionary priest) Zoologist and a botanist in China.
Monsignor Georges Lemaître (1894-1966; priest) Astronomer and mathematician; first developed the Big Bang Theory in cosmology.
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  • Fantastic work that you're doing; dispelling the myth of Catholic/Christian repression and ignorance through good documentation and analysis.
    I see that you've mentioned Leonardo in several of your lists of Catholics, which is good. I think it's time that someone set the record straight about him, especially in light of how he has been portrayed by the likes of Freud and Dan Brown.
    I think (and this is just my opinion) that arguing for Leonardo's alleged homosexuality is like arguing for an invisible elephant in your garden. There is no evidence against it, but then there is no evidence for it either. The supposed evidence for him taking part in sodomy is quite flimsy: an anonymous accusation that was dropped by the inquisition (they were not known for their leniency to suspects), keeping boys as studio hands (something that every artist did, even those who were beyond doubt heterosexual), and painting "effeminate" men (the Renaissance and Baroque ideal of masculine beauty was different than today).
    Anyway, Vasari said that he took communion in his dying hours, so that sort of settles it for me.

  • Glad you like it, and thanks for your comment.

    Every unmarried person will be purported to be homosexual. That's just how it is, in the wonderful world of leftist advocacy. To Hades with historical facts; just make the assumption if a guy wasn't married. This passes for "historiography" today.

    Whatever is the whole truth about Leonardo, we know he wasn't an atheist, and that is the relevancy to the present study. Science in its first 200 years at least was (at its highest levels of achievement) 90-95% dominated by theists; mostly Christians, and a high percentage of those quite pious indeed.

  • Just because some Christians were scientists does not mean it was due to Christianity.

    Please read:

  • The fact remains that these fields were founded or advanced by Christians or theists of some sort. You can't get over that fact. It is what it is.

    You can point out that other stuff came about as a result of non-religious scientists, but you can't overcome the overwhelming Christian influence all-around. It's simply a fact of history.

    In other words, you can't rationally, sensibly create some huge supposed antipathy or animosity between Christianity and science. You can show that with some fringe, extremist fundamentalists, but not Christianity on the whole.

    When one doesn't care for particular facts of history, then one cynically attempts to revise said history, or (failing that) ignore it and opt for sheer ignorance (which is considered "bliss"). :-)

  • We do have a love of Kubrick in common, tho. :-)

  • Your article argues its thesis quite poorly, too, and fails miserably in its task.

    For example:

    "There simply is nothing that is within the bible or promulgated by any Christian doctrine which would have motivated these scientists to excel in their fields. Religion had no more influence on their scientific discoveries than the fact they were men, it only hints at a society that was dominated by religion and sexism."

    This is sheer nonsense. As many historians and philosophers of science have noted, it was precisely the Christian notion of creation and an orderly universe that could be understood in greater and greater detail, that spurred on scientific discoveries and curiosity.

    This was one of the key the premises with which modern science (say, Bacon and Copernicus onward) began: "the universe is orderly (because God created it that way) and I can understand it rationally because my senses (given to me by God) are trustworthy."

    Kepler himself made the famous statement that he was "thinking God's thoughts after him." Many others have stated similarly.

    So to sit there and claim that a scientist's Christianity had no effect whatever on his science is historically ignorant to such a great degree as to be literally breathtaking.

    You need to read some material other than atheist stuff, to round out your basic education in the history of science. I don't care if you read that, but I also urge you to read more neutral or Christian accounts, too. The historical facts are what they are, and can be ascertained and documented. They don't change based on what you or I believe in terms of God or no God.

    I wrote my book on Christianity and Science in order to fill in this gap for many folks. I'll send you an e-book copy for free if you want.