The Enlightenment was an age of reason and science. It started with the lens of the telescope and microscope, plus other inventions including the mathematics of calculus, analytic geometry, etc. The “new” scientific method of empirical reasoning from actual experience and observation (as in Old Testament) was augmented with experiments for proof, rather than merely using abstract logic.
A big influence was the new think-for-yourself idea embodied in the Reformation. As Luther stood by his convictions, now Galileo, even while recanting, asserted, “Nevertheless, it so moves”—the earth around the sun.
With these inventions and this kind of thinking man sought to learn the laws of nature. Western Civilization was at the point where man’s underlying belief in God’s orderly creation made the search for uniform laws logical. A belief in chance would never have made the search for laws logical. Yet as man searched, he could step aside, separated from creation, and view it objectively.
Thus, modern science rested primarily on three factors that prevailed in the climate of the times at 1500:
- The inventions of math and instruments.
- The scientific method of thought from experience and for oneself.
- A detached but underlying belief in God’s orderly universe.
Galilei Galileo, Johannes Kepler, and Nicolaus Copernicus studied the heavens. Isaac Newton, gravity. Antoine Lavoisier, chemistry. Benjamin Franklin, electricity. Carolus Linnaeus saw order in the plants and animals he classified.
French Encyclopedists gathered knowledge so people could be instructed in natural laws and science. Enlightened with scien-tech-knowledge, superstition was to be exposed and nature controlled.
If this is the kind of topic that interests you, my book called The Right Hand of God talks more about the point where science and religion diverge. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads for more updates on this type of content.