Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Short History 2

Continuing in the historical relationship between religion and science, Abraham lived at about 2000 BC. He believed in one God, and that God promised he would be very fruitful, the ancestor of kings and nations (cf. Gen. 17:4). He was the great-grandfather of the twelve tribes of Israel and is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Various groups of peoples lived in the Americas from the times before Christ. The Olmecs were developing calendars and language in Mexico. They were polytheistic, worshipping, for example, gods of sun and rain.

Ancient Greeks worked on understanding nature. Pythagoras (circa 582-507) wove ideas about mathematics and philosophy. Around 500 BC, “atomists” believed in tiny building blocks for the structure of nature. Anaxagoras, himself an atomist, thought a cosmic “Mind” had intervened to bring order from chaos, thereby perhaps anticipating Intelligent Design Theory (picture from Wikipedia s.v. Anaxagoras).

One of the greatest philosophers, Aristotle, was born in 384 BC. He believed in a God who sustained an infinite universe, with the Earth in the center. He thought God had little to do personally with human beings. Aristotle classified nature as he observed it and developed formal logic.

The theory that the Earth was the center of the universe, therefore, was not just from the Bible. In ancient times, philosophy, science and theology were intertwined in various forms. Philosophy literally meant a “pursuit of wisdom” which in that day included knowledge of the natural world.

To be continued.

World Book Encyclopedia, 2006 ed., s.v. “Mexico.”

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