Original Research - Special Collection: Impact of Reformed Theology

Reformation and scientific revolution: Historical coincidence or continual renewal?

Frederik van Niekerk
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 54, No 2 | a2538 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v54i2.2538 | © 2020 Frederik van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 September 2019 | Published: 10 March 2020

About the author(s)

Frederik van Niekerk, Unit for Energy and Technology Systems, Faculty of Engineering, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The Reformation and scientific revolution are characterised by an overlap in time, location and a special locus of events that dramatically impacted world history. Precursors for both movements abound, yet the historiographic development characteristics of the era are prominent and distinguishable. The historical context and the developments leading to the Reformation and scientific revolution, specifically the influence of the precursors of both the Reformation and scientific revolution, the prevailing Zeitgeist, the influence of the institutionalised church and ecclesiastical authority, pervasive beyond the realm of the church, the philosophical and theological paradigms of the time and the influence of the press, are appraised to determine the mutual influence of the Reformation and the scientific revolution. The basis for a causal relationship between the Reformation and the scientific revolution is presented, and explanations premised on mere coincidence and other factors are refuted. The continued mutual influence between ideas of the Reformation and science throughout the Enlightenment and modern era is discussed in relation to the interaction between science and faith. It is argued that a mutually supportive model of interaction in a reconciliation model best resonates with the ideas of the Reformation as well as finding authenticity in and concordance between science and views of scripture.


Reformation; Scientific revolution; Protestant; Puritan; Science and religion; Hermeneutic renewal; Science-faith; False dichotomy; Scientism


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