Science has become an extremely sophisticated and, often exclusive and expensive, practice. It has not always been this way. In the past, science was based predominantly on observation and experimentation. It was accessible to most people and the knowledge generated was used by many in practical ways relating to agriculture, architecture, food preparation and preservation, natural/herbal medicine, childbirth, cartography and navigation, philosophy and even spiritual worship.
In the ancient writings of the Hebrew/Greek sacred text, we can read of many scenarios where the scientific knowledge of the time was used in everyday situations by everyday people. Let me retell some of these stories.
If we look back to 750 BC (as recorded in 2 Kings 20), the King of Judah at that time was a man called Hezekiah. King Hezekiah was very sick and preparing to die. We are told that ‘Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD’ and, that in response to this, Isaiah (the prophet) then said (presumably to the King’s health attendants), ‘Prepare a poultice of figs’. The poultice was prepared and applied to the boil and Hezekiah recovered quickly and returned to ruling his kingdom. This is a beautiful example of natural medicine being used in the records of the Sacred Text to bring about rapid and complete healing.
Around one hundred and fifty years later when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had besieged Jerusalem, a young Israelite man called Daniel was brought into the King’s service to be trained and taught the language and literature of Babylon. The King assigned Daniel and three of his fellow Israelites a portion of food and wine from his own table. However Daniel convinced the chief official to allow Daniel and his friends to perform a ten-day experiment whereby they would eat only vegetables and drink water instead of consuming the rich food from the King’s table. You can read about the outcome of this experiment in Daniel 1 found in the Hebrew Sacred Text.
Agricultural Science is described throughout the Hebrew/Greek Texts with reference to animal husbandry, leaving the soil fallow, seed planting, weed control, threshing, grafting, fertilizing, and many other agricultural practices. In the four gospels, we read many accounts of Christ teaching spirituality and wisdom using allegories that assume his listeners had a good understanding of agriculture and the natural cycles of the land around them.
And, of course, the record of the first Christmas describes astronomers (Magi) from the east who recognized a new star in the night sky and presumed a new king had been born.
So, let us be aware that science and the study of nature, via observation and experimentation, have been implemented by humans for a very long time, and the Sacred Text is not devoid of writings that describe such activities.