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European Calvinists and the Study of Nature: Some Historical Patterns and Problems

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Chapter Summary

In the 17th century Dutch Republic, Calvinists not only disagreed over whether Calvin's hermeneutical principle of accommodation could be used to solve conflicts between Scripture and Copernicanism, but even those who accepted the use of accommodation for that purpose did so for a variety of reasons. Portraying Calvinism and science as homogeneous bodies of knowledge also creates a condition for the perpetuation of anachronisms. Seven of the topics related to the Calvinist engagement with nature involve the theme of grace. Grace was taken to sustain the order of nature before the fall and to redeem it after the fall. Redemption was pursued by the use of science as a means of restoring the pre-Fall world or hastening the arrival of the new creation. Redemption restored to human nature its ability both to see the glory of God in nature and to understand nature.

Keywords: anachronisms; calvinists; copernicanism; Dutch republic; nature



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