The natural explanation of everything using logic and common sense started in Ancient Greece. The first human societies, and a majority still nowadays, always said that each phenomenon happens due to the presence of supernatural divinities. For instance, the movement of the oceans for the Greeks was due to the caprice and will of Poseidon, God of the Seas. Other cultures have similar explanations regarding the occurrence of any events, just think of Yemanya, the African Goddess of the Waters.
By the year 640 BC Thales of Miletus, born in the Ionian Greece, started to think that Gods had no intervention in what occurs in the Universe. He said: there must be laws which rule the cosmos and that the human mind, through observation and rationale would be able to understand. For Thales, for instance, the earthquakes - which are so common in Greece - are due to irregularities in the floatability of the lands over a huge mass of waters where they lay. He is mostly wrong but was the first one to propose a different explanation besides the supernatural explanations of the time.
After Thales, a series of philosophers began to unravel problems with the help of this early method of looking for the truth and facts of things. We could name all these men as the first scientists and the early explanations using science. Pupils of Thales, such as Pythagoras (582-500BC) started to think that the Earth is spherical by using just observations and simple but careful calculus. Leucippus, member of the Pythagoras School, introduced the idea of the atomism of matter. Afterwards other followers like Democritus born in Abdera in 470 BC, widen the ideas regarding the origin of the matter and mechanics of phenomena.
Aristotle of Stagira, in the IV century BC was another follower of these methods and continued to open fields of the early sciences like, for instance, the first biological studies of animals. The Macedonian, who was the teacher of Alexander the Great, showed that dolphins were not fishes. Theophrastus was the first botanist in the times of Aristotle and wrote a book about plant classification. Epicurus, born in 340 BC, went so far as to even think about death and continued this early school of science. He was the first to speculate about the non-persistence of the human mind (spirit or soul), as well as the idea to not be afraid of gods, that when we die it is the end of our existence because the atoms of which we are composed will disperse.
But the perfection of the scientific method occurs almost 1500 years after the decline of Ancient Greece. The middle ages do not produce much factual knowledge apart from the arts and theology which occur in universities and monasteries. However, a few but significant astronomical and mathematical advances were produced by Arabs, Hindus and Chinese in the first millennium of our world history.
With the advent of the renaissance in Europe, the debate of the movements of the planets and stars were the spark which definitely gave a boost to science again (and which had already been partially solved by the ancient Greeks). Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) showed that the heliocentric model was right after the reedited and controversial proposal of the Copernicus pole. Galileo, in spite of the silence imposed to him by the Inquisition, set the final path of the science to understand the universe. Influenced by these two astronomers, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) showed the correct way of science in the six steps of his Novum Organum Scientiarum which we now know as the scientific method, that is:
- what or which is the problem;
- hypothesis as a possible explanation;
- experimentation or demonstration;
The definite touch was given by Isaac Newton (1642-1727), whose brilliant mind demonstrated that the cosmos moved according to universal laws ruled by simple mathematical equations. After this great English scientist, science exploded into different forms and disciplines, always following the scientific method. Besides, good scientists like Pythagoras, Galileo, Newton and so many more, most were devoted Christians or believers of the supernatural, so it shows that science must not be a fight against religious thought.