Scheuschzer was a Swiss naturalist whose work was influenced by his reading of the biblical account of creation. This engraving was published in Geestelyke natuurrkunde in 1728. This image illustrates the creation of the water cycle.
Image courtesy of the History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries

ater’s Elegant Journey

We live on a water planet. Water, both liquid and frozen, covers 75% of Earth’s surface. It forms clouds in the sky above. It permeates the ground below. Its presence and protection are vital for life. Its absence brings almost certain death.

One of the best examples of nature’s orderliness is the water cycle. Minute by minute, day by day, water evaporates from Earth’s surface, rises into the atmosphere, condenses into rain or snow, and falls back down.

It seems obvious today, but it took centuries to come to a detailed understanding of this process. For some, the water cycle represented evidence of God’s wisdom and creation’s orderliness.

“The LORD . . . who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—the LORD is his name.”
Amos 9:5–6

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This exhibition explores the Bible’s role in the historical relationship between science and religion. Many today believe that religious faith and the natural sciences are very separate subjects. Indeed, many consider the Bible to be an obstacle to scientific progress. Yet, for centuries, faith and the study of nature were very much entangled. At times, biblical beliefs helped encourage people to study the world. They even influenced the rise of science as we know it today.