Before I launch into a discussion about science, I think it is important to clarify what I am talking about. There are at least three ways we use the word “science.”
1. Science can refer to a method of investigating the physical world. The scientific method starts with a question about a particular phenomenon. A hypothesis is formed about what caused the phenomena. A hypothesis is a tentative explanation. Using deductive reason, an outcome is predicted about the interaction of variables. Finally, experiments are conducted in controlled circumstances to test the hypothesis’ ability to predict results. Other scientists then examine the hypothesis, examine the methodology and the controls used, and attempt to replicate the results. When the hypothesis is shown to have at least limited viability, it becomes a scientific model. As more models are tested they may be integrated into a scientific theory. It is this method of inquiry that makes science uniquely science.
2. Science can refer to a particular field of study. Biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and geology are some examples of the physical sciences. Social sciences would include economics, sociology, demography, and psychology. Others may span both realms like geography or archeology.
3. Science can also refer to the systematic body of knowledge collected through the scientific method and the community of scientist amassing the knowledge.
I have in mind the third connotation for this discussion, although I will make reference to the other two. Hopefully context will be sufficient to clarify.
As described, there is nothing here that seems to be particularly controversial, at least for most of us today. However, at its inception, science was understood as threat to Church authority by both the Church and by some scientists themselves. By the 17th Century it was clear that some scientists and thinkers embraced science as a way to discredit religion. They way various factions of Christianity chose to address these issues has had a great impact on us to this day.