The exaltation of the faculty of reason in the Puritan ethos--based
partly on the conception of rationality as a curbing device of the passions--inevitably
led to a sympathetic attitude toward those activities which demand the
constant application of rigorous reasoning. But again, in contrast
to medieval rationalism, reason is deemed subservient and auxiliary to
empiricism. Sprat is quick to indicate the pre-eminent adequacy of
science in this respect. It is on this point probably that Puritanism
and the scientific temper are in most salient agreement, for the combination
of rationalism and empiricism which is so pronounced in the Puritan ethic
forms the essence of the spirit of modern science. Puritanism was
suffused with the rationalism of neo-Platonism, derived largely through
and appropriate modification of Augustine's teachings. But it did
not stop there. Associated with the designated necessity of dealing
successfully with the practical affairs of life within this world--a derivation
from the peculiar twist afforded largely by the Calvinist doctrine of predestination
and certitudo salutis through successful worldly activity--was an emphasis
upon empiricism. These two currents brought to convergence through
the logic of an inherently consistent system of values were so associated
with the other values of the time as to prepare the way for the acceptance
of a similar coalescence in natural science (1968, p. 633).
Empiricism and rationalism were canonized, beatified, so to speak.
It may very well be that the Puritan ethos did not directly influence the
method of science and that this was simply a parallel development in the
internal history of science, but it is evident that through the psychological
compulsion toward certain modes of thought and conduct this value-complex
made an empirically-founded science commendable rather than, as in the
medieval period, reprehensible or at best acceptable on sufferance.
This could not but have directed some talents into scientific fields which
otherwise would have engaged in more highly esteemed professions.
The fact that science to-day is largely if not completely divorced from
religious sanctions is itself of interest as an example of the process
of secularization (1968, p. 633).