Since science played such a major role in the secularization process and the “disenchantment of the world,” it was largely inevitable that the relationship between religion (broadly speaking) and science was to be understood in terms of “warfare.” Everyone knew from the beginning, however, who the winner was and which was the “good” side. Under the paradigm of the Napoleon-Laplace exchange, science was seen as the liberator of man from his own “idols:” the handmaiden had become not only the mistress, but also the redeemer.
Today, it’s easy to discern the various ideological commitments involved in this picture, from Enlightenment “progresism,” to 19th century positivism and 20th century Marxism. Recent historians have denounced this account as a myth and have largely surpassed it; although the popular image may still see the relationship science and religion as conflictual, in specialized literature the rejection of this kind of approach has become almost canonical. Especially for historians of the origins of modern science, it is no longer a challenge to fight against this myth; to the contrary, the trend now is to focus on the interconnectedness of the two domains and to explore how religion (again, understood in broad terms) in fact gave birth to or, at least, nurtured its once supposed enemy, science.