Also, the very concept of the universe operating according to pre-existent, immutable “physical laws” or the “laws of nature” courtesy of an underlying mathematical order, is a profoundly theological one derived from the Christian worldview: which presupposes the existence of a Supreme God who created the world and ordered it in a rational, comprehensible manner. And yes, the first forays into empiricism as well.
The earliest scientists like Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, Bacon, Newton et al were motivated to employ the scientific method for that overarching purpose. Their shared Christian worldview was not a mere unfortunate appendage to their scientific endeavours.
If I might quote the cosmologist and theoretical physicist Paul Davies:
"…The orthodox position in science is that the universe is governed by a fixed set of laws in the form of infinitely precise mathematical relationships imprinted on the universe from its birth. In addition, it is assumed that the physical world is affected by the laws, but the laws are completely impervious to what happens in the universe — they are immutable.
It is not hard to see where this picture comes from: it is inherited from monotheism, which asserts that a rational being designed the universe according to a set of perfect laws. And the asymmetry between immutable laws and contingent states mirrors the asymmetry between God and nature: the universe depends utterly on God for its existence whereas God’s existence does not depend on the universe.
Historians of science are well aware that Newton and his contemporaries believed that in doing science they were uncovering the divine plan for the universe in the form of its underlying mathematical order. As Scott Atran points out, the argument that science is based on faith is not new.
Evidently Western society is so steeped in monotheism that the monotheistic world view, which was appropriated by science, is now regarded as “obvious” and “natural.” As a result, many scientists are unaware of its theological origin. Nor do they stop to think about the sweeping hidden assumptions they adopt when they subscribe to that scientific/theological world view, assumptions that are in fact are not shared by most other cultures…"