Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 27 (4):547-564 (1996)
Why is Butterfield's best-seller The Origins of Modern Science (1949) such a powerful big picture, nearly impossible to move away from? Considered in the context of his life, the contrast between his attacks on Whig history and the contents of his best-seller reveals that his big picture of science continues at the centre because of his spiritual beliefs and practices. Butterfield did not make explicit his Christian (Methodist) world view to his history of science readers, although one could infer this from his point that Christianity and the Scientific Revolution were the most significant events in universal history, transcending cultural boundaries. As long as Christian beliefs and practices continue to be at the centre of Western Society, so will Butterfield's big picture be at the centre. Western society is a Christian civilization. For Butterfield, the meaning of history is Christianity and The Origins of Modern Science is very much a Christian statement of the evolution of knowledge acquisition in Western society. To de-centre The Origins would require first a de-centred view of Christianity.
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