The idea of an inevitable conflict between science and religion was decisively challenged by John Hedley Brooke in his classic Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives. Almost two decades on, Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives revisits this argument and asks how historians can now impose order on the complex and contingent histories of religious engagements with science. Bringing together leading scholars, this volume explores the history and changing meanings of the categories 'science' and 'religion'; the role of publishing and (...) education in forging and spreading ideas; the connection between knowledge, power and intellectual imperialism; and the reasons for the confrontation between evolution and creationism among American Christians and in the Islamic world. A major contribution to the historiography of science and religion, this book makes the most recent scholarship on this much misunderstood debate widely accessible. (shrink)
When Michael Hunter first publicized the idea of ‘Psychoanalysing Robert Boyle’ I understood that his main aim was to test three competing psychoanalytical theories against the historical evidence provided by the life and work of Robert Boyle. Although this would have been a valuable exercise, and one that the British Society for the History of Science meeting partly engaged, the papers by Brett Kahr, John Clay and Karl Figlio published here raise some far more compelling issues which I shall explore (...) in the ensuing discussion. Before turning to this discussion I offer a few introductory remarks. (shrink)
The Great Exhibition of 1851 is generally interpreted as a thoroughly secular event that celebrated progress in science, technology, and industry. In contrast to this perception, however, the exhibition was viewed by many contemporaries as a religious event of considerable importance. Although some religious commentators were highly critical of the exhibition and condemned the display of artifacts in the Crystal Palace as giving succor to materialism, others incorporated science and technology into their religious frameworks. Drawing on sermons, tracts, and the (...) religious periodical press, this essay pays close attention to the ways in which science and technology were endowed with providentialist significance and particularly examines the notion of human progress used by a number of Christian writers, especially Congregationalists, who set scientific and technological progress within a teleological religious perspective. This discussion sheds fresh light not only on the Great Exhibition itself but also on the deployment of natural theology in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. (shrink)
This paper sets out to examine the changes which took place in Thomas Young's concepts of the ether between 1799 and 1807. During the earlier part of this period he supposed the ether to consist of mutually repelling subtle particles which are attracted to particles of matter. Hence, he considered that the ether is denser within dense bodies than in rare ones. Furthermore, Young proposed that the ether density does not change abruptly at an interface; instead the denser ether extends (...) beyond the geometrical limit of a body to form an atmosphere around it. As this hypothesis of an atmosphere of dense ether surrounding material bodies will be the central subject of this paper, I shall in future refer to it as the ether distribution hypothesis. (shrink)
Science and Christianity Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9544-2 Authors Geoffrey Cantor, Science and Technology Studies, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Following the death of James Joseph Sylvester in 1897, contributions were collected in order to mark his life and work by a suitable memorial. This initiative resulted in the Sylvester Medal, which is awarded triennially by the Royal Society for the encouragement of research into pure mathematics. Ironically the main advocate for initiating this medal was not a fellow mathematician but the chemist and naturalist Raphael Meldola. Religion, not mathematics, provided the link between Meldola and Sylvester; they were among the (...) very few Jewish Fellows of the Royal Society. This paper focuses primarily on the politics of the Anglo-Jewish community and why it, together with a number of scientists and mathematicians, supported Meldola in creating the Sylvester Medal. (shrink)
Presidential addresses offer an opportunity to reflect on the history of our subject and where the history of science stands in our own day. Such reflections are particularly appropriate with the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the British Society for the History of Science which is marked in 1997. Some may consider that looking back over our past is either an unacceptable luxury or an occasion for the kind of celebration that can all too easily degenerate into hagiography and (...) an excuse to rake over the past in a thoroughly uncritical manner. This address – and I trust the events of 1997 – will try to avoid such excesses and instead contribute to the historiography of our subject. (shrink)
In 1924 Edmund Clifton Stoner , a 24-year-old research student at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, sought a university post in physics. Having previously studied at Cambridge as an undergraduate, Stoner was nearing the end of three years' postgraduate research under Professor Sir Ernest Rutherford's supervision. 1924 was not, however, an auspicious time to seek employment since vacancies in university physics departments were scarce. Rutherford showed a kindly interest in Stoner's career and summoned him to his residence – Newnham Cottage – (...) one Friday afternoon in March. Acknowledging Stoner's diabetes as a major concern, he ‘pointed out that I [Stoner] really wanted a job where I could take things fairly easily… He, of course, is prepared to “back me up” & was really very charming, though not very useful in any definite way.’ Subsequent visits to the Appointments Board proved ‘quite fruitless’. Stoner declined to apply for a post at Armstrong College, Newcastle, and only in mid-July did he hear of two more attractive positions. The first, at Durham University, was advertised in the press. Rutherford, who was ‘Affable – pleased with my work’, advised him to apply. Interviewed together with several other candidates, Stoner was unsuccessful but not greatly disappointed. The other post, at the University of Leeds, was brought to his attention by Rutherford. (shrink)