Although much has been written about the vigorous debates over science and religion in the Victorian era, little attention has been paid to their continuing importance in early twentieth-century Britain. Reconciling Science and Religion provides a comprehensive survey of the interplay between British science and religion from the late nineteenth century to World War II. Peter J. Bowler argues that unlike the United States, where a strong fundamentalist opposition to evolutionism developed in the 1920s (most famously expressed in the Scopes (...) "monkey trial" of 1925), in Britain there was a concerted effort to reconcile science and religion. Intellectually conservative scientists championed the reconciliation and were supported by liberal theologians in the Free Churches and the Church of England, especially the Anglican "Modernists." Popular writers such as Julian Huxley and George Bernard Shaw sought to create a non-Christian religion similar in some respects to the Modernist position. Younger scientists and secularists—including Rationalists such as H. G. Wells and the Marxists—tended to oppose these efforts, as did conservative Christians, who saw the liberal position as a betrayal of the true spirit of their religion. With the increased social tensions of the 1930s, as the churches moved toward a neo-orthodoxy unfriendly to natural theology and biologists adopted the "Modern Synthesis" of genetics and evolutionary theory, the proposed reconciliation fell apart. Because the tensions between science and religion—and efforts at reconciling the two—are still very much with us today, Bowler's book will be important for everyone interested in these issues. Contents: Illustrations Preface Introduction: A Legacy of Conflict? Confrontation, Cooperation, or Coexistence? Victorian Background Science and Religion in the New Century Part One: The Sciences and Religion 1. The Religion of Scientists Changing Patterns of Belief Scientists and Christianity Scientists and Theism Method and Meaning Science and Values 2. Scientists against Superstition Science and Rationalism Religion without Revelation Marxists and Other Radicals Science, Religion, and the History of Science 3. Physics and Cosmology Ether and Spirit The New Physics The Earth and the Universe 4. Evolution and the New Natural Theology Science and Creation Evolution and Progress The Role of Lamarckism Darwinism Revived 5. Matter, Life, and Mind The Origin of Life Vitalism and Organicism Mind and Body Psychology and Religion Part Two: The Churches and Science 6. The Churches in the New Century The Challenge of the New The Churches’ Response 7. The New Theology in the Free Churches Precursors of the New Theology Campbell and the New Theology Modernism in the Free Churches 8. Anglican Modernism Modernism and the New Natural Theology Charles F. D’Arcy E. W. Barnes W. R. Inge Charles Raven 9. The Reaction against Modernism Evangelicals against Evolution Liberal Catholicism The Menace of the New Psychology Science and Modern Life Theology in the Thirties Roman Catholicism Part Three: The Wider Debate 10. Science and Secularism Against Idealism Popular Rationalism The Social Reformers 11. Religion’s Defenders From Idealism to Spiritualism Creative and Emergent Evolution Evolution and the Human Spirit Progress through Struggle The Christian Response Epilogue Biographical Appendix Bibliography Index. (shrink)
It is beyond the scope of this paper to describe in detail the rise to popularity of the emboîtement theories during the last decades of the seventeenth century.51 Eventually the theories did gain great influence, but some points emerging from the above discussion indicate that the rise to popularity was not, perhaps, quite as rapid as has sometimes been assumed.52 Although the earlier preformation theories were sometimes regarded as the ancestors of the later ideas,53 there was little intellectual continuity between (...) the two movements, based as they were upon such divergent motivations. Nor can the preformation theories be regarded as the origin of the belief that a miniature can actually be seen within the egg, since the existence of metamorphosis as a perfectly valid alternative to epigenesis meant that the work of Malpighi and others, usually described as “preformationist,” was not always taken in this latter sense at the time it was published. The pre-existence theories developed in response to particular philosophical problems, and were themselves responsible for the reinterpretation of the observations. In France, the thoughts of Malebranche and Perrault were probably already exerting influence before their written support for pre-existence appeared, but elsewhere the idea was not taken up so rapidly, and ovism, for instance, could develop without associating itself with emboîtement. Malpighi always seems to have remained opposed to pre-existence,54 but by the last decade of the century, the idea had become sufficiently powerful to influence Ray and Garden in Britain, and was receiving support from as influential a thinker as Leibniz.55 But Garden and Hartsoeker were responsible for dividing emboîtement between two schools, just as the concept itself was becoming popular. The work of both Malpighi and Leeuwenhoek served as the basis of the animalculist version, illustrating how the microscopic discoveries served as much to disrupt the intellectual development of the emboîtement concept as they did to promote it. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A8402051 00002. (shrink)
The launch of a revolutionary new scientific theory represents a rare occasion on which the apparently cumulative development of science might be influenced by particular events. Yet in the case of the Darwinian revolution it is often claimed that the theory of evolution by natural selection would have emerged more or less inevitably, given the scientific and cultural circumstances prevailing in mid-Victorian Britain. This essay challenges that claim by arguing that if Darwin had not been there to write his Origin (...) of Species the subsequent development of biology would have occurred along a line that steadily diverged from the sequence of events we actually experienced. There would certainly have been an evolutionary movement in the late nineteenth century, but there would have been no selection theory to disturb the progressionist assumptions of the time. A totally non-Darwinian evolutionism might not have generated the challenges that led to the emergence of modern genetics in the early twentieth century, resulting in a very different understanding of the relationship between development, heredity, and environment. (shrink)
The article sums up a number of points made by the author concerning the response to Darwinism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and repeats the claim that a proper understanding of the theory's impact must take account of the extent to which what are now regarded as the key aspects of Darwin's thinking were evaded by his immediate followers. Potential challenges to this position are described and responded to.
E. W. MacBride was one of the last supporters of Lamarckian evolution, and played a prominent role in the ‘case of the midwife toad’. Unlike most Lamarckians, however, he adopted a very conservative political stance, advocating the permanent inferiority of some races and the necessity of restricting the breeding of the unfit. This article shows how MacBride turned Lamarckism into a plausible means of supporting these positions, by arguing that progressive evolution is a slow process, and that degeneration of the (...) germ plasm takes place in unfavourable environments. In conclusion, it is suggested that MacBride's example shows that there are no intrinsic links between scientific theories and social views. These who insist on the social character of scientific knowledge must recognize that a theory may acquire different ideological links in different social environments. (shrink)
Alan C. LoveDarwinian calisthenicsAn athlete engages in calisthenics as part of basic training and as a preliminary to more advanced or intense activity. Whether it is stretching, lunges, crunches, or push-ups, routine calisthenics provide a baseline of strength and flexibility that prevent a variety of injuries that might otherwise be incurred. Peter Bowler has spent 40 years doing Darwinian calisthenics, researching and writing on the development of evolutionary ideas with special attention to Darwin and subsequent filiations among scientists exploring evolution (...) . Therefore, we would expect that when Bowler engages in a counterfactual history—imagining a world without Darwin—he is able to avoid historical injury and generate novel insights. My assessment is that the results are mixed. Before we can see why, it is necessary to walk briskly through the main contours of his argument.Bowler begins with an apologia for a counterfactual appr .. (shrink)
ABSTRACTAnalysing the contents of magazines published with the stated intention of conveying information about science and technology to the public provides a mechanism for evaluation what counted as ‘popular science’. This article presents numerical surveys of the contents of three magazines published in inter-war Britain and offers an evaluation of the results. The problem of defining relevant topic-categories is addressed, both direct and indirect strategies being employed to ensure that the topics correspond to what the editors and publishers took to (...) be the principal areas of science and technology of interest to their readers. Analysis of the results of the surveys reveals different editorial policies depending on the backgrounds of the publishers and their anticipated readerships. The strong focus of the two most populist magazines on applied science and ‘hobbyist’ topics such as natural history, radio and motoring is noted and contrasted with the very limited coverage of theoretical science. In conclusion, a survey of changes in the contents over the periods of publication is used to identify trends in the coverage of science during this period. (shrink)
A great deal is known about the technical issues surrounding the introduction of Hugo De Vries's mutation theory and the subsequent development of the modern genetical theory of natural selection. But so far little has been done to relate these events to the wider issues of the time. This article suggests that extra-scientific factors played a significant role, and substantiates this by comparing De Vries's respect for the original Darwinian spirit with Thomas Hunt Morgan's use of the mutation theory as (...) part of an attack on the whole philosophy of Darwinism. In particular, it is argued that Morgan's attitude was dictated by his moral objections to the picture of a world dominated by struggle. (shrink)
ArgumentThis article is based on a detailed survey of three British popular science magazines published during the interwar years. It focuses on the authors who wrote for the magazines, using the information to analyze the ways in which scientists and popular writers contributed to the dissemination of information about science and technology. It shows how the different readerships toward which the magazines were directed determined the proportion of trained scientists who provided material for publication. The most serious magazine,Discovery, featured almost (...) exclusively material written by professional scientists, while the most popular,Armchair Science, favored writers who were not professional scientists, but who probably had some technical knowledge. Another magazine,Conquest, tried to provide a balance between authoritative and popular articles; however, it survived for only a few years. (shrink)
Bernard Norton's research concentrated on the Biometrical school of Darwinism and the social implications of the hereditarian ideas that began to gain popularity in the closing years of the nineteenth century. In this article I want to look at the previous generation of evolutionists, the evolutionary morphologists against whom the Biometricians were reacting. Despite the prominence of evolutionary morphology in the post-Darwinian era, comparatively little historical work has been done on it. In helping to fill this gap, I hope to (...) honour Bernard Norton's memory by throwing light on a movement that forms a conceptual bridge linking the original Darwinian debate to the Biometrical – Mendelian controversy. I shall also argue that evolutionary morphology had ideological overtones that helped to shape the cultural environment within which the eugenics movement would emerge. Although originally a product of the Victorian faith in progress, evolutionary morphology seemed to confirm that exposure to an unstimulating environment led to degeneration. It thus fuelled the concern over racial degeneration which the supporters of eugenics would seek to allay through the application of their new hereditarian philosophy. (shrink)
Thomas Dixon, Geoffrey Cantor and Stephen Pumphrey , Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xiv+317. ISBN 978-0-521-76027-0. £55.00 .Peter Harrison , The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xii+307. ISBN 978-0-521-88538-6. £50.00.
Accounts of the religious debates sparked by the theory of evolution tend, almost inevitably, to focus on the late nineteenth century. Darwinism is treated as a symbol of the scientific naturalism that so traumatized Victorian thought. Modern accounts have shown, however, that religious thinkers were in the end able to take on board an evolutionism purged of its most materialistic tendencies. We tend to assume that in Britain, at least, the arguments had largely died down by the end of the (...) nineteenth century. Led by Aubrey Moore, the Anglican Church made its accommodation, and Moore's contribution of an essay to the volume Lux mundi, edited by Charles Gore in 1889, symbolized the ability of even the conservative Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church to move in the direction of modernization. In America, of course, the compromise broke down with the rise of Fundamentalism in the early twentieth century, but most British commentators saw the ‘Scopes trial’ of 1925 as a strange transatlantic phenomenon that was unlikely to have a parallel in their own country. (shrink)