This book, in language accessible to the general reader, investigates twelve of the most notorious, most interesting, and most instructive episodes involving the interaction between science and Christianity, aiming to tell each story in its historical specificity and local particularity. Among the events treated in When Science and Christianity Meet are the Galileo affair, the seventeenth-century clockwork universe, Noah's ark and flood in the development of natural history, struggles over Darwinian evolution, debates about the origin of the human species, and (...) the Scopes trial. Readers will be introduced to St. Augustine, Roger Bacon, Pope Urban VIII, Isaac Newton, Pierre-Simon de Laplace, Carl Linnaeus, Charles Darwin, T. H. Huxley, Sigmund Freud, and many other participants in the historical drama of science and Christianity. (shrink)
This chapter presents a historical analysis of pseudoscience, tracking down the coinage and currency of the term and explaining its shifting meaning in tandem with the emerging historical identity of science. The discussions cover the invention of pseudoscience; science and pseudoscience in the late nineteenth century; pseudoscience in the new century; and pseudoscience and its critics in the late twentieth century.
Like other English-speaking peoples around the world, New Zealanders began debating Darwinism in the early 1860s, shortly after the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. Despite the opposition of some religious and political leaders – and even the odd scientist – biological evolution made deep inroads in a culture that increasingly identified itself as secular. The introduction of pro-evolution curricula and radio broadcasts provoked occasional antievolution outbursts, but creationism remained more an object of ridicule than a threat until the (...) last decades of the twentieth century, when first American and then Australian creationists began fomenting antievolutionism among New Zealanders. Although Stephen Jay Gould assured them in 1986 that they had little to fear from so-called scientific creationism, because it was a ‘peculiarly American’ phenomenon, scientific creationism by the mid-1990s had captured the allegiance of an estimated five per cent of the country and proved especially attractive to Maori and Pacific Islanders. In 1992 New Zealand creationists formed their own antievolution society, Creation Science. (shrink)
Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, published in 1859, was a revolutionary attempt “to overthrow the dogma of separate creations,” a declaration that provoked different reactions among the religious, ranging from mild enthusiasm to anger. Christians sympathetic to Darwin's effort sought to make Darwinism appear compatible with their religious beliefs. Two of Darwin's most prominent defenders in the United States were the Calvinists Asa Gray, a Harvard botanist, and George Frederick Wright, a cleric-geologist. Gray, who long favored a “special origination” in (...) connection with the evolution of humans and questioned whether natural selection can account for the formation of organs, the making of eyes, etc., embraced natural selection as the primary mechanism underlying the production of most species. He also went so far as to invoke divine providence, rather than randomness, to explain the variations on which natural selection acted. This chapter discusses creationism, intelligent design, and modern biology. (shrink)
Over the course of human history, the sciences, and biology in particular, have often been manipulated to cause immense human suffering. For example, biology has been used to justify eugenic programs, forced sterilization, human experimentation, and death camps—all in an attempt to support notions of racial superiority. By investigating the past, the contributors to _Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins_ hope to better prepare us to discern ideological abuse of science when it occurs in the future. Denis R. Alexander (...) and Ronald L. Numbers bring together fourteen experts to examine the varied ways science has been used and abused for nonscientific purposes from the fifteenth century to the present day. Featuring an essay on eugenics from Edward J. Larson and an examination of the progress of evolution by Michael J. Ruse, _Biology and Ideology_ examines uses both benign and sinister, ultimately reminding us that ideological extrapolation continues today. An accessible survey, this collection will enlighten historians of science, their students, practicing scientists, and anyone interested in the relationship between science and culture. (shrink)