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Protestant Modernist Pamphlets

Science and Religion in the Scopes Era

Edward B. Davis

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A critical edition of ten rare pamphlets on science and religion published from 1922–1931 by the University of Chicago Divinity School.

In the years surrounding the Scopes trial in 1925, liberal Protestant scientists, theologians, and clergy sought to diminish opposition to evolution and to persuade American Christians to adopt more positive attitudes toward modern science. With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and many leading scientists, the University of Chicago Divinity School published a series of ten pamphlets on science and religion to counter William Jennings Bryan's efforts to...

A critical edition of ten rare pamphlets on science and religion published from 1922–1931 by the University of Chicago Divinity School.

In the years surrounding the Scopes trial in 1925, liberal Protestant scientists, theologians, and clergy sought to diminish opposition to evolution and to persuade American Christians to adopt more positive attitudes toward modern science. With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and many leading scientists, the University of Chicago Divinity School published a series of ten pamphlets on science and religion to counter William Jennings Bryan's efforts to ban evolution in public schools.

In Protestant Modernist Pamphlets, historian Edward B. Davis, who discovered these pamphlets, reprints them with extensive editorial comments, annotations, and introductions to each. Based on unpublished correspondence and internal Divinity School documents, these introductions narrate the origin of the pamphlets, as well as their funding sources and how readers reacted to them. Letters from dozens of top scientists at the time reveal their previously unknown views on God and the relationship between science and religion. Viewed together, the pamphlets and Davis's critical assessment of their historical importance provide an intriguing perspective on Protestant modernist encounters with science in the early twentieth century.

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Reviews

Protestant Modernist Pamphlets offer readers a window into the early twentieth century American mind as faith in God and the Bible battled with the new truths of evolutionary biology and quantum physics. While some Americans turned right, others left and cultural wars ensued, these pamphlets showed a middle way.

This book offers expert historical treatment of crucial documents in the American history of science and religion along with expert editing of the documents themselves. With contributions from luminaries in religion like Henry Emerson Fosdick and in science like Robert Milliken, the pamphlets illustrate the complexity of the science-religion relationship that has marked the entirety of our national history. As timely as it is richly historical.

Edward Davis not only provides an authoritative edition of the long-forgotten 'Science and Religion' pamphlets but also reveals the well-funded project of modernist theologians and scientists to define a 'spiritual religion' grounded in science. His discovery sheds new light on the Scopes Trial and the modernist-fundamentalist controversy of the 1920s.

Historians cannot understand or teach the Scopes Trial using just the famous words of William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow. More sophisticated religious perspectives on evolution circulated at the same time, and Davis brings these back to light through full-text primary sources and carefully researched background essays.

Davis has perfectly curated this set of important but rare primary sources. He also expertly guides the reader through the rich historical context of their production and reception. Anyone interested in science and religion, the history of evolution debates in the United States, or liberal Protestants (and their fundamentalist critics!) needs to read this book.

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Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
336
ISBN
9781421449821
Illustration Description
3 b&w photos
Table of Contents

Abbreviations and Archives Cited
Preface
Part One: Protestant Modernist Responses to Bryan
Introduction
1. "Spiking Bryan's Guns": Contested Definitions of "Science" and "Religion"
2. Liberal Protestant

Abbreviations and Archives Cited
Preface
Part One: Protestant Modernist Responses to Bryan
Introduction
1. "Spiking Bryan's Guns": Contested Definitions of "Science" and "Religion"
2. Liberal Protestant Scientists and Clergy Join Forces: The Story of the AISL Pamphlets
3. Science and Religion, Chicago Style: The Protestant Modernist Encounter with Science
Part Two: The AISL "Science and Religion" Pamphlets, Editorial Introductions and Annotated Texts
Evolution and the Bible
(1922), by Edwin Grant Conklin
Evolution and Mr. Bryan (1922), by Harry Emerson Fosdick
How Science Helps Our Faith (1922), by Shailer Mathews
A Scientist Confesses His Faith (1923), by Robert Andrews Millikan
The Heavens are Telling (1924), by Edwin Brant Frost
Through Science to God, The Humming Bird's Story, An Evolutionary Interpretation (1926), by Samuel Christian Schmucker
Creative Co-ordination (1928), by Michael Idvorsky Pupin
Religion's Debt to Science (1928), by Harry Emerson Fosdick
Life After Death (1930), by Arthur Holly Compton, Shailer Mathews, and Charles W. Gilkey
The Religion of a Geologist (1931), Kirtley Fletcher Mather
Appendices
1. Publication Details for AISL Pamphlet Series "Science and Religion" and Related Publications
2. Publication Runs for AISL Pamphlets and the Millikan "Statement"
3A. Scientists Who Supported AISL Pamphlets, 1922–1928
3B. Scientists Who Supported AISL Pamphlets, 1928–1934
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Edward B. Davis
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Edward B. Davis

Edward B. Davis is professor emeritus of the history of science at Messiah University and a fellow of the International Society for Science & Religion. He is the coeditor of The Works of Robert Boyle and Robert Boyle: A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature.