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Science and Religion, 1450–1900

From Copernicus to Darwin

Richard G. Olson

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Galileo. Newton. Darwin. These giants are remembered for their great contributions to science. Often forgotten, however, is the profound influence that Christianity had on their lives and work. This study explores the many ways in which religion—its ideas, attitudes, practices, and institutions—interacted with science from the beginnings of the Scientific Revolution to the end of the nineteenth century.

Both scientists and persons of faith sometimes characterize the relationship between science and religion as confrontational. Historian Richard G. Olson finds instead that the interactions…

Galileo. Newton. Darwin. These giants are remembered for their great contributions to science. Often forgotten, however, is the profound influence that Christianity had on their lives and work. This study explores the many ways in which religion—its ideas, attitudes, practices, and institutions—interacted with science from the beginnings of the Scientific Revolution to the end of the nineteenth century.

Both scientists and persons of faith sometimes characterize the relationship between science and religion as confrontational. Historian Richard G. Olson finds instead that the interactions between science and religion in Western Christendom have been complex, often mutually supportive, even transformative. This book explores those interactions by focusing on a sequence of major religious and intellectual movements—from Christian Humanist efforts to turn science from a primarily contemplative exercise to an activity aimed at improving the quality of human life, to the widely varied Christian responses to Darwinian ideas in both Europe and North America during the second half of the nineteenth century.

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Science and Religion, 1450–1900

Richard G. Olson

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Reviews

Reviews

Highly recommended. Readers with an interest in science, at the lower-undergraduate level and above.

Provide[s] a rich historical background to the interaction between science and religion.

Should appeal to aficionados of science and religion interested in the interaction of culture with the development of science.

An interesting, insightful, and clearly argued overview.

Olson's meticulous treatment of the rich variety of interconnections between science and religion was a refreshing revelation. The book does an excellent job of documenting the complex tangle of interconnections between religious thought and scientific work during this time period.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9.25
Pages
312
ISBN
9780801884009
Illustration Description
20 halftones, 3 line drawings
Table of Contents

Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Chronology of Events
1. Introduction: Galileo and the Church-Or, How Do Science and Religion Interact?
The Conflict Model
The Case of the Galileo Affair
Three Additional

Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Chronology of Events
1. Introduction: Galileo and the Church-Or, How Do Science and Religion Interact?
The Conflict Model
The Case of the Galileo Affair
Three Additional Special Cases of Conflict
Modern Claims That Religion Supports Science
2. Religion and the Transition to "Modern" Science: Christian Demands for Useful Knowledge
The Starting Point: Late Medieval Science
Challenge to Medieval Science
Christian Humanism and the Hermtic Corpus
The Life and Works of Paracelsus
Christian Utopias and the Institutions for Modern Science
3. Science and Catholicism in the Scientific Revolution, 1550-1770
Science and the Council of Trent
Jesuit Science
Catholics and the Mechanical Philosophy: Mersenne, Descartes, and Gassendi
The Special Case of Blaise Pascal
4. Science and Religion in England, 1590-1740
The Anglican Focus on Natural Theology
The Puritan Approach to Natural Knowledge
The Origins of Anglican Mechanical Philosophy
The Anti-Materialist Response to Hobbes
5. Newton's Religion, Newtonian Religions, and Eighteenth-Century Reactions
Newton's Science and Reputation
Newton and Prophecy Interpretation
Newtonian Religion
John Locke and the Rise of Deism
Reactions against Newtonian Natural Theology
6. Scientific Understanding of Religion and Religious Understanding of Science, 1700-1859
Early Anthropological Approaches to Religion
Religion and the Emotions
Immanuel Kant's Separation of Scientific Knowledge from Religious Faith
The Post-Kantian Tradition in German Theology- Schleiermacher and Hegel
A New Anthropology of Religion- Feuerbach
David Strauss and the Use of Science to Reject Evangelical Christianity
Auguste Comte's "Religion of Humanity"
Scottish Common Sense Philosophy Calls for a Scientific Religion and a Religious Science
7. Back to the Beginnings-of the Earth, of Life, and of Humankind, 1680-1859
Mosaid Geology
Secular Geology and the Age of the Earth
Accounting for Change Over Time
Buffon
Lamarck
The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
8. What to Do about Darwin?
The Character of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species
Initial Anglo-American Religious Responses to Darwin
Darwinism and Concerns about Scientific Naturalism
Anglo-American Protestant Responses to Darwin after 1875
Anglo-American Catholic and Jewish Responses to Evolution
Conclusion
Primary Sources
1. Hermes Trismagistus, Hermetica
2. Richard Hooker, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity in Eight Books
3. Robert Boyle, "A Free Inquiry into the Vulgarly Conceived Notion of Nature"
4. John Ray, The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creations
5. Thomas Burnet, The Theory of the Earth
6. David Hume, The Natural History of Religion
7. Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity
8. John William Draper, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science
9. James McCosh, The Religious Aspect of Evolution
Annotated Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Richard G. Olson

Richard G. Olson is a professor of history at Harvey Mudd College. He is the author of The Emergence of the Social Sciences, 1642–1792 (Twayne Press, 1993) and Science Deified and Science Defied (University of California Press, 1990).