Science and Spirituality: The Volatile Connection

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Psychology Press, 2004 - Religion - 231 pages
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Until the end of the eighteenth century, almost everyone believed that the empirical world of science could produce evidence for a wise and loving God. By the twenty-first century this comforting certainty has almost vanished. What caused such a cataclysmic change in attitudes to science and to the world?
Science and Spirituality offers a new history of the interaction between Western science and faith, which explores their volatile connection, and challenges the myth of their being locked in inevitable conflict.
Journeying from the French Revolution to the present day, and taking in such figures as Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Charles Darwin, Immanuel Kant, Albert Einstein, Mary Shelley and Stephen Hawking, David Knight shows how science evolved from medieval and Renaissance forms of natural theology into the empirical discipline we know today. Focusing on the overthrow of Church and State in revolutionary France, and on the crucial nineteenth century period when a newly emerging scientific community rendered science culturally accessible, Science and Spirituality shows how scientific disenchantment has provided some of our most flexible and powerful metaphors for God, such as the hidden puppet-master and the blind watchmaker, and illustrates how questions of moral and spiritual value continue to intervene in scientific endeavour.
  

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Contents

Something greater than ourselves
1
Christian materialism
8
Watchmaking
20
Wisdom and benevolence
37
Genesis and geology
53
Highchurch science
74
God working His purpose out?
92
Lay sermons
108
Knowledge and faith
123
Handling chance
137
Clergy and clerisy
151
Mastering nature
167
Meaning and purpose?
183
Notes
197
Index
225
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About the author (2004)

David Knight is a Professor at Durham University and former President of the British Society for the History of Science

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