Monday, May 7, 2012

Christianity and the origins of science

This friday I am looking forward to attending a lecture by Peter Harrison on Religion and the Origins of Science. The lecture (and a free lunch beforehand) is being hosted by the new Centre for the Study of Science, Religion, and Society at Emmanuel College at University of Queensland.

Peter Harrison recently returned to UQ from Oxford. Last year he gave the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh. They can be watched on YouTube.

He is well known for two particularly important contributions to our understanding of the significant positive influence that Christianity had on the development of modern science. First, the Protestant Reformation resulting in a shift in Biblical hermeneutics away from allegorical to more historical and literal readings of Scripture, paving the way for more "literal" and mathematical "readings" of nature [see this earlier post]. Second, an appreciation of the doctrine of the sinful nature of humanity led to an emphasis on the empirical method in science rather than the "pure reason" favoured by the Greek philosophers. This is discussed in detail in his book, The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science.

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