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A History of the Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom (2 Volume Set) Paperback – May 1, 1993

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 919 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (May 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879758260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879758264
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"It reminds the reader of just how far we have advanced in our understandings of the relationships among religion, science, technology, and theology." --Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

About the Author

Andrew D. White (1832-1918), historian, diplomat, and first president of Cornell University, advocated such progressive causes as equal rights for women and the removal of religious sectarianism from higher education.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on September 24, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Andrew Dickson White's _A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom_ is one of the two great, classic works on the history of science and freedom of thought in Christian Europe. (The other is William Edward Hartpole Lecky's _History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe_.)
White was the first president of Cornell University, and he caused some consternation in mid-nineteenth-century America by determining that the university would not be beholden to any particular school of religious or theological thought. Naturally, there were complaints and public outcries. More or less by way of response, White wrote this massive two-volume work.
Some of it is dated; White tends, for example, to treat then-current scientific theories as more firmly established than they turned out to be. But be that as it may, he sorts quite judiciously through the history of Christendom and argues forcefully that at every point, scientific progress was impeded by the tendency of theologians to overstep the proper bounds of their discipline.
White's broadside takes all of Christendom as its target -- both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Of course he takes on the obvious enemies in Catholic history, but he does not spare the great figures of the Reformation (mainly Luther and Calvin).
Judaism and Islam come in for a little bit of criticism too, but on the whole these two faiths fare rather well. Indeed, White points out repeatedly that adherents of each faith attempted to pursue scientific inquiries but found themselves stopped, even persecuted, by Christian authorities.
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39 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Science Geek on February 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was bored over my holiday break (December 2002), and thought I would just read a few pages of this book to help me fall asleep. Three hours later, I was riveted to the book and couldn't put it down (or sleep).
Originally written in 1886, this is a comprehensive account of clashes between theological and scientific claims about how nature works. White systematically chronicles the persecution all the major areas of scientific inquiry had to go through from theologans before they were accepted : geology, mechanics, medicine, meteorology, biology, etc..
For example, in one chapter he meticulously works through the emergence of the heliocentric view of the world, as opposed to that endorsed by the Pope where the earth is the center of the universe. There are tragic tales of threats (Galileo), torture, and execution (Bruno) of scientific minds who made claims that conflicted with the Church.
The chapters are exceedingly well-crafted. He starts out each chapter by describing the origins of the Christian view of the topic (for instance, that there is literally a stone firmament above the earth through which rain is let in). He then discusses how scientists came to question such views, their persecution by the church, and eventually how the Church backtracked and hedged and finally accepted the scientific view.
Compared to a lot of work by skeptics these days, the book is very scholarly: it is exceedingly well referenced, so that you can go find the original sources of both the theological and scientific viewpoints. On the other hand, since the book is over 100 years old, there are some ideas that are a bit antiquated. For example, his discussion of "primitive and savage cultures" extant in Africa are a bit dated.
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Format: Paperback
Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918) was a U.S. diplomat and historian, as well as the co-founder and 1st President of Cornell University. He published this book in 1896, as a result of his efforts to establish Cornell University as independent from any political party or religious sect.

He notes, "Aristarchus had stated the main truth [of the heliocentric theory] with striking precision. Here comes in a proof that the antagonism between theological and scientific methods is not confined to Christianity: for this statement brought upon Aristarchus the charge of blasphemy." (V1, pg. 120-121) Of Galileo's supposed "recantation," White comments, "Here was an old man... broken with disappointments, worn out with his labours and cares, dragged from Florence to Rome, with the threat from the Pope himself that if he delayed he should be 'brought in chains... To the end of his life... the persecution of Galileo continued. He was kept in exile from his family, from his friends, from his noble employments, and was held rigidly to his promise not to speak of his theory..." (V1, pg. 142-143)

He suggests, "A thoughtful, reverent, enlightened clergy is a great blessing to any country; and anything which undermines their legitimate work of leading men out of the worship of material things to the consideration of that which is highest is a vast misfortune." (V1, pg. 239) Later, he adds, "A true and noble theology can hardly fail to recognise, in the love of Nature and care for our fellow-men... something far better... than any efforts to win the Divine favour by flattery..." (V1, pg.
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