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Science and Religion, 1450-1900: From Copernicus to Darwin Paperback – April 25, 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

(Choice)

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

(Seymour H. Mauskopf Nuncius)

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

(Fraser F. Fleming Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith)

An interesting, insightful, and clearly argued overview.

(Edward B. Davis Isis)

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.

(Journal of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences)

The book can be warmly recommended to anyone interested in the various ways in which religion interacted with science from the beginning of the Scientific Revolution to the end of the 19th century.

(William R. Shea Archives Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences)

About the Author

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).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801884004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801884009
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If God doesn't exist, one doesn't lose much by belief in God; however, if God does exist and one doesn't believe, the cost can be dramatic. Therefore, one should believe in God, for the odds are then in one's favour. This is sometimes called Pascal's Wager, after the dissident Catholic physicist, mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal. It has been argued that Pascal introduced game theory in order to help prove God's existence, or at least justify a belief in this. This is but one story highlighted in the history of the rocky relationship between science and religion from the late Middle Ages to the beginning of the last century.

Often when one discusses this issue, a good historical starting point is Copernicus, who was the first major astronomer since classical times to `demote' the favoured position of the world to being but one of several planets orbiting the sun; the demotion of the sun from being the centre of the universe would come later, but the implication was all too clear from the start. This scientific upheaval coincided with political and religious unrest in Europe, and in a world where the idea that church and state would be separate is not even a distant dream, certainly the separation of the natural sciences from theology, the `queen of the sciences' was inconceivable.

The mistrust between science and religion persists to this day, continuing in its strongest vein the arguments against the Darwinian Theory of Evolution (even though the Theory of Evolution has itself `evolved' from the time of Darwin's observations and publication of `The Origin of Species'). There are some who try to assert one over the other - this happens both with scientists over religion as with religious people over scientists.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Olson is well qualified to write on the history of science and religion, having published at least two previous books (Science Deified and Science Defied, vols. 1 and 2). I enjoyed those books, but this one is even better. Packed with interesting details, well researched, and well written, it maintains a calm, balanced historian's perspective. In particular, Olson uses broad historical scholarship to demonstrate the range of religious and other cultural responses to the advance of science -- everything from the typical images of irrational resistance to the eager adoption of scientific knowledge as a SOURCE or DEFENSE of religious ideas.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very helpful up to the late eighteenth century. The last part can be skimmed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
brings much into focus that has typically been overlooked.
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