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What is now needed is a new generation of historians of science capable of following the truth as dispassionately as their scientific colleagues believe themselves to be doing, unafraid of where their inquiries may lead them. 

For the Christian, the use of history for apologetic purposes is surely as legitimate as arguments based on anything else (nature, aesthetics, moral imperatives etc.). 

But such history must be marked by honesty, integrity painstaking attention to detail and a scrupulous regard for alternative interpretations.

 Nothing else is worthy of the Lord of nature who is also Lord of history.
Colin Russell--1993

| Medieval | ASA history | Seventeenth century | Nineteenth Century | Twentieth century | Late Twentieth  and Early Twenty First Centuries |
   |Darwin Studies | bibliography | Homemember obituaries|   

Historical Studies of Science and Christianity


The Christian church has had a continuing concern for the relation between God, man, and  nature. Since Western science emerged in cultures dominated by Christianity we might ask how Christianity influenced attitudes toward nature andOldScholar the practice of what was later to be called science (earlier, natural philosophy). It is also important to discover the ways that an  increasing knowledge of nature has influenced Christian thought.

Although we also offer some basic studies in the areas of philosophy, general history and the sociology of science, the focus of this page is on the interaction of religion (mainly Christianity) on science, medicine, and engineering fields.

The articles are arranged along chronological lines with additional categories for major fields of interest such as evolutionary biology and the history of the ASA. You may use the search engine on the home page and the ISIS Bibliographic Index for additional information.

Our keynote paper by English, Chemist-Historian Colin Russell aptly focuses on the value of  history in understanding toady's science/faith concerns. American historians of science  David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers offer a seminal statement on the 'conflict thesis' in Beyond War and Peace: A Reappraisal of the Encounter between Christianity and  Science.

Thomas S. Kuhn's  "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" was an important 20th C work on the nature of science. An Outline and Study Guide prepared by Professor Frank Pajares, Emory University, provides a useful introduction - especially the concluding chapter.

We offer a selection of papers from Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (PSCF) and other sources that illustrate the wide-ranging scope of the subject, plus a dialogue on Desmond and Moore's best-selling Darwin, a mini-symposium on the science interests of British evangelical pioneer John Wesley, a selection of papers on ASA history  and a bibliography from which the field may be explored in detail.

16 Oct 2007 Public Spectacle and Evolutionary Theory: The Fortunes of Darwinism in the Calvinist Cultures of Victorian Edinburgh and Belfast (46 min. + discussion)--Faraday Institute Dr David Livingstone MP3 file 

  General Articles

Medieval contexts

Richard P. Aulie, "Al-Ghazali Against Aristotle: An Unforeseen Overture  to Science in Eleventh-Century Baghdad," PSCF 46.1:26-46 (3/1994) The year was A.D. 1091, the city was Baghdad, and a thirty-three year-old scholar, whose reputation for Greek learning and religious piety had preceded him, was arriving by caravan from the east. His name was Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al Tusi al-Ghazali. He was born in Persia. He wrote and spoke Arabic. His religion was Islam.1 And what he wrote during the next four years played a definite, though unforeseen rule in the origin of modern science. ...

Seventeenth century

John Ray (1628-1705) The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of Creation,  1691 (e-book )

John R. Armstrong, "Rediscovering John Ray (1627-1705) PSCF 41.2:105-107 (6/1989) John Ray (1627-1705) became a teaching from Armstrong articlefellow of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1649, an ordained Church of England minister in 1660. His Puritan sympathies, however, prevented him from signing an agreement with 1662 restrictions upon liturgy under the Act of Uniformity, so that his employment ended (Faul & Faul, 1983, p. 47). Turning to science, he produced the major botanical reference of his generation, met and corresponded with leading scientists across Western Europe. and tutored for a wealthy family. Honesty, thoroughness, humility, and gentleness pervade his writings: he repeatedly acknowledged incomplete understanding and demonstrated a willingness to revise his opinions whenever evidence warranted a different interpretation.

David L. Woodall, "The Relationship between Science and Scripture in the Thought of Robert Boyle," PSCF, 49 (March 1997): 32 - 39. The writings of Robert Boyle advance the thesis that Christianity in seventeenth- century England advocated and facilitated scientific development. As a scientist and theologian, he rejected the popular view that the Bible was a scientific textbook and yet believed in the absolute harmony between scientific statements in the Bible and experimental science. Conflicts between the two were explained as either a mistake in science or an incorrect interpretation of Scripture. Boyle followed Calvin's view of accommodation.

BoyleStephen David Snobelen, Newton Reconsidered (2005) Comments on recent scholarship about Newton's theological views.


Eighteenth century (coming)

The Isaac Newton Collection (digital)

Nineteenth century

February 16, 2012

Newton’s Theological Papers
He’s considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all time. But Sir Isaac Newton was also an influential theologian who applied a scientific approach to the study of scripture, Hebrew and Jewish mysticism. Now Israel’s national library, an unlikely owner of a vast trove of Newton’s writings, has digitized his theological collection—some 7,500 pages in Newton’s own handwriting—and put it online. (Aron Heller, Associated Press)

David C. Bossard, "The Stones Cry Out: How Early Christian Geologists  Enlarged their Understanding of the Creation Account," IBRI Research Report #57 (2006). The development of modern geology in the early 1800s challenged traditional Biblical interpretation in a way that no other  advance in science had. Over the centuries, there had been many philosophical challenges to Biblical revelation -- the nascent higher  criticism of the Biblical text, and many Christian and secular world  views as (then) recent examples -- but these are all based on  philosophical particulars that cannot be refuted objectively. Never before had such an extensive, sustained and comprehensive assault on tradition been fortified with such an abundance of irrefutable  factual data, which could be tested and affirmed by all, even those  with radically clashing world views. How, then, did devout Christians process this challenge?

bucklandJohn R. Armstrong, "William Buckland in Retrospect"  PSCF 42.1:34-38 (3/1990) The Reverend Dr. William Buckland (1784-1856) profoundly influenced the historical sciences of geology and paleontology as an Oxford professor during most of the major controversies-neptunist/plutonist, catastrophist/uniformitarian, glacial, and creation/evolution. His theology remained orthodox, while his perspectives adapted to the latest developments in science. ... 

Michael B. Roberts: Genesis and Geology Unearthed,15 December 2002. The challenge of Geology to Genesis is often perceived to be one of the issues of the "Victorian Crisis of Faith". Geologists had, since Charles Lyell had published his Principles of Geology in 1831, been demonstrating that the age of the earth was somwat oldwe than Archbishop Ussher's Six Thousand Years. ...

Mark A. Kalthoff, "John Henry Newman on Christianity, Science and Intelligent Design,"  PSCF 53 (March 2001): 14 - 23. Although much scholarship treats Newman's thought and Victorian science separately, little has been written about both; and no historian of science and religion has provided a focused study of Newman's 1855 lectures. This paper contributes to such a study. After a brief introduction to Newman and the context of his 1855 lectures, this paper provides a critical summary and analysis of Newman's thought on science and Christianity as presented in those lectures. It concludes by suggesting ways Newman's thought may contribute to contemporary discussions of Intelligent Design theory.

Philip Eichman, "The Christian Character of Michael Faraday as Revealed in His Personal Life and Recorded Sermons","PSCF 43.2: 92-95 (6/1991)
During his scientific career Michael Faraday was a well-known public figure. For more than a century now, his scientific activities have been studied and described by various authors. There was another, more private aspect of Michael Faraday - his religious beliefs and activities. Contemporaries, such as Tyndall, Gladstone, and others have given us some insights into Faraday's personal life and character. However, little has been written regarding his religious activities. As an elder in the Sandemanian church, Faraday often presented sermons, or "exhortations," as they were called. Only a few of these have been preserved, but those that have been give us a view which is quite different from the typical biographical information. Here we see not Michael Faraday, the scientist, but Michael Faraday, the Christian.

Michael Keas, Darwinism, Fundamentalism, and R. A. Torrey PSCF 62 (March 2010):  25-51 R. A. Torrey (1856–1928), R A Torrya leading world evangelist at the turn of the twentieth century, played a prominent role in the emergence of fundamentalism, which aimed to defend Christianity against liberalism. The writers of The Fundamentals (1910–1915), including Torrey, proposed harmony between science and Christianity by accepting the standard geological ages and by offering some criticisms of Darwinism.... 

Larsen, Timothy. “‘War Is Over, If You Want It’: Beyond the Conflict between Faith and Science,” PSCF 60 (2008): 147. "The purpose of this article is to help emerging scholars, especially in the sciences, to reframe the issue of the relationship between faith and learning in a productive way. While critiques of the warfare model exist in the specialized literature of the history of science, the presumption of conflict continues to dominate in the media and in popular conversations in both secular and religious contexts. As a result, young scholars have often imbibed this model themselves as an accurate portrait of the way things are, and they usually do not have a clear, up-to-date reflection on the relationship of faith and learning to put in its place."

Terry G. Pence,"Charles S. Pierce, Scientific Method, and God,"PSCF 49.3:156-161(9/1997). Charles S. Peirce, the founder of American pragmatism, wrote extensively about a form of inference called abduction, or more familiarly, reasoning to the best explanation. He claimed that it was essential to the growth of science. In this article, I examine Peirce's theory of abduction to see if he thinks that this essential form of reasoning precludes appeals to a supernatural agency. I argue that it does not and that Peirce himself defends just such an abductive inference in his "A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God."


 Twentieth century

Haas, John W., Jr., Essay Review: Bowler, Peter J. Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain PSCF 55.1:45-51 (3/2003) Belfast University historian of science Peter Bowler has turned from his studies of Victorian and early-twentieth-century biology to examine the science-religion literature of this period. Rather than peaceful somnolence, he has uncovered evidence of a “lively discussion” and constructs a more detailed (and more inclusive) picture than previously has been drawn.

Karl Giberson & Donald Yerxa,  Inherit the Monkey Trial  Scopes Trial historian Ed Larson explains  why Christians should be taught evolution. Christianity Today  Archive with useful links on the trial.

         Arthur Compton Series

Edward B. Davis, "Prophet of Science—Part One: Arthur Holly Compton on Science, Freedom, Religion, and Morality," PSCF  61 (June 2009): 73-83. American physicist Arthur Holly Compton (1892–1962), who shared the Nobel Prize with C. T. R. Wilson in 1927, was a leading public intellectual in the decades surrounding World War II. A very active Presbyterian, Compton’s “modernist”  Christian beliefs influenced his views on several important topics: evolution and the design argument, human freedom and the limits of science, immortality, anti-Semitism, and the morality of atomic warfare. 

Edward B. Davis, "Prophet of Science—Part Two: Arthur Holly Compton on Science, Freedom, Religion, and Morality," PSCF 61 (September 2009): 175-190.  The second part of this article discusses Arthur Holly Compton’s religious activities and beliefs, especially his concept of God...

Edward B. Davis, " Prophet of Science—Part Three: Arthur Holly Compton on Science, Freedom, Religion, and Morality," PSCF 61 (December 2009): 240-253. The final part of this article examines Compton’s views on immortality and the morality of atomic warfare. He affirmed life after death, basing this on his faith in the value that God places on the conscious persons produced by the divinely guided process of evolution; however, he did not accept the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

John J. Compton, "Arthur Holly Compton: The Adventures of a Citizen Scientist," PSCF 62 (March 2010): Perhaps one never knows one’s parents, really knows them. You never know their early lives and, as a kid, you are living inside your own skin, not theirs. Growing up in Chicago, I never knew my dad was famous. He was just a firm, affectionate, if too busy father figure, who loved music and the outdoors, played tennis better than I could, was awfully good with tools, and could explain scientific ideas so well that I almost understood them. .....   

ABRAHAM C. FLIPSE,  Against the Science Religion Conflict: the Genesis of a Calvinist Science Faculty in the Netherlands in the Early Twentieth Century, November 2007.  This paper gives an account of the establishment and expansion of a Faculty of Science at the Calvinist ‘Free University’ in the Netherlands in the 1930s. It describes the efforts of a group of orthodox Christians to come to terms with the natural sciences in the early twentieth century. The statutes of the university, which had been founded in 1880, prescribed that all research and teaching should be based on Calvinist, biblical principles. This ideal was formulated in opposition to the claim of nineteenth-century scientific naturalists that there was an inherent conflict between science and religion. However, despite their selection on the basis of their strict Calvinist beliefs, the first science professors attributed a certain independence to the domain of science. They agreed with the criticism of the conflict thesis, and tried to defuse the tensions between science and religion, although mainly at the level of philosophy and history, looking for example for
harmony between science and religion in the past. Ironically, as a result of this
approach, the Calvinist scientists mainly contributed to the acceptance of
mainstream science in Dutch Calvinist circles, contrary to developments in other
countries (notably the USA) where the conflict between science and orthodox

Late Twentieth  and Early Twenty First Centuries

F. Alton Everest, The American Scientific Affiliation: Its Growth and Early Development, ASA Press (1986) A history in word and pictures of the first 45 years from the eyes of the founding father..

Yerxa, "Donald A.,  Phillip Johnson and the Origins of the Intelligent Design Movement,  1977-1991, PSCF 54 (March 2002): 47 [PDF]

Davis Young, "History of the Collapse of "Flood Geology" and a Young Earth," (adapted from The Biblical Flood: A Case Study of the Church's Response to Extrabiblical Evidence Eerdmans, 1995)
"...I do not consider it a violation of the integrity of the biblical text to suppose that the biblical flood account uses a major Mesopotamian event in order to make vital theological points concerning human depravity, faith, and obedience and divine judgment, grace, and mercy. The evangelical church serves no good end by clinging to failed interpretations of the Bible and refusing to explore new directions. Christian scholars have an obligation to lead the way toward a renewed reverence for God's truth wherever it can be found. Conservative scholars must develop a more aggressive attitude toward creation and encourage the church's youth to enter not only the pastorate, mission work, and theology but also such fields as the natural sciences, archeology, anthropology, and the social sciences."

Thematic Studies

        ASA History

Dorothy F. Chappell, " Christian, Teacher, Scientist, Mentor: Dr. Russell L. Mixter Visionary for the Role of Science in Christian Higher Education, " PSCF 44 (March 1992):10-16

John W. Haas, Jr. "Irwin A. Moon, F. Alton Everest and Will H. Houghton: Early Links between the Moody Bible Institute and the American Scientific Affiliation," PSCF 43 (Dec 1991): 249-258.

D. G. Hart, "The Fundamentalist Origins of the American Scientific Affiliation," PSCF 43 (Dec 1991):238-248

Mark A. Kalthoff, "The Harmonious Dissonance of Evangelical Scientists: Rhetoric and Reality in the Early Decades of the ASA," PSCF 43  (Dec 1991):259-272

Joseph L. Spradley, "Changing Views of Science and Scripture: Bernard Ramm & the ASA,"PSCF 44 (Mar 1992):2-9.

ASA Web History


      The Rev. John Wesley and Science

Laura Bartels Felleman, "John Wesley's Survey of the Wisdom of God in Creation: A Methodological Inquiry," PSCF 58 (March 2006): 68-73.

J. W. Haas, Jr., "John Wesley's Vision of Science in the Service of Christ," PSCF 47 (December 1995): 234 - 243.

H. Newton Malony, "John Wesley and the Eighteenth Century Therapeutic Uses of Electricity," PSCF 47 (December 1995): 244 - 254.

    Darwin Studies 


darwinThe Young Charles Darwin

Sara Miles, "Darwin: A Man of His Times - A Theory of Its Time?" PSCF, 45 (Sep1993): 191 - 195.

David N. Livingstone, "A Commentary on Darwin," ,PSCF, 46 (June 1994): 123 - 127.

James Moore. "Cutting Both Ways - Darwin Among the Devout: A Response to David Livingstone, Sara Miles, and Mark Noll," PSCF 46 (Sep 1994): 169 - 172. 

    Miscellaneous Darwin Papers 

Edward O. Dodson, "Toldot Adam: A Little-Known Chapter in the History of Darwinism,"  PSCF 52 (Mar 2000):47-54. In his autobiography, Darwin mentioned an essay in Hebrew which showed that his theory of evolution "is contained in the Old Testament." Naphtali Halevi (or Lewy) argued in Toldot Adam that Hebrew word choices in the Torah favored evolution, as did some passages in the Midrash Rabbah and the Talmud. Although his argument is not entirely convincing, he proposed interesting alternative interpretations of many biblical texts. Collectively, they suggest that the supposed irreconcilable contradictions between evolution and biblical creation are exaggerated because of an inadequate understanding of the Hebrew text.

Lamoureux, Denis O., Theological Insights from Charles Darwin PSCF 56.1:2-12 (3/2004).

Sara Joan Miles, "Charles Darwin and Asa Gray Discuss Teleology and Design" PSCF  53.3:196-201 (9/2001).

Other Topics

Harry Cook, "Wonderful Life: Burgess Shale and the History of Biology," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 47 (September 1995): 159-163.

Edward B. Davis, "A Whale of a Tale: Fundamentalist Fish Stories,"PSCF, 43 (December 1991): 224. According to a persistent story, exactly one hundred years ago a sailor named James Bartley was swallowed by a sperm whale off the Falkland Islands. About thirty-six hours later his fellow sailors found him, unconscious but alive, inside the belly of the animal. What follows is the result of my attempt to uncover the real story, as well as the story of the story--how this whale of a tale found its way into the fundamentalist apologetic tradition, as well as a sizeable number of conservative biblical commentaries.

Christopher B. Kaiser, "The Creationist Tradition in the History of Science," PSCF 45 (June 1993): 80 -89.Galium The historical relationship between Christianity and the physical sciences is often construed in terms of the causes of the origin of modern Western science. My own context in the study of history leads me to ask the question in terms of the meaning of science and criteria for legitimate scientific work. In order to answer these questions, materials are derived from a survey of the early Jewish and Christian beliefs about creation and their implications for life and work- what has been termed the "creationist tradition." The historic creationist tradition is summarized here under four headings. Three of these pertain to our view of the world and give theological meaning to natural science. The fourth pertains to our ministry in the world and provides important social and ethical criteria.

Lindberg, David C. & Numbers, Ronald L., "Beyond War and Peace: A Reappraisal of the  Encounter between Christianity and Science" PSCF 39.3:140-149 (9/1987) ASA Classic

Lenny Flank, Deception by Design: The Intelligent Design Movement in America , Posted August 20, 2006. A self conscious and combative  book length historical account of creationism and the Intelligent Design movement. An Appendix has a full reprint of the Wedge Strategy document authored by founding father  Philip Johnson.


General Works

F. Alton Everest, The American Scientific Affiliation: Its Growth and Early Development, ASA Press 2010. Available from the ASA office.

 Ronald L. Numbers, ed.,  Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion, Harvard University Press, 2009. Review   "Numbers is to be congratulated in bringing together a good deal of relevant and interesting historical data, which show (as one would expect) that the inter-relationships between science and religion are far more complicated than religion’s critics would have us believe. Half the job in reconciling science and religion may be done, but it is only half. The more difficult part is to decide how the two forms of experience should relate to-day; and for that we need more than Numbers." Anthony O’Hear

Peter Bowler, Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate In Early Twentieth-Century Britain, University of Chicago Press, 2001

John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives, Cambridge University Press NY, 1991.

faradayMichael Faraday

G. A. Cantor, Michael Faraday: Sandemanian and Scientist, Macmillan Publishers, London, 1991.

Adrian Desmond & James Moore, Darwin: the Life of a Tormented Evolutionist,  Warner Books NY, 1991.

Adrian Desmond, Huxley: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest, Addison-Wesley, Reading MA, 1994.

Dan Graves, Scientists of Faith: Forty-Eight Biographies of Historic Scientists and their Christian Faith, Kregel Resources, Grand Rapids MI, 1996.

Frederick Gregory, Nature Lost?: Natural Science and the German Theological Traditions of the Nineteenth Century,   Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1992.

David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers, eds., God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, University of California Press, Berkeley CA,  1986.

David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers eds., When Science & Christianity Meet, University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Ronald L. Numbers. The Creationists: the Evolution of Scientific Creationism, Alfred A. Kopf  NY, 1992, 2006..

Ronald L. Numbers, Darwinism Comes to America, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1998.

Colin A. Russell, Cross-currents: Interactions Between Science & Faith, W. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI, 1985

James Strick, Sparks of Life: Darwinism and the Victorian Debates Over Spontaneous Generation, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 2000.

Andrew White,  The Warfare Of Science With Theology, (1896) (e-book). A free classic.

The Alfred Russel Wallace Page Web site dedicated to celebrating the life and work of the English naturalist, evolutionist, and social critic  Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913)

JohnRayMuralJohn Ray Web Site (1628-1705)  A survey of the life and times of English naturalist John Ray, of his place in the history of science, in church history, and of his character and faith.

Robert A. Hatch, "THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION HOMEPAGE" A diverse page on all aspects of the Scientific Revolution containing a vast quantity of links to primary readings, secondary readings, a glossary of terminology, a timeline from Copernicus to Newton, biographies, biblio...more. 

Victorian Science & Religion Aileen Fyfe, Dept. of History, National University of Ireland, Galway and John van Wyhe, Fellow, NUS; Researcher, History & philosophy of science, Cambridge University. At the beginning of the nineteenth century in Britain, religious faith and the sciences were generally seen to be in beautiful accordance. But...




Updated: 6/01/2012