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Science and Religion: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Date: 23 July 2007 Time: 9.00 am

Science and Religion by John Hedley Brooke
Science and Religion by John Hedley Brooke

An international and interdisciplinary conference to mark the retirement of Professor John Hedley Brooke.

Science and Religion

Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

23-26 July 2007

About the conference:

This international and interdisciplinary conference is being held to mark the retirement of Professor John Hedley Brooke, who taught the history of science at Lancaster University for thirty years before becoming the first Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford - a post from which he retired last year. It will bring together historians, philosophers, scientists, and theologians from around the world to debate the latest research into science-religion relationships, including:

John Hedley Brooke (University of Oxford)

Azizan Baharrudin (University of Malaya) Peter Lipton (University of Cambridge) Janet Browne (Harvard University) Nancey Murphy (Fuller Theological Seminary) Geoffrey Cantor (University of Leeds) Ronald Numbers (University of Wisconsin-Madison) Simon Conway Morris (University of Cambridge) Margaret Osler (University of Calgary) Willem Drees (Leiden University) Robert Segal (University of Aberdeen) Noah Efron (Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv) Frank Turner (Yale University) Jan Golinski (University of New Hampshire) Wentzel van Huyssteen (Princeton Theological Seminary) Peter Harrison (University of Oxford) Keith Ward (University of Oxford) Jon Hodge (University of Leeds) Fraser Watts (University of Cambridge) Bernard Lightman (York University, Toronto) Paul White (University of Cambridge)

Brooke's 1991 book, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives, and his Gifford Lectures with Geoffrey Cantor, published in 1998 as Reconstructing Nature: The Engagement of Science and Religion, have led the way in overturning simplistic narratives of conflict or harmony and in setting new standards for sophisticated historical studies of science and religion. These works have been widely appreciated not only by historians but also by many participants in debates about science and religion who had not previously taken an interest in the history of the subject.

At this conference, world-class speakers will offer a wide range of historical and contemporary perspectives on the engagement of science and religion.

There will be talks on:

  • The meanings of 'design' in Enlightenment Europe and in modern America
  • 'Intelligent Design'
  • Protestants and Catholics in early modern science
  • New understandings of the 'scientific revolution'
  • Newton's religious beliefs
  • Natural theology
  • Darwin's views on the afterlife
  • The reception of Darwinism in continental Europe
  • The history of anti-reductionist biology
  • Relationships between religion and the social sciences
  • Scientitific naturalism and theism as alternative worldviews
  • The role of teleology in evolutionary biology today
  • Islam and science
  • Theology and neuroscience
  • Theology and paleoanthropology
  • Ethics, religion, and the creation of human/non-human chimeras.
  • Concluding plenary sessions will reflect on new directions in historical writing about 'science and religion', and will ask what impact historical studies can continue to have on contemporary debates.

Additional events:

  • Film screening: 'A Flock of Dodos' - a recent documentary film taking a light-hearted look at 'The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus' in the United States. (8.30pm, Monday 23rd). Introduced by Stephen Bates, Religious Affairs Correspondent for The Guardian. Read more about the film and watch a trailer.
  • British Society for the History of Science drinks reception (Monday 23rd)
  • Performance of 'Re: Design' by Craig Baxter- a new dramatisation of the correspondence between Charles Darwin and Asa Gray - introduced by Paul White of the Darwin Correspondence Project (8.30pm, Tuesday 24th). Read a review of 'Re: Design'.
  • Conference Dinner in honour of John Brooke, including speeches and presentations (Wednesday 25th)
  • For those wishing to explore the Lake District before or after the conference, there will be tourist information available.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: History


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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