The Forgotten History of Science and Faith: Origins of the Myth of the Warfare of Religion with Science

Lawerence Principe

John Hopkins University

Although repudiated today by all serious historians of science, the concept of an eternal and inescapable conflict between science and religion remains strong among the general public as well as among a large number of scientists. This talk will begin by examining the historical origins of the concept, showing how it emerged from a constellation of political, social, and peculiar personal circumstances of the late 19 th century. It will then explore the resilience of the concept and how, why, and by whom it has been perpetuated down to the present day, and suggests some means by which it could be more effectively countered.

Lawrence M. Principe is the Drew Professor of Humanities at Johns Hopkins University in the Departments of History of Science and Technology and of Chemistry. He holds a Ph.D in Organic Chemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in History of Science from Johns Hopkins. His research focusses on late Medieval and early modern alchemy/chemistry and the interactions of science and religion. His recent books include The Scientific Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2011), The Secrets of Alchemy (Chicago, 2013), and The Transmutations of Chymistry: Wilhelm Homberg and the Académie Royale des Sciences (Chicago, 2020). He also produced the 12-lecture course “Science and Religion” for The Teaching Company. He is the recipient of the Francis Bacon Medal (2005), the Franklin-Lavoisier Prize (2016), the American Chemical Society’s HIST Award (2020) and the St. Albert the Great Award from the Society of Catholic Scientists (2020) for his scholarly contributions.

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