Can scientific discovery be a religious experience?

Hedley Brooke, John (2003) Can scientific discovery be a religious experience? Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre. ISBN 9780906165492

Available under License CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (223kB) | Preview


In a recent commentary on the “two cultures”, Mary Warnock and N. G. McCrum contrast the current debate with the course it took in C. P. Snow’s day. Forty years ago one commentator on the insularity of scientific culture had observed the reluctance of scientists to evangelise on behalf of their disciplines: according to David Waring, attempts to convert the non-specialist were often seen as beneath contempt. One found the “typical attitude of a proud and infallible church which does indeed discuss its own theology with its own initiates but cannot condescend to speak to the multitude”. The situation has certainly changed. Lay sermons in science have become a popular genre. But that image of the Church scientific deserves further comment. The analogy between organised science and organised religion has been used by historians of science as a heuristic device for exposing facets of the scientific enterprise that might otherwise be missed. A recent example would be Margaret Wertheim’s controversial but revealing book "Pythagoras’s Trousers", in which she reflects on a recurrent exclusion of women from science by a priesthood of physical scientists. The scientist as priest is a long established trope. In seventeenth-century England Robert Boyle presented himself as a “priest in the temple of nature”, while Isaac Newton saw himself as spiritual heir of an ancient priesthood which had worshipped the one true God in a heliocentric universe. Is there room for faith within the Church scientific?

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: Series: RERC Second Series Occasional Papers;38.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Experience (Religion)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre > Second Series of Occasional Papers
Related URLs:
Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2014 10:37
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2023 13:12

Administrator Actions (login required)

Edit Item - Repository Staff Only Edit Item - Repository Staff Only