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2. The ‘Religious Origins’ Thesis

Historical research into the religious origins of modern science is suggesting an increasing complex interplay of factors. The overall background context is well known: the ‘contingent rationality’ of the world, with roots in creation ex nihilo, the Hellenistic assumption of the rationality of nature, the debates over finitude and contingency in the Islamic culture of the 9th-12th centuries, the 13th century encounter with Aristotle in the West, the rediscovery of Greek and Roman cultures in the Renaissance, and so on. Scholars such as Michael Foster,Michael Foster, "The Christian Doctrine of Creation and the Rise of Modern Science," in Creation: The Impact of an Idea, ed. Daniel O'Connor and Francis Oakley (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,...Eugene Klaaren,Eugene M. Klaaren, "Religious Origins of Modern Science: Belief in Creation in Seventeenth-Century Thought" (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1977).Gary Deason,Gary B. Deason, "Reformation Theology and the Mechanistic Conception of Nature," in God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter Between Christianity and Science, ed. David C. Lindberg... David Lindberg and Ron Numbers,David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers, Editors, God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter Between Christianity and Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986).Amos Funkenstein,Amos Funkenstein, Theology and the Scientific Imagination: From the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986).Bernard Cohen,I. Bernard Cohen, Editor, Puritanism and the Rise of Modern Science: The Merton Thesis (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990).and John BrookeJohn H. Brooke, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); John H. Brooke, "Science and Theology in the Enlightenment," in Religion and...have taken up the broad portrayal of the significance of religion for the rise of science as Whitehead, Collingwood, Merton and Hooykaas earlier proposed. They have added to this careful analysis of the religion primarily in the seventeenth century, including the distinctive contributions of specific Protestant (particularly Puritan) and Roman Catholic voices.

Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell

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