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The past quarter-century has seen an explosion of interest in the history of science and religion. But all too often the scholars writing it have focused their attention almost exclusively on the Christian experience, with only passing reference to other traditions of both science and faith. At a time when religious ignorance and misunderstanding have lethal consequences, such provincialism must be avoided and, in this pioneering effort to explore the historical relations of what we now call "science" and "religion," the authors go beyond the Abrahamic traditions to examine the way nature has been understood and manipulated in regions as diverse as ancient China, India, and sub-Saharan Africa. Science and Religion around the World also provides authoritative discussions of science in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- as well as an exploration of the relationship between science and the loss of religious beliefs. The narratives included in this book demonstrate the value of plural perspectives and of the importance of location for the construction and perception of science-religion relations.
One of the most fascinating and enduring issues in the development of the modern world is the relationship between scientific thought and religious belief. It is common knowledge that in Western societies there have been periods of crisis when new science has threatened established religious authority. The trial of Galileo in 1633 and the uproar caused by Darwin's Origin of Species(1859) are two famous examples. Taking account of recent scholarship in the history of science, Professor Brooke takes a fresh look at these and similar episodes, showing that science and religion have been mutually relevant in such a rich variety of ways that simple generalizations are not possible. Standing back from general theses affirming "conflict" or "harmony," which have so often served partisan interests, the author's object is to reveal the subtlety, complexity, and diversity of the interaction of science and religion as it has taken place in the past and in the twentieth century. Instead of treating science and religion as discrete definable entities, his approach is sensitive to shifting boundaries and willing to consider the contexts in which particular forms of science could be used both for religious and secular ends. The result is that, without assuming specialist knowledge, Brooke provides a wide-ranging study from the Copernican innovation to in vitro fertilization.
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