Project Title: Reconceptualizing the Conflict between Religion and Science

Principal Advisor: Professor Peter Harrison

Project Abstract: In this thesis I examine the origins, development, and dissemination of the nineteenth-century "conflict thesis," the belief that there is a perpetual "conflict" or "war" between religion and science, with science ultimately prevailing triumphant. I trace its origins back to a religious heritage of Protestant polemics against Catholicism. It was further developed by scientific naturalists such as T.H. Huxley, John Tyndall, Herbert Spencer, among others. But the advocates of the conflict thesis were not trying to eviscerate religion on behalf of science; rather, they saw themselves as "reformers," who upheld the new science as a "new reformation" and a replacement or alternative of traditional religion. The new science, they maintained, was fully capable of providing humankind with both moral guidance and spiritual fulfillment.

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