Monthly Archives: April 2013

Myths about Science and Religion: That Galileo was Tortured and Imprisoned for Advocating Copernicanism

The “Galileo affair” is perhaps the most commonly discussed case of conflict between science and religion. According to widespread popular belief, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was a martyr of science; that he was not only tortured, but imprisoned by the Roman Catholic Church. Although this myth may make for good drama, it is seriously deficient as […]

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Rethinking Secularism – Introduction

Challenging the Bifurcation In the Introduction to their Rethinking Secularism (2011), Craig Calhoun, Mark Juergensmeyer, and Jonathan Van Antwerpen begin by announcing that not only a host of political activism but a rising tide of scholarship has emerged challenging established understandings of how the terms “secularism” and “religion” function in public life. “Reigning theories of […]

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A Prolegomena to A History of Evolution: Taking Biology from Metaphysics

A little learning is a dang’rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again. Fir’d at first sight with what the Muse imparts, In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts, While from the bounded level of our mind Short views […]

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Alvargonzález on Whig history and the History of Science

David Alvargonzález, in his recent Is the History of Science Essentially Whiggish? (Hist. Sci. li, 2013) argues that Whig history is a necessary process of historical research. Since the mid-1970s, the labels “Whig” or “Whiggish” have been frequently used in history of science jargon to denigrate and repudiate certain histories of science which accept the […]

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Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science

An invaluable resource to me lately has been The Oxford Companion to The History of Modern Science, edited by J.L. Heilbron(OUP, 2003). This is not a science encyclopedia but, as the title states, a companion guide to the history of science. The time covered is limited to the modern period, from around 1550, dwelling especially […]

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Myths about Science and Religion: That Giordano Bruno was the First Martyr of Modern Science

In 1600, on the seventeenth of February, Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, was ceremoniously burned at the stake in Rome’s Flower Market by the Roman Inquisition. His end is brutal to modern sensibility but not exceptional in the early modern period. But Bruno’s death stands out, mentioned in passing […]

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