VU Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Friday, November 2. Refreshments in NSC Planetarium at 3:05 PM, followed by the colloquium in 221 at 3:30 PM.

God's Scientists: Science and Religion in Seventeenth-Century England

Dr. Katherine Calloway, Lilly Fellow, Christ College, Valparaiso University


The scientific defenses of Christianity that line the shelves of bookstores got their start in seventeenth-century England, just after Francis Bacon and others brought about the educational reforms that led to the rise of modern science.  In that world it began to make sense to use scientific observations to lend credibility to Christian doctrine, pointing out that this wonderful world must have a wise Creator.  Even though theories such as natural selection and the multiverse have undermined these arguments’ ability to stand as scientific proof, such arguments remain popular, even convincing, to many intelligent people.  In my talk I examine five early scientific arguments for Christianity and highlight the presence of a minority report among these ambitious works, a type of natural theology that “lays claim to insight rather than coercive logical necessity,” to paraphrase John Polkinghorne.  I suggest that the way forward for scientists hoping to find harmony between faith and reason lies in recovering that old practice.