Science, Religion, and the Protestant Tradition

Retracing the Origins of Conflict

Ungureanu’s book is well written, an impressive piece of scholarship and will be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the origins of the conflict narrative.
Science & Christian Belief

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The story of the “conflict thesis” between science and religion—the notion of perennial conflict or warfare between the two—is part of our modern self-understanding. As the story goes, John William Draper (1811–1882) and Andrew Dickson White (1832–1918) constructed dramatic narratives in the nineteenth century that cast religion as the relentless enemy of scientific progress. And yet, despite its resilience in popular culture, historians today have largely debunked the conflict thesis. Unravelling its origins, James Ungureanu argues that Draper and White actually hoped their narratives would preserve religious belief. For them, science was ultimately a scapegoat for a much larger and more important argument dating back to the Protestant Reformation, where one theological tradition was pitted against another—a more progressive, liberal, and diffusive Christianity against a more traditional, conservative, and orthodox Christianity. By the mid-nineteenth century, narratives of conflict between “science and religion” were largely deployed between contending theological schools of thought. However, these narratives were later appropriated by secularists, freethinkers, and atheists as weapons against all religion. By revisiting its origins, development, and popularization, Ungureanu ultimately reveals that the “conflict thesis” was just one of the many unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation.

368 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

October, 2019

isbn : 9780822945819

about the author

James C. Ungureanu

James C. Ungureanu is Upper School humanities teacher at The Stony Brook School in New York. He also serves as unit coordinator of religion and science for the Upper Midwest Region of the American Academy of Religion.

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James C. Ungureanu