Identity in a Secular Age

Science, Religion, and Public Perceptions

Identity in a Secular Age adopts a fresh approach to the important subject of the interrelations of science and religion. Many of its chapters move the spotlight onto the public understanding of these issues and demonstrate the importance of the role of the media—books, periodicals, television—in disseminating the topic to a wide variety of nonelite audiences. This is indeed a welcome collection.
Geoffrey Cantor, University of Leeds

Although historians have suggested for some time that we move away from the assumption of a necessary clash between science and religion, the conflict narrative persists in contemporary discourse. But why? And how do we really know what people actually think about evolutionary science, let alone the many and varied ways in which it might relate to individual belief? In this multidisciplinary volume, experts in history and philosophy of science, oral history, sociology of religion, social psychology, and science communication and public engagement look beyond two warring systems of thought. They consider a far more complex, multifaceted, and distinctly more interesting picture of how differing groups along a spectrum of worldviews—including atheistic, agnostic, and faith groups—relate to and form the ongoing narrative of a necessary clash between evolution and faith. By ascribing agency to the public, from the nineteenth century to the present and across Canada and the United Kingdom, this volume offers a much more nuanced analysis of people’s perceptions about the relationship between evolutionary science, religion, and personal belief, one that better elucidates the complexities not only of that relationship but of actual lived experience.

about the editors

Fern Elsdon-Baker

Fern Elsdon-Baker is professor of science, knowledge, and belief in society at the University of Birmingham, where she leads the Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group. She is the author of Selfish Genius: How Richard Dawkins Rewrote Darwin’s Legacy.

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Fern Elsdon-Baker
Bernard Lightman

Bernard Lightman is professor of humanities at York University and president of the History of Science Society. Among his most recent publications are the edited collections Global Spencerism: The Communication and Appropriation of a British Evolutionist, A Companion to the History of Science, and Science Museums in Transition: Cultures of Display in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America (coedited with Carin Berkowitz). Lightman is also a general coeditor of The Correspondence of John Tyndall.

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Bernard Lightman