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Reconstructing Wonder

Chemistry Informing a Natural Theology


Timothy Weatherstone

The book uses scientific discipline of chemistry to inform a Natural Theology. While Natural Theology typically employs scientific analysis from Cosmology, Physics, Mathematics and at times Biology the author extends the subject. He refers to the perception of beauty to provide a conceptual framework linking aspects of Epistemology, Theology and Chemistry. The volume presents a working definition of Natural Theology and a new definition of Beauty that bridges the conceptual gaps between the humanities and the hard sciences.

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Chapter 3: Chemistry and Natural Theology


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Chapter 3:  Chemistry and Natural Theology

3.1  Appreciating Chemistry: the Historical Context and Contemporary Understandings

The title of this project derives in part from one of the Gifford lectures ‘Reconstructing Nature: the engagement of science and religion’ which far from wanting to argue for a particular conclusion sought instead to reinvigorate the interaction between science and religion (Brooke and Cantor, 2000, p. x-xi) by re-examining past science as historians, through the lenses of more recently developed disciplines including psychology, sociology, linguistics etc. The authors reject any ‘master-narrative’, describing the views of the founder of the Gifford lectures as anachronistic. They are keen to stress how both science and theology change over time, as do the very subjects the founder urged the lecturers to address. They describe the context the Edinburgh lawyer Lord Gifford came from, as being ‘highly religious’. In their first chapter the authors attempt to demonstrate that there is no hegemony of one over the other, of science as against theology. By their final chapter they are speculating on the effect on the future of their discipline, that of history and the historian watching the debate, of directed genetic change in the speculator, that is, the human agent. Thus the overall effect is to present an intellectual field that is shifting, as the field of view itself is shifting.

Yet why should any of this matter in the current project which is enquiring whether chemistry might validly inform...

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