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Eminent Lives in Twentieth-Century Science and Religion

With chapters on: Rachel Carson, Charles A. Coulson, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Arthur S. Eddington, Albert Einstein, Ronald A. Fisher, Julian Huxley, Pascual Jordan, Robert A. Millikan, Ivan P. Pavlov, Michael I. Pupin, Abdus Salam, Edward O. Wilson

Edited By Nicolaas A. Rupke

Can science and religion coexist in harmony? Or is conflict inevitable? In this volume an international team of distinguished scholars addresses these enduring yet urgent questions by examining the lives of thirteen eminent twentieth-century scientists whose careers were marked by the interaction of science and religion: Rachel Carson, Charles A. Coulson, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Arthur S. Eddington, Albert Einstein, Ronald A. Fisher, Julian Huxley, Pascual Jordan, Robert A. Millikan, Ivan P. Pavlov, Michael I. Pupin, Abdus Salam, and Edward O. Wilson. The richly empirical studies show a diversity of creative engagements between science and religion that defy efforts to set the two at odds.

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RICHARD H. BEYLER Pascual Jordan (1902-80) 233

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Ernst Pascual Jordan: Freedom vs Materialism RICHARD H. BEYLER Historians of science and religion have become used to the idea that assertions of a supposed antagonism between science and religion need critical examination. Conversely, assertions of intrinsic compatibility between science and religion also require unpacking of the actors' cate- gories. Whether conflict or conciliation is being claimed, what, exactly, is "science"? What, exactly, is "religion"? What appears rhetorically as a single, internally unified phenomenon often proves to be a much more specific, contingent picture of both science and religion in which certain features are emphasized and others neglected. Historians should be alert to what other agendas are being advanced when historical actors use such universal, essentializing categories. Although this is a general historiographical principle, it applies par- ticularly to one of the most intriguing figures among scientists who advanced avowedly religious agendas during the twentieth century, the German theoretical physicist Pascual Jordan (1902-80). In numerous books, articles and public lectures, Jordan established himself as a public intellectual, a scientist who (to use the title of his best-known book on the subject) "faced the religious question" (Jordan 1963). But what was the religious question, according to Jordan? Analyzing the specific content and background of Jordan's version of "the religious question" reveals the importance of historical context in discussions of the relations of science and religion, and urges upon us the necessity of looking for speci- ficity in the historical actors' generic category of "religion" (see, e.g. Brooke 1991, 16-51; Wilson 2002)...

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