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The Bible, Baconianism, and Mastery over Nature

The Old Testament and Its Modern Misreading


Cameron Wybrow

Modern scholars have frequently asserted that Western technological mastery over nature sprang from the triumph of 'Biblical' over 'pagan' modes of thought. In a spirited response to the views of Berger, Collingwood, Cox, Foster, Jaki, Roszak, Toynbee, White and others, the author disproves this hypothesis. By a careful exposition of pagan, Biblical, and early modern texts, he shows that the theme of mastery is no more pronounced in Biblical than in pagan thought, and that Bacon's science entailed a rejection of both. Further, he shows that the radical character of modern mastery was effectively concealed by the Baconians, whose slipshod but rhetorically successful interpretation of Biblical 'dominion' supplied the spiritual justification for the modern conquest of nature.