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2012 Seminars

Religion, Modernity, and the Hermeneutics of Science
July 8 - 21, 2012

Directed by:
Peter Harrison, University of Queensland

Sponsored by various funders

Seminar Description

This seminar is designed chiefly for faculty who teach outside of their areas of expertise on themes related to the history and philosophy of science and religion.  It aims to provide these teachers with important historical knowledge, particularly about the early modern period, and to help them understand how interpretive frameworks in theology and natural philosophy have evolved since that time. The goal is not to make the participants into producers of scholarship in the science/religion arena, but to make them better consumers and distributors of such scholarship.

Specifically, the desired outcomes of the seminar are that participants:

  • Become familiar with some recent key writings on the history and philosophy of science-religion relations, and begin to develop a critical approach to the secondary literature on this topic.
  • Come to understand some of the classic arguments about religion’s influence on the emergence of modern science, and gain a deeper understanding of the many different ways in which religious considerations have had an impact upon modern science.
  • Become acquainted with the ways in which specialist historians currently view the history of science-religion relations, and gain some insights into the historiographical issues in the field.
  • Gain a familiarity with some of the standard myths that dominate common understandings of the historical and present relations between science and religion.
  • Become equipped with resources and ideas that will assist in the delivery of undergraduate courses on science and religion

Seminar Schedule

To view the day-by-day seminar schedule, click here.

About the Director

Peter Harrison is Director of the Centre for the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at the University of Oxford.  He began his academic career at Bond University on Australia’s Gold Coast, where for a number of years he was Professor of History and Philosophy. In 2006 he was elected to Andreas Idreos Professorship of Science and Religion at Oxford. He has held visiting fellowships at number of institutions including Yale University, the Centre of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.  A Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, he was a recipient of a Centenary Medal in 2003, and delivered the 2011 Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh.   

His research is primarily in the area of cultural and intellectual history, with a focus on the philosophical, scientific and religious thought of the early modern period. His publications include 'Religion' and the Religions in the English Enlightenment (Cambridge, 1990), The Bible, Protestantism, and the Rise of Natural Science (Cambridge, 1998), The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science (Cambridge 2007) and over 60 book chapters and journal articles. He is also editor The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion(Cambridge, 2010) and co-editor (with Ron Numbers and Michael Shank) of Wrestling with Nature: From Omens to Science (Chicago, 2011).

Professor Harrison will give daily presentations, lead discussions of assigned readings, and moderate a dialogue involving all the seminar participants.  Participants will be expected to be active listeners, thoughtful readers, inquisitive discussants, and conscientious teachers.  Each participant will be asked to submit a brief reflective statement within a year of the seminar.  This statement may be as short as 500 words and should describe how the seminar influenced the participant’s thinking, teaching, and (possibly) scholarly writing.

Application Information

Applicant Information, including who may apply and how to apply can be found here.

The application deadline was February 10, 2012. We are no longer accepting applications.


Seminars @ Calvin
Calvin College
1855 Knollcrest Circle SE
Grand Rapids MI 49546-4402
fax 616.526.6682