Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs
Grant Recipients 
Progress, Religion, and Innovation: From the Reformation to the Enlightenment       
Religion, Naturalism, and Scientific Progress
Award Amount: $100,000
PIs: Peter Harrison and Jon Roberts
Sponsoring Institution: University of Queensland

The Project will investigate the relations among science, naturalism, and religion with a view to determining the nature of their historical interactions and the manner in which singly, or in combination, they have contributed to, or hindered, innovation in human affairs. The chief outputs of the Project will be a conference, an edited collection, and book chapter. Specifically, the Project is designed to explore the following research questions: 1) What are the historical connections between religion and naturalism, and in what sense if any, do they represent opposing tendencies? Is it possible that religion might contribute to the disenchantment of nature and/or to a naturalistic outlook? 2) What are the historical connections between science and naturalism, and in what ways is the former necessary for the latter? 3) Granted that innovation is at least partly normative—which is to say that in order to judge something as innovative requires some appeal to values—what values have led to the identification of science with innovation? 4) Have religious values played a role in normative judgments about the contribution of science to human innovation in the past, and do they still do so today? 5) What is the origin of the distinction between the natural and the supernatural, and in what ways is the recognition of this distinction related to the emergence of modern science and innovation thought to characterize the history of modern West? 6) Can science be defined in terms of naturalistic commitments, and have such commitments always been integral to science?

Peter Harrison is professor of history and director of the Centre for the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland.
He has written on the emergence of modern science in relation to more general questions about Western modernity. He has paid particular attention to the role of religion in the rise of science, and his 2011 Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh dealt in detail with science, religion, and modernity. He was the Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford as well as a member of the Faculties of Theology and History, a Fellow of Harris Manchester College, and Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre, where he continues to hold a Senior Research Fellowship. He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and author of a number of important books, including The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and The Bible, Protestantism, and the Rise of Natural Science (Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Jon H. Roberts is Tomorrow Foundation Professor of American Intellectual History at Boston University. He is author of Darwinism and the Divine in America: Protestant Intellectuals and Organic Evolution, 1859-1900 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), which received the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize from the American Society of Church History; and (with James Turner) The Sacred and the Secular University (Princeton University Press, 2000), which received the Thomas Bonner Prize.

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