Tomorrow Foundation Professor of History
U.S. intellectual history, Anglo-American religion, history of science
Jon H. Roberts is the Tomorrow Foundation Professor of American Intellectual History at Boston University. He has written a number of articles dealing primarily with the history of the relationship between science and religion, as well as the book Darwinism and the Divine in America: Protestant Intellectuals and Organic Evolution, 1859-1900, which received the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize from the American Society of Church History. He has also co-authored with James Turner The Sacred and the Secular University (Princeton, 2001).
Roberts’s research interests center on the history of Anglo-American religious thought and the history of the relationship between science and religion in Europe and North America. He is currently working on a book tentatively entitled “The Science of the Soul”: American Protestant Thinkers and the Sanctity of Mind, 1607-1940. This book deals with Protestant ideas concerning the privileged status of mind—divine and human—from the colonial period to 1940. Those ideas played a central role in Protestants’ defense of belief in the existence of the personal God of Christianity and the special status of the divine-human encounter in the face of challenges posed by materialists, scientific naturalists, and secular psychologists. In turn, Protestants’ emphasis on the centrality of “personality” in the Christian world view culminated in the emergence of a discourse that played a fundamental role in generating the development of a “therapeutic culture” in the United States. He is also collecting material for a historical treatment of secularization in America.
Roberts has been a Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for American History at Harvard and the Wisconsin Institute for Research in the Humanities as well as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. He has also been elected a member of the International Society of Science and Religion.