Reading the Book of Nature
How Eight Best Sellers Reconnected Christianity and the Sciences on the Eve of the Victorian Age
- ISBN: 9780226815763
- Published By: University of Chicago Press
- Published: October 2022
A powerful reimagining of the world in which a young Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution.
When Charles Darwin returned to Britain from the Beagle voyage in 1836, the most talked-about scientific books of the day were the Bridgewater Treatises. This series of eight works was funded by a bequest of the last Earl of Bridgewater and written by leading men of science appointed by the president of the Royal Society to explore “the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation.” Securing public attention beyond all expectations, the series offered Darwin’s generation a range of approaches to one of the great questions of the age: how to incorporate the newly emerging disciplinary sciences into Britain’s overwhelmingly Christian culture.
Drawing on a wealth of archival and published sources, including many unexplored by historians, Jonathan R. Topham examines how and to what extent the series contributed to a sense of congruence between Christianity and the sciences in the generation before the fabled Victorian conflict between science and religion. Building on the distinctive insights of book history and paying close attention to the production, circulation, and use of the books, Topham offers new perspectives on early Victorian science and the subject of science and religion as a whole.