The Source of the Conflict Thesis




15:30 - 17:00


 - Dr Clinton Ohlers


Rm 4.04, 4/F

Run Run Shaw Tower,

Centennial Campus, HKU


 - Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, HKU



Laws of Nature and Miracles in the Era of Victorian Scientific Naturalism: The Source of the Conflict Thesis

In the study of the ‘conflict thesis’ of science and religion, two central questions persist: Why does belief in inevitable historical conflict between science and religion remain current, in spite of over a half centuryof historians' best efforts to refute it. Why did this belief and its central narrative, which existed well in advance of the year 1800, rise suddenly to international bestseller status in the last quarter of the nineteenth century? This talk suggests the answer to both these questions is closely linked and discovered in the work of Victorian-era scientific naturalists, theologians, and scientists of religious faith. Careful examination of the nuances of the concepts of laws of nature, divine action, and natural science as a means of knowing, particular to the late Victorian era and reappearing thereafter, offers significant explanation for the sudden, widespread dissemination of the conflict thesis and its lasting influence today.

About the speaker

Dr.Clinton Ohlers is a Research Assistant Professor in the Faith and Science Collaborative Research Forum and Faith and Global Engagement at the University of Hong Kong. Dr. Ohlers is the author of The Birth of the Conflict Between Science and Religion (in process). His current book project delves into where that work began, resituating key elements of early seventeenth-century natural philosophy in England and France. He received his PhD in History from the University of Pennsylvania.

This talk, organised by the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, is part of their Science, Technology and Medicine Seminar, which promotes cross-disciplinary research that straddles the arts, sciences and medicine.