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Magisteria review: A Contest Over Cosmic Authority

Magisteria review: A Contest Over Cosmic Authority

Philosopher, journalist and prolific author Julian Baggini reviews Nick Spencer’s new book Magisteria for The Wall Street Journal. 02/06/2023

Religion has always been the enemy of science, suppressing its findings—by lethal methods when necessary. Only with the rise of secularism were brave, agnostic and atheist scientists able to loosen the theological stronghold on their discipline and pursue their fierce pursuit of truth unhindered. Even now the reactionary forces of faith continue to resist ideas that contradict their dogmas. This is the myth that Nicholas Spencer, a senior fellow at Theos, a London–based Christian think tank, sets out to bust in “Magisteria.”

The conflict between science and religion has been overstated, as Mr. Spencer shows: some of the greatest scientific discoveries in history have come from people with religious convictions and took place within religious traditions that, if sometimes in a circumscribed way, encouraged intellectual inquiry. But Mr. Spencer exaggerates the extent of the exaggeration and as a result ends up overstating the degree of historical harmony. Readers who allow for this, however, will be rewarded with a fascinating tour through a history of a difficult relationship, the fate of which is still unclear.

Read the full article here.

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 Image by The Wall Street Journal

Nick Spencer

Nick Spencer

Nick is Senior Fellow at Theos. He is the author of a number of books and reports, including Magisteria: the entangled histories of science and religion (Oneworld, 2023), The Political Samaritan: how power hijacked a parable (Bloomsbury, 2017), The Evolution of the West (SPCK, 2016) and Atheists: The Origin of the Species (Bloomsbury, 2014). He is host of the podcast Reading Our Times.

Watch, listen to or read more from Nick Spencer

Posted 2 June 2023


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