The impact of nineteenth century science and biblical criticism on expressions of faith and theology, with especial reference to the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterial Churches of New Zealand
Bell, David Stanley
This thesis deals with aspects of the history of the faithscience interaction in New Zealand in relation to the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, during the Victorian era. 1. Chapter one gives a general introduction to four factors received from the British scientific tradition that were to play a significant part in the early discussions about science and faith during the missionary and early colonial period. These are: (a) the Baconian ideal of science; (b) the status of Newton and Newtonianism; (c) the development of geology and biology and their relationship to natural theology; (d) the initial reception of Darwin's The Origin of Species. 2. Chapters two and three focus upon the contributions of the missionaries and early settlers to the faith-science interaction, with particular emphasis on W. Colenso and R. Taylor, the leading missionary scientists of the period. Note is taken of the underlying tension generated between reconciling the new findings of geology and the Biblical account of creation. Chapter three explores aspects of the emerging social context for science and faith during the early settler period, especially concentrating on the class settlements of Dunedin and Christchurch, both of which had strong religious affiliations. Samuel Butler's notable work in drawing attention to Darwin's The Origin of Species is highlighted. 3. Chapter four details the way in which the new theories of Biblical criticism, coming to prominence coterminously with Darwin's theories, combined to cause various controversies over what constituted Biblical truth, scientific truth, and called into question the status of both revealed religion and natural theology. Theological reaction to the ascendency of science, sometimes characterised by a retreat into Biblical literalism and the appeal to miracle, is analyzed. The range of clerical opinion about science is revealed in the writings of various church leaders, notably A.R. Fitchett, S.T. Nevill, R. Waddell, and W. Salmond. 4. In chapter five the formation, life and some of the personalities of the New Zealand Institute are discussed with particular reference to three major debates: the status of natural theology, the status of speculative geometry, and the status of the book of Genesis in relation to scientific knowledge. The popularity of astronomy, with its influence on the symbolic language of faith, is also considered. A contrast is drawn between declining clerical interest in science and mathematics, and the concept of the mathematization of nature as an objective of modern science.
Advisor: Matheson, Peter
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Theology
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis