Australian Anglican clergymen, science and religion, 1820-1850

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


The second quarter of the nineteenth century has long been recognized as a formative period for public discussion of the relationship between science and religion, particularly in emerging sciences such as geology, where new evidence raised questions about the interpretation of the Bible. Recent scholarly studies of scientific publishing, theologies of nature, and links between missionaries and scientific endeavour have drawn attention to various ways in which the relationship between religion and science was understood during the period. A common theme has been the key role of clergymen in public discourse. A lacuna in this literature, however, has been analysis of colonial sites in which these debates took place. In colonies such as New South Wales, for example, public discussion of these issues was dominated by Anglican clergyman-scientists. Yet they have attracted little attention from scholars. The purpose of this paper is therefore to assess, by analysis of the journalism of the Australian colonies' most important clergyman-scientists, the contribution of Australian Anglican clergymen to local debates about scientific knowledge and religious understanding in the years between 18205 and 1850. Their efforts, I argue, did much to frame that discourse in Christian terms, and fostered an intellectual climate which promoted both scientific endeavour and Christian orthodoxy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGod's Bounty? The Churches and the Natural World.
EditorsTony Claydon, Peter Clarke
Place of PublicationSuffolk, England
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780954680961
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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