Jonathan R. TophamJul 29, 2023
Reading the Book of Nature
How Eight Best Sellers Reconnected Christianity and the Sciences on the Eve of the Victorian Age
University of Chicago Press 2022
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.
In Reading the Book of Nature: How Eight Best Sellers Reconnected Christianity and the Sciences on the Eve of the Victorian Age (U Chicago Press, 2022), 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.
Jonathan R. Topham is professor of history of science at the University of Leeds, UK.
Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel.