Plenary Lecture

Friday, Sept. 25, 2015          5:30PM | Birks Chapel

Reflections on a Complex Juxtaposition

Dr. Ian Stewart (King’s College, NS)

Why study—and indeed devote a conference to—the field of religion and science? Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’, and its complex reception, make clear both how necessary and yet also how potentially fraught with challenges such a juxtaposition still is today. This address will draw on some historical examples to explore ways in which the two fields have been delineated and related to one another in often surprising contexts—both those in which ‘science’ and ‘religion’ were arguably indistinguishable, and those in which their mutual alienation was proclaimed. Contemporary perspectives from the fields of science studies and philosophy of religion, including some addressed by participants in this conference, will be considered to suggest that, however problematic the very notion of such a juxtaposition can be, its continued vitality and importance is assured.


Dr. Ian Stewart is Assistant Professor in the History of Science and Technology Programme, University of King’s College, and Adjunct at the Department of Classics, Dalhousie University. He holds a BSc (Hons.) in Physics (Trent University), and an M.A. (Toronto) and PhD (Cambridge) in History and Philosophy of Science. His scholarly work and interests in the early-modern field concern such figures as the mid-17th century English mathematician, theologian and scholar Isaac Barrow and his Cambridge context, and earlier figures such as Francis Bacon and William Gilbert. At King’s he teaches a broad range of courses concerning the interconnections of philosophy, religion and science in the ancient, medieval and early modern periods. More contemporary interests include socio-epistemological analysis of contemporary environmental public policy and the role of science and scientific authority in its formation and public reception.

For a list of Dr. Stewart’s selected publications, courses he taught, and more info, visit: