Category Archives: history of science

A peeved believer argues that science arose from Christianity

Yesterday reader “Py” wrote in trying to add a comment to an old post, “Did Christianity (and other religions) promote the rise of science?” Here’s the comment: I say without Christianity, there’ll be no modern science. An incomplete list of Christian Scientists (i’ve got a link to 80+ more, all YECs) vs. An incomplete list of […]

Must we study history to understand science?

I am a big fan of the history of science—not because it’s helped me do better science (though some of my research, including that on “Haldane’s Rule,” derived from papers that were largely forgotten).  I think that it’s interesting to understand the history of one’s discipline, but not essential for practicing good science. Alejandra Dubcovsky, […]

The kids who drew on the manuscript of On The Origin of Species

by Matthew Cobb PhD student Benjamin Breen at the University of Texas at Austin has posted this treasure trove at The Appendix. Maybe you all know about it, but I didn’t, and neither did Professor Ceiling Cat. (It was originally published by The Daily Telegraph in 2009, to coincide with an exhibition at Cambridge University […]

Darwin’s pet tortoise

by Greg Mayer (addendum below) Darwin lived in the country, and had many animals– for companionship, work, and research. For companions, his chief pets were d*gs (my favorite of Darwin’s d*gs was Bob), but he also had a tortoise that he brought home from James (Santiago) Island in the Galapagos. It has been claimed (most […]

Why John Scopes wasn’t a racist, and other lessons from the “Monkey Trial”

This is a lesson in the history of biology—not from me, but for me. A while back I visited John Scopes’s grave in Paducah, Kentucky and praised him, saying that I would have liked to shake his hand (I discovered that he didn’t die until I was 20). Well, that statement and the picture of […]

More good things by Wallace

by Greg Mayer We’ve already posted some things to read by and about Alfred Russel Wallace in honor of Wallace Year, including a list by me and a recent list by fellow Wallace-ophile Andrew Berry. There’s another item that I can recommend to WEIT readers, which I had known about and forgotten to mention, but […]

A guest post for Wallace Day

This guest post is required reading for everyone here, as today is a special day, creating what they call a “teachable moment” about the history of biology. For today marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace, which means there are people still alive who were his contemporaries. He is, of course, […]

An atheist gives religion credit for gunpowder, writing, printing, and agriculture

I’m appalled at a article in Saturday’s Torygraph that gives credit to religion for major advances in technology. A while ago, we discussed the accommodationist contention that “science derives from Christianity,” with one of its lamest assertions being that some believers, like Isaac Newton, made contributions to science.  That alone is supposed to give a […]

Robert Richards’ new collection of essays on the history of evolutionary biology, including “Was Hitler a Darwinian?”

My Chicago colleague Robert Richards, a historian of science, has just come out with a new anthology of his essays on evolutionary biology: Was Hitler a Darwinian? Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory. So far I’ve read only two essays (the two mentioned below), but those are both very good, and on that […]

How to recognize a hidebound accommodationist

Just use the Galileo Test. It’s the test I use to discern whether people will defend religion (or “belief in belief”) at all costs, regardless of the facts, or argue that there is no contradiction between science and religion. Here’s how the test works:  just ask someone acquainted with Galileo’s dispute with the Church what, […]


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