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Peter Harrison provides an account of the religious foundations of scientific knowledge. He shows how the approaches to the study of nature that emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were directly informed by theological discussions about the Fall of Man and the extent to which the mind and the senses had been damaged by that primeval event. Scientific methods, he suggests, were originally devised as techniques for ameliorating the cognitive damage wrought by human sin. At its inception, modern science was conceptualized as a means of recapturing the knowledge of nature that Adam had once possessed. Contrary to a widespread view that sees science emerging in conflict with religion, Harrison argues that theological considerations were of vital importance in the framing of the scientific method.


'This is a brilliantly written and persuasively argued book, which will be required reading for anybody interested in the influence of religion on early modern scientific method and epistemology.'  -David C. Lindberg, University of Wisconsin

‘This book is a model of what probing intelligence, historical curiosity and impeccable scholarship can accomplish.’ --Matthew Day, Church History

'…another outstanding study in the history of the relationship between science and religion.’ --Lydia Jaeger, Science and Christian Belief

‘I have learned much and have been stimulated to learn more about an area that the author has succeeded, with immense learning and beautiful prose, in opening up to the nonscientist or historian of science.’ --Mark Elliott, Review of Biblical Literature

‘In this extraordinary book, Peter Harrison seeks to show how the biblical account of the Fall of Adam affected the status and pursuit of knowledge in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries…. Harrison has produced a brilliant and important scholarly work.  He has taken a theme to which few have paid much attention, and shows its significance in striking detail.' --Edward Grant, Metascience

‘That pessimistic, otherworldly Protestant theology helped to produce optimistic modern science is the major thesis masterfully defended in this well-wrought, meticulously documented book.’ --Kalman P. Bland, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

‘Peter Harrison is a foremost writer on the historical foundations of the relationship between science and religion. Along with two other monographs, and a host of articles, this work is of immense value to anyone who intends to delve beneath our ideological assumptions about the rise of science. The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science is erudite, very readable, and a formidable challenge to widely held scholarship in its field.' --James Lancaster, Symposia

‘…  remarkable and compelling...   This book extends the historical canvas of Harrison’s earlier The Bible, Protestantism and the Rise of Natural Science and does so with the absorbing historical insight that characterizes that earlier volume.' --Michael Fuller, The Expository Times 

‘Peter Harrison has written a fascinating and profound work which makes an important contribution to our understanding of the complex theological context which gave rise to modern science and its methods—and indeed to modernity itself.’ --Charlotte Methuen, Journal of Theological Studies

'Harrison develops another delightfully counter-intuitive argument in this new book….  a compelling example of how religion interacted with the study of nature in the seventeenth century – a frequently fruitful relationship that helped lead to the development of modern science in often unexpected ways.' --Stephen D. Snobelen, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

‘This is an exciting book.  Its argumentation is very convincing and gives a new view of the role of religion in the development of natural sciences.  The book links the disciplines of theology, philosophy, history, and physics in a fascinating way.  It is the result of thorough research in the writings of many scientists in the sixteenth and seventeenth century.  But Harrison is able to present this result in a smooth style, sometimes almost as a novel.' --Barend Kamphuis, Journal of Reformed Theology

‘… this is one of the most insightful, carefully researched, tightly argued and helpful contributions on the relationship between the development of scientific knowledge and the influence of religion on that development that I have read.’ --Dion Forster, Studia Historiae Ecclesiastica

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