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Feb 13

2014 H.G. Wells Lecture announced

This year’s H. G. Wells Lecture in Science & Society will be given by Dr Thomas Dixon, Senior Lecturer in History of Science at Queen Mary, University of London. It will take place on Wednesday 5 March at 17:15 in Marlow Lecture Theatre 1 at the Canterbury Campus.

The title is BELIEVING WITHOUT SEEING: Faith and Doubt from Galileo to Dawkins.

File:Caravaggio - The Incredulity of Saint Thomas.jpg

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, by Caravaggio, 1601-2

Doubting Thomas has been admired as a model of scepticism and empiricism by scientific luminaries from Thomas Huxley to Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins. His doubtful demand for evidence is favourably contrasted with the ‘blind faith’ of the other disciples. However, aside from misreading the original story, this interpretation misunderstands the nature of both science and faith. In this year’s H. G. Wells Science and Society lecture, Dr Thomas Dixon of Queen Mary, University of London, will trace the histories of science, faith, and doubt from seventeenth-century Rome to the present, with particular reference to Galileo’s telescopic observations, Caravaggio’s masterpiece ‘The Incredulity of St Thomas’, the agnosticism of Thomas Henry Huxley, and the writings of one of his most famous pupils, H. G. Wells. The lecture will suggest that science and religion use evidence to produce knowledge in similar ways and will ask whether the other disciples might have made better scientists than St Thomas.

Dr Dixon’s main publications relating to science and religion are Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction (2008), and Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives (2010). His two current projects are a book entitled Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears, and a BBC Radio series on “Five Hundred Years of Friendship”, to be broadcast in March and April this year.