- USAF Academy Department of History
Observing God: Thomas Dick, Evangelicalism, and Popular Science in Victorian Britain and America
by William J. Astore
Scottish theologian, educator, astronomer and popularizer of science, Thomas Dick (1774-1857) promoted a Christianized form of science to inhibit secularization, to win converts to Christianity, and to persuade evangelicals that science was sacred. His devotional theology of nature made radical claims for cultural authority. This book presents the first detailed analysis of his life and works. After an extended biographical introduction, Dick’s theology of nature is examined within the context of natural theology, and also his views on the plurality of worlds, the nebular hypothesis and geology. Other chapters deal with Dick’s use of aesthetics to shape social behaviour for millennial purposes, and with the publishing history of his works, their availability and their reception. In the final part, the author explores Dick’s influence in America. His pacifism won him Northern evangelical supporters, while his writings dominated the burgeoning field of popular science, powerfully shaping science’s cultural meaning and its uses.