Log in to personalise your experience and connect with IOP.

Of Popes and Unicorns

Speaker: David Hutchings

Renowned scientist John William Draper (1811-1882) and celebrated historian-politician Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918) were certain that Enlightened Science and Dogmatic Christianity were mortal enemies—and they said as much to anyone who would listen. More than a century later, their grand and sweeping version of history dominates our landscape; Draper and White's "conflict thesis" is still found in countless textbooks, lecture series, movies, novels, and more.

Yet, as it would later be discovered, they were mistaken. Their work has been torn to shreds by the experts, who have declared it totally at odds with reality. So how, if this is the case, does their wrongheaded narrative still live on? Who were these two men, and what, exactly, did they say? What is it about their God-versus-Science "conflict thesis" that convinced so many? And what—since both claimed to love Science and love Christ—were they actually trying to achieve in the first place?

The answers lie in a tale of Flat Earths, of anaesthetic, and of autopsies; of Creation and Evolution; of laser-eyed lizards and infinite worlds. It is a story of miracles and mathematicians; souls and Great Libraries; the Greeks, the scientific method, the Not-So-Dark-After-All Ages, and - of course - of Popes and Unicorns.

Venue Information

The lecture will take place on Thursday 24th March at 4:30pm. There will be cakes from 4pm. The lecture will take place at University of Leeds in the Roger Stevens Lecture Theatre 19.

The location of the Roger Stevens building can be found here: