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The Revd Dr Michael Fuller

Michael Fuller is a Teaching Fellow at New College in the University of Edinburgh. He initially studied Chemistry, taking a doctorate for work in the field of organic synthesis, before turning to theology. He is an Anglican priest who served in parishes in the dioceses of  Oxford and Edinburgh, and for 14 years he ran the training programmes for those entering authorised ministry in the Scottish Episcopal Church. He is an honorary Canon of Edinburgh Cathedral.

He is Chair of the Science and Religion Forum, Vice-President for Publications of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology, and a Fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion’ He has authored and edited seven books on science and religion, and has published numerous papers in this field, as well as writing on Russian literature and music.

The Historical Limits of Science

Birmingham 2016

‘Science’ is a term which is widely used, to cover a variety of approaches and practices in humans’ study of the natural world. ‘Modern science’ is often regarded as arising in the wake of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment; but its roots clearly go back to earlier thinkers. Indeed, it has been alleged that these roots go back to the very earliest thinkers of whom we have historical information, the Greek philosophers of the Ionian school (6th century BCE). So, do these thinkers (insofar as we can reconstruct their ideas) represent an historical limit to science – is science as old as recorded Western European thought itself? And if so, what can be said about the relationship between science and religion at this historical limit? This paper focuses on the earliest of these thinkers, Thales of Miletus, and assesses the ways in which his thought may be considered to be ‘scientific’ in the modern sense, and in what senses it was ‘religious’. It would appear that Thales did not believe there to be any incongruity in holding together what might today be considered to be both religious and scientific understandings of the world.