The 2009 Dingle Prize Lecture will be given by Thomas Dixon on Friday 9th October at the Pearson Lecture Theatre, University College London, at 6.30pm – all welcome.
The Starry Messenger and the Incredulity of St Thomas
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 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 lecture, Thomas Dixon will explore the science, religion and art of early seventeenth-century Rome, with particular reference to Galileo’s telescopic observations and Caravaggio’s masterpiece ‘The Incredulity of St Thomas’. 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 Thomas Dixon is Senior Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London. His book ‘Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction’ (Oxford University Press, 2008) was awarded the 2009 Dingle
Prize by the British Society for the History of Science. The Dingle Prize is awarded biennially for the best book in the history of science, technology and medicine accessible to a non-expert readership. In commending Dixon’s book the judges wrote: “Using a wide-range of examples Dixon beautifully demonstrates how the history of science can illuminate a complex issue of contemporary importance – the relationship between science and religion. The book is historically sophisticated, intellectually engaging, and thought provoking. It is clearly and
concisely written, well argued, and accessible to the non-expert; it should appeal to a wide readership not only beyond the history of science community but also outside academia.”