This tradition was, thus, one of the targets by those who argued for an independent, professional and socially prestigious science. Part of the rhetoric they used was to show that the establishment, and with it the Church of England, was preventing the development of science and the welfare of the country.
Members of the X-Club came predominantly from the academic fringes (educated, for instance, outside the traditional Oxford-Cambridge system) and also from the middle classes.
The ‘conflict thesis’ about the relationship between science and religion actually did not emerge until the nineteenth century.
During much of European history, educated people were rather convinced that the opposite of the conflict thesis was true.
Science and religion are nowadays often seen as conflicting forces.
Many scientists adamantly insist that religious belief has no place in a scientific worldview and attitude, while some religious believers vigorously dispute the truth claims of science. History can shed revealing light on this important issue.
Similarly, “religion” is a category that, in its current meaning, can be traced back, first to the Wars of Religion in post-Reformation Christian Europe and, later, to the Imperial encounter and manipulation of political and spiritual realities in the colonies overseas.
Moreover, the notion of religion, in which Christianity would dissolve as one among many other realities (on equal terms with Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.), may also be understood as part of the secularising project of the Enlightenment.
Based on these two elucidations, Harrison’s point is that the kind “science-and-religion” can only be a product emerging at the time of the consolidation of the categories of both “science” and “religion”.
Was the conflict thesis a necessary consequence of this process? Then, how did it gain momentum and how is it that it still holds legitimacy in the public sphere?