Portal:History of science/Article/10

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Galileo before the Holy Office by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury, a classic depiction of science clashing with religion

The conflict thesis, also known as the warfare thesis, the warfare model or the Draper-White thesis, is an interpretive model of the relationship between religion and science. According to the conflict thesis, any interaction between religion and science almost inevitably leads to open hostility, with religion usually taking the part of the aggressor against new scientific ideas. The conflict thesis was a popular historiographical approach in the history of science during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but many historians of science and related academics no longer accept it. It remains popular with a general audience, and is often invoked both by advocates of science and religion alike with stakes in making science and religion seem irreconcilable.

The most influential exponents of the conflict thesis were John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White. In the early 1870s, Draper was invited to write a book on History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874). He directed his criticism primarily against Roman Catholicism, while assessing Islam and Protestantism as having a friendly relationship toward science. In 1896, White published the History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, the culmination of thirty years of research and publication on the subject. His target was any form of restrictive, dogmatic Christianity. Most advocates of the conflict thesis, like Draper and White, have focused on the alleged hostility of Christianity toward science, though Islam has received some criticism of its own.