Science and Religion in Fin de Siècle Germany: The Catholic Response to the Challenge of Science

Dr. Thomas Buckley
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Science’s prominent role both prior to and following the Fin de Siècle elicited a variety of responses from diverse segments of the German-speaking population. The large number of popular scientific writings, both in journal and in book form, attests to the unparalleled fascination with scientific advancement and its technological realization. Yet the large number of such texts does not eclipse the fact, that science represents a predicament for some members of society, the Catholic population among others. On the one hand, science has brought about immense progress. On the other hand, however, it has been incapable of constructing a unified world view. Instead, through its many discoveries and increasing trend toward specialization, the world has become an amalgam of disparate elements and components, fueling a sense of crisis and disillusionment. This poses a particular dilemma to traditional Catholic views, which are accustomed to a unified explanation of nature and the world, which does not conflict with Church doctrine. This paper utilizes three Catholic popular and literary journals from the Fin de Siècle as a barometer, in order to explore the Catholic response to the challenges posed by the “new scientific world order.”

Keywords: Attitudes toward science, Catholicism, Fin de Siecle Germany, literary and popular journals
Stream: Religion, Spirituality
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Science and Religion in Fin de Siècle Germany

Dr. Thomas Buckley

Assistant Professor of German, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Saint Joseph's University

Thomas Buckley is an Assistant Professor of German in the Dept. of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. He teaches all levels of German language, literature and culture. His main research interests have focused on nineteenth century (most especially Realism), as well as early 20th century German literature and culture, with a particular emphasis on the relations between literature and science.

Ref: H06P0295