In a long and rewarding career, which began in Cambridge as a student of the natural sciences, I have been deeply fascinated by the history of science and the manner in which the production of scientific knowledge has been shaped by the cultural contexts in which it has been pursued. In addition to research and writing on the history of chemistry, I soon developed a particular interest in the historical relations between scientific innovation and religious belief. In many publications, I have emphasised the richness, diversity and complexity of these relations in contrast to their depiction in popular myths and legends.
A former Editor of the British Journal for the History of Science, I have been President of the British Society for the History of Science, President of the Historical Section of the British Science Association, President of the UK Forum for Science & Religion and of the International Society for Science and Religion.
I am best known for Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (Cambridge 1991 and 2014), which won the Watson Davis Prize of the History of Science Society. My other books include: Thinking About Matter (Ashgate, 1995); and (with Geoffrey Cantor) Reconstructing Nature: The Engagement of Science & Religion (Edinburgh 1998).
The author of more than 100 journal articles and book chapters, I have contributed to The Cambridge Companion to Darwin, The Cambridge Companion to the “Origin of Species”, The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion, The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science, The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century British Philosophy, and The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible. Together with Fraser Watts, I was Editorial Consultant for The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology (2013). My research interests have embraced the history of organic chemistry, the British natural theology tradition from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, Victorian science, and the evaluation of the sciences in different religious cultures.