Newman and science

As well as taking considerable interest in science while at Oxford, Newman was alive to its growing importance in society and therefore to its importance for the Catholic University. Newman’s understanding of the dynamics of science and its need for autonomy and ‘elbow room’ are illustrated in four of the ten lectures which make up the second half of the Idea of a university. These are:

‘A form of infidelity of the day’,

‘Christianity and physical science’,

‘Christianity and scientific investigation’,

and ‘Christianity and medical science’.

Twenty years before Maxwell opened the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, Newman had set about opening a faculty of science in Dublin: he oversaw the establishment of laboratories for chemistry and physics, ensured that the library was well-stocked with scientific papers and journals, offered valuable scholarships and prizes for those studying science, urged the scientists at the University to undertake research, and helped them do this by starting up the academic journal Atlantis.

When the British Association for the Advancement of Science met in Dublin in 1857, Newman sent delegates to their meetings and welcomed visitors from the conference to the University.

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