"Unlikely Allies: Monotheism and the Rise of Science" is an expanded version of the 2019 ISCAST Tony Morgan memorial lecture presented in Sydney.
In this 70-page booklet, the many claims by various religious communities that their tradition played a unique role in the rise of the natural sciences are reviewed. After a brief survey of these claims and the objections to them, it is argued that monotheism in general, more than any particular manifestation of it, played a significant role in the rise of modern science.
The case for monotheism’s positive role in the development of science is not based alone on the historical and geographic proximity of epochs of growth in the natural sciences and strong monotheistic intellectual communities. It is also based on the explanatory value of the proposition that certain key features of monotheism provided fertile conditions for the rise of the natural sciences. Christianity, while not solely responsible for producing these conditions, played a significant role in the rise of science in the modern era. Given these historical links, the view that religion—especially monotheistic religion—is the natural enemy of science must be rejected. Contrary to popular perception, belief in one God and the natural sciences have been unlikely allies for over two millennia.