John Hedley Brooke


Academic Summary

University of Cambridge, PhD

John Hedley Brooke was the first Andreas Idreos Professor of Science & Religion at Oxford University and a former Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre (1999-2006). He has lectured worldwide and in November 2001 gave the “Distinguished Lecture” of the History of Science Society. From 2000 to 2003 he directed a European Science Foundation project on Science and Human Values. In 1995, with Professor Geoffrey Cantor, he gave the Gifford Lectures at Glasgow University.

The author of more than 100 journal articles and book chapters, he has 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, he was Editorial Consultant for The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology (2013). His 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. A former Editor of the British Journal for the History of Science, he has 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.

He is best known for Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (Cambridge 1991), which won the Watson Davis Prize of the History of Science Society. In 2014 this was reissued in Cambridge University Press’s prestigious Canto Classics series. His other books include: Thinking About Matter (Ashgate, 1995) and (with Geoffrey Cantor) Reconstructing Nature: The Engagement of Science & Religion (Edinburgh 1998). In the historiography of science and religion he is widely recognised for the development of an influential “complexity thesis”. This aspect of his contribution has been examined in Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives, eds. Thomas Dixon, Geoffrey Cantor and Stephen Pumfrey (CUP 2010) and Rethinking History, Science and Religion: An Exploration of Conflict and the Complexity Principle, ed. Bernard Lightman (Pittsburgh UP 2019).

Contact e-mail:



International Society for Science & Religion (ISSR)

Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford

History of Science Society

Science and Religion Forum 


  • Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (1991)
  • Thinking About Matter (1995)
  • Reconstructing Nature: The Engagement of Science and Religion (with G. N. Cantor, 1998)
  • Science in Theistic Contexts (ed, 2001)
  • Heterodoxy in Early Modern Science and Religion (ed, 2005)
  • Religious Values and the Rise of Science in Europe (ed, 2005)
  • Science and Religion around the World (with R. L. Numbers, 2011)