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Michael Faraday's World

Faraday's Religion

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A Very Brief History of Michael Faradays Life
Faraday's Inventions
Faraday's Religion
Faraday Artifacts

The Intertwined Relationships God & Science

Michael Faraday believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible. His whole life, both inside the laboratory and out, was dominated by his faith as a member of the Sandemanians, a small Protestant sect in Britain. His science was inseparable from his religion.

Faraday's faith influenced several aspects of his science: his motivation for research; his theoretical orientation; the experimental problems he pursued; his interpretation of phenomena; and his public communication of science.

The Sandemanians believed in both moral law and physical law, and it was the latter belief that made Faraday's science thematically religious. For Faraday, humans could seek no higher goal than to reveal God's laws of creation. Faraday's devotion guided his patient and detailed observations and, on occasions, his great caution in asserting his conclusions.

 Faraday saw religion as independent of science. He did not subscribe to the popular natural theological arguments of his day, that one could prove God's existence from observations themselves. Religion was primary. While science might indeed reveal God's wisdom, our knowledge of or faith in God surely did not depend on it.Faraday commented extensively on the "economy" of nature, by which he meant God's unified design.His conception of unity also involved symmetry of action. So, when he saw a wire revolving around a magnetic pole, he suggested that a magnetic pole should also revolve around the wire. His suggestion was later confirmed by an experiment.

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Faraday often serves as a model for public communication of science. His popular Christmas Lectures for children are perhaps the most well known. In addition, he actively promoted science education in schools. This, too, was part of Faraday's religious mission. The Sandemanians were relatively private in many respects, but they occasionally opened their meeting house services on Sunday to "enlighten" the public. Faraday, likewise, saw it as part of his mission to open the world of science to nonscientists and to bring an understanding of God's creation to everyone. And this Faraday did with great enthusiasm and skill. Over a hundred years later, his Natural History of a Candle still serves to introduce chemistry students to exemplary scientific methods.

Faraday's influence was so vast that it is hard to imagine nineteenth century science without him. It is equally hard to imagine Faraday's science without his religion

"Nothing is too wonderful to be true." Michael Faraday