The Merton thesis is an argument about the nature of early experimental science proposed by Robert K. Merton. Similar to Max Weber's famous claim on the link between Protestant work ethic and the capitalist economy, Merton argued for a similar positive correlation between the rise of Protestant Pietism and early experimental science.The Merton thesis has resulted in continuous debates.
Although scholars are still debating it, Merton's 1936 doctoral dissertation (and two years later his first monograph by the same title) Science, Technology and Society in 17th-Century England raised important issues on the connections between religion and the rise of modern science, became a significant work in the realm of the sociology of science and continues to be cited in new scholarship.Merton further developed this thesis in other publications.
The Merton thesis has two separate parts: firstly, it presents a theory that science changes due to an accumulation of observations and improvement in experimental technique and methodology; secondly, it puts forward the argument that the popularity of science in England in the 17th century, and the religious demography of the Royal Society (English scientists of that time were predominantly Puritans or other Protestants) can be explained by a correlation between Protestantism and the scientific values (see Mertonian norms).
Merton focuses on English Puritanism and German Pietism as being responsible for the development of the scientific revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries. He explains that the connection between religious affiliation and interest in science is a result of a significant synergy between the ascetic Protestant values and those of modern science.Protestant values encouraged scientific research by allowing science to identify God's influence on the world and thus providing religious justification for scientific research.
The first part of Merton's thesis has been criticized for insufficient consideration of the roles of mathematics and the mechanical philosophy in the scientific revolution. The second part has been criticized for the difficulty involved in defining who counts as a Protestant of the "right type" without making arbitrary distinctions. It is also criticized for failing to explain why non-Protestants do science (consider the Catholics Copernicus, da Vinci, Descartes, or Galileo) and conversely why Protestants of the "right type" are not all interested in science.
Merton, acknowledging the criticism, replied that the Puritan ethos was not necessary, although it did facilitate development of science.He also noted that when science had acquired institutional legitimacy, it no longer needed religion, eventually becoming a counterforce, leading to religious decline. Nonetheless, early on, in Merton's view religion was a major factor that allowed the scientific revolution to occur. While the Merton thesis does not explain all the causes of the scientific revolution, it does illuminate possible reasons why England was one of its driving motors and the structure of the English scientific community.
In 1958, American sociologist Gerhard Lenski's empirical inquiry into The Religious Factor: A Sociological Study of Religion's Impact on Politics, Economics, and Family Life in the Detroit area (Michigan) revealed, among other insights, that there were significant differences between Catholics on the one hand and (white) Protestants and Jews on the other hand with regard to economics and the sciences. Lenski's data supported the basic hypotheses of Max Weber's work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. According to Lenski, the "contributions of Protestantism to material progress have been largely unintended by-products of certain distinctive Protestant traits. This was a central point in Weber's theory." Lenski noted that more than a hundred years prior to Weber, John Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodist church, had observed that "diligence and frugality" made Methodists wealthy. "In an early era, Protestant asceticism and dedication to work, as noted both by Wesley and Weber, seem to have been important patterns of action contributing to economic progress." However, Lenski said, asceticism was rare among modern Protestants, and the distinctive Protestant doctrine of "the calling" was largely forgotten. Instead, modern (white) Protestants and Jews had a high degree of "intellectual autonomy" that facilitated scientific and technical advance.By contrast, Lenski pointed out, Catholics developed an intellectual orientation which valued "obedience" to the teachings of their church above intellectual autonomy, which made them less inclined to enter scientific careers. Catholic sociologists had come to the same conclusions.
Lenski traced these differences back to the Reformation and the Catholic church's reaction to it. In Lenski's view, the Reformation encouraged intellectual autonomy among Protestants, in particular the Anabaptists, Puritans, Pietists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. In the Middle Ages, there had been tendencies toward intellectual autonomy, as exemplified in men like Erasmus. But after the Reformation, the Catholic leaders increasingly identified these tendencies with Protestantism and heresy and demanded that Catholics be obedient and faithful to ecclesiastical discipline. In Lenski's opinion, his study showed that these differences between Protestants and Catholics survived to the present day. As a consequence, "none of the predominantly and devoutly Catholic nations in the modern world can be classified as a leading industrial nation. Some Catholic nations – such as France, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile – are quite highly industrialized, but none of them are leaders in the technological and scientific fields, nor do they seem likely to become so. Recently  some Brazilian Catholic social scientists compared their country's progress with that of the United States and concluded that the chief factor responsible for the differential rates of development is the religious heritage of the two nations."
Puritans and Pietists both contributed to intellectual autonomy and provided intellectual tools and values important for science. [ page needed ]As an example, pietism challenged the orthodoxy via new media and formats: Periodical journals gained importance versus the former pasquills and single thesis, traditional disputation was replaced by competitive debating, which tried to gain new knowledge instead of defending orthodox scholarship. It is a part of the forces that lead to modernity.
The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries, who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and needed to become more protestant. Puritanism played a significant role in English history, especially during the Protectorate.
Sociology of religion is the study of the beliefs, practices and organizational forms of religion using the tools and methods of the discipline of sociology. This objective investigation may include the use of both quantitative methods and qualitative approaches such as participant observation, interviewing, and analysis of archival, historical and documentary materials.
Historians of science and of religion, philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others from various geographical regions and cultures have addressed various aspects of the relationship between religion and science. Even though the ancient and medieval worlds did not have conceptions resembling the modern understandings of "science" or of "religion", certain elements of modern ideas on the subject recur throughout history. The pair-structured phrases "religion and science" and "science and religion" first emerged in the literature in the 19th century. This coincided with the refining of "science" and of "religion" as distinct concepts in the preceding few centuries - partly due to professionalization of the sciences, the Protestant Reformation, colonization, and globalization. Since then the relationship between science and religion have been characterized as conflict, harmony, complexity, or mutual independence.
Pietism is a movement within Lutheranism that combines its emphasis on biblical doctrine with the Reformed emphasis on individual piety and living a vigorous Christian life.
Robert King Merton was an American sociologist. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University, where he attained the rank of University Professor. In 1994 he was awarded the National Medal of Science for his contributions to the field and for having founded the sociology of science. He is considered a founding father of modern sociology and a major contributor to criminology.
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The Protestant work ethic, the Calvinist work ethic, or the Puritan work ethic is a work ethic concept in theology, sociology, economics and history that emphasizes that hard work, discipline, and frugality are a result of a person's subscription to the values espoused by the Protestant faith, particularly Calvinism.
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Gerhard Emmanuel "Gerry" Lenski, Jr. was an American sociologist known for contributions to the sociology of religion, social inequality, and introducing the ecological-evolutionary theory. He spent much of his career as a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he served as chair of the Department of Sociology, 1969–72, and as chair of the Division of Social Sciences, 1976-78.
Piotr Sztompka is a Polish sociologist known for his work on the theory of social trust. He is professor of sociology at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, and has also frequently served as visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at Columbia University in New York City.
In sociology of science, obliteration by incorporation (OBI) occurs when at some stage in the development of a science, certain ideas become so universally accepted and commonly used that their contributors are no longer cited. Eventually, its source and creator are forgotten ("obliterated") as the concept enters common knowledge. Obliteration occurs when "the sources of an idea, finding or concept, become obliterated by incorporation in canonical knowledge, so that only a few are still aware of their parentage".
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Reijer Hooykaas was a Dutch historian of science. He along with Eduard Jan Dijksterhuis were pioneers in professionalizing the history of science in the Netherlands. Hooykaas gave the prestigious Gifford Lectures at St. Andrews in 1975-77. H. Floris Cohen dedicated his historiographical text The Scientific Revolution to Hooykaas; its section on religion deals primarily with Hooykaas.
Protestantism is the second-largest form of Christianity with a total of 800 million to 1 billion adherents worldwide or about 37% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.
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