Abstract

According to scholarly tradition, John Calvin was hostile to the science of his day. This notion, as has recently been demonstrated, is based upon fabricated quotes by nineteenthcentury scholars. In fact, Poole’s article emphasizes, Calvin was deeply interested in the astronomical innovations of his day, and the first book of the Institutes of the Christian Religion is steeped in astronomical and cosmological language. In crucial ways, the theology of the Institutes rests on Calvin’s presentation of the physical machinations of the universe. The doctrine of predestination, in Calvin’s writing, emerges from the notion of a radically contingent physical world. By contrast, the English theologian Richard Hooker bases his understanding of God on the notion of an utterly predictable and stable physical environment and cosmology. At the turn of the seventeenth century, then, competing English theologies were predicated on competing understandings of the material universe. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Poole finds a play, and a main character, trying to negotiate between these two irreconcilable models of physics and, by extension, two irreconcilable understandings of God.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1549-3377
Print ISSN
0743-6831
Pages
pp. 127-152
Launched on MUSE
2009-04-11
Open Access
No
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