Nature and the Godly Empire: Science and Evangelical Mission in the Pacific, 1795-1850

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Nineteenth-century historians have described how science became secular and how scientific theories such as evolution justified colonialism. This book explores the relationship between nineteenth-century science and Christianity outside the Western world. At focus are the intrepid missionaries of the London Missionary Society who reverently surveyed the oceans and islands of the Pacific and instructed converts to observe nature in order to interpret God's designs. Sujit Sivasundaram argues that the knowledge that these missionaries practised functioned as a popular science that was inextricably linked with religious expansion. He shows how Britain's providential empire found support from popular views of nature as much as elite science and how science and religion came together in communities far from the metropolis even as disputes raged in Europe. This will be essential reading for historians of empire, science and religion, cultural historians, environmental historians and anthropologists.