Collection binds together science, religion

Among Huron University College Library’s 165,000 volumes in the humanities and social sciences, perhaps none are quite as ambitious as its latest addition.

Huron is one of three Canadian universities/colleges (and the only one in Ontario) to be awarded a 250-title collection from the Cambridge University-based International Society for Science & Religion (ISSR) library project. Overall, 150 institutions in 47 countries were awarded the collection through a competitive grant program.

The ISSR collection attempts to assemble a shelf of books that, taken together, offer a foundation into science and religion. With contributions from key thinkers from historians, philosophers, theologians and scientists, the collection includes works by Ian Barbour, John Brooke, Philip Clayton, Willem Drees, John Haught, Alister McGrath, Nancey Murphy, Ronald Numbers, Arthur Peacocke, John Polkinghorne, Michael Ruse, Robert John Russell, and Keith Ward, among others.

Pamela MacKay, Huron chief librarian, anticipates the collection will be of great value to researchers and students in a variety of disciplines.

“Some of the books examine the debate or dialogue between science and religion, but then others touch on ethics in the age of technology, or Islam and science,” she said. “They are all not just about the relationship between science and religion, they’re also about relationships of different religions, of technology and are very multi-faceted. What they (ISSR) chose was what they deemed the foundational and essential works. So it’s the definitive collection in the field. It is fascinating because a librarian couldn’t duplicate this process.”

The collection, constructed over many years from more than 2,000 candidate volumes, is currently housed separately in the Information Commons of Huron’s library. It will be part of the circulating collection of the library, available to all Huron and Western University students and faculty.

“The nature of the collection appealed to me because of the interdisciplinary (aspect) of it. It fits with all our theology programs, but it also supports philosophy, history and other areas,” MacKay said. “It’s an area of study in the public discourse; it’s a growing academic field. To have a collection that’s examining the intersection, or the space, between science and religion, that’s just interesting. It is a collection put together for a reason.”

The collection’s balanced, multi-dimensional and diverse studies of thought would be very hard to duplicate. However, MacKay added Huron will try to maintain its prominence by surveying new publications in the field and adding to the collection in the future.

“We don’t want it to become dated. We have this incredible foundation to start from. These are classics, but we can add on,” she said.

To check out Huron’s newest collection, visit the library’s website.