Geology and Religion in Portugal

Maria Paula Diogo, Ana Carneiro, Ana Simões, Teresa Salomé Mota

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6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses the relationship between geology and religion in Portugal by focusing on three case studies of naturalists who produced original research and lived in different historical periods, from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Whereas in non-peripheral European countries religious themes and even controversies between science and religion were dealt with by scientists and discussed in scientific communities, in Portugal the absence of a debate between science and religion within scientific and intellectual circles is particularly striking. From the historiographic point of view, in a country such as Portugal, where Roman Catholicism is part of the religious and cultural tradition, the influence of religion in all aspects of life has been either taken for granted by those less familiar with the national context or dismissed by local intellectuals, who do not see it as relevant to science. The situation is more complex than these dichotomies, rendering the study of this question particularly appealing from the historiographic point of view, geology being by its very nature a well-suited point from which to approach the theme. We argue that there is a long tradition of independence between science and religion, agnosticism and even atheism among local elites. Especially from the eighteenth century onwards, they are usually portrayed as enlightened minds who struggled against religious and political obscurantism. Religion-or, to be more precise, the Roman Catholic Church and its institutions-was usually identified with backwardness, whereas science was seen as the path to progress; consequently men of science usually dissociated their scientific production from religious belief.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-354
JournalNotes And Records Of The Royal Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2013


  • geology and religion in Portugal
  • anticlericalism
  • Inquisition
  • Salazar's dictatorship


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