Bennett Zon

Published On


Page Range

pp. 87–108


  • English

Print Length

22 pages

5. Religion, Science, and Music

An Augustinian Trinity

Although, as Sir John Templeton claims, ‘god is revealing himself . . . through the astonishingly productive research of modern scientists’, it’s fair to say that religion and science have not always seen eye to eye, particularly since the late nineteenth-century. Indeed, a culture of suspicion continues to haunt their relationship today despite valiant efforts, like Templeton’s, to resolve their differences. Music can help. Music can help bring them together, and not simply because it can help us discover spiritual realities, but because—as this chapter argues—music is intrinsically unifying. Music not only brings people together, it also brings ideas together, and it does so because it is itself unified by the very features of its own design. In this sense, music not only helps us discover spiritual realities, it is, as Augustine suggests, those spiritual realities themselves; it is, as Templeton suggests, god revealing himself. This chapter responds to those suggestions in two ways: firstly, by hypothesizing a relationship between religion, science and music today; and secondly, by testing that hypothesis against Augustine’s theo-psychological understanding of music. A conclusion summarizes my findings, and points to future plans, of which the present chapter may serve as a type of pilot.


Bennett Zon

Professor of Music at Durham University

Bennett Zon is Professor of Music at Durham University. He is Founding Director of the International Network for Music Theology and Inaugural President of the International Nineteenth-Century Studies Association. His publications include Music and Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century Britain (2000), Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain (2007), and Evolution and Victorian Musical Culture (2017).