Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Presentation of a paper originally published as “Altruism and the Administration of the Universe: Kirtley Fletcher Mather onScience and Values.” Zygon 46.3 (Sept 2011):517‐35.

Few American scientists have devoted as much attention to religion and science as Harvard geologist KirtleyFletcher Mather (1888–1978). Responding to antievolutionism during the 1920s, he taught Sunday school classes, assisted in defending John Scopes, and wrote Science in Search of God (1928). Over the next forty years, Mather explored the place of humanity in the universe and the presence of values in light of what he often called “the administration of the universe,” a term and concept he borrowed from his former teacher, geologist Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin. Human values, including cooperation and altruism, had emerged in such a context: “the administrative directive toward orderly organization of increasingly complex systems transcends the urge for survival.” Mather was also active in the early years of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, an organization created by his good friends Ralph Wendell Burhoe and Harlow Shapley.


Presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, CA

Davis, E. B. (2011). Altruism and the administration of the universe: Kirtley fletcher mather on science and values. Zygon®, 46(3), 517–535.