Stephen D. Snobelen

Stephen D.
Associate Professor of Humanities
BA(Hon), MA (Victoria), MPhil, PhD(Cantab)

Faculty Member, History of Science and Technology Programme

A native of British Columbia, Dr. Snobelen took his BA and MA in history at the University of Victoria and his MPhil and PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. From 1999 to 2001 he was a Junior Research Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge. He came to King's College in 2001. Some of his courses are cross-listed with Early Modern Studies, Contemporary Studies, History and Religious Studies. He holds adjunct positions in the Department of History (Graduate Studies) at Dalhousie University and The Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science (IHPST) at the University of Toronto. In 1998, Dr. Snobelen helped found the Newton Project, a Cambridge-based endeavour to transcribe and publish Isaac Newton's lesser-known manuscripts. He is a member of the editorial board of the UK organization, and is the director of the Newton Project Canada, which is based at the University of King’s College. In 2002, Dr. Snobelen was awarded the John Templeton Foundation Science and Religion Course Award for his two courses, Science and Religion: Historical Perspectives and Science and Religion: Contemporary Perspectives. He was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, University of Victoria (2007-2008) and a Dibner Research Fellow in the History of Science and Technology at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California (2014-2015).

Current research projects

Dr Snobelen's primary research efforts are currently devoted to interpreting Isaac Newton's theological manuscripts and understanding the relationships between Newton's science and his religion.


Dr. Snobelen has consulted for and appeared in the television documentaries Newton: the dark heretic (BBC 2, 2003), Newton's dark secrets (Nova, 2005), Apocalypse 2060 (Vision TV, 2009), The Nostradamus Effect: Apocalypse Code (History Channel, 2009).

Selected publications

Edited volumes:

  • Isaac Newton's General Scholium to the Principia: science, religion and metaphysics, forthcoming, co-edited with Steffen Ducheyne and Scott Mandelbrote.
  • "The Unknown Newton," Symposium on Isaac Newton's science and religion, The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society (Winter 2015), pp. 46-115, guest co-ordinating editor (journal editor: Adam Keiper)
  • Isaac Newton in the Eighteenth Century, special issue of Enlightenment and Dissent, No. 25, 2009

Exhibition guide:


  • "The Unknown Newton: Cosmos and Apocalypse". The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society Number 44 (Winter 2015): 76-94
  • "Science, religion and the New Atheism". In The New Atheism, ed. Susan Harris. Charlottetown: St. Peter Publications, 2013, 109-44.
  • "Newton the believer". In The Isaac Newton Guidebook, ed. Denis R Alexander. Cambridge: The Faraday Institute, 2012, pp. 35-44.
  • "The myth of the clockwork universe: Newton, Newtonianism, the the Enlightenment". In The persistence of the sacred in modern thought, ed. Chris L. Firestone and Nathan Jacobs. University of Notre Dame Press, 2012, pp. 149-84.
  • "The Theology of Isaac Newton’s Principia mathematica: a preliminary survey”. Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 52 (2010): 377–412.
  • “Isaac Newton, heresy laws and the persecution of religious dissent”. Enlightenment and Dissent 25 (2009): 204–59.
  • "'In the language of men': the hermeneutics of accommodation in the Scientific Revolution".In Interpreting Nature and Scripture in the Abrahamic Religions: History of a Dialogue, ed. Jitse M. van der Meer and Scott H. Mandelbrote. Vol. 1. Leiden: Brill, 2008, pp. 691-732
  • "'Not in the language of Astronomers': Isaac Newton, Scripture and the hermeneutics of accommodation". In Interpreting Nature and Scripture in the Abrahamic Religions: History of a Dialogue, ed. Jitse M. van der Meer and Scott H. Mandelbrote. Vol. 1. Leiden: Brill, 2008, pp. 491-530
  • “Robert Hooke finally gets his due”. Essay review of recent works on Robert Hooke and events related to the 2003 Hooke tercentenary. Communiqué, quarterly journal of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, No. 70 (Summer 2008): 1, 12-17.
  • The biblical view of Nature”. Science, Religion, and Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Controversy, 2 vols., ed. Arri Eisen and Gary Laderman. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 338-49.
  • “‘La luz de la Naturaleza’: Dios y filosofía natural en la Óptica de Isaac Newton”. In Ciencia y religión en la edad moderna, ed. José Montesinos and Sergio Toledo. La Orotava: Fundación Canaria Orotava de Historia de la Ciencia, 2007, pp. 117-50 (Spanish translation of “‘The Light of Nature’: God and natural philosophy in Newton’s Opticks”, 2004, by Felipe Ochoa; first published in Estudios de Filosofía, 2007)
  • “‘To us there is but one God, the Father’: antitrinitarian textual criticism in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century England”. In Scripture and scholarship in early modern England, ed. Ariel Hessayon and Nicholas Keene. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate, 2006, pp. 116-136.
  • “‘The true frame of Nature’: Isaac Newton, heresy and the reformation of natural philosophy”. In Heterodoxy in early modern science and religion, ed. John Brooke and Ian Maclean. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 223-262.
  • “Isaac Newton, Socinianism and ‘the one supreme God’”. In Socinianism and cultural exchange: the European dimension of Antitrinitarian and Arminian Networks, 1650-1720, ed. Martin Mulsow and Jan Rohls. Leiden: Brill, 2005, pp. 241-293.
  • “‘La Lumière de la Nature’: Dieu et la philosophie naturelle dans l’Optique de Newton”, Lumières 4 (2004): 65-104. (French translation of “‘The Light of Nature’: God and natural philosophy in Newton’s Opticks” by Jean-François Baillon).
  • “Lust, pride and ambition: Isaac Newton and the devil”. In Newton and Newtonianism: new studies, ed. James E. Force and Sarah Hutton. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2004, pp. 155-181.
  • “William Whiston, Isaac Newton and the crisis of publicity”. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 35 (2004): 573-603.
  • “To discourse of God: Isaac Newton’s heterodox theology and his natural philosophy”. In Science and dissent in England, 1688-1945, ed. Paul B. Wood. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate, 2004, pp. 39-65
  • “‘A time and times and the dividing of time’: Isaac Newton, the Apocalypse and 2060 A.D.”. The Canadian Journal of History 38 (December 2003): 537-551.
  • “Making Newton easy: William Whiston in Cambridge and London”. In From Newton to Hawking: a history of Cambridge University’s Lucasian Professors of Mathematics, ed. Kevin Knox and Richard Noakes, Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 135-170 (co-written with Larry Stewart).
  • “‘God of Gods, and Lord of Lords’: the theology of Isaac Newton’s General Scholium to the Principia”. Osiris 16 (2001): 169-208.
  • “‘The mystery of this restitution of all things’: Isaac Newton on the return of the Jews”. In The millenarian turn: millenarian contexts of science, politics, and everyday Anglo-American life in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ed. James E. Force and Richard H. Popkin. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2001, 95-118.
  • “Of stones, men and angels: the competing myth of Isabelle Duncan’s Pre-Adamite man (1860)”. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 32 (March 2001): 59-104.
  • “Isaac Newton, heretic: the strategies of a Nicodemite”. The British Journal for the History of Science 32 (December 1999): 381-419.
  • “A further irony: apocalyptic readings of Edward Gibbon’s Decline and fall of the Roman Empire”. The Canadian Journal of History 33 (December 1998): 387-416. 

Classes taught



History of science (early modern and nineteenth century), science and religion, Isaac Newton, science in popular culture, the popularization of science, radical theology in the early modern period, millenarianism.