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The Invisible College: The Royal Society, Freemasonry and the Birth of Modern Science [Hardcover]

Robert Lomas
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Jan 2002
Until the sixteenth century, people believed in magic as a way of explaining how the world worked. Indeed Queen Elizabeth I had a court magician, John Dee. However during the reign of the Stuart kings magic was killed and science took its place. This change came about because a group of men met in London and decided to set up a society to study the mechanisms of nature. Yet the men who founded this society in 1660 - including Robert Moray, Christopher Wren, Elias Ashmole and John Evelyn - were not only the first scientists but the last sorcerers, performing chemical experiments with powdered Unicorn horn...They had also fought on different sides in the Civil War. The story of how they came together comes as a revelation and will change your view of history and science forever.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (7 Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074723969X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747239697
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,142,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'A rollicking yarn of Restoration politicking, which is possibly useful even if one is immune to grander conspiriology' -- Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A secret society, Freemasons and the invention of modern science. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Royal Society's beginnings, warts and all! 6 Jan 2002
By A Customer
Robert Lomas' latest offering The Invisible College provides us with a fascinating account of his examination of the United Kingdom's most renowned institution for the advancement of science, the Royal Society. Dr Lomas takes the reader on a journey through time starting during the reign of James I (VI of Scotland), through the civil war and into the turbulent years following the death of the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.
Some may consider the inception of a supposed 'elitist' society to be little more than the inevitable result of the restoration, a monarch's money and political cronyism. However, in The Invisible College, Dr Lomas' demonstrates a rich complicated history replete with intrigue, science and humour set against a backdrop of conflict, plague and fire.
In this personal account of his search for the roots, and above all else the purpose of the formation of the Royal Society, Dr Lomas develops the key issue of membership, notably one member, Sir Robert Moray. Robert Moray, Scotsman, visionary, spy, and soldier, with an apparently flexible approach to choosing political sides in the Civil War. The history of the Royal Society is inextricably linked to the life of the non-scientist, Robert Moray the close friend of the King.
Moray's vision and Charles II patronage saw seemingly irreconcilable adversaries from both sides of the Parliamentarian / Royalist conflict manage to sit side by side under the auspices of Science and Philosophy, and develop an experimentation approach to solving the riddles of nature. The Royal Society, through experimentation, is responsible for many of the facts of modern life that we consider to be the norm. Facts such as: thermodynamics, the laws of motion, the measurement of longitude, and frozen chicken.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I found Lomas's review of the astrologers who made up the early Masonic lodges in Republican London, just after the Civil War fascinating. I hadn't realised that the slide rule was invented to make it easier to cast horoscopes. His summary of Ashmole's motives and links with William Lilly, the man who wrote the best known text book on Astrology in the seventeenth century was an interesting insight into the politics of this period.
All in all I found this a really good read and it made me think very hard about how Freemasonry has contributed to modern science.
The change in attitude which led to Newton sweeping away astrology as a respectable academic subject would not have happened without the formation and success of the Royal Society.
I enjoyed the book immensely. And many of my Masonic brethren, with whom I have discussed it, said they were surprised just how much Sir Robert Moray contributed to early Freemasonry. He turns out to be a far more interesting and far-sighted visionary than astrologer Elias Ashmole.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birth Pangs of The Royal Society 1 April 2002
By Seeker
The Invisible College
This solo effort from Dr Robert Lomas, follows on naturally from two earlier books (co- authored with Christopher Knight) viz: 'The Hiram Key' and 'The Second Messiah.' A criticism levelled at the former book, concerning the vast range of events attempted in a single volume, is fully answered in 'The Invisible College'. Dr Lomas has taken the content of a few pages from 'The Hiram Key' and expanded it into an interesting, and well researched account.
That there is a connection between Freemasonry and the Royal Society, in its early days, there can be little doubt, as even a cursory examination of prints of the time will readily testify. Dr Lomas takes a thorough look into the causality of this connection. The main theme centres on an important period in the life of, Sir Robert Moray,( the first initiate into Freemasonry in England, Elias Ashmole was later) and leads on to what might be termed the Machiavellian but beneficial exploits of our hero. These were times when science as such was in its infancy and had not fully emerged from mysticism and alchemy, which themselves had barely emerged from the dead hand of religious dogma. The bitter civil war had recently ended, and it was no mean feat of Moray's to bring thinkers together who had found themselves on opposing sides. No scientist himself, his motivations given in the text, of exploiting the love of military power by kings and politicians are entirely plausible.
The emasculation of the older forms of Freemasonry into what is known as St John's Masonry by the United Grand Lodge of England for political reasons at the time, is thoroughly covered.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Invisible College 29 Jun 2002
For masonic readers The Invisible College successfully addresses two neglected areas of Freemasonry: the relevance of the Fellowcraft Degree and the contribution that Freemasonry has made to society at large.
The Fellowcraft takes as its theme "the hidden mysteries of nature of science" and is synonymous with themes from the Enlightenment: that period of history when the combination of religion and politics that culminated in the Civil War, gave way to a more tolerant and liberal society.
The hypothesis that Freemasonry influenced the formation of the Royal Society is not new, and has been previously put forward in Baigent and Leigh's The Temple and the Lodge. However, Lomas has significantly expanded the investigation and convincingly addresses the compatibility of the liberal traditions of Freemasonry with a non-political and secular approach to scientific investigation.
The result is an eminently readable book that combines Enlightenment history, Freemasonry and the birth of science.
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