Prophets and Protons

benjamin zeller






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Benjamin Zeller is a scholar of religion in America, new religious movements, and religion and science. In his book Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America (New York University Press, 2010) he looks at how the Unification Church (“Moonies”), the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (“Hare Krishnas”), and the group that came to be known as “Heaven’s Gate” thought about and related to science. He found that science had become such a dominant intellectual force that each of these religions felt compelled to appeal to it for legitimation. In addition to perspectives on science, this interview provides an encapsulated history of each movement and the major figures involved in their founding.

Of special note, Benjamin Zeller gives a big shoutout to librarians at the end of the interview, expressing his great thanks for the work that we do. Thanks Ben!

Benjamin Zeller is an assistant professor of religion at Lake Forest College in Illinois. I spoke with him via Skype on March 11, 2013.

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—Fred Rowland

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