Innovation and Religion

Religion has contributed to and continue to contribute to what our modern society is. Religion also participated in the development of many of our political, social and cultural concepts, such as progress and liberty. This project adds one more concept to the list: innovation. Religion was one of the first social arenas to develop discourses on innovation using the word as such.

This project documents the role of religion in the development and diffusion of the concept of innovation, from the 16th century to the 20th century. More specifically, the project:

  • Studies the uses made of the concept of innovation in religion from the Reformation onward, and the ways in which the concept travelled to the citizens.
  • Explains the reasons why the term made its appearance in the religious vocabulary of the time, particularly in Protestantism.
  • Inserts this story into that of the high-value concept of innovation in the twentieth century.


B. Godin, The Spirit of Innovation, Annual meeting of the Canadian Economics Association, Session on Innovation organized by The Centre for the Study of Living Standards and the Institute for Research in Public Policy, McGill University, June 1-3, 2018.

Godin (2010), “Meddle Not With Them That Are Given to Change”: Innovation as Evil, Working Paper no. 6, Project on the Intellectual History of Innovation, Montreal: INRS. 46 p.