Shailer Mathews was born on 26 May 1863 in Portland, Maine, and died on 23 October 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. The son of Jonathan Mathews and Sophia Lucinda Shailer, he was of old Yankee stock that included in his maternal line generations of teachers and ministers. During Mathews's education at Colby College from 1880 to 1884, he came under the influence of President Albion Small, a founding figure of American sociology who had studied under important German historical economists. Colby also introduced Mathews to the idea of Darwinian evolution, a life-changing experience that his autobiography New Faith for Old (1936) characterizes as the seminal influence for his lifelong philosophical interest in the social evolution of religious doctrine. Mathews's autobiography indicates that he entered Colby a rather naïvely pious young man, the son of a Baptist deacon, but he left the college with an intent concern to discover the “germ” of Christian faith inside its historically mutable expressions, and with a desire to reconcile that central germ or core of belief with modern thought and, in particular, modern science.
From The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers in Oxford Reference.