Michael Faraday was born in 1791 at Newington Butts in London then in Surrey, roughly where Elephant and Castle is now. He was the third of four children of James Faraday (1761-1810) and his wife, Margaret née Hastwell (1764-1838). They moved to London from Westmorland by 1788. In February 1791, James Faraday, who was a blacksmith, joined the London Sandemanian congregation.
The Sandemanians were a literalist Christian sect founded in the mid-eighteenth century in Scotland. Never more than a 1,000 strong at any point in their history, the sect ceased to exist in 1999. During Faraday's time the main congregations were located in London, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Dundee, with London being responsible for a small group in Old Buckenham near Norwich.
In October 1805, at the age of fourteen, Faraday was indentured for seven years to the radical bookseller George Riebau of Blandford Street as an apprentice bookbinder. During his apprenticeship Faraday cultivated an enthusiasm for science. According to a much later recollection, his interest in science began as a boy when he wondered why heavy barges floated on the newly built Grand Union Canal near Paddington.
In the bindery he read books such as Conversations on Chemistry by Jane Marcet (1769-1858), and The Improvement of the Mind, by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), the advice of which he sought to follow. He attended lectures on scientific topics at a number of places but particularly the City Philosophical Society which met at 53 Dorset Street, the home of the silversmith John Tatum (c.1772-1858).
Michael Faraday was fully committed to the Sandemanian sect. He made his confession of faith in 1821, the same year that he married into another Sandemanian family. From 1832 until 1840 he was a Deacon in the church, which involved providing pastoral care to the church community.
In the 1840s, and again in the 1860s, he was one of the Elders of the church where he exercised a leadership role and in this capacity he preached sermons and baptised a number of children. When he died on 25th August 1867 at Hampton Court, in a Grace and Favour house provided by the Queen he was buried five days later in the Sandemanian plot in London's Highgate cemetery.
In many ways, Faraday's science was directed at uncovering the laws of nature that he believed God had written into the universe at the Creation, and at applying the knowledge so gained for the betterment of humankind. It was in his lectures, rather than his published papers, that he publicly stated his theistic view of the universe.
For instance, in 1846 he claimed that the properties of matter "depend upon the power with which the Creator has gifted such matter" and in an 1858 lecture on the electric telegraph he concluded: "for, by enabling the mind to apply the natural power through law, it conveys the gifts of God to man".