Humility, Hope and Holiness: A Christian psychologist explores character strengths

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When Roger Bretherton worked as a clinical psychologist he would ask the question, “What skill is missing here?” What does this patient need to develop so they can, for example, be kinder to themselves – or to other people? These character strengths and virtues are now his chosen field now that he is a Principal Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln.

Roger is interested in three main areas. He spends time exploring the methodologies and measurements that help a psychologist understand people at a human level. He is also engaged at a theological level, and trained as an existential psychotherapist. This combination of theology and psychology is a growing trend, especially in the US, where a number of educational institutions will encourage students to pursue studies in both and teach them how to integrate the two (for example, at Fuller Theological Seminary where the regular Faraday speaker Justin Barret is based). Finally, he is interested in the pragmatic – what works, or is useful to people. Continue reading

Can Science Explain Everything?

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A mathematician, a judge and an ambassador walked onto a train. It sounds like the beginning of a joke but the mathematician was John Lennox, who is well-known for his lectures about Christianity, and his new friends were completely serious about their investigation of his beliefs. We don’t know what happened in the end, but all three of them clearly recognised the significance of the conversation. Continue reading

Suffering: The Tree of Life, Job, and Jesus

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© Ruth Bancewicz

‘What is mankind that you are mindful of them,

a son of man that you care for him?

You made them a little lower than the angels;

you crowned them with glory and honour

and put everything under their feet.’

…But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while,

now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death,

so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Hebrews 2: 6b-8a, 9

Nick Higgs is a marine biologist who studies the explosion of life that happens when a whale dies and its carcass sinks to the sea floor. As a Christian, his view of human suffering and death is formed both by his knowledge of how the created order works, and by his understanding of what Jesus did when he came to earth. Nick shared his perspective at a recent conference organised by Christians in Science, where he had been invited to give the Oliver Barclay lecture – an annual award for an young scientist – and I will share an abbreviated version of his thoughts here. Continue reading

Merry Christmas!

Thank you to all our readers and guest writers in 2018. We’re looking forward to the new topics we’ll get to explore in 2019. This year’s Christmas photos are a perspective from the fields of Cambridgeshire (and Germany), from a local breeder of seeds for agriculture. Enjoy!

© Leon Jonck

Continue reading

Absolute Proof

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What would it take to convince you that God exists, beyond the shadow of a doubt? Or what sort of data is someone looking for when they ask me to ‘prove the existence of God scientifically’. Aside from the fact that science is about evidence and not proof, this question raises all sorts of issues. If, as Christians believe, God is a person to be known (though not directly seen) then what sort of evidence should we be looking for? If Jesus really was God’s son in human form, do we need physical evidence of his existence? If God is all-wise, then perhaps he would reveal himself in a way that is less obvious, like the teacher that makes you want to think and challenge your assumptions. Continue reading

The Incarnation: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

© Alan Handyside, Wellcome Images

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:15-16

You began life as a single cell – a fertilised egg with mother and father’s DNA mingled together in a unique combination. This miniscule blob was all of you for a few hours, until it began to divide: 2 cells, 4, 8, 16, a ball, a hollow ball, and then something more complex. You were still tiny, but developing a nervous system, a head, a body, arms and legs. By that point your mother would be only too aware she was expecting a baby – the physical symptoms would have been hard to ignore. Continue reading

If Curiosity Were a Crime…

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© Szorstki, Freeimages.com

What would life be like if British society had taken a different path in the mid-nineteenth century? What if science was seen as having all the answers, subjects like phrenology continued to be taken seriously, and other branches of knowledge were outlawed completely? A number of things might have gone off the rails: asking questions about meaning or belief in a deity could have been seen as so shameful they were made illegal, perhaps women would have been denied any kind of education, and people of other races might have been treated with even more suspicion than they were already.

This scenario is the setting for The Curious Crime, Continue reading