Thoughts on Awe at Pentecost: Science and faith have more in common than you think

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Pixabay

The more capable a person is of feeling awe, the more likely they are to understand the true nature of science. When Helen De Cruz, senior lecturer in Philosopher at Oxford Brookes University, spoke at the Faraday Institute last month, she explained the research that has shown awe moves us to see beyond ourselves, and give us a sense of smallness and humility. We often feel overawed when we are trying to take in something our minds cannot fully grasp. Awe-inspiring experiences, such as seeing a beautiful nature documentary, help us to become more aware of the gaps in our knowledge and want to learn more. It can be hard to accept new scientific theories when you have lived with the same paradigm for years. Emotions such as awe, wonder or curiosity can help shift our attitudes and make us look at the world in different ways. Awe is good for science.

De Cruz also said that the more a person is capable of feeling awe, the more likely they are to feel a sense of oneness and spirituality, to believe in a creator God, or have spiritual experiences. Awe makes us less reliant on stereotypes and mental clichés. We are less likely to take things for granted, accept easy answers, or be open to ambiguity and new ideas. Awe is good for religion. Continue reading

Imagination and Incredulity: The evolution of the eye

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“To suppose that the eye…could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. Yet…”

Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

The ‘yet’, in Darwin’s introduction to ‘Organs of Extreme perfection and complication’ is very telling. The ideas that follow this oft-quoted sentence remind me a little of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians Continue reading

Guest Post: Rediscovering Wonder

There is something oddly satisfying about rock pools. These are natural playgrounds for children, and I love seeing the delight in their faces as they turn over rocks, not knowing quite what they are going to find. Children seem to thrive on the everyday wonders that surround them, like seeing “… A universe in a grain of sand…” (William Blake – Auguries of Innocence). Continue reading

Dinosaurs in your garden: An interview with Lizzie Coyle

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Archaeopteryx fossil By James L. Amos (National Geographic Society) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Did you have the chance to explore science and religion when you were younger? A safe place to explore new ideas and questions between subject boundaries? Today we hear (transcript below) from someone who works to create and encourage such a space – introducing Lizzie Coyle and her travelling bag of fossils. Continue reading

Creation: A Celebration

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© Sue Symons, and courtesy of the publisher Shepheard-Walwyn Publishers

In 2009, Sue Symons finished 7,000 hours of work on a series of illuminated and embroidered texts which celebrate the theme of creation. I was fortunate enough to catch sight of the original work at the Christian Resources Exhibition in May this year, and in the end I had to buy the book. I was supposed to be working on the Faraday Institute stand at the time, but the level of detail in the pictures made me want to pore over them. Continue reading

A Dentist’s Guide to the Map of Life

By Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA (Clouded Leopard Mouth Open) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Clouded Leopard Mouth Open By Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Imagine two people from two different tribes, separated by space or time, coming up with the same idea or way of doing something. If it is a good invention it will surely spread within each of their families and communities. Is this a coincidence, or would it make more sense if Continue reading

Love Me to the Moon?

By ulrikebohr570 – pixabay. Public Domain
By ulrikebohr570 – pixabay. Public Domain

Anyone who was up at around 2 or 3 am on Monday last week might have seen a rare astronomical event. Lunar eclipses happen at least once or twice a year, but this one was unusual because it happened when the moon appeared larger and brighter than at any other point in the month. The next ‘supermoon’ eclipse’ is due in Continue reading