There is a basic trajectory for a science PhD student, and it goes something like this. Enthusiasm and delight mingled with a frisson of fear, a gradual onset of hard reality and stress, perhaps a dash of boredom and possibly even some despair and disillusionment. This is followed by a long period of determination and hard work, which ends in joy and relief. This is the crucible in which Continue reading
For mathematician Jennifer Siggers, imagination is vital to both her work and faith. In today’s podcast Jennifer explains why she expects to find a solution to the biological problems that she is studying, and why a Christian should be enthusiastic about doing science.
To find out more about Jennifer’s work and faith, and the importance of imagination, beauty and awe in both science and Christianity, see God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith (Monarch, 2015).
Following on from this week’s interview with Jennifer Siggers, here are some videos that I filmed when I visited her last summer. In the four clips below, Jennifer explains her work, her faith, how the two fit together, and her views on imagination in both science and Christianity.
I have blogged a number of times on imagination, but what do working scientists think about this subject? Dr Jennifer Siggers is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London, where she works on medical applications of fluid dynamics. Having met her at a Christians in Science conference a couple of years before, I wanted to find out how imagination is relevant to her own life in the lab.
Imagination is highly valued in Western culture but not always recognised as an essential part of science. So Jennifer initially protested that she wasn’t sure she had anything to say about imagination, but eventually was able to speak with me at some length about how important it is in her work. Mental pictures, analogies and thought experiments are all important for a scientist. For a Christian, learning to use imagination can also enhance Continue reading
How can a scientist who is also a person of faith communicate their experiences of working in a lab? In this video five scientists express how science has helped their faith to grow.
What is it like to be a person of faith and a scientist? In a video interview the theologian and former biophysicist Alister McGrath commented that we need Christian scientists who are “prepared to enter into the public arena in debate, in comment, and in the writing of books showing how faith enriches their science.”
This blog has been one such attempt to show the positive effect of science on faith, and judging by the comments over the years, it has encouraged a number of people in that direction. On the 15th of this month, Monarch will publish my book God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith, which Continue reading
My latest academic explorations have been into the use of imagination in both science and Christianity. As always, I didn’t really know what to expect when I started my search, but I have found a rich seam of thinking on imagination in both the philosophy of science and theology. Imagination isn’t a word that’s often used by working scientists. Most of the scholars I’ve met on my travels through the libraries of Cambridge have been philosophers, with the occasional retired scientist who is confident enough in their scientific achievements to write on more esoteric subjects. It didn’t take long, however, for me to realise that imagination is absolutely vital to the practice of science. (More on theology later.)
What I’m talking about here is not fantasy, which has no place in the laboratory, but imagining. For example, thought experiments have often been used in science. The Faraday seminar series is not linked in any way to my project, but by wonderful serendipity the Danish theologian Niels Henrik Gregersen was invited to speak here last month on The Role of Thought Experiments in Science, and Religion. He made the argument that thought experiments are used in similar ways in science and Christianity. Continue reading