Searching for Goodness: Natural Theology in Historic Cambridge

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Emmanuel College, Cambridge © Sean Hickin, cropped, Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0

Are ethical values real? According to Dr Louise Hickman, a philosopher and theologian from Newman University, this is the question that drove the ‘natural theology’ discussion in the centuries leading up to Darwin. Louise spoke about this topic at the Faraday Institute this summer, and I will summarise her lecture here in my own words.

Left to our own devices, said the natural theologians, people are capable of developing their own awareness of God and knowledge of him. This knowledge is entirely separate from any belief that God has revealed himself to people in any other way, such as God’s relationship with the people of Israel, or arriving on earth as the person of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Discipleship in all of life: Putting faith and science in the blender

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Cropped from Morning Prayers by Don Christner. Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

How much does the natural world feature in the average Christian’s relationship with God? Church leaders often speak about ‘discipleship’, meaning the process of learning what it is to be a Christian and putting that knowledge into practice. The question is, are discipleship and our experience of the created order – trees, water, rocks and stars – held in separate watertight boxes, or are they blended Continue reading

The Hiddenness of God: An Alternative to ‘Science and Religion’

Freeimages.com/Armand
Freeimages.com/Armand

How does the person of Christ make sense of my experience as a scientist? This is the last in a series of five posts from this year’s Scientists in Congregations conference, the topic of which was ‘Christ and Creation’. In the closing lecture Wilson Poon, who is Professor of Condensed Matter Physics at Edinburgh University, began with this question and suggested that we look to ‘the laboratory of the cross’ for the answer. 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

Charles Raven: Theologian, Naturalist, and a bit of a Rebel

© RM Bancewicz
© RM Bancewicz

Earlier this year I was introduced to a Cambridge professor who appreciated both the wonders of the living world and questions about its wider significance. Charles Raven, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University from 1932-1950, was a keen naturalist and lover of science. In a recent seminar at the Faraday Institute, Ian Randall outlined this unique individual’s contribution to science and religion. Continue reading

Jennifer Siggers: The Science I Love, and How it Points to God

© Krishnan Gopakumar, freeimages.com
© Krishnan Gopakumar, freeimages.com

Einstein wondered why is it that we can make sense of the universe. This is a question that today’s guest author, Jennifer Siggers, has also asked. Jennifer is a mathematician based at Imperial College London who applies her skills to Continue reading

The World Cries Out

Photo © Ruth Bancewicz
Photo © Ruth Bancewicz

Let your mind roam through the whole creation; everywhere the created world will cry out to you: ‘God made me.’ Whatever pleases you in a work of art brings to your mind the artist who wrought it; much more, when you survey the universe, does the consideration of it evoke praise for its Maker. You look on the heavens; they are God’s great work. You behold the earth; God made its numbers of seeds, its varieties of plants, its multitudes of animals. Go round the heavens again and back to the earth, leave out nothing; on all sides everything cries out to you of its Author; nay the very forms of created things are as it were the voices with which they praise their creator.

This quote is from Augustine of Hippo, a theologian who lived in the fourth and fifth centuries.  I like it because it comes across as such a heartfelt outburst of praise, and it expands my view of the universe. It sounds so contemporary to me, although my own understanding of what it means to learn about God from nature is a bit different to his. I can also imagine it being very useful for a sermon on Psalm 8!

Science and science education have helped me to appreciate Augustine’s Continue reading