The Purposeful Squirrel: Can organisms act with intention?

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Cropped Eastern Grey Squirrel  By Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
My desk at the Faraday Institute has a view of the garden, where a squirrel buries its nuts in the autumn. Running to and from the trees in the hedge, it digs into the carefully tended college lawn, building up its stock for the winter. Work must stop every now and then when Continue reading

Between Science and Theology: How science learns about unobservable entities

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Cropped from Hairy Dark Matter By NASA/JPL-Caltech [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In 1800, someone took the temperature of a rainbow. This story isn’t as strange as it sounds because that ‘someone’ was not the sort of person to look for a pot of gold, but a scientist called William Herschel.

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Lemuel Francis Abbott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Herschel was a German musician and astronomer who became famous for discovering the planet Uranus. He built the best telescopes of his day, was funded by King George III, became a fellow of the Royal Society, first president of the Royal Astronomical Society, and was eventually knighted for his work. So why was such a sensible person taking a rainbow’s temperature? Continue reading

Guest Post, Part 1: The Parable of the Arch and the Stone

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Roof by mr. rollers. Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Once, two friends were disputing about the structure of buildings, and why the roof does not fall down. They agreed to do some research, so each set out in search of a good example to study.

Walking in the woods, the first man came across a large and splendid building, and stepped inside. He saw that the structure was made of stones piled on top of one another, with mortar in between. He stayed for a while and made a close study of the stones and the mortar. Continue reading

Beyond Matter: Why Science Needs Metaphysics

candle-1537086 freeimages Krzysztof Cuber crop
free images, © Krzysztof Cuber

What did you do on your leap day this year? I listened to a talk by Roger Trigg, who is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick and a Senior Research Fellow of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion in Oxford. Professor Trigg has recently written a book, Beyond Matter: Why Science Needs Metaphysics, and on the 29th February he came to the Faraday Institute to tell us about it.

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Roger Trigg

Science works, and we have non-stick frying pans to prove it. But as a philosopher, Trigg cannot simply stop there. He has to ask Continue reading

Communities of Practice: Scientists in Congregations

Figure 1: License: CC0 Public Domain Figure 2: By Unknown photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Figure 1 (left): License: CC0 Public Domain
Figure 2 (right): [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
What do congregations have to teach scientists? This was the question that James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, asked at the Scientists in Congregations conference in St Andrews last month. The theme of the conference was ‘Christ and Creation’, and the aim was to draw the conversation on science and religion beyond ideas of a generalised God to a discussion about science and Christianity. Continue reading