Considering Beauty

Lime tree, microscopic view. K Szkurlatowski,
Lime tree, microscopic view. © K Szkurlatowski,

I have often written about beauty here, and Francesca Day mentioned it last week, but without defining the word itself. William Edgar is a musician and theologian based at Westminster Theological Seminary, and in his lecture Beauty Reconsidered he gave a history of the concept of beauty and proposed a form of aesthetics that I think will resonate with the ideals of many Christians working in the sciences.

In the 1960s, it was said anyone who pronounced something ‘beautiful’ was trying to exert power over it. That power was rejected, and the concept of beauty went into hibernation – at least in academic circles in Europe and North America.

It’s impossible, however, to suppress our sense of beauty. In the 1990s, philosophers started Continue reading

Why would a scientist be a Christian?

Open the laboratory door. © Ruth Bancewicz

Last week I spoke to some students about why a scientist should think about Christianity. Here are my top three reasons – see what you think.

1. Science flourished in the Christian west

Science has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy, which could be described as a ‘proto-science’ involving geometry. Greek texts made their way to the Islamic world, where mathematics, philosophy and experimental science were carried out between the 8th and 16th centuries. (After this, science died out in the Islamic world for a while and scholars have not been able to agree why.) Towards the end of the Middle Ages Arabic texts found their way to Europe, were translated into Latin, and people started to do science, or ‘natural philosophy’, as it was called then. Europe in the Middle Ages was Christian, so almost all of the early scientists in Europe were Christians. And today, a good proportion of current scientists are Christians.

2. Christian theology informed the development of science

A number of historians and philosophers of science, Roger Trigg included, would say that science really only flourished once some of the Greek philosophical ideas about the world were replaced with theological ideas. One example is Continue reading