Why We Need Disorder: A physicist’s perspective on the living world

Cropped from From Chaos to Order By Sebastien Wiertz. Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

The Genesis creation story may seem to be all about God getting rid of disorder and turning it into order, but that’s not how a physicist sees it. In her lecture at the Christians in Science conference in Oxford a few weeks ago, Dr Rhoda Hawkins explained why.

Hawkins studies how unpredictable events on a microscopic scale can produce something very predictable and useful on a larger scale. For example Continue reading

Life in the Lab: Science and Faith Working Together

For Rhoda Hawkins, her belief in God was one of the factors that led her to study science. In this series of videos, Rhoda explains why she is a scientist and a Christian, how the two fit together, and the role of wonder in her work and faith.

To find out more about Rhoda’s work and faith, and the importance of wonder and awe in science, see God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith (Monarch, 2015).

Continue reading

Rhoda Hawkins: Christians in Science

© Christians in Science
© Christians in Science

“I am a Christian and I am a scientist, so naturally I am a member of Christians in Science.” This is what Rhoda Hawkins, a lecturer in the Physics department at Sheffield University said to me when I asked her about her experience of being involved with CiS. Continue reading

The Human Side of Science

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.

In a further series of videos, I explain my motivations behind writing God in the lab (Monarch, Jan 2015), and describe my favourite parts Continue reading

Reflections on Mind and Matter: Should we mind & does it matter?

Cells, stained to show the inner skeleton (green)
Cells, stained to show the inner skeleton (green). Example image from the ImageJ-Programmpaket (public domain)

This month’s guest post is from Rhoda Hawkins, a theoretical physicist from the University of Sheffield. Rhoda recently spoke on ‘Should we mind, and does it matter?’ at the Christians in Science student conference. Here, she asks how much Christians should be involved in discussing questions of science and faith.

Why should we engage our minds in science and religion issues? Why should we engage with the big questions of mind and matter? Firstly Christians who are scientists are whole, integrated people – body, mind and spirit – so to be true to ourselves and to God we should hold together the different aspects of who we are. Continue reading


Dolomites cropped 2
The Dolomites, © Ruth Bancewicz

Climbing mountains brings perspective. Looking down from the top of a high peak, you can see the whole of the surrounding area laid out like a map. You can plan where you want to go next, or maybe even your whole route for the next few days. The feeling of achievement that comes from climbing a mountain is wonderful. Chairlifts and funicular railways are great – especially if you can’t manage a climb – but standing on the summit is many times more exhilarating if you’ve plodded very step of the way up from the bottom.

John Muir was unusual as a scientist because his fieldwork actually involved climbing mountains. A career in most branches of science involves working indoors, sometimes in windowless rooms. As a PhD student in Edinburgh I spent many days examining Zebrafish embryos in the basement, but I could see the Pentland hills from my lab bench – until Cancer Research UK built a research centre that blocked out the view (and I am clearly still nursing a grudge against them for it!) Actually climbing the mountains on my doorstep was a refreshing reminder that the world was going to carry on revolving whether my experiments worked or not. Over the last year I have noticed that mountains are a popular source of metaphors for describing the scientific journey. Being interested in mountains myself, I began to collect these passages and thought they would make an interesting blog post and source of quotes for others. Continue reading


Sunflower cells, Kriss Szkurlatowski,12frames.eu
Sunflower cells. © Kriss Szkurlatowski,12frames.eu

Is doubt a necessary by-product of wonder? This is the second part of my interview with theoretical physicist Rhoda Hawkins (part 1). For Rhoda, the intellectual grappling she enjoys in science is also there in her Christian faith. Wondering, or thinking at a deeper level, is crucial to both.

I love seeing wonder in other people. Sometimes I get to watch the light dawning on a student’s face as they come to understand something for the first time, or it’s a shared experience of wonder with a research student or a colleague. Sometimes those moments are too rare, but if I got them all the time I would take them for granted. Even the struggle is contributing to that sense of wonder, because it’s more amazing if it’s difficult and complicated. If climbing the mountain was too easy, then you wouldn’t feel so happy when you got to the top. It’s more of a long-term picture. Continue reading