Perpetuating the Myths

Herectics Example - Ben Nadler,Princeton University Press

By Thony Christie

***This post originally appeared on The Renaissance Mathematicus on May 17th, 2017 – for the original click here***

Since the re-emergence of science in Europe in the High Middle Ages down to the present the relationship between science and religion has been a very complex and multifaceted one that cannot be reduced to a simple formula or a handful of clichés. Many of the practitioners, who produced that science, were themselves active servants of their respective churches and many of their colleagues, whilst not clerics, were devoted believers and deeply religious. On the other hand there were those within the various church communities, who were deeply suspicious of or even openly hostile to the newly won scientific knowledge that they saw as a threat to their beliefs. Over the centuries positions changed constantly and oft radically and any historian, who wishes to investigate and understand that relationship at any particular time or in any given period needs to tread very carefully and above all not to approach their research with any preconceived conclusions or laden down with personal prejudices in one direction or another. Continue reading Perpetuating the Myths

Fake news, media framing, and the case of Pope Francis’ ‘shocking’ comments on evolution

If you can believe what you read, “FAKE NEWS” is everywhere these days. Shot onto the media scene like a lexical gag, the phrase was fired from the mouth of President Donald J. Trump as he confronted CNN reporter Jim Acosta during the then president-elect’s first press conference. Although the words are much older, Trump has certainly made the capitalisation his own. “FAKE NEWS!” The phrase itself comes stinking of Orwell’s ink, and when levelled it splits the media between those who goodthink and crimethink—between those who carry the party line, and those who don’t. However, this post isn’t concerned with presidential duckspeak, but rather the shape of the messages themselves—fake or not—which we receive via the media. Continue reading Fake news, media framing, and the case of Pope Francis’ ‘shocking’ comments on evolution

“The most pestilential book ever vomited from the jaws of hell”

Radicalism and science at the publisher John Chapman

In the latter nineteenth century several British doctors, philosophers and naturalists embraced scientific principles as the ones upon which society should best form itself for the future. The theory of evolution, the atomic theory of matter and the theory of the conservation of energy were the core theories upon which this new group hoped to reshape society for the modern period. Historians now call this group of high profile Brits the “scientific naturalists”. Herbert Spencer, whose philosophical exposition of evolutionary principles for society became highly influential, John Tyndall whose essays on religion were widely read and debated, and Thomas Henry Huxley, who later acquired the name “Darwin’s bulldog”, were tireless advocates of this scientifically infused world-view. Continue reading “The most pestilential book ever vomited from the jaws of hell”

Prophecy, Mistrust and Development: Religion and the 2014-15 Ebola Epidemic in Sierra Leone

By CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One night in June 2015 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the Ghanaian Prophet Daniel Amoateng roared to a crying, praising and screaming crowd that there would be ‘No more Ebola’. Backed by the clanks of an electric keyboard, the noise became rapturous with call, response and cheers as Amoateng declared over and over that the disease must ‘touch nobody’. Aside from prophecy, Amoateng donated scholarships to orphans affected by Ebola and, for his efforts, received the 2015 Ghana UK-Based Achievement (GUBA) Humanitarian Award. Continue reading Prophecy, Mistrust and Development: Religion and the 2014-15 Ebola Epidemic in Sierra Leone

Tracking Dinosaurs and Finding God

Photograph by Edward B. Davis.

***This post originally appeared on 07 January 2016, on Ted Davis’ blog, Reading the Book of Nature hosted on the BioLogos website***

Giant Birds and Dinosaur Footprints

In 1802, a twelve-year-old farm boy named Pliny Moody found an unusual object while plowing a field in South Hadley, Massachusetts—a big, flat stone bearing what appeared to be footprints of large birds, which some are said to have attributed to “Noah’s raven.” For decades they drew no scientific attention, but in 1835 a local stonemason, Dexter Marsh, noticed similar marks on a flag stone he had set aside for use in a sidewalk he was building near his house in nearby Greenfield. Others also saw them, including a physician, James Deane, who wrote to geologist Edward Hitchcock of Amherst College, describing what he called “the tracks of a turkey in relief” (Hitchcock, Reminiscences of Amherst College, cited below, p. 82). Continue reading Tracking Dinosaurs and Finding God

The Bible and Qur’an in the Light of Modern Science

Sacred texts are central to many faith traditions, but how do they retain their authority as divine revelation in a supposedly rational age? What happens when the Word of God appears to contradict modern scientific knowledge about the world? And how do individual believers reconcile these potential conflicts?

These are the questions that we are exploring at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion in Cambridge, in a new research project entitled ‘Science and Scripture in Christianity and Islam’. Rather than attempting a direct comparison between these two world religions, our intention is to bring them into fruitful dialogue with one another on a question that is of mutual concern: that of scripture and its relationship to modern science. Continue reading The Bible and Qur’an in the Light of Modern Science

Reimagining both the peg and the hole in the conversation between Christianity and science

Have you noticed that within many of the current leading classifications of the religion-science relationship (such as those proposed by Ian Barbour, Willem Drees, Philip Hefner, Ted Peters, or John Haught), there is an implicit or explicit goal within the author’s classification? For some, it could be demonstrating the plausibility of a deity. For others, it could be upholding the relevance of Christianity, or the authority of science. If left at that, there would be no problem, as these thinkers would merely be arguing from a particular point of view. Instead, however, more often than not, you find each universalizing their own categories, suggesting not so much a description about the religion-science nexus, but ultimately a prescription of how it actually ought to be. Continue reading Reimagining both the peg and the hole in the conversation between Christianity and science

Science and Secularisation

On Wednesday 18th November our new home, the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society here at Newman University was launched with an inaugural seminar by the celebrated historian of science, Professor John Hedley-Brooke.

CSKBS LogoProfessor Hedley-Brooke, a former Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre at the University of Oxford, presented a skilful overview of the chequered history of science and religion, challenging the thesis Continue reading Science and Secularisation

God-complexity: Conceptualising the Divine

Have you ever wondered how people think about God?  Do they think purely in theological terms, such as the Christian Trinity or do they think of God in terms of the roles that God plays in their lives?  Does people’s theological understanding always match their personal experience of God?  In our latest research project, “God-complexity: Conceptualising the Divine,” our team is investigating how people think about God and some of the consequences this has in their day-to-day lives. Continue reading God-complexity: Conceptualising the Divine

A Look at the Professional Creationists and Anti-Creationists

***This post originally appeared on 22 October 2015, on Ted Davis’ blog, Reading the Book of Nature hosted on the BioLogos website***

Evolution and Religion: The Conflict Narrative in Crisis

Recent results of the social scientific research on creationism in the United States raise more questions than they answer, especially with respect to long-held assumptions of what creationism actually is and what motivates people who affirm it. For instance, one of the most frequently-quoted polls on creationism is Gallup’s long-running survey that asks whether people believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” The percentage of Americans who answer in the affirmative ranges at around 45%, a number that has proven rather stable over the years. Social science has employed several methods to get beyond the layer of fact-claims established by this kind of polling and laid bare a range of moral and social motives that are at the core of people’s reasons for identifying as creationists. Continue reading A Look at the Professional Creationists and Anti-Creationists