A LEADERSHIP scheme backed by the Church of England has been
given more than £700,000 to help bring scientists and Christians
The three-year scheme Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age
of Science has been given the donation by the Templeton World
Charity Foundation. It includes grants to church communities of up
to £10,000 for a new programme, "Scientists in Congregations",
which will use the expertise of Christians who are scientists to
promote greater understanding of the relationship between science
The donation will also fund a survey among leaders of faith
organisations on their attitudes to science, and provide resources
on contemporary science and the Christian faith for more than 1000
people training for Anglican ministry.
The project will be led by the Revd David Wilkinson, Professor
in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University,
who is also an astrophysicist; Tom McLeish, Professor of Physics at
Durham; and the Bishop of Kingston, Dr Richard Cheetham.
Professor Wilkinson said: "We felt that too often many church
leaders see science as a threat, and lack confidence in engaging
science with theology. There is also a great hunger among many lay
people, who want to explore these big questions. We want to support
and assist clergy and church leaders to address the kind of
questions that are there, both inside and outside the Church.
"One of the interesting things about the culture in which we
live is that we have bought into a conflict model of the
relationship between science and Christian faith - that it is
'Bible against Science'. My own experience as a physicist, an
astro-physicist, and now as a theologian, is that it is a much more
fruitful and interesting conversation in many different areas.
"'What does it mean to be human?' is one of the big questions of
our time. And then there are the questions, 'Where do we come
from?' 'What's our origin?' 'What's our purpose?' These are the
kind of questions that science, at the moment, is exploring, and
often saying there's an open invitation to join in the discussion.
But, sometimes, as church folk, we are not always there at the
Dr Cheetham said that there was a view that religious beliefs
were private, subjective opinions that could lead to a reactionary,
divisive view of life; while science was seen as giving true,
objective, and useful knowledge about the world.
"The widespread and pervasive caricature of the relationship
between science and religion remains the conflict model," he said.
"There is an urgent need for a much deeper understanding of the
nature of Christian faith, and of science, and of their
relationship and interaction.
"This is not simply a minority-interest activity for a few
slightly nerdy specialists, but a matter which infuses the cultural
air we breathe, and profoundly affects the credibility of the
Christian faith and our ability to proclaim the gospel effectively
in our generation."