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Why so much science-and-faith talk?

07 December 2018

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or to add to the answers given below


Your question: Every time I peruse items of church news, sooner or later I encounter meetings or discussions or funding in respect of science and faith. Why? Has the Church fallen in with the view of the uninitiated that being a scientist brings a problem with faith?

Your answers: I would suggest that the opposite is true. In my experience, many such activities on the part of the Church are to counter the idea that has grown up in society that one cannot accept scientific thinking and also be a person of faith.

In a world in which technology is moving ahead at an astonishing rate, meetings, courses, and conferences on science and faith also serve to educate members of the Church, whether clergy or lay, about the practical and ethical issues that arise from scientific discovery and technological development, so that we can effectively bring our theology into the public discourse on these issues.

Engaging with science also serves to show to those scientists in our congregations that their life and work outside of the Church is valued and recognised as part of their Christian vocation.

(The Revd) Jennifer Brown (Science Missioner, Churn Benefice, and Research Associate, Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, Oxford University

Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire

The “view of the uninitiated”, as the questioner puts it, that there is a conflict between science and faith is still so widespread and persistent that meetings and discussions about it continue to be necessary, especially when they publicise the views of the many thoughtful Christians who are also scientifically educated.

In fact, you could say that such people are engaging in essential apologetics as they explore and discuss the deep compatibility between a scientific and religious view of the world, and would be failing in their Christian duty if they kept silent.

Adrian Roberts

Kirkby Malzeard, North Yorkshire

Your question: On Armistice Day, owing to inattention on the vicar’s part, the Two Minutes’ Silence at my local church was five-and-a-half minutes late, something that I have never experienced before. . . Afterwards, I expressed my disappointment to the vicar, who used to work in a profession where precise timing is essential. His reply was, “Well, if you don’t like it, you can go somewhere else next time!” After such a response I might well take his advice. Comments, please? [Answers, 30 November]

Your answers: I have every sympathy with the questioner. Armistice Day is time-specific, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The National Commemoration of the Centenary focused on Whitehall at the Cenotaph and, fortunately, clearly within earshot of one of the world’s greatest clocks and one of the world’s most famous bells, Big Ben. Year after year, thanks to engineers and clock experts, in spite of its Victorian manufacture, Big Ben strikes to the second and heralds those precious two minutes’ silence.

As an amateur adjuster of our church clock, I strive every year to synchronise with national time and the observance of silence throughout the country. This year, my colleague led our outdoor commemoration and managed, much to my relief and delight, to conclude the introduction to the silence to the very second that the clock struck 11. The questioner would be welcome here, but might be more impressed by being present for the wonderful and moving sound, silence, and spectacle that we see every year at the Cenotaph.

(Canon) Mark Nicholls (Rector, St Mary the Virgin, Rotherhithe)

London SE16

I would have thought that, as this was a very special anniversary and Remembrance Sunday was actually on 11 November this year, everything possible should be done to observe the silence at 11 a.m.; but, as one who has officiated at many such services and with many involved, I know that it can sometimes be difficult to get the silence precisely on time.

While the whole of Britain may be united in the time of this, differing time zones mean that we are not all united any more than we are for the midnight mass of Christmas, or the Good Friday liturgy. And what of the majority of years when, in the UK, we observe it on the nearest Sunday rather than on the 11th? Is that not a more serious issue?

(The Revd) Geoffrey Squire

Goodleigh, Devon


Your question: The ASB 1980 has an order of service for the installation of abbots and abbesses, but are there any abbesses in the C of E, and are any mitred?

G. S.

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.


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