Directory: Churches and People

New grant aimed to promote engagement between science and Christians announced

18 March 2015

A Church of England-backed project is to receive more than £700,000 to help promote greater engagement between science and Christians.

The announcement comes during British Science Week 2015, a 10-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths, which takes place until March 22.

Scientists and theologians are to be brought together with Christian leaders as part of the three-year Durham University programme funded by Templeton World Charity Foundation.

The project, run in partnership with the Church of England, will invite proposals for grants of up to £10,000 for "scientists in congregations" - a scheme aimed at using the expertise of Christians who are scientists to promote greater understanding of the relationship between science and faith.

More than 1,000 people training for Anglican ministry will be offered access to training and resources on contemporary science and the Christian faith as part of the project.

The scheme will also research attitudes towards science amongst church leaders both within the main denominations but also in new churches and organisations representing a range of different denominations.

The programme will be led by the Rev Professor David Wilkinson, Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University and an astrophysicist, with Professor Tom McLeish, Professor of Physics at Durham University and the Bishop of Kingston, the Rt Rev Dr Richard Cheetham.

Bishop Richard said, "It is absolutely vital to stimulate good conversation between science and theology.

"The prevailing idea that the two are in conflict is remarkably persistent despite the vast amount of excellent academic literature giving a very different view. The project aims to get a much deeper understanding of the relationship between science and theology deeply embedded in our churches and in the wider world."

Prof Wilkinson said: "Too often Christian leaders have felt that science is a threat or have felt a lack of confidence in engaging with it. 

"This project is a significant commitment by Templeton World Charity Foundation and churches in England to take science seriously in what it means for theology and in valuing science as a gift.

"One of the things that we have been particularly interested in over the last few years is how we can help senior church leaders understand contemporary science and not see it as something to be fearful of,  but  something that can help theology."

A spokesman for Templeton World Charity Foundation said: "Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) is delighted to support church leaders in England to engage with science.

"Many church members are engaged in studies or professions which use science, all of them use technology based on science, they live in a culture which often views science as the route to knowledge, and science can be a fuel for faith and worship.

"It is therefore important to give church leaders the opportunity to learn about fundamental scientific principles and topical issues."

Here in Lincolnshire, Revd Kate Toogood, assistant curate in the parish of Louth, has been running Messy Science alongside her Messy Church groups held at the Trinity Centre. She is encouraged by todays news.

“As someone who has studied both Theology and Mathematics to Degree level, I have always found my faith and scientific background have complimented one another, and indeed enhanced one another, so I think it’s fantastic that there is going to be more funding and resources to promote a deepening conversation between religion and science. Although at Messy Church we do not address the ‘science and religion’ discussion directly, my hope is that incorporating science into a worship setting is one step towards challenging the false dichotomy”