Resources

On Common Ground is more than just a series of four events during Lent. We hope you will use the suggested resources below to enrich your understanding before, during, and after the series.

We also hope that you will participate in the conversations in person and online. Please see each event page for the suggested Twitter hashtags and links to the Facebook events.

Each event will be filmed and the videos made available on Youtube, so you can comment there too. In the meantime, there is also more information about the speakers and where available their Twitter handle, blog or website.

Ruth Bancewicz “God in the Lab: How science enhances faith”

We suggest you read this book for background.

For Dr Ruth Bancewicz, experiencing scientific research first hand brings a sense of awe that enhances faith. She has encountered many others who have similar stories. This book distils that experience, and explores the common ground between science and faith. Science can be unglamorous and tough, but it gives the opportunity to use creativity and imagination, to appreciate the beauty of the natural world, and to experience the joy of finding out new things – thinking God’s thoughts after him. Through the eyes of the author and six other experienced scientists, God in the Lab shows how science can build faith in God.

Further links:

Thomas Dixon “Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction”

We suggest you read this book for background.

The debate between science and religion is never out of the news: emotions run high, fuelled by polemical bestsellers like The God Delusion and, at the other end of the spectrum, high-profile campaigns to teach ‘Intelligent Design’ in schools.

Yet there is much more to the debate than the clash of these extremes. As Thomas Dixon shows in this balanced and thought-provoking introduction, many have seen harmony rather than conflict between faith and science. He explores not only the key philosophical questions that underlie the debate, but also the social, political, and ethical contexts that have made ‘science and religion’ such a fraught and interesting topic in the modern world, offering perspectives from non-Christian religions and examples from across the physical, biological, and social sciences.. Along the way, he examines landmark historical episodes such as the trial of Galileo by the Inquisition in 1633, and the famous debate between ‘Darwin’s bulldog’ Thomas Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce in Oxford in 1860. The Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ in Tennessee in 1925 and the Dover Area School Board case of 2005 are explained with reference to the interaction between religion, law, and education in modern America.

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Tom McLeish “Faith and Wisdom in Science”

We suggest you read this book to go deeper into the subject.

“Do you have wisdom to count the clouds?” asks the voice of God from the whirlwind in the stunningly beautiful catalogue of nature-questions from the Old Testament Book of Job. Tom McLeish takes a scientist’s reading of this ancient text as a centrepiece to make the case for science as a deeply human and ancient activity, embedded in some of the oldest stories told about human desire to understand the natural world. Drawing on stories from the modern science of chaos and uncertainty alongside medieval, patristic, classical and Biblical sources, Faith and Wisdom in Science challenges much of the current ‘science and religion’ debate as operating with the wrong assumptions and in the wrong space. Its narrative approach develops a natural critique of the cultural separation of sciences and humanities, suggesting an approach to science, or in its more ancient form natural philosophy – the ‘love of wisdom of natural things’ – that can draw on theological and cultural roots. Following the theme of pain in human confrontation with nature, it develops a ‘Theology of Science’, recognising that both scientific and theological worldviews must be ‘of’ each other, not holding separate domains. Science finds its place within an old story of participative reconciliation with a nature, of which we start ignorant and fearful, but learn to perceive and work with in wisdom. Surprisingly, science becomes a deeply religious activity. There are urgent lessons for education, the political process of decision-making on science and technology, our relationship with the global environment, and the way that both religious and secular communities alike celebrate and govern science.

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Tom McLeish, David Hutchings “Let There be Science”

We suggest you read this book to go deeper into the subject.

Why is it that science has consistently thrived wherever the Christian faith can be found? Why is it that so many great scientists – past and present – attribute their motivation and their discoveries, at least partially, to their Christian beliefs? Why are the age-old writings of the Bible so full of questions about natural phenomena? And, perhaps most importantly of all, why is all this virtually unknown to the general public? Too often, it would seem, science has been presented to the outside world as a robotic, detached, unemotional enterprise. Too often, Christianity is dismissed as being an ancient superstition. In reality, neither is the case. Science is a deeply human activity, and Christianity is deeply reasonable. Perhaps this is why, from ancient times right up to today, many individuals have been profoundly committed to both – and have helped us to understand more and more about the extraordinary world that we live in. As authors Tom McLeish and David Hutchings examine the story of science, and look at the part that Christianity has played, they uncover a powerful underlying reason for doing science in the first place. In example after example, ranging from 4000 BC to the present day, they show that thinking with a Christian worldview has been intimately involved with, and sometimes even directly responsible for, some of the biggest leaps forward ever made. Ultimately, they portray a biblical God who loves Science – and a Science that truly needs God.

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John Bryant “Beyond Human?”

We suggest you read this book to explore the notion of ‘playing God’.

As the news constantly reminds us, recent advances in the biomedical sciences have brought within reach things that were unthinkable only a few years ago: • Designer babies • Genetically enhanced athletes • Human clones • Stem cell treatment • Medical technology • Transhumanism All these issues raise huge questions. Our power to intervene in the natural course of human life is immense: but what should we be doing and what should we avoid? And what about the inequalities of technological power across the globe? Biologist and ethics expert Dr John Bryant begins by placing modern biomedical science in its recent social history context, before moving on to discuss ethics and whether our normal ethical frameworks can cope with the questions thrown up by these huge issues. Throughout the book, Bryant encourages the reader to engage with the questions he addresses.

Ruth Bancewicz (ed) “Test of FAITH”

We suggest you use this material to explore further after On Common Ground finishes.

Test of FAITH is an innovative new resource designed for use by small groups wishing to explore big issues raised by science for both faith and ethics. It introduces a wide range of hot topics including:

  • Are science and Christianity in conflict?
  • Has the Big Bang pushed God out of the universe?
  • What does ‘creation’ mean?
  • Is evolution compatible with religious faith?
  • Is cloning ethical?
  • Are humans no more than biological machines?

Test of FAITH is designed to enable non-specialists to join the discussion. It allows small groups to unpack these issues, and discuss them at a level and pace that suits the group. It is flexible so that users can choose the topics that they want to cover, and encourages open discussion of a range of views.

All you need to run a short course is a copy of the Test of FAITH DVD and a Study Guide for each member of the group, and a Leader’s Guide. The Leader’s Guide provides full session notes and all the content of the Study Guide plus suggested responses to questions, critical background information, and opportunities for taking these issues further. The ‘Spiritual Journeys with Scientists’ book is a collection of edited interviews with ten of the scientists involved in Test of FAITH: their life stories and their reflections on science and faith, and is ideal background reading for group members.

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