The latest edition of our PreCiS – Precis 2019 Summer issue.
In this issue we have reports on both the Northern conference and the Student conference, plus details for the summer Student essay competition.
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We have a fantastic set of resources for your church, entitled “Thinking About…”
Science raises some issues that the church can find difficult or ill-equipped to address. Christians in Science have produced a series of introductory leaflets on these topics that are written by Christians who are professional scientists. They are specifically designed to help Christians that do not have a scientific background understand better the relevant science, and any issues that it presents for the Christian.
Each leaflet outlines the basic science behind the topic, how it relates to the Christian (biblical) understanding of the world and suggests some other resources for those who want to take it further.
Currently we have 16 titles in the “Thinking About…” series listed below. These are available to view online, or download as PDFs. Alternatively email Abigail, our Development Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org to order free copies!
A small sample of the titles:-
Professor Derek Burke CBE, CiS President from 1999 to 2001, died at age 89 on 15th March 2019.
Derek was Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia (1987-1995), chairman of the John Innes Centre Governing Council (1987-1995), and a key figure in establishing the Norwich Research Park. In 1992 he was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk. He was a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology from 1995 to 2001. He also served as a member of the Board of Social Responsibility of the Church of England, was an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund’s College and a Faraday Institute Associate.
CiS members remember him always taking a great interest in the affairs of CiS. He was a popular speaker at CiS events and as President he sometimes attended our committee meetings to make sure he was up to date. He was the editor of ‘Creation and Evolution’ (1985) one of the Inter-Varsity Press volumes in the series ‘When Christians Disagree’. This was an attempt to have an amicable, productive debate between CiS (whose members largely supported theistic evolution) and the Creation Research Society (who supported special creation).
Derek started a small meeting in his own home to discuss science and faith and this eventually developed into the now CiS affiliated group, Science and Faith in Norfolk. He also helped to establish an annual series of Science-Faith Lectures at Norwich Cathedral which still continues.
Derek was buried beside his wife, Mary, at Walberswick churchyard, Suffolk on Saturday 11thApril. Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Friends of CiS will be saddened to hear that Professor Sam Berry, one of the great figures in Christians in Science from its earliest days, died peacefully at home on 29th March following a period of deteriorating health. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Caroline and their family at this sad time.
A Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Sam Berry will be held at St. Nicholas’s Church, Sevenoaks, TN13 1JA, at 1.30 pm on Monday 23rd April followed by tea in the church.
Here is a personal remembrance of Sam, by Prof Malcolm Jeeves, CBE, PRSE. President of Christians in Science 2008 – 2014. President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1996-1999 and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of St. Andrews.
For more than four decades the Research Scientists Christian Fellowship, later to become Christians in Science, benefited immeasurably from the dedicated leadership and organisational skills of Sam and Caroline Berry. Sam as Chairman of Christians in Science (1967-1988) and President (1993-1995) and Caroline as its Secretary (2000-2008). Both had full-time and demanding professional commitments. Sam as Professor of Genetics at University College London and Caroline as a Consultant Medical Geneticist at Guy’s Hospital in London.
His scholarship was widely recognised in many directions. He was President of the Linnean Society, the British Ecological Society and the European Ecological Federation. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and he gave the Gifford lectures at Glasgow University. Sam had a very deep love of all things Scottish and his book Orkney Notes (2000) remains widely acclaimed. He also took several important initiatives which embodied his deep concern for the care of God’s creation.
His so-called retirement in 2000 coincided with a time when the Christian environmental movement in the United Kingdom was growing fast and he devoted much time and energy to this area. He was a great supporter of A Rocha and was on their Council of Reference. He was one of the founding fathers of the John Ray Initiative becoming a Vice President and forming a partnership with Sir John Houghton so that together they represented the biological and physical sciences. Sam wrote or edited many books on Christianity and the environment including his “The Care of Creation” (IVP 2000). His last work “Environmental Attitudes through Time” (Cambridge University Press) is due to be published at the end of April 2018. A close friend of John Stott he spent many shared times with him at John’s Welsh retreat observing nature in all its diversity.
Sam was a larger-than-life character in many ways. For several decades I worked closely with him on a series of publications. Our Visitors book at home records how on twenty separate occasions Sam came and stayed with us for several days. At the time he was working on the genetics of isolated mice populations in the Scottish islands and would turn up at short notice sometimes carrying a dustbin in which he had put his dirty clothes and some of his mice specimens. Our daughters, young at the time, remember him as “the man with the dustbin and the mice”. A flavour of his character is captured in the comments section of our Visitors book which he occasionally used. It reads “with dustbin” (23/24 March 1973); Heb.11v3 (16 Jan 1980); “Modernity now in its postmodern phase” (20/21May 1986); Anglican (April 4-7 1997); Co-author (8 Dec 1997).
When Dr Oliver Barclay suggested that I update my 1969 book “The Scientific Enterprise and Christian Faith” (Tyndale Press) he also suggested that Sam would be an excellent co-author. How right he was. As we worked on the book and spent many days together I became more and more aware of both the breadth and the depth of Sam’s scholarship. The result was our 1988 book Science, Life and Christian Belief. (IVP)
Two years ago, at his instigation, we wrote a Review article for the journal Science and Christian Belief tracing out the history, from its very earliest days, of the Research Scientists Christian Fellowship which was later to become Christians in Science. The detailed documentation at the end of our paper underlines just what a crucial part Sam played over many years in these organisations. He was faithful to the end and we give thanks for his faith, his scholarship and for his life. He will be sorely missed by us all but surely most of all by his wife Caroline and their son and two daughters who remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Two CiS members reflect on the challenges brought about by the recent referendum on EU membership and how we can address it as both Christians and scientists . The views expressed are those of the individuals concerned and are not intended to provide an agreed CiS position on Brexit.
Dr Rhoda Hawkins: Rhoda is a lecturer in physics at the University of Sheffield and a member of the CiS Executive Committee. She is a visiting lecturer at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences. Prior to taking up her lectureship in Sheffield she spent several years elsewhere in Europe doing postdoctoral research in Amsterdam and Paris.
For much of the UK scientific community Friday 24th June was a dark day. Feelings of shock, upset, fear, shame, confusion, rejection, anger, anxiety or despair have haunted many since then. Brexit threatens to be seriously damaging to UK science and UK Universities, although the full extent of this will depend crucially on what damage limitation the coming years of political renegotiations will bring. Right now there is so much uncertainty, but we are already feeling negative effects. Collaborations with colleagues across Europe are suffering. We do not know how many of our top scientists will choose to leave and how many will be forced to leave. We do not know how many of our Universities will survive loss of EU funding, economic hardship and recruitment restrictions. We do not know what long term effects changes to EU legislation may have on our environment, health or society. We sense that our world has changed profoundly. There is a growing fear of isolation from the global scientific community and increasing uncertainty as to whether our “ivory towers” will remain intact.
The referendum result also starkly revealed aspects of our society that we’ve long tried to hide from: politicians and media that propagate lies, xenophobia, racism and deep divisions of class, education and socioeconomic backgrounds. We can no longer fool ourselves that we are a modern, global, tolerant, progressive, world leading country. We are a fragile rock in the North Sea at risk of fragmentation and isolation. And we find ourselves with many questions. Where is God in all this? How does our faith affect our response? We trust in God, not in humanity. What can we do as Christians in this situation?
Many of us and our colleagues are facing identity crises – stripped of their European citizenship or their right to remain immigration status under threat and their expert views rejected as ‘elitist’. For us as Christians, devastated as we may feel, we do have a deeper identity. No referendum can take away our heavenly citizenship [Philippians 3:20, Romans 8:35]. We are all only temporary residents on this Earth, yet we are confident that we are God’s children and that our true home is in Heaven. Can we hold on to this hope in these difficult and uncertain times? Can we reach out with this hope to colleagues around us who are in despair? I myself have had some opportunities to talk about my faith in conversations with colleagues following the referendum. One said he admired my faith. Maybe we are called to support our colleagues, to stand up for those who are EU immigrants or non-EU immigrants or to seek to influence policy over the years this will take to sort out. For some their calling will be to leave the country and seek more welcoming shores where they can carry out their world class research. For some their calling will be to stay in the UK and help try to make the most of the situation. Some CiS members may feel too young or too old to contribute much. Some may feel optimistic, some pessimistic. But we all have a role where God has put us. How does he want us to respond? What does he want us to do? Who does he want us to reach out to? And are there lessons to learn for the future about how we communicate more effectively with society at large?
So much of our ‘outreach’ both in science and in faith is to self-selected groups. How can we reach out to people we don’t normally engage with? We are good at lecturing and preaching but should we try to listen more? How diverse are our churches and how much do we chat with people in our churches who are not like us? How can we be welcoming and inclusive to foreigners in our midst who may feel the UK does not want them? How can we live in unity with those who do not share our views? There are so many challenges for us now but, in the midst of this dark world, let us not miss the opportunities God gives us to reach out in love. Maybe this situation will give us, as scientists who are Christians, a unique role in building post-Brexit bridges.
Professor John V Wood, CBE, FREng: John is Secretary of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and an adviser to both the European Commission and individual governments on international science policy especially large research infrastructures. He is the chair of ATTRACT which is an activity led by CERN and other EIROFORUM members and also chair of the Global Research Data Alliance involving researchers from 110 countries. John is also Chairman of the CiS Board of Trustees.
Identifying with one’s people despite the bleakness of the situation reminds us of Jeremiah going with his people into exile despite his warnings of the outcomes. The Brexit vote reverberated around the world where our colleagues in Africa, Asia and the Americas were aghast at the impact this would have on UK science and our world standing. Yet there are opportunities and many advanced countries are focusing a significant percentage of Science, Technology and Innovation research funds on the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. Commissioner Moedas’ Open to the World policy focuses on Science Diplomacy and Delivery of the SDGs. Indeed in the UK, some research council’s money has to be directed to the grand societal challenges. Even if UK scientists cannot benefit, we should rejoice that those peoples of the world who live in poverty and tremendous inequality may receive a better quality of life than now.
Greater emphasis is now being put on our long term relationships outside Europe such as with the Commonwealth and in June 2017 the 3rd Commonwealth Science Summit in Singapore is likely to focus much more on collaboration with our old partners. There is now an urgent need to both preserve and increase the number of Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships in addition to the Chevening Scholarships for the rest of the world. Our responsibility is to act as citizens of the world, to actively try and influence political and fiscal decisions which may feel uncomfortable at times. To overcome evil by good. We should remember that while Europe itself has abandoned the Christian base of the Schuman declaration, which was the founding document of the European Union, perhaps we should now be proactive in seeking to express our faith in a way that many of our Commonwealth friends will understand much more than citizens in the UK.